Saturday, September 22, 2007
Gotcha! 250,000 killed in American bombing!
Notes on Japan: 6
When you have been to the Peace Park in Hiroshima you wish that every politician in the world could be dragged to its museum and made to look at the images of devastation following the dropping of the atom bomb on the city. A quarter of a million people died here and Nagasaki. These are some facts I didn’t know (I now realise I was fed propaganda in the fifties as a growing youth!).
Truman and his aides discussed warning the Japanese. They didn’t.
The US Government discussed up to ten potential sites. They chose these two because there were no prisoner of war camps nearby.
Both sites sat in a topography that would result in greatest carnage.
The bombs were dropped to explode at an optimum height (500-800 ft) to maximise civilian and material destruction.
Despite knowing the devastation of Hiroshima, the US dropped a further bomb, the next day, on Nagasaki.
There was a US spin that said that dropping the bombs shortened the war by two to three years and probably saved lives. Yet, the Japanese had run out of military resources.
The million or so Japanese troops would have fought to honourable death, it is said but the enormity of the bomb meant that they were saving their families by dishonourable surrender, thus justifying civilian carnage.
I haven’t read any plausible grand theory concerning the psychopathy of nations. The US. Nazi Germany. Stalinist Russia. China. The Japanese, themselves. Darfur and countless other African genocides. The British in Australia. And on and on back through time for the last however many thousand years.
To close down the intelligence in another person’s eyes, forever, is among the most obscene acts of which a human being is capable. To do it on the scale of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is beyond any comprehension.
Yet, there are among us, on this globe, as many who try to protect the sanctity of life as degrade and destroy it. Almost everywhere we look we see governments that are cynical, indifferent, callous and capable of dehumanising the so-called enemy, thus justifying whatever gross acts that might be committed. But among their own citizens are countless kind, considerate and humane individuals.
As long as we are taught to differentiate people into us and them and fail to see that there are no essential differences worth a pinch of salt between any two human beings (after all we all come from the same genetic ancestor!), then carnage is always likely. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, communists, capitalists, black, white, brown, will seek, when times are hard, to devalue the humanity of others, in any way different from themselves.
To see ourselves in others’ eyes is the first premise of civilised existence.
Who could then press the red button over Iran?