Commentary

There are a number of dates that live in historical infamy, like Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001. Two other such dates are August 6 and 9, 1945. These were the days when the U.S. dropped never-before-used atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in some 300,000 deaths.

In one of history’s twists of fate, the survivors and families of victims of both the September and August dates have been brought together out of their common bonds of sorrow, horror, anger and commitment to say “never again – we need peace.”

New Yorker Rita Lazar, a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, will be a keynote speaker at the 2002 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some 10,000 participants are expected, including American peace activists. They will gather under the theme, “Working Together for a Peaceful and Promising World Without Nuclear Weapons.”

The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hidankyo) came to New York City to pay their respects at Ground Zero. After Sept. 11, the Confederation sent a message of condolence and condemnation of the attacks and offered the following prescient words:

“As survivors of the first nuclear attack in history, which was no less an anti-human and atrocious act, we oppose the concept of ‘retaliation’ in itself … If an act of retaliation is allowed in response to any unjustifiable action, it will generate a vicious cycle that continues endlessly, embracing a danger of throwing the human race and the earth into the hopeless abyss of catastrophe,” they wrote.

They oppose the Japanese government’s cooperation with the war on terrorism. They urged that no military attack happen, no use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and to bring the terrorists to justice “for their crime under international law and by peaceful means, relying on a worldwide consensus that condemns the terrorism.”

What a different world it would be today had their words been heeded.

Instead, those Sept. 11 actions gave the ultra right and their corporate masters the upper hand around the world. Dr. Strangelove seemed to get into the driver’s seat as the Bush administration – with its unending war, Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that considers using nuclear weapons, abridgement of the ABM Treaty, pursuing Star Wars, bombing Afghanistan, laying plans to invade Iraq and intensifying regional conflicts, all under the guise of fighting terrorism – hurtle the world into the abyss of untold destruction and lawlessness.

As the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action and pastor of East Brunswick Congregational Church, wrote: “The NPR makes clear that the Bush administration has no intention of permanently reducing nuclear arsenals. The rules proposed to count nuclear warheads would make Enron jealous. Nuclear warheads taken off active deployment wouldn’t be counted – but they would be stored in a way that they could be quickly re-deployed. A recent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed as many as 15,000 nuclear warheads would remain in the U.S. arsenal – not the widely touted 2,000.”

Nuclear arms control has become Enronized. As horrid and tragic as that is to all the workers who have lost their pensions and jobs, times that horror by a million. Since this is in the nuclear sphere, it’s about the survival of the planet.

Each step towards more war and violence brings us closer to the edge. One could argue that the bombing of Afghanistan and the unending war on terrorism is just a precursor for the invasion of Iraq. After all, the Pentagon has already experimented with bunker-buster bombs, never before used, and bunker-busters are militarily key for not only Iraq, but other countries as well. Many argue Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the experiment and precursor to the Cold War.

These policies and experiments may make happy the Dr. Strangeloves and the corporations who build and profit from these weapons and military might, but that’s a very small minority.

It will take the unity, resolve and action of the world’s majority to guarantee that “never again” becomes a reality.

The author can be reached at talbano@pww.org

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