Thursday, August 09, 2007

Myths of the Atomic Dawn (長崎の記念)

We inherit history the same way we inherit a genetic disease or malformation – it exists whether we like it or not. And though we of distant generations are not to blame, neither can we ignore it, for that will only lead to catastrophic consequences and perpetuation of the disease. The only way to overcome what we inherit is to accurately understand the truth of it. You cannot cure a disease if you misdiagnose it.
On August 9th, 1945, three days after Hiroshima, a second hydrogen bomb was detonated over Nagasaki.

It is now the 21st century and unfortunately, both modern US and modern Japan have inherited myths from the dawn of the atomic age. In the US, it is insisted that the bomb was necessary to end the war. In Japan, it is assumed that the Japanese were gentle and innocent victims of US-Chinese imperialism. Both are myths that are continually reinforced by their respective countries despite evidence to the contrary. Both are wrong and both are victims of the disease of Nationalism.

Using the atomic bombs was not necessary. Japan had been sending out peace feelers as early as 1944 and the US military controlled the Sea of Japan negating the ability of Japanese army units, stationed in China, to reinforce their homeland. Indeed, almost every city in Japan had been bombed and severely damaged. James Byrnes (future Secretary of State) made it clear to Leo Szilard (physicist) that the actual concern was, in fact, the Soviet Union. Ultimately, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki became demonstrations of US nuclear mastery, but not for the benefit of the Japanese - the intended audience was the Soviet Union: a reality that I contend is even colder and scarier.

Japan was an imperialist nation. It had earlier, in the 20th century, defeated Russia and now had no interest in maintaining the 5:5:3 rule governing the balance of naval power in the Pacific. It even went so far as to construct high-tonnage battleships such as the Musashi and the Yamato. It invaded China and began brutalizing South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands to secure resources for its own industrialization. It is estimated that 20 million SE Asians died at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its soldiers, believing all "gaijin" to be barbarians and less than human, had absolutely no reservations in visiting atrocities upon local populations. For instance, the massacres in Nanking were well documented by John Rabe who was, ironically, a Nazi business man.

We usually have to accept that our ancestors behaved badly. My own ancestors were Vikings. They were brutal, they were cruel, and they were greedy. There is nothing romantic about them. But I accept this fact knowing that I do not have to be like them. I refuse to perpetuate their deformity and so their disease has no hold on me.
- Just a peasant