Voices from Russia

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Why America Has to Deny Its Greatest Crime

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The absence of justice over Hiroshima and Nagasaki is due to America’s refusal to admit the truth about its nuclear holocaust. That denial is necessary because otherwise it’d reveal the criminal nature of US governments and their continuing criminal prerogative to persist in using the threat of nuclear weapons to maintain global hegemony. Nagasaki, the second atomic bombing of Japan by the USA on 9 August 1945, was in many ways an even bigger crime. The US government had three days to assess the devastating human horror of the first bomb dropped on Hiroshima on the morning of 6 August, which incinerated some 70,000 civilians. Hardly a building stood in the southern Japanese port city amidst people vaporised or turned into charred jelly, yet the American leaders went ahead with the second atomic bombing on the western city of Nagasaki in which they annihilated another 40,000 people. In total over the following year, the death toll would reach at least 200,000, and many more again over subsequent decades from cancers and other malignancies.

One can adjudge both attacks as premeditated mass murder… indeed, acts of genocide by any legal definition… that had little to do with compelling Imperial Japan to surrender towards the end of the Pacific War. Historians document that American and British wartime leaders were well aware that Japan was seeking to surrender in early 1945… not least because of the merciless firebombing by the Western powers of the capital, Tokyo, and other Japanese cities, whose death tolls would match those later incurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the USSR about to enter the Pacific War in mid-August 1945, as agreed upon at the Potsdam conference held in July, it seems unequivocal that the Americans rushed to deploy their new nuclear weapon as a way of demarcating the postwar order in the East Asia-Pacific region.

Only three weeks prior, on 16 July, the Americans tested the first atomic explosion in the desert of New Mexico. The Americans and the British didn’t want their then wartime Soviet ally to make territorial gains in Asia, as it’d done in Europe when it alone had largely rolled back and defeated Nazi Germany. To prevent Stalin’s Red Army also taking Japan and other Asian territories as it was poised to do on entering the Pacific War, US President Harry Truman went ahead with the A-bombing of Japan. The Americans weren’t planning a land invasion of Japan’s mainland until November 1945. Therefore, official US claims that they dropped the atomic bombs in order to end the Pacific War promptly are partially true. However, the objective wasn’t to save up to one million American troop lives, as Truman claimed. Rather, the real objective was to forestall the geopolitical advance of the USSR and the “dread of communism”. Thus, the atomic bombing of Japan by the USA wasn’t the last act of the Pacific War, but rather was the opening act of the soon-to-be Cold War between the American-led Western world and the USSR.

Since the USSR wouldn’t obtain its own nuclear weapons until 1949, the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan certainly would have served as blood-curdling check on Moscow and any ambitions it may have had in expanding into Asia following the defeat of Japan. However, the salient point here is that the USA deployed weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations not for any supposed military or moral imperative… the defeat of Japan and saving of American lives. No, the objective was primarily political, that is, the prevention of perceived Soviet geopolitical advance in the postwar global order. That makes the twin bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nothing less than acts of state terrorism… on a scale that puts the American government in a barbarous class of its own.

The myth of military necessity to defeat Japan to save American lives has proven to be an enduring one. A recent public opinion survey by the Pew Institute found that a majority of Americans (56 percent) believe that it was right to drop the A-bombs on Japan. However, if we strip away that myth, then, that leaves us with a most chilling conclusion… that American leaders viewed it as their right to obliterate 200,000 civilians for geopolitical objectives. That genocidal ideology… to use weapons of mass destruction… still resides in Washington. At the close of World War II, American and British leaders weighed up a secret plan, Operation Unthinkable, in which they contemplated dropping atomic weapons on their then Soviet wartime ally. They eventually shelved this treacherous plan.

However, in July 1961, the head of the American CIA, Allen Dulles, and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a plan to President John F Kennedy for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR. To his credit, Kennedy quashed the proposal in disgust, reportedly saying to one of his aides, “And we call ourselves the human race”. Just this year, in June, the Associated Press reported on a Pentagon plan under Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes to take out Russian military sites”. According to AP, “The options go as far as one implied… but not stated explicitly… that’d improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory”. Seventy years ago, the world witnessed the cold-blooded destruction of entire human populations with nuclear weapons. Today, the world has some 16,000 such weapons, each many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The USA and Russia possess 90 percent of the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

However, the USA has doggedly prevented moves towards full-scale nuclear disarmament… despite incumbent US President Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Under Obama, the USA is planning to spend some 355 billion USD (22.72 trillion Roubles. 2.2 trillion Renminbi. 22.63 trillion INR. 467 billion CAD. 479 billion AUD. 324 billion Euros. 230 billion UK Pounds) over the next decade in upgrading its nuclear arsenal. In May 2015,, the USA blocked a global nuclear disarmament initiative signed by 107 nations, including Russia and Iran, which called for the immediate implementation of the 40-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty. In addition, the USA also unilaterally withdrew in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty between Washington and Moscow. Ironically, in the same week that the world commemorates the horror of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Obama delivered a major speech in which he hailed the recent Geneva nuclear accord with Iran because it “would prevent Iran from obtaining the bomb”… a bomb that the Iranian leadership has repeatedly said that it isn’t seeking nor desires. The monstrous American arrogance in Obama’s words is breath taking.

What the world has to contend with is this… the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons with cold-blooded criminality, still presumes the right to use those weapons for its own twisted political objectives. American “Exceptionalism” and propaganda still contaminate the USA’s mindset, so, the world remains perilously under the pall of horror that the USA visited upon on Japan 70 years ago. Until we disarm that American genocidal ideology, then, the threat to world peace will persist.

7 August 2015

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International



Friday, 7 August 2015

“Foreign Policy’s” Shameful Attempt at Spinning Hiroshima Bombing as Beneficial for Japan

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Foreign Policy magazine ran a provocative article makes it seem like the nuclear bombings were a godsend, and that the USA humanely intended to save Japan from communism. In the month of August, we sombrely commemorated the only time in the world when a country used nuclear weapons in warfare, when the USA dropped two bombs that killed over 200,000 people in two fatal moments… one on 6 August over Hiroshima, and again three days later over Nagasaki. For 70 years, people marked this occasion with respect for the many victims who tragically lost their lives during these attacks, but now an influential American international affairs outlet, Foreign Policy, decided to spin the event, blaming the USSR for what happened. In the article “Did Hiroshima Save Japan From Soviet Occupation?”, Sergei Radchenko questioned whether the nuclear bombings were actually good for the country, in that they may have saved it from Western bogeyman I V Stalin. The article’s own conclusion contradicted this callous inference, but nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to look at why the magazine would find it fitting to denigrate the victims’ memory in the first place with such a misleading and politically self-serving angle.

Misleading the Masses

The USA isn’t known for issuing international apologies, and in the exceptionally rare instance that it does (like during Obama’s 2009 trip to Egypt), it often does so to further the goal of strategically disarming a target population before an asymmetrical offensive against their country (such as the Arab Spring Colour Revolutions). As a general rule of thumb, no matter what it does, the USA always seeks to promote its own interests, be it by hard or soft means. Things get a bit more complicated when it comes to non-state American actors such as Foreign Policy, but here, they have a lot more flexibility in honing the USA’s strategic message whilst retaining plausible deniability that such an attempt is free from ulterior motives.

Nevertheless, it’s clear what Foreign Policy is trying to express on behalf of the US State Department… the nuclear bombings may have been justified to “save Japan from Soviet occupation”. Sure, they ultimately (and correctly) conclude that Stalin’s decision to refrain from attacking Imperial Japan in Hokkaido had nothing whatsoever to do with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but in today’s non-stop media-driven environment, the average information consumer probably didn’t get to that point since they likely only read the headline and maybe the two-sentence lead-in. Supposing that’s the case with most people, the simple message they understood was that there was a connection between the two, and that maybe, as the article intimates, the nuclear bombings were perhaps justified after all, and they and all other Americans could feel absolved of any guilt for the tragedy.

Victim Shaming and Historical Revisionism

However, what’s worse is the lingering thought suggested by the headline and lead-in that the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually helped Japan in some perverse type of way. A democratic-proselytizing USA saying that “I nuked you to save you” to Imperial Japan is almost like a religiously oriented sexual predator saying, “I raped you to change you” to a lesbian. One side sees the other as existentially incompatible with its beliefs and in need of forced salvation, and horribly takes it upon itself to commit a gruesomely horrendous crime to “save” the victim. Don’t read too deep into the analogy, but do understand that in both cases, criminal moralistic paternalism is the driving force behind each outrageous wrongdoing, except in the case of Japan’s nuclear victimhood, over 200,000 people were immediately violated and perished within an instant, unable to ever face their attacker and demand justice. Moreover, as Foreign Policy would have its readers believe, this might have been in the name of the greater good.

Another takeaway from the article is the overarching anti-Soviet fearmongering that the author is peddling. If one weren’t all that educated about the last days of World War II and only had the Foreign Policy article in question to guide their understanding, you could forgive them for thinking that the USA was essentially at war with the Soviets and nuked Japan as a final and “successful” measure to stem the “Red Tide” from flowing further eastward. It makes it seem like the USSR was the one on the cusp of an unforgettable war crime and not the USA, and that the latter simply acted to save Japan from whatever the former was plotting. This kind of conspiracy circulation is pure and simple historical revisionism, and it serves mostly to deflect attention away from the USA’s nuclear bombings and more towards the stereotypical intrigue that surrounds Stalin, their new World War II scapegoat, in the carefully cultivated imagination of the Western public.

Timing Is Everything

Typically, people remember every fifth and tenth commemoration of a certain major event with extra pomp and circumstance, and the 70th anniversary of the American nuclear attacks on Japan is no different. However, what changed in the past 14 five-year cycles is that the USA is now engaged in a New Cold War with Russia, one that, unlike its predecessor, has no established limits and even incorporates historical revisionism. Be it the ridiculous talk by some voices that the USSR “occupied” the Ukraine after World War II or the presently discussed insinuation that the USA “saved Japan from Soviet occupation” by nuking it twice, such uncomfortable changes in the historical discourse have become ever more common over nearly the past two years. However, what really disturbs us is how readily the West accepted them, which frighteningly opens up the possibility for a full-scale historical revisionism of the post-World War II era and the fact that the pursuit of political subjectivity will lay waste to unquestioned objectivity. That in and of itself is bad enough, but we should also mention that this particular stunt is part of the USA’s Pivot to Asia. As Washington shifts its strategic focus more to East and Southeast Asia, it’s not only bringing its military, but also its journalistic interpretation of history.

One of the effects that this may have is a long-term transformation of the Japanese consciousness to the point where the country’s citizens no longer understand the proper and objective context in which the USA committed these atrocious actions. Instead, Japanese students might one day be indoctrinated with the false idea that the USA nuked their country to “save Japan from Soviet occupation”, thus making the bombings a historical “godsend” and the USA its accompanying “saviour”. After all, the USA is prepping for a prolonged global rivalry with Russia, and in this context, rest assured that they’ll resort to whatever means necessary to sully Russia’s reputation and stave off a Russian-Japanese resolution of the Kuril Islands dispute to offset Russia’s redirection to the east. However, despite whatever the US government or its friendly media outlets allege, there’s no taking away from the fact that the USA’s nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the main reason Japan is still occupied to this day, albeit by the Pentagon and not the Kremlin.

7 August 2015

Andrew Korybko

Sputnik International


Thursday, 6 August 2015

6 August 2015. As Seen by Vitaly Podvitsky. 06.08.1945… WHY?

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American Exceptionalism and the Folly of Hiroshima

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Seventy years ago, the world fell under the shadow of nuclear Armageddon, under which it has lived ever since. On 6 August 1945, a USAAF B-29 bomber named the “Enola Gay” dropped the world’s first atomic bomb, innocently named “Little Boy”, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Survivors’ accounts allow historians to reconstruct what happened on that fateful summer day in 1945.

“Nineteen hundred feet over Hiroshima, a 49-foot diameter star began to form, burning at the heat of 300,000 degrees centigrade, consuming the bomb casing and turning it into a random cloud of charged atoms. Touching the ground, the tremendous energy first made the targets radioactive, and then destroyed them. Shima Clinic, directly below the atomic nova, simply turned to vapour, leaving behind only two concrete pillars. Anything made of carbon… wood… paper… human beings… became shadows of the hypocentre”.

“Little Boy” destroyed two-thirds of the city and instantly killed 80,000 people (40 percent of Hiroshima’s inhabitants). However, tens of thousands of survivors must have envied those who perished right away. Known as “ant-walking alligators”, they didn’t look human. Their skin seared from their skulls, leaving them with no eyes and only a small hole for a mouth. They couldn’t speak, and the sound they made was said to be more horrifying than any scream. They didn’t survive for long and died shortly after the blast, bringing the number of direct casualties of “Little Boy” close to 180,000. Thousands more became hibakusha (explosion-affected), who eventually died from leukaemia and other radiation related diseases. Three days later, on 9 August 1945, the Americans dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing between 50,000 and 100,000 people.

The American use of nuclear weapons against Japanese cities has long been a subject of emotional debate around the world. The excuse given by generations of American politicians and historians is that the terrifying effects of the atomic bombings forced Japan’s immediate and unconditional surrender, saving innumerable lives of both the American GIs and Japanese civilians. However, as early as 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that, although the bombs might have put an end to the war, Japan’s leaders wanted to surrender anyway, and likely would’ve done so before the American invasion planned for 1 November 1945. Therefore, Alperovitz concluded that the bombs’ use was unnecessary.

Indeed, during 1945 the USAAF carried out one of the most devastating bombing campaigns in history. Conventional bombing destroyed 66 Japanese cities… atomic bombs destroyed only two. The firebombing of Tokyo on 9-10 March 1945 remains the single most destructive attack on a city in the history of war. It burned out about 16 square miles of the city. An estimated 120,000 Japanese lost their lives… the single highest death toll of any bombing raid on a city. Ward Wilson, a senior fellow at the British American Security Information Council, wrote in Foreign Policy in 2013, “If you graph the number of people killed in all 68 cities bombed in the summer of 1945, you find that Hiroshima was second in terms of civilian deaths. If you chart the number of square miles destroyed, you find that Hiroshima was fourth. If you chart the percentage of the city destroyed, Hiroshima was 17th. Hiroshima was clearly within the parameters of the conventional attacks carried out that summer”.

On 13 August 1945, Japanese General Anami remarked that the atomic bombings were no more menacing than the firebombing that Japan had endured for months. Wilson asked if the Japanese weren’t concerned with city bombing in general or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in particular, what were they concerned with? The answer he gives is simple… the USSR. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, seconded this assessment in 2003, “The Soviet entry into the war played a more important role in Japan’s decision to surrender than the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.

At the Potsdam conference with Truman and Churchill in late July 1945, Stalin informed the two about his readiness to make good on the promise to enter the war against Japan shortly after victory over Germany. He gave that promise at the Tehran conference in 1943 in exchange for the Allies’ promise to open the Second Front in Europe. Stalin also told his Western counterparts that Tokyo had approached Moscow asking for mediation to end the war on honourable terms. However, Truman had his own plan. The successful test of the atomic bomb in New Mexico a day before Potsdam started convinced Truman that he could end the war without Stalin’s help. Truman hadn’t shared the secret of the Manhattan project with Stalin. It was late in the Potsdam conference that Truman made an oblique reference to the bomb, saying almost in passing that the USA “had a new weapon of unusual destructive force”. To his astonishment, Stalin showed no surprise whatsoever, quipping, “I’m glad to hear it”. Truman later complained to Churchill that Stalin “never asked a question”.

Stalin didn’t have to. He knew more about the bomb than Truman did, who only learned of the Manhattan project upon the death of President Roosevelt in April 1945 when he assumed the presidency. In contrast, Stalin knew about it for two years, courtesy of his mole at Los Alamos, Klaus Fuchs.  What bothered Stalin was that the Americans failed to tell him about the bomb. This fed Stalin’s suspicion of his allies’ true intentions once the war was over. Another snub to Stalin came in the form of the Potsdam Proclamation, demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan. The USA, Britain, and China issued it, and Stalin learned about it only from a press release. The US-drafted ultimatum’s text was such that left Tokyo no option but to reject it. Professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa pointed up that it’s important to remember, “General Handy issued the order to drop the atomic bombs [note the plural], with the prior approval of [US Secretary of War] Stimson and [US Chief of Staff] Marshall, to General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US Army Strategic Air Force, on 25 July, one day before they issued the Potsdam Proclamation”.

Before it gave the order, the Target Committee spent months shortlisting the candidate cities for the first atomic bombing. To better assess the effects of the nuclear weapon they looked for cities that had never been bombed before. They discussed the short list as early as May 1945… well before the first test of the new weapon. Hiroshima came in second… after Kyoto… but the personal intervention of Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who had fond memories of a pre-war honeymoon in the beautiful city, spared Japan’s ancient capital. He was also worried that laying nuclear waste to Japan’s intellectual and spiritual capital would push the Japanese away from the West and into the hands of the USSR, a neutral country at the time. Truman seemed to take away from Stimson’s arguments that Kyoto wasn’t as important a military target as Hiroshima.  He wrote in his diary that he agreed with Stimson that the “target will be a purely military one”. However, had Hiroshima been an important military target, it would’ve been most probably bombed before the Target Committee was even set up. Thus, through a terrible misconception, Truman consigned the civilians of Hiroshima to obliteration.

The report of the Hiroshima bombing reached Truman on the USS Augusta on his way back to the United States. He could not hide his excitement, and exclaimed, jumping to his feet, “This is the greatest thing in history”. Nevertheless, the bombing of Hiroshima didn’t immediately lead to Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation.  The day after the bombing, Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo sent a telegram to Ambassador Naotaki Sato in Moscow, enquiring about Moscow’s response to Tokyo’s earlier request for mediation. Only after the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on 9 August 1945, did the all-powerful war party in Tokyo realise that any further resistance would be futile. There are competing theories as to why the Americans wanted to drop the atomic bombs… to pip the USSR to the post in ending the Pacific War and enjoying its spoils… to demonstrate their newly acquired exceptional power to Stalin… to test the new weapon under real-life conditions. Whatever the reason, the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki paid a terrible price for what President Obama calls “American Exceptionalism”.

6 August 2015

Sputnik International


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