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"It's 8:15 ...": 70 years of never having to say 'sorry'

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The mushroom cloud following the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – In a story that received little attention in the wider, mainstream media, a report confirmed by the U.S. Navy stated that a pair of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers flew nonstop from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to a base near Darwin, Australia – 9.500 miles in 44 hours – as part of an American “message” to China, according to the UK Daily Mail this week.

What is the military’s meesage? To assure the nations of Southeast Asia that “the U.S. is willing and capable of assisting its allies” via the lumbering, 1950’s-vintage bomb-dropping dinosaurs.

BAAD NEWS

As the American military spokespeople put it, this mission was part of “bomber assurance and deterrence” or “BAAD.”  When the iconic B-52’s arrived in Australia’s Northern Territory, they engaged in a simulated “attack run” using dummy bombs, which were dropped at the Delamere weapons testing range.

“These flights are one of the many ways the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to a stable and peaceful Indo-Asia Pacific region,” said U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil D. Haney in a statement.

And with Australia taking a more aggressive military stance in that region, particularly with Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the helm, China is taking note, and recently expressed “serious concern” at increased military exercises and cooperation between the U.S. and Australia.

The same day that the bombers took off on their flight halfway around the world, July 1st, the U.S. Air Force and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) “completed the first development flight test of a non-nuclear B61-12 gravity bomb at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. Again, there was no warhead on this bomb. But even though it didn’t, it still sends that “message.” We are willing to engage in nuclear war, which comes as little surprise since we have been in perpetual militarization mode for the past seven decades.

The stated  purpose of the test was part of a larger update and upgrade of the B61 bomb – a life (death?) extension program that will cost taxpayers $11 billion.

“Our mission is still to deliver nuclear capabilities and winning solutions that warfighters use daily to deter our enemies and assure our allies,” said Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.

And hearing those comforting words from Gen. Finan, one can't help but think of B-52 pilot Maj. T.J. 'King' Kong (Slim Pickens) riding that hydrogen bomb, like a wild horse, into nuclear oblivion in Stanley Kubrick's brilliant 1964 film Dr. Strangelove.

"Well boys, I reckon this is it - nuclear combat, toe to toe with the Rooskies," as Kong puts it.

With tensions growing between the U.S. and Russia and the U.S. and China ... well, let's all hope and pray it never comes to going "toe to toe" with either nation.

THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

It was the Australian band Midnight Oil that brought us the powerful, political song “Minutes to Midnight,” where imposing singer Peter Garrett sings: “I look at the clock on the wall / It says three minutes to midnight / Faith is blind when we’re so near.” That was recorded 30 years ago, in 1985, when Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union were at an all-time high.

And 30 years later, as we reported in January in our Prairie Opinions piece “Been haunted by a million screams,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists released its new report on their “clock,” which lets us know how close to “midnight” (nuclear Armageddon) we are. In 2014 we were five minutes to midnight. This year, sadly, we are two minutes closer to “midnight” and planetary annihilation. One more minute – two minutes to midnight – would indicate that we were at early 1950’s “duck and cover” levels, as when both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were testing thermonuclear bombs. In the case of America, a popular testing ground was the Marshall Islands, a beautiful, idyllic collection of atolls in the Pacific, which were forever changed and altered by our nuclear madness. The Marshallese people were lied to when the Navy arrived, saying nuking their islands was "for the good of mankind." Makes one want to vomit.

NEVER HAVING TO SAY “SORRY”

Let’s face it. America loves to wallow in denial.

Here we are, seven decades later, and we still haven’t formally apologized to the Japanese people – and the world – for dropping two atomic bombs on thousands of innocent human beings.

Hiroshima survivor Yasuhiko Taketa, who was on his way to school that summer day in 1945, recalls seeing a “dazzling flash of light, brighter than even the sun,” which was followed by an “earsplitting roar” and a seismic explosion which shattered glass everywhere. People not burned to nothing instantaneously were also sliced up by the millions and millions of shards of broken glass and debris.

It would seem that with our development of, and the proliferation of, the atomic bomb, following the Manhattan Project and the July 16, 1945 “Trinity test” in New Mexico, we couldn’t wait to try it out on human beings just three weeks later.

When the Enola Gay dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945 – 70 years ago tomorrow – 45,000 people were instantly incinerated with tens of thousands more injured and dying from radiation burns and fallout. Nagasaki was next, with “Fat Man” via Bockscar (which we addressed here) and when all was said and done – 250,000 people, between the two cities, were dead. (Read more about my bomb theories, The Mosquito Coast and "Fat Boy" here).

But the argument from day one was that President Harry Truman had to drop those atomic bombs in order to end World War II. What the history books usually fail to address is that leading up to the dropping of those bombs, the Japanese people were “subhuman” savages (as Truman notes in his own diary) and American lives were spared by incinerating the “yellow peril.” We should note that more Japanese civilians were killed by our use of nuclear weapons on their cities than the number of American troops killed during the entire Pacific war.

Truman, notes writer Christian Appy, “did not seriously consult with military commanders who had objections to using the bomb.”

As we noted here at Red Dirt Report three years ago, in our piece “Atomic legacy: Remembering Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Marshall Islands,” Truman and the brass chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki – considered “virgin targets” since they had not been targeting by conventional bombing earlier on – viewed these cities in the way a scientist might view a laboratory animal, to be tested on. After all, the Nazis, aided by Spain's Fascists, utterly destroyed the Spanish village of Guernica in April 1937, the 10th month of the Spanish Civil War. 

Six months after the totally unprovoked bombing attack on the sleepy village of Guernica (and not a military target, mind you), a reporter spoke with a Spanish Nationalist officer who said Guernica wasn't burned in a "false flag." It was deliberately bombed, as recounted in Ian Patterson book Guernica and Total War.

"But, of course it was bombed. We bombed it and bombed it and bombed it, and bueno, why not?" Ah, the twisted, fucked-up mind of a fascist.

And don't think "all-out war" is in the past. New "Guernicas" are happening in Syria, via U.S.-led airstrikes have killed 52 Syrian civilians. Not one ISIS fighter was killed.

BACK TO THE FINAL DAYS OF WWII ...

As we wrote in 2012: “(A) member of President Truman’s Chief of Staff publicly stated that the ‘atomic attacks were of no material assistance in our war against Japan’ and that ‘(the) Japanese were already ready to surrender.’”

Polls show more Americans are looking back at that time with increasing uncertainty. Some say Truman committed war crimes in dropping those bombs.

In fact, a couple of years ago, progressive filmmaker Oliver Stone recently said, the notion that the atomic bomb was “a good and necessary thing” is a myth and pure propaganda.

“We have been sold a fairytale masquerading as history, and it’s so blinding that it may ultimately undo us,” Stone told RN’s Late Night Live program.

And with all the concern from neocons about Iran getting the bomb, let's remember that the real nuclear dangers are in the U.S. and Russia. And relations between those two superpowers are in tatters.

THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT? 

Hiroshima survivor Yasuhiko Taketa, who was on his way to school that summer day in 1945, recalls seeing a “dazzling flash of light, brighter than even the sun,” which was followed by an “earsplitting roar” and a seismic explosion which shattered glass everywhere.

Blood and burned, hanging flesh was everywhere. People were in agony and shock. The bodies of children were everywhere, survivors recalled.

This nuclear holocaust was almost indescribable by others who survived, as Hiroshi Sawachika said in The Washington Post this week. He had been a medic at the time.

“I learned that the nuclear weapons which gnaw the minds and bodies of human beings should never be used. Even the slightest idea using nuclear arms should be completely exterminated.”

Will another anniversary come and go as so many have before? Will we ever stop and think about the responsibility we have as human beings to never, ever use nuclear weapons? Will we listen to the ghosts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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