Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Korean War – lest we forget

Jul 25, 2023
The view of Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima Japan against a cloudy sky

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The ‘end’ of the Korean War. Two anniversaries that almost intersect. At the end of WWII, a new order was imposed on the world. Today, as those anniversaries are marked, there is little to celebrate.

Seventy years ago, on the 25th July, the Korean War technically came to an end. Seventy-eight years ago, on the 6th August, the USA chose to destroy the Japanese city of Hiroshima, threatening us all with potential nuclear devastation.

Atomic warfare was the preferred option for General Douglas MacArthur in Korea. His strategy was to use nuclear weapons to finish the war and destroy the newly established People’s Republic of China. For him it seemed a logical next step. The US was running the world. Why not destroy all possible opposition?

Ultimately his strategy was found to be a step too far and he was relieved of his command. Instead, conventional arms were used to destroy North Korea, leaving a million dead and barely a building of more than one story standing. We live with the legacy of military madness and an awareness that it could all happen again. We can only imagine the on-going sense of fear and paranoia that afflicts the people of North Korea.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were and remain unjustifiable. They are the supreme war crime. The war was all but over. The targets were almost exclusively civilian. A message was being sent to the world. Today the new world order is known as the international rules-based-order. We know who sets the rules and what happens if those rules are not obeyed. Bend the knee or else.

Since then, the USA and its allies have made the world an intensely more dangerous place in which to live. Today, the doomsday clock’s hands are set at just 90-seconds to midnight. Never, since the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists put the clock in place, has the world been so close to destruction.

To compound the problem, there is that other existential problem of climate destruction. War will make the already critical problem of climate incalculably worse.

While the planet burns, governments talk about reducing emissions. However, emissions from the military are invariably not included in any figures. The US military is the single biggest emitter in America. If the US military were a separate country, then it would be among the worst polluters on the planet. The link between the death of the planet by climate change and by military adventures is clear for all to see.

Governments of all stripes have, generation after generation led us to war. Millions of soldiers and civilians have been sacrificed, infrastructure destroyed and vast amounts of money that could have solved all of humanity’s problems have been wasted.

Today people ask if war with China is inevitable and whether it might be a nuclear war. In 2020 the International Committee of the Red Cross polled millennials across 16 countries. Eighty per cent saw a real possibility of a catastrophic war in their lifetime. Fifty-four per cent believe that it will a nuclear war.

Wars can only be imagined, let alone fought, if they have a degree of ‘popular’ support. Support gives legitimacy and is built using a propagandised media that acts in the service of the state that has determined that war is an acceptable option. The motivation for war is almost always economic. It can include a desire to maintain and to secure hegemony, to win political outcomes and to cling to power and prestige. For all these reasons, the US has determined that China is the enemy.

It matters not that China has no history of expansionism, or incursionary activity, effectively has no overseas bases, or that its fleet and army are China-based. We are called to ignore the 800-plus US military bases, its ring of missiles off China’s shores and its history of blatant aggression, meddling in the affairs of states and regime change. The invitation must be accepted if we are to accept the lie that China is a threat.

For some time now the unthinkable has been made thinkable. War plans are openly discussed. US generals make insane and obscene statements but are not relieved of duty.

To illustrate this point, we have General Mike Minahan, head of the United States Air Force’s Air Mobility Command who recently sent a message to the world. It is blunt, threatening and sinister. ‘My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.’ The General sent his message as a memorandum to the leadership of the 110,000 strong USAF, with the unambiguous title, ‘February 2023 Orders in Preparation for – The Next Fight.’

The chief of the US Marine Corps, Commandant David Berger, was in Australia a few months back. His take on things is that ‘we can’t slow down, we can’t back off, we can’t get comfortable with where we are.’ His message is clear.

If war is unleashed on the world, and if it is a war against China, then it will be the US who will start it. It will push until it gets what it wants. That wish is to hold back, contain or seriously weaken its designated rival and adversary by whatever means. If it is war and it becomes a nuclear conflict, then it will be the USA who will be the initiator. This is not being fanciful. China, just as the Soviet Union in the Cold War has pledged a no first use doctrine. The USA refuses to do the same. This says an awful lot and a lot that is awful.

The USA and Australia as its right-hand man in the region has worked to make the idea of war a realistic option and has presented things in such a way as to sell the idea that it is necessary to stop China. Stop it from doing what? No rational argument has yet been made that can convince any thinking person that China is a threat. The US see things differently. For them the threat is about either China as an economic power that will displace America, or that China is a socialist threat, or that China is a powerful economy that is possibly moving towards establishing a socialist economy and social system. Any of these scenarios are enough to make the Americans reach for their guns.

What would the world look like if war comes and if it ends up as a nuclear conflict? The war would probably include ‘low-yield’ and tactical nuclear weapons. These are already being produced in industrial numbers, and being fitted to US ships and missiles, including Tomahawk Cruise missiles. Significantly, Australia has placed an order for 220 of these missiles. They will fit snugly on the AUKUS submarines and any other ordinance that our masters see fit. They can be fitted with nuclear warheads at a moment’s notice.

Missile installations have been strengthened across the region. Nuclear capable missiles are within a few minutes flying time of major Chinese cities. Japan, South Korea, Guam, the Philippines, Australia and importantly Taiwan are all part of the encirclement. Then there is the permanent deployment of 60 per cent of the total US navy and air-force, in close proximity to China.

Is it fanciful to suggest that the US would use these missiles to destroy civilian targets in China? Ask the citizens of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Since the end of that war, the US has frequently changed its military doctrine. The latest, coming after an end to the ‘war on terror’, has been labelled Great Power Competition. Biden has recently reminded the world that ‘it is never a good bet to bet against the United States.’ It is a terrifying prospect but worth remembering as we observe the anniversaries of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the destruction of North Korea.

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