Friday, August 9, 2013

Ban the Bomb

Nagasaki, August 9, 2013 (PHOTO: AP)
Today marks 68 years since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The bombs and the aftermath of radiation killed 90,000 to 166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000 to 80,000 people in Nagasaki. I wish the bombs that were dropped had not been named “Little Boy” and “Fat Boy.”

Today is a beautiful August day in the Salish Sea and a bit difficult to think deeply about something that happened 68 years ago in another time and to another people. Most of the world probably has come to feel the same about our 9/11.

There wasn’t much news or commentary today about this 68th anniversary but that’s understandable since we don’t tend to follow up on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy or the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, although the woes of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant continue to worsen.

But unlike those natural disasters alleviated by human heroism or compounded by human folly, the atomic bombings, like the 9/11 terror attacks, were planned and carried out by our fellow human beings.

Maybe I’m not alone in having a difficult time putting myself into a mindset that allows me to plan and execute the killing of tens of thousands of people. There’s been a lot written about the building of the bomb and the political and military reasons for using them to end the Pacific war and ultimately to save more lives. The victors get to write the history. In the case of 9/11 and terrorism, the fight goes on with little understanding of the mindsets of terrorists. Instead we are frisked and listened in on as the “war” goes on.

But consider that for 68 years we’ve managed not to drop another atomic bomb and for that, many of us who grew up during the Cuban missile crisis and nuclear diplomacy based on “mutual assured destruction,” should be thankful. But just like with all these guns around us in the hands of the good guys and the bad guys, somebody’s finger is on a trigger and sometimes accidents happen, sometimes things get out of hand. Consider which ones of your elected officials or candidates you’d trust with a loaded gun or the firing code to our nuclear arsenal.

Those who advocated “Ban the Bomb” were sneered at by the “hard-headed realists” as being cowards and dupes. Hell, ban the bomb. Beat them into plowshares. Not the “hard-headed realists;” the nuclear arsenals. And throw the guns in as well, and ammo, too.

Need a reminder about nuclear weapons? Around every August 6 and 9, take a look at the 1964 Peace Little Girl (daisy) political ad and gather some friends and family around to watch Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Bring popcorn.

--Mike Sato

3 comments:

  1. Gosh, didn't hear hear it was the anniversary this year. Did you read the autobiography of Oppenheimer about his life and the development of the bomb? Fascinating look at the history and thought behind it all. Yes, let's hope there are no more uses and no accidents!

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    1. My hope also. There have been a number of biographies and books, the latest by Ray Monk, "Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center." We all learned a lot from Richard Rhodes who wrote, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb." Mike

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  2. Thanks for this post, Mike - a thoughtful and important one. I generally do think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki every August 6 and 9, and about how little our species has really learned since then. Although I'm not on the front lines anymore of the nuclear disarmament movement (if there still is one?), my heart and head and soul still ache for those same goals for which we worked so hard, way back when (can it really be almost 30 years ago?). Sigh.

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