Fasting for Peace, Remembering Hiroshima, increasing our Killpower
Having just finished a four day fast, I return to the normal world of delusion and lunacy with a perverse relief. Nothing has changed. It’s the same old story.
Mike Blackshaw, Janet Fenton, Iona Soper, Margery Toller and myself here in Scotland had joined the international groups to mark the anniversary of the greatest single-act war crime in history, and the origin of our present nuclear nightmare – the obliteration of Hiroshima.
The same, because there is no repentance. The comfort blanket is clutched even more tightly. But the justification for this atrocity (that it shortened the war and saved allied lives) doesn’t bear serious analysis; in fact it is historical nonsense. For a start the dates don’t add up. The bomb was dropped on August 6th, but Japan did not surrender till the 15th. Why the 10 days delay?
The event must be placed in its context. After the surrender of Germany on May 8th ‘45, Japan was isolated and doomed. She did not have one single plane left, and American pilots could fly and bomb at will. Millions of civilians had been evacuated to the countryside, including all but 200,000 of the population of Tokyo.
Japan was facing certain defeat. The Japanese Prime minister Fumimaro sent a cable to Stalin expressing a desire to end the war quickly. The only condition asked was that the Emperor system (Tennoism) should remain intact. This happened two days after Truman had received the news that the first atomic bomb tests at Alamogordo had been successful.
The USSR and Japan had a non-aggression pact all during the war against Hitler (neither wanted a simultaneous war on two fronts). As agreed at Yalta, three months after the surrender of Germany in May, the Soviet Union broke this and declared war on Japan. Vast amounts of military equipment were trundled half way round the world from Europe (where they were no longer needed) to Manchuria which had been occupied by Japan since 1933. There, Marshal Aleksandr Vasilievsky inflicted a series of crushing defeats on the Japanese army. The USSR now occupied Japanese territory, and was poised to invade mainland Japan itself by August 10 – note the date.
This put the gun to Hirohito’s head. He had to do a deal with the Americans – and quickly – or face a Soviet occupation which would undoubtedly have meant his own execution as a war criminal. The Americans did not want to share an occupied Japan with Russia, so they accepted the continuation of the Emperor (the one condition the Japanese had been asking for since May) and Japan surrendered.
Prime Minister Suzuki himself explained this frankly, “The Soviet Union will take not only Manchuria, Korea, Karafuto, but also Hokkaido. This would destroy the foundation of Japan. We must end the war when we can deal with the United States.” It was fear of Stalin and his own imminent execution that motivated Emperor Hirohito, not Hiroshima.
But these facts have been white-washed out of popular history. How many people have even heard of Aleksandr Vasilievsky?
I had the privilege of meeting Prof. Joseph Rotblat the last living survivor of the Manhattan Project and a pupil of Albert Einstein’s. He quoted General Leslie Groves, head of the Project, who said “From two weeks after taking up the post, there was never any illusion on my part that the main purpose of the project was to subdue the Russians”. This throws a very different light on the whole demonology of “deterrence”.
This word is a self vindicating euphemism that evades the ethical considerations that should underpin all human relationships.
During his historic visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2019, Pope Francis declared that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.” The pontiff said the world “must never grow weary of working to support the principal international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
Francis’ pronouncement was clear: The very possession of nuclear weapons is immoral.Therefore, if it is wrong for followers of Jesus to possess nuclear weapons, then it is equally wrong to build and modernize them.
The Biden administration is requesting $43 billion for nuclear weapons in its budget for fiscal year 2022. Should not all Catholics, including President Joe Biden and all other Catholic politicians, be following the lead of Francis in advocating for total nuclear disarmament? But the UK is increasing killpower of the Trident system by 40%.
The Jesuit Fr. Richard McSorley stated: “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon. We cannot seriously imagine Jesus pushing the button to launch a nuclear bomb, or registering for the draft, or wearing the uniform of any national state, or paying taxes for nuclear weapons, or working in a plant that manufactures weapons of death.”
And the late Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen asserted: “I say with deep sorrow that our nuclear war preparations are the global crucifixion of Jesus. … Our nuclear weapons are the final crucifixion of Jesus, in the extermination of the human family with whom he is one”. And that is why we were fasting.
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