chapter  6
Nuclear War and Its Justification
WithIan Clark
Pages 17

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki established significant moral precedents that were to help shape subsequent attitudes towards nuclear weapons. The civilian hostage that has figured so prominently in the history of nuclear deterrence, whilst not an invention of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was nonetheless cast in an unforgettably new heroic role by the atomic attacks. The justification, or otherwise, of the atomic bombings will stand or fall on the basis of our reading of the evidence on the issues already presented. Moreover, on the basis of other Truman documents, there is some reason for believing that he so persistently conflated the vengeance and the end-the-war themes that he saw the two as being part of one overall justification for the use of the bomb. The final element in the assessment of the 1945 bombings is the ex post facto justification that they have contributed to the subsequent nuclear peace.