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Confronting a Mindset: "Bombing Hiroshima was Right"

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Imagine the power to erase, in nine seconds, more than 200,000 human beings and everything surrounding them within a two mile radius. Then imagine that power magnified many times over. Then understand that We, the People, are represented by those who are capable of destroying far more people and property in less time. For, according to President Bill Clinton and reiterated by Barack Obama, "nuclear weapons are the cornerstone of the policies" of United States of America that protector of the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Every day of the last sixty-five years since August 6 and August 9 when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have continued to design, test, develop, and stockpile ever more awesome nuclear weapons.

Researchers at the non-profit think tank Tri-Valley CAREs based in Livermore, California found that, contrary to their assumptions, Congress, the Pentagon, and the President do not commission such weaponry. "We found," says Executive Director Marylia Kelly, "that [members of] the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory rather forcefully sell ideas for and promote weapons to the U.S. government. We'd always thought that the lab responded to the sorts of weapons these entities wanted but found the opposite is true. The weapons labs at Lawrence Livermore (CA) and Los Alamos (NM) really are the tap root of the nuclear arms race."

It began during the Cold War...and, Kelly says, "this one-nation nuclear arms race has continued ever since. As long as these labs are unimpeded that tap root of continued weapons design and development will flourish."

There are three main test facilities that simulate nuclear explosions and develop ever more sophisticated and lethal weapons. The Nevada Test Site has an underground sub-critical test facility. Los Alamos Laboratory has a new hydro test facility dedicated to the beginning stages of nuclear weapons' explosions. Lawrence Livermore Laboratory has an ignitions facility that explores the physics of nuclear weapons with respect to the later stages of nuclear explosions.

This testing has, to date, cost the American tax payer more than $90 billion...and that does not take into account the cost of cleaning up the environment and addressing current and future health. Developing this ever-growing arsenal pumps out an ever-growing amount of mortally toxic material.

Lawrence Livermore tests estimate the radiation 'dose' - beyond the heat of the blast - released in Hiroshima deposited about one million curies. (One curie of radiation is 37 billion radioactive disintegrations per second; radiation has a half life of 28,000 years.)

Tri Valley CAREs documents that more than one million curies of radiation have escaped from this laboratory into surrounding communities. During tests performed at the lab's Site 300 located in the hills between the cities of Livermore and Tracy non-fissile depleted uranium replaces plutonium 239 (the fissile material in the core of a nuclear bomb) and is exploded on outdoor firing tables to atomize into the wind.

Not only is there no workable, long-term, safe solution to deal with toxic materials including plutonium, tritium (the radioactive hydrogen of the hydrogen bomb), uranium, and cesium clean up is endless. There are already tens of thousands of known Superfund and National Priorities List sites around the U.S. According to EPA officials and the GOA's report, Superfund: EPA's Estimated Costs to Remediate Existing Sites Exceed Current Funding Levels, and More Sites Are Expected to Be Added to the National Priorities List

EPA regional officials estimated that from 101 to 125 sites about 20 to 25 sites per year will be added to the National Priorities List over the next 5 years...higher than the average of about 16 sites per year listed for fiscal years 2005 to 2009...At over 60 percent of the 239 nonfederal NPL sites with unacceptable or unknown human exposure, all or more than half of the work remains to complete the remedial construction phase of cleanup.... By the end of fiscal year 2009, EPA had expended $3 billion on 75 sites with unacceptable human exposure and $1.2 billion on 164 sites with unknown exposure....

Historical amnesia

If We, the People, are unaware of this ongoing pollution so, too, have we lost sight of our history. How many Americans understand that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki had almost nothing to do with the end of World War II? Rather, these horrific deeds positioned the U.S. so that we would not have to share influence with the Soviet Union and Asia; the A bombs were used to intimidate the Soviets for the post-war period.

The Emperor of Japan understood by 1944 that the war was lost. He changed governments and the mandate of the new Japanese government was to negotiate a peace treaty with the U.S. with a fundamental condition that the Emperor remain on the thrown and avoid a trial as a war criminal.

General, later President, Dwight D. Eisenhower opposed dropping the A bomb. "Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of 'face'. It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

Admiral William D. Leahy, Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against the Japanese...already defeated and ready to surrender. ...in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was taught not to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying woman and children."

J. Samuel Walker, Chief Historian of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that, while, experts continue to disagree on some issues...critical questions have been answered [among them that] "alternatives to the bomb existed and that [President] Truman and his advisers knew it."

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Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, sharing the stories of people in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and U.S. [Pluto Press 2009]. She is also host and producer of Raising Sand Radio (more...)
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