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Season of Hiroshima

The season of Hiroshima arrives each August in the heat of summer. It is a season for reflection and rededication to the future of life. The first atomic bomb used in warfare was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The results were total devastation. The cities were flattened; all forms of life were incinerated.
Season of Hiroshima
By David Krieger

 http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/01.06/kriegerseasonofhiroshima.html

The season of Hiroshima arrives each August in the heat of summer. It is a season for reflection and rededication to the future of life. The first atomic bomb used in warfare was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The results were total devastation. The cities were flattened; all forms of life were incinerated.

Hiroshima was the awakening of the Nuclear Age. It was a moment in history when time stood still. The clocks were frozen at 8:15 a.m. The terrible destructive power of the atomic bomb lead not only to the end of a war, but also to the end of an innocence that could never be regained and to a horrific arms race that placed all humanity and most of life in danger of annihilation.

Hiroshima taught us that time was not infinite for our species, and that the future of humanity was not assured. We had harnessed the awesome and awful power of the atom and with this the power to destroy ourselves.

Hiroshima neither was nor is about victory or defeat. Nor is it about the Japanese, the Americans, or the people of any other single country. Hiroshima belongs to all humanity, residing in our collective consciousness. It is universal. We share in its destructive fire, its suffering, its death, and its resilient hope for the future.

Some very different conclusions were drawn from the destruction of Hiroshima. The American lesson was that nuclear weapons can win wars and are thus to be valued. The American lesson is an abstract, without people in the landscape. The Japanese lesson was that nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately and that the suffering continues for those who survive, even into future generations. For the Japanese, the landscape beneath the bomb was filled with real people, some who survived to tell their stories.

The message of Hiroshima, as reflected in the lives of the survivors, is "Never Again!" The promise on the Memorial Cenotaph at Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park reads, "Let All Souls Here Rest in Peace; For We Shall Not Repeat the Evil." It is a promise not only to those who died, but to those who lived. It is a promise to all humanity and to the future. The "We" in the promise is all of us. It is a promise to ourselves.

August 6th, the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, is a time for reflection and taking stock. Nuclear weapons have now survived the end of the Cold War by more than a decade. Some 30,000 nuclear weapons still remain in the arsenals of the nuclear weapons states, mostly the United States and Russia. Some 4,500 nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, ready to be fired in moments. India and Pakistan have shown their capacity to make and test nuclear weapons. Israel has introduced some two hundred nuclear weapons into the volatile Middle East and has acquired small submarines capable of launching its nuclear-armed missiles.

Before the proliferation of these weapons becomes even more widespread, it is urgent to de-alert existing arsenals and express the clear intention in the form of a treaty to eliminate them in a phased and controlled manner. This would be in the interest of every person on the planet. It is troubling that the United States has not provided more leadership toward moving in this direction.

There are many reasons for calling for U.S. leadership in the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons, which include:

* The United States has strong defenses. The weapons that are the greatest threat to the security of the United States and its people are nuclear weapons. In a world without nuclear weapons, achieved through their phased elimination under strict and effective international control, the United States would be far more secure.

* Nuclear weapons are highly immoral. To base one's national security on threatening to murder millions, even hundreds of millions, of innocent civilians is immoral. To place the future of the human species and much of life in jeopardy as a matter of public policy is debasing to a society. The United States should assert moral as well as pragmatic leadership.

* Existing obligations in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons call for good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament, and many of the non-nuclear weapons states that are parties to this treaty have criticized the nuclear weapons states for their failure to act on this promise. The United States should keep its promises.

* On July 8, 1996 the International Court of Justice declared that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons that would violate international humanitarian law would be illegal. Since nuclear weapons cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants and since they cause unnecessary suffering, they cannot be used and their use cannot be threatened without violating international humanitarian law. The United States should uphold international law.

* As the country that created and first used nuclear weapons, the United States has a special responsibility to work for the elimination of these weapons.

General George Lee Butler, a former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, is an ardent advocate of eliminating nuclear weapons. He has stated, "What is at stake here is our capacity to move ever higher the bar of civilized behavior. As long as we sanctify nuclear weapons as the ultimate arbiter of conflict, we will have forever capped our capacity to live on this planet according to a set of ideals that value human life and eschew a solution that continues to hold acceptable the shearing away of entire societies. That simply is wrong. It is morally wrong, and it ultimately will be the death of humanity."

Throughout the world the season of Hiroshima will be commemorated by a reaffirmation of the spirit of Hiroshima, and by protesting the continued reliance on nuclear weapons by a small number of nations.

Wherever you live, take note of this season, and spend some time contemplating the meaning for humanity of the historic, somber events that took place on August 6 and 9, 1945. Take time also to encourage your political leaders to move ahead on negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Only in this way can we be assured that there will be no more Hiroshimas.