Monday, May 29, 2017

Harry S. Truman: A good wartime president

Harry S. Truman was a liberal democrat. And this makes sense, considering he was Vice President to FDR, among the most liberal Presidents we ever had. But I thought it was neat to learn, that while he was liberal on domestic issues, he was very conservative when it came to foreign policy.

I also found it very iinteresting to learn that he apparently had no knowledge of the Manhattan Project, or that the world's best scientists were working to develop an atomic bomb. Some say this was because he had basically no contact with President Roosevelt during the short time he served under him. However, it may also be a testament to the secrecy of the project, and the success of the nation amid a war to keep it a secret.

He also was unaware of what was happening inside the Soviet Union regarding their development of weapons and their development of a socialist government. So, two of the most significant markers of the Truman administration evolved around events Harry S. Truman was not even aware of prior to becoming President: The nuclear bomb and the Cold War.

On April 12, 1945, shortly after becoming the only President to be inaugurated President for a fourth term, Roosevelt died as a result of a stroke, and Truman became the 33rd President. A few months later, on May 8, 1945, victory in Europe was declared. Britain and the United States celebrated, and this day became known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E day.

War with Japan was coming to a close, please were sent to the Emperor of Japan to surrender, and the alternative was "complete and utter destruction."  The Emperor ignored the pleas, and so the war in the Pacific continued. The United States and Britain were preparing for a very costly invasion of Japan.

This prompted Truman, under the direction of his advisers, and with the permission of the British, to drop atomic bombs on Japan's military cities. After papers were dropped on the cities warning the people of what was going to happen, giving them plenty of time to get out, the bombs were dropped. On August 8, 1945, Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima.

Truman issued another warning for Japan to surrender, or a ruin will fall from the sky like no other seen in history. Japan still refused to surrender. So, on August 9, 1945, Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. There were orders for two more bombs to be dropped if necessary, but this wasn't needed, as Japan finally got the message.

The effects of the bombings were huge. Around 90,000-146,000 were dead or dying in Hiroshima, and 39,000-80,000 were dead or dying in Nagasaki. This is not even to mention all the other damage to Japan made by these horrendous bombs. This time Japan finally got the message, and on August 15, 1945, the Prime Minister offered Japan's complete surrender.

The majority of Japanese were happy the war was over, because they had suffered much loss and suffering. However, there were reports of some Japanese warriors continuing the fight in the Philippines and other places.

According to David Powers, the Japanese Emperor made his first broadcast to the Japanese people on August 15, 1945. He never spoke of "surrender" or "defeat," and so many soldiers would keep on fighting. This was testament to the importance of using the atomic bombs. If they had not been dropped, it would have come at grave costs to the United States and its allies.

In retrospect, many people still criticize Truman for dropping the bomb. They say it was a senseless act of terror on many innocent civilians. However, we must also consider the fact that the people are responsible for the people ruling over them. Truman later said that attacking Japan saved thousands of both American and Japanese lives. Estimates had a war on mainland Japan lasting over a year, and costing 250,000 to 500,000 American lives

So, the war was over. There was much celebrating. But there was also a lot of destruction caused by the war and rebuilding to do. Of course, there as also the fact that the Russians had created the Soviet Union and were pent on spreading Communism around the world. Hence, this began the reconstruction of both Europe, Japan, and the Cold War.

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