by Norm Dixon
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
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 births.
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 New Scientist 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
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 to surrender."
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
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"
Fear 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.
GO TO ORIGINAL
[Norm Dixon is a former editor of Australia's leading radical newspaper, Green Left Weekly,
and continues to write regularly on the impact of US foreign policy and the
real nature of the"war on terror".]
"9/11: U.S. Accuses Iran, Plans Nuclear
Attack," The Wisdom Fund, July 21, 2003
Amy Goodman and David Goodman, "Hiroshima Cover-up:
How the War Department's Timesman Won a Pulitzer," CommonDreams.org,
August 10, 2004
Patrick J. Buchanan, "Dresden, Tokyo,
Hiroshima, and Nagasaki: Terror on a Monumental Scale,"
CommonDreams.org, September 1, 2004
[But the U.S. had already crossed a terrifying moral threshold when it
accepted the targeting of civilians as a legitimate instrument of warfare.
--David M. Kennedy, "Hiroshima:
Crossing the Moral Threshold," Time, August 1, 2005]
Amy Goodman and David Goodman, "The Hiroshima
Cover-Up," Baltimore Sun, August 5, 2005
[The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in
the Pacific and save lives. "Even without the atomic bombing attacks,"
concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy
over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about
unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a
detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of
the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ...
Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped,
even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been
planned or contemplated."
The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that
chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable
sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the
US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace,
including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US
secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that
the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would
not be able "to show its strength". . . .
Since 1945, the United States is believed to have been on the brink of using
nuclear weapons at least three times. In waging their bogus "war on terror",
the present governments in Washington and London have declared they are
prepared to make "pre-emptive" nuclear strikes against non-nuclear states.
With each stroke toward the midnight of a nuclear Armageddon, the lies of
justification grow more outrageous. Iran is the current "threat". But Iran
has no nuclear weapons and the disinformation that it is planning a nuclear
arsenal comes largely from a discredited CIA-sponsored Iranian opposition
group, the MEK - just as the lies about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass
destruction originated with the Iraqi National Congress, set up by
Washington.--John Pilger, "The lies of Hiroshima live on, props in the war crimes of the
20th century," Guardian, August 6, 2005]
[Hiroshima did contain an important military base, used as a staging area
for Southeast Asia. But the bomb had been aimed at the very center of a city
of 350,000, a continuation of the American policy of bombing civilian
populations in Japan to undermine the morale of the enemy.--Greg Mitchell,
"The Day After Hiroshima: How the Press Reported
the News -- And the 'Half-Truths' That Emerged," editorandpublisher.com,
August 7, 2009]
"Atomic Cover-Up: The Hidden Story Behind the U.S. Bombing of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki," democracynow.org, August 9, 2011