Monday, May 6, 2013

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Antiques Road Show

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I was just watching Antique's Road Show. I have to admit it, I like that show.  But an item one person brought was a document from her relative who was a radar operator on the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The appraiser was very impressed with it.  But he then went on to say that they had no idea of what this bomb would do or its effect.  This is nonsense.  They had some idea, enough of an idea to know that it would kill every living thing within a considerable radius of impact.

The appraiser then read some words from the log that said they didn't know whether or not the guys in the plane would not be killed by the blast.  The bomb was called "little boy" (these military types give some harmless type names to their murderous machines don't they).  He said also, in a nod to the dead, that the bomb killed 100,000 people, and I refuse to believe that they didn't know that, but he added that to invade Japan it would have cost a couple million lives.

This is the line the US bourgeois put out there.  It is not true.  Japan was a defeated nation.  The dropping of these horrific bombs on a defenseless civilian population, that not only killed more than 100,000  but poisoned millions more,  was not to crush Japanese resistance and "save" lives, it was a warning to the Russians and to the Chinese. It was US imperialism stamping its mark on the rest of the world, a warning that the eagle has landed.

The US is the only nation and the Democratic Party the only political party that has committed such atrocious acts of barbarism in dropping atomic bombs on defenseless civilians.  We should not forget that.

In this instance that I describe, the owner of the document also had the medals that the fliers got for dropping the bomb and risking their lives.

Kill two hundred thousand people and you get a medal.

There were plans to drop more atomic bombs if Japan didn't surrender. Of course, the ruling class refused to surrender but by some accounts 97% of Japanese cities had been destroyed and the mass of the population was fed up with the war.  But US capitalism was triumphant.  The productive forces of its allies had been weakened and the productive forces of its rivals destroyed.  The European colonial giants had found their place in the dustbin of history after two disastrous and costly global capitalist wars for control of the world's markets and resources.  US capitalism by 1950 had more than 50% of world trade and its productive forces intact. It had made a lot of money from the war and it's allies were indebted to it.

The anti-Japanese sentiment was such that a 1944 opinion poll that asked what should be done with them 13% of the U.S. public were in favor of "killing off" all Japanese: men, women, and children. Opponents of the bombing argue as I have here that Japan was a defeated nation.  We should remember also the internment of Japanese here, including those who were American citizens. This had a traumatic effect on the entire Japanese population and their families. German or Italian Americans were not incarcerated in camps.  The most militant of the Japanese resisters to this atrocity were called the No No Boys. There is a book with the title No No Boys that is a novel but describes the tragic consequences of internment on Japanese Americans and their families.
Sorry, but I wouldn't want a medal for this.

There are many who reject the official US position on the bombings.

"As the United States dropped its atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, 1.6 million Soviet troops launched a surprise attack on the Japanese forces occupying eastern Asia. "The Soviet entry into the war played a much greater role than the atomic bombs in inducing Japan to surrender because it dashed any hope that Japan could terminate the war through Moscow's mediation", said Japanese historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, whose recently published Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan is based on recently declassified Soviet archives as well as US and Japanese documents." Wikipedia.

My father was a prisoner of war in Japan captured in Hong Kong in 1939.  He worked for Mitsubishi on the docks in Yokohama.  When his camp was liberated he was taken by an American ship to Mindanao and then on to Vancouver WashingtonHe thought what happened to Japan was a terrible, terrible thing.  He loved the Americans and was in prison camp with many of them. As for their war dates, he always used to say jokingly to his American buddies, "The yanks always came in late, they call the 1914-18 war the 1917-18 war."  He never forgot the kindness Americans showed him as a liberated prisoner when they took him to Mindanao.

The US capitalist class is the most crass, vulgar and violent of all of them.  Engels explained it this way.  If we take the British bourgeois, they fought a few hundred year battle against feudalism.  They fought an ideological war in which they had to defend their ideas.  For the US capitalist class on the other hand it was a matter of simply wiping out a couple of million pastoral tribes people and building some infrastructure.

With all their talk of peace and democracy we should never forget that the only group of people in the world who have dropped nuclear weapons on highly populated civilian areas is the US bourgeois and their Democratic Party.


Dave said...

The history of Japan in WW2 that I read portrays Japan as a military state from the emperor to the youngest school child. The military leaders philosophy was that it was better to die than lose the war. It was a dishonor to not only the soldier but his entire family if he were to return from a lost war. This ideology ran so deep that there were still Japanese soldiers living in the jungles of the Phillipines as late as 1975. Not wanting to return because of the loss of face it would cause to the family. And what about the caves where the Japanese preferred death by flame throwers rather than surrender. That is a tough army to defeat and the top military figures would not surrender regardless of the wishes of the civilians. Have we forgotten the Bataan death march and many other atrocities by Japanese military leaders? No, I dont buy into this particular round of America bashing.

Richard Mellor said...

There is considerable controversy over this Dave, so there's a lot of "America bashing" around it. But my guess is your objection might be more that it's the Democratic Party bashing that you object to. You are not shy about bashing the Republicans that some might consider an anti-American activity but you seem to let these Dems off the hook. Either way, I do not believe it was necessary to drop atomic bombs on populated and unarmed cities to end that war.They were guinea pigs.

Anonymous said...

No doubt the bombing of a civilian population was terrible that will hopefully never happen again . . . that picture of the survivor is just awful.

But to somehow try and blame that on capitalism is such a stretch that it's completely absurd.

There was no precedent set before WW2 on the use of atomic bombs. I think the whole notion of "we have these weapons, but it'd be best to exercise some restraint" is just completely foreign to, well anyone living in 1945.

Anonymous said...

I have read the Hiroshima books, and certainly am not without empathy for what the Japanese people suffered when this bomb was dropped, and for those who still suffer. When I brought up these issues in front of my grandfather who served in WWII and whose Navy ship, (USS Hinsdale) was struck by a Kamakazi pilot on approach to Okinawa,(he was a marine), he promptly stated his opinion that he was glad they dropped the bomb. His comrades were dead in a matter of seconds and they had no time to escape the lower deck where they ate breakfast every morning (as they were this morning.) My grandfather escaped because he decided not to go to breakfast that morning, but rather to prepare for the approach to Okinawa. Had he not made the decision that morning to do something out of his ordinary routine, he would be dead as well. I was a bit surprised at his bitterness towards the Japanese still to this day because he is a very kind, loving person. But as I come to read and understand more about what occurred during WWII and the tactics used, I know why he has such a difficult time forgiving them. I may not agree with him harboring these feelings for this length of time, but I comprehend the reasons why. Memories of your fallen comrades are not easily erased from your mind. and learning more about the Japanese tactics used against us in war, I began to gain empathy for what my grandfather and his fallen comrades went through as well. This was a war the U.S. was forced into by Japan. To be honest, I wish this war could have ended without the atomic bomb. However, what the bomb did was change the number of casualties away from the U.S. and towards Japan. There is nothing pleasant about how it happened or the after affects, but the bomb shifted the casualties back into Japan's court rather than our court. That makes sense to me. I really do wish it could have stopped another way, but I can't sit here now and say that I could have done any better. I think both sides learned a great lesson with the use of this bomb. I think the U.S. learned we never want to use this type of bomb again if it can be averted, and leaders of countries learned that their actions can result in dire consequences for their own people. Please don't forget that the chain of events was set off by the Japanese leaders, not the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Unit 731. Look it up.

Anonymous said...

There is more to the U.S. than how it is presenting itself to the world. Americans are brainwashed and the people who control the U.S. and its military are the Jesuits. These people are all over trying to influence humanity for their own advantages.

Anonymous said...

Well, they shouldn't of attacked us. lots survived and some were in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when they were bombed. and were near the blast zone 1.5 miles. One survivor of both blasts died a couple years ago.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, didn't they bomb America? A country that wasn't at war with them. Killing civilians along with soldiers. But I guess if Japan invaded other countries and helped Hitler murder over six million jews let alone non jews, then they're country should be off limits then?

Anonymous said...

Ask a survivor of Nanking if we were to hard on Japan.
As for your comrade Stalin, he decided not to mention Japanese surrender overtures to Truman. In the hopes that a prolonged war would allow more Soviet involment in Asia.
Aka a land grab. Russia's Invasion of Mongolia/china didn't change anything.