Washington – U.S. leaders knew that they did not have to drop atomic bombs on Japan 75 years ago to win World War II, according to an opinion piece the Los Angeles Times ran in its online edition Wednesday.
The claim stands against what the article said is "the accepted wisdom in the United States" that dropping the atomic bombs on the city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and the city of Nagasaki three days later "was the only way to end the World War II without an invasion that would have cost hundreds and thousands of American and perhaps millions of Japanese lives."
The article was contributed to the paper by two historians — Gar Alperovitz, co-founder of U.S. think tank Democracy Collaborative, and Martin J. Sherwin, a professor at George Mason University.
Alperovitz is known as the author of "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb," which argues that the main reason for dropping the bombs on Japan was to threaten the former Soviet Union.
"The overwhelming historical evidence from American and Japanese archives indicates that Japan would have surrendered that August, even if atomic bombs had not been used," the article said. Documents prove that then-U.S. President Harry Truman and his closest advisers "knew it," it added.
The article noted that Truman won an assurance from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at a summit in Potsdam, Germany, on July 17, 1945, that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan.
The next day, Truman assured his wife, "We'll end the war a year sooner now," it said.
The Soviet Union's entry to the war on Aug. 8 that year "changed everything for Japan's leaders, who privately acknowledged the need to surrender promptly," according to the article.
The essay also claimed that seven of the United States' eight five-star Army and Navy officers, including William Leahy, Truman's chief of staff, maintained that "the atomic bombs were either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both."
The article quoted Leahy as saying in his memoir, "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan."
This year, U.S. scientific magazine the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of its Doomsday Clock, which symbolizes the time remaining until human extinction, to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has been to the hypothetical annihilation.
The advancing clock "is a reminder that the violent inauguration of the nuclear age has yet to be confined in the past," the article said.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.