My planned installment for this week’s Churchill was derailed by the Paul Ryan news, and I was going to use the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings to pass along Churchill’s comments, made on August 16, 1945—only days after the Nagasaki bomb, but after Churchill had left the premiership following his defeat in the election the previous month. Here you will see Churchill anticipate the argument that has roiled ever since about the use of the atomic bomb to end the war against Japan:
The decision to use the atomic bomb was taken by President Truman and myself at Potsdam, and we approved the military plans to unchain the dread, pent-up forces. . . There are voices which assert that the bomb should never have been used at all. I cannot associate myself with such ideas. Six years of total war have convinced most people that had the Germans or the Japanese discovered this new weapon, they would have used it upon us to our complete destruction with the utmost alacrity. I am surprised that very worthy people, but people who in most cases had no intention of proceeding to the Japanese front themselves, should adopt the position that rather than throw this bomb, we should have sacrificed a million American, and a quarter of a million British lives in the desperate battles and massacres of an invasion of Japan.
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