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Political Model The Decision Making Process Behind the Use of the Atomic Bomb.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Model The Decision Making Process Behind the Use of the Atomic Bomb."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Model The Decision Making Process Behind the Use of the Atomic Bomb

2 Political Model in Context

3 Political Model Overview Basic premise: goal conflict between different groups that perceive interests are in conflict and feel the need to exert influence in order to push and protect interests Our case: goal conflict was whether or not to use the atomic bomb against the Japanese

4 1. Organizational Politics

5 1.1 Environmental Uncertainty Many actors involved in complex relationships –i.e. Groves & Oppenheimer’s backdoor dealings –Forming of committees and coalitions Nuclear armament race: surpass the Germans (purpose of the Manhattan Project), fear of uranium deposits in Czechoslovakia Hard to determine the true or full motivations of actors involved

6 1.2 Resource Dependency The Franck Report (June 11, 1945) proposes: –Ration raw uranium ores (first production stage) –Denaturalize pure fissionable isotopes (second production stage) “Creative capacities” of physicists: research was limited to 20 scientists (Moore, 1958) Resources directed towards war; memorandum from Joint Chiefs of Staff to President: “United States was currently employing all available resources against Japan” (Paulin, 1994, p.43).

7 1.3. Task Interdependency Many groups with different goals Interim Committee: scientists advised Interim Committee  advised Truman (communication flow, reporting structure) Reliance on Truman to approve decisions

8 1.4 Goal Conflict Moral dilemma (scientists): As quoted by Compton (1948): "Volney Wilson, now doubly troubled in mind, came to me in the earnest hope that we might avoid atomic attack on Japan. His reason was the straightforward one of Christian compassion. Could not some way be found to bring the war to a quick close without the ghastly destruction that we knew the bomb would cause?” Absolute solution (Interim Committee): As quoted by Stimson (1947): "We can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use.” Leo Szilard’s petitions: initially approved use of bomb against Germans but opposed use against Japanese. Monetary expenditures: Scientists & Truman wanted to test atomic bomb due to “vast sums that had been spent on the project” (Admiral Leahy quoted from Morton, 1957, p. 347).

9 1.4 Goal Conflict cont’d Groves’ desire for triumph: “If Groves, who was exceeding ambitious, could not reach the top of the army bureaucracy through combat troops, he was determined to get there by winning the war with the atomic bomb” (Goldberg, 1995, p. 489). [Groves bullied his way to Brigadier General as a reward for heading Manhattan Project.] Compton (1948): “It was difficult to get a balanced view of how our men were thinking.“ John McCloy : “U.S. remind Japan of our great military superiority, and that we would permit Japan to continue to exist as a nation..., that we would permit them to choose their own form of government, including the retention of the Mikado, but only on the basis of a constitutional monarchy.”

10 2. Process

11 2.1 Coalitions

12 Shifting coalitions: –Form alliances with like-minded: i.e. Groves & Oppenheimer: “Groves was delighted to discover…that Oppenheimer shared his belief that design and production of weapons would best be done within a special facility” (Goldberg, 1995, p. 489) –Negotiation with rivals: Potsdam Conference, Truman obliquely revealed to Stalin that America “had a weapon of unusual destructive force” in response to Szilard argument that use of atomic w/o warning would “lead to a postwar arms race between the Soviets and Americans” (Davidson & Lytle, 1992, p. 10).

13 2.1 Coalitions cont’d Quasi conflict resolution: ? Treat multiple goals as constraints √ Seek local rationality (Target Committee, scientists held town-meetings) X Use acceptable-level decision rules √ Attend to goals sequentially

14 2.2 Procedural Rationality

15 Many groups involved in arriving at consensus Holding conferences to plan operations and discuss solutions (i.e. Operation Downfall) Advisors reporting to Truman

16 3. Role of Power

17 3.1 Building Power Base Strategic control: Secrecy surrounding atomic bomb development internal and external – Japan not informed of existence of atomic bomb Scientists: created dependency by exploiting “esoteric scientific discovery and own talents to produce a powerful destructive weapon…recognize existence of resource of national value” (Moore, 1958, p. 84)

18 3.2 Exercising Decision Making Power Building coalitions: Uranium Committee, Manhattan Project (in collaboration with UK & Canada), Interim Committee, Scientific Panel, Target Committee, Potsdam Conference etc. Controlling decision premises: –Information gatekeeping: secrecy of atomic bomb project, decrypting messages (MAGIC) –Truman removing inclusion of a constitutional monarchy in the Potsdam Proclamation even though both MacCloy and Stimson thought it would lead to the Japanese surrender (Morton, 1957, p. 349) – "This may include a constitutional monarchy under the present dynasty if it be shown to the complete satisfaction of the world that such a government will never again aspire to aggression." (U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Relations of the U.S., The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) 1945, vol. 1, pg ) –Value premises: ex. Compton’s emphasis on group consensus; citing “the Biblical story of Gideon and invited those who could not agree with the decision to leave the project without prejudice because a ‘large group divided’ could not accomplish as much as a ‘small group of united, earnest men’” (as cited in Moore, 1958, p. 82)

19 3.2 Exercising Decision Making Power cont’d Enhancing expertise: Scientific community functioning as legislators (Moore, 1958, p.85) Make preferences explicit: –Speakers presented viewpoints at committee meetings (hard data?) –Justifying use of atomic bomb to “save American lives”, hard to challenge moral position

20 4. Quality of Decision Making Dominant factors: –Claim America’s supremacy in nuclear arms race –Greater good: will save American lives and end the war early –Support stability in post-war world & strengthen American diplomacy Focusing on military approach vs. diplomatic strategies indicates lack of information seeking and narrow-mindedness –“The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan.... It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisers knew it.” (Walker, 1990, p. 110) –Known factor that Soviet participation could expedite Japan’s surrender; Gen. Marshall: “‘An important point about Russian participation in the war is that the impact of Russian entry on the already hopeless Japanese may well be the decisive action levering them into capitulation at that time or shortly thereafter if we land in Japan’” (as cited in Alpervoitz et. al., 1991, p. 206). John McCloy: “The use of nuclear weapons on Japan "was not given the thoroughness of consideration and the depth of thought that the president of the United States was entitled to have before a decision of this importance was taken“ (Reston, 1991, p. 500)

21 4.1 Information Seeking President Truman’s decision making process: –Carefully considered recommendations of senior advisors (Morton, 1957, p. 344) –Access to decrypted Japanese messages (MAGIC) that confirmed Japanese’s “trajectory of decline” (Alpervotiz et. al., 1991, p. 208) –Formed Interim Committee and Scientific Panel that allowed for information and arguments to be heard: “As a result of his participation in the interim committee, Stimson believed he had received enough information, and had debated the issue at sufficient length, to make an informed decision” Suggestion of groupthink: “[Stimson’s] diary accounts also suggest that George Marshall was satisfied with the course of the discussion: 'He said it was a fine lot of men and he thought the occasion had done a lot of good and that seemed to be the opinion of all of them‘” (Bonnet, 1997, p. 197) ???

22 4.2 Consideration of Alternatives Ending the war through military might: –Land invasion of Japanese home islands (Gen. MacArthur, Operation Downfall: Olympic and Coronet) –Occupation of Japanese bases to increase air bombardment + naval blockade –Give a non-combat demonstration of bomb –William D. Leahy: effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons were enough to make Japan to surrender Ending the war through political means: –Soviet participation (War Department) –Compromise with Japanese on terms of surrender (War Department) to preserve Emperor’s power Stimson: warn Japanese “of what is to come” to allow opportunity to surrender (atomic bomb implied in strategy) Despite alternatives proposed, final decision laid with Truman

23 4.3 Strengths & Weaknesses Strengths: –Low goal ambiguity, i.e. end was never in doubt (‘unconditional’ surrender) only the means to fulfill it –Various experts and panels consulted for opinions, scientists held “town-meetings” to reach consensus Weaknesses: –Multiple conflicts & interests obscure decision making –Groups can mislead each other in order to push their own agenda  perpetuating secrecy –Sole authority lies with one leader: Truman made final decision and “did not want to be questioned” (Gillia, 2007, p. 73) –Forming coalitions based on personal reasons, i.e. “Truman was determined to choose his cabinet members on the basis of impressions and loyalty” (Gillia, 2007, p. 73)

24 4.4 Suggested Improvements External entity: Objective, expert third party to oversee decision making (i.e. League of Nations) Reduce conflict: Create more opportunities to discuss opposing views Break conventions: Discover innovative solutions that alter traditional mindsets –Transparency: Third party encourages open communication (depending on the context, this may not be possible)

25 4.5 Insight Analyzing the decision to use the atomic bomb revealed a multitude of perspectives Uncovering secret agendas Moral implications of nuclear warfare


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