70th Year in the Atomic Age
On Thursday, August 6, 2015, Georgia WAND, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, and Nuclear Watch South hosted our annual Hiroshima remembrance event. After screening the documentary Message from Hiroshima, guests participated in a Q&A with Elizabeth Baldwin, followed by UUCA presenting their 2015 Ed Arnold Peace Maker award to Reid Jenkins, of Veterans for Peace.
Here is GA WAND Executive Director, Becky Rafter's opening reflections on our 70th year in the atomic age.
"This week marks the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). Georgia WAND gathers to bear witness to the suffering, healing, and urging of the Hibakusha, the survivors of the attacks.
There are strong parallels going on in 2015 as in 1945:
First, there are new interpretations of the use of the atomic bomb in Japan, based on declassified documents. In 1945, by entering the war and challenging Japan from the West, the Soviets likely had more influence over Japan's surrender than the US dropping the bomb. One document quoted Japan's Military General saying that peace with the Soviets would "determine the fate of the empire," (see William Ward's "The Winning Weapon". The nuclear bomb had no military power-it did not end the war, save more US troops lives, or make the US more secure.
Similarly in 2015, the use of drones is justified by saying that it keeps the US from putting troops on the ground. Additionally, allotting 54% of the federal discretionary budget to the Pentagon, including spending to modernize the nuclear weapons arsenal and militarizing local police and border patrol agents, is justified by feeding a supposed need for national security. This parallels to another critical point, the targets in the 1945 bombing in Japan were civilian, not military outposts, as seen in the 24 cities that were fire-burned with conventional weapons in the 3 weeks leading up to the A-bomb. Drone operators often target civilians, as do ICE-deputized local law enforcement and militarized police.
Secondly, we entered war with Japan 1945 in the first place because of our imperialist interests in the south pacific and not because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor (see Arjun Makhijani.) The US has strong imperialist tendencies; we favor resources and profit over resiliency and people. Today, in 2015, we are at war with our own country, in addition to fighting prolonged war abroad in the middle east. We are at war with people of color, poor people, undocumented immigrants, indigenous people, women, especially Transgender women, and LGBTQ people. Corporate control of the US government has been proven by US academics, which would explain increased action around raising the minimum wage for Fast Food Workers, fighting to keep funding for Planned Parenthood, demanding justice for the Black men and women killed by police officers, demanding justice for immigrants, Trans people, people most affected by Environmental contamination and Climate change, and much more. The violent cycle of a militarized, corporatized US government is not working for the majority of US residents.
Lastly, in 1945, Japan, the US, and the Soviets failed to choose diplomacy rather than continue fighting. In 2015, we know that diplomacy can keep both boots and bombs off the ground, as we are seeing with the historic Iran agreement. We are hoping Negotiations over two years by all accounts have saved us from pending war in the Middle East and beyond.
We know we are not any safer, more secure, or more powerful with nuclear bombs. To end the real war, we must not only take on bomb-making and military-build up. We must end the root causes of violence and the sources of fear, fear of not having power, racism, xenophobia, and sexism (to name a few).
A bomb-centered social order is no longer the way to live in the US. It's killing us, we're killing each other, and we're killing people halfway across the world in the meantime. There is a sheer lack of humanity in our policies and social norms. This is not new. War is not new. We must make it old.