Saturday, August 08, 2015

We have all become Death, the destroyer of worlds?

About this time in August, every year I have posted about nuclear weapons since re-starting this blog.  Why?  Simply put, I find the world's continuing fascination with nuclear weapons despite the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be shocking, awful, pathetic, and tragic.

Take a look at the following data:
Source

Every one of those is way more powerful than the relatively tiny bombs ("Little Boy" and "Fat Man") that the US dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the world has almost 16,000 of them!


Seriously, how many of those weapons do we need?


The bombing of Nagasaki; image source

In this op-ed titled "Nagasaki, the Forgotten City," the author writes:
About 74,000 people in Nagasaki died instantaneously or within five months of the bombing. Only 150 were military personnel. Another 75,000 people were injured, and these numbers do not count those who fell ill and died from radiation-related conditions in the decades to come.
Initially, purple spots appeared on their bodies, their hair fell out, and they developed high fevers, infections, and swollen and bleeding gums. Later, cancer rates surged. The survivors, known as hibakusha, lived in constant fear of illness and death.
Only 150 of the 74,000 were military personnel!  It is one thing if an earthquake or a typhoon caused utter destruction to property and life.  It is another when we humans manufacture such destruction.  So many of the horrors in history were results of human decisions.  What a tragedy!
To counter growing criticism of the bombings, American leaders established a narrative that the bombings had ended the war and saved up to 1 million American lives by preventing an invasion of Japan. (These postwar casualty estimates were far higher than pre-bomb calculations.) Most Americans accepted this narrative.
Of course, a patriot never, ever questions the government's narrative, as the war-criminal, scoundrel, Dick Cheney always reminded us!

In a related op-ed, the same author writes:
Immediately after the bombings, high-level U.S. officials publicly — and adamantly — rebuffed news reports about the bombs' horrific aftereffects. Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs, dismissed these reports as propaganda, even as he sent teams to measure radiation levels to ensure the safety of U.S. troops about to enter both cities. Later that year, Groves testified before the U.S. Senate that death from high-dose radiation exposure is "without undue suffering" and "a very pleasant way to die."
A"very pleasant way to die."  Read that again. And again.  The horror of that sentence seems worse than the deaths themselves!  

I will end this post with the famous words uttered by Robert Oppenheimer:
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another.

3 comments:

Anne in Salem said...

The horror we can inflict upon our fellow humans is grotesque.

Ramesh said...

Grotesque indeed. There is no excuse for the Hiroshima / Nagasaki bombings. Which is why I completely debunk the theory that "responsible" countries can have nuclear weapons while others should be stopped from having them.

The only hope is that every country knows that if it ever used nuclear weapons, world opinion would turn so much against it that its very existence might not be possible. Therefore, hopefully, nobody ever uses them in the future, although that is a tenuous thread to hang by.

Sriram Khé said...

I am with you, Ramesh--what's the point in a "responsible" country like the US with an inventory of more than 7000 nuclear weapons, with each one of them easily 30 to 40 times more powerful than the ones that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Grotesque every which way we look at the nuclear weapons :(

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