If Hiroshima was a city of such great military significance why was it not bombed sooner? The US was able freely to roam the skies over Japan for years.

The answer to this question can be found in the following excerpt from the minutes of the Target Committee that met in Los Alamos on May 10-11, 1945:

A. Dr. Stearns described the work he had done on target selection. He has surveyed possible targets possessing the following qualification:

  1. they be important targets in a large urban area of more than three miles in diameter,
  2. they be capable of being damaged effectively by a blast, and
  3. they are unlikely to be attacked by next August.

    Dr. Stearns had a list of five targets which the Air Force would be willing to reserve for our use unless unforeseen circumstances arise. [My emphasis]

US bombers were dropping tons of incendiary bombs on residential neighborhoods of cities and by 1945 there was a scarcity of "fresh" military targets as Stearns' wording makes clear. At this late date, Japan had become a shooting gallery for the US Army Air Force.

The use of the bomb was not related to its military effect. The requirement that the target have some military aspect was driven more by the need of the post-drop propaganda campaign for a "handle" to rationalize the use of this massive weapon at this late date in the war. The plausibility of this assertion is supported by the following excerpt from the same Target Committee meeting minutes:

7. Psychological Factors in Target Selection

A. It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are:

  1. obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and
  2. making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released. [My emphasis]

8. Use Against "Military" Objectives

A. It was agreed that for the initial use of the weapon any small and strictly military objective should be located in a much larger area subject to blast damage in order to avoid undue risks of the weapon being lost due to bad placing of the bomb.

The person who prepared the minutes felt compelled to put the adjective 'military' in quotes to indicate that it was being used in an unconventional sense. And in the subsequent paragraph the relative importance of the military aspect to the surrounding area is clearly indicated.

What this indicates is that this committee was selecting a place to show off the destuctive power of their new weapon to maximum effect and not for its ability to destroy a military target which would significantly reduce Japan's capacity to fight a war.

The reference to "international recognition" of their new weapon is a euphemism for the Soviet Union. It certainly wasn't Denmark they wanted to impress. By May 1945, the Red Army had demonstrated that it was the strongest military might in the world. However, the US' new weapon was about to change the balance back in its favor, to enable it to safely double cross its ally, and to launch its own assault on bolshevism, a direct continuation of the foreign policy of the Third Reich.

That they were cognizant of its use against non-combatant civilians, which inevitably includes children, is made clear in their rationale for the first recommended target, Kyoto:

B. In this respect Kyoto has the advantage of the people being more highly intelligent and hence better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon.

The ignorance displayed in this sentence is enlightening and gives us a better appreciation of the Western Values which the US is in the business of exporting.

For the record, the following personnel constituted the Target Committee:

General Farrell Dr. C. Lauritsen
Colonel Seeman Dr. Ramsey
Captain Parsons Dr. Dennison
Major Derry Dr. von Neumann
Dr. Stearns Dr. Wilson
Dr. Tolman Dr. Penney
Dr. Oppenheimer