By Florence Oppen
Just after the US bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 246, 000 civilians, its President Harry Truman delivered a stunning speech on August 9th 1945 from the White House:
“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and, unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately, and save themselves from destruction.
I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb…Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.
We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.
The atomic bomb is too dangerous to be loose in a lawless world. That is why Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, who have the secret of its production, do not intend to reveal that secret until means have been found to control the bomb so as to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger of total destruction….
We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.”
Not only the world “noted” an atomic bomb had been thrown, but most working people realized the “tragic significance” of it: the deadliest weapon invented in human history was now in the hands of the US government, it would be ready to use it any time it perceived it could save American´s lives. Surely Truman believed that day “God was with them”, the Americans, and not with the Japanese people. But if those were truly “God’s ways and purposes”, God became those very days of August 1945 the enemy of humanity,
At the time, James Cannon, leader of the american Socialist Workers Party said ironically “this is how American imperialism is bringing civilisation to the Orient.” And in fact since them, the US has made a habit of bringing “democracy” and “human right” to many countries by the force of troops, tanks, bombings, coups d’états etc.
Since 1945 thus, the US government has done everything to keep their secret of mass destruction and prevent many other countries to produce nuclear weapons, the latest being Iran, with the argument of the need ”to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger of total destruction”. We socialists around the world believe the opposite. That we need to protect the people from the US government, controlled by monopolies and multinational corporations (including the arm and war industry) criminal foreign policy and constant expansion through imperialist wars. The nuclear deal with Iran does not as Obama said “meets the national security interests of the United States and its allies.” In fact it meets the interests of the war and oil corporations that have a big pull on the government, not of the American working people. It meets the interests of US imperialism on the region. And what would meet the interest of working people around the world, would be to see the leading state of wars and destruction (the US) being dispossessed of any weapons to harm again the world.
So today, 70 years later of the atomic bombs, we could not agree more with Cannon:
“Long ago the revolutionary Marxists said that the alternative facing humanity was either socialism or a new barbarism, that capitalism threatens to go down in ruins and drag civilisation with it. But in the light of what has been developed in this war and is projected for the future, I think we can say now that the alternative can be made even more precise: The alternative facing mankind is socialism or annihilation! It is a problem of whether capitalism is allowed to remain or whether the human race is to continue to survive on this planet.”