Dr. Swift has kindly provided us with the text of his presentation at the August 10, 2014 August Peace Event:
“The Decision to Bomb Hiroshima: Unleashing the Most Terrible Weapon in History”
How to Avoid Wars, especially Nuclear Wars)
By Thomas Swift, Prof. of History (Asia), Emeritus, CSU Sacramento
Thank you for inviting me.
Let us put ourselves back in America-at-war in summer 1945, a fierce war in which 400,000 Americans died and far more foreigners. I believe the decision at the time to drop atomic bombs on Japan unfortunately was a foregone conclusion. I will talk about this decision, and that the war and the bombs would not have happened had the United States been wiser in our relations with Japan in the previous forty years.
The atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrible events, moral and legal atrocities. More than 200,000 people, many were women and children, died horrible deaths. Killing civilians is against international rules of war, sadly ignored by all sides in World War II when it came to air attacks.
In the first place, why did Japan and the U.S. go to war? Was this inevitable?? My answer is No.
It was a desperate act on the part of Japan. General Tojo, when he made this decision, likened it to making a four story leap and hoping to survive the fall.