As many people are beginning to realize but would rather not think about, the United States and Russia are moving perilously close to nuclear war. Russian President Putin has now openly pledged to defend Russian territory with “all the forces and means at our disposal.” U.S. President Biden has responded that Russia will suffer “catastrophic consequences” if it resorts to the use of nuclear weapons.
As Putin has correctly pointed out, it is the U.S. government that has established the precedent for the wartime use of nuclear weapons. That, of course, was the U.S. atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.
Let’s review the justification that U.S. officials cite for targeting those two cities with nuclear bombs.
U.S. officials, as well as many of their supporters in the mainstream press, have long maintained that the U.S. government was justified in nuking those two cities because, they say, it shortened the war. In the process, they say that the bombings saved thousands of American men whose lives would have been lost if it had become necessary to invade Japan.
That, however, is an invalid legal and moral justification for nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After all, it’s a war crime for soldiers to target civilians in wartime. That’s precisely what U.S. officials did with their atomic bombing of those two cities. There is no difference between, say, what Lt. William Calley did in Vietnam when he killed innocent civilians and what U.S. officials did to the people living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Moreover, soldiers die in war. That’s the nature of war. To target women, children, seniors, and other civilians as a way to save soldiers from dying in an invasion is totally illegitimate.
It is important to note that to this day U.S. officials and their acolytes in the mainstream press continue to defend their atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki based on that particular justification — that it shortened the war and, in the process, saved the lives of U.S. soldiers.
Given such, how can Biden threaten “catastrophic consequences” on Russia if Russia employs nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine? What if Russia says that it is using nukes to shorten the war and thereby save the lives of Russian soldiers? In other words, what if Russia uses the exact same justification for using nuclear weapons in wartime that the U.S. used — and continues to use — for its use of nuclear weapons in Japan? What does Biden say: that we can do it but you can’t?
In fact, what if Russia, unlike the United States, limits its use of nuclear weapons to enemy troops rather than on innocent civilians? What does Biden say then — that the U.S. has the authority to nuke whoever it wants, including innocent civilians, but that Russia has no legitimate authority to use nuclear weapons against enemy troops?
Who would have ever thought that the war crime that President Truman committed in World War II would come back to haunt the United States some 75 years later? It might not do any good at this point, but among the best things Biden could do at this point is to openly and publicly acknowledge that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, in fact, war crimes and then issue a genuine and contrite apology.
With its use of its old Cold War dinosaur NATO to provoke the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon bears responsibility for moving America and Russia perilously close to nuclear war, even if it happens by miscalculation or accident. The best thing President Biden could do at this point (in addition to apologizing for the U.S. war crimes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) would be to immediately stop furnishing weaponry and other support to Ukraine, withdraw from NATO, bring all U.S. troops stationed overseas home and discharge them into the private sector, and abandon all foreign military bases, especially those in Eastern Europe and Western Europe.
In other words, the U.S. government should leave the world alone. It has done enough damage already, including moving America and the rest of the world perilously close to a nuclear holocaust.
This first appeared on Hornberger’s Expand Freedom blog.