The Atomic Bomb, Then and Now

by Dennis J. Kucinich
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Dennis Kucinich - Frank Kelly LectureThis article was originally published by the Huffington Post.

Sixty-nine years ago, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan — Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 — killing over a quarter of a million people.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower and other government leaders said at the time that the atomic bomb was not necessary militarily and that Japan was already facing certain defeat by the US and the Soviet Union.

Despite these warnings, the bombs were used and were wrongfully credited with ending the war. The atomic bomb ushered in an age of warfare that gave nations the ability to annihilate other nations and to commit environmental suicide, as Jonathan Schell related in his masterpiece The Fate of the Earth.

The ability to split the atom also legitimatized a nuclear industry which poisons our land and our water as shown in the new documentary film Hot Water, produced by Liz Rogers and Elizabeth Kucinich, which will be released late 2014.

Two years ago, Congress brought forward a proposal to create a new national park to honor those who developed the bomb. I opposed the bill because I felt the effects of the bomb were nothing to celebrate or glorify and was instrumental in the proposal’s defeat in the House in 2012. A transcript of the debate in the house can be found here. In the 2014 Congress, this bill (S. 507 by Senator Cantwell) passed the House, but is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Our problem isn’t simply our nuclear past, but is our present addiction to nuclear weapons which threaten humanity’s future. Professor Francis A. Boyle observed that in 2013 the Obama administration changed the United States nuclear posture. The United States has historically positioned its nuclear arsenal for the purposes of “deterrence,” yet under President Obama’s administration they are for brandishing. “In today’s security environment” the United States now reserves the right to use nuclear weapons against any country (first strike policy).

Lest anyone forget that nuclear is a big business, the United States is the leader in the global nuclear energy market. Nuclear energy technology is one of our biggest exports and is promoted as a boon to the environment, forget Fukushima. Forget that dozens of nuclear reactors in the US are operating way past their original licensing permits and that the aging reactor vessels are in late stages of embrittlement.

Forget that nuclear utilities are pleading with Wall Street to give them a break. We have come full circle, back to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where the United States struck first with nuclear weapons. The most recent nuclear posture, the White House claimed, is necessary to eventually get rid of nuclear weapons! Read Professor Boyle’s analysis and the White House document.

During this time of commemoration of man’s inhumanity, visited upon the people of Japan three generations ago, let us resolve that we shall demand leaders who will resist the impulse to solve political and security problems through weapons of mass destruction.

Such leaders already exist in an organization known as the Parliamentarians for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, or PNND. Additionally, The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation promotes citizen action for nuclear abolition.

We must work together to support all efforts to get rid of nuclear weapons, not through appeals to violence but through the instinct to celebrate life. Let us find a path to love so that we can dismantle the destructive forces within our own hearts, which paralyze any sense of compassion necessary for the survival of all life on this planet. Let us build technologies for sustainability, and peace.