Yesterday was an anniversary of the United State's dropping of the second atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. While a plausible argument might be made that the first atomic attack in history at Hiroshima was a legitimate military tactic in a world war that had reached genocidal proportions--Dresden had been carpet bombed by the British--the attack on Nagasaki is without such justifications. President Truman considered the Japanese finished by the time of the atomic attacks, writing in his diary after Potsdam, "Fini Japs.", and knew that the Soviet Union would invade Manchuria creating a two front pincer the Japanese military could not escape. Sixty Japanese cities were already extensively damaged by incendiary air raids. Japan's government was suing for peace through Russian diplomats. The president also knew that civilian casualties were enormous at Hiroshima having been fully briefed on the results of the first atomic bomb attack. In his public announcement of the Hiroshima operation he misleadingly referred to the city as a "military base". Truman shrewdly assessed his nation was in no mood for a prolonged end game. Horrendous US losses at Okinawa previewed the carnage to come against a Japanese foe sworn to fight to the death ("Ketsugō").
Yet knowing of the devastation of Hiroshima and knowing the enemy was already militarily defeated, he allowed the second attack to go ahead on August 9th, killing perhaps 90,000 more civilians (50,000 immediately; only 250 soldiers died in the bombing). The Red Army was rolling over Japanese resistance in Manchuria, their planned invasion hastened by America's destruction of Hiroshima three days earlier. There was no direct presidential directive to unleash America's second weapon of mass destruction. The Nagasaki plutonium bomb was twice as powerful as the Hiroshima uranium bomb, but it was dropped a mile off target. It devastated the city's Urakami District, crushing the Catholic cathedral as well as destroying the Mitsubishi arsenal. If the bomb had hit the city's center as planned, the destruction and death would have exceeded Hiroshima's. No bombing pause was offered by the United States. An admittedly deluded Japanese leadership was meeting to consider sparing their people the hell of a lost cause, and a rain of atomic terror. Nevertheless historical records show the divided Japanese council debating surrender adjourned without reaching a decision even after the Nagasaki bomb was dropped. Their primary concern was the continuation of the imperial throne. Apparently, in their estimation of American leaders, the Soviet communists were a greater threat to that goal. History proved them correct.
The American political leadership were not without their own delusions, insisting a political rubric of "unconditional surrender" govern ending the Pacific war. That policy was later ignored by their own commanding general of the Occupation who consider the emperor a useful figurehead in controlling the Japanese population. America's other commanding general in Europe saw the atomic raids as unnecessary saying we should never have hit Japan, "with that awful thing." The Manhattan Project had produced several operational bombs, and the implosion type device was previously tested at Alamogordo. Therefore, the dropping of "Fat Man" was not a matter of testing an untried weapon technology; nor could the US not afford a demonstration detonation, for example, in full view of the emperor with Tokyo Bay as "zero point". The Nagasaki bombing was automated warfare and arguably the first shot of the Cold War. So here for your consideration on this anniversary is a patriotic War Department video of the results of America's greatest war crime:
For an alternative and more accurate view of the days leading up to the tragic destruction of Nagasaki view this dramatic reinactment video.