"Just Another Piece of Artillery"
NUCLEAR POWER IN THE EARLY TRUMAN YEARS
IN THE SHORT TERM, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the heaviest impact not on the American public at large, but on two elites: political leaders in the executive branch entrusted with foreign and military policy, and the scientific community associated with the Manhattan Project. The reactions of these two groups have shaped American military and domestic nuclear policies ever since. Political leaders reaffirmed the 1945 decision to use nuclear weapons as a major instrument of our foreign policy; they determined to cling to the American nuclear monopoly; they adopted Churchill's world view that saw the Soviet Union as America's antagonist in an emerging bipolar division of the world; they both linked and subordinated nonmilitary applications of nuclear power to military demands, giving nuclear research an almost exclusively military orientation that lasted the better part of a decade.
The atomic age, born on August 6, 1945, created revolutions in war, politics, and science. But the new president of the United States, beset by enervating self-doubts, was poorly equipped to comprehend, let alone master, these revolutionary changes. He shrugged off the atomic bomb as "just another piece of artillery," as if it were nothing more than a larger version of the shells he had handled as a captain in the field artillery during World War I. Yet, though he underestimated the revolutionary effects of nuclear weapons, he and his successors had to develop a strategy