sábado, 8 de agosto de 2015

The ethical consequences of the atomic bombing of Japan

     They called it “Little Boy.” On August 6th it was dropped on Hiroshima, a uranium bomb that had been tested in the desert by Washington. In seconds the impressive mushroom of noxious fire and cloud and wind killed 140,000 Japanese men, women and children, the vast majority of them civilians. That was but the first blow. Three days later a plutonium bomb took 74,000 more lives in Nagasaki and a few days later Japan surrendered.
            And yet—in spite of that act of brutal terror—surveys show that as much as 56% of U.S. public opinion backs the use of atomic power against Japan in the Second World War. 
            Shortly after the bombing and surrender of Japan, President Harry Truman said: "Never, never waste a minute on regret. It´s a waste of time." .
            Astonishing. It was not only the more than 200,000 immediate victims. Thousands more subsequently suffered cancer, skin and intestinal disorders and their lives were shadowed in the most pathetic agony. Most of the victims were civilians.
            The use of the atomic bombing in Japan has been “justified” in many ways by persons in government and ordinary citizens. The most usually heard argument is that that atrocity “saved lives.” In 1991 President George H.W. Bush assured U.S. citizens that the bombs had "spared millions of American lives." He didn´t mention the thousands of Japanese lives burnt and extinguished under the mushroom cloud.
            What is the ethical rationality of such a statement? The vast majority of U.S. citizens are religious law abiding persons. In times of war or the long history of U.S. military involvement abroad are religious beliefs put in the background in lieu of patriatic passion?
            Another theory sometimes heard in government circles is that the massive destruction caused by the Second World War, in Japan as well as in Germany, made possible the subsequent dynamic economic recovery of the losers.
            Since the “end” of the so-called “Cold War” Washington has been in a campaign to prevent certain countries from obtaining technology sufficient to build an atomic bomb. But certain allied nations—such as Israel—are not criticized for having that technology.
            If we forget about politics for a moment, the struggle for power around the world and throughout history, we still are left with the stubborn ethical and philosophical question: Can the use of such devastating weaponry be justified? If one power uses such deadly weapons on what grounds can it preach against others who use or imagine using it?
                Will the U.S. ever come to a moral reckoning about the consequences of the bombings, asks Christian Appy of the Tom Dispatch.  And we add: how can public opinion in the country so uncritically justify Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
           Looking at the tactics used by the U.S. in the World War II, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that atomic power was used not only to end the war with Japan but also to boost Washington into the position as unquestioned world leader. Who could imagine challenging a country that had such devasting power? For a few decades the former Soviet Union attempted to do so--on the basis of developing atomic weapons of equivalent destructive power. With the demise of the USSR, the U.S. was left as the sole world power capable of calling the cards in its name. 

            In the context of Washington´s present pressure against the spread of nuclear weapons, does anyone really know what happened to those Cold War nuclear stockpiles? Does anyone really know

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