US Based Post-World War II Global Order On Nuclear Threat – OpEd


This week 67 years ago, a new era of global terror was born when the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Never before had the world witnessed such man-made power to destroy. And ever since the world has had to live with the threat of repeated devastation.

But the bombings were not merely terrible acts of war. They signaled a US policy of holding the world hostage to its global terrorism.

On this fateful day in August 1945, an American B-29 Flying Fortress unleashed a hell on earth over the Japanese city of Nagasaki with a single atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man.

The day before, Radio Tokyo and the American media were already reporting the devastation inflicted on the city of Hiroshima where, on the morning of 6 August, another American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, had dropped the first atomic bomb – codenamed Little Boy.

“Practically all living things, human and animal, were seared to death,” was how the initial broadcasts announced the impact of the dawning Nuclear Age.

The apocalyptic aftermath of Hiroshima did not dissuade US President Harry Truman or his war planners from unleashing a second hell on Nagasaki.

Within seconds of the two explosions, an estimated 210,000 people were killed almost instantly, many of them simply vaporized in the blasts and infernos. Most of the victims were civilians, men, women and children. At least the same number again would die over the ensuing years from cancers due to radiation contamination – a death toll that continues rising to this day from congenital diseases and child birth defects.

In Hiroshima alone, a third of the population was obliterated. Some 70 per cent of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed. Scarcely any structure within a three-kilometer diameter of the hypocenter directly below the mid-air explosion remained. An outer area of 11 square kilometers was incinerated.

Bear in mind that by this stage of World War Two, the ability to inflict massive carnage and terror on civilians had already reached unprecedented depths of depravity. British and American aerial bombing of Germany urban centers, such as Hamburg and Dresden, had claimed between 100,000-200,000 lives.

During early 1945, the American forces had embarked on a systematic campaign of bombing of nearly 70 Japanese cities using the tactic, perfected by their British ally, of dropping thousands of incendiary devices along with explosive ordnance. The capital, Tokyo, was the worst hit, where on 9/10 March 1945, some 100,000 inhabitants perished in firestorms unleashed in that bombing raid alone. The intended effect of firebombing was to create a wall of fire that would suck in oxygen winds from the atmosphere thereby engulfing the entire targeted area and overwhelming civil defenses and fire brigades. It was a tactic, devised methodically by British Royal Air Force commander Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, to inflict maximize civilian casualties in order to corrode “the enemy’s morale”.

British and American state terrorism against civilian populations was therefore established as a matter of policy – albeit a grave war crime and crime against humanity. That international prosecutions did not follow, nor that Western history books do not reflect the magnitude of these crimes is a classic example of “victors writing history”.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Britain and the US innovated state terrorism during the World War Two on a scale never seen before. This policy culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The official justification for dropping the A-bombs relies on a dissembling argument of “means justifying the ends”. Namely, that the resort to nuclear weapons was a “necessity” to bring about the swift end of the Pacific War with imperial Japan, thereby saving countless lives of soldiers and civilians from prolonged fighting.

That pretense does not stand up to scrutiny. Here are the much under-reported views of America’s top two military commanders during the war. First, Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, objected at the time to the use of atomic weapons on Japan. He later said in an interview in 1963: “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

The second opponent was none other than Admiral William D Leahy, who was Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. He said: “It is my opinion 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. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”

So if the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not about ending war, what was it about?

The real motive is revealed partly in the meticulous planning during the months up to bombings. Records show that the selected cities were deliberately exempted from the American carpet bombing of other Japanese cities with conventional weapons and incendiary devices during 1944-45. This was because the cities to be targeted with the atomic bombs were required to be intact – in order to demonstrate to the rest of the world the singular shock and awe of the new weapon in the American arsenal.

The US army’s Target Committee, assigned to oversee the bombings, stated that the consequence “must be sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released”.

The immediate military target of America’s nuclear power in August 1945 may have been Japan. But the political target was the threat of annihilation to the rest of the world.

Recall that the Soviet Union under Stalin had already claimed half of Europe from the collapsing German Reich. By August 1945, the Soviets were making serious advances against imperial Japan on the Korean Peninsula. Although, the US and Britain had allied with Stalin for the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan, Washington and London were already thinking ahead about the postwar global order. The Western powers were not going to concede any more international territory and influence to the Soviets than they already had.

The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the ultimate terror markers set down by Washington and its British ally – not just to the Soviet Union, but to the entire world. The holocaust of civilians was an essential and deliberate calculus of the terror threat that these powers have retained ever since. Admittedly, other states were to later acquire the weapons of mass destruction. But the threat of nuclear annihilation in the world remains a peculiarly American prerogative. No other state has ever used such weapons, and no other state has a nuclear arsenal comparable to America.

Moreover, and this is perhaps most disturbing, the official American view is that its heinous use of atomic bombs in 1945 was justifiable, even noble. As such, Washington reserves the right to use such weapons again and indeed has adopted the doctrine of “preemptive first strike”.

More than 40 years after signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Washington stands more than ever in breach of its international obligations. Far from disarming as obliged, the US has proliferated its nuclear arsenal thousands-fold with the creation of a new generation of so-called mini-nukes; the deployment of depleted uranium munitions in several countries that are linked to epidemics in cancers and birth deformities among subjugated populations; and the US has illegally abetted other states in acquiring nuclear weapons, primarily the criminal war state of Israel, and India and Pakistan.

In contravention of the NPT, the US – the world’s leading nuclear terrorist state – is preventing Iran from its rightful pursuit of peaceful nuclear energy.

Last month, US President Barack Obama gave a speech at the White House to war veterans, saying: “We’re leading from Europe to the Asia Pacific… We’re leading the fight against nuclear dangers. We’ve applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea – nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons. We’re leading on behalf of freedom.”

These are not the words and reasoning of a president. They are the words and reasoning of a psychopathic power.

Finian Cunningham

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism.

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