FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Should Go to Hiroshima, But Not Empty Handed

Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to Hiroshima’s ground zero, where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb nearly 71 years ago, was laudable. Kerry is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park, and the event’s significance was enhanced by the presence of the other foreign ministers of the G-7 nations.

Clearly, Secretary Kerry was deeply moved, calling it “gut-wrenching” and saying “everyone” including his boss, President Barack Obama, should go there. While Kerry said he would tell the president this when he gets back to Washington, he refrained from publicly advocating the president go to Hiroshima next month when the G-7 economic summit convenes in Japan.

However, as there have been reports for some time the president is considering going to Hiroshima, this certainly looks like a classic Washington trial balloon.

So should the president go? The answer, like with many issues, is “it depends.”

If the president and other heads of state plan to go as a symbolic gesture, they needn’t bother. Empty promises, especially from the nuclear weapons-possessing states, of someday perhaps ridding the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons would be unsatisfactory and even insulting to the people of Japan, and especially to the Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors whose steadfast witness that no one ever again suffer as they did is awe-inspiring.

Of course Barack Obama, the U.S. president most personally committed to achieving global nuclear weapons elimination since John Kennedy, need not go empty handed.

First, he should meet publicly with Hibakusha such as members of Nihon Hidankyo, a group nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, to hear their personal stories and learn from their persistence, patience and sense of forgiveness.

And there couldn’t be a better audience, nor a better time for a president whose days in office are dwindling, for Obama to announce concrete steps toward the goal he enunciated in his Prague speech in 2009, the security of a world free of nuclear weapons. Steps he could announce in Hiroshima should include:

-initiating negotiations for global nuclear weapons abolition as required of the original nuclear weapons states (the United States, Russia, China, France and great Britain) by Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT);

-announcing further nuclear reductions with Russia, as use of even a fraction of our combined current arsenals of approximately 14,000 warheads (over 90 percent of the world’s total) could cause nuclear winter, resulting  in severe climate change leading to global famine;

-canceling the planned $1 trillion, 30-year plan to completely overhaul the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, from nuclear research laboratories to warheads to delivery systems.

The U.S. cannot on the one hand say it is for ridding the world of nuclear weapons while at the same time it proceeds with a scheme to spend this outrageous sum, which would be better invested in job creation, green energy production, education, affordable housing and infrastructure repair here at home. Predictably, every other nuclear weapons state has followed suit and announced plans for their own “nuclear modernization,” and this certainly shreds our credibility to preach continued abstinence to non-nuclear states from a nuclear barstool.

As someone who has visited Hiroshima three times on August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing, I can assure the president he would indeed be deeply moved by going to Peace Park. That’s not sufficient though, and the opportunity could be squandered if it’s made to be about him, or whether he is apologizing for the bombing 71 years ago, which would be a pointless debate.

President Bill Clinton, in his last year in office, wished he could go without sleep, as there was so much he wanted to do in his limited time left in the White House, and there was a “dog ate my homework” frantic nature to much of what he proposed late in his second term, and much left undone when he left office. President Obama ought not to make the same mistake. The president should go to Hiroshima as the leader people expect him to be, and he envisions himself to be, on an issue of utmost urgency to humanity.

More articles by:

Kevin Martin is Executive Director of Peace Action, the country’s largest grassroots peace and disarmament organization with more than 200,000 supporters nationwide.

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail