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Hiroshima to New York
The terrorist assault on various targets in the United States of America on 11th September 2001 is an extremely cowardly act that deserves to be condemned in no uncertain terms. The tragic loss of life resulting from the dastardly act is a reminder of the fact that it is invariably innocent people who get slaughtered in the vicious games which contending political interests in the world keep playing. The premeditated attack was apparently in retaliation for the repressive and wayward policies pursued by the U.S. Administration across the globe, which have had adverse impact on a sizeable section of humanity. In the recent past it is mostly people in West Asia who have had to bear the brunt of such policies. However, under no circumstances can there be any justification for the wreaking the wrath generated against the U.S. Administration on ordinary citizens of the United States, who do not play any direct role in the formulation of the policies in question.
The death toll in the gruesome tragedy is estimated to be over 6500. Thousands of people, not only in the United States but also from a number of other countries including India, have suddenly lost their near and dear ones. The pain and agony left by the tragedy was very palpable everywhere. The harrowing trauma that the passengers and crew of the hijacked airplanes underwent before they crashed can be well imagined. The sight of scores of people helplessly looking out from windows on the upper floors of the World Trade Center’s burning 110-storey twin towers in New York was an extremely poignant sight to watch. What followed was even more chilling. While some jumped into the air in a desperate bid to escape from the advancing fire, others just got engulfed in it. The fate of those who jumped from that height to the ground several hundred feet below was predictable. The nightmarish experience could not have been any better for those who were trapped in the crumbling twin towers till they were crushed to death by the falling debris. The ghastly images and heart-rending scenes that were flashed on all television channels is a grim reminder of what terrorism has done and what terrorism can do.
Most of the news-broadcasters compared the shocking event to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some others called it the biggest terrorist attack of all time, an attack that was directed not only against the United States but also against all humanity. They continue to say so. It is, indeed, very unfortunate that not one of them from the major broadcasting media – BBC, CNN, Fox News, etc. – compared the 11th September attack to a very similar event but of far greater magnitude, a horrendous one that was a turning point in the history of the twentieth century. How is that even a passing reference to that unforgettable and earth-shaking event has not been made by any one in the media or by any of the spokespersons of the major governments?
Even in this hour of grief there can be no justification for resorting to selective amnesia. How could those manning responsible posts today not remember the dawning of the age of nuclear madness! Perhaps nobody wants to draw attention to the fact that it was the U.S. Administration, which was guilty of committing the biggest and most gruesome terrorist attack ever. By their decision to use atomic bombs, the U.S. leadership had wiped out more than two-thirds of the population of two Japanese cities. In that cold-blooded and unprovoked terrorist attack on the Japanese civilian population, the death toll was seventy times more than the lives lost in the U.S. on 11th September and the area of destruction was far greater. One terrorist attack certainly cannot justify another. However, the concerted attempt to conceal the U.S. Administration’s unsavoury legacy is very glaring.
Cause for Celebration?
All reports show that, after the terrorist attack of 11th September, a pall of gloom has descended over the United States and across much of the world. But the major media networks also flashed the shocking news that in certain Palestinian camps in Lebanon and elsewhere the terrible event was a cause for much celebration. (The same news channels later clarified that the celebration was confined to a few isolated pockets only.) If these news reports are true, it is a matter of great shame that some people did celebrate the misfortune that had befallen others. How could people be so heartless and insensitive in this age?
As a matter of fact, there was much celebration too on the streets of New York – yes, in Manhattan – and elsewhere in the United States and especially on a ship sailing back from Europe to the United States bringing back the U.S. President from Potsdam, Germany. The date was 6th August 1945. The cause for celebration was the utterly senseless atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the United States. The then U.S. President, Harry S. Truman, who was leading the celebrations without an iota of guilt, had just announced to the world the successful strike on Hiroshima by the U.S. airforce. The U.S. President had been informed over the wireless that the atomic bomb had achieved the desired results. The Japanese’ city of Hiroshima, which had been deliberately left untouched by “conventional” bombing, had been obliterated by a single atomic bomb. (When the truth began to sink in, those concerned U.S. citizens who were better informed quickly distanced themselves from the celebrations and started expressing their outrage at the senseless act. Later reports showed that over 200,000 of Hiroshima’s population of 350,000 had been wiped out.)
Soon after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, information that trickled in from official briefings and from accounts sent by war correspondents about the death and destruction that was unleashed there were horrifying enough to prick the conscience of concerned people across the globe. Strong reactions of revulsion against the atomic bombings were evident even in the United States and Britain. One of the publications dealing with these developments and one that was brought out later shows that:
“All over the country [the United States], people wrote letters to the editors of their newspapers, protesting the killing of non-combatant civilians in Japan, calling it inhuman, and protesting our disregard for moral values. In Britain, too, where the news of the atom bomb topped all other news, the letter columns were full of such expressions such as ‘In the name of humanity, let us stop and ask ourselves where we are marching’.” [The Atomic Age Opens, ed. by Donald Potter Geddes, The World Publishing Company, New York, 1945, p.41]
Cold Blooded Act
The entire gruesome event in Hiroshima was carefully filmed and the physical effects of the attack accurately measured from airplanes accompanying the bomber that had dropped the atom bomb. The blinding flash, the reverberating blast, the mushroom cloud, the flattening of almost all standing structures (according to later estimates over 92 per cent of the 76,000 buildings that lay within four kilometers of ground zero had been destroyed), and the entire city being engulfed in a devastating fire in a short time must have all been a terrific sight to watch from the airplanes. However, it is not clear whether the audio system with the film crew on the accompanying aircraft was powerful enough to pick up the agonizing cries of those trapped in the falling debris and about to be devoured by the advancing fire. Also the rising smoke from the raging fire must have hid from view the thousands of screaming men, women and children – many with deep burns sustained from direct exposure to the scorching flash – jumping into the various rivers running through the city in order to escape from the searing heat. Few of them may have managed to get back on to the banks for most of them surely met a watery death. But for the smoke the happenings on the riverside would have been yet another spectacle to watch! Of course, effects of ionizing radiation were not yet apparent but the smell of burning human flesh was certainly in the air. Unfortunately, television and cable networks were not in vogue at that time; otherwise the entire world could have watched the “spectacular” event live! Terrorism had never tasted such success before or after! With the U.S. President in the lead, the destruction of Hiroshima and its people was a great occasion to celebrate with gay abandon! The “civilized” conduct of the U.S. President must have put even the worst barbarians to shame!
No, that was not the end. Three days later on 9th August 1945, an identical exercise – film crew et al included – was re-enacted over the city of Nagasaki. This time a more powerful atomic bomb was used. But, thanks to the hilly terrain, the fate of only 140,000 of the city’s total population of 270,000 was sealed. Meanwhile the city of Kyoto with a population of over 1,000,000 had a providential escape. Kyoto had been replaced with the ill-fated Nagasaki at the last minute after the intervention of the then U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Stimson. (It is not clear why Stimson did not prevent the attack altogether.) Despite strong opposition from Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, Chief of the Manhattan (atomic bomb) Project, Stimson was able to strike Kyoto off from the list of atomic targets and, thus, succeeded in miraculously saving no less than 800,000 Japanese lives. However, Gen. Groves, who was clearly disappointed, later wrote in his memoirs thus: “I particularly wanted Kyoto as a target because, as I have said, it was large enough an area for us to gain complete knowledge of the effects of an atom bomb. Hiroshima was not nearly so satisfactory in this respect.” [Leslie Groves: Now It Can Be Told (Story of the Manhattan Project), Andre Deutsch, London, 1963, p.275]
Mark his words: “large enough an area for us to gain complete knowledge of the effects of an atom bomb”. In other words, the United States had used atomic bombs on Japan to gain complete knowledge of the effects of an atom bomb! Slaughtering 200,000 human beings at one go in Hiroshima was not satisfactory enough! Kyoto with its population of over 1,000,000 could have provided far better results! This is the assessment of none other than the very person who was heading the U.S. atomic bomb project then. Such crass views are definitely indicative of the “civilized” nature of the U.S. establishment.
Height of Inhumanity
What most people do not know is that the after effects of the atomic bombings are taking its toll to this day. In general, in the early stages most A-bomb casualties were due to the combined effects of burn, blast and radiation injuries. In later stages, deaths and diseases arose solely due to the delayed effects of nuclear radiation – a property which is unique to nuclear weapons. A large number of the 300,000 A-bomb survivors were exposed to ionizing radiation. So separate A-bomb hospitals were built in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to treat them. These hospitals, which have been providing treatment and monitoring the effects of radiation, have never been short of patients. The truth is, since the atomic bombings, debilitating diseases resulting from exposure to nuclear radiation have continued to kill hundreds of A-bomb victims each year. The perpetrators of the crime were well aware of the effects of radiation on living beings. Therefore, they wanted to target not only inanimate objects in the targeted areas but animate objects as well. But there was one problem.
The normal practice as far as ‘conventional’ bombing was concerned was to take certain precautions to minimize loss of life. This was done by dropping leaflets in advance announcing which cities and towns were to be bombed on certain nights urging the inhabitants to evacuate the target areas so as to give every chance to the civilian population to save themselves. Records show that the U.S. airforce followed this normal practice even during the period between 17th June to 5th August 1945 while carrying out its last major bombing raids over 58 Japanese cities with ‘conventional’ bombs. Strangely enough, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not given any such warnings before they were attacked with atom bombs. In fact, Dr. Arthur Compton, the then Director of the Metallurgical Project (a unit of the Manhattan Project) later confessed that: “Hiroshima had not been given any specific warning. The people were caught unprepared. Men and women were accordingly in the streets, going about their normal business.” [Arthur Compton: Atomic Quest, Oxford University Press, London, 1956, pp254-255]
While the population of towns subjected to ‘conventional’ bombing were given advance warning to evacuate, why was it that no such warning was given to the population of the two cities subjected to atomic bombings? Does it not prove that it was not only to maximize the loss of life but also to expose the maximum number of people to ionizing radiation that the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were denied a chance to evacuate the cities prior to the atomic bombings? Is it not the height of inhumanity to have had such utter contempt for human lives? Another morbid factor is that in order to measure the destructive power of the atomic bombs with accuracy, the five cities selected as potential A-bomb targets were left completely untouched by ‘conventional’ bombing for eight long months. During that period they were spared the disastrous fate that befell 66 other Japanese cities, which were blasted and burned with ‘conventional’ bombs including incendiary ones. However, the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately turned out to be far worse! Therefore, would it not be fair enough to conclude that the magnitude of the latest horrendous crime, for which the “barbarian” Bin Laden is the prime suspect, seemingly pales into insignificance as compared to the campaign of calculated terror that the “civilized” U.S. leadership indulged in 56 years ago? Despite protests the “civilized” terror campaigns of the U.S. have continued unabated to this day on a different scale.
The objective of the above argument is only to drive home the point that one terrorist attack on the people of the United States should not erase the memory of the countless acts of state terrorism perpetrated by successive U.S. Administrations over the years. The victims of U.S. state terrorism have also undergone or are still undergoing the same pain, trauma and agony that the victims of the 11th September terrorist attack are now experiencing. In a very unfortunate way, the people of the United States for the first time have had a bitter taste of what their own Government has been doing to people across the world for years in different forms. The atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massive and indiscriminate bombing of Vietnam (including use of thousands of tons of incendiary napalm bombs), the innumerable My Lai* type massacres, the use of chemical weapons such as the highly toxic defoliant Agent Orange** over Vietnam, the massive and indiscriminate bombing of Iraq and Yugoslavia, etc., are just a few examples of acts of U.S. state terrorism that people of other nations have had to endure.
[* On 16 March 1968, 80 soldiers of Charlie Company, First Battalion, 11th Light Infantry Brigade of the U.S. Army, under the command of Lt. William Calley, went on a 'search and destroy' mission to the village of My Lai in the South Vietnamese district of Son My. In the process over 300 unarmed civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly, were massacred. Ronald Heaberle who had accompanied the soldiers photographed the entire killings, which were published much later in the U.S. magazine Life on 5th December 1969. This was one instance where there was irrefutable proof and when several Vietnam War veterans in the U.S. came forward to testify about the perpetration of that mindless terrorist act.
** 11 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed over South Vietnam between 1961 and 1970 covering 10 % of the country' land area and exposing millions of Vietnamese to its toxic effects. It has reportedly killed or seriously injured over 400,000 people and has already contributed to birth defects in over 500,000 children. The international reaction to the human tragedy resulting from this U.S. chemical warfare has been appalling. For details see the article by Robert Dreyfuss titled 'Apocalypse Still' in the U.S. magazine Mother Jones, January 2000.]
What rational explanation can the U.S. terrorists offer for targeting Iraqi civilian population with precision-guided and earth-penetrating cruise missiles while they were taking refuge in air-raid shelters to escape U.S. aerial bombings? Is not the U.S. Administration squarely responsible for the death of over 500,000 children in Iraq due to the untold suffering that the Iraqi people are forced to undergo as a result of the strict economic sanctions imposed on that country? Is not the U.S. Administration aiding and abetting the Zionists in systematically carrying out terrorist attacks on the people of Palestine in order to deprive them of their homeland? Is it not the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency of the United States) along with the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan) that encouraged, armed and funded “Islamic” terrorists in the 1980s to overthrow the then government in Afghanistan? Are they not the same terrorists who have been wreaking havoc in Kashmir with the same arms and funds? (Interestingly, while the Government of India repeatedly blames the ISI for aiding and abetting terrorism in Kashmir, it maintains total silence about the treacherous role of the CIA. Similarly, the Government of Pakistan blames RAW [Research and Analysis Wing of India] for the numerous acts of terrorism in Pakistan, while the CIA’s devious role there is kept under wraps.) It should not be forgotten that the pain and suffering inflicted on the people of the other affected countries by acts of terrorism are also as real as that which is being experienced by people in the United States now. Therefore, retribution cannot be a one-way process. All acts of terrorism should be condemned and all those responsible for terrorist acts should be brought to book and punished irrespective of creed or nationality.
As to who planned the attack on 11th September it is still not very clearly evident, but the “barbarian” Osama Bin Laden continues to be the prime suspect. However, there is no doubt that it was the “civilized” U.S. President and his ilk that had ordered the wanton destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Strange as it may seem, while there is world-wide hunt for the perpetrators of the heinous crime in New York, Washington-DC and Pittsburgh, neither President Truman nor anyone else in the U.S. Administration ever had to face any such threat for their dastardly act. They managed to get away scot-free on the spacious plea that the use of atomic bombs were necessary in order to end World War II and, as President Truman put it, “save American lives”. The fact is there was not a grain of truth in the justification that the U.S. President had offered. (For details see N.D. Jayaprakash, The Meaning of Hiroshima Nagasaki, Delhi Science Forum and Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad, New Delhi, 1990.) But how many people across the world know the real facts even today? Do they know that several contemporary U.S. and British statesmen totally disagreed with President Truman’s lame justification?
Fleet Admiral W.D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman successively and the top ranking officer in the entire military hierarchy then, was quite blunt in his criticism. According to him:
“The use of this barbaric weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.”
He went on to add:
“My own feeling is that in being the first to use it we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”
[W.D. Leahy: I Was There: The Personal History of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, Victor Gollencz Ltd., London, 1950, p.429 and p.514]
Interestingly, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain during the major part of World War II and a willing accomplice to the crime, has nevertheless made a frank admission. In his voluminous work on the history of the War, he has stated:
“It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bombs. Her defeat was certain before the first bomb fell and was brought about by overwhelming maritime power.” [Winston S. Churchill: The Second World War, Vol. VI: Triumph and Tragedy, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1953, p.646]
What is intriguing is the fact that Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in South West Pacific Area during World War II, was not even consulted about the decision to use atom bombs although the selected targets fell within the area of his command! Gen. MacArthur was no pacifist. He was an arch right-winger. Yet he admitted during a press conference years later that: “We did not need the atomic Bombagainst Japan.” [New York Times, 21 August 1963, p.30]
Gen. MacArthur subsequently went on to add that by June 1945: “My staff was unanimous in believing Japan was on the point of collapse and surrender. I even directed that plans be drawn ‘for a peaceful occupation of Japan’ without further military operations.” [Douglas MacArthur: Reminiscences, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York, 1964, p.260]
Another critical voice was that of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the U.S. forces in Europe during World War II and later President of the United States from 1953 to 1960. Recounting his reactions, Gen. Eisenhower wrote in his memoirs that at the Potsdam Conference of Heads of Governments of USA, UK and USSR in July 1945:
“I voiced to him [Stimson] my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the [atom] bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of such a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that movement, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’.” [Dwight D. Eisenhower: Mandate for Change: 1953-1956, Doubleday & Company Inc., New York, 1963, pp. 312-313]
In order to quell the rising criticism against the atomic bombing and to hide the real facts from becoming public, the U.S. Administration carried out a massive disinformation campaign widely and repeatedly disseminating the untenable justification that President Truman had offered. (The brazen defense of the atomic bombing has continued without any let up.) At the same time the U.S. Administration kept doing everything in its power to suppress the real facts relating to the effects of the atomic bombing. The misinformation campaign is conducted in a very systematic way. After the surrender of Japan, U.S. armed forces occupied Japan on 2nd September 1945. Once the U.S. occupation got underway, they began to propagate that ‘the atom bomb was dropped in order to end the Pacific War’. Accordingly, the idea that the atom bomb damages were ‘a sacrifice that Japan simply had to accept’ was spread and began to gain currency even among the Japanese. Simultaneously, the U.S. authorities stuck to the policy of strict secrecy on all aspects concerning the atom bomb. They went to the extent of issuing a press code in Japan on 19th September 1945 in order to suppress and play down the full story of the atom bomb damages.
The press code imposed prior censorship on all radio broadcast and on newspapers and other print media. Therefore, except for a brief period before the press code was imposed, all accounts of atom bomb damages disappeared from newspapers, magazines and academic journals. In the process the Japanese people themselves remained largely ignorant of the extent of the atom bomb damages and about the condition of the 300,000 atomic bomb survivors–the hibakusha. This lack of awareness also prevented adequate voluntary help being extended to the hibukusha even within Japan. It appears that it was only in 1952, after Japan regained its independence, that a few photographs of the atomic bombings were published for the first time in Japan! If people within Japan were so ill-informed about the happenings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki because of strict censorship imposed by the U.S. occupation forces, how could people elsewhere, especially in the vast areas then under U.S. and British influence, be better informed? (Moreover, the untold atrocities [such as the blood-curdling Nanking massacre of 1937] committed by the Japanese Imperial Army on people in China, Korea, and the Philippines and elsewhere in South East Asia would have initially made people indifferent to the happenings on the Japanese mainland.)
Earlier in November 1945, the U.S. occupation authorities went to the extent of confiscating a documentary entitled “The Effects of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki” that was produced by the Japanese Film Corporation during September-October 1945. They also prohibited further documentary filming by the Japanese. It was only after strong public pressure that in 1968 the U.S. Administration returned a 16-mm print of this documentary to Japan. However, because of restrictions imposed by the Japanese Government, no one in Japan, save a few medical personnel, has ever viewed the film in its entirety. The Japanese Government’s attitude in this regard, to say the least, is rather perplexing. Is it not absolutely intriguing that the government of a country, which has been a victim of atomic bombing, should try to hide the bitter truth about the deadly effects of the atomic bombing from its own citizens and from people elsewhere? In fact since 1952, successive Japanese governments have been colluding with successive U.S. administrations to do precisely that.
It has been the practice of the Japanese Government, which is intent on downplaying the effects of the atomic bombings, to send its representatives regularly to the Yasukuni Shrine, which venerates all of Japan’s war dead including convicted war criminals. The shrine has attracted a lot of attention because it houses the remains of wartime Prime Minister General Hedeki Tojo and six others who were executed after being convicted as World War II criminals. The present Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, visited the Shrine on 13th August 2001 to pay obeisance to their memory. The irony is that the same war criminals were tried and executed by the War Crimes Tribunal set up by the United States for crimes committed before and during World War II, including crimes committed against the U.S. prisoners of war. But successive U.S. administrations have not raised a murmur of protest against the Japanese governments’ gesture of paying obeisance to the very Japanese war criminals prosecuted by the U.S.! The truth of the matter is that the same right-wing forces, which led Japan into its imperialistic adventure, are still very much in control of the Japanese government. On their part, the U.S. authorities had actually prosecuted very few of the war criminals; most of them – especially the big industrialists who had backed the bloody Japanese Imperialist adventure to the hilt – were clandestinely rehabilitated. The most shocking incident is the case concerning Unit 731, a Japanese army unit, which was engaged in research on germ warfare during 1930-45 using human beings, including U.S. prisoners of war, as guinea pigs. According to a report in a prominent U.S. magazine, during the occupation:
“U.S. officials granted the Japanese unit members immunity from prosecution as war criminals in exchange for their laboratory records on germ warfare.” [Newsweek, 19 April 1982, p.21]
So much for the concern and eagerness being shown by the U.S. Administration to render retributive justice for violation of human rights!
The Japanese Government while reacting to the macabre events of 11th September has completely desisted from making even a passing reference to the hideous way in which the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were subjected to a terrorist attack by the U.S. Administration. In fact the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has maintained a studied silence on the matter. Reports show that even during his visit to the United States on 24th September 2001 no mention of the atomic bombings were ever made. Under the circumstances, Prime Minister Koizumi’s silence on this vital issue itself speaks volumes.
Drawing the Correct Lessons
Had the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki received better global coverage–even if it was only on a fraction of the scale that the coverage of the horrors in New York, Washington-DC and Pittsburgh are receiving today–perhaps the resulting revulsion against nuclear weapons may have made the world a far safer place to live! Although there may have been some relaxation in the news censorship after the U.S. granted independence to Japan in 1952, the entire truth about the effects of the atomic bombings have never been made public to date. On the other hand, the misleading official justification for the atomic attack has been repeatedly spread far and wide.
The imposition of censorship by the U.S. Administration, particularly during the period of occupation, on all news relating to the effects of the atomic bombings was undoubtedly a calculated ploy on its part to give as little exposure as possible to the gruesome acts of terror in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was also a devious attempt on its part to conceal from the world’s public the consequences of unleashing nuclear war in future. It is primarily due to the unrelenting struggle of the survivors of the atomic bombing and the groups and organisations supporting them that the facts about the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki started slowly getting disseminated. It is that sustained effort that is influencing concerned people across the world to join the global movement for elimination of nuclear weapons.
The wanton destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was also the first salvo of the U.S. Administration in the unfolding Cold War with the Soviet Union. Aiding and abetting all kinds of rogue elements across the globe to serve its ends was an integral part of that anti-Communist agenda. The self-appointed defenders of ‘democracy, freedom and liberty’ had no compunctions in funding and arming self-seeking disparate groups–which defended anything but democracy, freedom and liberty–to act as its bulwarks to suppress anti-fascist and anti-colonial national liberation movements that became widespread at the end of the Second World War. The U.S. Administration gave no thought to the recoiling (or what is now termed as “blow-back”) effect of that questionable strategy which served its short-term goal. At worst, in the long run, such carefully nurtured Frankenstein forces was expected to serve as permanent “enemies” or “whipping boys” for the burgeoning military-industrial complex. Although the probability of such forces striking at the U.S. mainland was not altogether discounted, the chances of such a strike ever taking place was thought to be beyond the realm of possibility. The people in the United States and elsewhere who have supported such a bizarre strategy are now forced to learn the hard way. It is hoped that they draw the correct lessons.
The several trillions of dollars misspent in the last fifty years on the vast global “defense” network to fight its “enemies” could not protect the U.S. from a simple strategy devised by a thoughtless suicide squad. If, instead of creating and fighting “enemies”, the U.S. Administration had gone about making friends, the history of the world would have been very different. Successive U.S. Administrations have had ample opportunity to spend the vast human and material resources at its disposal in far more useful ways than on militarism. But it never chose to do so.
In this context it would be worthwhile to recall the fervent hope expressed by the former U.S. President General Eisenhower during a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors on 16th April 1953 soon after he had assumed the presidency. He said:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.
“This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
He further added:
“This Government is ready to ask its people to join with all nations in devoting a substantial percentage of the savings achieved by disarmament to a fund for world aid and reconstruction
“The monuments to this new kind of war would be these: roads and schools, hospitals and homes, food and health
“We are ready, in short, to dedicate our strength to serving the needs, rather than the fears of the world” [Dwight Eisenhower: Mandate for Change, Signet, New York, 1965, pp.189-192]
As to who prevented the hopes expressed by President Eisenhower from being fulfilled is something that the people of the United States will have to deeply ponder over.
Democracy, liberty and freedom have to be defended in deed not with words or swords. Integral to lasting democracy, liberty and freedom is banishment of poverty, ill-health, illiteracy, superstitious beliefs and backwardness on the one hand, and facilitating the creation of institutions that defend those laudable values on the other. Criminals and terrorists in today’s world cannot prosper or become a major threat to democracy, liberty and freedom unless one or more States or influential sections within those States directly or indirectly sponsors them. Those who have sowed the poisonous seeds cannot disown responsibility for the bitter fruits. Why the U.S. Administration has always chosen to encourage and support the most retrograde forces in countries where it has chosen to intervene is something that needs to be examined more thoroughly. CP
N.D. Jayaprakash is a member of the Delhi Science Forum, an anti-nuclear weapons group. He lives in New Delhi, India. This is the first part of a two-part essay.