Hannah McGill has written a lengthy, thought provoking piece on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US. ‘Seventy Years on from Hiroshima Devastation’ appeared in Saturday’s edition of The Scotsman. Two short excerpts are reproduced here.
“Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic,” wrote President Harry S Truman in his diary, “we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto] or the new [Tokyo]… The target will be a purely military one.” Nagasaki was selected for similar reasons. Needless to say, however, nuclear bombs – even ones with cute anthropomorphic nicknames like Little Boy and Fat Man – have a way of not distinguishing between military and non-military flesh.
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These days, just as the CND symbol has been repurposed as a decorative frippery with only the vaguest connotations of “peace and love”, so Hiroshima and Nagasaki have seemed to drift away from our collective narrative. In an online discussion realm in which people habitually wave around casual references to Nazi atrocities, conspiracy theories about 9/11 and half-baked interpretations of the entire history of the Middle East, America’s history as a nuclear aggressor remains a relatively infrequent reference point.