By Kathy Durkin
Published Aug 15, 2010 10:32 PM
Sixty-five years ago the entire world watched in horror as the United States dropped atomic bombs over Japan.
On Aug. 6, 1945, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a four-ton uranium bomb on Hiroshima, only to follow that horrific attack by unleashing a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki three days later. The cities became infernos.
By the end of 1945, more than 250,000 people — men, women, children, mainly civilians — were dead. Many were incinerated instantly. People within a one-mile radius of Hiroshima were vaporized. Thousands died agonizing deaths soon after from burns, injuries and radiation poisoning. In subsequent years, more deaths occurred from cancers and other radiation-related diseases.
Sixty percent of Hiroshima was destroyed. The bomb was aimed at the city center; residential areas bore the brunt of the impact. Only four of the 30 targets were military, in line with U.S. war policy of bombing Japanese civilian populations. Nagasaki, an industrial city and port, was flattened.
Among those who died were 20,000 Koreans in Hiroshima and 2,000 in Nagasaki, whom Japan had drafted as forced laborers during World War II. Conscripted Chinese workers were killed, too.
The U.S. is the first and only country ever to use nuclear weapons. Washington has never shown regret for the bombings nor apologized for causing such monumental destruction and devastation of human life.
As the war was ending, the U.S. dropped the A-bombs to assert military hegemony in Asia and as a warning to the socialist Soviet Union. Washington showed the world that it had developed and would use nuclear weapons against civilian populations.
This year’s commemoration ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace memorial was attended for the first time by representatives of nuclear powers Britain, France and the U.S. The U.S. Embassy claimed that Ambassador John Roos attended to support the administration’s goal of a “world without nuclear weapons.”
Japanese anti-war activists stood firm and rightfully criticized the U.S. at an “alternative memorial” nearby. They called for the U.S. to apologize for the bombings and to remove all military bases from their country.
There has been a long and massive struggle to get U.S. bases out of Okinawa, where 70 percent of U.S. bases in Japan are situated. Especially key to activists is the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, one of the largest U.S. bases in East Asia. The U.S. refuses to relocate or close this facility, as it is key to its military strategy there.
Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe warned in the New York Times of “the possibility that we [Japan] will allow [U.S.] nuclear weapons to pass through Japan.” Oe explains that this violates Japan’s post-war nonnuclear principles, which forbid nuclear weapons from being brought into the country. (Aug. 5)
Can the U.S. government be believed when it claims to be for a nuclear-weapons-free world? Actions speak louder than proclamations.
Since 1946, the U.S. has threatened to use nuclear weapons at least 30 times, including against the Soviet Union, China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Iran and Iraq.
In April, prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, Washington asserted the right of nuclear first-strike against Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea if the U.S. decided they were violating nonproliferation rules.
No agency is downsizing the U.S. arsenal’s 5,113 nuclear warheads, 12 nuclear-powered submarines and 1,152 nuclear warheads in the world’s oceans. The U.S. isn’t cutting back on its international stores of thermonuclear bombs and cruise missiles.
Instead, in May, the Obama administration proposed increasing nuclear weapons-related funding to a record $180 billion over the next decade — $80 billion for modernizing the nuclear weapons complex and $100 billion for strategic nuclear delivery systems, including bombers and submarine-based missiles.
This multi-billion-dollar, profit-driven weapons production is inherent to capitalism. So is the war drive. The imperialist U.S. is compelled to strive for global economic, political, military and strategic domination.
Any discussion of nuclear nonproliferation must begin with the U.S. If the Obama administration claims to support this, then it should stop research and development of new weapons and begin to disarm immediately.
Fidel Castro appeals to Obama
On the anniversary of Hiroshima’s devastation, Cuban leader Fidel Castro made an urgent personal appeal to U.S. President Barack Obama through a special address to the Cuban National Assembly, calling on Washington to refrain from unleashing a nuclear attack on Iran.
Nuclear war is a great danger to the world’s people. The global stockpile is equivalent to 150,000 times the potency of the bombs dropped on Japan.
The world’s anti-war forces must keep up the struggle for nuclear disarmament. U.S. activists have the primary responsibility of demanding unilateral nuclear disarmament of U.S. imperialism, even as the world’s people demand elimination of all these weapons.
The enormous sums spent by the U.S. on nuclear weapons’ funding could instead be used to create a real jobs program for millions of unemployed and underemployed workers, to build hospitals and schools, and to provide health care, housing, education and nutritious food for all.
Progressive forces must organize to stay the hand of U.S. imperialism so that there is never another nuclear attack.
Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.