10 October 2008

The bombing of Hiroshima

In lecture 29 I said about the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima: "Whether it was instrumental in bringing Japan to surrender is questionable. The Japanese forces were already exhausted, and surrender could not have been delayed much longer. There can, however, be no doubt that the second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki 3 days later, can only be classified as a war crime."

It appears that I was giving the US military the benefit of the doubt, and this quite unjustifiably. Others have been much more damning in their assessment. The nuclear physicist Patrick M. S. Blackett, who in 1947 received the Nobel price in physics for his work on atomic and cosmic-ray physics, "was the first to point out that the Atomic Bombs dropped on Japan fulfilled diplomatic objectives vis-à-vis the U.S.S.R. rather than military objectives which could not be accomplished by other means." (P.M.S. Blackett: Military and Political Consequences of Atomic Energy. London: Turnstile Press, 1948; quoted in David Horowitz: Imperialism and Revolution. London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press, 1969.)

In other words, the sole purpose of the Japanese deaths in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki was to frighten Stalin and establish a position of strength for the Cold War. This would place not just the Nagasaki bomb but both bombs into the category of war crime.

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