Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://archive.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/866/21170

From The Socialist newspaper, 5 August 2015

Hiroshima - 70 years on

Can a future nuclear conflict be avoided?

Hiroshima, Japan, 1945, after the atomic bomb, photo by Xiquinho Silva (Creative Commons)

Hiroshima, Japan, 1945, after the atomic bomb, photo by Xiquinho Silva (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Geoff Jones and Kate Jones

Seventy years ago, on 6 August 1945, a single bomb dropped by a US bomber on the Japanese city of Hiroshima killed between 90,000 and 166,000 men, women and children. Half died immediately, the rest later from burns, radiation poisoning and other injuries. The world had changed forever. The atomic era had begun.

The idea of a bomb of this awesome power had sprung from the new physics of the 1930s. Between 1939 and 1945 British and American physicists worked feverishly at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to build such a bomb in the mistaken belief that the Nazis were doing the same thing and might succeed first.

But the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945 gave work on the bomb a new focus - the war against Japan, which had already cost the USA 100,000 lives.

The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, followed a few days later by a second bomb at Nagasaki, brought Japanese surrender - but at the cost of up to 250,000 lives in the two cities.

Why were the bombs used? The official reason was to avoid a million casualties in a bloody invasion of Japan. But there was a second likely motive for the bombing of the strategically unimportant city of Nagasaki. The great fear of US capitalism was the threat of 'communism' as embodied by the Soviet Union.

The power of the Soviet Red Army sweeping across Europe, coupled with revolutionary movements springing up in France, Italy and Greece sent shivers down the spines of capitalists. The bombs were a deterrent to what they saw as Soviet expansion.

In fact, after 1945, some US strategists recommended a 'pre-emptive' nuclear attack on the Soviet Union before they got atomic weapons. But in 1949 the Soviet Union tested its own nuclear weapon. The UK joined the 'nuclear club' in 1952.

The very name Hiroshima - the single plane with its murderous payload, the mushroom cloud, the ruined city, horrifically burned bodies, disfigured survivors, radiation sickness and nuclear fallout - has become a symbol for the ultimate power of modern warfare.

'Deterrence'

Hiroshima triggered huge anti-war movements. In Britain in the 1960s, CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) mobilised demonstrations of hundreds of thousands, and raised public awareness about the futility of 'nuclear deterrence', the dangers of radiation and of nuclear waste.

Today in Britain, both Tories and Labour are wedded to the 'upgrading' of the nuclear arsenal. Both agree to replace ageing Trident nuclear missile submarines at a cost which the Ministry of Defence puts at £20 billion but which opponents reckon would be nearer to £100 billion. These sums are far bigger than Osborne's latest welfare cuts.

The Trident submarines are based in Scotland, and the Scottish National Party's call for their removal has popular support. The prospect of a future independent Scotland has put the question of Trident and its possible relocation, on the agenda.

But the idea of an 'independent British nuclear deterrent' is a relic of its days as an imperial power. It is neither independent, nor a deterrent!

The missiles could only be fired with the agreement of the US military. But in any case, who do they deter? They did not deter the Argentine military dictatorship from invading the Falklands (nobody suggested 'nuking' Buenos Aires!).

Is nuclear war still a threat? There are an estimated 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world, over 90% held by USA and Russia, but also by the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and, lately, North Korea. This is more than enough to wipe out most of the human race (and most other life too).

Despite a recent ratcheting up of super-power tensions over Ukraine, nuclear war between America and Russia is highly unlikely. And while Israel might threaten a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, to actually fire a nuclear missile would be suicidal.

But a nuclear 'accident' remains possible, as does the use of radioactive nuclear material to make a highly destructive 'dirty bomb'. Moreover, the takeover of a country like Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, by forces such as the Taliban or Isis, would create new dangers.

It could not be ruled out that under conditions of crisis, unstable warring regimes could spark a nuclear exchange.

And 'peaceful' nuclear power plants around the world have highly destructive fuel and waste which could be used to make weapons. Such material has certainly gone missing from a defunct nuclear reactor in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in some of the former Soviet republics.

Even in Britain, it is not clear how and where nuclear waste is stored and how safe it is. How much more precarious is the situation in countries in the throes of civil war?

Disarmament

Nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented. They exist, the knowledge to make them exists, and no amount of pledges to disarm by world capitalism would prevent them being made again in future.

The only guarantee that such weapons will never be made, or used, is a socialist world. The working class of all continents, working together to build a better world for all, will decide democratically that nuclear power, if it is used at all, is only ever used for peaceful purposes.

The best legacy of Hiroshima would be a future of peace and plenty, where production is planned for the benefit of all of humankind, and where war of any kind is a thing of the past.

Nuclear weapons currently in existence

Source: International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 5 August 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Jeremy Corbyn: Thousands rally to anti-austerity appeal

Health trusts told 'don't fill posts' - stop NHS cuts!

Abolish the House of Lords!

Police spying: campaigners demand full disclosure

Fiddling finance capital in the dock

Rent hikes make housing unaffordable

Them & Us


Socialist Party features

Human tragedy of Calais crisis

Personal care budgets: more choice for service users?


Socialist history

Hiroshima - 70 years on


International socialist news and analysis

China at a turning point


Workplace news

Kill the bill! Join the NSSN lobby of the TUC

National Gallery strike: all-out art action

Rail shutdowns step up: second tube strike, 72-hour Great Western walkout

National Museum Wales strike against pay cut

Traffic wardens strike for sick pay

Workplace news in brief

Fighting the anti-union laws


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Bath: behind the elegant walls


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaigning to end the housing crisis

Lincoln demonstrators defy far-right threats

TUSC lobbies 'Labstainer'

Thousands gather at Leeds Pride

Socialist Party Summer Camp


 

Home   |   The Socialist 5 August 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Hiroshima:

triangleAnniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Hiroshima - 70 years on

Nuclear weapons:

triangleNuclear Folly: A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

triangleUnited working class movements can defeat Trump

triangleCampaigning in Southampton for school and college walkouts when Trump visits Britain on 13th July

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: Is there a global nuclear threat?

Soviet:

triangleAugust 1991 - The aborted military coup in the 'Soviet Union'

triangleTV Review: Chernobyl - Workers' heroism vs sclerotic Stalinism

triangleSupport for Putin's regime dips over major attacks on state pensions

War:

triangleFor workers' unity against war in Ukraine

triangleUkraine: Workers' unity needed

US:

triangleUkraine: Workers' unity against capitalist warmongers and imperialist meddlers

Soviet Union:

triangleFilm Review: Dear Comrades!

Trident:

triangleNHS cyberattack: budget cuts and spy agency to blame

USA:

triangleTrade unionists in the USA fighting back

Russia:

triangleCarlisle Socialist Party: What now for Ukraine and Russia?

France:

triangleFrance: Education workers and students walkout

Pakistan:

triangleMarching for Kashmir's liberation

Britain:

triangleTories instruct teachers to wipe Britain's real history

Israel:

triangleTV review: Valley of the Tears

Nuclear power:

triangleFight for socialism to end climate destruction

Scotland:

triangleSocialist Party Scotland: Socialist change to end climate change

Military:

triangleOne year after the military coup in Myanmar

Korea:

triangleTV review: Squid Game

India:

triangleHistoric victory of India's farmers

Japan:

triangleOxfordshire & Aylesbury Socialist Party: Fighting for socialism in Japan

Nazis:

triangleHeroic martyrs of German Revolution

Mexico:

triangleMexico City subway train collapse - negligence, corruption and capitalism

North Korea:

triangleCapitalists fear for their system at Davos

Taliban:

triangleAfghanistan in crisis:

Ukraine:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Crisis in the Ukraine

Germany:

triangleGerman election: A change of capitalist government, but disaster for Die Linke

Iran:

triangleIran's presidential election

Army:

triangleReflections on the Lebanese tragedy one year on

Anti-war:

triangleTens of thousands march against Israeli state terror

China:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Kazakhstan - Unprecedented, simultaneous mass protests

Congo:

triangleNew Ebola threat

Italy:

triangle'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

Greece:

triangleGreece-Turkey border refugee crisis

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

23/2/22

Cardiff

Restore Cardiff's slashed services

23/2/22

Pay

Just Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

23/2/22

UCU

University workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

23/2/22

London

Tube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

23/2/22

Students

Workers and students unite and fight

23/2/22

Fees

Fighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

23/2/22

Brighton

Brighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Surrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate

23/2/22

Newham

Newham City Farm - closed with no consultation

23/2/22

Women

London Socialist Party women's meeting

23/2/22

Socialist

1 March: Socialist Party new website launch

23/2/22

Coventry

Coventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council

23/2/22

Strike

Scunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table

23/2/22

Usdaw

Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999