Letters at length, August 20

Eliminate nukes

How beautiful a letter and how truthful is the Aug. 17 guest commentary "Can we move forward now?" by Hideko Tamura. She is a brave woman and deserves all the love and kindness that humanity can bestow upon her.

I'm a veteran of World War II — when the atomic bomb was used not to end a war that was already ended, but to scare the Russians and the rest of the world, and to place forever in our atmosphere cancer-causing radiation molecules (I have lost friends who were pilots and died from atmospheric radiation). I recommend that anyone who has a computer go on the Internet and watch the documentary "Beyond Treason." Our weapons are carriers of more radiation and death by the use of armor-piercing depleted uranium. The United Nations has outlawed the use of this type of weapon because it not only kills the "enemy," but upon contact it explodes into its original molecular state and is highly radioactive, disbursing billions of radiation particles into the atmosphere forever. Iraq has suffered deformed newborns, cancer and other diseases as a result of these weapons.

The same is now occurring in Gaza, and Israel is feeling some of the effects also. Israel was the first nation to use these weapons and we were the second.

So here we are! Israel has more nuclear weapons than France and England combined. The United States and Russia each have thousands of thermonuclear war heads. Pakistan and India now have them (thanks to the United States), along with China and North Korea. What are these countries going to do with all of this weaponry? History has shown us that there never was a weapon invented that was not used. So here are some facts.

The thermonuclear weapons of today are 1,000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just one bomb dropped on any city in the Middle East would destroy all life for thousands of square miles. Look what happened in Chernobyl, the then-Soviet Union nuclear plant accident, and our own Three Mile Island, where to this day no one can live within miles without the threat of cancer and deformed newborns.

It is time for the elimination of these horrible weapons and the nuclear plants that produce radiation that will last 4.5 billion years (until the end of our sun and the planet earth).

The future is in our hands. Call your representatives daily. Bother the hell out of them until they get the message. No more weapons of mass destruction. End the corporations that produce them for profit. Take the profit out of war.

Budd Gottlieb


Least horrible choice

Shoshana Alexander writes in her letter of Aug. 13 ("Stop justifying unconscionable use of atomic bombs in Japan") that I might have read some quotes on placards had I visited the Plaza on Aug. 6. But as distinguished Pennsylvania State University emeritus history professor Robert James Maddox tells us, the veracity of those very quotes is in doubt. He writes: "Another myth that has attained wide attention is that at least several of Truman's top military advisers later informed him that using atomic bombs against Japan would be militarily unnecessary or immoral, or both. There is no persuasive evidence that any of them did so. None of the Joint Chiefs ever made such a claim, although one inventive author has tried to make it appear that Leahy did by braiding together several unrelated passages from the admiral's memoirs. Actually, two days after Hiroshima, Truman told aides that Leahy had 'said up to the last that it wouldn't go off.'

"Neither MacArthur nor Nimitz ever communicated to Truman any change of mind about the need for invasion or expressed reservations about using the bombs. When first informed about their imminent use only days before Hiroshima, MacArthur responded with a lecture on the future of atomic warfare and even after Hiroshima strongly recommended that the invasion go forward. Nimitz, from whose jurisdiction the atomic strikes would be launched, was notified in early 1945. 'This sounds fine,' he told the courier, 'but this is only February. Can't we get one sooner?'

"The best that can be said about Eisenhower's memory is that it had become flawed by the passage of time. Notes made by one of Stimson's aides indicate that there was a discussion of atomic bombs, but there is no mention of any protest on Eisenhower's part."

I prefer to get my history from sources like Professor Maddox, who has examined original sources, than from placards on the Plaza. And as Aldous Huxley, himself a passionate anti-nuclear activist wrote: "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

Every sane person detests nuclear weapons and recoils at the thought of their use. But Truman was faced with several horrible choices in the summer of 1945. And based on the facts of which I'm aware, he chose the least horrible option, and millions were saved.

David Wood


Was bomb necessary?

The annual hand-wringing over the dropping of the atomic bomb in Japan in 1945 seems a little livelier this year. So far we have had four guest commentaries and two letters. Gerry Cavanaugh (Aug. 4) passionately decries the bombing, David Wood (Aug. 10) says it saved lives, George Mozingo (Aug. 13) analyzes it and Hideko Tamura offers a survivor's perspective (Aug. 17). The letter by Shoshana Alexander (Aug. 13) quotes Eisenhower and others that the drop was unnecessary, and Ed Dillon's letter (Aug. 17) addresses the difficult decision President Harry Truman faced.

Details of the whole operation are so complex, unknown, confusing, unreported, misinterpreted, falsely reported and so long ago that the probability of a short, simple and definitive account is extremely unlikely, if it exists.

As witness the quotes referenced in Alexander's letter of top military commanders Eisenhower, Leahy, Nimitz and MacArthur that the bombing was unjustifiable, that Japan had already surrendered or was ready to do so.

These seem completely irreconciliable with the recently unclassified secret and ultra-secret memos between the U.S. and Japan showing negotiations on the political side right up to the August 1945 signing of the surrender (National Security Archives. The Atomic Bomb and the End of WWII, Collection of Primary Sources)

There were indisputably strong, opposing forces on both sides for and against surrender. And, reportedly (see above) an attempted military coup in Japan that went sour just before the signing.

Authoritative versions of the final surrender abound. For example, Mozingo writess that "the ultimate surrender was largely made possible by the officers and men of the Japanese army accepting the ritual suicide by Gen. Korechika Anami, as serving for them all, thus fulfilling their obligations under the code of the samurai," (14 Japanese historians writing under the name of the Pacific War Research Society).

However, the Manhattan Project of the Department of Energy, Office of History and Heritage Resources reports that the situation for surrender in the Imperial Council was tied 3 to 3, with Gen. Anami against surrender. Emperor Hirohito broke the tie for surrender. Gen. Anami, naturally, was really pissed off and did the only right thing for his honor by committing suicide in the approved fashion.

Irrelevantly, I have to say that a lot of GIs, including me, were in Germany at the time and were hugely relieved at the bombing, believing that it meant the war was over. The land invasion was coming and the Japanese had shown on the islands that they were fanatically willing to fight to the last man.

Harry L. Cook


Hiroshima's truth

Truth is the daughter of time. It is comforting for Americans, like David W. Wood (see Aug. 10 letter), to maintain that "We had to use the bombs to end the war and save lives." But at that time, Eisenhower, Admiral William D. Leahy, Douglas MacArthur, John D. McCloy, Lewis Strauss and Gen. Carl Spaatz, among many others, believed that the use of nuclear weapons was unnecessary. Leahy described the events as "barbarous and of no material assistance in the war against Japan." MacArthur was not even informed of their planned use and maintained to the end of his life that, if we had allowed Japan to keep the emperor, surrender would have followed before Aug. 6. Many other senior officers and insiders felt the same way. Gen. Carter Clarke, the intelligence officer in charge of preparing intercepted Japanese cables, wrote: "When we didn't need to do it, and we knew we didn't need to do it; and they knew we didn't need to do it, we used them anyway as an experiment for atomic bombs."

Most of these senior advisers believed that a demonstration of the bomb's awful power in an unpopulated place would have convinced Japanese leaders to sue for peace. Japan had no air force, no naval forces, and was completely blockaded. An invasion was not required to bring her to surrender.

For too many years, our leaders kept secret from Americans the true story of those bombings. The scholarly works of the past few decades have exploded the self-serving myths that "We had to do it." Americans should look at the issues squarely. A critical approach to the facts will lead them to conclude, as did William Blum: "Hiroshima: Needless Slaughter, Useful Terror."

Gerald Cavanaugh


Spiritual health care

The prescription for affordable health care was written around 2,000 years ago when Jesus of Nazareth walked our globe and taught his followers how to overcome every imaginable disease or human malady by finding the underlying perfection and goodness that is inherent in the world. This was a spiritual perfection that hid beneath layers of greed, hatred, sensuality or other untoward thoughts or acts. When this spiritual law of perfection was embraced, the discordant situations were naturally restored to soundness of mind, body or financial well-being. This form of healing was offered and available to everyone regardless of race, religion or social status.

In the late 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy came upon these same ideas and made them readily available through her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She eventually founded the Christian Science Church, which today carries on her wish of making these spiritual laws available and useful to all.

Our local church is sponsoring a talk by Ashland resident Ron Ballard tonight at 7, to be held in the Community Center. His topic, "Why you should know about Christian Science Healing," will show how this system of spiritual awareness can be used on a daily basis to improve the human condition.

I was brought up in a Christian Science household and can attest to its usefulness through more than 50 years of active, healthy living without taking a single medication, prescription or otherwise.

Please join us there or visit our Reading Room next to the Varsity Theater for more information.

Peter Mattson


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