The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb: What Lessons Should We Learn?

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, remains the first and only deployment of the atomic bomb. Official memorial services in the nation’s capital of Tokyo will mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb’s deployment, a stark reminder of the consequences of war. The dropping of the atomic bomb, which occurred on August 6, 1945, in Hiroshima and August 9 in Nagasaki, were part of the U.S. effort to end World War II.

The use of the atomic bomb resulted in the deaths of at least 192,000 people, the vast majority of whom were civilians. This event serves as a potent reminder about the reality of war and how destructive it can be. Political leaders now view deploying the atomic bomb with great restraint- no country has deployed the bomb as a weapon since and many steps have been taken internationally to reduce the possibility of its future use, such as the U.N.’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the New START Treaty between Russia and the United States.

We should use this anniversary as a reminder that war often escalates far beyond expectations; conflicts that seem fairly manageable and predictable can evolve into far more violent and entrenched wars. War is of course necessary at times, the principle of restraint is important in preventing unnecessary military engagement.

However, as Americans have become more isolated from the realities of warfare, many often ignore exercising restraint. In the short term, war can often appear to be an easier or more popular option. A recent poll showed that 63 percent of American voters support a military campaign in the Middle East. When considering such a topic, we should reflect on American history and the country’s previous experiences of war, including the atomic bomb. Taking lessons from these experiences will give us telling insights into how we should face future challenges to our international security.

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