You no doubt remember when Donald John Trump threatened North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this year with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.”
Kim had issued some threats to the United States. The president was having none of it. Well, the president isn’t exactly a student of history, as we know.
Seventy-three years ago today, one of Trump’s predecessors, President Harry Truman, issued the order to release a new kind of “fire and fury” on a nation with which we were at war.
A U.S. Army Air Force B-29 bomber took off on Aug. 6, 1945, from Tinian Island and headed for Hiroshima, Japan. It dropped a single bomb on Hiroshima. It killed tens of thousands of Japanese citizens in an instant. It was the first time the world saw a nuclear weapon deployed in a hostile act. It wouldn’t be the final time.
Three days later, another bomber flew over Nagasaki, Japan, and repeated the destruction.
The Japanese surrendered five days later, ending the world’s greatest, bloodiest and costliest conflict.
President Truman took office in April 1945 upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. The new president knew only a tiny bit of information about the Manhattan Project, where scientists were working on this terrible new weapon way out yonder in Los Alamos, N.M.
President Truman was briefed fully not long after he took office. The military brass told him, in effect, “Mr. President, we have this weapon under development that we believe will bring a quick end to the war.” The president agreed.
He would say many years later that he harbored no regret over using the atomic bomb. I have saluted President Truman many times over the years for the decision he made, based on the evidence he had at the time — and the lives he saved by persuading the enemy to surrender and allowing us to forgo an invasion of Japan by sea, air and land forces.
Fire and fury? There it was.