A terrible anniversary, not to be forgotten.
I started out, as a teenager, believing that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was a terrible atrocity. But as I got older, studying History at university and then teaching the subject to secondary school students, I came to appreciate its necessity. The argument that Truman was preventing even further loss of life had won me over.
We become more pragmatic with age, more willing to balance morality with the requirements of stark realism.
As I trundle towards middle age, my children growing into independent young people, I find myself returning to the more innocent interpretation of my youth. Post Iraq, I have become a little jaded with the argument that the ends justify the means. No one has the power to act like God, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t believe he even exists.
The horrific impact of the nuclear blast, which those authorising its deployment never understood at the time, is fundamentally unjustifiable. A very good article in the New Statesman today argues that Japan did not have the tactical support or the resources necessary to continue fighting as was always claimed. Defeat would eventually have come, without the need for nuclear warfare.
I am not a pacifist, or someone who is naive to the intricacies of international diplomacy.
I simply believe there is a line that cannot be crossed, whatever the circumstances and whatever the consequences. Deploying a nuclear weapon on civilian men, women and children is one of them.
It’s been horrifying to see the pictures and hear the testimony broadcast across the media today, on the 70th anniversary of the first warhead being dropped on Hiroshima. It’s horrifying for good reason. There was an evil present in the act, made all the worse by the depressing fact that contemporaries were entirely ignorant of what would be its devastating results.
Those people were human guinea pigs. I can’t imagine any scenario in which that practice can be justifiable.
There will be many who disagree with me, including people who I respect and love. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, we can all agree that the event should be long remembered. And under no circumstances should it be repeated.