Hiroshima-Nagasaki: 70-Year Nuclear Explosions Not Done Yet

The dropping of those bombs and the explicit threat ever since to drop more is a crime that has given birth to a new species of imperialism.

On Aug. 6 and 9, millions of people will mark the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in those cities and at events around the world. Some will celebrate the recent deal in which Iran committed not to pursue nuclear weapons and to comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty with requirements not imposed on any other nation.

Yet, those nations that have nuclear weapons are either violating the NPT by failing to disarm or by building more (U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India), or they have refused to sign the treaty (Israel, Pakistan, North Korea). Meanwhile, new nations are acquiring nuclear energy despite possessing an abundance of oil and/or some of the best conditions for solar energy on earth (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE).

Nuclear missiles containing more than the entire bombing power of World War II in a single bomb are aimed by the thousands at Russia from the United States and vice versa. A 30-second fit of insanity in a US or Russian president could eliminate all life on earth; all the while, the United States is playing war games on Russia’s border. The acceptance of this madness as normal and routine is part of the continued explosion of those two bombs, begun 70 years ago and rarely properly understood.

The dropping of those bombs and the explicit threat ever since to drop more is a crime that has given birth to a new species of imperialism. The United States has intervened in over 70 nations, more than one per year since World War II, and has now come full circle to re-militarize Japan.

The history of the first US militarization of Japan was initially brought to light by James Bradley. In 1853 the US Navy forced Japan open to US merchants, missionaries, and militarism. In 1872 the US military began training the Japanese in how to conquer other nations, with an eye on Taiwan.

Charles LeGendre, an American general training the Japanese in the ways of war, proposed that they adopt a Monroe Doctrine for Asia – that is a policy of dominating Asia in the way that the United States dominated its hemisphere. In 1873, Japan invaded Taiwan with US military advisors and weaponry. Korea was next, followed by China in 1894. In 1904, US President Theodore Roosevelt encouraged Japan to attack Russia. But he broke a promise to Japan by refusing to go public with his support for its Monroe Doctrine, and he backed Russia’s refusal to pay Japan a dime following the war. The Japanese empire became seen as a competitor rather than a proxy, and the US military spent decades planning for a war with Japan.

President Harry Truman, who would order the nuclear bombings in 1945, told the US Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible." Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German? There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did. A US Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded US naval forces in the South Pacific, vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell.

On August 6, 1945, President Truman announced: "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese army base." Of course it was a city, not an army base at all. "Having found the bomb we have used it," Truman declared. "We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare." Truman said nothing about reluctance or the price necessary for ending the war.

In fact, Japan had been trying to surrender for months, including in its July 13 cable sent to Stalin, who read it to Truman. Japan wanted only to keep its emperor, terms the United States refused until after the nuclear bombings. Truman’s advisor James Byrnes wanted the bombs dropped to end the war before the Soviet Union could invade Japan. In fact, the Soviets attacked the Japanese in Manchuria on the same day as the Nagasaki bombing and overwhelmed them. The US and the Soviets continued the war on Japan for weeks after Nagasaki. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, "… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." One opponent of the nuclear bombings who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."

The war wasn’t just over. The new American empire was launched. "The revulsion against war … will be an almost insuperable obstacle for us to overcome," said General Electric CEO Charles Wilson in 1944. "For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy." And so they did. Although invasions were nothing new to the US military, they now came on a whole new scale. And the ever-present threat of nuclear weapons use has been a key part of it.

Truman threatened to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower’s enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes," Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam. And how many times has Iran been reminded that "all options are on the table"?

The United States has intervened in over 70 nations, more than one per year since World War II, and has now come full circle to re-militarize  Japan.

A new campaign to abolish nuclear weapons is growing fast and deserves our support. But today, Japan is being re-militarized. And once again, the US government imagines it will like the results. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with US support, is reinterpreting this language in the Japanese Constitution:

"[T]he Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. … [L]and, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."

The new "reinterpretation," accomplished without amending the Constitution, holds that Japan can maintain land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, and that Japan will use war or threaten war to defend itself, to defend any of its allies, or to take part in a U.N.-authorized war anywhere on earth. Abe’s "reinterpretation" skills would make the US Office of Legal Counsel blush.

US commentators are referring to this shift in Japan as "normalization" and are expressing outrage at Japan’s failure to engage in any wars since World War II. The US government will now expect Japan’s participation in any threat or use of war against China or Russia. But accompanying the return of Japanese militarism is the rise of Japanese nationalism, not Japanese devotion to US rule. And even the Japanese nationalism is not weak in Okinawa, where the movement to evict US military bases grows stronger all the time.

In re-militarizing Japan, rather than demilitarizing itself, the United States is playing with fire.

Reprinted with permission from Telesur.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. He is the author of War Is A Lie.

14 thoughts on “Hiroshima-Nagasaki: 70-Year Nuclear Explosions Not Done Yet”

  1. Were all Japanese civilians innocent in their country's war of aggression in WWII ? I doubt it! So many of them were seen publicly supporting their army and celebrating each and every one of its victory. So was it so unfair that they paid a little bit for the heinous crimes their country commited? No, not a bit !

    See how the Japanese remember 8/6 (day atomic bomb was dropped on them)? Have they said a word about the tremendous sufferings they brought to people around the world?! Until they do and apologize to all the victims, I'd calmly tell them: you deserved it!


    1. Oh really John? Terrorists defends acts of terrorism by telling their victims they deserved it? We had no idea! Tell us more about your terrorist philosphy. It's not like we haven't heard it before from every terrorist ever.

      1. In this case, James, you are accusing the U.S. govt acted as a terrorist state by dropping atomic bombs on Japan? Ha!

        1. Yes, "terrorism". I don't see what is so controversial about that. If you're going to claim the intentional killing of a civilian population to achieve a political goal isn't "terrorism", you're going to need to provide the definition of "terrorism" you're using.

          Otherwise, you are defending a terrorist act. And as I previously said, you're even using the standard boilerplate defense of terrorism — civilians are responsible for and should be punished for the crimes of the government that rules the territory they live in — that every terrorist/terror-apologist uses when making a weak attempt to justify an act of terrorism.

    2. So, looking at the same principle, you'd say….?

      "Were all American civilians innocent in their country's aggression in the Middle East? I doubt it! So many of them were seen publicly supporting their army and celebrating each and every one of its victories. So was it so unfair that they paid a little bit for the heinous crimes their country committed? No, not a bit !

      See how the American remember 9/11? Have they said a word about the tremendous sufferings they brought to people around the world prior to that?! Until they do and apologize to all the victims, I'd calmly tell them: you deserved it!"

  2. Is John Chan innocent of his rulers' wars of aggression? Would it be unfair if he was nuked a little bit for the heinous crimes committed by his statist masters? Or is he just a troll blinded by hate?

    1. BSmith: Do you know what you are talking about? All I see is your blind hate for people who have my last name. By definitionn, you are a racist!

      1. One's name does not indicate their race. So sorry, try again- but use a different kind of victim card next time.

  3. On July 24th at the Potsdam Conference, Truman approached Stalin about the use of a powerful weapon on Japan. The next day, Atlee would replace Churchill and Churchill knew what was about to happen. It was a sensitive issue, if Truman would say too much, Stalin would expect details. Say too little and it would not have any impact. The goal for Truman was to stop Stalin from doing to Japan, what he had to Berlin — devastation. President Truman said to Stalin, “We have a new weapon of unusual destructive force.” Stalin replied to Truman, “Make good use of it against the Japanese” He had little reaction. With his message delivered, Truman and the two world leaders went on with the business at hand: the Potsdam declaration of surrender, issued to Japan on the day of Churchill’s departure. Japan refused to surrender. Preparations for Little Boy began.

    On August 6th at 4:00am Tokyo time, the Japanese received a declaration of war from the Soviet Union. Manchuria had been invaded the night before, and this would ensure the Japanese knew Stalin was at their door. Four hours later, Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima with the equivalent force of 20,000 tons of TNT. Of the 350,000 people there at the time, well over 100,000 died instantly. There was no response from Tokyo as they believed the US could not have more than one or two more atomic weapons. Japan chose to endure more atomic bombs — which was true, only one more existed. The Chief of the Japanese Navy General Staff Admiral Soemu Toyoda then stated, "There would be more destruction but the war will go on." Japan refused to surrender. Preparations for Fat Man began.

    The target now is Kokura, a large munitions plant. On August 9th, cloud cover and smoke blocked their view. At that point Nagasaki was selected for the target. Of some 250,000 people, near 50,000 died immediately. Of course many more would die later due to wounds and radiation. Formal surrender from Japan then occurred. The surrender came on August 14th. The Emperor then made his speech to the Japanese people in private, his advisers made two recordings of it and these were taken to two different radio stations for safety. It was broadcast in Japan at noon. Stalin's invasion was planned for August 15th.

    Col. Rollin Reineck of the 73rd Bomb Wing on Saipan in 1945 said, "War is an atrocity. The real war against the Japanese Military Regime only lasted nine months, from November of 1944 to August of 1945. Using conventional bombs we destroyed 172 square miles of urban industrial areas, yet both atomic bombs together only destroyed 3% of that: some six square miles. We there not to win a war but to stop it."

    — From The Taking of Saipan, SpecialBooks.com

    Douglas Westfall, American Historian

  4. Sometimes I think that technology and innovations will destroy us. In stead of using it for worldwide benefits, we use it for our own. I do understand that defending your country is important, but it is not as important as the lives of innocent people. It is good that now we are not that eager to start wars just because we do not favor other people.

    Johan, a writer at EssayWritersOnline

  5. Sommetider folk ved ikke, hvornår turisme er en sikreste løsning i at opnå os i at studere sundere. Undertegnede har mange idé til dem af jer hvad kan besidde været kede med aktiviteterne i hverdagen, der er ved for at læse artikler relateret til rejse information, som undertegnede skrev, plus titlen eller sikkert hvis du har mere du magter også lytte til artikler andre attraktioner, som jeg titlen jeg håber det, jeg giver over disse kommentarer kan skænke en positiv værdi plus værd fortil dig verden.

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