War 2 was a war that involved the majority of the world’s countries. It lasted
from 1939 to 1945 and was formed by 2 opposing military teams – The Allies
(U.S, U.K, Russia & China) vs the Axis powers (Germany, Japan & Italy).
By the end of the war, the cities of Japan – Hiroshima and
Nagasaki – suffered a pernicious attack, that involved 2 atomic bombs, driven
by the Americans. This is an event that has, and still raises many questions
regarding the reasons behind it.
Despite the U.S being one
of the Allies’ leaders, it officially only entered WW2 two years after it had
begun, on December 8, 1941. Up until then, they had remained neutral in the war,
providing war materials to the Allies, and meanwhile, tensions between the
United States and Japan had been consistently escalating.
It was when Japan launched? a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, a U.S military
naval base located in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, that the U.S entered the
war. This attack was portrayed to the American
population as an act of treachery and cowardice. It was indeed wrongful,
but it was also taken as an offence and a defiance on U.S’s pride. And so with this,
U.S declared war on Japan and, in response, Germany and Italy also declared war
on the United States, making them officially part of WW2.
Although the attack was the breaking-point for the entry of the U.S in the war,
they showed that, like the rest of the world, the main reason they decided to
enter was for a greater humanitarian cause – to put a permanent end to the
horrific fascist regimes and to foster democracy around the world.
It is indeed true this was one of the main reasons, but it seems to be too
simple. Was it only and mainly about these humanitarian purposes? Weren’t there
other interests involved?
As it has been speculated by Howard Zinn in “A People’s History of the United
the behavior of the United States show that her war aims were humanitarian, or centered
on power and profit? Was she fighting the war to end the control by some
nations over others or to make sure the controlling nations were friends
with the United States?” (p.411, 412).
He then shows an
interesting fact that demonstrates this other interest in war, explaining that
in Autumn of 1941, President Roosevelt (U.S) and Winston Churchill (U.K) had met
and established the Atlantic Charter – An agreement that set forth goals for
the postwar years, such as freedom of the seas, global cooperation,
self-government and no unwilling territorial changes. But, in contradiction,
the U.S had earlier implied they would help the French regain their overseas
empire (Indochina) after war, which goes against the “self-government” ethic. This
shows that they were interested in
making friendships with other nations, nevertheless, it’s understandable that
the U.S wants good alliances to have what’s best for them, aswell as any other
War in Europe was finally
over when Germany signed its ‘Instrument of Surrender’ on May 8, 1945. However,
Japan did not accept the terms for unconditional surrender, and the war in the
Pacific Ocean continued. In the mean time, the U.S were starting to plan a huge
main-land invasion on Japan, codenamed “Operation Downfall”.
After Americans succesfully tested the first atomic bomb in July 16, 1945, the
Allies called for the unconditional surrender of Japan once again, on July 26,
1945, under the so called ‘Postdam Declaration’, threatening that, if
rejecting, they would face ‘prompt and utter destruction’.
Japan once again refused to surrender unconditionally and the U.S did not
hesitate to carry out they’re threat. And so, on August 6, 1945, the uranium gun-type bomb named “Little Boy” was
dropped on Hiroshima. The results were catastrophic; almost everything within a
3 mile radius was completely destroyed. According
to the “Manhattan Engineer District” this massive blast caused approximately
135.000 casualties, of which an estimated 66.000 died, and 69.000 were injured
(Atomic Archive). And according to journalist and historian Daniel Ford (2017),
another 20.000 deaths can be added if counting the Korean slave workers that
lived in Japan, rounding it up to 80.000 (assuming they didn’t all die).
The main cause of these deaths were obliteration, burns, falling debris and