Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 26      August 7- 13, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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alternative reader

God, Bush and the Bomb

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, Connecticut.

Posted by Bulatlat


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