Labor Advocate Online
Updating Our Remembrance Of
by Bill Onasch
On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima we reprint what we wrote last year, followed by some updated remarks. We do take note that this year the peace movement is organizing events to mark Hiroshima.
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
August 5, 2005 Addendum
Some facts to keep in mind:
* The United states remains the only power to ever use nuclear weapons on human beings.
* It’s estimated that more than 11,000 nuclear weapons remain armed and ready for delivery on targets.
* More than 6,000 are in the arsenal of the U.S., which continues to spend 27 billion dollars a year on this program.
* Russia, heir to the old Soviet Union’s nuclear might, still has about 3,000.
* Intelligence experts guess Israel has 200 nuclear bombs. Arab countries have zero nuclear weapons.
The United States and Britain knew full well their claim of Iraq processing "weapons of mass destruction" was a lie when they invaded that country. They have been much more cautious in dealing with north Korea, which does have a small nuclear capability. The lesson of this deterrent factor has not been lost on Iran–also under threat by Bush/Blair.
After a brief period of perceived progress in disarmament, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists famous Doomsday Clock currently stands at seven minutes to midnight–exactly where it was set when launched 55 years ago.
As long as wars continue to rage the danger of new Hiroshimas–even destruction of the planet as we know it–is real and imminent. In the short term those of us in the United States have a duty to defuse this threat by working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to stop American complicity in the subjugation of Palestinians, and other oppressed peoples throughout the Middle East. And we need to demand that the government that speaks in our name cease its both overt and covert interventions in Cuba and Venezuela.
In the long run, we will only get rid of that Doomsday Clock when working people around the world secure peace with justice by taking political power away from those whose drive for profits and power inevitably lead to war.
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