Original article by John Pilger via socialistworker.org and originally published in the Guardian. Subheaded: A look at the “progression of lies” surrounding the August 6, 1945, dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima provides insight into how those lies are being repeated for new wars today.
WHEN I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite.
As far as we know, the US is the only country ever to use atomic/nuclear weapons in wartime. We continue to do so with the use of depleted uranium weapons: There’s just not the big flash and overwhelming blast wave. The radiation remains nonetheless.
In the immediate aftermath of the bomb, the allied occupation authorities banned all mention of radiation poisoning and insisted that people had been killed or injured only by the bomb’s blast. It was the first big lie. “No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin” said the front page of the New York Times, a classic of disinformation and journalistic abdication, which the Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett put right with his scoop of the century. “I write this as a warning to the world,” reported Burchett in the Daily Express, having reached Hiroshima after a perilous journey, the first correspondent to dare. He described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries but who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague.” For telling this truth, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared–and vindicated.
Our government lied. Surprise, surprise. Our government continues to lie over the effects of depleted uranium. What’s more, we may well be planning to use nuclear weapons in bombing Iran.
THE ATOMIC bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate “good war,” whose “ethical bath,” as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the West not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb.
Truman was a war criminal. Period. At least he had the good sense not to use nukes in Korea.
The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. “Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946,
air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that…Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
We know why they used the bomb: It was to scare the Soviets. Unfortunately, the Soviets had Sakharov. And so we had our nuclear weapons build up.
His foreign policy colleagues were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip.” General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.” The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment.”
With each stroke toward the midnight of a nuclear Armageddon, the lies of justification grow more outrageous. Iran is the current “threat.” But Iran has no nuclear weapons and the disinformation that it is planning a nuclear arsenal comes largely from a discredited CIA-sponsored Iranian opposition group, the MEK–just as the lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction originated with the Iraqi National Congress, set up by Washington.
The role of western journalism in erecting this straw man is critical. That America’s Defense Intelligence Estimate says “with high confidence” that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2003 has been consigned to the memory hole. That Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” is of no interest. But such has been the mantra of this media “fact” that, in his recent obsequious performance before the Israeli parliament, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown alluded to it as he threatened Iran, yet again.
Aren’t we happy that we have a complicit press? Aren’t we glad that we have madmen at the head of our goverment (and looking at BO’s advisors, will have them in charge no matter during the next administration, unless neither of the big two get elected). Don’t you feel safer today than at any other time in your life?
In the New York Times on July 18, the Israeli historian Benny Morris, once considered a liberal and now a consultant to his country’s political and military establishment, threatened “an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.” This would be mass murder. For a Jew, the irony cries out.
It’s not just Israel. Pakistan and India both have the bomb. Just think about that. Two sworn enemies who’ve been at each other’s throats since they’ve become nations both have some of the most dangerous weapons in the world.
Catching war criminals is fashionable again. Radovan Karadzic stands in the dock, but Sharon and Olmert, Bush and Blair do not. Why not? The memory of Hiroshima requires an answer.
It’s likely that a complicit public will allow our current batch of war criminals to go scott free. Do you really want to see that?