God, Bush and
By Paul Cantor
Submitted to Portside by the author
Posted by Bulatlat
"Thank God for the atom bomb," wrote William Manchester in a memoir
recounting his service as a marine during World War II.
Sixty years ago, on August 6 and August 9, 1945, atom bombs killed over
100,000 people and destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. Consequently, according to the widely held view echoed by
Manchester, they forced Japan to surrender on August 14 and thereby
obviated the need for an invasion that would have cost even more lives.
The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, on the other hand, concluded
that "even without the atomic bombing attacks, air supremacy over Japan
could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional
surrender and obviate the need for invasion."
Even given the Surveys conclusion, however, many think we should still
"thank God for the atom bomb." The bomb, they reason, made it clear there
would be no victors in a nuclear confrontation. Consequently there has
never been a World War III.
This is an argument favored by the neo conservatives in the Bush
administration. It implies that by maintaining its preeminent nuclear
arsenal the United States prevents other nuclear nations from attacking it
or its allies. But if that is the case then there is no need to worry
about nuclear proliferation and there was no need to attack Iraq. Indeed,
the fact that Bush invaded Iraq under his "preemptive war" doctrine
indicates that either he doesn't really believe that simply maintaining
the world’s preeminent nuclear arsenal is enough to keep the peace or that
he lied about the real reason for the invasion.
The truth, of course, is that the bomb does not keep the peace. Rather in
the sixty years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which we have been
steadily upgrading our nuclear arsenal we have been involved in major wars
in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Furthermore, during the 1962
Cuban missile crisis we almost went to war with the Soviet Union.
Nor can it be said that our preeminent nuclear arsenal has made us safer.
Rather it has led other nations to intensify their efforts to obtain or
upgrade their own nuclear arsenals while doing nothing to discourage
terrorist attacks against us.
What then should we do? There are four steps we should take immediately to
begin to eliminate the threat of a nuclear confrontation. First, we should
apologize for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a nation we
need to recognize that together these two acts were among the greatest
atrocities of the 20th century. Unfortunately we tend to think
we occupy the moral high ground even though, as never before in our
history, the rest of the world doesn't see it that way. Today we have Abu
Gharib to add to the slaughter of Indians, slavery, the firebombing of
Dresden and Tokyo, and the overthrow of democratic regimes in Chile,
Guatemala, and Iran as a stain on our past.
Second, we should pull out of Iraq and renounce our unilateral preemptive
war policy. Third, we should pledge not to devote more resources to
upgrading our nuclear arsenal with bunker busting bombs and other more
devastating weapons. Fourth we should announce our intention to work
through the United Nations to bring all nuclear weapons under
international control and then begin to eliminate them.
It is only by taking steps such as these that we can gain credibility as a
nation committed to pursuing peace and justice in the world rather than
our own selfish interests. But of course none of these steps will be taken
under the current administration. Therefore, it is not too soon to begin
thinking about a change in leadership. Posted by Bulatlat
Paul Cantor is a professor of economics and a human rights activist who
lives in Norwalk,
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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