The ruling class's deadliest toys, nuclear weapons are never a 'necessary evil', writes Lucy Nichols
On the 6th of August 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was destroyed by the most powerful explosive the world had ever seen.
Seventy-five years ago, the US dropped a 5-ton atomic bomb on the city, instantly killing 80,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more would die later on as a result of the exposure to radiation. This was the first time a nuclear weapon had ever been used in war and was closely followed by the dropping of another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, which killed a further 40,000. Decades on from ‘Little Boy’, people still suffer from chronic illnesses as a result of the extreme amount of radiation they were exposed to.
The destruction unleashed in a single day was unlike anything the world had ever seen, even after the many horrors of the Second World War. This single bomb killed three times more than had died throughout the Blitz.
The US started to develop nuclear weapons in 1940, on the basis that Germany were doing the same. Of course, by the time the nuclear bomb was actually used, Germany had surrendered and the war in Europe was effectively over.
Whether these bombings were necessary to end the war is therefore a hotly debated subject; though Japan surrendered after Nagasaki was bombed, they were already losing the war, and could not have carried on much longer without their allies in Europe. Truman chose to use nuclear weapons to force this Japanese surrender; the alternative was a Soviet invasion of the east-Asian nation. This would empower Stalin, and spread communism to another country in Asia.
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the beginning of a new era: the Cold War. Up against a Soviet Army that now controlled a large part of Europe, the Allied powers knew that Stalin would not remain friendly for long. Truman needed to prove the US to be a formidable enemy and did so by demonstrating her huge military power against the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
What followed was decades of coups, proxy wars and anti-communism that led to the destruction of governments the world over; from Cuba to Iran, Nicaragua to Burkina Faso. Nations all over the world either began to develop their own nuclear weapons, or housed American or Russian ones. The USSR and the USA both controlled massive nuclear arsenals – any direct armed conflict between the two would surely end in mutually assured destruction.
Even decades after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of any possibility of armed conflict between any two major world powers, dozens of countries cling on to their nuclear arsenals.
The UK alone spends billions of pounds on Trident, despite not facing any realistic threat from any foreign powers. Even so, it is almost taboo to suggest disarmament – Jeremy Corbyn was branded a ‘danger to Britain’ for his opposition to Trident in 2017. The imperialist belief that China, Russia or even Iran pose a serious threat to British nationals is encouraged by the ruling class to justify the maintenance of our 120 nuclear warheads. This is even more the case in the US and Russia, who control over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Since 1945, the world has seen endless war, killing and displacing millions upon millions of people. War is both a political and a money-making tool, used to keep the ruling class at the top. We are told that war is a necessary evil; that when Western forces invade the Global South, they are going to liberate, to civilise and to bring democracy.
But it is the working classes that suffer overwhelmingly, whether they are the ones going to war, or the ones being bombed. Western imperialism has changed in the last 75 years, but it has not gone anywhere. Where we once had colonies and mandates, we now watch as US corporations back military coups in Latin America, and Western militaries tear apart the Middle East.
We must see through the lies: war is never a necessary evil, and neither are nuclear weapons. On the 75th anniversary of the devastation brought by the nuclear bomb, we must commemorate the many victims, and fight hard to eliminate the prospect of these weapons of mass destruction ever being used again.
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