Dwight Eisenhower Said Bombing Japan “Was Completely Unnecessary”

By: Lydia Iseh | Last updated: Sep 25, 2023

Many people perceived the decision to bomb civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a trolley problem. What’s that, you ask?

A trolley problem is an intellectual exercise used to test the difference between the morality of an action we chose and the consequences of taking no action.

Opinions and Beliefs

Trolley problem or not, five-star general, Supreme Allied Commander, and former US president Dwight Eisenhower was against blowing up two Japanese cities for two reasons.


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The first was that the Japanese were ready to surrender, and there was no necessary reason to hit them. Second, he disliked seeing his country be the first to use a nuclear weapon. His statements go against the prevailing opinion that the use of atomic weapons saved many lives.

Theorizing the Trolley Problem

According to trolley problem theory, in this context the use of nuclear weapons on the Japanese caused the death of fewer people compared to inaction. 


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However, the theory cannot be applied in real life because the consequence of the inactivity was just a pure assumption. No one knows what the Japanese military would have done had the bombs not been dropped.

Having Serious Reservations

Defenders of the atomic massacre justified their beliefs by saying the alternative to the deliberate mass slaughter was a massive invasion that would have caused the demise of millions. They didn’t think of other alternatives, and disagreed that other options were available—but then Eisenhower stated that the Japanese were about to succumb.


Battered religious figures stand watch on a hill above a tattered valley. Nagasaki, Japan. September 24, 1945. Cpl. Lynn P. Walker, Jr. (Marine Corps) NARA FILE #: 127-N-136176 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1241

According to his biographer, Eisenhower expressed his reservations to war secretary Harry Stimson, explaining the two reasons why he was against blowing up the cities. He felt it was no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.

A Question of Morals

President Harry Truman’s chief military adviser, Admiral William Leahy, agreed with Eisenhower. The admiral’s opinion was that the use of the barbarous weapon in Japan was of no assistance in their strife against the country. “The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the sea blockade and other conventional weapons,” Leahy said. 


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The moral of the story is that there were certainly more than these two possible options, and it was a travesty to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.