August 6, 2013

Hiroshima Day - or- Nukes: Time for a Live Demo [Updated]

Dear LowInfo Citizens, It's been about five years since this was first proposed. It is still something to keep in mind as you hope for change and a better world via magical thinking. You may not be interested in false hopes, but false hopes are interested in you....

People get ready.... Police in India’s Kashmir publish nuclear war survival tips, say notice doesn’t signal concern.
... Yeah, right. Duck and cover!

licorneshott.jpg
A bomb called Licorne. Fired at 18.30 on July 3, 1970, and yielded 914 kilotons (Think "57 Hiroshimas"). Imagine it being fired next door. Hope that if it is ever fired, it is fired next door.

Sixty-eight years ago : "On Monday, August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by the crew of the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000. Approximately 69% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, and 6.6% severely damaged." - Hiroshima

"Little Boy," the aptly named 16 kiloton bomb that took out Hiroshima, was -- in comparison to the nuclear devices in the world's arsenals -- sort of a light field artillery shell. There was, at the time, a second bomb called "Fat Man." Weighing in at 21 kilotons it would put paid to Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. With the erasure of Nagasaki, the world was fresh out of nuclear weapons. It was only a temporary lapse. Today we've got about 25,000 of these little items of discipline scattered about.

The largest nuclear bomb ever detonated in the atmosphere was The Soviet Tsar Bomba , or "Big Ivan" which at 50 Megatons was very harmful to every living think on Novaya Zemlya Island (located above the arctic circle in the Arctic Sea) in October of 1971. Whatever else you might think about them, you can't deny those Soviets dreamed BIG dreams.

No matter what our political feelings, I believe we can all agree that the world is getting just a wee bit too hot for comfort these days, and I don't mean "Global Warming." I mean that people here and there about the globe are getting just a wee bit too hot under the collar. They seem to have forgotten just exactly what comes into play like the force of gravity when whole nations or peoples get really ticked off. Time to refresh our collective memories.

I think we need to have the people of the world focus like a laser on the table stakes of going beyond these little patty-cake wars we are currently diddling around with and look, really look, at what can actually happen with one little slip.

What we need to do this is: "The Live Demo." By this I mean we need to find a small island or deserted space somewhere on the planet and sacrifice it for the greater good by setting off one, just one, low-yield thermonuclear device in the atmosphere for all the world to see.

Think of "The Live Demo" as a remedial educational moment for the entire world; a kind of slap upside the head coupled with a large shout out of: "PAY ATTENTION!"

I believe this "Live Demo" needs to be announced -- in date, time, and place -- to the entire world with something approaching the intensity of the promotion dumped on the Beijing Olympics.

I believe that we should allow any media organization that wishes to to cover this event and provide the infrastructure necessary to film and broadcast it (from a safe distance) to the entire world in all media -- live. I believe we should re-task a satellite to give us a view of the event from space.

No matter what many may think, this event would be the essence of "appointment television" for the people of the world.

I think we should also construct some of those quaint suburbs, villages, and towns that were set up in the ancient Nevada tests to demonstrate just what happens to a family sitting down for an evening snack when the sun is brought -- for one brief shining moment -- to the surface of the Earth. (Those of you who saw the opening scenes of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull probably got some laughs out of this stuff, but it is not really a laughing matter, is it?)

I know that there will be an army of Environmentalists around the world that will bitch and moan about the "harm to the environment" from setting off a single nuclear device in the atmosphere. Those same people need to contemplate instead the "harm to the environment" that comes from setting off several hundred or several thousand of these devices in one very bad afternoon. They need to, for one brief and shining moment, sit down and shut up!

Then there will be those who will carp about "The Test Ban Treaty." They need to take a chill pill, lie down and think of England... or Cleveland... or Tel Aviv... or Tehran.

I can assure you that having the entire world tune in for "The Live Demo" -- and the whole world will tune in -- shall give the entire planet pause. It's not enough for humans to be told about nukes. Every so often, we need to see to believe.

Let's touch off a nuke for world peace next year on August 6. It will be a fitting memorial to Hiroshima. Nothing else we can do will have quite the same... impact.


Lest we forget: Here's 10 minutes about the first "live demo" on a city.

I would imagine that if you repeated those grisly facts to most of the people of the world today they'd express either some polite sadness, a bit of political high dudgeon, or the classic contemporary rejoinder, "Whatever." It's not that they don't know or care, but that -- for the vast majority of the population of the world -- they simply cannot imagine a Hiroshima.

It has been 65 years since the incineration of a city in a second, and we've lost any sense of exactly what happens. The images only survive in black and white films of a long-ago era, films of before (a city) and after (rubble and ash). In black and white images blood is the color of shadows and that's what we have, as a race, of memories about what these weapons can do -- shadows of victims seared into stone at the moment of the blast; the moment the Sun was allow to bloom on the surface of the Earth.

Posted by Vanderleun at August 6, 2013 12:36 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Many U.S. and British soldiers witnessed nuclear explosions up close and personal during training exercises in the 1950's. Ken McGinley, for example, wrote an unforgettable account of a nuclear explosion he witnessed on Christmas Island in the Pacific in 1958. Here's an excerpt:

Suddenly, before I could have any more misgivings, a voice came through the tannoy:

"This could be a live run," it said dramatically. "Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... Zero ..."

There was a moment's pause. Then it happened.

"Cover your eyes!" bawled the voice from the loudspeakers. I had my fists shoved into my eyes and my back to the area where the bomb was going off. At the moment of detonation there was a flash. At that instant I was able to see straight through my hands. I could see the veins. I could see the blood, I could see all the skin tissue, I could see the bones and worst of all, I could see the flash itself. It was like looking into a white-hot diamond, a second sun.

Then the heat came. A slow, intense, searing heat which ate its way into your very bones. It didn't feel "... as if someone has passed an electric fire behind us". On the contrary, it felt as if someone had passed an electric fire through us. I let out a scream with the scorching pain.

"Okay, look at the bomb now," said the voice from the PA system.

The whole scene was unbelievable. A gigantic, dirty-looking mushroom cloud was forming on the horizon. An enormous ball of fire inhabited the base of the cloud and deadly-looking ripples of waves began to emanate from its base. It headed directly for us as we stood on the beach. I quickly glanced around me at the other men just as we got hit by a gale. Some tents got wrecked and the cookhouse collapsed.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 6, 2008 9:01 AM

That is an exceedingly sobering thought.

Posted by: Writer Dad at August 6, 2008 9:23 AM

Actually, isn't the top pic the Tsar Bomba H-Bomb?

Posted by: Charlton Hawking at August 6, 2008 9:32 AM

quote: "Actually, isn't the top pic the Tsar Bomba H-Bomb?"

It's a well known pic, usually posted as a French test
conducted in the South Pacific in the 70's.

While I agree with the proposal on a practical level,
I'm afraid that most of the electorate is so deep into
'viral denial' of reality that nothing would touch them short of ... hmmm.

Posted by: Robert at August 6, 2008 10:17 AM

You're right. Confused it with this:

http://www.waagnfnp.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/tsar_bomba-3.jpg

Thought I knew my nukes.

Posted by: Charlton Hawking at August 6, 2008 11:59 AM

Nantz, Iran

Posted by: Fat Man at August 6, 2008 1:52 PM

I am aware of all internet traditions.

Posted by: Vanderloon at August 6, 2008 4:51 PM

That might actually work.

People have put nuclear weapons in the same dim, fuzzy memory hole that they've put Hitler.

Teenage kids flip a Nazi salute when their parents ask them to clean up their room with the same casual nonchalance as a drunk yelling "Nuke the bastids!"

An atomic bomb destroying a city has taken on the same emotional weight to the average person as does the Death Star blowing up Alderaan.

Maybe we do need a wake up call.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at August 6, 2008 6:57 PM

robert: I believe you're right about where that picture was taken. Further thoughts; I used, in my student days, to have that picture as a poster about 4 feet by 3 on the wall of my digs. It was directly in front of the front door as one came in. I used to enjoy watching people's faces when they noticed something about the picture. At that scale (4' x 3', remember?) if one looks very closely, down on the left hand side there is a silhouette backlit by the bomb's light, about 3mm high. The silhouette was just big enough to see what it was - a full-sized palm tree. People's faces when they saw that little speck were a picture to behold.

Gerard, I completely agree, and I claim priority; I came up with that one a couple of years ago, with one further twist - invite all the world's leaders to witness it. And devote one of the cameras to a shot of their faces as they watch the light of Hell's gate opening.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at August 7, 2008 12:12 AM

Interesting video - a little overdone on the hyperventilation and a bit short on actual facts however. The panicky phrase "solid matter began to come apart releasing untold quantities of energy" is ridiculous. Instrument packages to measure the blast were dropped by fellow 509th bombers so it is known exactly how much energy was released: 0.6 grams of the uranium mass was converted to energy releasing the destructive power of 12,000 tons of TNT producing a blast overpressure exceeding 5psi (or 720 lbs per square foot).

I notice, however, that the video and the article here fails to mention that the US warned Japan numerous times that they were going to drop the bomb and had dropped leaflets on Hiroshima and Nagasaki days before the attack warning civilians that their city was targeted begging the people to evacuate. After the bombing of Hiroshima, hundreds of American lives were put at risk again dropping leaflets on Japan warning of the upcoming bombing. Radio stations in Saipan broadcast the warnings every 15 minutes. Luckily many people had evacuated Nagasaki prior to the bombing.

However the damage produced by a 12 kiloton was similar to the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. We could have done that dozens of times over but would it get a slicly produced, unfactual cartoon on the BBC?

I say let’s do it, let’s take your suggestion and show the world the power of the nuke vs conventional bombing. Let’s subject the cities of Khorāsān-e Razavi and Eṣfahān to fire bombing, Fārs and Khūzestān to conventional carpet bombing and Tehrān and Māzandarān to small nukes just so the world can see the destructive power of each. It’ll be like killing 6 birds with 3 stones!

Posted by: DriedFrogPills at August 7, 2008 5:00 AM

I would like to weigh in again, if I may. There are no words, but I'll try.

Sagan said it better than I can. “A full-scale thermonuclear exchange would be the equivalent of World War II once a second, for the length of a lazy afternoon.”

That's what lies beneath the surface of ordinary life. I personally think that many of the ills of the West are due to the constant thought, in the back of one's mind, that Lovecraftian horror lies there sleeping, ready to do our bidding if we get careless or mad enough. Not Cthulhu this time; Cthuga.

Strangely enough, one of the creators of the Bomb also gave his name to a puzzle; the Fermi Paradox. What we are discussing here is one of the possible answers to that puzzle. Nuclear weapons are here and cannot be uninvented; we have to learn to live with them - or we won't learn, and the human race will be run. And this hurdle is not the only one we will have to pass; there may be many, but there are at least two - nanotech and orbital adjustment of asteroids - that we can think of already.

Humanity has to grow up. We haven't yet, and there isn't much time left in which to do it.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at August 7, 2008 10:26 AM

I hate to say it, but the evolution of human intelligence is starting to look like a maladaptive development. It's been beneficial in the short run but has allowed humanity to develop an efficient means of destroying itself, along with a big chunk of the biosphere. But the Earth has survived worse disasters. When we're gone, evolution will continue. Maybe next time nature will get it right.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 7, 2008 10:51 AM

Jonathan:

One of the really chilling things about the possibility of our killing ourselves off is this; we are the last chance.

Why? Simple. Any developing technological civilisation has to have easily-available materials, easy to work with, to learn how to make things. Examples; iron ore of worthwhile concentration near the surface.

We disappear, and all our mines and all our works disappear with us. If somebody else comes along, they won't be able to have Bronze and Iron Ages - we've used it all up, at least in places where a civilisation at that stage will be able to get at it.

Of course, the ores and the oil and coal deposits will be replaced - but by the time they are, Earth will be well on its way to becoming uninhabitable by multicellular life, as the Sun ages and grows hotter.

We are it, ladies and gentlemen; the last hope of life on Earth to spread and grow. And perhaps there is nobody else anywhere at all and if we die life dies. Nice thought eh?

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at August 7, 2008 11:40 AM

Actually, all our works and artifacts and junk and waste dumps and cities and other items will not just be magically beamed off-planet. If anything there will be a lot of resources just lying around much closer to the surface of the planet than every before.

Some may be in vast piles of once molten and now congealed pools but they will still be easier to get at once they stop glowing in the dark.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 7, 2008 11:49 AM

I was struck by this fact (from Bradley's Flyboys): The rate of casualties we were inflicting on Japan dropped when we dropped Little Man. The firebombing we were using was causing massive casualties.

Also, more were killed by the samuri sword than were killed by atomic weapons.

To your point though, I said much the same thing right after 9/11. Hang a map of Afghanistan (or the Mid-east) on the wall. Throw a dart at the map. Announce to the world that we will drop a small nuke on that spot at noon tomorrow and that after that we begin to get serious.

Posted by: azlibertarian at August 7, 2008 2:36 PM

DriedFrogPills--I would really like to see some citations and sources for your claims about the US warning Japan prior to dropping the bombs.

Everything I've read states that no such warning was given. The US did not want to risk giving any warning because the bomb could have been a dud, the Japanese could have moved POWs into the target area, local air defense might have been bolstered to shoot down the aircrews, and probably several other reasons I do not recall at the moment.

Posted by: Dar at August 8, 2008 11:20 AM

I nominate Damascus, Islamabad, Riyadh, and Tehran for live demonstrations. Each of them have proven to be resistant to more peaceful overtures.

Posted by: Scott M at August 9, 2008 12:32 AM

Watch it without sound.

Unfortunately, such a demonstration would only have an effect on the West. And that effect would be to shut down all resistance in the vain hope that the result of surrender would be less worse than the bomb.

With regard to resources - the mountains will wear down again. The Mesabi and Marquette ranges were beneath once high mountains. The earth will be here until the sun dies, and mountains are short-lived compared to that.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at August 10, 2008 12:46 PM

Mikey, Earth will be here but the biosphere won't. Why? Simple, really; the Sun is getting hotter. On the timescale of the formation of ore deposits, Earth will get too hot for land life, at the very least. Estimates of average surface temperature around 350,000,000 AD cluster around 50 C. This means very little rainfall and a world-wide desert.

Also, there is very little slack left in the earth's negative feedback mechanisms. At the moment (at least before we started messing with it) the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are just about at the lower limit of the range in which plants can grow. The Earth cools itself by dropping CO2 levels, and that method doesn't work any more.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at November 14, 2008 10:00 AM

Gerard,

My first response, as to most of your writing, is "God, yes. That'll show 'em. Pay the f*ck attention!"

Some of the responders here, however (among the most thoughtful and literate on the Web, I find, apparently people who universally understand that "it's" means "it is"), correctly point out that the Last Best Hope of Mankind is increasingly populated with these creatures...

Voice of the Neuter

...and consequently Quod would probably insufficiently Demonstrandum.

My nom de web, btw, refers to the fact that I was born before Hiroshima. The idea that most of the populace could watch a nuclear demonstration and still see it as a video game is profoundly depressing to me, but I have to concede the likelihood.

Worth a try, though. I nominate Seattle.

Maybe you could put up some warnings on your way out of town.

Posted by: warbaby at November 14, 2008 11:51 AM

My dad worked for 27 years in the nuclear weapons division of "a major national lab".

He used to say: "What good is a deterrent if we never use it?"

Posted by: Gray at November 14, 2008 12:02 PM

Well, my comment doesn't make much sense without the reference to your essay on "The Voice of the Neuter", does it?

I thought you really nailed it on that one, too, but I guess you'd rather not refer to it internally.

Didn't mean to give offense.

Posted by: warbaby at November 14, 2008 2:03 PM

Every generation has to relearn the past by experience. The more terrible the lessons, the longer it must take to relearn them and the harder the lesson learned.

The focus on the A-bomb displays the fallacy of the materialistic focus of today's elite.

They ignore the underlying causes of World War II which was the unchecked rise of miltarism in Japan and the seizure of the state apparatus in Germany and Russia by a radical, militant socialist minority - and a West that allowed it to occur.

Japan's militarism was a plan put into effect by the Meijii empereror and his advisors who deliberately militarised the decision making elite and who slowly eliminiated dissident voices.

Both Germany and Russia had the state apparatus seized by a militant clique of narcissistic fantasists who wrote and plotted from prison for decades. They brutally eliminated opposition using police power and military power. No nations stepped in to stop them. In fact, they fawned over the Red Princes in Russia, German, and Italy.

It was Stalin and Hitler who colluded to carve up Poland which started World War II. It was a fantasy by both men to seize another country and kill its citizens on a mass scale. Had Stalin had an ounce of decency in his body, he could have stopped Hitler with a NO and meant it.

Both men relied on a fallacy that material riches are the same as wealth - not freedom, not rationalisty, not compassion, not the human spirit.

The power of the militant fantasy cults cannot be underestimated.

Worse horrors have been visited upon humans than World War II by fantasy cults - Genghis Khan killed nearly a hundred million people with just a few poverty stricken yak herders. He rode out of Asia into Persia, Russia, Europe, China - where people had forgotten about deterrence. He was only stopped when he ran into people who had not forgotten.


Posted by: Austin at November 14, 2008 2:15 PM

"NUKE THE MOON"

Posted by: Jim at November 14, 2008 3:15 PM

Warbaby,

Just trying to fix the link. I'll try again. Not intentional.

There. Works now.

Posted by: vanderleun at November 14, 2008 3:49 PM

Had the US thoroughly nuked Afghanistan after Sept 11 it would have served as a sober warning for all the troublemakers in the region. Afghanistan has precious little worth preserving and we could have accidentally nuked the tribal regions of Pakistan as well.

The West has lost its will to incinerate its opponents in order to win, we will all pay for that in the end.

Posted by: Scott M at November 14, 2008 7:19 PM

The thought of such weapons in the hands of Islamic fanatics should chill every person to the bone.

Posted by: Jonathan at November 14, 2008 9:09 PM

The nihilists will do nothing but cheer silently when apocalypsics acquire and use such weapons.

And no, Fletcher. Those apocalypsics who have stated they would use these weapons as soon as they can do not follow the cross. The old Cold War is over, do not be a French General Staff planning for the campaign of 1919 in 1939.

Like William Ayers - everything he is and believes is incredibally antique, beliefs overtaken by events forty years ago. He still advocates for causes that are long gone and dust. A truly pathetic being, a living Miss Haversham, filled with nothing but poison for future generations.

The 20th Century saw wonders, and saw the most putrid self-justifications for indulgence ever. Putting the Boomers and their ilk under sod can't happen soon enough.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at November 15, 2008 12:37 PM

The nihilists will do nothing but cheer silently when apocalypsics acquire and use such weapons.

And no, Fletcher. Those apocalypsics who have stated they would use these weapons as soon as they can do not follow the cross. The old Cold War is over, do not be a French General Staff planning for the campaign of 1919 in 1939.

Like William Ayers - everything he is and believes is incredibally antique, beliefs overtaken by events forty years ago. He still advocates for causes that are long gone and dust. A truly pathetic being, a living Miss Haversham, filled with nothing but poison for future generations.

The 20th Century saw wonders, and saw the most putrid self-justifications for indulgence ever. Putting the Boomers and their ilk under sod can't happen soon enough.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at November 15, 2008 12:38 PM

Mikey,

First of all, Cold Fury is the stuff. The Glowbull Warming Primer is exquisite.

In re Billy Ayers, here's David Solway on received wisdom:

'This is the fallout from the Academy and “lifeworld” of the carnival 1960s—“that great spurt of narcissistic eccentricity,” in Martin Amis’ wonderful phrase. What that period encouraged was a state of protracted adolescence, that is, a mainly patronizing identification with the oppressed and marginalized, an idolizing of third-world revolutionaries and dictators, anarcho-socialist pipe dreams, a flabby self-election along with a cheaply-bought sense of inordinate sensitivity, and a pseudo-magical journey into Sergeant Pepper land at the expense of our own culture and history.'

My goodness, I wish I'd written that. What is most painful to remember now is how marginal and inconsequential those idiots seemed, and how easily dismissed.

His Majesty the Baby Boomer has been nipping at my heels my whole life. I plan on outlasting the bastards.

Posted by: warbaby at November 15, 2008 5:02 PM

I wish people have some respect for humanity. Just imagine how many innocent people were killed and how every country got into making bombs instead of providing food to their citizens. All credit goes to US. I would like to see all those people trialled as war criminals including everyone who helped Nazi's. I say humanity first, then, everything else. So, all the people in these comments that wanted to see 'live Demo' should be ashamed of themselves. For the love of God, what's wrong with you guys?
Bottom line, I think all the weapons of mass destruction should be banned in EVERY country, US first by the way because US is the only fucked up country that actually used bomb. (under no circumstance, I think it justify to kill innocent people). God bless humanity.

Posted by: Mana at March 12, 2009 1:05 PM

TEST IT IN IRAN OR NORTH KOREA,A MERE TEST WILL DO NOTHING TO SCARE ANYONE THESE DAYS .IT'S ALL A LITTLE PAST THAT POINT ANYWAYS.COPS HAVE GUNS TO PREVENT CRIME,SAME THING WITH NUKES,YOU DONT WANT CRACK HEADS HAVING NUKES ,DO YOU ? THE WEAK AMUNG YOU WILL SAY ALL NUKES SHOULD BE BANNED ,BUT THEY ARE FOOLISH AND HAVE NO REAL GRASP OF HISTORY.ONE DAY WE WILL ALL HOLD HANDS AND WALK IN THE PARK TOGETHER,BUT THAT WILL NOT BE FOR A LOOOONG TIME. SORRY,FOR NOW I'LL CHEER MY COUNTRY ON ,KEEP MY WEAPONS AND USE THEM TO PROTECT MY FAMILY,FRIENDS AND COUNTRY (AND EVEN THE PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH ME-CUS ITS THERE RIGHT TO.) AND IF THAT MEASN HITTING AN ENEMY FIRST TO SEND A MESSAGE ,THEN SO FUCKIN BE IT.
U.S.A. FOREVER.

Posted by: JIM JARVIS at June 7, 2009 7:54 AM

Someone asked about the disputed leaflet drop/s on Hiroshima before we dropped the bomb. Here is one view:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/docs/v46i3a07p.htm

Here is another:

http://www.psywarrior.com/OWI60YrsLater2.html

Posted by: Hannon at August 6, 2009 2:42 AM

Anybody need a good cold bath?

Major US wars with years between.

1775 American Revolution
1812 War of 1812 - 32
1846 Mexican War - 34
1861 Civil War - 15
1898 Spanish-American War - 37
1914 World War I - 16
1939 World War II - 25
1950 Korean War - last battle of WWII
1960 Vietnam War - 20
1990 Persian Gulf War - 30
2001 Invasion of Afghanistan - Arguably the continuation of PGW

This is generational. The passions of youth mature into political power in middle age. The next one is coming. The only reasonable strategy is to make sure we can kill it quick.

Posted by: Roy Lofquist at August 6, 2009 9:40 AM

First off, a simple 'fuck you' to mana...
We saved an entire generation of Japanese (and of course Americans) by dropping those bombs. You want someone to blame, go talk to Tojo and friends. Invading the Japanese homeland would've caused MILLIONS of casualties, especially civilian.
Millions.
The Japanese had plenty of time to surrender, even after Hiroshima.
They knew we were set to incinerate another city, and they ignored us. Hell, they even tried to kill the Emperor when they found out he was considering surrender!
Fool.
As for Gerard's suggestion of having the media witness and broadcast a demo...hell yes, all of them, from well inside the blast zone.

Posted by: Uncle Jefe at August 6, 2009 9:56 AM

I love Uncle Jefe.

My father would have died in that bloodbath in the Pacific. Because of those bombs he came home to raise seven children.

http://www.wwiimemorial.com/registry/search/pframe.asp?HonoreeID=2170516&popcount=2&tcount=3

I think he'd be incredulous at the way we're pissing away our liberties. (Sorry, Dad. You're little girl is mad as hell as now uses bad words)

Yeah. Round up the media.

Posted by: Cathy at August 6, 2009 10:34 AM

Some typos are worse than others.

No. I'm not calling my Dad a little girl.

Dang.

Posted by: Cathy at August 6, 2009 10:38 AM

Here's the love right back at ya, Cathy.
On top of it all, we would've killed off hundreds of thousands of ALPHA MALE Americans invading Japan...Good Lord, we'd be like Europe now...

Posted by: Uncle Jefe at August 6, 2009 10:42 AM

Rejoice.

This from the Washington Times.

"It's official. The U.S. is no longer engaged in a "war on terrorism." Neither is it fighting "jihadists" or in a "global war."

These phrases now off the list of 'acceptable' words.

"But Mr. Brennan ... said Mr. Obama has views that are "nuanced, not simplistic; practical, not ideological."

Ya think this light-weight could ever have made a decision to drop those bombs?

(You're so right, Uncle Jefe. God bless and preserve the American alpha male)

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/06/white-house-war-terrorism-over/?feat=home_headlines

Posted by: at August 6, 2009 11:59 AM

Mikey NTH writes "...Putting the Boomers and their ilk under sod can't happen soon enough."

Nice try, Mikey. How many years did you serve your country in any capacity at all?

Don't make the mistake that many do - focus on those of us who are paying this country's freight, and have done so for decades. Not all boomers are (spit) liberals.

Posted by: old shoe at August 6, 2009 1:36 PM

"On top of it all, we would've killed off hundreds of thousands of ALPHA MALE Americans invading Japan...Good Lord, we'd be like Europe now..."

A thought to contemplate. I guess we needed to be making more of those American alpha males to bail their asses out AGAIN when Islam reaches an intolerable level. Well, you know. A *really* intolerable level.

Posted by: at August 6, 2009 9:01 PM

Fletcher Christian is right. The Earth is 4.6 billion years old, and will continue to orbit the Sun until the Sun burns out about 5 billion years from now. The earliest life evolved between 3.5-4 billion years ago, very early in Earth's history.

However, based on an article I saw a few years ago in Astronomy magazine, a main-sequence star like the Sun slowly but steadily burns hotter as it ages. The article estimated that we have 1 billion years at the most before the oceans boil away.

Earth will continue orbiting the Sun long after that, but it will be hot, arid, and probably lifeless.

To me, it was a very sobering thought that life on Earth has mostly run its course.

Posted by: rickl at August 7, 2009 4:38 PM

Reading between the lines in the above-mentioned article, I can't help wondering what Venus might have been like, say 2-3 billion years ago, when the Sun was cooler.

Posted by: rickl at August 7, 2009 7:52 PM

Those living in the US might never have realised the true potential of nuclear weapons, having only ever faced the distant and vague threat of "mutually assured destruction" by city busting missiles lobbed by the USSR.
And now they're lulled to sleep by the promise that those missiles are no longer targetted at them (a promise that's pointless of course, even if they aren't, retargetting takes only minutes).

Those living in Europe in the 1970s and '80s, under the constant threat of Soviet invasion preceded by nuclear (and bio, and chemical) carpet bombing do know.
I used to live in the middle of a triangle made up of an air force base, a military control center, and a city with several large army bases.
It's only fair to assume we'd be hit by at least 3 nukes and possibly gas in the first minutes of any conflict.
However, when you live under the shadow of the Red Army all your life, you learn to disregard the threat. If you don't, you go insane.

Sadly the current generations, those who didn't experience the height of the cold war in Europe, long for the dubious fruits of communism, having the false idea that it's just like life is now except that everything is free and noone has to do any work (or at least not they themselves).
And that's the real threat, the creeping stupidity that's destroying western civilisation.
Stupidity that will lead to either communist dictatorships or Islamic fundamentalist states across Europe and north America within our lifetimes unless you are extremely lucky.

Posted by: J.T. Wenting at August 10, 2009 1:11 AM

"Sadly the current generations, those who didn't experience the height of the cold war in Europe, long for the dubious fruits of communism, having the false idea that it's just like life is now except that everything is free and noone has to do any work (or at least not they themselves).
And that's the real threat, the creeping stupidity that's destroying western civilisation."

But that's more "ignorance" than "stupidity". And how would you propose to remedy it, when people now cannot go back in time and personally experience the cold war?

Posted by: mike3 at February 26, 2010 2:06 AM

Dear Digesters, you can only die once; unless you are frit, in which case you die every day. Moreover, even if you are not frit, you still die - in daily instalments. All together, in large tranches or one-by-one, it all amounts to the same thing in the end - sweet oblivion; the end of pain.

Part of enjoying life is keeping tabs on this blog, which teaches, teases, tantalizes and tanks us daily. For me the Sun would stop shining tomorrow if Gerard's light went out. So shine on, mine host. Regardless!

Posted by: Frank P at August 6, 2010 5:27 AM

Dear Digesters, you can only die once; unless you are frit, in which case you die every day. Moreover, even if you are not frit, you still die - in daily instalments. All together, in large tranches or one-by-one, it all amounts to the same thing in the end - sweet oblivion; the end of pain.

Part of enjoying life is keeping tabs on this blog, which teaches, teases, tantalizes and tanks us daily. For me the Sun would stop shining tomorrow if Gerard's light went out. So shine on, mine host. Regardless!

Posted by: Frank P at August 6, 2010 5:32 AM

I am probably sitting here today because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki being targeted by atomic bombs. My father, having survived the Normandy landing and fighting across France and Germany, was told to prepare for deployment to the Pacific theater and the invasion of Japan. When Japan surrendered, my father came home and had six kids.

Posted by: RM at August 6, 2010 6:56 AM

RM,

I feel likewise.

My father was a combat engineer in the 25th ("Tropic Lightning") Infantry Division, and his Division was scheduled to take part in the invasion of southern Kyushu, as part of Operation Olympic. Having utterly no illusions about the nature of the military offensive in which the 25th was scheduled to take part, he viewed the atomic strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki with equanimity, and especially - as he told me many times - with tremendous relief.

In the context of the events of mid-1945, I cannot help but wonder how many children - both American and Japanese - were eventually born because the war in the Pacific ended as it did, when it did.

Posted by: Michael in Pennsylvania at August 6, 2010 8:37 AM

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty isn't in force yet, and the one that is, the Partial Ban, only affects test detonations.

A demonstration is not a test - presumably the design in use will be a well-tested one of known efficacy.

(That said, I'm not sure it's worthwhile. The "big" actors, Russia and China, already know that a nuclear war is a global loss scenario.

The likeliest non-state, pseudo-state, and small actors who could use a demonstration (Islamic terrorist groups, Iran, a notional revolutionary Pakistan, etc.) either have no territory to nuke, are quite sure that the US won't have the gumption to nuke them*, or will be crazy enough to not care.

That's the problem with religious extremists of the several-deviations-off-the-norm type - they aren't subject to normal constraints.

* The sad part is they're probably right.)

Posted by: Sigivald at August 6, 2010 10:12 AM

Dar: The US did not warn Japan of a nuclear attack on Hiroshima specifically, no.

That would have been pretty stupid, given that then they would have had a single target to defend and need to shoot down only one plane to stop the attack.

But the US did warn of air raids on many cities, including Hiroshima.

Given that a nuclear attack didn't actually kill more people than a firebombing assault, a demand for "special" warning seems pointless.

(From the same link: "Japan’s Air Defense General Headquarters reported that out of 206 cities, 44 had been almost completely wiped out, while 37 others, including Tokyo, had lost over 30 percent of their built-up areas" - this is after both nuclear attacks, but those naturally only affected two.

Japan's major cities had already been mostly destroyed before the nuclear attacks, to a far more severe loss of life than that caused by the pair of atomic weapons.)

Posted by: Sigivald at August 6, 2010 10:19 AM

Uncle Jefe is effing right on the money. Alpha Males... Gotta love it.

Posted by: Captain Dave at August 6, 2010 10:49 AM

IIRC the Little Boy Uranium "gun" type bomb was considered to be such a "sure-fire" thing that it was not tested prior to being dropped on Hiroshima. The Trinity test was of the Plutonium implosion-type bomb, predecessor of the "Fat Man" later used on Nagasaki.

So the first atomic bomb ever dropped in anger was untested. Anybody ever heard why they didn't go with the (tested) Fat Man first?

Posted by: sherlock at August 6, 2010 11:27 AM

Sherlock, the answer to that is just what you said. The untested bomb was actually more likely to work, because the implosion bomb depended on microsecond accuracy in detonation time of the explosive lenses. And it would have been a very bad thing indeed for the first bomb used in anger to have been a fizzle.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at August 6, 2010 12:42 PM

I'm not sure that the live demo is a good idea, because while many might take it in the sense in which it is meant to drive home the risk inherent in foreign policy without reference to the destructive power commanded by modern weapons, others, especially those already inclined to think that way, might simply take it as a sort of muscle-flexing on the part of the US, and that group would probably include the MSM (who would make propaganda hash out of it against "militarism") and those who are actually a threat in such a way, namely terroristic Islamists.

As for the 'sun heating up' problem...that's why we need to get the space program actually GOING, and move to Mars. Or maybe the Galilean moons; they'd have plenty of water.

Posted by: Tom Dickson-Hunt at August 6, 2010 1:59 PM

I'm all for the live demo. A low airburst of about 50kt over Miram Shah, Pakistan would do nicely.

Posted by: waltj at August 6, 2010 8:47 PM

I hate it for em but their country had a chance to surrender and they tried to kill my dad. Many of us would not be here today if not for the decision to use this terrible weapon. Pray we never have to do so again.

Posted by: UncleZeb at August 6, 2010 8:54 PM

Dear Mr. Vanderleun: This is a quibble, but after the detonation of the Nagasaki bomb, the US did have one more in its arsenal. Richard Rhodes's THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB has this. I don't have my copy handy, but Google Books does have a page view on page 744 that confirms this. Rhodes's book also has details of the warning leaflets that were dropped around Hiroshima before 6 August.

Uncle Jefe's "alpha male" crack is very funny, but I suppose the left end tail of the intelligence distribution might actually believe it. Those folks need to ponder the hundreds of thousands of German alpha males who died in World War I, thereby reducing Germany to a nation of wusses, who were easily conquered by the Austrians when Hitler tried his Anschluss in 1938...

So far as Hiroshima being the war ender, this is idiotic. The case has been made "Hiroshima bomb is dropped on 6 August; surrender is offered on 14 August. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc."

Well. For Uncle Jefe, here's some questions:

a) if Hiroshima did it, why did was Nagasaki bombed?

b) Jefe sputters, "It was the cumulative effect!" No it was not. For all the damage the 2 A-bombs did, it was only about 40% of the total aerial damage done. The bulk of the rest came from Curt LeMay's energetic lads (including George Wallace) with their incendiary raids, including the 9-10 march Tokyo raid, which killed more than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

So what caused the Japanese surrender? I think the A-bombs played a part. A bigger role came from the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on 8 August. Stalin had said at Yalta that Russia would come in three months after defeating Germany, and for once, tempted by all that loot in the Far East, kept a promise to the Americans/British. This entry punctured the Japanese delusion that somehow Japan could persuade Russia, which had been neutral to Japan since their 1941 Neutrality Pact, could somehow persuade the Americans/British to end the war without an inviasion. This belief was idiotic, but Japan's continuing the war after 1943 was idiotic. The Russians had already shown the Japanese what they could do in the border conflicts of 1939, which killed maybe 40,000 from both sides, but left the Russians intact, and the Japanese smarting. So when Stalin declared war, the Japanese surrender was bound to come, and soon. The bombs were the "two" in a "one-two" punch.

No American political leader of 1945 would have refused to use the A-bomb once it became available. Yet the costs of doing so were high, not only in 1945, but in the arms race of the next forty five years, and the aftermath today, with terrorists likely to have nukes soon, if they don't already.

A final note for all those who assure us their fathers/male relations "thanked God for the atomic bomb" to use Paul Fussell's phrase. What did these soldiers who were in peril in 1945 think of the atomic bomb later on? Specifically, what did they think of it at 7:30 PM Eastern Time, 22 October 1962, as Kennedy's image faded from their TV sets, leaving them wondering if the Cuban missiles were about to be fired, thereby setting off a general conflagration? Did they still "thank God?" Or was there a better understanding of the price atomic weaponry carries? Those who think the peacenik movie (and novel) FAIL-SAFE came out of the vacuum between liberal ears, need to revisit the Cuban missile crisis's effect on American opinion.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Posted by: Gregory Koster at August 7, 2010 4:04 AM

Me too Cathy, Uncle Zeb, RM, Michael,and any others I forgot, my Dad & my uncles would have had to invade Japan. It would have been a further bloodbath. At the time they were training the coastal civilians to fight us.

My Grandmother, a Gold Star Mom, also had no regrets, they started it and we finished it. No liberal angst, just cold hard facts.

Gregory, how the fu*^ where the vets & families supposed to feel during the Cuban Missile crisis. Since you throw out non sequiturs, should they have protested against a secret bomb they knew nothing about? My God, we were all scared then.

Posted by: Chris at August 7, 2010 6:08 AM

we need a live demo on torabora - and it should have been done in 2001.

Posted by: reliapundit at August 7, 2010 7:44 AM

Greg: "With the Old Guard" Eugene Sledge. Read it.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 7, 2010 11:28 AM

Dear Gregory:

Your first question: "What did these soldiers who were in peril in 1945 think of the atomic bomb later on? Specifically, what did they think of it at 7:30 PM Eastern Time, 22 October 1962, as Kennedy's image faded from their TV sets, leaving them wondering if the Cuban missiles were about to be fired, thereby setting off a general conflagration?"

My answer: Undeniably, a sense of fear and anxiety (like, I'm certain, all Americans at the time) - but, far more than that, stoicism, equanimity, and hope.

Your second question: "Did they still "thank God?"

My answer: Yes. Well, my Dad certainly did. Without any hesitation.

Because - as he told me later - had he been in the first assault wave upon the beaches of Kyushu, he was well aware that his chances of eventually returning to his family unwounded (or worse) would have been very, very low.
Sincerely,
Michael in Pennsylvania

(Chris - Thanks for your thoughts!)

Posted by: Michael in Pennsylvania at August 7, 2010 1:54 PM

Dear Mr. Vanderleun: I have read Sledge, and think it is one of the two best books on the hand to hand fighting in the Pacific (GOODBYE DARKNESS by William Manchester, who had a similar combat path in the war, is the other.) But I don't see how it changes anything. My point, which Chris has missed is this: the commenters on this thread are vehement in praise of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombs. They follow the argument Paul Fussell used in "Thank God for the Atomic Bomb" : better to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, and spare me from having to invade. (Fussell hadn't fought in the Pacific, but had fought in Europe, been seriously wounded, but not so badly as to escape being sent to the Pacific, where he would have participated in the invasion of Japan.) It's an honorable reaction. I don't question the sincerity of it. But I repeat to Chris and others: the relief the would-be invaders felt in 1945 was real. What did they feel on 22 October 1962, when the weapon they felt had saved them in 1945, suddenly turned up again, in much greater size, threatening to kill not only the vets, but their families, their communities, and their nation? Was the vets's salvation of 1945, and the 17 years that followed worth being annhilated in 1962? I don't know what the vets would say. The mind staggers at having to make such a choice, or even to grapple with such a question. We were all lucky enough to dodge the bill for 1945's salvation in 1962. But the specter of such a bill hung around for thirty more years, and played a big part in the rise of the pacifist Left, which believes that American surrender is always preferable to standing up for a freedom they think Gaia or some such bunkum god provides.

This is why I think your demonstration project you propose would be a serious error. Using the New York TIMES as a proxy for the pacifist Left, such a demonstration would give the Left what it dreams of: 1968 all over again. Had Geo. W. tried it, who can doubt the posturing the TIMES and the Democrats would have done. They would have felt justified in using any method to "stop this madness." We'd have had a Wikileaks scandal every week. The Left would be emboldened enough to drop its hypocritical "We support the troops" mantra, which no one believes, and be openly hostile to the services.

On the other side, such a demonstration of nuclear destructiveness would not deter Islamists. It's often been said that, e.g. Ahmadidjenuts, the Prez of Iran, is crazy, and would have no hesitation in using an A-bomb if he got it. A demonstration would not deter him. A crazy man, or group of leaders, can't appreciate Robert Lee's wise remark: "It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow too fond of it."

Islamists are much too fond of war, and aren't going to be scared out of it. That is why I think a demonstration would be bad: it would give the America-hating Left, including the TIMES, a chance to paralyze those who see the Islamist threat. Then what happens? That question horrifies me.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Posted by: Gregory Koster at August 7, 2010 2:38 PM

Of course, the reason that the Cuban Missile Crisis happened in the first place was that Khrushchev thought that Kennedy was a lightweight who was out of his depth, which emboldened him to put nuclear missiles in Cuba.

The parallel to the present day, I trust, is obvious.

Posted by: rickl at August 7, 2010 9:06 PM

Hmm. Drudge's headline right now:

CASTRO WARNS OF IMPENDING NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST

Of course, that link won't be good in a few hours. Here's a screenshot.

Posted by: rickl at August 7, 2010 11:00 PM

Thanks Ricki. Grist for my latest item.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 7, 2010 11:24 PM

It is not too late to cleanse the world of Mecca and Medina.

Posted by: Fat Man at January 29, 2013 7:33 AM

One tiny, minor quibble on the reenactment: no parachute in the final moments of descent. That was to insure an air burst and buy time for the Enola Gay to get away.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at January 29, 2013 11:11 AM

The horror of Hiroshima was not the number of people killed - we were exceeding that already when we firebombed their cities in an attempt to convince them the war was over and they lost. The horror of Hiroshima was the grim efficiency of the process, the stark equation of 1 plane + 1 bomb equals -1 city.

You can argue that nuking people isn't nice but we were having trouble making our point about winners and losers. And if you run the numbers, it actually saves lives, both Japanese and American, compared to invading the mainland. A grim sort of accounting, but like the man said, war is cruelty, you cannot refine it.

We may have lost the sense of what happened then, but I fear we will be reminded in the next decade or so. It won't be delivered by air like last time, more likely a shipping container arriving at a major Western port.

Posted by: SteveS at January 29, 2013 8:15 PM

In black and white images blood is the color of shadows...

Gerard, I did not see this post in 2008, and I'm kinda surprised that no one in comments noted that the above is a reference from John Prine's song Lake Marie.

The police had found two bodies
Nay, naked bodies
Their faces had been horribly disfigured by some sharp object
Saw it on the news on the TV news in a black and white video
You know what blood looks like in a black and white video?
Shadows, shadows that's exactly what it looks like...

Posted by: John Venlet at January 30, 2013 12:27 PM

Well, John I am pleased that at last someone did pick up on that allusion.

I've always felt that was the most evocative image in Prine's work. It's stuck with me. As you can see.

Extra points for you!

Posted by: vanderleun at January 30, 2013 12:31 PM

"Good Lord, we'd be like Europe now..." Don't laugh! My theory is that Europe - specifically Britain and France - by sustaining such horrific casualties in two World Wars in relation to their population size, lost much of their backbone, if you will, so that they are unable to oppose every hostile and futile idiocy that comes trundling down the motorway.

Posted by: Archie Ponsonby at January 31, 2013 5:43 PM

"My father would have died in that bloodbath in the Pacific. Because of those bombs he came home to raise seven children."

Two men I once knew were in the WWII theater. One was Military Police. The other one, I don't remember. I never talked to them about the war. I wish I had. Because I would have bet that, if it had come to the point that the US would have had to invade Japan, both men would have surely been sent there.

They could have both returned to their homes - in a box, one for each.

These men would have not married their sweethearts. One would have not sired four children - three boys and his little girl. The other one would have not sired two boys and a girl.

Years later, the eldest of the one's brothers would have not met the nineteen-year-old daughter of the other's, fallen in love, had a little fun, (Ooopsie!) gotten pregnant, or married shortly thereafter. (They would have not existed, remember that.)

Those two would have not had their son (their only child) the next year. They would have not struggled in working poverty while raising their son to be a responsible and thrifty human being or taught that he must earn his keep and everything he has.

They would have not sent him off to a Federal Academy for his Engineering degree, because they would have not afforded to send him to any other college, nor have watched him receive his college diploma from the Vice President at that time. (Again, if they had never existed, neither would have had their son. And maybe, not even that Vice President.)

The one and the other WWII vet would have not seen as their first grandson and grandchild introduced a young Puerto Rican woman as the "IT" girl. (Again, if this man had not existed, she would have found someone else, because she had no parents who fought in that war.) Nor would the other soldier had watched as his first grandson married in the Navy uniform to her at the Academy's chapel. The one soldier would have not succumbed to lung cancer in old age instead.

And neither the grandson nor his wife would have lived to have two daughters, both with curly hair, one brunette with red highlights and one surprisingly blonde with her mama's olive skin, or watched them grow to see one enter first grade, or the other preschool.

And, lastly, the grandmother of these two girls, the daughter of the other soldier, would have not received a card from her son, daughter-in-law, or her granddaughters wishing her a Happy Birthday today. (She is now 65. FIL is 66.)

So, is it fair to say "Thank God for the atom bomb"? Considering how four generations of two families that were joined into one (My In-Laws) were affected by that decision made by Harry Truman 68 years ago, I don't think it's a matter of "fair".

It's done. It's history. The Hobbits went to Mount Doom and did the job to bring that deadly Ring to where it could be destroyed. How it was destroyed was none of our business. But the job was done. Sauron was vanquished. So was the Japanese Empire. Hirohito knew that another bomb like that, and his people would have been wiped off the face of the Earth. He did the right thing by surrendering. In the end, it was either the brutal soldiers and pilots of the Empire of the Sun or American soldiers. Destiny picked one to go, and one to be victor. Harry Truman knew what was at stake. Either it was 100 thousand incinerated fanatical, suicidal Japanese or 2 million American soldiers drawn and quartered like cattle by a million katanas. Remember, it was the deadliest war in human history.

It was decided. It is done. It is over. It has been sixty-eight years over. Over! No one has the right to overwhelm the victors nor their descendants in unnecessary guilt over their survival or victory. Their descendants never had a say on it, but the fact that they are alive is reason enough to see that the decision made for August 6, 1945 has reverberated throughout generations.

And what about pity for the Japanese who were incinerated? Many of them were still willing to fight to the last man, woman or child for their country. Centuries of tradition and belief in the Emperor as descendant from the gods assured that. Those two bombs did something absolutely irreversible and permanent to them. But look again: they're no longer making war, plenty of technologies, Hello Kitty, Anime and better cars than Detroit, among other great things. We're even learning from them.

At least, had it been the other way, I would have not tucked in these two awesome girls of mine to sleep tonight, if their grandfathers had not been saved from invading Japan. I might have had two girls with a different appearance. Or two boys. You get the idea.

(P.S. Happy Birthday, Mother-in-Law!)

Posted by: newton at August 6, 2013 11:34 PM