Hiroshima And Nagasaki:
Worst Terror Attacks In Historyby Norm Dixon
August 1, 2005
Green Left Weekly August 6 and August 9 will mark the 60th anniversaries
of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were
killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city was obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people
had died from radiation and injuries.
Three days after Hiroshima's destruction, the US drooped an A-bomb on
Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.
Since 1945, tens of thousands
more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still
A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation
of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme
human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst terror acts in human history.
The 60th anniversaries
will inevitably be marked by countless mass media commentaries and speeches repeating the 60-year-old mantra that there was
no other choice but to use A-bombs in order to avoid a bitter, prolonged invasion of Japan.
On July 21, the British
magazine undermined this chorus when it reported that two historians had uncovered evidence revealing
that “the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against
the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War”. Peter Kuznick, director of the
Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington stated that US President Harry Truman's decision to blast
the cities “was not just a war crime, it was a crime against humanity”.
With Mark Selden, a historian from
Cornell University in New York, Kuznick studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR. They found that three
days before Hiroshima, Truman agreed at a meeting that Japan was “looking for peace”. His senior generals and
political advisers told him there was no need to use the A-bomb. But the bombs were dropped anyway. “Impressing Russia
was more important than ending the war”, Selden told the New Scientist
While the capitalist media immediately
dubbed the historians' “theory” “controversial”, it accords with the testimony of many central US
political and military players at the time, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who stated bluntly in a 1963 Newsweek
interview that “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing”.
Truman's chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, stated in his memoirs that “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
At the time though, Washington cold-bloodedly decided to obliterate the lives of hundreds of thousands
of men, women and children to show off the terrible power of its new super weapon and underline the US rulers' ruthless preparedness
to use it.
These terrible acts were intended to warn the leaders of the Soviet Union that their cities would suffer
the same fate if the USSR attempted to stand in the way of Washington's plans to create an “American Century”
of US global domination. Nuclear scientist Leo Szilard recounted to his biographers how Truman's secretary of state, James
Byrnes, told him before the Hiroshima attack that “Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military
might and that a demonstration of the bomb may impress Russia”.
Drunk from the success of its nuclear bloodletting
in Japan, Washington planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons on at least 20 occasions in the 1950s and 1960s, only
being restrained when the USSR developed enough nuclear-armed rockets to usher in the era of “mutually assured destruction”,
and the US rulers' fear that their use again of nuclear weapons would led to a massive anti-US political revolt by ordinary
people around the world.
Washington's policy of nuclear terror remains intact. The US refuses to rule out the first
use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. Its latest Nuclear Posture Review envisages the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear
“rogue states” and it is developing a new generation of ‘battlefield” nuclear weapons.
of the political backlash that would be caused in the US and around the globe by the use of nuclear weapons remains the main
restraint upon the atomaniacs in Washington. On this 60th anniversary year of history's worst acts of terror, the most effective
thing that peace-loving people around the world can do to keep that fear alive in the minds of the US rulers is to recommit
ourselves to defeating Washington's current “local” wars of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
, August 3, 2005.
© Copyright Norm Dixon, Green Left Weekly, 2005