We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that one way or another
– J. Robert Oppenheimer
Sixty-two years ago this month of August – for bogus, trumped-up reasons – America dropped atomic bombs, decimating two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and annihilating perhaps 200,000 civilians, yes, mostly non-combatants in the first and hopefully only wartime use of nuclear weapons. Somehow it seems almost everyone still believes nuking Japan was imperative – therefore anyone who disagrees is naturally branded a traitor or a lunatic.
“I hope [your phrase] ‘for bogus reasons’ means Japan’s surrender was imminent and Washington knew it and dropped the bombs anyway as a means to demonstrate to the Soviet Union that the Red Army had gone quite far enough in Europe and Asia and that the U.S. had a weapon to counter it,” says savvy Washington, D.C., political observer/magazine editor “Langley Forbes,” not his real name.
“Paul Fussell has a whole book rationalizing the atomic slaughter titled “Thank God For The Atomic Bomb,” pointing out millions of American soldiers would’ve died in an invasion of Nippon proper. I rather doubt there’s a Japanese translation,” “Forbes” says dryly, adding, “I would think that sort of crassness regarding mass murder would scotch a serious intellectual career, but I guess I’m way wrong.”
Paradoxically, with the passage of time, this horrific event seems less and less commemorated or even acknowledged in the USA, as if the innocent dead were merely expendable crash-test dummies. Has the idiot leadership running our great nation into the ground ever REALLY repented of this barbarity?
As Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, once noted in a Reuters report, “To this day the United States has not apologized for or even acknowledged the holocaust that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki … in World War II.”
Nor does much of the populace of this fabulous country of ours seem to have second thoughts, either. “We were absolutely justified in dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. I am probably alive because we did,” one netizen recently proclaims proudly, as if by rote. Is that a cause for celebration? “Yes, it saved millions of lives.” And yours? “My dad was aboard ship,” he replies, “on his way to invade Wakayama Bay, 50 miles from Tokyo, when a rumor went around that we had dropped a bomb ’100 times stronger than TNT.’”
Well, guess what, smug bombmeisters? Even Gen. [before he became President] Eisenhower was against our government nuking Japan. In “Mandate for Change,” he wrote: “I was one of those who felt there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. … The Secretary [of War Henry Stimson], upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression, and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief Japan was already defeated and dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face.’ The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude. …”
Furthermore, in “The Pathology of Power,” Norman Cousins, consultant to Gen. MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan, wrote, “MacArthur’s views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed. When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”
Others went on to renounce their rubber-stamp ideology. While Albert Einstein originally signed a 1939 letter drafted by scientist Leo Szilard to President Roosevelt calling for U.S. government support of an imperative program to build an atomic bomb lest the Nazis make one first, Einstein later repudiated that gesture as “the one great mistake” of his life.
Fortunately, we now have insightful and persuasive contemporary voices raised in disavowal. Thanks to the Institute for Public Accuracy’s David Zupan for providing these position quotes:
- WILLIAM D. HARTUNG, director of the Arms and Security Project at the New America Foundation: “Even more so than Hiroshima, the U.S. decision drop a second atomic bomb – this time on Nagasaki – is still viewed as an act of incredible cruelty in much of the world. Amazingly enough, it is still U.S. policy to keep the nuclear option ‘on the table’ in dealings with actual and potential adversaries like Iran. Not only does this immoral policy risk pushing Tehran toward getting the bomb itself, but it runs counter to international law, as evidenced by an historic World Court opinion asserting the only legitimate use of nuclear weapons is against another nuclear weapons state threatening to use it against one’s country.”
- CARAH ONG, Iran policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation: “The Non-Proliferation Treaty was built on a basic bargain: Non-nuclear weapons states agreed to forego developing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment on the part of nuclear weapons states to end the nuclear arms race at an early date and to engage in ‘good faith’ negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament. For the treaty to succeed in its purpose, both sides of the bargain must be fulfilled. With a few notable exceptions, the non-nuclear weapons states have kept their end of the bargain. On the other hand, the nuclear weapons states have shown scant inclination to fulfill their disarmament commitments.”
- WARD WILSON, author of the article “The Winning Weapon? Rethinking Nuclear Weapons in Light of Hiroshima,” published in the Harvard University-based journal International Security: “My historical research shows that the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had apparently little or no impact on the Japanese decision to surrender. … In the spring of 1945, Japan was already largely defeated and Japan’s leaders knew it. … [It was] the Soviet declaration of war on Aug. 9, 1945, the same day as Nagasaki, that forced the Japanese to surrender. Many of the Japanese cities bombed that summer (66 others) suffered similar damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. … Historians often point to Japanese statements made after the war as proof the U.S. nuclear attack on Hiroshima was decisive. … However, Japanese leaders had motives for concealing the truth. … The bomb offered a convenient explanation to soothe wounded Japanese pride: The defeat of Japan was not the result of leadership mistakes or lack of valor; it was the result of an unexpected advance in science by Japan’s enemy.”
- JACQUELINE CABASSO, executive director, Western States Legal Foundation, and contributor to the new book “Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis and Paths to Peace”: “As carried out against Iraq and threatened against Iran, the specter of nuclear weapons in the hands of ‘rogue’ states has become the United States’ No. 1 excuse for waging war. Sixty-two years after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs on two densely populated cities, killing more than 200,000 civilians, the threatened first use of nuclear weapons remains the ‘cornerstone’ of U.S. national security policy. Today, the U.S. retains some 10,000 nuclear weapons, is designing new ones, and is pouring billions of dollars into its nuclear weapons complex, while warning Iran that ‘all options are on the table.’ Who’s threatening whom?”
Remember, to some folks, “Nukes” is the ultimate “N-word.” Offensive. Deadly. Destructive. Insulting. Unnecessary. Which means, don’t use it, don’t say it, don’t do it, don’t even think it!
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