Today’s Hiroshimas

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A leaflet circulated circa 1970 in the East Coast

Early during the Second World War, there was a fear among some scientists and military men that Germany would build an atomic bomb. There was no doubt that such a bomb could be built There only existed fear in their minds that the Allies would not be the first to develop it, and that they could be the first to experience the effect of such a bomb.

It was December 6, 1941 that the decision was made to develop such a bomb in the United States. December 6th …one day before Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Delanor (sic.) Roosevelt, the one man who had all the facts about the bomb, made the decision to go ahead on the construction of the bomb.

The building of the atomic bomb was done in absolute secrecy. So secret was this project that even the Congress of the United States was unaware the bomb was being made.

Three years past (sic.) and the services of 200,000 men, and over two billion dollars were employed in the development of this secret weapon.

But, early in 1945 a crucial chain of events took place. It became evident that Germany could not possibly make an atomic bomb. This created a new problem for the military and President Roosevelt. Now that, the United States did not need the atomic bomb to defeat Germany; what should be done with it? Immediately two opposing groups emerged. One group felt that all work on the bomb be stopped, while the other felt work should continue so it could be used at a later date.

This was a crucial decision to be made --- Roosevelt, the one man who could make this important decision, the one man who had all the facts in his head, died. On April 12, 1945, Vice-President Truman became President. Truman, although he was Vice-President, knew nothing about the atomic bomb. In fact he did not learn of its existence until his first conference with the Secretary of War. At no time did Truman ever have the full knowledge and information about the atomic bomb that Roosevelt had. It is not clear if he actually understood what the atomic bomb was, in fact, from the historical records of the time, it appears that Truman thought the atomic bomb was just another big bomb.

On May 31st and June 1st, a special committee which consisted of several scientists, leaders of the government, and the military met secretly. The recommendation of this committee was that the atomic bomb should be used on a military target in Japan after a warning had been issued.

On July 26th the Potsdam Proclamation was sent to the Japanese government. It called for an unconditional surrender or the complete destruction of Japan,
It made no mention of an atomic bomb.

The U.S. government was aware that Japan at this time was sending messages to Ambassador Sato, who was in Moscow, urging him to make peace negotiations through Russia's good offices. Peace efforts by Japan had also been made through Sweden as early as July 6th.

Japan declined to immediately accept the Potsdam Proclamation because the integrity, of the Emperor's position was not guaranteed. With Japan's unwillingness to immediately accede to unconditional surrender, the bombing of Hiroshima became inevitable …unless Truman countermanded the order. He said nothing. All decisions were now in the hands of the military.

“At seventeen seconds after 8:15, on a clear, bright morning of August 6th, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The pilots of the United States Air Force's Five Hundred and Ninth Composite Group carried the 9,000 pound bomb which was as powerful as 12,500 tons of TNT. The bomb exploded within 100 feet of the target, the fireball was 18,000 feet across, the temperature at the center of the fireball was as hot as the surface of the sun. Near the center people became nothing... the light from the bomb flashed whiter than any white, like a sheet of traveling sun. Eyes turned up to the bomb melted. Within 9 seconds 100,000 people were killed or doomed, 100,000 more injured." (Hiroshima-Nagasaki Film)

It is useless to talk of Hiroshima-Nagasaki if one doesn't relate it to what is going on today.

Vietnam.          More than 2,000,000 killed. Men, women, children, old people. Crops destroyed, food contaminated, land made uninhabitable on a scale much larger than Hiroshima.

Vietnam.         An awe-inspiring reality that shows us how a people can relate to one another to fight back and to survive as human beings, against forces that produce Hiroshimas. Against forces that produce more Vietnams.

The lesson of Hiroshima-Nagasaki condemned even by its creators (Einstein and Oppenheimer), has not yet been learned by America. In Thailand, Okinawa and Guam, is (sic.) stored nuclear weapons--waiting for its proper use.

"There is a likelihood that if the war continues for many many more months President Nixon will find himself in a position in which he may be strongly disposed use tactical nuclear weapons in Indochina.” (BEM)

It is foolish to talk about the possibility that weapons which might be used in the event war breaks out in the Pacific would be limited to the conventional Korean and WWII type of explosives. Our forces could not fight an effective war in the Pacific with those types of explosives if they wanted to. Tactical atomic explosives are now conventional and will be used against the military targets of any aggressive forces". (Vice-President Nixon, March 17, 1955)

To save lives...
To save lives, they dropped the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
To save lives, they use defoliants, gases, napalms (sic.) in Vietnam.
To save lives, they invade Cambodia.
To save lives, they stockpile bombs 2,500 times the power of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and conspire to create a ghastly nuclear hell in Indochina...

To save whose lives? In five conflicts that America engaged in Asia in this century, we have the following results:

The Phillippines (sic.) (1899)       50,000 Asian lives--300 American lives lost.

China (1900)                                50,000 Asians-- 50 Americans

Japan (l941-45)                            1,500,000 Asians - 150,000 Americans

Korean (1950-53)                         2,000,000 Asians - 50,000 Americans

Vietnam (1961,--)                          2,000,000 Asians - 50,000 Americans

Laos. Cambodia. Thailand...         The list expands almost by the month.

Aside from the numbers, which make obvious whose lives are being "saved", these wars all took place on Asian soil, destroying those sent to do the dirty work are disproportionately from the Third World (40% black in Vietnam) and others without means of avoiding the draft.

As a vulnerable minority, we Asian-Americans have always tried to prove our loyalty and gratitude to America. Sometimes, we've tried too hard--forgetting our roots, being blind to what America is doing to us here, and being silent in watching what America is doing to our homelands.

The path we must take is becoming increasingly, clear. We must begin to draw our forces together, and address ourselves to our problems that we face here in America. We must also examine the struggle our sisters and brothers are waging in Asia, and determine how we can best five (sic.) our support and solidarity. We must examine those forces which seek to enslave, exploit, and kill, and take action against those forces and fully support all peoples fighting for their self-determination and liberation.