Sunday, August 07, 2005

Robin Cook RIP

Not a lot else to say really. He should be remembered above all for Commons performance following the Scott Report above all else IMO; his finest hour for sure.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Reflections on Hiroshima

60 years ago today, an atomic bomb was first used in anger. The city of Hiroshima in southern Japan was obliterated by what was in effect a man-made firestorm much, much hotter than the surface of the Sun. Something like a 140,000 people were either incinerated instantly or died of radiation poisoning in the days, weeks, months and even years that followed. A few days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki with similer effects. Shortly afterwards, Japan surrendered and the Second World War finally came to an end.

Every time the anniversary of this dark day dawns, the old debate over whether or not the dropping of the bombs was justified or the right thing to do. Opponents of the bomb say that destruction on the horrific scale seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki can never be justified, while supporters of the decision say that the alternative, a land invasion of Japan by Allied forces, would have been even worse and could have resulted in the deaths of millions.

Personally I feel that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can never be justified except in relative terms; I do not think that it is possible to justify the horrific deaths of almost 500,000 people and the release of the spectre of nuclear holocaust that haunted the Earth for almost fifty years.
That the bombings of those two cities was a terrible thing to do is something that is hard to argue against. But... was it worse than the alternative? On balance, probably not.
A land invasion of Japan could have lasted for years and killed infinitely more than those two bombs did. And it seems likely that the horror of nuclear stalemate would have happend anyway; the Soviet Union would have exploded it's first atomic bomb when it did Hiroshima or no Hiroshima.
The fact that things came down to two choices as appalling as these says something about the Second World War. And why it must never be allowed to happen again.