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Holden_Caulfield's avatar

Should the US have ever dropped the Atom Bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

Asked by Holden_Caulfield (1139points) January 15th, 2010 from iPhone

Considering the day and age and the fact that there was a World War happening, terrible atrocities to humanity, and a need/desire to escalate violence to a point on of no return in order to show “Power”... Was it the right thing to do?!?

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52 Answers

Anon_Jihad's avatar

It was a disgusting act in my opinion. I do remember reading somewhere that Japan attempted surrender before hand and we declined their offer. I’ve no source and do not know if that is true, but regardless I feel it was wrong. Innocents get killed in war, but strictly targeting civilians should be a war crime answerable only by death.

filmfann's avatar

Absolutely the right thing to do.
The invasion of Japan would have taken a million American soldiers lives.
The demonstration of the bomb also showed the Soviets what we could do, and kept them in check for a bit.

@Anon_Jihad That is a popular myth.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

My attempt to avoid the black and white of hindsight and deal with the contemporary shades of gray.

War is Hell. The US and UK had crossed a moral threshold with area firebombing well before August 1945. But we didn’t start the fire.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’ve gone both ways on this. On the one hand, I can’t really fault Truman for his “go” decision, because of the circumstances:
—Roosevelt had died in office just a month before, and was widely mourned; it can hardly be doubted that the war (as well as the presidency itself) had shortened his life;
—I don’t think Truman (or even most of the military men involved) knew how awesome the bomb would be (even Oppenheimer, at the first test fire in White Sands, didn’t know for certain that the chain reaction would stop with the single explosion);
—The US military planners were envisioning a million-man invasion of the Home Islands of Japan (not necessarily a million casualties, but still a terrible drain and a lot of casualties in any case—on both sides—the bomb certainly saved more Japanese lives than it cost, if that’s any consolation);
—The Russians certainly would have taken a lot more Japanese territory than the Kurile Islands if they’d been involved in an invasion—their memories go back to Port Arthur and Tsushinga (their own Pearl Harbor from 40 years earlier);
—We didn’t start the thing (even if we precipitated it, and knew that war with Japan was inevitable because of our embargo), and there was still tremendous ill will towards the Japanese for the Pearl Harbor attack before a declaration of war—as if that really matters.

But on the other hand, a “demonstration” bombing of open water in Tokyo Bay would have been pretty damned impressive (if the planners had known for certain that the bombs would even work, which they didn’t).

One thing that I’ve always been convinced of: Atomic weapons have truly prevented World War III—so far.

laureth's avatar

Should Japan have attacked Pearl Harbor?

Frankly, war is ugly. I’m a pacifist… until someone smacks me. And then I fight to win.

Yes, it sucked. It really, really sucked. But it did bring an end to that front, and possibly with less loss of life than some other ways we could have done it.

mowens's avatar

You ask me if the US should have dropped a bomb on Japa, I give you a simple, “Yes If someone asks me, should we bomb Japan? A simple yes, by all means sir, drop that fucker. Twice.

ragingloli's avatar

The Japanese knew the Russians would invade, and they knew how the Russians treated the civilians and POWs. They would have surrendered to the US to avert that. And I am convinced the US knew that too. But they wanted to test their new weapon on what they thought to be an inferior race.

lilikoi's avatar

But we (U.S.) knew Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor and we didn’t do anything about it. I have a few different theories on why we chose inaction, but that’s another story.

The A-bomb was totally uncool. It affected so many innocent people; a black mark on U.S. history for sure.


That is a very difficult question to answer. My mother is Japanese, born in Yokohama, and my father is Chinese, born in southern China. At that time, the Japanese were ruthless invaders, massacring hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians, and they had reached Southern China, where my Dad was born. My Dad always told me that if it weren’t for the bombing of Hiroshima, he wouldn’t be alive today because of the massive slayings and starvation that took place, but my Mom said that because of the bomb, some of her childhood friends died horribly years later from the after-effects of the radiation from the atomic bomb, and that SHE could have been one of them. So you see why it is so hard for me to answer this question rationally. On the one hand, I am for it, but on the other I am against it. The only thing I could answer with certainty is that I think one bomb was ENOUGH——the Americans didn’t have to bomb Nagasaki also. Yes, war is a horrible, tragic thing, and civilians are always its casualties, but the bombings were deliberate, and aimed at killing civilians. Some may say the Japanese shouldn’t have bombed Pearl Harbor, but it was military people who were killed, not innocent men, women, and children, as in the two Japanese cities.

lilikoi's avatar

@laureth – we let them smack us. It is one thing to bomb the hell out of an “enemy” in response to their bombing the hell out of us, but quite another to drop an A-bomb on a civilian area. Even children of the survivors of these bombings are suffering from birth defects resulting from exposure to the bombs. How can you justify that?

nikayamo's avatar

It was totally not the right thing to do, but it was the ‘rational’ thing to do at that time. What other way to show them how powerful we are? Drop pies out of a plane at them? I think not.

lilikoi's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES – I cannot imagine what your parents must have gone through. Thank you for sharing. I think there were probably other alternatives that the U.S. could have taken to achieve similar results (a quick end) but without causing so much long term suffering to innocent bystanders. The aftermath of the bombings is awful.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@mowens: “In the nuclear world, the true enemy can’t be destroyed. In the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.”

God, I love that movie. Roll Tide!

mowens's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Wondered if anyone would get it. :)

john65pennington's avatar

Apparently, you have never watched the movie Pearl Harbor. the United States made the appropriate action to defend our country. war is hell and the Japanese started it.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar


McNamara: LeMay was focused on only one thing: target destruction. Most Air Force Generals can tell you how many planes they had, how many tons of bombs they dropped, or whatever the hell it was. But, he was the only person that I knew in the senior command of the Air Force who focused solely on the loss of his crews per unit of target destruction. I was on the island of Guam in his command in March of 1945. In that single night, we burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo: men, women, and children.

Errol Morris: Were you aware this was going to happen?

McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that in a sense recommended it. I analyzed bombing operations, and how to make them more efficient. i.e. Not more efficient in the sense of killing more, but more efficient in weakening the adversary.

I wrote one report analyzing the efficiency of the B-29 operations. The B-29 could get above the fighter aircraft and above the air defense, so the loss rate would be much less. The problem was the accuracy was also much less.

Now I don’t want to suggest that it was my report that led to, I’ll call it, the firebombing. It isn’t that I’m trying to absolve myself of blame. I don’t want to suggest that it was I who put in LeMay’s mind that his operations were totally inefficient and had to be drastically changed. But, anyhow, that’s what he did. He took the B-29s down to 5,000 feet and he decided to bomb with firebombs.

I participated in the interrogation of the B-29 bomber crews that came back that night. A room full of crewmen and intelligence interrogators. A captain got up, a young captain said: “Goddammit, I’d like to know who the son of a bitch was that took this magnificent airplane, designed to bomb from 23,000 feet and he took it down to 5,000 feet and I lost my wingman. He was shot and killed.”

LeMay spoke in monosyllables. I never heard him say more than two words in sequence. It was basically “Yes,” “No,” “Yup,” or “The hell with it.” That was all he said. And LeMay was totally intolerant of criticism. He never engaged in discussion with anybody.

He stood up. “Why are we here? Why are we here? You lost your wingman; it hurts me as much as it does you. I sent him there. And I’ve been there, I know what it is. But, you lost one wingman, and we destroyed Tokyo.”

50 square miles of Tokyo were burned. Tokyo was a wooden city, and when we dropped these firebombs, it just burned it.

Lesson #5: Proportionality should be a guideline in war.

EM: The choice of incendiary bombs, where did that come from?

McNamara: I think the issue is not so much incendiary bombs. I think the issue is: in order to win a war should you kill 100,000 people in one night, by firebombing or any other way? LeMay’s answer would be clearly “Yes.”

“McNamara, do you mean to say that instead of killing 100,000, burning to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in that one night, we should have burned to death a lesser number or none? And then had our soldiers cross the beaches in Tokyo and been slaughtered in the tens of thousands? Is that what you’re proposing? Is that moral? Is that wise?”

Why was it necessary to drop the nuclear bomb if LeMay was burning up Japan? And he went on from Tokyo to firebomb other cities. 58% of Yokohama. Yokohama is roughly the size of Cleveland. 58% of Cleveland destroyed. Tokyo is roughly the size of New York. 51% percent of New York destroyed. 99% of the equivalent of Chattanooga, which was Toyama. 40% of the equivalent of Los Angeles, which was Nagoya. This was all done before the dropping of the nuclear bomb, which by the way was dropped by LeMay’s command.

Proportionality should be a guideline in war. Killing 50% to 90% of the people of 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional, in the minds of some people, to the objectives we were trying to achieve.

I don’t fault Truman for dropping the nuclear bomb. The U.S.—Japanese War was one of the most brutal wars in all of human history ? kamikaze pilots, suicide, unbelievable. What one can criticize is that the human race prior to that time ? and today ? has not really grappled with what are, I’ll call it, “the rules of war.” Was there a rule then that said you shouldn’t bomb, shouldn’t kill, shouldn’t burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?

LeMay said, “If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.” And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

Source: Fog of War transcript
(bolding mine)

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@john65pennington Never rely on Hollywood for your history.

Qingu's avatar

I would have been fine nuking a target in the ocean or on an abandoned island or something to “show our power” or whatever.

Killing 200,000 civilians with the explicit intent to terrorize your enemy into surrendering, however, is an atrocity and a war crime. And justifying this act robs America of any moral basis for objecting to “terrorism.”

Qingu's avatar

@john65pennington, war is hell, so if the Taliban detonated a nuclear device in an American city to kill a bunch of civilians you would be fine with it?

Do you have any compunction about killing civilians in warfare or is everything justified as long as your side “wins”?

Qingu's avatar

@nikayamo, it would have been easy to demonstrate the power of our nuclear weapons without murdering 200,000 civilians.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@mowens Gotta love those Lippizaners! :-)

Nullo's avatar

I say that it was justified by the circumstances, and that it most likely did save lives, on both sides; a ground invasion would have pitted the Allied forces against every man, woman, and child left in the country, and the total casualties would have been staggering.
Surrender was unlikely; history tells of an Saipan, where the locals had been told that Americans were so inhumane that it would be better if they killed themselves than to surrender or suffer occupation. Noncombatants, mind you. And so, the people would pitch themselves off of cliffs. The mainland civilians would act similarly.

“In addition, the Japanese had organized the Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps—which included all healthy men aged 15–60 and women 17–40—to perform combat support, and ultimately combat jobs. Weapons, training, and uniforms were generally lacking: some men were armed with nothing better than muzzle-loading muskets, longbows, or bamboo spears; nevertheless, they were expected to make do with what they had.[23]

One mobilized high school girl, Yukiko Kasai, found herself issued an awl and told, “Even killing one American soldier will do. … You must aim for the abdomen.”[24]” ( “wiki source”:, supported in the footnotes).

Wiki says:
“Many hundreds of Japanese civilians committed suicide in the last days of the battle, some jumping from “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff”. Efforts by U.S. troops to persuade them to surrender instead were mostly futile. Widespread propaganda in Japan portraying Americans and British as “devils” who would treat POWs barbarically, deterred surrender (see Japanese Military Propaganda (WWII)).”
It also says [citation needed], but a bit of footwork turns up the same story elsewhere, though not as concisely.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, your argument presumes the following:

1. There would have been a ground invasion.

2. Killing 200,000 civilians was necessary to demonstrate the power of the atom bomb.

Neither is true.

Nullo's avatar

Is so true. Do some research on Operation Downfall, why doncha.

Rarebear's avatar

This is an interesting article I just found on the subject

I don’t know anything about this journal, so I can verify its objectivity. I just found it on a Google search.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, I don’t think you understand how this works.

Citing the existence of an allied invasion plan does not mean we would have acted on that plan.

Our military has invasion plans for Iran; we are almost certainly not going to invade Iran.

You also failed to respond to your other unwarranted presumption—that murdering 200,000 people was necessary to show the power of the bomb. Want to try supporting that?

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I can’t get even anyone to argue with me! History has become gnats dueling with the shortest possible sound bites.

Nullo's avatar

It seems kinda logical that they would invade Japan, doesn’t it? I mean, they’d already conquered a bunch of other islands, and Japan wasn’t going to surrender with a staring match. Iran is a bad comparison: we are not at war with Iran, whereas they had long been at war with Japan.
Didn’t you read the bit about the Sixteenth Army? They were civilians. That ground invasion would be a fight to the bitter end.
Putting on my coldest, most utilitarian hat, I can say that 200,000 dead beats the heck out of the number of dead that would arise from the Allied forces against the estimated 2.5 million remaining Japanese soldiers and whatever civilian auxiliaries that they would employ. I can also say that bombing something else would probably not have had the same visceral impact.

nayeight's avatar

I lived in Nagasaki for almost 3 years when I was younger and my parents took me several times to the atomic bomb museum.


Nullo's avatar

You’re not controversial enough.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@Nullo OK, how about I clearly take everyone contributing to this thread to task here for an emotional fixation on the atomic bombings, which has blinded them to the preceding months of mass firebombings. America started a mass-murder campaign in March of 1945. Think the fire raids were a walk in the park? People taking shelter in shallow canals in Tokyo boiled to death. It got that hot. A carbonized human being is a carbonized human being be it thousands of tons of M-69s or a Little Boy or a Fat Man that did it.

Now… this is a double-edged sword in a moral sense. Given that the Japanese government barley blinked at the burning of 67 of their cities and their residents by these conventional methods, one could definitely be forgiven for having serious doubts over whether anything could compel such a government to surrender.

Unstoppable force met the immovable object.

Nullo's avatar

I wouldn’t say that I‘m emotionally fixated. I’m a very reactive person, and when people start saying that whatever I think is wrong and that I’m an idiotic sheep for thinking it, I react.
I noticed that nobody has brought up the Potsdam Declaration. “Dude, awesome new bomb, and if you don’t surrender we’ll blast teh unholy Shiite out of one of your cities!”

Nullo's avatar

I would go so far as to say that the modern Japan that we have today -the economic, media, and technological giant – was made possible by all the bombings (and I do mean all of the bombings!).
Ideally, of course, there wouldn’t have had to been any bombs of any sort. We as a race fall sadly short of that ideal.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Text of the Potsdam Declaration
Relevent bits:

2. The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.
3. The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

No warning of atomic bombs per se, but then, the few cities that hadn’t already been gutted by LeMay were being deliberately set aside for them.

Also not explicitly stated in the declaration was what the Soviets would do. The Japanese government were counting on them acting as intermediaries for negotiation. Quite frankly, this was stupid, they should have had some notion by now of how Machiavellian Stalin was. With Germany crushed, he was free to take the cream of his fully mobilized armed forces and exact a bit of revenge for the Russo-Japanese War and have the Western Allies applaud (lightly, and not without some concern) rather than condemn him.

Nullo's avatar

Call ‘em subtle hints, like “The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people,” and ” The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve.” After all, it wouldn’t do to show your hand prematurely.
Hindsight is a glorious thing for speech analysis.

Found this while looking for a particularly chilling Truman speech. More gas for the flames:
“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and, unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately, and save themselves from destruction.”

Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, Containing the Public Messages, Speeches and Statements of the President April 12 to December 31, 1945 (Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1961) page 212. The full text also was published in the New York Times, August 10, 1945, page 12.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The USA may have believed the first bomb saved so many lives.
Repeating the act on Nagasaki before there was adequate time to see if Japan was ready to surrender was unjustifiable. Even waiting two weeks would have showed that they had some humanity even after bombing Hiroshima. The second bomb would not have gone stale!

Nullo's avatar

I dunno, I think that three days ought to be enough to come to a conclusion. The Potsdam declaration did say that it would be swift.
How would waiting two weeks show humanity, exactly?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

In light of the unprecedented horror resulting from the Bomb, some patience would have been warranted for a surrender. The shock of that horror might have delayed an immediate surrender, but the threat of a repeat performance would have sunk in given a little more time.
Swift is a relative term. It did not mean 10 minutes, it did not preclude 10 hours or 10 days.
I understand the urge to justify what cannot be changed as having been right.

The US was content to sit out WWII while the NAZIs exterminated innocent civilians until Japan offended US pride at Pearl Harbor. If not for that attack, they might have allowed the Holocaust to continue without ever taking up arms.

Two much patience in one horrible case, two little in another!

Nullo's avatar

Keep in mind that, in that day and age, people didn’t really understand what the aftermath of an atomic bomb would be like. Radiation was supposedly a non-issue after some 48 hours, after which fatigues were deemed sufficiently radiation-proof to wear into Ground Zero. Nobody would realize that the new bombs did more than just make bigger craters until they’d studied the survivors .

Staalesen's avatar

Yes. What armchair historians say I dont care much aout in this case.
More people would have died on both sides if not… And A long occupation would have followed, maybe sparking a new war, and unrest in the area…

andrew's avatar

I’m so happy @hiphiphopflipflapflop brought up the firebombing, which killed more civilians than the nuclear bombs.

mammal's avatar

um…actually i’m not sure we should rely on Billy Joel for our History Lessons, folks. In fact America did start the fire, or at least lit the fuse, Didn’t Commodore Mathew Perry sail his naval fleet to a harbour near Tokyo in 1853 and forcibly demand that Japan end its isolationism and open itself up to favourable trading conditions, favourable to America that is. Now i wouldn’t go as far to call it an act of Rape, but it was certainly on the Humilating side.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The joint US/British firebombing raids on German cities, notably Dresden, were purely retaliatory for German raids on English cities. This was done late in the war, with victory certain. If any attacks are to be condemned, it is those.

Japan, although exhausted in resources and her naval forces destroyed, was controlled by a military dictatorship. The ancient warrior code of Bushido made surrender unthinkable. The military government was prepared to sacrifice the entire nation rather than surrender.

Allied plans were to invade Kyushu (Operation Olympic) in November 1945, followed by an invasion to surround Tokyo (Operation Coronet) in Spring 1946 and Soviet operations in Manchuria and Hokkaido. American casualty estimates, prepared by the staffs of Marshall, MacArthur and Nimitz, were 1.2 million including 250,000 killed. This does not include estimates of Soviet casualties.Estimated Japanese casualties were 5–10 million.

Conventional firebombing raids on Japanese cities had done nothing to convince Japan’s rulers to surrender. These raids on Tokyo and other industrial cities had already killed over a half million Japanese, mostly civilians.

It had been suggested that the atomic bomb be demonstrated to the Japanese as a warning. This had been discarded for two main reasons: The military leadership of Japan had demonstrated that they didn’t care about casualties, even civilians. The US at the time possessed only two nuclear bombs and could only produce them at a rate of one per month; a demonstration blast would have expended 50% of the existing arsenal.

The Hiroshima bombing resulted in aproximately 250,000 direct and delayed deaths, the Nagasaki bombing aproximately 150,000. After the Hiroshima attack, the Japanese propaganda machine refused to inform their own people of the attack, exactly as predicted by US planners who opposed a demonstration blast. The Japanese government made no response to the surrender demand made immediately after Hiroshima. It was only the Nagasaki attack that convinced the Emperor to overrule his generals and surrender.

The bombings almost certainly saved millions of Japanese lives, as these were necessary to break the grip of the military on the Japanese government.

references: USDOE site on Manhattan Project, sites on Operations Olympic and Coronet (several).

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

As a point of trivia: Yokohama was the primary target of the second mission. The target was partially obscured by clouds and smoke, the B-29 was running low on fuel. Nagasaki was bombed as a secondary target.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, no, it doesn’t seem logical that we would invade Japan when we had already defeated Germany, crushed their naval capacity, achieved air superiority, allied ourselves with the Russians who would flank them from the West, and when they were already in negotiations to surrender.

But even despite all that, why on earth do you think that murdering 200,000 people helped convince them to surrender more than just detonating the atom bomb without killing any civilians would have.

@hiphiphopflipflapflop, you are absolutely correct—we firebombed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and Japan before the use of nuclear weapons and these acts were equally war crimes. The firebombing of Dresden is among the most infamous examples.

Nullo's avatar

Very good! Thank you.

Then you must not be up on your war logic. You’re assuming that people make plans in order to not follow through with them; this is how you become ineffective. The Allies had clawed their way to Japan’s doorstep (no sense in turning back), and if they had to they were going to go in, and the bloody casualties had been projected to be 6.5–11.5 million.
There were no negotiations to surrender; that’s historical revisionism you’re referencing. @stranger_in_a_strange_land said it much better than I did: the bomb convinced the Emperor to override the people running the government.
See here for details.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Nullo Here are two basic sites to get you started. My knowledge is based on extensive reading beyond these, but these sites have all the basic facts: and

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@hiphiphopflipflapflop Stalin had already agreed the year before, at Yalta, to enter the war against Japan 90 days after Germany was defeated. He kept his part of the deal, to the day. The 90 days was to be able to shift millions of troops, thousands of tanks, artillery pieces, munitions, supplies, etc over 8000 miles using only a single-line railroad (Trans-Siberian). An amazing feat of logistics given their capabilities.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, people make plans to plan for contingencies, often which do not come to pass. If you actually think every single plan devised by the military is acted on, I don’t know what to tell you.

And you still haven’t responded to a single thing I asked you. Please explain why killing 200,000 innocent human beings was necessary to demonstrate the power of the atom bomb.

Nullo's avatar

My dear, you seem to be reading things that I don’t remember writing.
The contingency plan is for when the main plan falls through, not so that you can sit on your hands and dither about which plan to use. Contingency plans are typically less-satisfactory (at least during the planning stages), but whose projected results are better than total failure.
For instance, your main plan for Monday (which is MLKJR Day Stateside, and a holiday for most) might be to have a picnic in the park. But if it rains, the contingency plan may be to go to the movies instead.

It is a historical fact that the ground invasion was the plan; there is a strong likelihood that contingency plans (unrecorded in the histories that I’ve read) were developed for it.
It is a historical fact that, upon the introduction of the atomic bomb, the plan changed to focus on the bombs; there is a strong likelihood that contingency plans -like a ground invasion – were developed for it.

In the end, the plan that the Allies went with was to offer Japan a chance to surrender, then bomb, then (if the bombs didn’t work -the contingency plan), send in the ground forces and use whatever other nukes became available. So far as I know there were no other plans, and strain my not-a-military-strategist-by-trade brain though I might, I cannot think of a better one. I reiterate: You don’t fight your way to your enemy’s homeland and then just sit there.

Since you don’t seem want to believe that a bloody ground campaign was going to happen, what do you think they would have done? Settle their differences with rock-paper-scissors?
So far as I can tell, I’ve answered all of your questions, Q. But I’ll do it again to humor you.
You ask, “Please explain why killing 200,000 innocent human beings was necessary to demonstrate the power of the atom bomb.”
I (using logic and hindsight to reach a conclusion, as I do not know what thoughts went through whose heads) reply, “Because it drives home the point better: “Surrender or be destroyed.” And the Allies had exactly two bombs at that point, so they couldn’t afford to waste them on a simple demonstration, so they threw in some actual destruction of life and property, like you would expect from a bomb.
After the two bombs, the non-Imperial leaders of Japan were still going to employ every single citizen to repel ground forces -that business about the 16th Army that I posted last night (incidentally, this makes every single one of those 350,000 or so killed by the bombs an enemy combatant). In the Japanese government, only the Emperor was sufficiently horrified at the thought of losing an estimated 5–10 million of the people that he was supposed to be leading to force the surrender.

I strongly recommend that you consider @stranger_in_a_strange_land ‘s posts; his act is far more together than mine.

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