American ideology and the atomic bomb Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h415pf79w

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  • On August 6, 1945 the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. The events that led up to the United States' decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japanese cities is extensive, historical and political. President Roosevelt died, and Harry S. Truman took his place as President of the United States in April. The atomic bombs were being developed at this time as well, and in July the first one was successfully tested. It was necessary for the United States to publicly justify its use of the atomic bombs. Secretary of war, Henry L. Stimson, was chosen to write the article. In February 1947 the article, "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb," was published in Harper's Magazine. Stimson constructed the article in a manner that would be consistent with American ideology and could be morally accepted by the American readers. Ideology provided the framework of the selected authors for analysis of Stimson's article. The specific ideology focused on is the ideology of post World War II America. This is the ideology in which Stimson's article "lived" in, and influenced his choice of rhetoric; the main focus of the analysis is Stimson's rhetoric. Identifying the elements of the text of the article and the ideological character of that text is key to understanding Stimson's choice of rhetoric. He asked this audience to accept certain points in order to justify the United States' use of the atomic bombs. He centered the article on themes such as American dominance, leadership, and moral and intellectual superiority; he used specific words and phrases to bring these themes to light. While Stimson's article was, and is, an important source of information there were many facts and events that he excluded from it to formulate the desired version of the justification. Possibly, the most prominent of Stimson's justifications for the use of the atomic bomb was this number of American lives saved. The analysis of this article and its findings are relevant in our understanding of political reporting of important events. The importance of understanding how and why Stimson used certain rhetoric to play to American ideological standards can help Americans today and in the future to better understand the portrayals of present day media coverage and political rhetoric.
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