facebook pixel
New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

The Moral Justification of the Atomic Bomb

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer and Nikos Sotirakopoulos analyze the moral justification and the criticisms of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan in light of the movie Oppenheimer. The episode features audio clips of Ayn Rand discussing the right of military self-defense and the issue of “innocents in war.”

Among the topics covered:

  • The claim that Japan would have surrendered before the US dropped the bomb;
  • Why the Japanese military kept fighting despite knowing the war was lost;
  • Why the bomb was dropped when Japan was already defeated militarily;
  • The crucial distinction between military defeat and unconditional surrender;
  • The bogus claim that the bomb was dropped to deter the Soviet Union;
  • The defense of your own citizens’ lives and rights as the moral purpose of war;
  • How Rand thought about “innocents in war” and their moral responsibilities;
  • A previously-unreleased clip of Rand speaking about the controversial issue of targeting civilians in war;
  • Lessons to draw from this podcast.

Mentioned in this podcast and relevant to the discussion are Rand’s 1966 article “The Roots of War,”  Rand’s 1972 and 1976 Ford Hall Forum lectures “A Nation’s Unity,” and “The Moral Factor,” Onkar Ghate’s article “Innocents in War?,” John David Lewis’ book Nothing Less than Victory, and Brandon Lisi’s New Ideal article “Rand and Oppenheimer: The Atomic Bomb Movie that Wasn’t.”

The podcast was recorded on August 24, 2023. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


If you value the ideas presented here, please become an ARI Member today.

Do you have a comment or question?

Share this article:

Updates from New Ideal

Book Image  

Listen to New Ideal Live!

New Ideal Live is the podcast that explores pressing cultural issues from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, which upholds the ideals of reason, individualism, and capitalism.

Subscribe here.

Ayn Rand University App

Explore unique philosophical content that challenges conventional views — in courses you can take on the go.

Available on Google Play and
the App Store.

Welcome to New Ideal!

If you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter! You’ll also receive a FREE copy of our book, Illuminating Ayn Rand.