The great People’s Historian Howard Zinn once said, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
Yes, among other very strong sentiments, shame is what I feel for the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. I’m ashamed that the U.S. Government that supposedly represents me burned alive hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. I am ashamed that the U.S. Government has killed and is killing millions more, from Vietnam to Iraq, in endless imperialist warfare, to make rich men richer, up to this very day. They are killing in my name, in your name. I implore everyone to mentally reject all this warfare & raise your voices to say “Not In My Name!”
All the American flags ever made cannot cover the shame these transcendent war crimes demand.
What makes the nuclear bombings doubly shameful is that they were a political statement, not a “military necessity.” In 1945, 8 Americans (4 generals, 4 admirals) held five-star military rank. Seven out of the 8 stated that the bombings were either unnecessary to end the war, morally indefensible, or both.
General Dwight Eisenhower said “the Japanese were (already defeated and) ready to surrender (and) dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”
President Truman’s own 1946 post-war U.S. Bombing Survey found:
“Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that…Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
The U.S. government bombed these cities full of civilians not to defeat the already defeated Japanese govt, but as many historians and scholars report, the bombs were dropped to send an intimidating message to the Soviets. The brilliant scientist Joseph Rotblat, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for dedicated disarmament work, was the only scientist to quit the Manhattan Project because he was told by General Groves, the head of the Project, that “the real purpose in making the bomb was to subdue the Soviets.”
Let’s really dig into this deeper. This was not a military attack on a military target to win a military objective. This was an attack on a civilian population for a political objective. This fits the definition of terrorist attacks.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Terrorism as the “use of…violent or destructive acts (such as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands”. Collins English Dictionary: “Terrorism is the use of violence, especially murder and bombing, in order to achieve political goals or to force a government to do something.”
Terrorism scholar, professor Michael Stohl (UC Santa Barbara) argues, “[N]ot all acts of state violence are terrorism. It is important to understand that in terrorism the violence threatened or perpetrated, has purposes broader than simple physical harm to a victim. The audience of the act or threat of violence is more important than the immediate victim.”
How is this not an act of state terrorism? We are often misled to believe that terrorism is only when non-state actors or organizations commit violent acts on civilian populations, but I would strongly suggest that governments too can engage in state terrorism. Governments commit acts of violence on civilian populations for political objectives.
This all reminds me of another quote by historian Howard Zinn, “How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?” It also reminds me of another quote by Noam Chomsky, “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.”
The point I am trying to make is that these nuclear attacks were arguably the largest singular acts of terrorism in recorded history, and the possession and production of nuclear weapons themselves are tools designed for terrorist attacks on cities full of civilians. These terroristic weapons pose a constant terroristic threat to every human on the planet, and should be sources of deep shame and universal condemnation.
The real core of the issue is that nuclear weapons endanger all of us, and even threaten the extinction of our species. A great book, The Doomsday Machine, by famous whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, details his experiences as a nuclear war planner, and he highlights how many falsely believe the president alone can launch nuclear war. In reality, the authority to start nuclear war is delegated to many lower-level commanders, and nuclear war can be started by false alarms, unauthorized attacks and by accidents.
Also, far too few people understand the dangers of nuclear winter and nuclear famine. A full-scale thermonuclear attack would cause ferocious firestorms in the bombed cities, sending massive amounts of smoke into the upper atmosphere, blocking out sunlight and lowering temperatures worldwide for a decade or more. Within a year or two, this would destroy nearly all plant life, and the humans and other animals that require plants for food. Too many rationalize this danger, but as Ellsberg writes, “No policies in human history” have more deserved to be recognized as criminal, immoral, insane and evil.
Its shameful to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians, and its shameful to produce or possess weapons designed to do this yet again. It is shameful to possess or produce enough nuclear bombs to annihilate virtually all life on the planet via nuclear winter. The mere existence or threatened use of any nuclear weapons is a terroristic threat.
Yes, I’m ashamed of my Govt for what I’ve described. I am now also ashamed of my alma mater, the University of Arkansas, here in Fayetteville, where a shameful mushroom cloud now hangs over Old Main, or rather Bell Engineering, and our entire city.
Indeed, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization ICAN, which spearheaded the recent nuclear bomb ban, has issued a report titled Schools of Mass Destruction. Their report found the University of Arkansas and about 50 other American Universities are involved in the research & production of nuclear bombs. In 2017, the U of A, Fayetteville, particularly the Engineering College, signed a Master Collaboration Agreement with the nuclear weapons corporation Honeywell International, which produces over 85% of the non-nuclear components for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
This systemic surge in the academia-nuclear weapons complex is certainly tied to the recent avalanche of money that the Obama, Trump & Biden Administrations have been dumping into “modernization” of the nuclear arsenal, now at $1.7 trillion. It started at $1 trillion under Obama, went to $1.7 trillion under Trump, and if the increasing Biden War budgets are any indication, the nuclear weapons budget may increase further.
With all that in mind, we have chosen to Act Locally on this Global Issue by initiating a campaign to Stop The University of Arkansas Nuclear Weapons Program. We’re demanding that the U of A cancel their Master Collaboration Agreement with the nuclear weapons corporation Honeywell International.
Thus far, we held a campaign kickoff rally at the U of A campus on January 21st, 2021, the Day that the Nuclear Bomb Ban Treaty “entered into force” as international law. The event was not only a celebration of the bomb ban, but also a protest of the UA nuke program. There were at least 158 other similar celebrations and protests all over the world on every continent on that day!
On that day, we also delivered a letter & a petition with several hundred signatures to top UA Administrators in the Chancellor’s Office, The Engineering College & the Law School. We also emailed the petition to all the faculty & administrators in several relevant departments.
Afterwards, we held monthly protests for the rest of the academic semester at the U of A entrance, at the corner of Razorback & Martin Luther King BLVD, (yes, the same MLK whose radical antiwar & anti-nuke legacy is whitewashed from mainstream media & mainstream celebrations of Dr. King).
From these actions, we have received substantial positive coverage from many local media outlets, from KNWA News to KUAF/NPR Radio, and also international coverage from two great unsung independent journals, Consortium News and Covert Action.
Another effort we have worked on is to get the University to release more information about the nuclear program. The U of A has released very minimal information, and is refusing to provide more details, citing a non-disclosure agreement. They are refusing to provide basic details such as: which parts of the bombs are they working on, which types of bombs are they working on, which faculty members are working on the bomb, how much money is involved, etc?
To obtain more information, OMNI Founder Dr. Dick Bennett and I have worked for the past few months on a Freedom of Information Act Request. We sent a FOIA request to the UA Public Information Officer, Rebekkah Morrison, and she replied that we could expect an initial response in one week. A week later she said they are still working on it and will give an update another week later. A week after that she said they are still reviewing the records and we can expect an “initial response” in yet another week. A week later there was no response at all. We replied again asking for the information, and received no reply. It appears we were given a run-around, and now we are being stonewalled. It seems they may be violating the law in regard to FOIA requests, but to remedy this may require an expensive lawsuit.
Ultimately, the most important point I want to make or ask here today is: what else can we all do to get the University to Stop this Shameful Nuclear Weapons Program?
Certainly, other types of protest could be productive, but in my mind, the next best course of action would be to seek a City Council Resolution calling on the UA to Stop the Nuke Program. I am hopeful that this could pass, especially considering our Mayor Lioneld Jordan has repeatedly made strong Hiroshima-Nagasaki Proclamations in opposition to nuclear weapons, and most of our city leaders are generally progressive-minded.
I am humbly and sincerely asking that everyone please call and email the Fayetteville City Council asking that they sponsor, introduce & pass such a resolution. Tell them to help dispel this shameful mushroom cloud hanging over the U of A & Fayetteville. Tell them that we don’t want a nuclear weapons program in Fayetteville. Tell them “Not in My City!”
I will conclude with a statement from Hibakusha Michiko Kodama, a survivor of the atomic bombings, whose nightmarish story I’ve repeatedly told. Michiko declared,
“No more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis! No more Hibakusha. No more war.”