(This article first appeared on CommonDreams.org)
by Gar Alperovitz
This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the August 6, 1945 bombing of
Hiroshima. One might think that by now historians would agree on all the
fundamental issues. The reality, however, is just the opposite: All the major
issues involved in the decision are still very much a matter of dispute among
experts. An obvious question is why this should be so after so many years.
Did the atomic bomb, in fact, cause Japan to surrender? Most Americans think
the answer is self-evident. However, many historical studies–including new
publications by two highly regarded scholars–challenge the conventional
understanding. In a recently released Harvard University Press volume
drawing upon the latest Japanese sources, for instance, Professor Tsuyohsi
Hasegawa concludes that the traditional “myth cannot be supported by
historical facts.” By far the most important factor forcing the decision, his
research indicates, was the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on August
8, 1945, just after the Hiroshima bombing.