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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
Anyway, on August 10th, he was told about this memo from Groves, saying that another bomb would be ready and used soon. His response was immediate: he told Marshall to clamp down on any further use of the bombs.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
"It is not to be released on Japan without express authority from the President" reads Marshall's reply. Groves understood this for what it was: Truman taking strong control of the atomic bomb question, after he had released that control to the military.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
Why'd Truman do this? One reason is that negotiations with Japan were getting delicate — on August 10th, the Japanese sent a conditional surrender agreement to the US. The US rejected this, and insisted on unconditional surrender. The atomic bomb could muck this up.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
But Truman also told his cabinet it was about avoiding further horror. From the diary of Secretary of Commerce (and former VP) Henry Wallace, Truman wanted to avoid killing "all those kids."
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
Does that mean Truman wouldn't have used more bombs had the war continued? Probably not. He told a British ambassador a few days later that he had to order "an atomic bomb to be dropped on Tokyo." But he didn't seem happy about it.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @GordinMichael
(Fortunately for everybody, later that day, on August 14, Japan did offer unconditional surrender. It is not clear that Tokyo would have in fact been the target — the military had other ideas. On this, see 's book, "Five Days in August.")
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
Truman's August 10th order asserted that the President, and only the President, was in charge of future nuclear orders. This became his attitude going forward — mixed with a dread about what atomic bombs are, and what they do.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
According to postwar Truman, atomic bomb was "the most terrible of all destructive forces for the wholesale slaughter of human beings" (Dec. 1945). It "is used to wipe out women and children and unarmed people." (July 1948). It "murders [civilians] by the wholesale." (1952)
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
His administration codified the Presidential control policy in September 1948 (NSC-30), and it has more or less remained the way things work in the US since. For better and worse.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
But Truman's taking of the decision to use nuclear weapons away from the military, and his aversion to future use of the atomic bomb (even in non-deterrence situations, like the Korean War), set an important precedent for the nuclear age.
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Alex Wellerstein
It's the wisest thing he did regarding the bomb, in my opinion. It may have saved the world from a lot of harm. And it's something that neither the pro-bomb and anti-bomb crowds tend to give him credit for, because it conflicts with BOTH of their narratives about Truman.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
We haven't had a nuclear detonation used in war since August 9, 1945. That's not ALL on Truman, of course. But if the US had treated the atomic bomb like the military wanted to in the immediate postwar — a new "toy" for their arsenal — who knows what would have happened.
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
So whatever your thoughts on Truman — whether you think his role in the bombing of Hiroshima was great, justified, horrible, unjustified, etc. — add August 10th, 1945, to your list of "important atomic anniversaries."
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Alex Wellerstein Aug 10
Replying to @wellerstein
August 10, 1945, didn't end the threat of nuclear war. It is still with us. It may or may not always be with us — I can't see the future. But it did put us, as a species, on a different path than one might think we were on looking at the actions of the days before.
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Albert Lanier Aug 12
Replying to @wellerstein
It's also a moot point. He ordered the use of the weapons And for that he is rightly judged.
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Intensional Aug 11
Replying to @wellerstein
. I don't see how this works. A decision to bomb could come from a president and be opposed by the military, or from the military and be opposed by the president. It's not obvious that the president is always going to be more responsible than the military.
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