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“FIRE AND FURY”: Nagasaki Day Is Here Again – or- Nukes: Time for a Live Demo

Duck and cover! 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.

As the North Korean crisis escalates, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the Asian country doesn’t halt its threats. – MarketWatch

Seventy-five 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 the Planet Earth has 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.

“It has been 75 years since the incineration of a city in a second, and we’ve lost any sense of exactly what happens.”

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. These “Greens” 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 71 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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • OhioGuy August 9, 2017, 7:47 AM

    yuppers Mr V

    place world leaders on a crusie ship about 40 – 60 miles away from a deep ocean remote detonation

    let them come up on board in their swim suits and see / feel the blast wave and heat pulse

    let them go back to their respective homes and soberly catch a clue

  • ahem August 9, 2017, 8:18 AM

    As long as it takes out Congress, it’s all good.

    What—no Gap Band?

  • Casey Klahn August 9, 2017, 9:46 AM

    The hands down best way to survive a nuclear blast is to not be around one going off.

    The part I highly endorse in your illuminating article is the one where we drop everything and focus on this. I’ll bet there’s a prog think tank somewhere already laying out the blame for a Nork War on Trump alone. If they want to succeed, they’ll have to paper over the history of Bill Clinton giving energy help to North Korea and a bye during their crank-up towards this apocalypse. Clinton, as a Socialist, is an internationalist and a fellow traveler with the Korean commies. In my own special search for deep schadenfreude, I’d put Clinton on the negotiating team to calm down this crisis. He’d just be a figurehead, but no shame is too juicy for his likes.

    OK. That was fun. The facts are that if war begins with the Norks, it’s the Nork’s fault and here comes another defining moment in modern history. God bless our troops. Washington, pull your heads out and pay attention.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 11, 2017, 5:39 PM

    I always appreciate your opinion. I do not think much will come of the media or elites blaming Trump if the nukes drop. Half of this country still voted for Trump, and that half is still supportive and the well armed half. I do not see the military going against Trump. Riot, cry, blog, whatever.

    North Korea is not able to provide much more than verbal threats to the mainland US. If at some point in time the crazy chubby boy is able to drop a nuke on the US, the soccer moms will be at the front of the mob screaming for retaliation, if it has not happened at that point already. Who would have more likely NOT responded to NK from a nuke attack on the US, Obama or Trump? The Obama response would be in question. The Trump response would not.

  • Casey Klahn August 6, 2020, 1:03 PM

    New Trivia, or Significa if you’re a military history buff:


    I’m surprised I never mentioned before that my dad was slated to go into Japan in an amphibious assault and battle that would overshadow Normandy and D Day there. Would dad have survived? It beats me, but when his unit was coming back from Europe after fighting there, and scheduled for amphib training and the invasion of Japan, the men received the news that the atom bomb had been dropped, and shortly after this the surrender of Japan occurred. That fukn bomb is my salvation, most likely.

    Just for old times’ sake, we really ought to at least parade the nukes. Do it Soviet-style, and of course that is ironic, given that half the policies in America now are Soviet-style.

  • John Venlet August 6, 2020, 1:08 PM

    As a junior man on the USS Los Angeles (SSN688) when I first reported to the boat, on one of our first extended deployments out of Pearl Harbor, I was relegated to bunking in the torpedo room, along with six other new arrivals to the boat. It’s not an operational area conducive to sound sleep. The racks were laid out in the center of the torpedo room, just behind the tubes, and occupied places normally reserved for MK48 torpedoes. My rack was on the outside edge, alongside the gangway that separated the center torpedo storage area from the outside torpedo storage area, but it was not a torpedo or two being stored there. I was sleeping next to a UUM-44 SUBROC , a mere 250 kiloton thermonuclear device. I’m pleased it never went off. The experiment Gerard suggests, would be an excellent learning experience.

  • PA Cat August 6, 2020, 3:05 PM

    Casey says: “That fukn bomb is my salvation, most likely.” Mine too, I expect. My dad was in Germany with the 82nd Airborne on V-E Day, but he and his fellow paratroopers were worried about the possibility of being sent to Japan. If Operation Downfall (the amphibious assault on Japan scheduled for November 1945) had actually come about, airborne operations would have fallen to the 11th Airborne, and not the 82nd, but my dad and his buddies could not have known that. Nonetheless he saw dropping The Bomb as the one thing he liked about Harry Truman.

    For the military history buffs who hang out on Gerard’s site, here is a link to the Army Center of Military History’s chapter on Operation Downfall:

    For all of Gerard’s readers, here is a link to a PDF copy of Paul Fussell’s hated-by-the-usual-suspects 1981 essay titled “Thank God for the Atom Bomb.” Fussell served in an infantry division in the European Theater in WWII and was wounded during the fighting in France. He later became a history professor and taught at Rutgers and Penn. “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” is a long read (14 pages in the PDF), but it’s a keeper. You may want to download the PDF before it’s scrubbed from the Internet.

  • Casey Klahn August 6, 2020, 5:48 PM

    Fuhhhk, John V. Good thing they don’t explode by bumping them, but still.

    PA Cat, I read another of Paul Fussel’s books and he’s good at writing. I will check this out. Some part of the invasion plans was named Olympia, and maybe it was the islands proximal to Honshu. It’s all together, big and rugged. They use mirrors to see around hairpin corners on the mountain roads, and anything that’s flat has a rice paddy on it. Paratroopers? Fuhhhhk. Send mountain troopers; the DZs would’ve been few and fully overwatched by fire. Your brave dad could’ve been sent as that’s how the army overfills the ranks. For a reason, ahem. The All Americans, huh. Wow. If you haven’t done so, read Those Devils in Baggy Pants. The 82nd saw more combat than the vaunted 101st.

  • TN Tuxedo August 6, 2020, 6:51 PM

    Fun fact:
    The Tsar Bomba was (and still is) the most powerful device ever created by man. It’s detonation produced 210 petajoules (that’s 210,000,000,000,000,000 joules) of energy.

    It’s roughly the amount of energy that would be consumed by keeping nearly 111 million 60W bulbs burning 24/7 for an entire year.

    It’s also the average amount of energy the earth’s surface receives from the sun in just under 1.7 seconds.

  • PA Cat August 6, 2020, 7:32 PM

    Casey– I first encountered Paul Fussell through his book The Great War and Modern Memory; later I picked up the paperback edition of Class, his book on the American status system.
    I’ll have to wait to buy a copy of Those Devils in Baggy Pants, though, as the least expensive used copy is presently a mere $64. But I do know all about the 82nd’s combat record as compared to the 101’s. My dad’s stories about the Battle of the Bulge in particular were the stuff of nightmares, particularly his account of his unit’s reaction to the news of the Malmedy massacre.

    If you haven’t seen it, here’s a video of the 82nd’s 1946 victory parade in NYC (note then-Governor Dewey at the end!):
    In light of recent events, though, I can’t help wondering how long Saint-Gaudens’ wonderful statue of Sherman (seen at 2:15) will remain standing.

  • Rob Muir August 6, 2020, 11:03 PM

    My uncle had just rotated out of the European theater and met my dad in San Francisco en route to a ship bound for the Phillipines – US Army both of them. That was on the 5th or 6th of August. VJ Day happened during the transit. They both ended up on occupation duty. My uncle was an O5 and ended up in Tokyo. My dad was an E3 and ended up collecting weapons on Kyushu and Shikoku. They were super grateful there was no invasion for them as they both had no illusions about the difficulty of that landing party. I had another uncle (US Marines) that had seen action during the landings on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. He was in China on VJ Day sending letters home to a family grateful that he would not be needed for another invasion.

    I spent 2 years on Kyushu in the 70s not far from Nagasaki. I only met one old timer who was bitter about the use of the atomic bombs (they call them pikadon – flash boom). Many folks viewed them as a regrettable part of war and sadly necessary to persuade the Japanese military that their plans were hopeless. I heard one old timer say that they deserved it because they attacked Pearl Harbor. I’m sure most folks just kept their feelings to themselves, whatever they felt. The topic rarely came up in discussions with people under age 40.

  • Fletcher Christian August 7, 2020, 3:06 AM

    Yup. The use of the two bombs was a blessing. (It ought to be noted that they comprised the entire arsenal at the time.) The problem is that while 2 of them might have been a blessing, 25,000 of them leaves us with the potential for horrors beyond the wildest imagination of even the wildest of writers.
    Sure, the Chicxulub event was bigger than even a maximum-effort spasm war would be – but that leaves out the fallout.

  • Mary Ann August 7, 2020, 6:37 AM

    I too would probably not be here if not for 8/6/45. My dad was already in the Pacific, piloting a Higgins boat. The 593rd EB & SR was part of the amphibious assault on Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo with the Australian Army 7th Division. He never spoke of his war experiences. In contact with his best buddy, I finally heard the stories of events that affected him for the rest of his life.

  • John Venlet August 7, 2020, 6:59 AM

    To be fair, Casey, the SUBROC did have a little bit of lead shielding for the warhead. Wasn’t much, an L shaped lead shield covering just the side (facing the center of the torpedo room, which I could reach out and touch from my rack) and the top of the warhead. The L shaped lead shielding was about 3 inches thick, 18 inches tall, and about 3 feet long. Other than that, the SUBROC was open to viewing, and touch.

  • Chris August 7, 2020, 8:22 AM

    My Dad was a P-47N pilot assigned to the first wave of ground support for the invasion of Kyushu in November, 1945. They were told to expect 90 percent casualties on the first pass. Then fly to Iwo Jima if they survived.

    He said, repeatedly, that dropping the bomb was the only thing Harry Truman did right. That I’m here to write this, 75 years later, I tend to agree.

  • Fuel Filter August 7, 2020, 9:38 AM

    Writing just from memory, the estimated Allied casualties (deaths, not wounded) from the initial sea and airborne invasions were over 250,000. This is not counting Jap army, Air Force and Navy deaths.

    Inland, civilian deaths were estimated at well over 1,000,000. One Million. (For you Brits and Aussies that’s One Thousand, Thousand.) And that’s just the initial pacification numbers. God only knows how many would have died in the many, many months after as guerrilla units led by Jap solders behind the lines plaid hit-and-run on American forces, ammo, gas, food and other logistics dumps for as long as they stayed alive (remember those Jap soldiers who didn’t get the surrender orders on those islands that finally did in the early 50s?).

    That’s why those bombs had to have been dropped.

    Oh, and BTW, fuck any notion of a demo drop. That’s some fever dream of someone who thinks the Leftists among us are open to logic and persuasion.

    They are not, nor shall they ever be. If a demo drop should take place let them all gather in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco and drop three. And televise that.

    That program should shut up the rest of them in our midst. At least for a while.

  • Daniel K Day August 7, 2020, 11:24 AM

    My father enlisted in the merchant marine on his 17th birthday in January, 1944, and then in the Navy on his 18th birthday. After boot camp and training as a machinist, he sailed to Pearl Harbor. The day after his ship left Pearl Harbor the Japanese surrendered. He never saw the war directly.
    His older brother spent most of the war on a radar/photo surveillance ship which never suffered a direct attack.
    In Hokkaido in 1981, I met the father of a woman I was teaching English. At the end of the war, he had been in training as a pilot of the Tokkotai, who we call the “kamikaze squadrons”. My courage, and my Japanese level, were not up to the task of asking him what he thought of the A-bomb.

  • Jack August 7, 2020, 11:59 AM
  • Alan Potkin August 7, 2020, 9:42 PM

    Boo friggin’ hoo!… BTW, it’s National Purple Heart Day today (huuuhhh?), 7th Aug. Just saw an amazing article about how —prior to US President Harry Truman’s decision (immediately following the utterly snarling and contemptuous Japanese response to Truman’s threat after the Potsdam Summit to play unprecedently rough with the Nihon heartland if they didn’t instantly and unconditionally surrender) to whack Japan with the only two —hopefully operational— nukes in our stockpile— the then-War Department ordered 500,000 (!) Purple Heart medals which they thought would at least initially cover the expected American casualties, both KIAs and WIAs, of the amphibious invasion + land war alternative. Apparently it took Korea, VN, and the Iraq+Afpak wars to fully deplete that original stock. Apparently, those are two on the first page (linked below) are from that batch. I was just a few days past my first birthday, my father was on a troop ship in the North Atlantic about to be redeployed to the Pacific….

    https://cultivateunderstanding.com/pdfjs-2.3.200-dist/web/viewer.html file=../..//Digital_Media/VN_firsthand_online/eye_corps_stories_hero_junk.pdf

  • Alan Potkin August 7, 2020, 9:47 PM

    Sorry everybody…
    Let’s try that again…

    If it still brings up a 404 0r a blank screen, either retype and enter the URL manually, making sure no artifact spaces have appeared, or otherwise go into the main website and scroll down to the war stories…

  • Dave E August 8, 2020, 6:06 AM

    Those 2 in the arsenal likely worked in my favor as well. My dad was in flight school, B-29 navigator, getting ready to deploy when the show stopped. He went on to do 55 missions over N Korea, was nuclear weapons qualified navigator / bombardier, over 4000 hours in the B-47. Spent the Cuban missile crisis 100 mi from Soviet airspace

  • Bruceph August 8, 2020, 1:09 PM

    Every day of human history, Vanderleun, indeed every human beings waking moment, is and has been a precedent to this ill conceived idea. And still, there are things worse than death.
    Please, do try not to rush to the keyboard the next time this thought sneaks into your brain cage…

  • Fletcher Christian August 8, 2020, 2:33 PM

    And one more thing:

    Apocalyptic as nuclear weapons are, there are things many times worse waiting in the wings. Engineered plagues and autonomous, self-reproducing AI weapons are two of them. The latter could be smaller than a bacterium. And there may be worse things, that we don’t have a clue about yet. Ridiculous? Well…

    In 1898, a certain M. Becquerel noticed that photographic plates, placed underneath crystals of salts of a certain heavy metal, were fogged despite being in light-tight envelopes.

    47 years later? Trinity.

    What other unexplained anomalous results could lead to catastrophe? No way of knowing. That’s science.

    We need to grow up.

  • Vanderleun August 8, 2020, 2:33 PM

    No idea at all what you are talking about Bruceph. Would mind elucidating on those vague thoughts? Thanking you in advance.

  • Casey Klahn August 8, 2020, 5:52 PM

    I was telling my offspring that when It’s all said and done, Covid will be an historic note in my lifetime, along with The Cold War, the moon landing, Reagan and Trump, Kennedy and Nixon, Vietnam and the turning of the clock. The Information Age, the Millennium, The Sixties. But, although it preceded my lifetime by 13 years, World War II had the biggest gravitational pull in my life.

    Dad’s service. The reorganization of the planet. The follow-on of the Cold War, in which I some gave small personal service. The preservation until now of some semblance of liberty in the West. No fukn Nazis, Fascists, or Imperial Pacific sphere. Korea and Vietnam. All afterthoughts and aftermath of perhaps the greatest event, or the grandest in scale, in history.

    School kids in the big cities could give two shits about WW II. They know that there was racial discrimination in the US ( try the fukn Brits on that subject, dikwad), and a horrendous bombing in Japan (2 actually, and before that some Götterdämmerung shit called fire bombing). They know Nazis were bad conservatives that are the direct opposite of socialism (which is so wrong I cannot even begin to tell you). The Jews bitched a lot. Something about white privilege and woman bashing. That’s their WW II education.

    Gerard, this is why your posts are critical. Please keep em coming.

    John V, my compliments.

  • Bruceph August 9, 2020, 4:26 AM

    I think showing people what happens when you have a nuclear event won’t effect change any more than showing people what happens when a bullet goes through a watermelon will curb gun violence. It’s not an experience per se, and if it were, the outcome isn’t so predictable that the message is assured. It’s more like shoving your kids face in his plate to make him like/eat his vegetables. He may even eat his vegetables, but he’ll hate you for it, and he’ll be humiliated And that hatred and humiliation will go on to do what it will do until that kid joins his ancestors. The Americans walked the residents of a certain German town through the camp be after seizing it. Has anyone measured the results of the walk thru? Not to my knowledge.
    Your underlying assumptions may be correct if they include 1) people don’t know. But the question is ‘why?’. That’s the part the essay forgets, and it’s much harder to address that problem not to mention how, when, who, where, etc.
    We’ve got to keep an eye on our end (see Baltimore Cathecism No. 1. Lesson First question 6 & 9).
    And then defund the D. O. E.

  • Vanderleun August 9, 2020, 8:45 AM

    Oh I see what your point is now.

  • Doubletrouble August 9, 2020, 5:11 PM

    Nuke the Moon! (Look it up)