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"Hiroshima Day"

     I remember the day -- I was a 13-year-old boy hoeing celery
on the truck farm, in the glaring sun which seemed to have stood
still.  I recall pondering deeply how a city could be
deliberately incinerated; no clear answers were available then.
     On-going discussions about the dropping of that bomb on
Hiroshima make obvious the fact that we are not yet thinking
clearly.  The seemingly insoluble debate is stuck on the point of
whether or not the bomb shortened the war.  Some are arguing,
even, that the bomb determined who won the war, as if it were
still not clear on August 5, 1945, who was going to win.  Others argue
against the morality of the dropping of the bomb, seeming content
with the observation that the war was already won and that the
bomb was unnecessary.  Still others say the bomb was the first
salvo of the so-called Cold War, that the "enemy" it was intended
to impress was the USSR.
     All this is war thinking.  Reason, and ethics, require that
we note a more basic truth, which is that all war is immoral, and
in the long run unwise.
     "The bomb saved American lives," many pro-bomb people say. 
This assumes that the citizens of one nation have a greater value
than those of others, and the fact that such a notion is
acceptable "because we were at war" simply underscores the
immorality of war itself.  Once the immoral course of action is
entered into, immoral deeds inevitably result.
     The lack of real concern about "American lives" is
demonstrated by the willingness of the US government, a mere five
years later, to send Americans to Korea to die in large numbers
with no clearly defined objective.  Massive casualties in that
indecisive cause did not deter the spending of even more
"American lives" in Vietnam twenty years later.  And the Asian
lives lost in those bloodbaths evidently count for little or
nothing, in the minds of those who do not find war immoral.
     American lives have never been the issue, and aren't now. 
Hiroshima, and everything the Pentagon has done since, including
periodical sabre-rattling in the Persian Gulf, are budget ploys. 
So far they have worked perfectly -- one can tell by checking the
     The only way to get off the course which leads to more and
more immorality, and insanity, is to rein in that budget, reduce
it drastically, and renounce war itself as a "useful agency of
American foreign policy."  At the moment the situation is exactly
the reverse of what it should be.  American foreign policy, now,
is what it is in order to guarantee the bloated size of the
Pentagon budget.  For example, the idea that the expansion of
NATO can make the world safer is patently absurd, but it will
make that budget more sacrosanct than ever, and provide huge
profits to armament makers and traders.
     The military budget must be reduced, until it consists
solely of pensions and clean-up efforts, which will still be
huge, when finally undertaken.  Everything else is interfering in
someone else's business and piles on additional immoral and
unwise behavior.
     It is tragic that our home town of Albuquerque tossed away
its chance to be weaned from the Pentagon.  Mutterings about the
possibility of closing an air base [which has no business inside
a huge modern city anyway!] brought out an impressive show of
political clout and emotional solidarity, to "save the base." 
The economic impact on the town's economy was far more important
than any evaluation of what is actually done by, or at, the base.
     One bit of information was squeezed out of the cloud of
secrecy with keeps the sovereign people befuddled!  It was
admitted openly that Albuquerque, that great city, is the storage
place for the plutonium cores of twenty thousand nuclear weapons,
that they are being transported here by air and by land, that
they must be "upgraded" and periodically "tested" in order to
protect us from -- and here it becomes vague and secret again.
They aren't allowed [they aren't able!] to tell us who the enemy
is.  We have to guess, to imagine.  Who could constitute such a
huge threat, that it can only be fended off this way?
     But at least we know now what we have in our town.  Just
don't let the tourists find out, or the businessmen who are thinking
of moving their operations here, or investors in land, or
families with children.  They may decide not to move here.  Some who are
here now could decide to move away from such a hot spot.
* * *
Copyright © 1998 Harry Willson

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