From A World to Win News Service
Revolutionary Worker #1211, August 24, 2003, posted at rwor.org
11 August 2003. A World to Win News Service. The United States picked a nasty way to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki--it held a meeting to plan a new generation of atomic weapons.
On August 6 and again August 9, 1945 the U.S. unleashed the atomic bomb on humanity when it dropped the world's first nuclear weapons. More than 110,000 people died immediately, and the radiation eventually killed hundreds of thousands. The scale of killing was unlike anything ever seen. Think of 40 times September 11 in New York and you will only imagine the first seconds. The atomic bombings destroyed most of Hiroshima and about 40 percent of Nagasaki. Many years of painful death by cancer and later birth defects lay ahead for the survivors and their descendents.
The bombs were deliberately exploded high in the air to maximize the killing. There were no major military targets in either city.
Shortly afterwards, Japan surrendered to the U.S. But Japan's economy and its capital city were already destroyed. Many historians believe Japan would have surrendered without the atomic bombing. The main reason for it was a demonstration of strength to threaten the USSR. The Soviet Union was then a socialist country. It had been allied with the U.S. during the war against Germany and Japan, but even before that war was over the U.S. was baring its teeth to the USSR and setting out to dominate the world.
Bush's nuclear weapons planning conference on the 58th anniversary of Hiroshima was held on the Offett, Nebraska air force base that inspired the famous antiwar film Dr. Strangelove . The facility is decorated with the fuselage of a B-52 bomber. This is the aircraft the U.S. used to try and "bomb Vietnam back into the stone age" and recently to do the same in Iraq. The two B-29s that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were built at this base.
Coincidence? The August 7-8 conference was a celebration of mass murder from the sky stretching across half a century.
Before World War 2, bombing civilians was considered a barbaric and illegal act. The U.S. was not the only nation to commit that crime in WW2, but along with Britain it did so on an enormous scale. The U.S. has continued to do so in wars and invasions ever since.
During the decades of the Cold War, the U.S. and later the USSR (which became capitalist after Stalin) were ready to blow up the entire globe in their competition to control it. In 1967, when the stockpile of nuclear weapons reached its peak in the U.S., it had more than 32,000 warheads of 30 different types. The Soviet Union's stockpile reached its peak of about 33,000 warheads in 1988.
Why is the U.S. planning to develop and make more nuclear weapons now, when it no longer faces another nuclear superpower?
The answer is bone-chilling: to use them. The U.S. has always said it would not hesitate to be the first to use nukes in a war. Government spokesmen repeated this threat on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, as a warning not to fight back.
The U.S. and Russia are reducing the number of big, city-killing nukes in their arsenals. What the Bush government wants is "mini-nukes" more useful for the kind of warfare it has been fighting lately and foresees in the near future: invading and taking over smaller countries. If the U.S. had used its biggest bombs in Iraq there might be few oil wells left and little usable land to occupy.
But the planned new generation of bombs is not "mini" in terms of their destructive power. Some are to be several times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The smallest have the same power as a 1,000 tons of regular explosives. In other words, the smallest of the new nukes is to be as powerful as the biggest bombs dropped on Iraq. Some are called "earth penetrators" or "bunker busters" meant to dig deep into the ground. Several times during the recent war, the U.S. dropped conventional (not nuclear) "bunker busters" on Baghdad, including on a restaurant where the U.S. apparently thought (wrongly, it turned out) Saddam was visiting. That place was in a residential neighbourhood. What would have happened if that bomb had been a nuclear weapon? In the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. threw a "bunker buster" at a Baghdad bomb shelter, killing hundreds of family members. That's a realistic image to think of when we hear about the "surgical precision" of such bombs.
Other new bombs will be designed to slaughter as many people as possible. The "enhanced radiation" weapons are meant to be exploded high above the ground, as in Hiroshima. They will produce less explosive destruction but even more deadly radiation--meant to kill people and leave buildings standing.
These weapons are not just an idea. The military spending committees of both houses of the U.S. Congress approved money for this weapons program last year. The conference of government officials, scientists and military contractors this year was a further step toward actually making them.
According to The New York Times article on their possible use, "The Pentagon believes that more than 70 nations, big and small, now have some 1,400 underground command posts and sites for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction." That means 70 countries are potentially in the sights of U.S. atomic bombs and missiles. North Korea was mentioned as one of the first in line. What other countries are in that line too?
Many people have opposed these "mini-nukes" because they blur the dividing line between conventional and nuclear weapons; once this line is crossed the biggest nukes are more likely to be used as well. A leading nuclear weapons lab head attending the Nebraska meeting was quoted by the press as believing that this blurring is a good thing because it means any adversary of the U.S. can expect the worst.
As several media commentators have pointed out, there is nothing defensive about these mini-nukes. They are first-strike, "pre-emptive" weapons to crush a country's ability to resist U.S. demands or a takeover.
On the day these nuclear warmongers were arriving for their meeting, a ceremony to commemorate the dead was held in Hiroshima, as it is every year. The mayor gave a grim speech. "The world without nuclear weapons and beyond war that bomb survivors have sought for so long appears to be slipping under a thick cover of dark clouds that they fear at any minute could become mushroom clouds," he said. "As the U.S.-UK led war on Iraq has made clear, the assertion that war is peace is now being trumpeted as the truth."
The lies about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are bad enough, and the hypocrisy stinks. It can't be said often enough that the U.S. has the world's biggest stock of atomic weapons and it is the only country ever to have used them. Now it's getting ready to use them again.
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