By Ameen Izzadeen
This article originally appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka on August 13, 2010
The Japanese are a great people. Their greatness comes in their ability to forgive the United States for its blatant terrorism on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 65 years ago.
The United States was also a great nation despite its troubled history that spoke of horrors committed on the Native Americans. But World War II changed its course. Its greatness, it appears, is now confined to words. Its actions show a different picture. If the United States was seriously concerned about the disappearance of its greatness, it could have apologized for Hiroshima and Nagasaki at last Friday’s ceremony in Japan. Such an apology could have restored the US greatness. But on the contrary, the US’ silence was deafening at the ceremony where the grotesque massacre was remembered with solemn prayers for world peace.
On August 6, 1945, at exactly 15 minutes past eight in the morning, history’s worst act of terrorism unfolded in the Japanese city of Hiroshima when the B 29 bomber Enola Gay piloted by Paul Tibbets of the United States Air Force dropped “Little Boy”, an 8,900-pound atomic weapon and leveled almost 90% of the city. As if such devastation was not enough, three days later, the United States was to repeat its terrorism: This time on Nagasaki. The two attacks killed more than 200,000 people instantly and the effects of the radiation that emanated from the two bombs took a huge toll on survivors and their children for decades to come. Even in tests done 50 years after the attacks, scientists identified strands of radiation in various living organisms. It was a crime unparalleled in history. By comparison the 9/11 terrorism pales into insignificance.
Has anyone got a name for this military doctrine of indiscriminate killing of civilians? If civilians are killed accidentally in military action, their deaths are called “collateral damage”. But if civilians are intentionally killed along with enemy military personnel, is it not blatant terrorism? Sadly, 65 years later, Washington has apparently not abandoned its policy of killing civilians along with a few enemies. The civilian deaths during the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of that country confirm this. Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border areas also bear witness to this policy.
Debates continue even today on why the US dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. The argument was that Japan was evil and there was no other way to stop the war. Those who backed the bombing said that if the United States, instead of dropping the atomic bombs, had invaded Japan, victory would not have come without losing hundreds of thousands of US military lives. In other words, the United States killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians to save American military lives.
Japan would have, in any case, surrendered or ended the war if the US had not dropped the atomic bombs because Japan in the aftermath of the devastating US air raid on Tokyo, had realized it had very few options left. But US officials reject this claim. Even today in an apparent attempt to show that the US is not evil, the propaganda continues that the dropping of the atomic bombs was a necessary evil because Japan had no intention of surrendering and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo was unmoved even after the two atomic bombs. There is little space in the US media for a debate on whether the bombing was carried out to test the uranium bomb (Hiroshima) and the plutonium bomb (Nagasaki).
Since bringing World War II to an end in a demonic death act, the victor has been moving from one theatre of war to another. After Japan, the US went to war in Korea in the 1950s. A recent documentary on al-Jazeera television claimed that the US used biological weapons in Korea. In the 1960s and 1970s, the US was fighting wars in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea. Evidence shows that the chemical weapons Agent Orange and Napalm were used in Vietnam. The 1980s saw more US aggression in Grenada, Panama and Libya. The 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century saw US military machines in action in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan.
While Japan has learnt a bitter lesson from World War II and resolved to follow pacifism, the US has learnt the importance of power and resolved to achieve more power and demonstrate it and is determined to neutralize any power that seeks to challenge the US power.
This policy based on power will see more wars. The policy needs enemies. The end of the Cold War in the 1990s saw the emergence of a new enemy – the so-called Islamic terrorists who were the very friends the Americans worked with to achieve their objectives in Afghanistan when it was occupied by the Soviet Union in the 1990s.
An enemy is also needed to offer a pretext for wars aimed at achieving economic objectives and military dominance of the world.
The existence of an enemy also helps to justify the heavy military expenditure on the development of new weapons of mass destruction and divert the American taxpayers’ money towards the arms industry which funds the election campaigns of presidents and members of the US Congress. Some Pakistanis believe the devastating weather that has caused unprecedented floods across the country was linked to hi-tech secretive US warfare called HAARP (the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme) – an ionospheric research programme jointly funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A Google search for HAARP will return about 9,420,000 results. Some describe HAARP as a secret US weapon that can cause devastating weather-related catastrophes on earth. By beaming electromagnetic waves into the ionosphere – the part of the atmosphere some 85 kilometres above the ground level – the earth’s weather pattern can be manipulated.
Of course, the official US response to reports that HAARP is a secret US weapon is that such canards are spread by conspiracy theorists. The US may be right, but it is difficult to believe the US explanation without entertaining some doubts. This is because of its revolting reputation of being involved in major conflicts since the end of World War II and its refusal to be a partner in moves that seek to create a violence-free world. The US has refused to be a party to the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court to try war crimes on the basis that its domestic judicial system is strong enough to try US suspects accused of war crimes. But the recent WikiLeaks postings give the lie to such arguments. The US has taken little or no action to punish the soldiers involved in the killing of civilians in Afghanistan. If the US is committed to world peace, why did it abstain from voting, some ten years ago, for the UN move to declare 2001-2010 a “Decade of Creating a Culture of Nonviolence for All the Children of the World”?
It was with such a bad record that the United States, for the first time since the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, officially participated in the ceremony to mark the horror. Its participation was sans any expression of remorse or guilt. US ambassador John V. Roos said nothing at the ceremony, though he looked pensive. There was no apology. Neither was there a US presence when Nagasaki held its memorial ceremony on Monday.
It is unlikely that a statement at least resembling an apology will come from the United States even when President Barack Obama visits Hiroshima in November. He will probably make use of the occasion to lambaste Iran over its nuclear programme and raise the possibility of a war on Iran by several notches, though the possible focus of his speech will be a peaceful denuclearized world.