Seventy-five years ago, today the United States committed a war crime of hideous proportions that was fuelled by vile hatred and racism.
It is a war crime which has been subjected to intense spin ever since in a largely successful attempt to conceal the truth from ordinary Americans and the rest of the world. Dropping the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 and another three days later on Nagasaki was not justifiable in either military or moral terms. It constituted an act of inhumane barbarism and cruelty and must be recognised as the crime against humanity that it was.
For three quarters of a century, the well-oiled propaganda tools of mass communication via newspapers, news bulletins, pliable historians and well-designed core education curriculums in schools and colleges have pedalled the myth that dropping the uranium bomb with a hitherto unfathomable yield of 16 kilotons of TNT on Hiroshima at 8.15 am seventy five years ago today was necessary to force Japan to surrender and end World War II. Tens of thousands unsuspecting and unarmed civilians were subjected to a literal inferno as heat levels reached 5,500 Degrees Fahrenheit and they were vaporised.
At least 140,000 perished immediately, turned to black char as their skin melted and their internal organs were boiled. By 1950 the death toll had risen to 200,000 by the aftereffects of injuries sustained and the deadly radiation poisoning that polluted their bodies and the whole area for miles in all directions. The US policy of concealment and deceit was triggered immediately. According to official military reports only 3,242 Japanese soldiers were killed in the operation.
Three days later the ancient Japanese Castle town of Kokura was to be blasted off the face of the earth but poor visibility on the morning of 9th August 1945 forced the US pilot Charles Sweeney to drop his implosive plutonium bomb on downtown Nagasaki instead. The 21-kiloton force destroyed everything for miles and incinerated a minimum of forty thousand lives immediately. A further thirty thousand innocents were dead from their injuries by the end of 1945 and five years later the grisly death toll reached one hundred and forty thousand. Of the initial 40,000 immediately incinerated victims only 250 were soldiers. The rest were ordinary civilians, men, women and children condemned to die by politicians intent on trying out the destructive force of their new bombs on human guinea pigs.
Truman Was a Racist Who Cheered the Bombing of Hiroshima
The mark of the man who ordered these deadly payloads to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with such horrific and devastating consequences was exposed by his response after being told of the successful Hiroshima mission. Harry S. Truman became President of the US after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12th, 1945. He was in command less than four months when he issued the orders to drop the atomic bombs on Japan. His decision was not informed by concern for even greater loss of life had the war continued much longer but visceral hatred of the Japanese people. Japan was already resigned to surrender but desperately trying to negotiate terms less symbolically humiliating as “unconditional”. No invasion of Japan was required.
Truman was told of the successful bombing of Hiroshima while dining on the USS Augusta travelling back from Potsdam. He jumped up from the dining table and exclaimed:
“This is the greatest thing in history”.
Shortly afterwards he said that announcing the news of Hiroshima was the “happiest” announcement he had ever made (Stone & Kuznick, p.171).
Surely only a clinically deranged human being could describe such mass destruction and loss of life as a ‘happy’ announcement?
Read the Untold History of the United States
I cannot recommend highly enough “The Untold History of the United States” by Oliver Stone & Peter J. Kuznick (Ebury Press (2013)) if you are seriously interested in the real story behind dropping the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and much more about America’s violent and murky hidden past. The book painstakingly presents the evidence which proves conclusively that the decision was immoral, inhuman, and criminal. It uncovers the collective mindset of the nation that racist President Truman was leading. He was on record years earlier as a “Japs” hater while mainstream newspapers and outlets were questioning if Japanese people were actually human.
“Time” magazine wrote on July 5th, 1943:
“The ordinary, unreasoning Jap is ignorant. Perhaps he is human. Nothing … indicates it”. (Stone & Kuznick (2013) p149)
As early as 1911 aged twenty-seven years Truman’s reprehensible racism was already clear and formed. He expressed his world view in a letter to his future wife Bess:
“I think one man is as good as another as long as he’s honest and decent and not a nigger or a Chinaman. Uncle Will says that the Lord made a white man of dust, a nigger from mud, then threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman. He does hate Chinese and Japs. So do I. It is a race prejudice I guess”.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is widely revered in America for leading the country through the Great Depression and WWII. He was in office for over twelve years and is the longest serving President in US history. But he was also guilty of racist attitudes towards the Japanese people. Despite being advised by his Attorney General and even the reactionary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that US citizens of Japanese descent and non-citizens alike posed no security risk to the country he ignored them to sign the notorious and odious Order 9066 on 19th February, 1942. It facilitated the forced evacuation and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Japanese people. They were forced from their homes into makeshift and almost uninhabitable camps where all their human rights were revoked. They lost their homes and could only keep what possessions they could carry.
Anti-Japanese Racism Polluted American Society
The widespread racism against the Japanese was graphically illustrated by elected officials across the US who opposed the moving of Japanese ‘prisoners’ into their state boundaries. Some 120,000 citizens of Japanese descent in California were forced from their homes by Order 9066 but their entry to surrounding states was blocked by Governors and others. The governor of Idaho, Chase Clark, proclaimed, “The Japs live like rats, breed like rats and act like rats. We don’t want them.” The governor of Wyoming issued a chilling warning if the forcibly evicted Japanese were moved to his state, “There would be Japs hanging from every pine tree”. While the attorney general of Idaho, a legal officer, recommended that “all Japanese … be put in concentration camps. We want to keep this a white man’s country” (Stone & Kuznick p153).
Remember these are the comments of elected politicians and legal officers. One of the highest-ranking military officers in America was also a chief proponent of the anti-Japanese sentiment. The Western Defence Command (WDC) was the army command charged with the defence of the western portion of the United States, including the Pacific Coast. Under the leadership of its first Commanding General, John L. DeWitt, the WDC advocated for the mass forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. He successfully persuaded the War Department and President to implement such policy. Order 9066 was born and the WDC went on to implement that forced removal. The WDC continued to exclude Japanese Americans from the West Coast until the end of 1944.
The Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA) was established and temporary camps known as assembly centre were opened to hold Japanese inmates. Families were housed in horse stables, a single stall accommodating five or six people at a time. Later more permanent relocation centres were organised and quickly became known as ‘concentration camps’ due to the deplorable conditions and forced incarceration. Running water, proper toilets and even roofs were absent but there was no shortage of barbed-wire fencing, machine-gun installations, and guard towers. These camps were rapidly turned into forced labour camps with remuneration of only $4 a week for hard work.
In April 1943 General DeWitt addressed the House Naval Affairs Subcommittee he wasn’t worried about Germans or Italians:
“but the Japs we will be worried about all the time until they are wiped off the face of the map” (Stone & Kuznick p156).
This is a senior General in the US Army addressing an important political body in public and calling for the ‘Japs’ to be ‘wiped off the face of the map’ without caution or reprimand.
Mass Killing of Japanese Civilians Already Practiced Prior to Hiroshima
In fact, mass indiscriminate killing of Japanese civilians was already government military policy before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every participant in war commits war crimes. There are no ‘clean hands’ in war. It is a heinous situation that inevitably leads to atrocities, some unforeseen, others consciously executed. The US are not alone in responsibility for crimes against humanity. Of course, the Japanese committed grotesque war crimes in bombing campaigns against China, prisoner of war camp tortures and many other sub-human acts of terror. The British, Soviet and other combatants also committed acts which constituted war crimes. But the US sponsored narrative presents the good old USA as the only hero and saviour while the rest were playing dirty.
The Nazi treatment of Jews, socialists, trade unionists, gypsies and others was deplorable and monstrous but the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945, involving both the US and UK, stands as clear today as it was at the time as the very definition of a war crime in the way innocent unarmed civilians were deliberately targeted for extermination with no military targeting or objective other than instilling fear and spreading terror.
That terror tactic was repeated on March 9th – 10th 1945 in Tokyo when 334 planes with consciously constructed incendiary bombs consisting of napalm, thermite, white phosphorus, and other inflammable materials were despatched to destroy everyone and every thing in a 16 mile target radius that killed over 100,000 in one night and injured tens of thousands others. The inferno created by the specially concocted cocktail of incendiary bombs caused canals to boil, metal to melt and people to spontaneously burst into flames. General Curtis LeMay ordered the action. He had been appointed head of the 21st Bomber Command because of his specific willingness to devise ever more devastating sorties which took the practice of ‘terror bombing’ to a new and more abominable level.
According to LeMay’s reports the victims of his bombing missions were “scorched and boiled and baked to death” and by May of 1945 at least 75% of all the bombs dropped on Japan were specially concocted incendiaries designed to burn Japan to the ground and over one hundred cities were targeted. One city, Toyama, was 99.5% destroyed and US Secretary of War Henry Stimson was compelled to caution Truman that he:
“…did not want to have the US get the reputation of outdoing Hitler in atrocities” (Stone & Kuznick p158).
Future Defence Secretary Robert S. McNamara served under General LeMay and is on record agreeing with his comment that if the United States lost the war, they’d all be tried as war criminals and deserved to be convicted (“We Need International Rules for War”, The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec), August 9 2003).
There Was No and There Is No Justification for Using Nuclear Weapons
Hatred of the Japanese existed at the highest levels of US Government, military, and legal circles. It was encouraged and stoked by the mainstream press and permeated all levels of US society. It is the essential backdrop to the decision seventy-five years ago to unleash the most destructive bombs in human history on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Do not believe the self-righteous hype about how the atomic bombing of Japan was necessary and saved more lives than it cost. That is utter tripe which is easily refuted by even a cursory examination of the war records and intercepted communiques which showed Japan knew she was beaten and was anxious to surrender but hoped the Russians may have been able to broker slightly improved terms. The idea of ‘unconditional’ surrender was the stumbling block, but it was far from insurmountable.
Watching the pictures of the immense explosion which engulfed the port area of Lebanon the other day was a shocking experience. I visited Lebanon in 2003 and recognised many of the buildings in the wider footage. The explosion was intense. Yet seventy-five years ago explosions hundreds of times more destructive and deadly engulfed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Nuclear bombs today are a thousand-fold more powerful and destructive. There is simply no justification for using them anywhere. Nuclear disarmament is the cause of all humanity. The indiscriminate nature of the weapons makes them illegal, immoral, and unacceptable. If you are not for nuclear disarmament, I question your humanity. There was no just, military or moral justification for their use seventy-five years ago and there is no just, military or moral justification for their use today. Scrap all nuclear weapons. Ban the Bomb.