Welcome to the world of History-telling. American ishtyle.
Time on its cover story (anniversary special) educates the readers about Hiroshima, with a Japanese witness on its cover holding a picture postcard.
The essay by Michael Elliott says:
The atom bombs dropped over Japan ended a terrible war and persuaded the world never to use nuclear weapons again. Time quotes Van Kirk on the B-29 remembering that “somebody said—and I thought so too–‘This war is over.'”
Eight days later, Elliot says, it was over. According to him, if the first bomb was not enough justification to call it over, the second must have been, since Nagasaki was attacked on August 9.
Ever since, there has been controversy over when the war would have ended had the bomb not been dropped on Hiroshima–a second was detonated over the city of Nagasaki on Aug. 9—and how many Japanese and Americans would have died before it did.
Not only the war was presumably over, the act of throwing the bomb was a beautiful act also. As Elliot has a Japanese eyewitness describe the greatest disaster to have ever caused as something, “like a burst of light from an unearthly photo shoot, big enough to cover the sky, “blue-yellow and very beautiful.”
Time goes on:
But, plainly, the most terrible war ever known ended earlier than it would have because of the Enola Gay’s mission. The bombs cost tens of thousands of lives—perhaps 120,000 were killed immediately in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with many more dying later from the effects of radiation—but they saved lives too.
When he heard the news of Hiroshima, writer Paul Fussell, then a 21-year-old second lieutenant leading a rifle platoon in France and mentally preparing for the hell that an invasion of Japan was bound to be, thought, “We were going to live. We were going to grow up to adulthood after all.”
And the aftermath, according to Time:
An awful weapon had saved lives; a terrible instrument of war had brought peace…..
Buried in silos in the wheat fields of North Dakota, tucked into the torpedo tubes of Soviet submarines parked in the North Atlantic, slung in the bomb bays of B-52s, the American and Soviet nuclear arsenals mutually assured the destruction of both sides if hostilities commenced. The cold war turned into a long peace.
Sounds sick to my stomach. Such narrative that proclaims that the world war was over because Japan was bombed (nay, even more sophisticatedly, detonated, not attacked!). For, some of us who are among the rest of those who don’t subscribe to this narrative know for sure when and how the war was ended. And if we still wondered why US had to bomb Japan even after the war was over, now we know the news: that the war was not actually over. It needed one Hiroshima and then again, one Nagasaki to call it over!
What logic does Elliot has in saying Hiroshima was not enough to call it over, if at all in his weirdest philosophy, all we need is some bombings to end wars? Why did we need another bomb after 8 days? No logic, just plain statement: “An awful weapon had saved lives; a terrible instrument of war had brought peace…..”
Brought peace? For whom? For the generations of Japanese who lived with the scar and became numb enough to traverse from royal monarchies to economic imperialists without an utter?
The underlying theme of the Anniversary Special (see the celebratory tone! Calling it an anniversary special than maybe a Guilt-ridden Summer Remembrance) of the magazine is to say that we needed to bomb Japan so that we shall have peace. Moreover, it was not a bad thing to bomb after all. Hey, we got an eyewitness to say that the after-effects of the bombing was “blue-yellow and very beautiful”!
And finally Time declares that the bombs (which are bad in the hands of the “terrorists”, it concludes too) led to nuclear arsenal competitions leading to cold war which brought long lasting peace!
Notice the web of lies: First, that the war got over because of the bomb (whereas in actual, the war had long ended after which US surprised everyone by bombing Japan mercilessly, first Hiroshima and then again Nagasaki), second, that the after-effects of bombing was beautiful experience (whereas the gruesome truth is that all of us know what happened to generations of people, even as Time could manage to get an old man stand with a picture of the bombing as to show how beautiful event it was to celebrate), third, that the bombings saved lives (whereas we know that millions have died for no good reason at all), fourth, that the people after all grew up to live well (whereas we know the systematic tortures on Japanese-Americans which go largely untold for several suppressive reasons), fifth, that cold war brought peace (whereas nothing could be further from the truth).
Cold war was not that cold. We know millions of innocent civilians who have been systematically annihilated in the name of protecting them from Communism (even within the country, McCarthyism was such a reality) with active interventions in third-world countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa. That was the hottest war series ever continued. And thanks to the whole suspicion trail of nuclear arsenal acquisitions of rivaling blocs.
And today, after the end of so-called Cold War, we know that the same bomb greed has led many countries to feel insecure, join the arms race, whereas they could involve in developmental works they have drained out resources to build arsenals to join the club, we know of the numerous nuclear plant leaks and disasters–most of which are so embarrassing that they are not discussed, we also know that many misguided youth and deliberately led religious fanatics are in quest of the formula too, not to be left out of the race.
And the world is most unsafe than ever before. We are having televised wars and children are bombing neighbors on their video games. More bombs don’t make the world safer place. I am sure the readers of Time know of this. Or I doubt. I am still waiting to read few letters to the editor.