forced to surrender "unconditionally," without use of the bomb and
without an invasion.1
The post-war negotiations with the Soviet Union was the justification that Truman and his Secretary of State, James Byrnes, used to demonstrate that our atomic monopoly could be used against them if they did not agree with U.S. policy in eastern Europe, especially the issues surrounding Poland. Despite their claims that the atomic bomb shortened the war and saved over 1,000,000 American casualties in a future invasion, their was no need for a future invasion. The casualty estimates were highly exaggerated.
The other issue concerning the Japanese surrender was Truman's continued demand for unconditional surrender as announced by FDR at the Casablanca conference in January, 1943. However, the U.S. Intelligence had known since May, 1945 that the Japanese had asked the Soviet Union to help mediate surrender terms so as to allow the Japanese to retain their Emperor. We knew that that Japan would not surrender unconditionally and needed assurance that they could retain their Emperor. Ultimately the surrender terms were accepted on August 14, 1945 by Japan when we conceded to keeping the Emperor in a post-war constitutional monarchy, something that could have been done the previous May.
The final consideration for using the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 was the hope that Japan would surrender before the Soviet Union would enter the war and attack the vast Japanese army in Manchuria. The Yalta agreement called for the USSR to enter the war against Japan 90 days after the cessation of hostilities with Germany on May 8, 1945. Roosevelt very much wanted the USSR to enter the war against Japan to help convince Japan to surrender. In fact, Japan did not surrender until after the Soviet Union attached the Japanese Army in Manchuria on August 9, 1945. An objective analysis indicates that the Japanese surrendered after our assurance that they could retain their Emperor and the attack by the USSR.
Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, while arguably controversial, pales in comparison to his decision not to follow the advice of his Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, who had urged Truman to quickly negotiate a nuclear armaments ban with the USSR.
Stimson, was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He served as Secretary of War(1911--1913) under Republican William Howard Taft, and as Governor-General of the Philippines (1927--1929). As Secretary of State(1929--1933) under Republican President Herbert Hoover, he articulated the Stimson Doctrine which announced American opposition to Japanese expansion in Asia. He again served as Secretary of War (1940--1945) under Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, and was a leading hawk calling for war against Germany. During World War II he took charge of raising and training 13 million soldiers and airmen, supervised the spending of a third of the nation's GDP on the Army and the Air Forces, helped formulate military strategy, and oversaw the building and use of the atomic bomb.
His disagreement with the policies of Truman and his Secretary of State, James Byrnes vis-a-vis negotiating with the USSR caused Truman to ask for and get his resignation on September 21, 1945. Shortly before his resignation, he wrote a memorandum to President Truman on September 11, 1945 urging Truman to negotiate a nuclear arms ban as soon as possible Russia rather than continue the hard line policies used after the dropping of the bomb. I have highlighted some of the most significant parts of that memo.
"MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT"
Subject: The advent of the atomic bomb has stimulated great military and probably even greater political interest throughout the civilized world. In a world atmosphere already extremely sensitive to power, the introduction of this weapon has profoundly affected political considerations in all sections of the globe......
In many quarters it has been interpreted as a substantial offset to the growth of Russian influence on the continent. We can be certain that the Soviet Government has sensed this tendency and the temptation will be strong for the Soviet political and military leaders to acquire this weapon in the shortest possible time. Britain in effect already has the status of a partner with us in the development of this weapon. Accordingly, unless the Soviets are voluntarily invited into the partnership upon a basis of cooperation and trust, we are going to maintain the Anglo-Saxon bloc over against the Soviet in the possession of this weapon. Such a condition will almost certainly stimulate feverish activity on the part of t he Soviet toward the development of this bomb in what will in effect be a secret armament race of a rather desperate character. There is evidence to indicate that such activity may have already commenced.
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