Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From Hiroshima & Nagasaki to Iraq & Afghanistan

I am only a few pages away from finishing the book, "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb", by Gar Alperovitz (1996, Random House). In over 650 pages, it shows how the decision to drop a nuclear bomb apiece on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was decidedly NOT to save American lives or because it was the only way to end what inevitably would've been a war that would drag on for an indefinite period of time.

The dropping of these bombs resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people, including women and children and gravely poisoned the environment. The book shows how some American POWs were also killed by these bombs.

The book documents that the predominant reason the US dropped these awful things on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was that doing so was seen by Truman as means to achieve what he believed were critically important post-war foreign policy goals.

Furthermore, it lays out how our government systematically sought to cover up the real reasons the bombs were dropped and in fact lied to the American people about this in public statements.

From that awful time to today, our government has continued to refuse to admit that using those bombs was an unmitigated grave evil. Writing about the attitudes that made it possible for the US government to go ahead and use those awful weapons, Alperovitz writes:

"Around the world, Americans are famous for a certain naive self-righteousness, even arrogance. We like to see ourselves as possessed of special, unique virtue....So long as we accept a distorted, overly idealized image of ourselves and of our society, however --so long as we see all 'good' here and all 'evil' elsewhere-- I believe we must inevitably err in our relationships with others. Many of the excesses of the Cold War --and the overreaching that produced the Vietnam War-- can be traced in part to such attitudes." (Pg. 638).

While reading this book, it seems to me that I can draw a reasonably straight line from the attitudes that spawned the acts of dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the attitudes that spawned the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. You might think this is a stretch, and you certainly have the right to agree or disagree. This is just how I see it.

Because I see it this way, I will continue to be a voice for peace....for using diplomacy, development and international cooperation instead of military force in America's relationships with other nations. I want my country to be known around the world as a HUMANITARIAN super-power!

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