Monday, August 06, 2007


The 'official' story is something like this: we had to drop the bomb on Japan to force them to surrender and thus save heaps of lives - allied soldiers and Japanese civilians who would all be killed in huge numbers when we invaded Japan.

This, it appears, would be a pack of lies invented after the fact of the bombings, setting aside the fact that even if it were true, it is no justification. Cut off from oil and overseas empire, Japan was totally defeated already. Invasion and further killing was not necessary - surrender or no surrender.

The atomic bombings were a war crime, a crime against humanity, an act of barbarism and state terrorism on a gigantic scale. A blunt and ruthless message to the Soviet Union and in fact the entire world.

It goes something like this: 'We've got a bomb. It's a big bomb. We're gonna drop it on a city and wipe it out. See that? We did it. You don't believe we could have done that? Wiped out a whole city and all it's people? You better believe it. There. We did it again. Got that?'

What makes the Holocaust horrific above all other crimes is that such a large number of innocent people could have been deliberately and cold-bloodedly murdered in a concentrated period of time, for no good reason, by a scientifically and technologically advanced society. The atomic bombing of Japan is in a somewhat similar category.

America lost its soul when it permitted itself to commit this crime. Since then, the postwar era could be described as a sustained struggle against the evil of US global hegemony, which has proved itself with its warcrimes and atrocities to be a kind of slow motion nazism. Many millions of victims over more than six decades on several continents. De-militarization, de-nuclearisation, de-nazification and dismantlement of the United States could be the only remedy.

On Aug. 9, three days after the Enola Gay dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and hours after Bockscar dropped it on Nagasaki, Truman announced, "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians." Actually, of course, it was not a military base, but a city, a fact that Truman must have known before he made the decision. And if he didn't know it, then how horrible is that? Someone who wants to drop a nuclear bomb on a target should surely do due diligence to find out what the target is. That seems like a minimal requirement.

In response to a clergyman who criticized his decision, Truman wrote:

"I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast."

It's a sad fact of humanity that once war starts the hate and killing is all but impossible to restrain. Another reason why the concept of 'humanitarian war' is such a nauseating fraud.

And how regrettable was it to Truman? He later wrote, "I telephoned Byrnes [his secretary of state] aboard ship to give him the news and then said to the group of sailors around me, 'This is the greatest thing in history.'"

"Careful scholarly treatment of the records and manuscripts opened over the past few years has greatly enhanced our understanding of why the Truman administration used atomic weapons against Japan. Experts continue to disagree on some issues, but critical questions have been answered. The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan and to end the war within a relatively short time. It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisers knew it."

Fleet Admiral Leahy, for instance, the chief of staff to the president and a friend of Truman's, thought the atom bomb unnecessary. Furthermore, he wrote, "in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."[4] Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, commander in chief of the U.S. Fleet and chief of Naval Operations, thought the war could be ended well before a planned November 1945 naval invasion. And in a public speech on Oct. 5, 1945, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, said, "The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war."

Many Army leaders had similar views. Author Norman Cousins writes of Gen. Douglas MacArthur:

"[H]e 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."

What about the idea that the Japanese would fiercely resist an invasion of their main islands? It is one of those myths that have come about with few apparent facts to support it. The various military men who were close to the action were quite confident that the Japanese had been so thoroughly bombed and their infrastructure so thoroughly destroyed that there was no need for the atom bomb. The literature is rife with quotes to that effect.

Henderson goes on in his article to describe how, after the bombing, there was ongoing criticism from a number of sources, including Einstein, and so therefore they had to craft an official response. It was in this way that the 'saving American lives' story was invented, years after the fact.

(Photo is Seizo Yamada's ground level photo taken from approximately 7km NE of Hiroshima)

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