This year we commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the unjustifiable US use of nuclear weapons against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two attacks demonstrated the horrific power of the atomic bomb, a bomb that is tiny in comparison to the nuclear weapons available today.
Here are a few quotes that are worth pondering as we now face an avoidable crisis with North Korea, a nation with a few nuclear weapons.
After the initial use of atomic weapons, Admiral William Leahy, effectively Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, commented: “It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
In 1948 General Omar Bradley said: “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”
William Perry, former a Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, recently wrote: “I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War — and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.”
Steven Starr with Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote in 2014: “These peer-reviewed studies – which were analyzed by the best scientists in the world and found to be without error – also predict that a war fought with less than half of US or Russian strategic nuclear weapons would destroy the human race.”
Given what we know, it is criminally irresponsible to continue tit-for-tat provocations with North Korea. Russia, China and North Korea have offered a solution that would freeze North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs in exchange for a freeze on joint war games by the US, South Korea and now Japan that alarm North Korea with the possibility of a nuclear attack.
For the US to continue with sanctions and war games instead of negotiating is insane as it is endangering the world. An attack by the US on North Korea would likely draw China and Russia into the fighting. Not to negotiate shows that General Bradley’s quote is still correct about our leaders. We must demand that the US negotiate to prevent perhaps the greatest catastrophe of all time.
Ron Forthofer, Ph.D. is a retired Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas; former Green Party candidate for Congress and for Governor of Colorado