[SOLVED] monumental decisions in the 225 years since our Constitution was ratified
American Presidents have made many monumental decisions in the 225 years since our Constitution was ratified. While the Constitution set up a system of Separation of Powers with specific checks and balances there is a sphere in which the Executive Branch can act with little if any oversight. Foreign affairs and more specifically, the conduct of war, allows the President as the leader of the Executive Branch and the Commander in Chief of the armed forces to make in essence, unilateral decisions. We as citizens can hope, but it is not in any way required, that the President will listen to all informed opinions before making a final decision. During the summer of 1945 President Harry Truman was faced with such a decision. He was handed a weapon that could conceivably end World War II. There were alternatives and concerns about using the new weapon, there always are. After several weeks of conferences, recommendations, and dialogue President Truman made the fateful decision that is hotly debated to this very day.
The decision to drop the bombs would be difficult under any circumstances. But, for President Truman that difficulty was enormously magnified. The new President had only entered the White House on April 12, 1945 after the death of presidential icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR was in his fourth term as President and Truman was Vice-President for only his fourth term, which started but a few months earlier. He had not participated in any high-level strategic meetings, nor had he been consulted on major issues. Upon FDR’s death Truman walked into the Oval Office as a true novice. He would learn about the Manhattan Project, the program to develop atomic weapons, only after taking the oath of office. Amongst other points this does show how little value is placed on the office of Vice-President. The bomb was being developed as a counter to Germany’s suspected atomic weapons program and had always been intended for use, if necessary, against the Germans. However, Germany would surrender only a few weeks after Truman assumed the Presidency and now a new target presented itself, Japan.
By the second week of May, a few days after Germany’s formal surrender, Washington and the Pentagon, home of America’s War Department, were abuzz with opinions on how best to end the ongoing war with Japan. While contemplating whether to use the atomic bomb against Japan, President Truman was also preparing to attend a meeting in Potsdam, Germany in July with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin where major post-war issues would be discussed. Ironically, while at that meeting President Truman would make his decision. The world would forever be changed by one of the most monumental decisions in its history.
Among the many alternatives the President would hear in these frantic weeks were:
Use the bombs
It cost 2 billion dollars to make
It would save American lives
It would in the end save Japanese lives
It would prevent the Russians from having a foothold in Asia
It would save Asia’s civilian population, of who nearly a quarter of a million were dying each month
Continue conventional bombing to bring Japan to its knees
Conduct a naval blockade of the Japanese home islands, forcing Japan’s surrender by depriving its people and military of food and fuel
Invade the Japanese home islands
Negotiate a peace agreement
Do not use the bombs as they were immoral, and no one was sure as to the exact effects
Students will write a minimum 6 typed page paper putting forth a persuasive argument for the point of view you most agree with. I want your opinion, but in making a valid historical argument please use facts to support your point of view, not rhetoric and inflamed bias. Remember, in academia, and argument is not a fight, but rather a point of view based on evidence and reason.
Below you will find a list of readings (primary and secondary sources) and websites to be consulted for this paper.
Your paper must cite at least three primary source documents and at least two secondary source documents from the resources below. Additionally, any extra research you may do, both in the Library and on the Internet, is welcome and encouraged. Enjoy!
Your paper needs in-text citations and a bibliography. All citations must be in Chicago Style Formatting. Here is a simple refresher on citing in Chicago style.
CITATION INFORMATION FOR ARTICLES 1-9:
Harry Truman Announcing the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima (1945) – cite to American Yawp
Albert Einstein and the Atomic Bomb – cite to http://www.doug-long.com/einstein.htm
Doug Long, HIROSHIMA, Was it Necessary – cite to http://www.doug-long.com/hiroshim.htm
Leo Szilard, President Truman Did Not Understand – cite to US News information included on the first page
Szilard Petition.pdf – cite as:
Gest, Howard. “The July 1945 Szilard Petition on the Atomic Bomb.” Departments of Biology, and History & Philosophy of Science. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. A memoir by a signer at the Oak Ridge Laboratory.
Nathan Donohue, Understanding the Decision to Drop the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – this has been taken down from its original website, so use this citation if you use this article (note this is bibliography format, so you will need to be edit to footnote style if you use it):
Donohue, Nathan. 2012. “Understanding the Decision to Drop the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. August 10. http://csis.org/blog/understanding-decision-drop-bomb-hiroshima-and-nagasaki.
Richard Frank, Why Truman Dropped the Bomb – cite to the Weekly Standard information included on the first page
Louis Morton, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.pdf – Use this information to create your citation https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011414499
Robert James Maddox, The Biggest Decision.pdf – cite to https://www.americanheritage.com/biggest-decision-why-we-had-drop-atomic-bomb
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