Sample Ethics Paper on Harry Truman’s Ethical Dilemma


Ethical dilemmas are a common phenomenon in organizations, governments, management, and individuals. Often, the strife to balance between established rules and policies with personal ethics comes with a price. These external and internal pressures demand a precise determination of the morally right judgment, mainly when both values compete against each other. One such decision faced Harry S. Truman, the United States President who came into power when the country was in the midst of turmoil and crisis due to the ongoing World War II. Less than a fortnight after his entry into office, Henry Stimson, his war secretary, informed him that the Manhattan Project was a success (Reed, 2015). The atomic bomb was ready to launch. President Truman had a tough decision to make for the sake of Americans and the world at large – one that would lead to the end of the seemingly perpetual war, but with grievous consequences.

The Ethical Dilemma

The employing of the renowned atomic bombs in Japan is among the most contentious happenings in world history. Numerous debates on its necessity and implications have been prevalent since the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings (Goldstein, &Stawkowski, 2015). However, was Truman justified to use it, and if not, when would have Japan terminated its quest for war? With the war, cities suffered obliteration, economies deteriorated, people died, families separated, and everyone lived in constant fear. The problem is that when Japan got an offer, to surrender or continue fighting, it chose the latter – a terrible choice (Thome, 2017). Japanese ruler, Hirohito, had given intolerable conditions, which meant that the war would persist. Other possible means to achieve the desired end were supposedly more devastating than the atomic bomb.

There is always a solution to every problem faced. The Japan issue was not just a United States dilemma but a global concern. Several approaches could have been profound to resolve the issue, but they still posed grievous consequences. First, a blockade on Japan would have starved the nation (Duling, 2018). Second, the continued Soviet invasion of Korea and Manchuria would have led to Stalin’s premeditated oppressive occupation in Hokkaido (Yamaguchi, Yoshida, & Compel, 2019). Third, the United States’ orthodox (B-29) bombing invasions within the Japanese cities would persist until there was no target to attack, as the combat for Okinawa illustrated (Duling, 2018). Fourth, the rail-line utilized in the food distribution across the country would have suffered continuous wreck. Lastly, the Operation Olympic success of the Kyushu would have risked millions of Americans and Japanese lives (Mills, 2018). All these interventions required a superior intervention because Japan was reluctant to yield and make peace.


In this scenario, a difficult decision had to be made. Truman demanded that the Japanese surrender unconditionally, which would be followed by deadly consequences if they refused. However, the U.S. never mentioned a newly developed military weapon that could destroy the masses. Unfortunately, the Japanese military overruled the request. Truman had to act, and it was his right decision that would allow for the use of a weapon, one solely made to kill on a large scale. According to Casey (2011), Truman considered it an awful responsibility that had confronted the U.S. then. Although Japan was an uncivilized and cruel nation, then, it was tough to decide that acting, in the same manner, would be the solution.

The effect of war always has serious repercussions. President Truman regretted the essence of annihilating entire populations in the attacked areas because of the few stubborn leaders. Still, the only reliable way to confront a beast was to perceive it that way. Indeed, there were millions of innocent children and women who consequently died, but Truman’s decision was worth it (Selden & Selden, 2015). Without the bombings, many Americans and the Japanese would have continually died.Additionally, more Japanese cities would be ruined, and starvation due to the diminishing sources of food would have occurred. Besides, the U.S. army would have been left stranded without resources as what remained would be depleted. However, it was tragic to know that by his authority, millions of people could die accompanied by the devastating consequences of the bombs in the later years.


The prevailing assumptions are that there existed no other alternative besides effecting the atomic bombs and that upon dropping them, Japan would immediately surrender. However, what if the attacks occurred in a lesser populated region, I think the waring nation could have observed the effects and retreat. Additionally, Truman would have ordered ground invasions on the Japanese Island. Casualties may have been high, but it was worth a trial compare to the ones caused by the bombings. The president’s situation was stressful and grievous, but was his decision rational or was it influenced by a desire to become famous by ending the war. These are some of the issues that one would weigh and determine whether the bombs were the only option, or e were there other ways to rescue the situation?



Casey, S. (2011). Harry S. Truman. In Mental maps in the early Cold War era, 1945–68 (pp. 32-51). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Duling, K. (2018). The Order to Drop the Atomic Bomb, 1945. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC.

Goldstein, D. M., &Stawkowski, M. E. (2015). James V. Neel and Yuri E. Dubrova: Cold war debates and the genetic effects of low-dose radiation. Journal of the History of Biology, 48(1), 67-98.

Mills, W. D. (2018). DM Giangreco. Hell to pay: operation downfall and the invasion of japan, 1945-annapolis, md: naval institute press, 2017. Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 19(1).

Reed, B. C. (2015). Nuclear weapons at 70: reflections on the context and legacy of the Manhattan Project. PhysicaScripta, 90(8), 088001.

Selden, K. I., & Selden, M. (2015). The Atomic Bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Routledge.

Thome, M. S. (2017). Hiroshima on peace education and problems with us-centric historical narratives in a world without survivors. International ResearchScape Journal, 4(1), 3.

Yamaguchi, H., Yoshida, F., & Compel, R. (2019). Can the atomic bombings on japan be justified? A conversation with dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa. Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, (just-accepted).