Revisiting US nuclear attacks-1945


Dr Muhammad Khan

On the eve of 73rd Anniversary of nuclear attack on Japanese city of Hiroshima, the world needs to be reminded about two aspects of nuclear weapons. First, today, the nuclear weapons are more in number to destroy the entire human beings and second, there was no justification with United States for nuclear attacks on two Japanese cities; Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945. It was a demonstration of power politics and getting an edge over the allies, who fought together in World War-II. While giving an excuse, then US President, Harry S. Truman and his aides said, they needed to end the war immediately and Japan was not ready to surrender unconditionally. Furthermore, the use of nuclear weapons was aimed at satisfying the US masses, who could have questioned the very need of nuclear weapons, had the war prolonged after Germany surrendered to Allies. Indeed, these rational are insufficient to satisfy the world in general and Japanese in particulars. Over 250,000 people lost their lives during two successive nuclear attacks by United States on Japanese cities.
The real reason, which compelled US to use the nuclear weapon for the first time (and last so far), can be traced in the theory of power politics of international relations. Indeed, this was the most suited opportunity for the United States to attain the status of a super power, where its strategists made no mistake. By having nuclear weapons would not have given US, the dominance it needed at political and strategic level, which its usage has given it. After the nuclear attacks, US become unparalleled through the game of “haves and have not”. For this uniqueness; the Super Power status, US travelled a long journey. It is said that, US got the consent of United Kingdom (super power of that time) for dropping nuclear bombs on Japanese cities. It was necessary also as per the Quebec Agreement, signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt on Aug 19 1943 in Quebec City of Canada. This agreement “stipulated that the US and UK would pool their resources to develop nuclear weapons, and that neither country would use them against the other, or against other countries without mutual consent, or pass information about them to other countries. It also gave the President of the United States a veto over post-war British commercial or industrial uses of nuclear energy.”
This shows that, the devastation took place in Japan through the use of nuclear weapon by US was after lot of deliberations and considerations, where United Kingdom remained an intimate partner. Indeed, there was a merger of US Manhattan Project with British Tube Alloys Project and there was a Combined Policy Committee to control this joint project. Besides, the UK scientists performed important assignments in the US nuclear programme at Manhattan Project, which later helped UK in developing its own nuclear weapon programme by making use of these scientists. Therefore, if today, United Kingdom endorses all acts of United States, even taking an exit from European Union through Brexit (in June 2016) is part of combined policies, both follow in international politics. It was UK alone, which supported through, the US invasion in Iraq in 2003, without any UN resolution.
Most of the Post WW-II scholars consider that, there was no need of attacking Japan with nuclear weapons, since it has already crumbled through US carpet bombing and firebombing on Tokyo and all major cities. Japanese weapon industry and logistic line was totally destroyed by US Air Force. As history of WW-II reveals, on March 9, 1945, “US warplanes launched a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history.”
Tokyo suburb of Shitamachi consisted of roughly 750,000 people living in cramped quarters in wooden-frame buildings. Almost all were killed through US firebombing, which US General Curtis LeMay said while addressing the pilots that, “You’re going to deliver the biggest firecracker the Japanese have ever seen”. Only the Japanese, who survived the attacks, can narrate the horror, which 334 US Bombers (B-29) unleashed while flying at 500 feet and targeted bombing on civilians with fire flames all over the city and suburbs. It is said that, after these firebombing “In the black Sumida River, countless bodies were floating, clothed bodies, naked bodies, all black as charcoal.” Therefore, US claims that, Japan was still capable to fight the US military might is deceitful and unfounded. Indeed, both US and UK never wanted former Soviet Union to take a lead role after the WW-II. Former Soviet Union played the most significant role in WW-II, by converting the defeat into victory.
From Truman to Trump, US has gone through an exhaustive weapons and missile programme apart from updating the nuclear weapons. Ever since 1945, US maintained its supreme position at the global level. However, the horrors of nuclear attacks and massive human losses took place as a result of those nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki speaks volumes of US prejudiced policies towards rest of world. Even today, through asymmetrical warfare, US has unleashed a reign of terror all over world, especially the Muslim countries, killing millions. Given a chance, Trump would do the same as Truman did in August 1945 on the pretext of American security and dominance. The question arises, far how long; the human sufferance should continue to safeguard the America and American interests at global level.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.

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