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We didn’t need to drop the bomb — and even our WW II military icons knew it via Salon

President Obama will finally visit Hiroshima. Moral leadership suggests both sides apologize for unspeakable acts

When President Obama visits Hiroshima later this month, he might do well to reflect on the views of another President who was also the five-star general who oversaw America’s military victory in World War II. In a 1963 interview on the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima, President Dwight D. Eisenhower bluntly declared that “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

Eisenhower was even more specific in his memoirs, writing that when he was informed by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson the bomb was about to be used against Japan “…I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives…”

Eisenhower was not alone. Many of the top military leaders, mostly conservatives, went public after World War II with similar judgments. The President’s chief of staff, William D. Leahy–the five-star admiral who presided over meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff–noted in his diary seven weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima: “It is my opinion that at the present time a surrender of Japan can be arranged with terms that can be accepted by Japan and that will make fully satisfactory provision for America’s defense against future trans-Pacific aggression.”

After the war Leahy declared in his 1950 memoir: “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender….My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children…”

Just a few weeks after the bombing, the famous “hawk” who led the Twenty-First Bomber Command, Major General Curtis E. LeMay, stated publicly that “The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb…the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”

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