In May, Barack Obama became the first US president in history to visit the memorial of the American atomic bombings of Japan in Hiroshima. However, in true American fashion, he offered no apology.
“We have a shared responsibility to look directly in the eye of history. We must ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again,” Obama said in a speech at the memorial on Friday.
The location of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial and residential district. However, the devastating atomic blast from the U.S. bomb that killed over 100,000 innocent civilians left the clearing in which the monument now sits.
The United States, with the consent of the United Kingdom as laid down in the Quebec Agreement, dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, during the final stage of World War II. The two bombings, which killed more than a hundred thousand innocent civilians, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.
The United States holding the largest stock of nuclear weapons in the world is as ironic as it is terrifying.
On August 6, the U.S. dropped a uranium gun-type atomic bomb (Little Boy) on the city of Hiroshima. American President Harry S. Truman called for Japan’s surrender 16 hours later. Truman then told the Japanese, in psychopathic fashion, to “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”
Three days later, on August 9, the U.S. dropped a plutonium implosion-type bomb (Fat Man) on the city of Nagasaki. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day.
During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were innocent civilians, including tens of thousands of children.
While the Japanese monument in Hiroshima was specifically built to remember the horror of America’s nuclear bombs and the murderous devastation left in their wake, Japan is quite literally covered in lesser known silent monuments from dozens of firebombings carried out on its cities by the United States military — before the atomic blasts.
One bombing campaign, in Tokyo alone, killed nearly as many innocent civilians as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
On the night of March 9, 1945, four months before the nuclear attack, the U.S. launched one of the most murderous and horrifying bombing campaigns in the history of the world. That night marked the beginning of a several weeks-long wave of firebomb and napalm attacks across more than 60 Japanese cities. Many of these bombings were just as bad as the two atomic bomb attacks. However, when adding the sum total of innocence slain by U.S. bombs, the deaths in those five dozen cities eclipses the total deaths in both atomic bombings by several magnitudes.
While Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been deeply engraved on the consciousness of humanity and commemorated in monuments, museums, films, novels and textbooks, the firebombing and napalming of civilians of many other Japanese and Asian cities has largely disappeared from consciousness, except for the victims.
In Tokyo alone, U.S. bombers dropped 300,000 incendiary bombs, completely destroying 16 square miles of neighborhoods — killing more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians. Some survivor accounts detail flaming napalm seeping into bomb shelters and burning entire families alive.
One of the reports from the bombers stated that the firestorm was so vast and hot that it caused a B-29 bomber weighing 60 tons to be thrust upward by 600 meters as it flew over.
Tokyo was one of more than 60 cities in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were burned alive as they sought cover from the death raining down from above.
During what some historians refer to as The Forgotten Holocaust, the U.S. dropped millions of incendiary bombs, napalm, and even fastened bombs to live bats that were trained to fly up underneath roofs to explode and set houses on fire.
Some historians have calculated the total dead from the U.S. bombing campaigns in Japan to upwards of one million innocent civilians. It is no wonder you’ve never heard about these attacks in your high school history class as it shows the true face of American terror.
In 2003, Errol Morris won an Academy Award for his documentary film, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. The film consisted mostly of interviews with Robert McNamara, one of which described his role in the bombings.
McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, during which time he played a major role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
Following that, he served as President of the World Bank from 1968 to 1981. McNamara also consolidated intelligence and logistics functions of the Pentagon into two centralized agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Supply Agency.
So, when this well-connected military industrial complex insider talks about U.S. war crimes, you should listen.
Apparently knowing that he could not be prosecuted for his previous war crimes in World War II and Vietnam, McNamara spoke candidly in the film about strategizing with General Curtis LeMay to, quite literally, set Japan on fire.
In the brief excerpt from the documentary below, McNamara explains how LeMay said that “If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.”
“And I think he’s right,” says McNamara. “He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals,” McNamara continued.
“LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?” pondered the now deceased McNamara.
McNamara was unapologetic in his testimony, and it seemed as if he really believed that since the U.S. ‘won’ the war, their horrifyingly murderous track record was somehow just. By this same logic, had Hitler ‘won,’ history should revere him as a hero instead of a murderous sociopath.
Sadly, McNamara is right — had Germany been successful, they could very well be written into history by themselves as the saviors of the free world.
“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” — the political ideology of the totalitarian government of Oceania in George Orwell’s dystopian 1984.
Below is that powerful video in which McNamara compares the Japanese cities’ sizes to that of American ones to illustrate the sheer size of destruction. To put the initial bombing of Tokyo into perspective, it would have been the equivalent of burning half of New York City, and all of its inhabitants, to the ground.
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