ATOMIC BOMBINGS AT 75: The Decision to Drop the Bomb on Japan and the Genesis of the Cold War


20-10-20 05:15:00,

The head of the Manhattan Project said, “The purpose of the whole project was to subdue the Russians,” writes Scott Ritter in this excerpt from his book Scorpion King.

(The following is taken from Scorpion King: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump, written by Scott Ritter and published by Clarity Press.)

By Scott Ritter

Even by the heightened standards of a nation’s capital during wartime, the gathering of generals, admirals, and high government officials in the White House Cabinet Room on the afternoon of Monday, June 18, 1945, was impressive. Only one, however, could claim resident status—the newly sworn in president of the United States, Harry S. Truman.

A veteran of the First World War and a long-serving Democratic senator from the state of Missouri, Truman was an unlikely candidate for the job he now held. A compromise candidate for the office of vice president in 1944, Truman was no close confidant of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Indeed, he had little insight into Roosevelt’s thinking about postwar relations with the Soviet Union and no knowledge of the existence of a major program—the Manhattan Project—to produce an atomic bomb.

In a series of meetings conducted shortly after being sworn in as president, Truman overcame this deficit, maintaining a pledge to adhere as closely as possible to the policy directions set forth by President Roosevelt. But some decisions would have to be taken by the new president, which is why he had convened the Cabinet Room meeting. [Minutes]

Truman Cabinet meeting at the White House, Aug. 10, 1945, one day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. (Abbie Rowe/Truman Library)

Joining Truman was General George Catlett Marshall, the distinguished 64-year-old chief of staff of the U.S. Army. In addition to managing the problems associated with waging global war, General Marshall was also a member of a high-level committee (the “Top Policy Group,” formed in October 1941) overseeing the effort by the United States to construct an atomic bomb.

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