Labor Advocate Online
It is disappointing that the peace movement in the United States has done virtually nothing to mark the 59th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the only use of nuclear weapons on human targets. It was done by the United States. Americans above all should remember, and understand these twin events.
We have always been told the bombings were necessary to save lives. Invasion of Japan would have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of Japanese, it is claimed. That's bogus.
By August, 1945 the Japanese homeland was starved of food and fuel. Even if the will to fight had remained they had few resources with which to fight. In fact, at the time of the bombings, the Japanese were putting out surrender feelers through diplomatic back channels in Sweden and the Soviet Union (the Soviets did not enter the war against Japan until after the bombing of Hiroshima.) The only guarantee they sought was preservation of the Emperor.
The Truman administration rejected these overtures, demanding unconditional surrender. Of course the U.S. maintained the Emperor during the American occupation of Japan after the war.
The real reason for the atomic bombings of these two cities, that had long ceased to be military targets of any kind, was to demonstrate to the world—especially to the Soviet Union—the awesome power at Washington's command.
But the American monopoly of these new true weapons of mass destruction didn't last long. Not only allies Britain and France but soon the Soviet Union and China as well developed their own nuclear weapons along with delivery systems. By the Sixties there were enough bombs in place to totally destroy our planet many times over.
Most of those weapons are still out there. They are many times more powerful than those dropped on Japan. They still represent a great danger to human survival. This danger is enhanced by both the bipartisan supported doctrine of preemptive war and the bellicose competition between Bush and Kerry as to who will make America “strongest.”
Yes, we should remember the horrors of August '45 inflicted on working class civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We do so not only out of a sense of humanity that recoils from such bloodshed but also because this experience should motivate us to take the political steps necessary to ensure No More Hiroshimas, Nagasakis!
Bill Onasch, August 6, 2004