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Critical Evaluation

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The atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan in 1945 were not seen as a logical reaction to the war by everyone. Leo Szilard was a Hungarian physicist that was the first to conceive of the mechanics of the atomic bomb, and how it worked. He was fighting the use of these bombs on Japan, and trying to urge the President to reconsider the idea. Although he lost the argument over whether to use the bombs, his argument was valid based on the devastation that was caused by the atomic bombs in Japan. Given the results of the devastation in Japan, his side of the argument is unmistakably seen. One great contribution the Szilard had towards the construction of the A-bomb was his creation of the first controlled nuclear chain reaction . Leo Szilard started questioning the need to use the A-bomb as the war with Germany was ending. His sole reason for creating the A-bomb was his fear of Germany doing it first. He didn’t want Germany to make one before America had one for self-defense. Szilard made up a meeting with President Roosevelt to express his thoughts about the dangers of this bomb.

President Roosevelt died before he could talk about the dangers of the bomb without international control agreements in place. President Truman took over after the death of Roosevelt. The previous meeting was changed to a later date, which instead happened with James Byrnes. Byrnes was opposed to Szilard’s views on the A-bomb . This may be the reason President Truman decided on using the bombs. Leo Szilard was the main author of the Franck Report, which warned of the impact nuclear weapons could have on the current war, and what was to come in the aftermath, if used. He wrote a petition to the president of the United States urging more thought into the use of the atomic bomb on Japan.

The petition states that at that point in the war, the use of the A-bomb was not an effective means of warfare. Szilard felt that the use could not be justified under the circumstances. He went into the dangers that would be caused by the use of the bombs, and that they would only cause “ruthless annihilation and irreversible devastation .” Szilard believed that Japan should have the chance to surrender before that tragedy that would be caused from an attack like this was imposed on them. He believed that after given the chance to surrender, if Japan still chose the ladder by not surrendering, then an attack involving an atomic bomb could be discussed .

President Truman authorized the use of atomic bombs on Japan. Leo Szilard’s argument over the use of the atomic bomb on Japan is justified. The destruction that was caused by these highly destructive bombs was detrimental to the country. The effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still being seen today. Szilard lost this argument because President Truman still went ahead with the use of the A-bomb on Japan. Was he wrong about the devastation that was caused? No he absolutely wasn’t. Statistically, there were 140,000 immediate deaths from the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are currently 352,550 individuals that qualify for healthcare treatment under the A-bomb Victims Medical Care law of 1957. There were damaged buildings up to 2.3 kilometers from ground zero, and radiation exposure up to 500 meters from ground zero. The radiation exposure was considered fatal as well. After some time passed, the radiation exposure was reaching distances of 3-5 kilometers from the initial impact zone .

That is just a few facts of the destruction caused by a bomb of that magnitude. Was the use a good call by the president, or should he have given Leo Szilard a chance to explain what would happen before the fact? Given the chance to state his argument could have saved mass destruction to Japan. I think that Leo Szilard should have been able to state his argument and the dangers that went along with the use of this weapon. The president should have given Japan the chance to surrender, rather than blind-siding them with weapons that caused irreversible damage to innocent people. The loss of the argument didn’t change how correct he was in his opinion and knowledge over these weapons. He was the primary individual in the creation of the A-bomb; therefore he would have been the number one person to ask regarding the use of them.

Works Cited

“Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb.” Hiroshima: Was It Necessary? The Atomic Bombing of Japan. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. “Leo Szilard’s Petition to the President | The Manhattan Project | Historical Documents | atomicarchive.com.” atomicarchive.com: Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

“Two atomic bombs which were dropped on Japan.” George Orwell – Eric Arthur Blair. Novels. Essays. Articles. Reviews. Biography. Bibliography. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

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