Letter: Seventy-five years later, nuclear threat worse than ever
Editor of the Reformer,
On Thursday, August 6 and Sunday, August 9, it will be 75 years since the U.S. atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives in the immediate blasts or years later as a result of radiation poisoning. These bombings were ordered by then-President Truman to, as is popularly misunderstood, force the Japanese into surrender, thus ending World War II and preventing a ground invasion of Japan by U.S. troops.
However, there is another version of events, according to the late historian Howard Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States," and Joseph Gerson, author of "Empire and the Bomb." The U.S. had broken the Japanese code and through intercepted communications knew beforehand that the Japanese were ready to surrender. Nearly all of the top commanding U.S. generals were opposed to the atomic bombings. Yet, Truman went ahead with the bombings for various reasons, but predominant was that they would be a demonstration to Joseph Stalin of the "bomb's" potential in the newly emerging cold war with the Soviet Union.
So, having the distinction of being the only nation to detonate nuclear weapons on a civilian population, where are we today? It's 100 seconds to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. As the nuclear danger worsened, they went from minutes to seconds. The leading intellectual on the left, Noam Chomsky, states that the gravest threats of human extinction are nuclear war and climate change. The U.S. has committed to spending $1 trillion to upgrade its nuclear weapons, refuses to abide by the requirements of nuclear disarmament and control provisions of treaties that it has signed and has a very unstable and dangerous president with his finger on the nuclear trigger.
The anti-war and nuclear weapons movements, of which I was an active participant in the 80s and 90s - today do not seem to be much on the minds of the younger folks that will be required to keep them going. But I have not given up hope, since they can still be revitalized by arising out of the change that will be necessary to address our climate and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Putney, July 23
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