Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In Memory of Nagasaki

Today is Wednesday, 9 August 2006.

On this date in 1945, an American atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

As noted in this column on Hiroshima Day, the notion that the bomb was used to avert unacceptable American casualties in an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands is untenable. The motivation was to establish the radically new parameters of American power for all the world, and particularly the Soviets, to see. It was necessary that the second of the two bombs available to the USA/USE/USSA be employed, to demonstrate the first device was not a one-off.

Which brings me to further thoughts on war crimes.

As has been noted, both Hezbollah and Israel are committing war crimes in the present war in Lebanon. Most people tend to think of war crimes exclusively in terms of atrocities such as My Lai, the Katyn Forest Massacre in Poland (1940), the killing fields of Cambodia, etc. Under the laws of war, belligerents are prohibited from using weapons systems which do not discriminate between combatants and civilians.

Given the technologies available to modern combatants, from radar-targeted artillery to GPS-guided aerial bombs to the nuclear bomb, it is a given that a certain number of civilians will be murdered. Of course, both sides would prefer to hit military targets, but, if civilians are killed, the terror effect thus produced is so much gravy and hardly to be regretted, except perhaps for some crocodile tears for the media.

A good example is harassment and interdiction fire (H&I), practiced by the Americans in Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan. At pre-determined or random intervals during the night, artillery would fire on pre-selected coordinates, knowing only there were no US (or USSR) troops in the area, without consideration that there might be civilians. This was meant to keep the enemy on their toes, with the possible bonus that troops might be passing those coordinates. Of course, it was often civilians.

Likewise, the rockets of Hezbollah, and the aerial bombs and artillery of Israel, may well strike the geographic locations at which they were aimed, but they cannot distinguish between combatants and civilians. Their use therefore constitutes war crimes.

It is ironic and tragic indeed that stricter mechanisms exist to enforce the anti-doping regulations of competitive cycling than to enforce international law regarding war crimes.

It is estimated that at least 115,000 people died as a result of the Nagasaki atomic bombing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most wars throughout history have been waged for religious reasons. Perhaps by giving up religion we could all live in peace.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous O.R. Hinsdale said...


8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home