Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

August 05, 2010

Rededicate to peace! Morning Star,Thursday 05 August 2010

On August 6, some 65 years ago in 1945, the United States conducted the first ever assault with an atomic weapon on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, following it up with a similar attack on Nagasaki three days later.

Within the first two to four months of the bombings, it is estimated that around a quarter of a million people died as a result of just two bombs

The effects killed up to 170,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day.

Such was the utter horror of these undiscriminating attacks and so vast were the number of deaths that even in the worst excesses of militarism and national tub-thumping, no-one has used an atomic weapon in warfare since.

Japan, as the only victim of nuclear warfare in history, has become a world leader in calls for the total abolition of such weapons, with the mayors of the two reconstructed cities taking a foremost place in such calls.

But, as time passes and these two acts of wholesale murder recede into history, there is always the danger that their impact on the minds of the present generation is dwindling and less than immediate.

And that raises the ever-present risk that someone, somewhere will feel that the use of such weapons is, in some warped and perverted scheme of logic, justifiable or excusable.

Indeed, Cuba's ex-president Fidel Castro has warned as recently as this week that, given the existence of such weapons, nuclear war is an almost inevitable consequence of the parlous state of world politics at the moment.

It is a consequence that cannot and must not be allowed to happen. For we are all the victims of the Hiroshimas and the Nagasakis in the world's history.

Atrocities of such mind-boggling dimensions reduce us all and even the act of tolerating the weapons that threaten such destruction debases our humanity.

Let us not fool ourselves. Reliance on such things as nuclear weapons, with the horrific consequences that would follow their use, dehumanises and demeans those who could even contemplate their use.

And it is that which should drive the effort to rid the world of these monstrous devices.

Of course, we cannot afford them economically. Even the Tories are being forced to consider the economic consequences of Trident replacement.

And, of course, the utility of such weapons is now highly doubtful. They are clearly not suited to the politics of a world in which war itself has taken a different shape - not that they ever had much going for them in earlier times, but even the excuses for them have grown weaker with the passage of time.

But, on Hiroshima Day, it is perhaps appropriate to look at the issue more from a compassionate standpoint than an economic one.

Because a world in which people live in comradeship, giving mutual support and respect, cannot be built on the basis of the threat of national extinction of anyone who disagrees with you.

There are about 22,000 nuclear warheads in existence. There are 8,000 of them in a state of operational readiness, with 2,000 devices on permanent high alert.

At least 28 countries have the capacity to build at least one bomb and 12 countries the capacity to make 20 of the things. And there are flashpoints throughout the world in which nuclear powers are facing each other with hostile intentions.

For the sake of the world, for the sake of existing and future generations, the left, the labour movement and the peace movement must rededicate themselves to the cause of nuclear disarmament, and to the elimination of weapons which have no place in a socialist world and should have no place even in a capitalist one.

Hiroshima Day seems an appropriate time for all of us to take a little time to remember the fate of the citizens of that city and to renew our determination that such a monstrous act must never be repeated.

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