The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb, Louis Morton (Pg. 339-348)

Jason Arquette
Professor Hirsh
Blog 2G
Sept. 7th, 2017

As promised by the title, Morton’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb” describes the trials and tribulations of a horrible choice faced by President Truman and the rest of the country. For one or two pages Morton introduces the idea that not only was there some resentment to the idea of dropping a nuclear bomb, high ranking military officers actually had less devastating alternatives. Despite Japan’s notorious views on surrender, a sizable minority of leaders believed that if they continued their aerial and aquatic assaults on Japanese resources, the country would surrender without the need for mass destruction. Respectfully, this idea can be considered the standard story that most citizens and young students hear growing up.

However, Morton also introduces another layer of complexity to the decision and its ensuing debate. For almost the entirety of World War II, the USSR had effectively ‘sat out’ of the fighting. And after Japanese forces had failed to yield as predicted, America’s political leaders deemed it necessary to seek foreign aid to bring a swift end to the war. This aid was delivered in the form of the USSR. The United States had finally convinced the USSR to join them in the fight against Japan and this muddied the decision to use or hold on to the atomic bomb. Essentially Morton argues that the United States did not want to upset the USSR after they had agreed to fight by telling them that they had a weapon to end the war and their help was no longer needed. This piece of evidence is arguably not known amongst citizens as common knowledge. So by choosing to include this key piece of information, Morton actually increases his audience’s understanding of the event. Although the evidence and subsequent argument are of course speculative pieces of data, their presence alone gives audience members a new perspective from which to analyze what eventually became the country’s decision to drop the bomb.

Word Count: 324

Annotation: Morton, Louis. “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” Foreign Affairs35, no. 2 (1957): 334. doi:10.2307/20031230.

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