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Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Worst single terror attacks in history

Hiroshima, August 6, 1945.

By Norm Dixon

August 6 and August 9 mark the anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city were obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.

Three days after Hiroshima's destruction, the US dropped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.

Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.

A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst single terror acts in human history.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries are inevitably marked by countless mass media commentaries and US politicians' speeches that repeat the 64-year-old mantra that there was no other choice but to use A-bombs in order to avoid a bitter, prolonged invasion of Japan.

On July 21, 2005, the British New Scientist magazine undermined this chorus when it reported that two historians had uncovered further evidence revealing that “the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War”. Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington, stated that US President Harry Truman's decision to blast the cities “was not just a war crime, it was a crime against humanity”.

With Mark Selden, a historian from Cornell University in New York, Kuznick studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR. They found that three days before Hiroshima, Truman agreed at a meeting that Japan was “looking for peace”. His senior generals and political advisers told him there was no need to use the A-bomb. But the bombs were dropped anyway. “Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war”, Selden told the New Scientist.

While the capitalist media immediately dubbed the historians' “theory” “controversial”, it accords with the testimony of many central US political and military players at the time, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who stated bluntly in a 1963 Newsweek interview that “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing”.

Truman's chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, stated in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

At the time though, Washington cold-bloodedly decided to obliterate the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to show off the terrible power of its new super weapon and underline the US rulers' ruthless preparedness to use it.

These terrible acts were intended to warn the leaders of the Soviet Union that their cities would suffer the same fate if the USSR attempted to stand in the way of Washington's plans to create an “American Century” of US global domination. Nuclear scientist Leo Szilard recounted to his biographers how Truman's secretary of state, James Byrnes, told him before the Hiroshima attack that “Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might and that a demonstration of the bomb may impress Russia”.

Drunk from the success of its nuclear bloodletting in Japan, Washington planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons on at least 20 occasions in the 1950s and 1960s, only being restrained when the USSR developed enough nuclear-armed rockets to usher in the era of “mutually assured destruction”, and the US rulers' fear that their use again of nuclear weapons would led to a massive anti-US political revolt by ordinary people around the world.

Washington's policy of nuclear terror remains intact. The US refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. Its latest Nuclear Posture Review envisages the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear “rogue states” and it is developing a new generation of ‘battlefield” nuclear weapons.

Fear of the political backlash that would be caused in the US and around the globe by the use of nuclear weapons remains the main restraint upon the atomaniacs in Washington. On the anniversaries of history's worst single acts of terror, the most effective thing that peaceful people around the world can do to keep that fear alive in the minds of the US rulers is to recommit ourselves to defeating Washington's current “local” wars of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Comments

Hiroshima, Nagasaki - Worst Terror Attacks

Agreed

Civilisation means tolerance and peace...
reduce spending on "defence"
ban arms sales
ban training and support of foreign mercenaries

Hiroshima Cover-up: War Department’s Timesman

i agree that the use of

i agree that the use of nuclear , biological and chemical weapons should never be considered. but your article states that the u.s. did not warn japan before the dropping of the a bombs is wrong. the u.s. did warn japan with the dropping of leaflets before dropping the bomb. quit rewriting history. that said , dropping nuclear bombs on a civilian population should never have happened.

Try reading history before

Try reading history before accusing someone of 'rewriting' it. President Truman's Interim Committee on the Atomic Bomb decided on May 31 "that we could not give the Japanese any warning." Leaflets were dropped _after_ the US had committed its cowardly act of state terrorism.

I strongly hate the usage of

I strongly hate the usage of a bomb in anyway. No , No, Never, nuclear technology should never be used for destruction at any cost and I even condemn the "only country" who used it for killing the innocent people even more worse that the coming generations are still affected with radiation.

Hiroshima mayor calls for abolishing nuke weapons

Hiroshima mayor calls for abolishing nuke weapons

By SHIZUO KAMBAYASHI (AP) – August 6, 2009

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Hiroshima's mayor urged global leaders on Thursday to
back President Barack Obama's call to abolish nuclear weapons as Japan
marked the 64th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack.

In April, Obama said that the United States — the only nation that has
deployed atomic bombs in combat — has a "moral responsibility" to act and
declared his goal to rid the world of the weapons.

At a solemn ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Aug. 6, 1945, attack,
Hiroshima's Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba welcomed that commitment.

"We refer to ourselves, the great global majority, as the 'Obamajority,' and
we call on the rest of the world to join forces with us to eliminate all
nuclear weapons by 2020," Akiba said. The bombed-out dome of the building
preserved as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial loomed in the background, and
hundreds of white doves were released into the air as he finished speaking.

About 50,000 attended the ceremony, including officials and visitors from
countries around the world, though the United States did not have an
official representative at the ceremony.

Hiroshima was instantly flattened and an estimated 140,000 people were
killed or died within months when the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped
its deadly payload in the waning days of World War II.

Three days after that attack on Hiroshima, the U.S. dropped a plutonium bomb
on the city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people. Japan surrendered on
Aug. 15, ending World War II. A total of about 260,000 victims of the attack
are officially recognized by the government, including those that have died
of related injuries or sickness in the decades since.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso also spoke at Thursday's ceremony, saying
he hoped the world would follow Tokyo's efforts to limit nuclear
proliferation.

"Japan will continue to uphold its three non-nuclear principles and lead the
international community toward the abolishment of nuclear weapons and
lasting peace," he said.

The three principles state that Japan will not make, own or harbor nuclear
weapons.

Later in the day, Aso signed an agreement with a group of atomic bomb
survivors who had been seeking recognition and expanded health benefits from
the government.

The anniversary passed during a period of heightened tensions in the region,
just months after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test blast in
May.

A similar ceremony will be held in Nagasaki on Sunday.

*Associated Press writer Jay Alabaster contributed to this report.*

it's a shame the blood of those people can never be washed off

too bad for America it is forever soiled with the sad fact that it mass murdered people in Japan when their country was defeated and ready to give up the fight, contrary to all the bullshit and lies the lying historians told about japanese being so fanatical and suicidal that they'd fight to the 'death' rather than surrender to us.

but the one point most are missing, is Japan was goaded into the war by the U.S. cutting off it's oil. to the uninitiated, we picked the fight, not the japanese. such a small country, cut off from all petroleum by the U.S., had no choice but to retaliate. I don't blame them, but I do blame the bastard who was the president at the time who sat on his dick and let the Japanese strike Pearl Harbor so that it would rile up the public and make them want the war, when without the attack, most people would have said "no way" and not let the U.S. get involved in the Pacific at the least.

so, in closing, two points. The U.S. cut off Japan's oil, causing the war, and secondarily, the U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki not to win the war, but to send a message to Stalin.

how pathetic that our history books are so full of bullshit and lies that make America the victim when most of the time, it was the fomenter of death and destruction.

Look back a little further...

...and you'll find that the oil and steel were cut off as a response to events like the Rape of Nanking. Japan was busy invading China at the time, putting cities to the torch, fighting a war that brought the bloodthirst of twelfth-century conquest up to speed with machine guns and medium bombers.

`I write this as a warning to the world' -- Wilfred Burchett


http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/10/hiroshima_and_nagasaki_a_look_back

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Look Back at the US Atomic Bombing 64 Years Later

This year marks the sixty-fourth anniversary of the US atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed over 150,000 people instantly. Commemorations this weekend in Japan and around the world marked the US bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and then on August 9th, of Nagasaki. We play the report of Wilfred Burchett, the first journalist to make it into Hiroshima, as well as Anthony Weller, the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Weller, who was the first reporter to enter Nagasaki after the bombing, and we hear from Hiroshima survivor Shigeko Sasamori.

Anthony Weller, son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Weller, who worked for the Chicago Daily News and was the first reporter to enter Nagasaki after the bombing.

Wilfred Burchett, Australian reporter and the first journalist to make it into Hiroshima after the bombing.

Shigeko Sasamori, Hiroshima survivor, one of the Hibakusha. She was a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She was one of twenty-four young Japanese women brought to New York by American journalist Norman Cousins for surgical reconstruction treatment after the bombing.

ANJALI KAMAT: This year marks the sixty-fourth anniversary of the US atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed over 150,000 people instantly. Commemorations this weekend in Japan and around the world marked the US bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, and then on August 9th, of Nagasaki.

The Mayor of Nagasaki called for a global ban on nuclear arms at a ceremony Sunday and urged nuclear-armed countries to travel to Nagasaki and understand the destruction experienced there.

The bomb dropped over Nagasaki killed 74,000 people immediately and left another 75,000 seriously wounded. In Hiroshima, 70,000 to 80,000 people were killed in an instant, and another 70,000 seriously injured. By official Japanese estimates, nearly 300,000 people died from the bombings, including those who died in the ensuing months and years from related injuries and illnesses. Other researchers estimate a much higher death toll.

To mark the anniversary of the bombings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued an urgent call for disarmament.

    BAN KI-MOON: Sixty-four years ago, atom bombs rained down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Upon seeing such horror and devastation, people throughout the world thought such carnage must never happen again. But thousands of nuclear weapons remain in global arsenals. The risk of nuclear terrorism is real. Let us convince leaders, once and for all, of the waste, futility and dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction. In the face of this catastrophic threat, our message is clear: together, we must disarm.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, today, sixty-four years after the bombings, we host a discussion on what took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the present nuclear landscape. Currently, the nine nuclear powers—the United States, Russia, France, England, China, Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea—have more than 27,000 operational nuclear weapons among them. The US and Russia alone have enough nuclear warheads to launch the equivalent of 100,000 Hiroshimas in just twelve minutes, this according to Bruce Blair, president of the World Security Institute.

Speaking in Prague earlier this year, President Obama called for a world free of nuclear weapons.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.


AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama.

Well, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Weller worked for the Chicago Daily News and was the first reporter to enter Nagasaki after the bombing of August 9th, 1945. Weller hired a rowboat to get himself there and wrote a 25,000-word report on the horrors that he encountered. But his report didn’t get past the military censors. General MacArthur personally ordered the story be killed, and the manuscript was never returned.

George Weller died in 2002, but in 2005 his son, Anthony Weller, discovered a copy of the suppressed dispatches. They’re now published as a book called First Into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War.

Democracy Now! spoke to Anthony Weller soon after he found his father’s articles. This is how he described the physical health of the survivors in Nagasaki and what his father had called “Disease X.”

    ANTHONY WELLER: He was as astonished as the Japanese doctors were, of course, by what he referred to in his reports as “Disease X.” It was perhaps not so astonishing to see some of the scorches and burns that people had suffered. But to see people apparently unblemished at all by the bomb and who had seemingly survived intact suddenly finding themselves feeling unwell and going to hospital, sitting there on their cots surrounded by doctors and relatives who could do nothing, and finding, when he would go back the next day, that they had just died, or that, let’s say, a woman who had come through unscathed, making dinner for her husband and having the misfortune to make a very small cut in her finger while peeling a lemon, would just keep bleeding and bleed to death, because the platelets in her bloodstream had been so reduced that the blood couldn’t clot anymore.


ANJALI KAMAT: Wilfred Burchett was the first journalist to make it into Hiroshima, which was bombed three days before Nagasaki, August 6th, 1945. He was an Australian reporter who defied the US military, which had said that the whole area of southern Japan was off-limits. He took a train for thirty hours to Hiroshima. In this recording, an excerpt from a documentary by Andrew Phillips called Hiroshima Countdown, Burchett describes what he saw.

    WILFRED BURCHETT: These people were all in various states of physical disintegration. They would all die, but they were giving them whatever comfort could be given until they died. And the doctor explained that he didn’t know why they were dying. The only symptoms they could isolate from a medical point of view was that of acute vitamin deficiency. So they started giving vitamin injections. Then he explains where they put the needle in, then the flesh started to rot. And then, gradually, the thing would develop this bleeding, which they couldn’t stop, and then the hair falling out. And the hair falling out was more or less the last stage. And the number of the women who were lying there with sort of halos of their black hair which had already fallen out. I felt staggered, really staggered by what I’d seen. And just where I sat down, I found some lump of concrete, I remember, that had not been pulverized. I sat on that with my little Hermes typewriter, and my first words, I remember now, were, “I write this as a warning to the world.”


AMY GOODMAN: “I write this as a warning to the world,” the words of Wilfred Burchett, as we turn now to one of the Hiroshima survivors. She was a Hibakusha. Shigeko Sasamori was a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She was one of twenty-four young Japanese women brought to New York by the American journalist Norman Cousins for surgical reconstruction after the bombing.

Well, I had a chance to visit Shigeko Sasamori at her home in Los Angeles six years ago.

    SHIGEKO SASAMORI: I felt the very, very strong light. I can’t explain how strong it is. Very bright light. But before the bright light, I saw airplane drop the white thing. Then, same time, knock me down, a strong wind. Then I don’t know how long I was unconscious, but when I noticed, looked around, I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t hear anything, but just see red and black and grey. So dark. Then, just like a dead country or dead place. Then, for a while I’m waiting, just like a deep fog going away, faraway, the blackness, redness going away. And then I can see around the area.

    And that’s the time—I don’t know how to describe, because I’ve never been to hell, but when people say hell and heaven, that is hell. Horrible. People wasn’t people. Just horrible horror.

    When they find me, they couldn’t recognize, because my face was like a big ball, black ball. No eye, no eyebrow, nothing. My hair was kinky and burned. I burned one-fourth of body, front half, both hands, both arms, neck and chest and whole face. So, while I’m lying down, people come to see me and talking to my mother. “Is she still alive? Is she still OK?” Everybody thought I’m going to die.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. And she was a Hibakusha, which means a survivor of the atomic bombing, Shigeko Sasamori, whom I visited in her home in Los Angeles, brought here to go through reconstructive surgery for her burned body and face.


Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Hiroshima: Atomic Bomb & Imperial Myth

Hiroshima: Atomic Bomb & Imperial Myth

Posted by onehundredflowers on August 6, 2011

 

8:15 A.M. on August 6, 1945 at the very end of World War 2.

August 6 is the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Each year we commemorate and expose the crime and horror of that event.

The following was in commondreams.org.

“The story of military necessity, quickly and clumsily pasted together after the War’s end, simply does not hold up against the overwhelming military realities of the time. On the other hand, the use of the bomb to contain Russian expansion and to make the Russians, in Truman’s revealing phrase, “more manageable,” comports completely with all known facts and especially with U.S. motivations and interests.

“Which story should we accept, the one that doesn’t hold together but that has been sanctified as national dogma? Or the one that does hold together but offends our self concept?”

Was the Atomic Bombing of Japan Necessary?

by Robert Freeman

Few issues in American history – perhaps only slavery itself – are as charged as the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. Was it necessary? Merely posing the question provokes indignation, even rage. Witness the hysterical shouting down of the 1995 Smithsonian exhibit that simply dared discuss the question fifty years after the act. Today, another eleven years on, Americans still have trouble coming to terms with the truth about the bombs.

But anger is not argument. Hysteria is not history. The decision to drop the bomb has been laundered through the American myth-making machine into everything from self-preservation by the Americans to concern for the Japanese themselves-as if incinerating two hundred thousand human beings in a second was somehow an act of moral largesse.

Yet the question will not die, nor should it: was dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki a military necessity? Was the decision justified by the imperative of saving lives or were there other motives involved?

The question of military necessity can be quickly put to rest. “Japan was already defeated and dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.” Those are not the words of a latter-day revisionist historian or a leftist writer. They are certainly not the words of an America-hater. They are the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and future president of the United States. Eisenhower knew, as did the entire senior U.S. officer corps, that by mid 1945 Japan was defenseless.

After the Japanese fleet was destroyed at Leyte Gulf in October 1944, the U.S. was able to carry out uncontested bombing of Japan’s cities, including the hellish firebombings of Tokyo and Osaka. This is what Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces, meant when he observed, “The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.” Also, without a navy, the resource-poor Japanese had lost the ability to import the food, oil, and industrial supplies needed to carry on a World War.

As a result of the naked futility of their position, the Japanese had approached the Russians, seeking their help in brokering a peace to end the War. The U.S. had long before broken the Japanese codes and knew that these negotiations were under way, knew that the Japanese had for months been trying to find a way to surrender.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, reflected this reality when he wrote, “The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace.the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.” Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Truman, said the same thing: “The use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

Civilian authorities, especially Truman himself, would later try to revise history by claiming that the bombs were dropped to save the lives of one million American soldiers. But there is simply no factual basis for this in any record of the time. On the contrary, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey reported, “Certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped.” The November 1 date is important because that was the date of the earliest possible planned U.S. invasion of the Japanese main islands.

In other words, the virtually unanimous and combined judgment of the most informed, senior, officers of the U.S. military is unequivocal: there was no pressing military necessity for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan.

But if dropping the bombs was not driven by military needs, why, then, were they used? The answer can be discerned in the U.S. attitude toward the Russians, the way the War ended in Europe, and the situation in Asia.

U.S. leaders had long hated the communist Russian government. In 1919, the U.S. had led an invasion of Russia – the infamous “White Counter Revolution” – to try to reverse the red Bolshevik Revolution that had put the communists into power in 1917. The invasion failed and the U.S. did not extend diplomatic recognition to Russia until 1932.

Then, during the Great Depression, when the U.S. economy collapsed, the Russian economy boomed, growing almost 500%. U.S. leaders worried that with the War’s end, the country might fall back into another Depression. And World War II was won not by the American laissez faire system, but by the top-down, command and control over the economy that the Russian system epitomized. In other words, the Russian system seemed to be working while the American system was plagued with recent collapse and a questionable self-confidence.

In addition, to defeat Germany, the Russian army had marched to Berlin through eastern Europe. It occupied and controlled 150,000 square miles of territory in what is today Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. At Yalta, in February 1945, Stalin demanded to keep this newly occupied territory. Russia, Stalin rightly claimed, had been repeatedly invaded by western Europeans, from Napoleon to the Germans in World War I and now by Hitler. Russia lost more than 20,000,000 lives in World War II and Stalin wanted a buffer against future invasions.

At this point, in February 1945, the U.S. did not know whether the bomb would work or not. But it unquestionably needed Russia’s help to end both the War in Europe and the War in the Pacific. These military realities were not lost on Roosevelt: with no army to displace Stalin’s in Europe and needing Stalin’s support, Roosevelt conceded eastern Europe, handing the Russians the greatest territorial gain of the War.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, Stalin agreed at Yalta that once the War in Europe was over, he would transfer his forces from Europe to Asia and within 90 days would enter the War in the Pacific against Japan. This is where timing becomes critically important. The War in Europe ended on May 8, 1945. May 8 plus 90 days is August 8. If the U.S. wanted to prevent Russia from occupying territory in east Asia the way it had occupied territory in eastern Europe, it needed to end the war as quickly as possible.

This issue of territory in east Asia was especially important because before the war against Japan, China had been embroiled in a civil war of its own. It was the U.S.-favored nationalists under General Chiang Kai Shek against the communists under Mao Ze Dong. If communist Russia were allowed to gain territory in east Asia, it would throw its considerable military might behind Mao, almost certainly handing the communists a victory once the World War was ended and the civil war was resumed.

Once the bomb was proven to work on July 15, 1945, events took on a furious urgency. There was simply no time to work through negotiations with the Japanese. Every day of delay meant more land given up to Russia and, therefore, a greater likelihood of communist victory in the Chinese civil war. All of Asia might go communist. It would be a strategic catastrophe for the U.S. to have won the War against the fascists only to hand it to its other arch enemy, the communists. The U.S. needed to end the War not in months, or even weeks, but in days.

So, on August 6, 1945, two days before the Russians were to declare war against Japan, the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. There was no risk to U.S. forces then waiting for a Japanese response to the demand for surrender. The earliest planned invasion of the island was still three months away and the U.S. controlled the timing of all military engagements in the Pacific. But the Russian matter loomed and drove the decision on timing. So, only three days later, the U.S. dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945, eight days after the first bomb was dropped.

Major General Curtis LeMay commented on the bomb’s use: “The War would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the War at all.” Except that it drastically speeded the War’s end to deprive the Russians of territory in east Asia.

The story of military necessity, quickly and clumsily pasted together after the War’s end, simply does not hold up against the overwhelming military realities of the time. On the other hand, the use of the bomb to contain Russian expansion and to make the Russians, in Truman’s revealing phrase, “more manageable,” comports completely with all known facts and especially with U.S. motivations and interests.

Which story should we accept, the one that doesn’t hold together but that has been sanctifiied as national dogma? Or the one that does hold together but offends our self concept? How we answer says everything about our maturity and our capacity for intellectual honesty.

It is sometimes hard for a people to reconcile its history with its own national mythologies – the mythologies of eternal innocence and Providentially anointed righteousness. It is all the more difficult when a country is embroiled in yet another war and the power of such myths are needed again to gird the people’s commitment against the more sobering force of facts.

But the purpose of history is not to sustain myths. It is, rather, to debunk them so that future generations may act with greater awareness to avoid the tragedies of the past. It may take another six or even sixty decades but eventually the truth of the bomb’s use will be written not in mythology but in history. Hopefully, as a result, the world will be a safer place.

Robert Freeman writes on economics, history, and education.

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