The Atomic Bomb was used more as a weapon of surrender upon the people of Japan than it was used as a display of power towards the Soviets in 1945. The Japanese military had already shown an unwillingness to surrender throughout the war, and this feeling was made famous by their infamous use of suicide pilots, called kamikazes. They had 5,000,000 troops scattered throughout the Pacific Theater of Operations, and an American invasion of the Japanese homeland would have lasted until late 1946 at the least, resulting in no less than 1,000,000 American deaths, according to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.
Although such an invasion was the initial plan of action, after testing of the Manhattan project in New Mexico was completed, the Atomic Bomb seemed to be a quicker solution to an already drawn out war. Although people such as James Byrne and General Arnold believed that the surrender of the Japanese was imminent, I don’t think that this was the case. Yes, we had done sufficient damage to their mainland already with conventional bombs, crippling their shipping routes and their military. They were in no state to continue a war, but this doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have implemented every possible way to end American lives. I am not quick to think that a nation which is willing to go to such extremes for victory as Japan was willing to go through was on the brink of surrender. Byrne predicted that the war would have only taken 6 more months to end conventionally, but I doubt that the American military would have been able to conquer an empire with the willpower of Japan in a mere 6 months.
And even if this was the case, as I stated before, American casualties would reach 7 digits in the conquest, numbers that would cripple the American economy even after the war was to be over. And finally, I think President Harry S. Truman’s radio address in August 1945 basically outlines that the dropping of the bomb was somewhat morally acceptable. President Truman states that he believes that if Japan was in our position and they had the bomb, they would not have even thought twice before using it. He reminds the people that the bomb was dropped on the same people who surprise attacked us at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the same people who tortured so many of our P.O.W.’s.
I think this speech shows that the bomb was used more against Japan, the people who brought us into the war in the 1st place, than the Soviets, our rivals. Although the power display was in my mind a benefit of the whole situation, I don’t think that it was the main reason for the plan of action at all. If America wanted to show off its military might they could have just as soon marched right through Japan in conventional fashion, since apparently it was so crippled militarily, which in my mind would have been just as much of if not more of a victory than simply dropping two bombs on target.