No, America Wasn’t the Bad Guy in World War II

August 10, 2021 Updated: August 12, 2021


As students around the nation are returning to school, once they step into the classroom, many will be met with a curriculum that specifically attempts to paint America as the world’s “big bad.”

Anti-American academics and revisionist history such as the laughably false 1619 Project have flooded the education system and teach students that their country has been irredeemably evil throughout its entire existence. One area that has fallen under attack in more recent years is America’s role in ending World War II, which happened 76 years ago on Aug. 15, 1945.

Pundits and academics now point to World War II and say that America was nearly as bad, if not worse, than the nations it was fighting. Revisionists claim that “the truth is that nobody acquitted themselves particularly well during the war.” In particular, the use of the atomic bombs to end the war has been highlighted as one of the major “sins” of the United States during World War II. For example, the AP U.S. History standards in 2014 (pdf) declared that the atomic bomb “raised questions about American values.” The public outrage in response to this caused the progressives to change the language in the standards the next year, but the anti-American tone has continued unabated in classrooms across the country.

But what actually happened in the days leading up to Aug. 15, 1945, when Japan finally surrendered and World War II ended? Why were the bombs necessary, and why did the Japanese refuse to surrender even after the first one was dropped?

On Aug. 6, 1945, some 1,870 feet above the city of Hiroshima, the first atomic bomb detonated. Yet the Japanese rulers refused to surrender. Even after the second bomb hit Nagasaki on Aug. 9, the Japanese Imperial Council still couldn’t agree whether to surrender or not, with the vote being three to three. Over the state propaganda radio, they reassured the citizens to “keep high spirits firm and predicted a defense for the bomb would be developed,” according to “The Bulldozer: the Magazine of Combined Operations.”

Finally, the emperor—who was typically little more than a ceremonial pawn in the hands of the military leaders—stepped forward and cast his vote to surrender. This decision was made over the cries of the new national slogan that had been spreading organically across Japan—“Hundred Million Die Together.” In the Emperor’s surrender message to his people, he could only muster up the courage to admit that “the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.”

Finally, after almost 10 years of relentless Japanese military radicalism throughout the Pacific and Asia, their extremist regime was at an end. From the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Japanese military and government had slaughtered millions of innocents as they grasped at resources, land, and power. The atrocities committed by the Japanese army during this period are as shocking as they are overlooked.

During the Rape of Nanking in 1937, they massacred as many as 350,000 people and raped up to 80,000 women. Similarly, the Japanese army had a long history of taking “comfort women” from conquered areas and forcing them into sexual slavery. The inhumanity with which these women were treated is unimaginable, with some survivors reporting that they were raped by more than 10 Japanese soldiers per day for weeks on end. Estimates indicate that well over 200,000 women were subjected to such treatment, with less than 30 percent of them surviving to the end of the war.

It was common practice for the Japanese to murder prisoners of war, and various war crimes were practically enshrined in their national religion of State Shintoism. Examples abound, including the Bangka Island Massacre (1942), where the Japanese executed captured Australian nurses; the Bataan and Sandakan Death Marches (1942 and 1945); and the cannibalization of captured Allied soldiers. One American pilot, probably in his early 20s, was captured and beheaded after he crash-landed in enemy territory. Then “the Japanese cut flesh from his arms, legs, hips and buttock … and fried it,” later passing out portions to everyone, according to “The Knights of Bushido: a history of Japanese war crimes during World War II.”

It’s also worth noting that before dropping the atomic bombs, the Americans also dropped millions of leaflets warning the Japanese citizens to get out of towns that were about to be bombed. The navigator on the Enola Gay, which dropped the first bomb, said, “We dropped the bombs to end the war and stop the killing. … Earlier, we dropped millions of leaflets which were largely ignored.” These leaflets begged the Japanese people to evacuate cities with military targets and demand that their leaders surrender. One of these leaflets said:

“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives.”

Japanese leaflet
The front of a leaflet warning Japanese civilians. (Courtesy Wallbuilders)

It went on to encourage the citizens, saying:

“America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan.”

Japanese leaflet
The back of a leaflet warning Japanese civilians. (Courtesy Wallbuilders)

Thankfully, the Japan of today is radically different from the Japan of the 1930s and 1940s. Without the bomb, the Japanese government simply wasn’t going to agree to surrender its army, its oppressive government, or its military. Instead, it was passing out sharpened bamboo sticks to women and training children to detonate grenades in order to make a land assault as costly as humanly possible. Estimates predicted there would have been as many as 10 million Japanese deaths and 4 million Allied casualties.

Ultimately, the bomb saved millions of lives and forced the oppressive military regime to finally surrender and take the first step in building “a new and better Japan.” So as millions of children are returning to school this month, let’s remember that no, America was not the bad guy in World War II.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Timothy Barton
Timothy Barton
Timothy Barton is the president of WallBuilders, a national organization dedicated to highlighting the true facts about the founding of America, our Constitution, and our rich history.