The consensus among US historians is that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — in addition to being moral abominations against civilians — were also opposed by senior military leaders, including General (later President) Eisenhower, who did not see them as politically necessary.
While making no excuses for Japanese militarism and imperial aggressions, we should remember that in the months prior to the US’s atomic bombings, the Japanese government attempted to surrender on terms the US ultimately accepted after the atomic bombings: unconditional surrender with the exception of the emperor remaining on his throne. According to my own research for my book, most senior US military leaders thought that the bombings were unnecessary and wrong.
Craven domestic political calculations, racism and bureaucratic momentum contributed to former President Harry Truman’s decision to usher in the nuclear age with the annihilation of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but as General Leslie Groves, who led the Manhattan Project, remarked in 1943, the atomic bomb project was no longer about Germany or Japan. It was about Russia. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporized, incinerated, poisoned and traumatized to ensure that the US would not have to share influence with the Soviet Union in Northern China, Manchuria and Korea. Further, Truman thought that the atomic bomb gave him “a hammer” with which he could dominate the Kremlin with the threat of nuclear annihilation.
Despite the Hibakusha‘s fundamental truth that human beings and nuclear weapons cannot coexist, the illusion that nuclear weapons have worked and can serve as the ultimate enforcer of empire, compounded by lies and mistaken beliefs about nuclear deterrence, have repeatedly brought us to the brink of nuclear omnicide and have driven nuclear weapons proliferation. In Helsinki, Finland, Russian President Vladimir Putin again illuminated the madness and injustice of nuclear apartheid. “As major nuclear powers,” he said, “we bear special responsibility for maintaining international security.” He and Trump believe that their nuclear arsenals give them the right to intimidate and dictate how the world’s nations and peoples live and possibly die.