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Readers React: Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved American lives. That’s what matters

President Obama lays a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan on May 27.
President Obama lays a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan on May 27.
(Shuji Kajiyama / Associated Press)

To the editor: Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick are correct that Allied intelligence had been reporting in 1945 that a Soviet invasion would knock Japan out of World War II. They are correct that the U.S. had firebombed more than 100 Japanese cities, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were just two more cities destroyed. (“Bombing Hiroshima changed the world, but it didn’t end WWII,” Opinion, May 26)

They say that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower didn’t share President Truman’s exuberance over the use of atomic bombs. They don’t mention that after Eisenhower was elected president, he told North Korea and China to end the Korean War or face a nuclear attack. I was serving in the U.S. Army in Korea at the time.

Days after the first atomic bomb was dropped, on Hiroshima, the Soviet Union invaded Manchuria. It was just a matter of time until the Soviets would have invaded Japan and the Philippines.

Truman was right: The use of atomic bombs saved thousands of lives on both sides.

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Bill Simpson, Rancho Palos Verdes

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To the editor: Stone and Kuznick excellently debunk the cover story the U.S. used to hoodwink the world into thinking that the atom bombs ended the war and saved lives.

While they focus on political considerations, they do not mention the determination of the military to find out what an A-bomb would do to an intact city and a human population. Scientists wanted to compare the effects of a uranium bomb (Hiroshima) with a plutonium bomb (Nagasaki). They were worried that the war might end before they got a chance to test the new weapons.

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Furthermore, they wanted to know more about what radiation does to people, both short-term and long-term. That is why the U.S. launched the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission — not to help survivors, but to document radiation effects. This was followed by secret human radiation experiments in which thousands of Americans were irradiated without their knowledge or consent.

In short, the U.S. has a lot of apologize for — but expressing contrition was never the purpose of the president’s visit to Hiroshima. Instead it was to awaken the world to the real dangers of a world where lots of countries have nuclear weapons and someday we may be the victim.

Continuing the myth that nuclear weapons can solve disputes and save lives brings us all closer to unspeakable catastrophe.

Roger Johnson, San Clemente

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To the editor: If, as contended by Stone and Kuznick, Japan was so anxious to surrender despite indisputable extensive evidence that, among other things, the Japanese citizenry was being trained to violently resist a land invasion that would have caused a bloodbath for both sides, why did they omit any mention of the absence any Japanese offer to surrender in the three days after Hiroshima, which precipitated the decision to bomb Nagasaki?

Howard R. Price, Beverly Hills

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To the editor: When I was in high school in the late 1950s, we had a brilliant history teacher who taught us that the U.S. government had cracked the Japanese code and knew that nation intended to surrender.

The U.S. government’s use of atomic bombs must be a strong reminder to us of what citizenship must entail. We citizens have the serious responsibility to be vocal against the use of devastating weapons of war. We cannot allow our leaders to use the desire to satisfy a certain kind of curiosity about what the weapons can do, the cost of their development or fear as justifications for their use.

We need, instead, to fully support use of historical memory, cautious decision-making and fully funded training in the use of diplomacy.

Mary Leah Plante, Los Angeles

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