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70 Years since the Bombing of Hiroshima

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A scene of chaos from Barefoot Gen

Today, I interrupt my anime blog to talk about an important historical event – one that isn’t really history so much as it is the dire present.

Today, tens of thousands of people gathered at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to remember the horrors that took place this day, exactly seventy years ago. They lit lanterns, burned incense sticks, released doves over the Atomic Bomb dome and clapped their hands in prayer, all fervently believing in that same wish for peace: Never again.

Never again should a nuclear bomb be dropped on civilians, destroying countless innocent lives.

Never again should the scourge of nuclear radiation haunt its victims’ lives until the end of their days.

Never again should such devastating human cost be justified in the name of “stopping the war”.

Unfortunately, we as a human race have failed to make good of our promises. Hiroshima and Nagasaki might remain the only two cities to have suffered the direct brunt of a nuclear bomb strike, but nuclear proliferation has not decreased in the wake of this tragedy – it has only increased, and the weapons themselves have become far more powerful.

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Source: The Economist

We live in a world where the cold war never ended, and where hot wars break out all the time. A world where nuclear-related accidents happen because of government and corporate malpractice, but whose victims are stifled and left to suffer the long-term health consequences. A world where wars are fought with the push of a button, where drones kill innocents and in doing so beget more killing.

We live in a world that cannot, must not forget Hiroshima, however much amnesia might seem like bliss.

It is ironic, then, that today’s message of peace came from the grandson of a war criminal. This same man is fighting to restart potentially faulty nuclear power plants and pushing a radical reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist constitution.

“We have to continue our effort to achieve a world without nuclear weapons,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today, but I am not sure if I believe in his sincerity.

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Source: BBC

The fault lines of the system are not just present in Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party. The mere existence of nuclear weapons is politically destabilising. 191 of the world’s 195 states have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the small handful of nuclear-armed states refuse to eliminate their existing nuclear stockpile. As long as one state has access to nuclear weapons, other states will want them too, if only to protect their position.

Here is one statistic that gets to me: if the equivalent of the Hiroshima bomb were detonated every two hours for seventy years, the world’s nuclear arsenal would still not be depleted.

How is it that so many people can wish for peace but still cling to their weapons out of fear of what might happen if they were to let go? Is this really the nature of life on this earth? Or have we simply gotten used to this manufactured state of fear?

After all, it is not you or I who holds the nuclear weapons. If they were to disappear overnight, none of us would notice it. As far as ordinary citizens are concerned, they are out of sight, out of mind – and yet they still fuel politics. They still fuel fear.

Part of the current problem is a matter of rhetoric, a relic of cold war paranoia. But mutually assured destruction is no guarantee of peace. It is possible and necessary for nuclear weapons to be banned altogether. Other weapons of mass destruction, such as biological and chemical weapons, have already been banned – and one day, nuclear weapons will share their fate. The alternative is too terrible to think of.

Perhaps because I am young and foolish, I want to believe in a more peaceful world. Seventy years might have passed with little progress on nuclear disarmament, but I am humbled by the efforts of those who refuse to give up. When I listen to the stories of those who have suffered and those who continue to suffer as they live in hope, I am overwhelmed by a deep sense of humanity.

I think about those who have already died and I refuse to believe that their deaths were entirely in vain.

Today, I woke up to rainy skies, filled with happiness and a sense of wonderment about being alive. According to the weather forecast, it will rain even harder tomorrow. I looked at the doves that flew across Hiroshima’s skies half a world away and I thought to myself: This is a world worth protecting.

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Source: ABC

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Posted on August 6, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Do people really wish for peace? Is peace really something the human race truly wants in a unified sense? Can people even be trusted with peace? Lets say that people who know war and hate it have the experience they need to truly want peace. What about the future? What about the humanity that doesn’t know war? Can they be trusted with peace? I’m sure that potential exists, but will it play out?

    Would removing nukes do anything to help end wars? Human history has been full of wars both before and after the invention of nukes.

    If we didn’t have nukes and World War Three broke out most people on earth would notice. Would that happen? I don’t know. I don’t think as positively of human nature as it seems to me that you do.

    I think the last time we talked here on your blog It was about people questioning if rape is bad and how you wrote your post for people who can’t understand something as simple as that. War is different? Would you trust people with peace and not with their questions of is rape bad? We are talking about the same humanity.

    Nukes are a powerful political card. They are a weapon that has more power when it isn’t fired than when it is. I count it as a victory that we don’t fire them. It seems silly to think that removing them will help with anything. It would change the political game for sure. Would be it for the better? I don’t know. If you think it might I’m curious to hear why.

    You mention living under a fear nuclear weapons being used on civilians. I don’t have that fear and I doubt many politicians do either. Nukes are a thing on the table they should all understand. When It comes to nukes the thing I fear is removing them too quickly and changing the political game too fast. No news is good news. It means people are still heading the warning of destruction from Hiroshima.

    As I see it the bombs that hit Japan stand as a symbol of the power nukes hold. They are a reminder of the devastation caused and awful things we should strive to keep from happening ever again. This world is full of terrible things and that isn’t going to change by removing nuclear weapons so long as we have people in this world who need weapons to protect themselves.

    What happens in practice if we remove nukes overnight? It isn’t like human ingenuity will be neutered by the removal of the weapons. I think human potential shouldn’t be underestimated. Someone will make a new weapon. The political game will change and the rules will need to be rewritten. The game will change even without new weapons. It means the potential for new wars and other awful things to happen.

    You say that we can’t forget Hiroshima and I agree. I think that the power of the cautionary tale that Hiroshima represents to political powers loses some amount of value if we remove the weapon that caused the damage. That seems a far greater crime to me than leaving things as they are. I fear that if the world truly does disarm all of it’s nukes we may also disarm Hiroshima itself if we aren’t careful. Those are the stakes as I see them and why a quick removal seems incredibly foolish to me.

    Nuclear disarming needs to be done slowly and cautiously. It’s a thing that I expect won’t be completed in our lifetime if it’s handled with the care it deserves. I see little value in having them all gone, but there is value in the struggle to do so in an intelligent way.

    There is no reason to lose hope. The nature of the process is one that will take a long time and there is value in the time it will take. That is how It seems to me at least.

  2. Hiroshima was a city of considerable military importance. It contained the 2nd Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. The city was a communications center, a storage point, and an assembly area for troops. To quote a Japanese report, “Probably more than a thousand times since the beginning of the war did the Hiroshima citizens see off with cries of ‘Banzai’ the troops leaving from the harbor.”

    The center of the city contained a number of reinforced concrete buildings as well as lighter structures. Outside the center, the area was congested by a dense collection of small wooden workshops set among Japanese houses; a few larger industrial plants lay near the outskirts of the city. The houses were of wooden construction with tile roofs. Many of the industrial buildings also were of wood frame construction. The city as a whole was highly susceptible to fire damage.

    The population of Hiroshima had reached a peak of over 380,000 earlier in the war but prior to the atomic bombing the population had steadily decreased because of a systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack the population was approximately 255,000. This figure is based on the registered population, used by the Japanese in computing ration quantities, and the estimates of additional workers and troops who were brought into the city may not be highly accurate.

    http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/MED/med_chp6.shtml

    Had the war not ended, I would likely not be here to make this comment. My father, a 20 year-old soldier was serving in the US Army’s 95th Division in France. Prior to the end of the war, the 95th was preparing to join the invasion forces Honshu as part of the First United States Army.

  3. Honestly, I don’t believe just removing Nuke will actually achieve anything. Vietnam War was fought without nuclear weapons, and yet millions civilian died, plus hundred thousand were affected by Agent Orange. The damage can still be felt today. Even right now, how many has lost their life, their home, their families in Iraq, Lybia, Ukraine….? Banning WMD doesn’t mean shit. Nuke can be built quickly if the state deem it necessary. Same with Chemical and Bio weapons.

    Not to mention that Abe may not have support for his militarization of Japan, but lots of people in South East Asia(I live there) want a strong Japanese military as a counter-balance against China. Japan stay a pacifist country won’t stop other nations fighting. In the current political climate, disarm yourself will only get you killed.

    Okay, despite all the depressing thing I said, the world is still relatively peacful right now. Total peace might be impossible, but human civilization is still advancing. We can speak about peace on the Internet without being arrested by government, most people live with more comfort than ever before. Science and tech progress at an amazing pace. I trust humanity will live on.

    • The way I see it, nuclear weapons haven’t directly caused all the wars since the end of WWII, but they have contributed to the world’s instability and inequality. The Vietnam War might not have been fought with nuclear weapons, but the crazy “domino” theory was influenced a lot by the geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The nuclear arms race did not help matters.

      So yeah, while I agree that getting rid of nuclear weapons won’t magically end all the wars, it would be a good first step, seeing as they do more harm than good overall.

      • I would say completely different thing, nuclear weapon rather contributed to world stability, because without it we would easily had WWIII between West and communism countries, number of casualties would be enormous, but thanks to Cold War everybody just waited until communism, what is natural, finally collapsed on it’s own.

        So in order to remove that weapon humanity have be fixed first, then it will be no longer needed, just removing nukes do not fix humanity.

        • The problem I have with this argument is that it assumes only the worst case scenario would have happened in a nuclear-free world. It also brushes under the carpet the numerous wars and casualties that happened during the Cold War. As far as WWIII goes, you’re also forgetting that there were lots of near-misses, like the Cuban missile crisis.

          So in order to remove that weapon humanity have be fixed first, then it will be no longer needed, just removing nukes do not fix humanity.

          This reminds me of the argument people make about guns. While it’s true that people kill people, as soon as a government enforces gun control laws, gun-related violence tends to go down. It’s not exactly an equivalent argument since not everyone has access to nuclear weapons, but the logic justifying their existence is similar. So yeah, while it might be unfeasible to “fix” human nature, you can certainly impose limits and reduce the harm that the worst of us can do.

          • It’s not a worst case scenario with WWIII war without nuclear weapon, it’s the most probable scenario. Conquering of Europe was a main aim for Stalin, and he wasn’t a type who would hesitate.

  4. This post is actually not that radical. Repetitive of populist ideas, yes, but still a thing many want to be real.

    It’s more amusing to read the comments. It seems many still echo Mao’s ‘Paper Tiger’, or Churchill’s ‘Never Despair’ (http://www.winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1946-1963-elder-statesman/never-despair)

    (One mentioned Vietnam. It’s kind of weird, you know? When both side die a lot (even with the ratio 1:3), people still not treat it in eye level. But if just one man, one airplane, one system,… can kill millions, well,…)

    Frankly speaking, yes, all nuclear must be removed. But I’m more worry about IED, Predator strike,…. As the people who have to suffer these everyday, and you will know.

    • This post is actually not that radical.

      Heh, is that supposed to be a compliment or a criticism?

      It’s interesting how easy it is to be cynical about these things. For a long time, I held similar views to some of the commenters here. Everyone knows that war sucks, so why go on about it? Same thing goes for nuclear weapons. It’s upsetting, but an inevitability.

      But now I’ve come to think that disarming nuclear weapons isn’t actually THAT hard, nor would it cause catastrophe. Politicians just make it out to be hard. And even if it is as hard as they claim to de-arm, the public needs to keep pressing them to do the right thing, because otherwise, they probably won’t do it. That’s why I choose to repeat populist ideas rather than wallow in cynicism and rationalise the status quo.

      That said, I do agree with you that nuclear weapons get more attention than automated warfare, even though the latter kills people every day. Too many injustices, not enough time!

      • It’s a delicate thing because while I know the smart move would be to never use nuclear weapons, and therefore they are useless, unfortunately not everyone who has the ability to order the use of nuclear weapons is smart – in fact there is a scary percentage of morons in that position. A certain dude from North Korea comes to mind, and if American’s don’t seriously wise up they risk having another one who is now clowning around in TV. And the only thing that prevents a moron from doing what he thinks is an incredibly clever thing is usually some simple form of feedback – like fear.

        But if there ever was a “power that was not meant for the hands of a human”, that would definitely be an entire nuclear arsenal at the touch of one finger. It is simply SO MUCH power our mind is unable to process it, and therefore the wise can only fear it and realize their own inability to grasp its consequences, and only the fool can think of it as a boon. Any other weapon mentioned as forbidden is unusually cruel or otherwise evil. War is cruel and dying in a lot of ways can be worse than being vaporized by an atomic blast. And it might as well be that WWII DID in fact end up with less deaths due to the atomic bombs. But of all the weapons we have invented, only nuclear weapons literally have the potential to make the planet itself uninhabitable. And that is a pretty freakin’ big thing.

  5. I view it as the “genie’s is out of the bottle”. We have somehow lived with nuclear arsenal being available to many nation states, and hopefully somehow the human species will be able to continue to exist with them. In my opinion it would take something very dramatic for people, and entire nations into considering the disarmament of all nuclear weapons.

    The way I see it is as our technology continues to progress we will find ever ending ways to be able to destroy ourselves whether it is nuclear weapons, bio-engineering, or artificial intelligence (to name a few). We seem to be driving forward, but perhaps driving blind.

  6. What you seem to forget or neglect about many of the hot war, Cold War conflicts were that they were not merely a microcosm of the larger capitalist-communist clash of ideologies, but rather of a nationalist-separatist and authoritarian bent that would have occurred and persisted anyway, but just happen to have chosen the color of communist or capitalist and requested the support of the USSR and the US. The USSR and the US, more often than not, exploited or were asked to exploit the tensions that already existed in said beleaguered country.

    What you argue about nuclear weapons leading to more casualties by their very existence, if not offensive use, than otherwise, similar to the statistically significant correlations drawn between gun access and violent crime, is unsubstantiated hypothesis. You mention that the destruction that could be potentially wrought by nuclear weapons is too terrible a thing for countries to think about using. Logic seems to stand that it has thus lead to more, if lower level and comparatively less bloody conflicts, because they wouldn’t warrant a nuclear conflict. And yet between the alternative, potentially one or some conflicts that would have wrecked terrible and unthinkable destruction, leaders chose to stockpile nuclear weapons as insurance to the stockpiles of other leaders.

    I’m going to be the cynically frank individual here and say that this is language I’ve heard more than once before, and that nuclear weapons are here to stay for the foreseeable future. I say that because the leaders of the world are as cynical, if not more so, than me. It would probably be hard to verify the exact number of nuclear weapons left in the world. It would be hard to verify whether the possessors of these nuclear stockpiles will reduce the number of nuclear weapons they’ve promised, if they promised to. And even when you destroy nuclear weapons, the knowledge to re-engineer them still exists. Nuclear weapons can be re-made. They can, once again, be detonated. So leaders, thinking themselves as reasonable rather than hawkish, must hedge for that contingency, because that contingency could end them and their country. They feel it is irresponsible not to.

    It’s a less lyrical version of Lennon’s pleas to the world, to nuclear issues rather than religious ones, but religious violence has only increased since he first recorded “Imagine” in a studio with the hope that people would stop seeing the world as borders. Hope will lead to nothing, will accomplish nothing, is nothing unless you can suggest innovative and practical, as well as inspiring, solutions that can, in the right circumstances, convince these leaders of how you can achieve the central view of a nuclear weapons free world. Otherwise, you’re just parroting a swan song and insulting people’s intelligence.

    • you’re just parroting a swan song and insulting people’s intelligence.

      Ouch XD

      Needless to say, I disagree with your assertions. Don’t think I haven’t considered the argument of nuclear deterrence. I just think it’s extremely faulty because it rationalises a whole lot of stupidity and evil.

      If my argument that nuclear weapons lead to more casualties by their very existence is an unsubstantiated hypothesis, then so is the claim that it deters wars. The hypothesis can’t be tested, which is all the more reason why one shouldn’t stake national security on it.

      Yes, there are logical reasons for nuclear weapons to continue to exist. They allow nuclear-armed nations to bully other nations and dictate the terms on which they build nuclear energy programs. It’s also good for the arms industry. The idea that they’re supposed to protect us all is a cynical myth that diverts attention away from the fact that they only benefit a very small number of people.

      I’m as wary about politicians as you are, which is the reason why I don’t believe the rhetoric that nuclear weapons are “an evil necessity”. Even if I didn’t have a philosophical objection to nuclear weapons, I’d still think they’re a drain on public funds and that it’s too easy to have accidents mishandling them.

      I don’t see why I have to come up with a particularly “innovative and practical” solution when the answer is the same one that fuels all social movements: grassroots action and not being satisfied with the flimsy rationalisations offered by those in power.

      It’s also good to recognise that there are success stories, like how South Africa relinquished its nuclear weapons. We’ve also successfully banned chemical and bioweapons. So it’s not like it’s impossible, even if it’s not easy.

      Also, I have to say I’m surprised by the general reception this post got. I just wanted to write something sincerely expressing my feelings. Perhaps the reaction would have been different if I wrote the post like an essay instead of a reflective piece (maybe like this? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/opinion/the-myth-of-nuclear-necessity.html?_r=0)

      • I’m going to make a controversial comparison of nuclear stockpiles to global warming/climate change, One of the arguments that fuel climate change denial is that global warming does, in fact, occur due to the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. It’s just that the effect those carbon emissions have is negligent, and what is actually raising the temperature of the planet is a completely cyclical and natural phenomenon. The prosperity of developing countries hinges on their capacity to industrialize, and many of those developing countries argue that, like the developed countries of before, they should be allowed to use relatively inexpensive fossil fuels to drive economic growth and alleviate internal poverty. Depriving developing countries of that capacity affects the lives of millions of people in an arguably adverse way for the sake of a “what if” isn’t too dissimilar to the arguments surrounding the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons. Climate change proponents don’t have any substantive evidence to back their claim that global warming is man-made. The conclusion isn’t dissimilar as well, because climate change proponents argue back the following: if climate change deniers are wrong, then the world and its people are doomed.

        The model of two men with spears refusing to lower their spears over the enticement of fresh meat is a bit oversimplified, since the SALT and especially START treaties have reduced the number of overall active nuclear weapons. Trust isn’t a myth. What the age of then had and the age of now lacks is trust, trust between the US and Russia, between Japan/South Korea/US and China/North Korea, between India and Pakistan, and between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Unless these countries can trust each other not to annihilate each other (and they must over something delicate as nuclear weapons, since not all the countries mentioned are sanctionable enough like Iran to obtain a reasonable nuclear deal), then nuclear weapons stand. Leaders are willing to bet their national security on it, because the alternative is terrible and unthinkable.

        Signing away biological and chemical agents is comparatively easy diplomatic points compared to disarming all nuclear weapons, because nuclear weapons are both more manageable to use, universally feared because of the dramatic photogenic nature of its destructiveness, and something for countries to fall back on. The greatest impact those conventions had were on states who didn’t have the capacity for developing nuclear weapons, but did have the capacity for developing biological and chemical ones. Nuclear weapons states were the big winners of the conventions. South Africa didn’t have any immediate existential threats in the form of any rivals to challenge them, since the strategic point of nuclear weapons isn’t liberal use, but solid deterrence. Countries like the US and Russia, India and Pakistan don’t have the luxury to make decisions about their nuclear decisions in that comparatively lax of a security environment. This is the key (and what you might think as paradoxical) point: nuclear weapons aren’t meant to be used, and they serve as primary deterrents to nuclear weapons nations, not non-nuclear ones.

        Call me of a bit of an elitist, but grassroots movements can be wrong. Their righteous indignation can get the better of pragmatism and actual facts. Greenpeace forced Shell to dismantle an arctic oil rig on the shoreline rather than within the ocean because it thought the latter was environmentally safer. It turns out the opposite was true. AIDS grassroots activists demanded (even over their AIDS-infected college-educated scientist brethren) that anti-retroviral drugs be released to the general public before the completion of experimental drug trials, before the advent of the drug cocktail, before scientists were able to discover that retroviruses were adaptable mother—-ers. I thoroughly disagree with the aims of the grassroots anti-globalization movement, as much as I sympathize, in part, with its grievances because of their short-sighted self-interest and their sound lack of understanding of economics.

        • You know, I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with me about the logic of nuclear weapons diplomacy because you said yourself that “nuclear weapons states were the big winners of the conventions”. The difference is that I don’t think the logic justifies the weapons.

          Well, I do also disagree that nuclear weapons “serve as primary deterrents to nuclear weapons nations, not non-nuclear ones”. Nuclear weapons states want to prevent other countries from entering their exclusive club. That’s not to contradict your thing about trust (or lack thereof) between nuclear-armed countries, but those same countries have also been very proactive in preventing other countries from obtaining the weapons. If all the world’s leaders actually believed in the principles of nuclear deterrence, then every country should have nuclear weapons in order to be equally safe. But they don’t, and no one is seriously suggesting such a thing, because nuclear diplomacy is really about hording power.

          As for grassroots activism, well, it’s pretty much the only way the public can influence policy. If it didn’t work at all, we’d be completely fucked as a democracy. But yeah, that’s not to say all movements are equally good. Besides your examples, there are “grassroots movements” led by fascists and neo-Nazis. You just gotta pick and choose your battles.

          • The nuclear weapons countries believe the logic justifies retaining their nuclear weapons and, conversely, preventing other countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. This logic isn’t without precedent. Besides the potentially dangerous chain of events that may follow in the event of a nuclear weapon being used offensively, there’s also the issue of the security dilemma that lies at the heart of arms control, which is doubly exacerbated in the nuclear era by the nature of nuclear weapons. Seeing as the phenomenon of major powers seeking to strengthen their militaries, thus contributing to a more unstable security environment is well documented in conventional warfare, it makes sense that this kind of logic could also apply to nuclear arsenals. Thus, the major nuclear powers seek to prevent that by preventing other countries from developing their own stockpiles.

            Nuclear diplomacy is about hoarding power in fact, but hoarding power for the purpose of deterrence against existing nuclear weapons states. Not all countries non-nuclear-weapons countries seek nuclear weapons and, since the conventions, WMD alternatives. Most of them follow international norms and do relatively fine. They aren’t being threatened by nuclear warhead to obey the major nuclear powers whenever they flout international norms and promote belligerency that incur the displeasure of the major nuclear powers. They are threatened instead with stringent economic sanctions most of the time and conventional military force if they’re small enough. Possessing nuclear weapons is independent from hosting large economies and huge professional militaries. No threats of nuclear annihilation were issued. Not even in Iraq.

            You might in Iraq that the Bush administration wouldn’t have had the opportunity to use the excuse of impending nuclear weapons development to invade Iraq if no one possessed nuclear weapons, but in fact, because of the knowledge of how to develop a nuclear weapon exists, the Bush administration could still easily some modicum of credibility to claim that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and invaded the country. The nuclear weapon would still have served as an equalizer to American conventional might. AQ Khan, who was responsible for selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea, sold the secrets to develop nuclear plants, not nuclear weapons. Just knowing how to develop nuclear power is enough for nuclear weapons proliferation to occur, which is why gatekeeping by the major nuclear powers, power hoarding, of that information is essential, and if all else fails, then nuclear weapons deterrence. Except the major nuclear powers couldn’t rely on deterrence because, in this hypothetical situation, they are former major nuclear powers. I don’t trust any country with that kind of power at its fingertips, especially a country that sought to develop a nuclear weapon in a world declared and established as nuclear-free, from restraining itself.

            • Okay, I am NOT saying nuclear-armed nations threaten nuclear annihilation on countries they don’t like. That’s stupid.

              Anyway, this comment thread is getting too long so I’m gonna stop replying. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Just to reiterate, it’s not like I disagree with or wasn’t aware of the stuff you’re saying. I just don’t think an explanation should be conflated with justification.

          • The other ways, actually, to create influence in a democracy is descriptive representation and interest group lobbying.

      • I’ll also add, in regards to Ward’s and revisionist historians’ arguments that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary, I’d counter with two points. First, that you should be skeptical of arguments coming from Japanese historians, who hold a conflict of interest on the matter. Second, that Emperor Showa’s radio announcement calling on Japan to cease and desist the fight specifically mentioned the devastation of the nuclear bombs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyokuon-h%C5%8Ds%C5%8D). It doesn’t mention anything about the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and Korea.

        “Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.”

        The Soviet invasion of Manchuria and Korea may have factored into the ultimate declaration of surrender, but what seems to have dominated the mental processes of the Emperor and executive Japanese staff are those bombs. To say otherwise is speculation, and speculation in favor against, in fact.

  7. Thanks so much for writing this. The comment section made me think and see points of view I hadn’t contemplated before. Surely an interesting topic

  8. “The mere existence of nuclear weapons is politically destabilising.”

    There is actually a great deal of debate on this. I would do far more intense reading before settling your mind in one camp or another. While peace proponents point towards the destruction potential of nuclear weapons, they forget the effects of Mutually Assured Destruction in the pragmatic fields of international realpolitik.

    Many sources I’ve read have pointed towards India and Pakistan as the best example, as the two countries consider each other their nemesis and has fought countless wars since the collapse of the British Raj. Yet since both sides have created nuclear weapons, they’ve fought only a single, short war over Kashimir. Stuff like this makes you wonder that had the power of nuclear weapons not been demonstrated, just what are the chances that the Soviet Union / United States rivalry might have progressed into a hot World War III that would wipe nations off the face of the earth? In the memoirs of Eisenhower, he discussed all the times his presidential administration had to threaten the use of nukes, only to avoid having to use them just because of its proven destruction — which caused even the most belligerent of statesmen to blink their eyes and question their motives.

    In fact, IKE would attribute the existence of nuclear weapons to an ‘early ending’ of the Korean War, just as the threat of Russia’s nuclear arsenal stopped Truman from allowing MacArthur from escalating it into a Pan-Asian World War III.

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