All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Hiroshima "What Ifs"

There is still a debate as to whether or not the bombing of Hiroshima on 6th August 1945 is justifiable. In our home, we fall into two camps.

Dana holds the view that there can be no reason whatsoever to kill innocent people (an argument that I can't disagree with), whilst I believe that dropping the bomb was an act that had to take place to end the war. What we both agree on, is that the bombing of Nagasaki should not have taken place.

From reading some respectable research on the Internet, I see that we are not the only two people in the world who hold this view. Appropriately, historians are divided into two similar camps.

I base my arguments on the notion of what might/would have happened if the atomic bomb had not been deployed over the skies of Japan. How would history have evolved had the atomic bomb stayed at home?

We know that, as a result of Hiroshima, the world was plunged head first into the Atomic Age. The Soviet Union and The United States embarked on the Cold War that my generation grew up in. I'm not as old as though who can remember the Cuban Crisis, but from what I've heard, the saving factor was that both the US and USSR knew what would happen if they used the "N" option.

I believe that some facts are inescapable.

Had the bomb not been dropped in 1945, it would have been deployed eventually, because humans are like that. We create technology to use and to see how it operates in extreme conditions. I can't believe that the Russians would not have tried it out on someone, somewhere.

The Cold War may have taken on a different mantle, but I believe that it was inevitable in a post-war environment. Stalin was in the "expansion business" as evidenced by the Soviet desire to create an Iron Curtain, as Churchill so aptly put it in March 1946, across Europe. Let's not forget that, at the same time, the US also wanted to colonise the world and spread the concept of Capitalism (which, let's face it is much more appealing than Communism) to as many countries who were willing to listen and play along with.

In other words, you had two superpowers selling their wares and vying for global domination, albeit through a different prism.

Do we know how differently these empires would have resembled, had Hiroshima not emblazoned itself into the annals of history? No.

Then again, as we look at the present standoff with Iran, can we ignore the ghost of 6th August 1945?

Not one jot.

Maybe, that's the rub. We view the present from the experience of the past and realise that had Little Boy and Fat Man not shown us the devastation that they did - albeit at one megaton, a fraction of the power that could be harnessed today - would we be so frightened of and attuned to the kind of weapon that the Iranians are refusing to abandon?

I think not.

Today, 6th August 2005, I sit here asking questions and pondering the validity of what happened exactly 63 years ago. In Iran, I would wager that Ahmadinejad doesn't even realise the significance of this date as he checks over the last progress on his country's drive to become nuclear and perhaps that is why the bomb had to be dropped.

What took place on this date reminds people like us that there are far more important ways of making your mark on the world than constructing bombs.

Perhaps that is the only way to commemorate the 6th of August in a meaningful manner. It's not just about remembering the innocents who died on that terrible day.

I don't want to find myself thinking about the What Ifs in regard to Iran's nuclear programme.

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