US militarism, Hiroshima to Libya
I'm going to spend just a couple of minutes, not going to go on a long rant about it, but just a couple of minutes to note two anniversaries: August 6 and August 9 are the 71st anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two times - happily - nuclear weapons have actually be set off in war and two of the greatest war crimes at least in our history if not the world's.
And yes, they were war crimes because they were so unnecessary. In the spring and summer of 1945, Japan was a defeated nation. Its army had been driven back to its own shores, its navy had been largely destroyed, its air force decimated, even its air defenses so beaten down that the military could not mount an effective defense against US air raids that had already leveled large parts of Tokyo and other major cities and ports.
So much so that, as is reasonably if not largely common knowledge by now, Japan had made overtures about surrender before the attack on Hiroshima. What is less commonly known is that the US rejected that offer because the surrender was not unconditional - only to accept essentially the same terms after the bombing of Nagasaki.
Since the bombings gained so little in the surrender terms, so little in political or military terms, it raises the question of why they were done. And the answer is simple even as it is chilling: The real target was not Japan, it was the Soviet Union, and the bombings were to show to Stalin that we had this enormous power and were ready to use it so he'd better be really, really careful about crossing us in the postwar world.
Whether or not and to what degree that attempt at intimidation, one carried out on the bodies of scores of thousands of Japanese in each of the two cities, is not important. What is important is that that was the real reason, the underlying reason, the deep reason, why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed.
Many nations, including Germany and Japan and more recently places like El Salvador and Chile have undertaken efforts to confront and face their own pasts of violence and militarism, whether that violence and militarism was turned outward, as in the cases of Germany and Japan, or inward against their own people, as it was in El Salvador and Chile. But face them they did. It is another area in which we in the US lag far behind.
And don't expect that to change: Our Nobel peace prize Prez has bombed seven countries in seven years: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia. He tried to get Iraq to let US troops stay beyond the agreed withdrawal date, backing off only because Iraq refused to give US troops a blanket exemption from Iraqi laws. He has stretched out our presence in Afghanistan, is expanding our presence in Iraq - and has now initiated what the Pentagon is calling an "extended campaign" of bombing in Libya, another land that, like Iraq, thanks to our "help" has replaced repression that killed a few with chaos that has killed unknown thousands.
And all we got at Democratic National Convention was chest-thumping over how "tough" we have been and are being even as the Amazing Mr. O looks forward to handing over the reins to someone even more of a militarist than he has been.
A age of perpetual warfare is on us - and far too many of us don't seem to care because we are not the ones doing the dying.
And most of those who pass themselves off as "progressive" don't even have the decency to be ashamed.
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