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The Bomb, I

August 06, 1995

At issue is not whether the bombs should have been used under any circumstance. The question that emerged from Granados' conversations with Hans Bethe was a pragmatic one: Taking all prevailing circumstance into consideration, should the atomic bombs have been dropped on Japan?

When the bomb was dropped 50 years ago, I was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces in Okinawa, destined, no doubt, to participate in the invasion of Kyushu, scheduled for November, 1945. Nevertheless, to this day, I remain unconvinced that the Hiroshima bomb should have been dropped without warning. And I am equally convinced that the Nagasaki bomb should not have been deployed without giving the Japenese a more reasonable period of time in which to surrender.

The bombs were built in response to apprehension that the Nazis would win the war unless we perfected a nuclear device before they did. However, we managed to win the war in Europe before the bomb was tested and its effectiveness verified. Who's to say that Japan would not have surrendered without the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And in view of Japan's inability to communicate effectively, because of war damage, it was not reasonable to expect them to surrender in the brief interval between the two bombs.

Richard Sinsheimer

Los Angeles

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