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Is the use of "but rather" correct here?

The United States' decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not a diplomatic measure to intimidate the Soviet Union, but rather a military measure designed to force Japan’s unconditional surrender.

marked as duplicate by Nigel J, Davo, Hellion, jimm101, curiousdannii Nov 10 '17 at 10:42

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  • 5
    Yes. Why do you think it isn't? – Dog Lover May 26 '15 at 2:23
  • 1
    rather means on the contrary. – Barmar May 26 '15 at 6:07
  • 1
    Yes, it's correct, although it becomes rather a false contrast if you champion the view that the bombs were dropped in order to force unconditional surrender before the Soviet Union, which had entered the war a few days previously, could gain much Japanese territory. – David Pugh May 26 '15 at 7:44

Yes it is. The but is necessary because the second part of the sentence is not a clause--it doesn't stand alone as a proposition. The rather itself approaches redundancy, but it does intensify contrast. In order to lose the but, the sentence needs to do something like this:

...not a diplomatic measure to intimidate the Soviet Union; rather, it was a military measure...

It might help to imagine a clunky pair of commas before and after the rather. Note nevertheless how little is lost by dropping the rather altogether.

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