Nuclear spending is far from Nobel
THE news that Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has earmarked a trillion dollars for US nuclear weapons did not go down well in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Seventy years ago, more than 200,000 innocent people there evaporated like drops of water touched by the sun when the US unleashed atomic warfare.
Death and destruction was indiscriminate.
Husbands and wives, the old man and the baby, pacifist and warmonger were all consumed by a crushing, burning, terrible wave of energy.
US personnel had attended Catholic and Protestant services before setting off for Nagasaki but their “Fat Man” plutonium bomb was non-denominational, its radioactive mushroom cloud bursting above the city’s old Portuguese churches as well as the Shinto shrines, schools and hospitals.
In its race to end World War II, the US had found a new way to end mankind.
Seventy years after the last atomic attack on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 the lingering after-effects are still felt. Japanese Red Cross Society hospitals are still treating thousands of survivors for cancers caused by radiation poisoning.
“Even after so many decades, we continue to see the catastrophic health impact,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “What more compelling argument could there be for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, especially as most of the bombs in the arsenals of nuclear armed states today are more powerful and destructive?”
By July 1945, World War II was grinding down.
Hitler was dead and Germany had surrendered. But the Japanese, whipped on by intractable warlords, refused to give in despite the firebombing of Tokyo and 67 other cities.
The Americans could have dropped an atomic bomb off Tokyo Bay as a warning but instead dropped their “Little Boy” uranium bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 and the “Fat Man” three days later. US President Harry Truman justified the mass destruction as preventing a land invasion and the subsequent loss of American lives. Japan announced its surrender on August 15 and was soon our friend again, making great cars and taking sushi to the world.
American muscle had never been flexed so overtly but within 20 years the Russians were showing off the Tsar bomb, 1500 times more powerful than the combined force of those that had levelled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For decades the US and Russia used the world as a chessboard.
Last September, The New York Times said Obama’s trillion-dollar spend on nuclear arms was a clear warning that after talk of the Cold War cooling, the US was prepared if Russia or China got twitchy with their trigger fingers.
The trillion dollars would not be spent on hospitals, schools or education to eliminate racial and religious hatreds but on weapons that could blow the world apart.
The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world. It also has the highest per capita rate of firearm-related murders of all developed countries.
It seems the only lesson many of the world leaders have learnt from Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that humankind will always find a way to shoot himself in the foot.