Two Views on Hiroshima

August 6th, 2004 - by admin

Nicholas D. Kristof (New York Times) and David Crockett Williams (Tehachapi Peace Center)& – 2004-08-06 09:29:46

The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.” — Albert Einstein

We have too many men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon of the Mount…The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” — General Omar N. Bradley; Chief of Staff; United States Army; 1948

Having invented a new Holocaust And been the first with it to win a war, How they make haste to cry with fingers crossed, King’s X–no fair to use it any more! — Robert Frost

A Day that Will Live in Infamy
August 6, 1945 — US Drops Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. 140,000 civilians die from immediate effects of the bombing; tens of thousands more in subsequent decades from radiation induced illnesses, including descendents.

Nagasaki, home to almost 400,000 people, gets the same 2 days later. The bomb explodes in the air & destroys more than two-thirds of the city’s buildings. About half the population is buried in ruins, burned to death by the explosion’s heat, or consumed by fire. Thousands of survivors develop radiation sickness.

One month after the blast, a typhoon hits causing makeshift hospitals and other weakened buildings to crumble & hundreds more people die.

1955 — Japan: First World Conference Against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held on 10th anniversary of the bombing.

1985 — USSR begins unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. US responds by conducting more underground nuclear tests. In 1998 the US expresses moral outrage at India & Pakistan for similar tests.

On August 5, 2004, New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed making a case that the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki was a necessary evil. Below is Kristof’s Op-Ed followed by a thoughtful reply written by peace activist David Crockett Williams

Blood on Our Hands?
Nicholas D. Kristof / New York Times

(August 5, 2004) — Tomorrow will mark the anniversary of one of the most morally contentious events of the 20th century, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. And after 58 years, there’s an emerging consensus: we Americans have blood on our hands.

There has been a chorus here and abroad that the US has little moral standing on the issue of weapons of mass destruction because we were the first to use the atomic bomb. As Nelson Mandela said of Americans in a speech on Jan. 31, “Because they decided to kill innocent people in Japan, who are still suffering from that, who are they now to pretend that they are the policeman of the world?”

The traditional American position, that our intention in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki was to end the war early and save lives, has been poked full of holes. Revisionist historians like Gar Alperovitz argue persuasively that Washington believed the bombing militarily unnecessary (except to establish American primacy in the postwar order) because, as the US Strategic Bombing Survey put it in 1946, “in all probability” Japan would have surrendered even without the atomic bombs.

Yet this emerging consensus is, I think, profoundly mistaken.

Some Japanese Saw Bomb as ‘Salvation’
While American scholarship has undercut the US moral position, Japanese historical research has bolstered it. The Japanese scholarship, by historians like Sadao Asada of Doshisha University in Kyoto, notes that Japanese wartime leaders who favored surrender saw their salvation in the atomic bombing. The Japanese military was steadfastly refusing to give up, so the peace faction seized upon the bombing as a new argument to force surrender.

“We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war,” Koichi Kido, one of Emperor Hirohito’s closest aides, said later.

Wartime records and memoirs show that the emperor and some of his aides wanted to end the war by summer 1945. But they were vacillating and couldn’t prevail over a military that was determined to keep going even if that meant, as a navy official urged at one meeting, “sacrificing 20 million Japanese lives.”

A ‘Gift from Heaven’
The atomic bombings broke this political stalemate and were thus described by Mitsumasa Yonai, the navy minister at the time, as a “gift from heaven.”

Without the atomic bombings, Japan would have continued fighting by inertia. This would have meant more firebombing of Japanese cities and a ground invasion, planned for November 1945, of the main Japanese islands. The fighting over the small, sparsely populated islands of Okinawa had killed 14,000 Americans and 200,000 Japanese, and in the main islands the toll would have run into the millions.

“The atomic bomb was a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war,” Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary in 1945, said later.

Some argue that the US could have demonstrated the bomb on an uninhabited island, or could have encouraged surrender by promising that Japan could keep its emperor. Yes, perhaps, and we should have tried. We could also have waited longer before dropping the second bomb, on Nagasaki.

But, sadly, the record suggests that restraint would not have worked. The Japanese military ferociously resisted surrender even after two atomic bombings on major cities, even after Soviet entry into the war, even when it expected another atomic bomb – on Tokyo.

One of the great tales of World War II concerns an American fighter pilot named Marcus McDilda who was shot down on Aug. 8 and brutally interrogated about the atomic bombs. He knew nothing, but under torture he “confessed” that the US had 100 more nuclear weapons and planned to destroy Tokyo “in the next few days.”

The war minister informed the cabinet of this grim news — but still adamantly opposed surrender. In the aftermath of the atomic bombing, the emperor and peace faction finally insisted on surrender and were able to prevail.

It feels unseemly to defend the vaporizing of two cities, events that are regarded in some quarters as among the most monstrous acts of the 20th century. But we owe it to history to appreciate that the greatest tragedy of Hiroshima was not that so many people were incinerated in an instant, but that in a complex and brutal world, the alternatives were worse.

Blood on Our Hands? A Reply to the New York Times
David Crockett Williams

TEHACHAPI, CALIFORNIA (August 5, 2004) — Dear Mr. Kristof, Thanks for your thought-provoking OpEd piece in today’s New York Times, but your conclusion is a bit weak in light of the underlying the real reason for the timing of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was to break the secret agreement among the WWII allies that the Soviet Union would invade Japan which would thereafter have become a Soviet satellite state.

As several recent US television documentaries have clearly shown, the Soviets had already moved troops and their invasion of Japan was imminent, in accord with that agreement reached shortly before the defeat of Germany.

This reason for the timing of these atomic bomb tests on human beings (it was the first human testing by design, US damage assessment teams went in asap but rendered no medical aid) was, in character with how the US has treated the native American peoples since its beginning, to break this international agreement with the Soviet Union and initiate the first strike nuclear threat posture that the United States still holds to this day.

Is it any wonder that other nations of the world have responded in kind to this ongoing first strike nuclear threat from the US, countries like Korea today?

This is moral and ethical hypocricy at its most blatant and serious level.

The Tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Continues Today
The greatest tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is this resultant continued ongoing nuclear weapons race, initiated and maintained by the US to the detriment of the world and its own domestic population which suffers not only because of the money squandered on such weapons instead of education and health care, etc, but increasing crime and lawlessness due to the obvious criminality of the US government in its actions and laws made up by the few and enforced on its own citizens by violence and the threat of violence — the country which has the highest per capita imprisonment rate in the world.

This US agressive posture promising the first use of these diabolical weapons of mass destruction is the real ongoing tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that all of your cited “ending the war sooner and saving lives” arguments simply obscure and obfuscate.

The greatest legacy and benefit of America’s human sacrifice of Hiroshima and Nagasaki civilian populations is that understanding it correctly can help bring about the only realistic solution, complete global disarmament, nuclear disarmament and complete global disarmament by all peoples working together as an activity of conscience to create a sustainable global culture of peace as per the United Nations 2000-2009 International Decade of Creating a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century.

This is what the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings have been coming to America to tell us over these past decades.

Especially today when we face the threats of “global terrorism” and this karma of the US is being reflected back upon us by threats of suitcase nukes blowing up American cities, we would also profit from examining the comparative religious beliefs between Japan and the Islamic world.

The historically peaceful culture of Buddhism was perverted by militarism in Japan and its tenets of self-sacrifice perverted into the Kamikaze suicide bombers.

Today the peaceful culture of Islam has been perverted and its spirit of self-sacrifice to benefit the community of believers used to justify suicide bombings of even civilian targets (as were Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both largely Christian towns with their men away at war) because of their precedent, fueled by the outrage against a “white Christian” United States imposing its brand of state religion (scientific liberalism) on the rest of the world under threat of the same fate as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Cleary, the USA is, in reality, human history’s worst bully, not the world’s policeman.

The foundation for Earth’s future global sustainable culture of peace is the spiritual human civilization rising up from each human heart in respect of all human beings as one family of life on this Earth, all as brothers and sisters on this planet our home, the global interfaith spiritual civilization which will manifest by True Human Beings reawakening to the light of truth, ie, understanding the absolute nature of truth.

The coming global human spiritual reawakening may be very fast, like a consciousness revolution. Let’s monitor its progress by August 9 Nagasaki Day.

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