December 18, 2000
The list of quotes assembled in Michael W. Stowell's short essay, Barbarians of Our Own Dark Ages?, almost evenly divided between
physicists and U.S. foreign policy leaders, will not be familiar to most
readers. Not because they are unimportant -- they're of the utmost
importance -- and not because they emanated from less than trustworthy
sources. They were issued by the most authoritative, most unimpeachable
sources: Those who developed and those who deliberated over the use of
The conventional explanation for President Harry Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at the time and largely until this day, is that these actions, while terrible in their effect on the civilian populations of the two cities, and while a cause of regret for those contemplating them, were nevertheless necessary to bring an end to World War II and to prevent heavy casualties among Allied, overwhelmingly American, personnel should the alternative plan be implemented: A mass landing on Japanese shores and the military subjugation of a presumably intransigent enemy army.
No later than 1968, when American historian Gabriel Kolko wrote his groundbreaking tract Politics of War, the view had been suggested that the dual bombings were as much for the benefit of Marshall Stalin in Moscow as they were for General Tojo in Tokyo. That is, as demonstrated in Stowell's essay, coming as they did immediately after the last conference of the major Allies, the U.S., the Soviet Union and Britain, in Potsdam where a joint military strategy toward the defeat of Japan had been elaborated, the unilateral bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki not only ended one war but began another. The forty-five year Cold War.
America, almost four years after the assault on Pearl Harbor and fighting the costliest foreign war in its history, the traditional view goes, opted for an abrupt and dramatic end to history's bloodiest conflict. Taking advantage of legendary Yankee ingenuity, President Roosevelt had recruited the best scientific minds of his time in the Manhattan Project, and they had succeeded in splitting the atom, providing Washington with the nuclear sword to cut through the Japanese Gordian Knot.
Or had they? Judging by the comments of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Leo Szilard, as well as that of Albert Einstein in Stowell's essay, the physicists clearly came off on the wrong end of a one-sided Faustian bargain.
Leaving aside the contentious but increasingly more revelatory studies on Japan's willingness to surrender before the Enola Gay flew its fateful mission (also addressed in Stowell's short essay.) -- centering as they do on issues of defeat and disarmament or surrender, unconditional versus conditional surrender, etc. -- intentions can be inferred by their effects as surely as effects by their intentions.
What in fact resulted days after the incineration of Nagasaki and the instant deaths of tens of thousands of its inhabitants was that the United States accepted the capitulation of Japan unilaterally. The Soviet Union, however anxious or otherwise to deploy its troops recently moved to Manchuria for just that purpose, was excluded from the occupation and pacification of Japan, and the United States dictated its own terms, military, political and economic. China, Korea and the U.S.S.R. never saw reparations for the human and material damage wreaked by the Kwantung Army, and were given no say in the creation of the post-war new order in the East.
God is on the side with the larger battalions, as Bussy Rabutin remarked several centuries earlier, and the new master of the new order possessed something that would render all the battalions in the world useless: A monopoly on weapons that could level entire cities and obliterate entire armies instantaneously. It had just been demonstrated to the world.
Not mentioned in Stowell's short essay, but not irrelevant either, was that a few months before Hiroshima the U.S. had convened the Bretton Woods Conference, out of which the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank evolved. Control of world finance, combined with a military option no prospective opponent dare contemplate, insured the consolidation of what Henry Luce deemed the American Century.
Fifty-five years have passed since those early days in August that Oppenheimer rued and the likes of Edward Teller celebrated. Despite all that ensued in the interim, Washington remains the citadel of world military and economic domination. It has chosen to give more demonstrations of its might and its technological superiority in the past few years, from Iraq to Yugoslavia, and may do the same tomorrow in South America and the Caucasus. In each case it will assure its own citizens, and any others who care to listen, that its motives are pure and disinterested: To preserve the sanctity of national sovereignty as with Operation Desert Storm; to override and effectively destroy national sovereignty (and a nation itself) in pursuance of some alleged higher principle, as in Operation Allied Force.
In deciding how seriously to believe the next claim of this sort, please keep in mind Michael W. Stowell's short essay.
Rick Rozoff is a peace activist from Chicago, IL. He does research for, and dissemination of Swans, as well as contributing his columns.
Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Rick Rozoff 2000. All rights reserved.
Barbarians of Our Own Dark Ages? Debunking the Myth Behind the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - by Michael W. Stowell
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