August 7, 2011

Remembering Hiroshima - the largest terrorist act in history

By Darrell Rankin
People's Voice Newspaper, August 1st, 2006

HUMANITY WILL FOREVER remember how hostilities ended in the Asia-Pacific theatre of the Second World War, because on August 6, 1945 the United States used an atomic bomb to kill more than 80,000 people in Hiroshima, Japan, a number that increased to 200,000 by 1950 because of the continuing effects of radiation.

Rivalries between the U.S., Japan and European empires were the cause of the "Asia-Pacific" war, which broke out when Japan attacked Hawaii, a U.S. possession, in December 1941. Japan's government, a military dictatorship nominally headed by an emperor, had banned the Japanese Communist Party since its formation in 1922, crushed democratic dissent and pursued an aggressive foreign policy. (Canada's Conservative government banned the Communist Party here in 1931, preceding Hitler's ban on the German Communist Party in 1933.)

By 1941 Japan had occupied and committed serious war crimes in much of coastal China, Korea, French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), and Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Rival imperialist powers were guilty of similar atrocities. Despite early victories, Japan was a defeated empire in 1945. Japan's oil stocks were gone and its naval fleet was destroyed. Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan's greatest ally, had surrendered in May.

Japan's government communicated its desire for peace in June, 1945 to Sweden, Switzerland and the Soviet Union, requesting only that the emperor be kept as head of state, a condition allowed after Japan's surrender.

Despite these facts, many people still believe U.S. President Harry Truman's lie for using the atomic weapon. On August 9, 1945, Truman said "We have used (the atomic bomb) to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans." But when Truman first heard that an atom bomb had destroyed Hiroshima City, he had no noble aim. He simply said "This is the greatest thing in history."

Instead of avoiding further casualties, U.S. political leaders used Hiroshima to signal their aim to achieve world domination. Three days later they repeated this barbaric and racist crime on Nagasaki City, Japan. Rather than trying the bomb on a less-populated area of Japan, Truman killed over 300,000 people, mainly civilians.

Since 1945, U.S. imperialism has led the nuclear arms race, imposing a terrible danger on humanity and all life on earth. It has consistently opposed proposals to ban nuclear weapons. For example, the 1946 U.S. "Baruch plan" set out unacceptable conditions for achieving nuclear disarmament, such as a seven-year monopoly on U.S. possession of the weapon and removing veto power from the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

The United States used nuclear weapons after the War as a strategic threat to dominate world politics and to crush revolutionary and democratic movements. The terrifying threat of nuclear weapons and other U.S. military inventions such as intercontinental missiles created a burdensome arms race with the Soviet Union for much of the post-War period.

Despite the fact that a new capitalist class has overthrown socialism in the former Soviet Union in the largest act of robbery and privatization in world history, the U.S. is still creating deadlier ways to dominate the earth. The far-right Bush administration's latest creation is the so-called "war on terror," wrongly used to justify endless aggressions around the world - a permanent state of war where it is only a matter of time before the U.S. actually uses a nuclear weapon.

Nuclear weapons are still at the core of U.S. imperialism's political strategy and military doctrine. The U.S. has a nuclear weapons "first strike" doctrine, a doctrine shared by Canada and other U.S. allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. By contrast, the Soviet Union had pledged never to be the first in a conflict to use nuclear weapons.

The U.S. leads all other imperialist countries in arming itself, carrying out foreign aggressions and occupations, and preparing for a world-scale war against Russia and China. The U.S.-India nuclear pact and U.S. military bases in Central Asia all bring the military threat closer to China and Russia. The U.S. military budget of over $455 billion is more than the combined total of the next 32 largest military spenders.

The dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991 removed a vital block to imperialism's use of military might to impose global domination. The Soviet Union's leading role in the defeat of fascism in the Second World War and its popular and principled foreign policy led to great achievements in arms control and disarmament and restrictions on war as a tool of foreign policy.

Imperialism is ignoring virtually all these achievements, including a ban on space weapons, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to new countries, test bans for nuclear weapons, and the obligation of countries with nuclear weapons to disarm.

Most alarmingly, the U.S. is acting in open defiance of the United Nations Charter which bans war as an unrestricted tool of foreign policy, the most important progressive and democratic legacy of the Second World War. The U.N. Security Council authorized few recent U.S.-led wars, and all violated the Charter - Panama (1989), Iraq (1991, 2003), Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), and Haiti (2004).

This list suggests that imperialism is at the stage of using war to impose corporate globalisation by violent means. It is using war to crush so-called "failed" governments and people's movements that resist global corporate rule, promoting the plunder of oil and other resources in weaker countries.

But U.S. imperialism is preparing to use far more of its huge military potential, making plans to weaponize space, adopting the doctrine of "preventive war" and lowering thresholds for the use of nuclear weapons. All these developments signal that the U.S. is preparing for far greater wars than those already underway.

Catastrophes like Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti will continue to mount in number and severity unless imperialism is blocked. Imperialism has caused enough recent death and destruction to justify its replacement by a socialist society many times over. But for the moment imperialism has the historic initiative, especially since the setbacks to socialism in the 1990s.

Our main effort today must be to unite people and nations against imperialist aggressions and militarism as a whole. This can be accomplished through the mobilization of the world's peoples against imperialism with the aim of preventing war, ending occupations, and achieving general disarmament, especially abolishing nuclear weapons.

(Darrell Rankin is the chair of the Communist Party of Canada's Peace and Disarmament Commission.)

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