To the editor,
This August 6th is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of a uranium bomb on Hiroshima, and August 9th is the anniversary of the dropping of a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. Tens of thousands were killed in each community immediately, and more died subsequently from acute radiation sickness, and then more from the chronic radiation sickness and finally from the associated cancers and vascular disease. Women suffered miscarriages and had congenitally deformed babies. These consequences was not yet known.
The US government reported that these bombings led to the surrender of the Japanese government. Others say that Japan had already been defeated by US air superiority. Curtis Lemay used incendiary phosphorus bombs, destroying dozens of cities. In Tokyo 100,000 civilians were killed in a great firestorm. These bombings by conventional weapons caused far more destruction then what occurred at Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The Japanese did not know that radiation sickness existed. It was a mystery that they could not comprehend.
On August 8, three months after the surrender of Germany, when Stalin said he would enter the war against Japan, his forces launched a surprise attack on Japanese held Manchuria. The Japanese had been led to believe that the Russians would not attack. The Japanese quickly surrendered.
There are those who say that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan was to show the Russians that we had developed the atomic bomb and that we were prepared to use it. The atomic age had begun, and nuclear annihilation threatened the world.
In the 1950s Eisenhower tried to counter the public perception that nuclear power was frightening the people. I remember as a child preparing for a nuclear annihilation by entering the corridors of the grammar school, away from the windows, and putting my hands over my head. I remember that my father, a radiologist, thought it was wise to drink powdered milk, because the current milk was contaminated by strontium 90, from the above ground nuclear bomb testing that the contaminated the entire country. The powdered milk tasted disgusting.
Eisenhower created the program Atoms for Peace, which exported nuclear technology to Israel, Pakistan, and Iran. He also created the international atomic energy commission, whose goal was to restrict nuclear weapons technology to the chosen few, notably the US, Britain, France, and China. This led to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NNT) which was established in 1970 to contain the spread of nuclear weapons. This treaty has been renegotiated every five years.
In 2009, while in Prague, Czechoslovakia, President Barack Obama pledged to reduce the United States dependency upon nuclear weapons. This was a time of great optimism.
Today we have the 45th anniversary of the NNT. According to a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, 150 nations around the world favor nuclear disarmament of all nations. However, despite Barack Obama’s pledge in Prague, he now is planning to spend over $1 trillion to upgrade our current nuclear arsenal over the next decade.
The common wisdom would have you believe that the danger of nuclear weapons will come from terrorists. The historical fact shows that the greatest threat of nuclear weapons has come from the United States. The United States has dropped two weapons on Japan, over 330 above ground tests in the United States alone, and 66 over the Marshall islands.
The United States has placed sanctions on Iran, but they are applying no pressure to Israel, which is in violation of international law. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons, and has never signed the NNT. They are threatening to bomb Iran, which has no nuclear weapons.
The drums of war are now beating in Israel, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and all around the world. 100 years ago the drums of war were beating in Europe. A single event, the assassination of the Archduke Duke in Sarajevo, triggered a cataclysm which led to World War I, the war to end all wars. A similar situation exists today, with much posturing and belligerence. If 1% of the nuclear weapons in existence are used, it will create an endless winter and global cooling with deaths in the millions. It is time now that the US should lead the world and eliminate its nuclear arsenal. Then President Barack Obama will earn the Noble peace prize he has already received.
There will be commemorative events on Sunday, August 9. There will be an talk in Amherst in the Meeting Hall at the first Congregational Church from 1 to 2. Then you may join the Peace Pagoda monks for a walk from Amherst to Northampton. There will be an talk at McConnell Hall on the Smith campus at 7:00 PM, and there will be a ceremony at Paradise Pond at 8:00 PM.