August 6, 1945 A Day of Terror
"A terrorist is the one with the smallest bomb." Brendan Behan
The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and three days later another one on Nagasaki was a dreadful act of terror. It targeted a city of people with the most powerful and destructive man made explosion ever created.
The United States remains the only country to ever use this only truly "weapon of mass destruction". It is a painful irony to know that a country that the country that preceives itself as a special country which was moral, humane and "under God". Of course, it is none of those things. It is a flawed human political creation.
The justification for this dreadful bombing has always been that it would shorten the war against a fanatical enemy, the Japanese, who would not surrender.
When you read the actual documents about the incident this view of the reason for dropping the bomb is questionable. President Truman and not the military made the decision.
In fact, most of the generals were against it and believed the Japanese would soon surrender.
Guide to Decision: Part I
They had already suffered fire bombings of their cities. Hiroshima was spared this so that the Americans could more clearly measure the effect of the bomb which would kill and destroy everything within a three mile radius. (It had been less than a month since the first, and only, test atomic bomb had been exploded. ). The full affect of the bomb was not known. (For decades after, radiation poisoning would continue to kill people. You find very little reference to radiation poisoning in the literature. The bombing was an experiment!
More accurately the dropping of the bomb was a political act. It was meant to prove three things:
It was an act of revenge. The Japanese were inferior fanatical human beings who would only surrender by this act of terror. The Americans had just suffered dreadful losses in fighting over the Pacific Islands. Correspondence between Harry S. Truman and Samuel Cavert
It was a real life test. The United States had just spent 2 billion dollars to create this weapon and their was pressure to use it.
It was a threat to the Soviets. The United States wanted to send the Soviet Union a message that they had this weapon and would use it. It could be seen as the beginning of the cold war.
Sadly the Japanese had been willing to surrender as long as the Allies would promise not to depose the Emperor. They insisted on an unconditional surrender. The final surrender, after the bombings, did in fact leave the Emperor in place. Guide to Decision: Part II
This dreadful act of war and terror will always remain contraversial. I am sure many will continue to argue it shortened the war and saved lives. This may not be true but in any case, the reasons were much more complicated.
The dropping of the atomic bomb has changed all our lives. We have had to live with the threat of nuclear war ever since. The first social action group I ever joined was the Ban the Bomb efforts. I remember vividly the hysteria over how to survive a nuclear explosion. It was taught in school, bomb shelters were built and warning sirens were testing regularly. There was also the dreadful period of testing of bigger and better bombs. We now know the dreadful effect of radiation of killing people, poisoning the land for human habitation and affecting future generations.
The thousands of much more powerful bomb that exist today and are armed hanging as a threat over us all.
It is troubling, indeed, to know that the United States is willing to use nuclear weapons as a first strike unilateral action. To hear American politicians who aspire to take on the responsibility of the Presidency talk casually of actually using a nuclear weapon against countries like Iran, North Korea or Pakistan is terrifying. One has to question their insanity or dreadfully ignorance of history and the nature of Nuclear warfare. They should be disqualified as a serious contender for the office of Presidency of the United States.
Read the Hiroshima Peace Declaration for 2007 http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/06/3015/
Dropping of the Atomic Bomb
Harry S. Truman's Announcement Of the Dropping Of An Atomic Bomb On Hiroshima,
Hiroshima: Was It Necessary? The Atomic Bombing of Japan