As we approach the 70th anniversaries of the August 6 and 9, 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have a unique opportunity to impact people’s thinking, to educate them about the crime of the A-bombings and the continuing dangers of nuclear weapons, and to build the popular movement needed to eliminate the threat they pose to human survival.
The need to abolish nuclear weapons is as urgent as ever. The hands of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock stand at 3 minutes to midnight. The U.S., which has driven the nuclear arms race since its beginning, plans to spend $1 trillion to “modernize” its nuclear bombs, warheads and delivery systems and maintain them well into the 21st century, while children go hungry and the country moves into relative decline for lack of infrastructure investment. Every other nuclear-armed state is modernizing its nuclear arsenal. And recent scientific studies demonstrate that even a limited exchange of 50-100 nuclear warheads will lead to global cooling, famine, and the deaths of up to 2 billion people across the planet. Nearly 16,000 nuclear weapons, 94% held by the United States and Russia, pose an intolerable threat to humanity and the global environment.
Nuclear weapons have again taken center stage in confrontations between the United States, its NATO allies, and Russia. These countries have turned a civil conflict in Ukraine into a violent proxy war. The tensions engendered by this confrontation have been intensified vastly—potentially catastrophically—by the brandishing of nuclear arms by both sides. This has included forward deployments of strategic bombers to Europe by the United States, positioning of Russian strategic bombers in Crimea, and an accelerated tempo of military exercises and patrols both conventional and nuclear. And the confrontation in Europe is but one of several potential nuclear flashpoints, with new tensions and arms-racing from the Western Pacific to South Asia.
On Thursday, 6 August 2015 from 8:30 a.m.to 5:00 p.m., there will be a meditative walk in Washington Park to acknowledge the 70 anniversary of the U.S. Nuclear attack on Japan. There will be a series of posters with information about the destruction that would be caused by a 475 kt thermonuclear device activated 1000 ft above the Washington Park Gazebo. I will conduct a water only fast at the park that day. We have access to the Gazebo and its electricity and will apply for a Courtesy Permit from the City of Dubuque to make use of the Park.
~ Richard Fischer, Dubuque
In 1989, Mayumi Fukuda with the “Never Again Campaign” traveled from Japan to live with my family for six weeks. Our young children were intrigued by her accent, kimonos, paper cranes and the yogurt culture she brought with her from Japan and nurtured each day.
I organized dozens of opportunities for Mayumi to speak in schools, churches and with the media. She spoke about the horror of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and the horror of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She spread the message that nuclear weapons and war itself must be abolished.
It was clear to me then, as it is now, that dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a humanitarian outrage – and strategically unnecessary. Given this history and as a life-long peace activist, perhaps it has surprised some of you to hear me call for a World War II-scale mobilization in response to the climate crisis.
Since last year’s Climate March, this call has been part of my message, part of how I have built bridges to broader audiences. This is not a statement on the comparative morality or immorality of World War II, but simply to challenge people to remember that, in response to a global crisis, America once retooled an entire economy – and did it fast! We can do that again, this time for peaceful purposes. We can refocus our efforts on strengthening our economy, retooling our energy grid, and adapting our infrastructure to withstand the coming changes, especially if we invest NOW the money that is being spent on upgrading and modernizing an arsenal that must never be used.
Most years over the past three decades, I have attended the annual August 6th Hiroshima Commemoration in Des Moines. This year’s event is called “Hiroshima/Nagasaki: 70 Years Later: The Fate of the Earth.” It’s at 7:30 p.m. at the Japanese Bell just east of the Iowa State Capitol.
~ Ed Fallon, Des Moines