Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's be be clear about one thing...

I’ve often espoused my views on war and the devastation that goes with it. I don’t think that anyone would mistake my passion for a no-war policy as ambivalent. Let me make it absolutely clear: War equals death…our war in Iraq is about greed, but it still ultimately equals death.
Thursday night, I watched a documentary titled White Light/Black Rain about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. I felt that I understood the total destruction an atomic bomb creates. I was miserably wrong. The film contains interviews of some of those that survived. The picture these poor people paint is one of complete annihilation. Anything within a one-hundred mile radius of either of these bombs was completely destroyed. Closer in; completely vaporized. Videos and pictures showed actual government involvement studying victims of the blast; those who suffered burns, loss of limbs and radiation poisoning. These injuries were absolutely horrific on an order of magnitude.
There were also interviews of the men who piloted the Enola Gay, the plane that delivered the deadly cargo to Hiroshima. I felt that I couldn’t judge them because they lived in a time when the Japanese started the war. These pilots were the ones who, in fact, ended it. Nine days after the first atomic bomb was detonated, the Japanese surrendered. As a result of the atomic blasts, 260,000 people died immediately or a few days after. Within a year, another 110,000 had died from radiation poisoning and burn related complications. 370,000 dead. The American and Japanese governments had no idea how to treat radiation poisoning because these were the first incidences in history.
The Japanese victims that were interviewed stated that they didn’t hold a grudge. It was their government that started the war with the U.S.A. Some of the survivors started an organization to ask for health care and benefits for the victims. Only until recently, they were denied government aid. They talked of the loss of family members, homes, jobs, lives that they formerly lived. Today, they are societal outcasts that are shunned by a modern society. They carry the specter of radiation poisoning: miscarriages, birth defects, Leukemia, tumors, hair loss, and premature death, among other myriad diseases.
When someone says we should just “nuke” Iraq, they have absolutely no clue about what they are saying. Little Boy, the atomic bomb and Fat Man, the hydrogen bomb yielded approximately20 kilotons. Today, the nuclear weapons that many governments possess yield 20 megatons, equaling 2,000 times more energy. There are enough nuclear weapons to equal 400,000 Hiroshima’s. 400,000! I multiplied 370,000 dead by 400,000. The number is 1,480,000,000 dead. That doesn’t take into consideration those that would die due to nuclear winter and loss of food supplies, water supplies and shelter. It is literally incalculable. I also multiplied the square-mile radius of ground-zero, approximately 50 square miles, by 400,000. It is 20 million square miles. It is a gross understatement to say that life as we know it, would cease to exist. Our planet would become like the rest of the planets in our solar system; incapable of supporting life due to a nonexistent atmosphere, hostile weather and miniscule amounts of water.
So, as John Lennon said, let’s give peace a chance. Impotent posturing by our governments is not enough. We have a chance to make a change in the upcoming election. Do your part. Don’t let our complacency continue to mire our country in endless skirmishes and threats. It has been said that if we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it. It has also been said that the future is not set. We can change the future in the present. Please don’t be idle and watch the world go by.


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