Write a policy paper that argues one way or the other if the United States should drop an atomic bomb on Japan.

Write a policy paper that argues one way or the other if the United States should drop an atomic bomb on Japan. You must cite specific evidence from the readings to make your points, keeping in mind the final decision the President made in the primary source document you read.

The American Yawp This is a free, online textbook put out by Stanford University, it can be accessed at americanyawp.com (Links to an external site.)

Module 7 Lecture Notes
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A Dangerous World Order – Germany, and especially the German army, felt that they had been stabbed in the back by weak-willed German politicians who surrendered and accepted harsh peace terms. There was a sense of injustice and that they lacked respect form the rest of the world. Moreover, there was a rising feeling of nationalism in Germany, which helped with the rise of Hitler. Hitler then ignored Treaty of Versailles by rearming and expanding industrial prowess. In Europe, the real story though, was the weakness of the League of Nations and its inability to prevent conflict. For example, Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and made it a colony; though technically Ethiopia never surrendered. There were many of atrocities committed by the Italians, and the League did nothing. A civil war broke out in Spain. A Fascist general, Franco, came to power with help of Mussolini and Hitler. In return for military aid, Hitler got to try out his new bombers on a Spanish town during the Bombing of Guernica (1937). Again, the League did nothing. Germany rearms and sends it military to reoccupy the Ruhr Valley, an area they were expressly prohibited from entering according to the Treaty of Versailles. France and England both decide not to intervene because they did not want isolated conflicts to spread into something larger. Everyone understood that international cooperation was failing.

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Asia – Japan was an emerging empire that was slowly moving into mainland China and east towards U.S. holdings in the Pacific. Was it dangerous to still trade with them? Without our oil and steel they could not continue to expand. Could they be trusted? Everyone knew that what Japan wanted was oil and this was fueling their expansion, but no one knew how to deal with this problem, and it was ignored.

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The League of Nations was more theoretical than practical. It was very weak, almost to the point of being non-existent. The Depression caused nations to be more nationalistic, and the spirit of cooperation dwindled. By 1935, a great deal of international aggression was taking place with no attempt to stop it. In Asia, Japan wanted to dominate the entire region, and, by 1938, they had conquered much of China, Korea, and other Pacific islands.

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The Initial American Response – Congress and most Americans said, we are neutral. College students signed petitions not to fight. Neutrality Acts, a series of laws passed in the mid 1930s, stated that if war broke out, the U.S. could not sell goods or loan money to belligerents, or send merchant ships into war zones. This was a direct effort to prevent all of the mistakes America made in the years leading up to World War I. FDR was torn. At heart, he was an internationalist like his cousin, and like Wilson. His first job was as an Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As early as 1935, he saw the danger and ordered his military commanders to draw up war plans in case they did have to fight in Europe or Asia. He saw Germany as more of a threat than Japan. In reality though, FDR did little to prevent war, and little to prepare for it. He did rearm some warships, but did not attempt to halt Japanese imperial expansions. In 1938, Germany took over Austria. They then talked about taking over Czechoslovakia. In Munich, the British and French agreed to let Germany take over Czechoslovakia. This policy of giving the Germans want they wanted to avoid war was called appeasement. Everyone was still afraid of another World War I starting. Foreign policy experts in the U.S. talked about Munich for the next 4 decades, and came up with the Munich Analogy. We have to fight dictators now or we will be forced to fight them down the road when they were stronger. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The United Kingdom and France say this is unacceptable, and declare war on Germany. Thus, World War II began.

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Intervention or Isolation? War and US Foreign Policy Goals – If Germany and Japan win, this would create serious security threats to the U.S. It would hamper American trade, especially in China, as the open door would be closed, and Asian trade would be controlled by the Japanese. By July 1940, 66% of the public believed that Germany posed a threat to U.S. interests. In the spring of 1940 there was a spirited debate over intervention or isolation across the country. This would spawn the America First Movement, an isolationist group that was especially strong in the Midwest. They wanted to prevent American involvement at all costs. Charles Lindbergh was an important member.

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FDR Steps Away from Neutrality – Cash and Carry, Lend and Lease – FDR thought that if he could provide materiel to the Allies he could avoid sending troops. This was problematic because of Neutrality Acts. In 1938, he got Congress to repeal the ban on trade with countries at war. The following year he came up with his “Cash and Carry” policy. We would trade with the Allies, but they had to pay cash, and pick up the goods themselves. The U.S. also passed the first peacetime draft in American history in October 1940. Saving American lives becomes a chief aim of FDR’s administration In 1940, FDR ran for president for an unprecedented third term. He campaigned on solidarity for an uncertain future and potential war. We do not want to change horses in the middle of the race. By March 1941, England no longer had any money and France had fallen. They needed to borrow war materiel. The U.S. loaned $50.1 billion to the Allies, mostly to the United Kingdom (31.4 billion). In exchange, the U.S. could lease airbases in British territory around the world.

The Inevitability of War – By the summer of 1941 there was no doubt in FDRs mind that the U.S. had to intervene. Many Americans were beginning to agree with him. He though that any sort of war would be long and bloody, and before he committed the U.S. to it, he wanted some consensus on what the aims for the war were. Soon thereafter, Hitler invaded the USSR. At that point, lend-lease was extended to the Soviets. FDR slowly continued moving toward war. He implemented a destroyer swap which sent U.S. naval vessels to the North Atlantic to patrol for German submarines. German subs attacked the USS Greer, thus, by this point, America was involved in an undeclared naval war. Still, he did not call for a declaration of war.

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War comes to the Pacific – Against Japan, FDR had tried various forms of embargoes. By 1941, militarists had gained a lot of power in Japan. They invaded Vietnam and came dangerously close to the Philippines. The Open Door Policy, created by American diplomats, said that the U.S. would protect Chinese territorial integrity from invaders. Would the U.S. back that up? The Japanese knew the United States was the biggest threat to their power in the Pacific. The American military knew that an attack by the Japanese was coming, but most agreed that it would be in the Philippines. It was not.

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At Pearl Harbor, HI, on December 7, 1941, A day that will live in infamy, FDR got his reason for a declaration of war against Japan. But, he did not know if he could get one against Germany. Hitler solved that problem by declaring war against the U.S. The U.S. officially became a part of the Allies with England, France, and the USSR fighting against Germany, Italy, and Japan.

When compared with World War I, there was much more unity at home about this war. Our soldiers in World War I were on a grand crusade that would make the world safe for democracy. World War II was a job to do so you could go back home.

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Saving Jews from Hitlers concentration camps and the American role as liberators was important to soldiers, also. This made Americans feel proud of their role in the war. But, many Americans knew about the Holocaust by 1938. The thinking at the time was to not oppose the Holocaust because that will encourage more Jewish immigration. The State Department was very unconcerned with the slaughter. But, in the end, the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally handicapped, and the physically handicapped.

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Japanese internment – 112,000 Japanese-American men, women, and children sent to camps. This usually happened in the west. Many thought that these actions were protecting the homeland from spies and saboteurs. Despite being in the camps, many volunteered to fight. The 522nd division, formed entirely of Japanese-Americans fought valiantly in Italy, as they were not allowed to fight against the Japanese. This was a race war in the Pacific Theater. There were many negative stereotypes in the press and among troops that were used to de-humanize the enemy.

War on Civilians This was the first war that really targeted civilian populations on a large scale, especially the air war against civilian targets such as the bombing of Dresden and the firebombing Tokyo. 8 million homes were destroyed from the air. Why bomb civilians? What was the military rationale? They wanted to get the home front to give up. These attacks though had the opposite effect, the air war rallied the civilian population and made them want to keep fighting.

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The Debate over the Nuclear Age – Einsteins letter to FDR told him Germans were trying to develop a nuclear bomb. It was a race to see who could finish it first. The American effort was known as the Manhattan Project. By the time the bomb was ready to use, Germany was out of the war. The United States decided to drop it on Japan then. This killed 220,000 people. Why was it done? Many warhawks argued that it would send a message to the Soviets and demonstrate American military might to the Soviets, who were dragging their feet in entering the war against Japan. Truman said that it would save American lives and make an invasion of the Japanese home islands un-necessary. That was how is how it was presented to the American people.

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Impact of the War at Home – Much of Europe was destroyed by the war, a whole generation of men were missing. The U.S. lost 400,000 troops, the USSR lost 20 million, Germany lost 5 million, even tiny Yugoslavia lost 1.5 million. Moreover, the U.S. was completely unscathed by the destruction of the war.

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Double V Campaign The U.S. was still segregated and the armed forces were still segregated. Many African Americans say what is the point? Why enlist to fight for a nation that acts like we dont exist? Philip Randolph was an early civil rights leader. He called for a march on Washington during the war to demand equality in the war effort. FDR cuts a deal with him and pushed forward the Fair Employment Commission. This agency would regulate business to ensure that African Americans got defense jobs and contracts. African Americans wanted to fight and did so under the Double V campaign. It called for victory abroad against fascism and victory at home against racism. They wanted to fight for full integration and equal rights. There were rising expectations during the war that things would change, but frustrations grew when they did not. Riots broke out in New York and Detroit. African Americans came out of the war determined to work within the system using non-violence.

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Women – 200,000 women joined the armed forces and 6 million enter the civilian workforce. Rosie the Riveter became their symbol. They built the tanks and planes that helped their husbands, brothers, and sons win the war. Women made up 36% of the work force. Once the war was over though, most were pressured to go back home and to take up their traditional roles. The magazine Good Housekeeping celebrated these traditional roles, and most women do return to the home and make way for soldiers to resume working. Social realities had been changed by the war, but attitudes about work really had not. Most still believed that there was mens work and there was womens work. Many women, though, bucked that trend and continued working in industry. The number of women in industry rose slowly, and peaked in the 1970s.

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The Wartime Economy There was a great consolidation of business. 2/3 of government contracts went to 100 firms. 1/2 went to 36 companies. Small businessmen got very little out of the war effort. They were not exempt from the draft, and their businesses usually folded. Government intervention in the economy increased. Some price controls, some rationing, and taxes increased, not just in the amount that people had to pay, but also the lowest income bracket that had to pay taxes was reduced, so more people were paying. In 1940, only 10% of wage earners paid taxes. By 1945, almost 100% paid.

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Restored Prosperity There was a huge input of federal money into the economy. Nearly all of it was in defense spending. The Federal budget in 1939 was $9 billion, in 1945 it was $95 billion. Only half of that was tax revenue. The other half was deficit spending, either borrowing or printing new money. Keynes was proven right. It was not the New Deal that got the U.S. out of the Depression, it was World War II and the huge amount of government spending that it generated. During the war, consumerism was put on hold as the American economy churned out war goods and not consumer goods.

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The GI Bill This was one of the most successful government programs ever, and it did more to contribute to the growth of the middle class than anything before it. Late in the war, veterans and their families pushed for veterans benefits and received:

A longer period of unemployment benefits for soldiers returning form the war which allowed soldiers a longer grace period to find a job.
They received low interest home loans.