August 6. . . . .August 9
I may have trouble remembering my grand children's birthdays but these two days I never forget.
These are the dates of the anniversary of the single largest war crime within my lifetime. These are the days the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The World largely ignores the days as the events fade into history. And yet, they cannot fade completely for these events changed to World forever. They ushered in the nuclear age. For me, I am part of the generation that has lived under the threat of thermonuclear war in which to die instantly would be the most human even for such a war would unleash suffering beyond comprehension. The first protests group I ever joined was the "Ban the Bomb" movement of the late 50's and early 60's. The insanity of the Cold War saw the continual stockpiling of nuclear weapons in great numbers and in increasing destructive force as the US and the USSR faced off in mutual fear and insanity. We lived with the possibility of the weapons being used even though any sane or humane person or nation would never do that. And yet it had happened before by the nation I grew up admiring as a idealistic, humane and responsible country (my grasp of history was not as good as it is today.) I largely accepted the propaganda history that was talent from the day the bombs were dropped on Japan until today.
The propaganda view begins with viewing the "Japs" as fiendish people who did not share our value for human life. The use of the bomb was necessary to save many more lives which would be lost if the allies had to invade Japan to end the war. We did not fully understand the destructive effects and after affects of the atomic bomb. (that was true perhaps of bombing Hiroshima but less so for the bombing of Nagasaki). Was it not justified when the Japanese surrendered? You cannot argue with success.
What we were not told was that the Japanese were human being as worthy of living as us. Also, there was wide spread opposition among military and political people in the US, who were in a position of influence, against using the atomic bomb. Furthermore, the Japanese were prepared to surrender. They had made efforts to set up some kind of negotiation. The Americans would not accept anything other than unconditional surrender (although in the end they left the Emperor in place).
It is hard to understand the real reason the bombs were dropped. Truman was a relatively unsophisticated man from mid America. He was persuaded by that who forcefully made the case to use the bomb. Apparently, to his dying day he had not regrets although I wonder if he slept all that well some nights. From what I think is that the argument was that we have this new weapon that we have gone to great lengths to develop and yet not fully tested, and that we should use it. It may help to terrorize the Japanese into surrendering. There seems to have been a political reason. The war was over in Europe and it seems the Soviets wanted to move east and participate in defeating the Japanese. The Americans did not like or trust the Soviets and did not want them to develop a sphere in influence in the East. Therefore, it was necessary to end the war with Japan in a hurry. All of these views you can find in the literature, unfortunately the original propaganda view of the use of the atomic bombs persists in the history taught in our school.
We continue to live under the threat of thermonuclear war. The club of Nations that have such weapons has expanded. There are those who now say the bombs could be used in "limited" ways so it is no longer unthinkable that they would be used. There have been efforts to reduce the threat of overt use of an accidental use of theme but not nearly enough. We need a major nuclear country to say they will dismantle all their bombs before others may be persuaded to do likewise. Which country has the courage to demonstrate a commitment to peace?
Some countries have moved on to less destructive warfare and yet fiendish all the same. We have seen agent orange used in Vietnam and depleted uranium used in Iraq that leave you wondering what other fiendish weapons are being develop that some would argue, "We have developed them and have them so we should use them."
Let the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki be a warning and a lesson for us all.