Revolution #209, August 15, 2010

The U.S. Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima...
...And The American Way of Death

On August 6, 1945, the U.S. unleashed the atomic bomb on humanity. The world's first use of nuclear weapons, against the Japanese city of Hiroshima, was followed on August 9 by the bombing of Nagasaki.

The two atomic bombs dropped at the end of World War 2 were deliberately set to explode high in the air. The point was to maximize the killing, not the destruction of buildings. More than 110,000 people died immediately in the two bombings and the radiation eventually killed hundreds of thousands more. Many years of painful death by cancer and later birth defects lay ahead for the survivors and their descendants.

If terrorism is defined as the killing of innocent civilians for a political purpose, then the world has seldom seen such terrorism. Think of September 11, 2001 in New York multiplied by 40 times and you will only imagine the first few seconds.

Shortly after, Japan surrendered. But its economy and capital city, Tokyo, had been destroyed even before the atomic bombs reduced two militarily unimportant cities to towns of the dead. Many historians believe that the country was on the verge of surrender before those terrible days in August 1945. The main reason the U.S. wanted to use atomic weapons was to demonstrate its strength to threaten the USSR. The Soviet Union was then a socialist country. It had been allied with the U.S. against Germany and Japan during the war, but even before that war was over, the U.S. was baring its teeth to the USSR and setting out to dominate the world.

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 the British it did so on an enormous scale. Since then the U.S. has threatened to use nuclear weapons on dozens of occasions, not only against the USSR when that country later became an imperialist rival to the U.S., but also against Vietnam and China. That the U.S. would make first use of nuclear weapons whenever it felt its interests sufficiently threatened has been official U.S. doctrine, and the cornerstone of American military policy, from the 1950s through today.

In other words, massive death and unbelievable suffering rained down on men, women and children—even nuclear holocaust and, yes, quite possibly the end of human civilization—all this is justified to defend "the American way of life."  And, as we wrote recently while talking of nuclear disarmament, Obama has made clear that in practice the U.S. still follows this doctrine, especially today in regard to Iran.1

This system—this way of life—has been a horror for humanity.  The Revolutionary Communist Party's Message and Call puts it clearly: "This system needs to be swept aside...its crimes against humanity stopped cold...its institutions dismantled, and replaced by ones that empower people to build a new society free of exploitation and oppression." ("The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have," available at

Editor's note: Much of the content here on the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is drawn from the article, "The Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Not Just History," distributed by A World To Win News Service, Aug. 2, 2010.


1. See "Obama Speeches at West Point and Oslo: More Troops in Afghanistan and Preserving U.S. Nuclear Dominance... Is This the Path to Ending the Horrors of War?" by Larry Everest, Jan, 17, 2010, available at [back]

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