Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years

Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years by Daniel Ellsberg.

I have enormous respect for Mr. Ellsberg, and I'd highly recommend this article and anything else he's written. His book 'Secrets' that he wrote a few years back is excellent.

But the scientists knew something else that was unknown to the public and even to most high-level decision-makers. They knew that the atomic bombs, the uranium and plutonium fission bombs they were preparing, were only the precursors to far more powerful explosives, almost surely including a thermonuclear fusion bomb, later called the hydrogen bomb, or H-bomb. That weapon—of which we eventually came to have tens of thousands—could have an explosive yield much greater than the fission bombs needed to trigger it. A thousand times greater.

Moreover, most of the scientists who focused on the long-run implications of nuclear weapons, belatedly, after the surrender of Germany in May 1945 believed that using the Bomb against Japan would make international control of the weapon very unlikely. In turn that would make inevitable a desperate arms race, which would soon expose the United States to adversaries’ uncontrolled possession of thermonuclear weapons, so that, as the scientists said in a pre-attack petition to the president, “the cities of the United States as well as the cities of other nations will be in continuous danger of sudden annihilation.” (In this they were proved correct.) They cautioned the president—on both moral grounds and considerations of long-run survival of civilization—against beginning this process by using the Bomb against Japan even if its use might shorten the war.

Of course, our government had put a general in charge of the Manhattan Project, instead of the scientists. When the scientists wrote this petition, they submitted it properly, through channels. Which meant it went to Gen. Groves. Gen. Groves decided not to pass it along to the Secretary of Defense or the President. They never saw it. After the war, the petition was then classified 'secret' to make sure the American people never knew the views of the scientists who were most familiar with the bomb.

America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years. But its not like we just dozed off. More like we've been drugged into submission by generals who decided we didn't need to know enough to question their sacred judgments.

Its enough to make one appreciate why the founding fathers of this country viewed 'standing armies' as the greatest threat to the freedom they had just fought for and won.

Hiroshima, 64 years ago

The Boston Globe has a set of 34 pictures from Hiroshima, 64 years ago

Sadly, 61% of Americans think that this destruction and the killing of some 150,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was 'the right thing.'

May God have mercy on our souls.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, 64 Years Too Late and Not a Moment Too Soon by Tom Englehardt and Frida Berrigan on

And they were pikers compared to the top military brass who, in 1960, found themselves arguing over the country's first Single Integrated Operational Plan for nuclear strategy. In it, a scenario was laid out for delivering more than 3,200 nuclear weapons to 1,060 targets in the Communist world, including at least 130 cities which would, if all went well, cease to exist. Official, if classified, estimates of possible casualties from such an attack -- and by then, nuclear weaponry and its delivery systems had grown far more powerful -- ran to 285 million dead and 40 million injured (and this probably underestimated radiation effects).

Of course, to the American people, this was presented as only a 'response' that we would give to a Communist attack on us. But, note carefully how the planners dream of wiping out the Communist world. That was the real goal. And the fact that they were willing to consider killing nearly 300,000,000 people to achieve that goal might just be the recorded high water mark (so far) of the evil that the human heart is capable of.

We consider Bin Laden a vicious and evil man for killing 3000 Americans. We consider Hitler a historically evil man for killing 6,000,000 in his concentration camps. But we must now put that in context by remembering that American military leaders were willing to kill 300,000,000 people to achieve their goals. And remember with this that these were the same men who used to regularly send American nuclear bombers on raids over the pole towards the Soviet Union, only breaking off the raid at the last minute .... apparently in an attempt to provoke a response from the Soviets. And that these were the men who were actively planning to stage fake attacks in Operation Northwoods to provide the excuse to start such a war.

In this, at least, I know I'm not a typical American: Hiroshima and Nagasaki still seem all too real to me. As the child of anti-nuclear activists, I was raised to pay attention to two significant dates in American history -- the day when the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress bomber named after the pilot's mother, dropped Little Boy, a five-ton uranium explosion bomb, on Hiroshima; and the moment, three days later, when another plane, jokingly named Bock's Car (after the plane's original pilot), dropped Fat Man (a moniker supposedly given it in honor of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill), a more complex plutonium implosion bomb, on Nagasaki.

I guess I'm another atypical American, in that I also consider these to be very important dates. I studied nuclear engineering in college. At some point, it became important to me to remember these dates, and the awful crimes against humanity that were committed on them. I consider that the price, or penance, of having learned too much of such a black art.

I remember listening to the blather coming out of the TV sets on 9/11 and 9/12, of how idiot commentators trying to fan a new war were calling the attacks of 9/11 the greatest atrocity in human history. Of how they were saying more people died in those crimes than in any other day. In my mind, I couldn't help to remember that Americans had killed 70,000+ on two separate days in a week. I suppose one reason I don't fit in well in an American corporate environment is that I tend to remind co-workers of such unpleasant historical truths when they mindlessly repeat the blather from the tv set to me while at work.

Meanwhile, my eclectic reading tastes took me somewhere else already today. I read a lot of history, and I had a history of WWII sitting in my bathroom. I'd already read it, but I was bored and picked it up to a random page today.

"Kurt Meyer of 12 SS Panzer Division became the youngest divisional commander in the German army at the age of thirty three. He was the perfect product of Nazi fanaticism. Tall, handsome, with penetrating blue eyes, he knew only what Hitler had told him, and believed it all. He was prepared to die for his faith in National Socialism and he was utterly ruthless in forcing others to die for it as well. Tried as a war criminal for inciting his troops to murder Canadian prisoners-of-war, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In such a man, the Nazi virus will always live. It has become part of his lifeblood."
"Defeat in the West" by Milton Shulman. (The book is from 1947, and is one of several books published by allied officers who had a chance to interview Nazi generals in prison camps after the war).

When I read that, I wondered how many Americans fit that description today. They know only what Fox News, Republicans and the Pentagon tell them. They believe it all.

We tend to paper over and forget our evil acts. Watch around you as the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki roll past yet again on the calendar. How many people around you even notice these dates. There is certainly no acts of national remembrance of the days when we killed 70,000+ innocent civilians. Attacking innocent civilians is a war crime. Made even worse when it occurs in the final days of a war that was winding down anyways against an enemy who was already beaten.

We tend to believe that we are a nation that does good. This idea of American exceptionalism is used to cover our more modern crimes. Our intentions are good, so its ok if a million Iraqis and thousands of Afghanistanis die in our wars. That's one of several good reasons why its important to remember the anniversaries of the days when American committed acts of great evil in the world. Its a reminder that we must always be careful as to what we do, even if its done with good intentions. We must always remember that we, like the rest of human kind, are indeed capable of committing horrendous atrocities. We must remember so that we can try to make sure we stop committing more atrocities in the future.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sometimes you have to laugh

Sometimes the world is so absurd that you just have to laugh.

Taliban slick propaganda confronts US from the BBC.

The second front in the conflict between the Taliban and their enemies in government is the war of words - and in recent months that battle has intensified.

The Taliban have a sophisticated public relations machine which is making it harder for governments and their international allies to win the ever-important propaganda war.

The insurgents are keen to exploit a sense of alienation among people, fostered by "bad governance" and "mistakes" made during military operations.

Civilian casualties in American air strikes and the violation of local traditions including house and personal searches create an atmosphere where Taliban propaganda can take root.

Wow. The only possible response is laughter. The sort of laughter that is a roll on the floor clutching your gut because you are laughing so hard kind of laughter. Are they kidding?

Of course, to get the joke, you have to realize what a giant, slick propaganda machine that the Pentagon has had running for the past eight years. Swarms of PR officers, entire units designed to manipulate public opinion, outside contractors paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to run PR campaigns. Heck, in Fox News they've got an entire TV network creating and broadcasting propaganda. And since CNN always seems to try to out-Fox Fox, there's more like two major 24 hour worldwide networks doing nothing but creating slick propaganda to support the continuation of the US killing people in Afghanistan.

Then, if you weren't laughing already, that last sentence has to set you off. You see, according to the propaganda of the west, its not the fact that we keep setting off bombs in their country that kill innocent civilians that turns the people against us. Instead, according to the British propaganda broadcasting company, its the slick propaganda of the Taliban that turns people against us.

Yep, it couldn't be the fact that they had to dig into the rubble of a blown up building to find the bits and pieces of what was left of their loved ones.

Oops, I think I mis-spoke. From this piece, it looks like you can add the BBC to the list and say there are three 24 hour worldwide 'news' networks creating slick propaganda to support the war in Afghanistan.

Note: I haven't searched, but this seems like a fairly common story. If there is ever any sympathy in the world for the victims of American and British bombs, its pretty normal for the propagandists of the west to try to explain this away by saying those poor deluded folk are misguided by effective enemy propaganda. Sounds very familiar to me.