by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 6 August 2007
Americans “were free to say what they think,
because they did not think what they were not free
to say.” — Leo Szilard
“Had Germany used atomic bombs on two allied cities
[during World War II], those responsible would have been
‘sentenced…to death at Nuremberg and hanged…'” — Leo Szilard
America’s immoral addiction to nuclear weapons was on display last week after Barack Obama demonstrated that rare ability to think and to say what most American politicians are not free to say, namely that he would not use nuclear weapons “in any circumstance” to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Almost immediately Senator Hillary Clinton put the use of nuclear weapons back on the table, when she asserted: “I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons.” Poor Hillary!
By her willingness to contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, Senator Clinton appears ready, were she to be elected president, to add her name to the long list of presidents who have contemplated such use. As Joseph Gerson notes, in his recent book, Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World: “On at least 30 occasions since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, every US president has prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war during international crises, confrontations, and wars – primarily in the Third World.” [p. 2]
For perspective, consider that, in 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt expressed America’s moral outrage, when he proclaimed: “The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of hostilities…sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.” [Gerson, p 33] Yet, within six years, Roosevelt would not only subject European and Japanese cities to such “ruthless bombing,” his successor, Harry Truman, would do nothing to prevent America’s technological utopians from turning mass murder into a one-brushstroke work of art — by exploding single atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In fact, Secretary of War Henry Stimson “confided to Truman that with the US fire bombings that had razed nearly every major Japanese city to the ground, and with the atomic bombings that were to come, the US could ‘get the reputation of outdoing Hitler in atrocities.'” [p. 13]
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