Pakistan -- Sunday, August 06, 2006, Rajab 10, 1427 A.H.
The day hell broke loose
Today (August 6) is exactly sixty-one years to the day that the world recoiled to the most ghastly tragedy perpetrated by one nation upon another. The event: the nuclear massacre of the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the US. Over a hundred thousand people were instantaneously incinerated, within the wink of an eye. While to this day, Western (read American) academics and historians do not tire of maligning Hitler for his gas chambers, they conveniently overlook and the way the United States Air Force turned the whole city of Hiroshima into a massive gas chamber within the wink of an eye.
All these six decades, the tragedy has failed to haunt America's psyche. There have been a whole lot of treatises defending the US action and many-an-attempt at guilt effacement but all pretty clumsy ones. The late Ronald Reagan, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the holocaust, in his characteristically jingoistic manner reminiscent of a Hollywood wild west epic, defended the action, saying, "The US did absolutely the right thing. We did it 'for peace' and were history to repeat itself, we would do it again".
Some peace! If peace has to be achieved by dispatching a hundred thousand people into eternity in the most painful of manner, then one wonders if peace really is a worthwhile commodity.
However, Reagan's defence of the action is not the only one in the long list of self-effacement explanations offered for the gruesome tragedy.
Today we see the US most belligerently forbidding other nations to conduct nuclear tests, Iran being the latest target of her jingoistic threats. She forgets that while other countries conduct tests taking care to prevent any loss of life, the US conducted them at the cost of 200,000 lives in 1945, the only nation to have demonstrated the monstrous power of the atom bomb. The US leaders seem to have arrogated the right to savagery exclusively to them.
The Readers' Digest has its own justification for the US turning Hiroshima into a giant incinerator. According to the Readers' Digest Pictorial History of World War II, the atom bomb was dropped over the Japanese city because the allies were just not being able to stem the tide of Japanese advance southwards. However, an objective probe into history totally demolishes this argument and it is a fact, which the few survivors of the war would testify to, that emperor Hirohito's emissaries were already negotiating surrender with the allies when the bomb was dropped. True the Japanese military campaign was an absolute whirlwind and all British possessions in the Far East fell like ninepins. General Percival of Britain surrendered at Singapore with a hundred thousand troops without firing a shot. However, once the Japanese reached Papua New Guinea, they got steely resistance from the Australian troops till their campaign lost its sting.
Another justification offered by the Readers' Digest account is that the architects of the atom bomb were just not aware of the potential of the murderous device to wreak havoc. They never realised it would be so destructive. However, just as there's never a perfect murder, there's never a perfect lie, for in the same account the authors tell us that special goggles had been devised to prevent the crew of the B-29 bomber going blind on account of the flash resulting from the explosion. A special mechanism had been devised whereby the bomb was to explode eighteen-hundred feet above the ground for, it was determined that the earth's crust under the city would crack were the bomb to hit the ground. Besides, once the monstrous scale of destruction became clear to the perpetrators of the holocaust, why did they drop another bomb over Nagasaki. Just three days later? Even a moron would know that this was not at all unintentional. Nagasaki met that horrific fate because while the bomb dropped over Hiroshima was a uranium-based bomb, the one dropped over Nagasaki was plutonium-based and it was to test the efficacy of the plutonium bomb. Under a cleverly contrived, sinister plan, the US had planned exactly the scale of destruction that the world witnessed to terrorise the world into submission and snatch world leadership from the United Kingdom.
So here we have a nation that, while never tiring of dubbing the communists savage and cruel, pontificates to other nations on human rights but most ruthlessly stampedes the most basic, the most cardinal of human rights, the right which is the edifice of all human rights, the right to life.
True to its gargantuan penchant for falsifying history, Hollywood produced a movie, Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the bomb). It does not require much of grey matter to see through this Hollywood brand of deception, for the whole crew was absolutely aware of the monstrosity they were going to rain over the city, given all the precautionary measures they'd been alerted to.
And the, the unkindest cut of all: while the Nazis accused of the gas chamber war crimes were subjected to the Nuremberg trials as war criminals, Robert Oppenheimer, the chief architect of the atom bomb, was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Besides, this bloody crime, unsurpassed in history, also tells us something about the racist mindset of the Americans. Throughout the six years of World War II, Germany was a swear word in the US. The Nazis were people to whom even the biggest monsters were preferable. So many places with German names had the names changed because having German names was considered unpatriotic. Yet the monstrous weapon was dropped not over White Germany but over a non-white Asian nation, Japan. How could the Americans use their white kindred folk as guinea pigs to test their weapon of mass destruction! The yellow race, the Japanese were not of Caucasian origin. As such, according to the US collective psyche, they were an inferior form of creation and could be used as non-human life forms, suitable enough to be tested like animals in a laboratory.
Now the million-dollar question that begs our answer is: why did the US, a nation that blares from the rooftops its adherence to human rights and civility, that claims to be the liberator of the oppressed (never mind having to decimate a hundred thousand men women, and children, like in Iraq), a nation that never tires of dubbing its communist adversaries as savage and cruel, herself resorted to the most cruel act of history?
Given the destruction wrought by the bomb, one would have thought mankind would have learnt a solemn, profound, and abject lesson, namely, that wars are suicidal, that wars are the ultimate in savagery and that it does not become the masterpiece of all creation, mankind, to stoop to things as cruelly base as warfare. The United Nations was established exactly with that lofty ideal in mind, after the world witnessed the destruction wrought by the war. But alas! Since the founding of the UN, there have been three-hundred-and-seventy-five conflagrations, big and small, across the globe. The UN has proved to be an absolutely ineffective organ as far as preventing wars is concerned. Particularly since the emergence of the unipolar world, there seems to be nothing to stop the arbitrary, bull-headed US drive to capture the world's natural resources through military campaigns. Iraq is the most profound example in current history.
During its over-a-decade long engagement in Vietnam, US bombing killed about three million people. Besides on account of all the chemical warfare waged there with impunity, today, even three decades after the war, Vietnam's rice produce has to be tested for toxicity before being marketed. This is because of all the chemical warfare like Agent Orange and other even more deadly chemicals being sprayed over rice fields during the war.
The bomb was dropped over Hiroshima over six decades ago but many of the survivors who at that time were children or in their early teens have to live with facial and bodily mutilation, resulting from the radiation.
Will we in this region also have to live with bodily mutations and mutilations? Time will tell. All we know is: it is high time all mankind (including the Americans) said in unison: Never again!
The writer is a staff member