Deep ground fog this early Wednesday here on California’s north coast, and a bit on the chilly side, as we clutch our way on down through the work week.
Hard to fathom the summer’s almost over, and fall is falling hard at us.
History is past participle to the allusion of the future. In a world gone nearly pure-crazy in a quick-snap, thinking about what happened long ago is nearly out of the question, even though yesterday is usually a good indicator of today.
And today about 8:15 AM, 69 years ago, the US pulled a major-major fuck-up: Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British “Grand Slam” which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.
And the lie…
(Illustration: ‘Hiroshima,’ by Maxime Taccardi, found here).
Last year, Greg Mitchell, former editor at now-defunct Editor&Publisher, and author of a shitload of books, including ‘ATOMIC COVER-UP: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made,’ posted a background of the lying bullshit on the Hiroshima bombing at The Nation. Those old lies feel like new ones:
And so, from its very first words, the official narrative was built on a lie, or at best a half-truth.
Hiroshima did contain an important military base, used as a staging area for Southeast Asia, where perhaps 25,000 troops might be quartered.
But the bomb had been aimed not at the “Army base” but at the very center of a city of 350,000, with the vast majority women and children and elderly males.
In fact, the two most important reasons Hiroshima had been chosen as our number-one target were: it had been relatively untouched by conventional bombs, meaning its large population was still in place and the bomb’s effects could be fully judged; and the hills which surround the city on three sides would have a “focusing effect” (as the target committee put it), increasing the bomb’s destructive force.
Indeed, a US survey of the damage, not released to the press, found that residential areas bore the brunt of the bomb, with less than 10 percent of the city’s manufacturing, transportation and storage facilities damaged.
There was something else missing in the Truman announcement: because the president in his statement failed to mention radiation effects, which officials knew would be horrendous, the imagery of just “a bigger bomb” would prevail for days in the press.
Truman described the new weapon as “revolutionary” but only in regard to the destruction it could cause, failing to even mention its most lethal new feature: radiation.
In many ways, the same dangerous myth about nuclear weapons, first promoted by Truman, persists in the minds of many today: that any use of the more powerful weapons of today by a state (say, the United States or Israel) could be and would be targeted on strictly military enclaves or weapon sites, with little threat to thousands or millions living nearby.
And the horror:
“That fateful summer, 8:15,” the mayor of Hiroshima recalled at a memorial service in 2007, “the roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm.
“A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast—silence—hell on earth.
“The eyes of young girls watching the parachute were melted.
“Their faces became giant charred blisters.
“The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails.… Others died when their eyeballs and internal organs burst from their bodies.
“Hiroshima was a hell where those who somehow survived envied the dead.
“Within the year, 140,000 had died.”
And the sonofabitch wasn’t even needed.
Last Sunday, Mitchell posted a quote at his blog, Pressing Issues, from FDR/Truman’s chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William D. Leahy: “[T]he use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…. [I]n being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1945:
“Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan.
“I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act…
“During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.
“It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude…”
In a Newsweek interview, Ike would add: “…the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”
Harry Truman, however, was full of it: “The atom bomb was no ‘great decision.’ It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.”
And just last week, President Obama in a bored, washed-out voice, in our own age of purity: “We tortured some folks… We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
And we’re what…?