NOTE -- I wrote the following Crosscurrentsarticle in 1983. It was adopted by the Toronto Board of
as a resource for understanding the arms race, and distributed to all its
secondary schools. Sources are included in the article and can be checked.
It was also published in The Sheaf (Univ. of Sask.); the Daily Star-Phoenix;
Briar Patch magazine, and elsewhere. -- Bob Fink
"It should be used on a military installation surrounded
by houses or other buildings most susceptible to damage;
"It should be used without explicit warning of the nature
of the bomb."
Those were the words of the "Interim Committee of the Manhattan
Project" in May, 1945. This was the group in charge of building
the first atomic bomb.
The Target Committee of the Manhattan project believed it was desirable
that the first use of the bomb be (according to notes, memos and documents
formerly classified top secret for a generation) "sufficiently
spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized
when publicity on it was released."
At the same time, conscience-stricken scientists (from the Project`s
laboratory in Chicago) petitioned the Interim Committee's Scientific Panel
(Oppenheimer, Fermi, Lawrence and Compton) and Secretary of War Henry
asking them to limit the use of the bomb. This was the "Franck
It asked that Japan be warned: that a non-military demonstration (for
example in Tokyo Bay or before observers from many countries) be held in
an uninhabited place, and that this would serve the purposes stated by
However, cover stories within cover stories existed like Shakespeare's
"play within a play." Truman had earlier written, after Yalta
and Potsdam, in his Year of Decisions: "On July 24th, I casually mentioned
to Stalin that we had a new weapon of special destructive force. The Russian
Premier showed no unusual interest. All he said was that he was glad to
hear it and hoped we would make 'good use of it' against the Japanese.
Truman was annoyed that the Russians, having pushed the Nazis from the
USSR al the way back to Germany, were now in Berlin; that their influence
from the war would grow in Europe. He wanted a Sword of Damocles to hang
over Russia's head. It was too late to show them the bomb in use against
PRIOR TO THE DROPPING OF THE
Really, it was also too late to use it against Japan, too. Already
the Japanese were looking for terms of surrender, but these approaches
for peace from Japan, not made public, even to members of the Manhattan
Project, were ignored. The U.S. wanted no terms, no conditions; not
even the safety of the Emperor could be guaranteed (although that request
was granted, after the two atom bombs were dropped). Japan had to
surrender immediately and unconditionally - the U.S. knowing full well
that Japan could never go for that. (Add'l
in square brackets, added 1999):
[That there really were surrender
by the Japanese was confirmed by a man who ought to know, CIA chief Allen
Dulles. In an interview with Clifford Evans (1/19/63 (NY) WOR-TV),
Dulles said: "I had been in touch with certain Japanese.... They...were
ready to surrender provided the Emperor could be saved so as to have unity
in Japan. I took that word to Secretary (of State) Stimson at Potsdam July
[Just weeks later, August 6 and August 9,
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed.]
The cover story for the public - and for dissenting scientists of the
Franck Report - was that "a tremendous shock" was needed to end
the war in Asia. But it had actually ended for all intents and purposes,
considering the even greater decimation of Tokyo already from conventional
bombing. In addition, most of Japan's navy had been destroyed, all its
Axis allies were defeated, and its hold on the Pacific had been broken.
For Truman, the real issue was that only a show of actual destruction from
the bomb's use would serve to warn the USSR of the new formidable military
power of the U.S. No harmless academic "demonstration" far from
life would do. The Franck report was dismissed in just 4 days. A real city
would be made a target.
added in 1999:Dr.
Joseph Rotblat, 1996 Nobel prize winner, was worried then that Germany
would develop an atom bomb first, but after Germany's defeat, he no longer
saw the need to work on the bomb, not even as a "deterrent."
The original assurances given to the scientists, including Rotblat,
to keep the scientists working on the horrendous bomb, was that its development
would be a "deterrent" against its ever actually being dropped.
[But, as the deterrent idea began to lose
credibility with Rotblat and others, General Groves, military administrator
of the project, told Rotblat the bomb had to be used "to subdue the
Russians." (From: Rotblat on CBC, 8/7/96)
[Groves did not inform the members of
Manhattan Project that Japan was suing for surrender.
[Another scientist, Hans Bethe, was given
a similar message from Edward Teller, a leading project scientist. For
this USSR-oriented goal, no mere "demonstration" would do. A
real city -- indeed, two cities -- would have to be destroyed.]
The U.S. Congress (which is supposed to run the show) had been kept
in total ignorance of the Manhattan Project, even though the War Department,
by trying to disguise it in various budgets, spent $2 billion on it. (Indeed,
few had any grasp of the whole of the project they were working on. Many
working on it were ex-cons, murderers on the "lam " and they
were told their criminal files would be burned if they 'played ball' with
the project and Col. Paul Tibbet, who later piloted the bomber that flew
the mission over Hiroshima.)
As time wore on, Congress grew aggressive and suspicious. What's it
all for? came the demands. On August 6th and 9th, as Einstein bitterly
noted then, Truman showed Congress that it got its money's worth; At the
expense of nearly a quarter-million lives (including U.S. prisoners of
war in Japanese target areas), Truman's overkill took the Congressional
heat off himself.
TARGETING INSTANT HOLOCAUST
On the list of possible targets were Kokura, Hiroshima, Niigata and
Kyoto. The documents read that Hiroshima "has the advantage of
being such a size and with possible focusing from nearby mountains that
a large fraction of the city may be destroyed."
All targets on the list I were then "reserved," and no conventional
bombing was to be permitted there. The desire was that there be little
or no prior bomb damage. For example, the damage already done to Tokyo
by regular bombing would detract from the "spectacular" effect
and measurement of the bomb's true power. Tokyo was thus excluded from
the target list..
Other targets were debated, without conscience, on how
they were so as to show the full ability of the bomb's blast to spread
through a city of residential houses!!
Planners were finally "rewarded," as on August 6 Tibbet
"success in all respects," after bombing Hiroshima.
What happened after was unbelievable, unearthly and for most of us
today, unimaginable. This is based on official health & statistical
reports analyzing the event:
In a microsecond, huge stone pillars were rammed deep into the ground.
For those distant enough not to be vaporized by the 50 million degree core
temperature, eyes were liquefied, pouring out of sockets; clothing was
fused to skin, which hung in runny tatters and shreds. Trapped people were
burning alive and many were covered from head to foot, stuck with splintered
glass which the shock wave fired like a whirlwind of needle-shaped bullets
through the air. Others, blinded by the flash, staggered into jagged debris.
Children cried and whimpered, completely lost. Others wandered like a funeral
procession of the living dead, while the mushroom cloud overhead blotted
out the sun and brought on night. 180 of 200 doctors in Hiroshima were
killed. Only 130 nurses were left from 1,800. 3 of 55 hospitals were all
that remained, and 70,000 water-main breaks hampered the few remaining
(16) fire trucks.
It should be pointed out that a Cruise missile will carry fifteen times
the power of the Hiroshima death.
The barbaric and fascist regime of the Japanese military government
and Emperor deserved any fate. But it was their oppressed subjects
who paid, at U.S. hands, for their overlords' brutality. The documents
all show the reasons for the bomb's use weren't military, nor to "save
lives," but political.
HUMAN GUINEA PIGS
There were only two bombs available for the Project: "Little
Boy," a uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima (and almost lost when
the U.S.S. Indianapolis was knocked out of the war just after delivering
it to the Mariana Islands), and "Fat Man," a plutonium
bomb, dropped on Nagasaki later.
Two types of prototype test bombs: Two cities bombed to "test"
Between bombs, a U.S. demand to surrender ("unconditionally"
as always) came as if to appear that Truman was interested in saving lives.
But in the three days interim, not even a full report of the impact
of this strange new bomb could be fully digested in Japan. The government
in Tokyo, unwarned, had not seen the blast and could not react in three
days and Truman knew it. (The Manhattan Project gave itself a full 4 days
to reject the Franck Report.) Truman "made the record," and then
ordered bomb number two dropped.
The test of the Plutonium type bomb obliterated 50,000 more people
in Nagasaki on August 9,1945.
three days after the bombings, it was impossible for the Japanese government
in Tokyo to know or digest what happened at Hiroshima.
[Imagine, if you had never even
in your mind the power of an atomic bomb, and suddenly all communications,
travel simply end. Just total silence comes from a nearby city.
[How could you know that the cause of it
the utter destruction of the city? Who would tell you? Walking stragglers
and a few drivers, with limited ability to know what strange horrendous
new vision they had even seen (survivors would have to be fairly distant
in order to survive), would take hours, perhaps days to reach a phone or
nearby city, or Tokyo. Few would have believed their rantings.
[Even an official call from the USA's
to the government sitting in Tokyo that one of their cities was destroyed
would be greeted with disbelief at first, as a strange trick or bluff.
The Japanese would necessarily have taken time, likely days, just to check
[But the scant 3 days allowed Truman to
total unconditional immediate surrender on August 7th; and then, without
waiting a reasonable time for the Japanese to regroup, meet, and to conference
among their staff in order to draft a reply, Truman would claim he had
an excuse to test the second bomb on Nagasaki.
[After that 2nd bomb killed hundreds of
more defenceless men, women and children, the U.S. demand for unconditional
surrender (clearly designed to be ignored or rejected anyway) was no longer
necessary to demand. Now it was OK for the U.S. to give a guarantee for
the Emperor's safety!]
Truman had also been afraid that many might think the first bomb was
a fluke "firestorm" such as had melted in one night hundreds
of thousands of people huddled in Dresden's underground, Germany, from
conventional bombs. While a "demonstration" of the bomb for
observers would have solved that problem, Truman wanted the world to believe
the U.S. nuclear arsenal was actually larger than it was, that there were
many bombs - as it was, there were only two bombs produced, both dropped...and
the arms race began.
Stalin was finally impressed by the effect of Truman's new weapon at
Hiroshima. He very much wanted the bomb for Russia. When U.S. proposals
to limit the bomb to America alone were uncompromising, Stalin's scientists
accelerated their work.
Britain did the same. Britain's Clement Atlee explained: "We
had to hold up our position vis-a-vis the Americans. We couldn't allow
ourselves to be wholly in their hands...We had worked from the start for
international control of the . bomb...we could not agree that only America
should have atomic energy..."
In 1945, U.S. scientist Vannevar Bush prophetically proposed that an
exchange of scientific information "would open the door to international
collaboration...and eventually to effective control, the alternative being
an atomic bomb race (as proved to be true)...this...would announce to the
world that we wish to proceed down the path of international goodwill..."
However, the keep-the-secret (even from the allies) view of the U.S. defence
chiefs won the day.
(to "limit" atomic
Speaking for the U.S., Baruch said (NY Tribune, April 17, 1947):
gains of our scientists, our engineers, our industrialists, produced the
supreme weapon of all time - - the atomic bomb. That we shall never give
away, until and unless security for us, for the world, is established.
Until that time comes, the U.S. will remain the guardian of safety.. We
can be trusted...."
Baruch offered a treaty:
The "Baruch Plan" called for international on-site inspection
by a "control organ" and "swift and sure punishment"
for violators of any treaty. The Baruch Plan was virtually designed to
be rejected. Gromyko of the USSR stated at the United Nation s. on March
5, 1947: "The Soviet Union is aware that there will be a majority
on the (Baruch control organ...on whose benevolence toward the Soviet Union
the Soviet people cannot count. Therefore, the Soviet Union...cannot allow
the fate of its national economy to be handed over to this organ...."
Instead, the USSR demanded that all bombs be destroyed before
controls be set up, and accused the U.S. of wanting to freeze and preserve
a monopoly on nuclear knowledge, technology and existing weapons. In
At The Creation," Dean Acheson of the US records his view that the
Baruch Plan contained provisions that "meant the certain defeat
of the (atomic arms control) treaty by Soviet veto...."
Faced with the Truman Doctrine (i.e., 'stop the commies who are out
for conquest of the world') and faced with the very rapid global spread
of U.S. and English military bases ringing the USSR, the USSR built the
oppressive Berlin Wall in self-defense. This served to keep out hostile
Western activity in Soviet Buffer countries -- a hostility that is no secret
to anyone. (And the wall, incidentally, keeps the West "safe"
from the ideas of pacifists, socialists & so-called security risks,
even those who may be dissenters against the Soviet Stalinist dictators.
In fact, another recent example shows this Cold War "Iron Curtain"
anti-communist mindset even kept Canadian peace organizers from crossing
the U.S. border to attend the million strong New York anti-war rally. Few
refugees from any right-wing terror in Latin America or elsewhere, are
allowed into Canada and especially not into the U.S.)
The USSR felt threatened and prepared for possible attack from the
West. They were therefore not ready for a treaty to limit bombs that they
did not even have. The Baruch Plan was rejected.
FROM "ALLY" TO
At Yalta & Potsdam, there was, from recorded evidence, no territorial
aims by Stalin, then our ally. The (then secret) division of war spoils
agreed among the Allies & the USSR caused no worry in the West. Russia
was to get the Kurile Islands, half of Sakhalim and privileges in the Port
of Darien. The West wanted the USSR to declare war on Japan, and there
was no alarm then about USSR "world domination."
Only when the bomb proved a success did the U.S. see their chance to
once again challenge the "ideological imperialism" of Russia
through atomic intimidation. What the U.S. had resigned itself to as a
fact - Soviet existence - was now an open issue again for the hawks and
arms dealers and profiteers. When the Russians developed their a-bomb in
1949, then followed the U.S. military-arms economy (60-70% of the economy
.now compared to 10-20% in the 40's and 50's). Also followed was the
McCarthyite hysteria and the further debasement of U.S. political life.
Rather than deter the coming of
providing for safety, the present world scene underscores the failure of
a policy based on U.S. anti-communist paranoia. The current proliferation
of nuclear weapons and the numerous wars at this writing show that the
only hope remaining to humanity is to step upon the stage of history themselves
in their masses and end the arms race. It can't be "won!" Except
by arms profiteers.
Just a quick look at recent history shows the "deterrent"
theory - that is, the rationalization given for the arms race - isn't effective:
The greatest naval Armada of Britain didn't deter the Argentines; Soviet
war games and threats didn't (and still doesn't) deter Polish Solidarnosc;
U.S. aid and weapons do not deter Central American revolutions against
poverty and oppression; death and prison did not deter Irish hunger strikers,
nor will Israel's merciless and genocidal policies (Sabra & Shatila)
reminiscent of the slaughter of Jews by Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII)
deter the cause of Palestinian grievances, which must be recognized politically
for peace to prevail.
Disarmament does not invite any greater danger today than being armed,
because no armament can save us anyway. As Canada stated officially in
1945, along with the U.S. and the U.K. in a joint declaration November
"...the methods and practice of war has placed at the disposal
of mankind means of destruction hitherto unknown, against which there can
be no adequate military defence...
"We are aware that the only complete protection...lies in the
prevention of war. No system of safeguards that can be devised will of
itself provide an effective guarantee.."
The Cold War As History, Louis J . Halle ( 1967, Harper
Enola Gay, Gordon Thomas & Max M. Witts ( 1977 ,
Stein & Day) [Based on numerous Freedom-of-Information documents.]
The Manhattan Project, Stephane Groueff (1967, Little,
A Documentary History of Arms Control &
J. E. Johnson (1973, R.R. Bowker)
The Cold War & Its Origin, F. D. Fleming, 2 vols.
The Cold War, Elizabeth Barker (1972, G. P. Putnam's