Hiroshima 1945: President Truman got it right

My father told me that he heard it on the radio. My guess is that most people also heard it on the radio as well.

Today we remember another anniversary of one of the most consequential days of the 20th century. In the summer of 1945, President Truman was confronted with one of those decisions that only a president faces. 

He looked at the horrible options and made the right call, as my friend Bill Katz explained.   

The bomb stopped the war and the killing: Of course we regret the lives that were lost, as we always regret death and destruction in war, but guilt is not required.  In what is sometimes called the  bloody arithmetic of war, the nuclear bombs reduced the ultimate death toll of World War II dramatically.  And as the late historian Paul Fussell, a soldier in the Pacific at the time of Hiroshima later wrote, recalling his thoughts when he learned of the atomic bomb’s use, “We were going to live.  We were going to grow to adulthood after all.”  For that we can be grateful.

We will probably hear the usual criticism of President Truman’s decision, especially from those who were not alive back then and neither have taken the time to study the real options on his desk.   In other words, President Truman was not choosing between war and peace, but rather between war and more war.   He also knew that there would be huge casualties on both sides if he decided to invade Japan. 

Today’s anniversary reminds us that presidents often face awfully difficult choices.  In this case, President Truman made the right decision.  

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