Seventy- four years ago on Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later another device was detonated over Nagasaki, historically the most Christian of Japanese cities.
It is not my purpose here to discuss the morality or necessity of these events. Between 120,000 and 220,000 people were killed, over half in the first few minutes, and the vast majority were non-combatant civilians.
The Hiroshima bomb had the explosive equivalent of 15,000 tons (15 kilotons) of TNT, or 30 million pounds of explosive. In the 1960’s, however, the Soviets produced the “TsarBomb” which had 58 megatons of destructive power — the equivalent of about 3,000 Hiroshima bombs — in one bomb. This is three times the destructive power of all arms used in WWII.
At one time the U.S. had 23,317 nuclear weapons, and the Soviets had over 40,000. There were a number of well- documented ‘near misses,’ false alarms and near catastrophes, which in general the American public was blissfully unaware of.
The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II signed by Presidents Carter and Brezhnev, in spite of great controversy and accusations of cheating by both sides, led to the reduction of the arsenals down to the present levels of about 1,400 active weapons in arsenals limited to about 6,000 total weapons on each side.
Still enough to end civilization as we know it. So what are we to make of a public figure who declares: “If we have them (nukes) why can’t we use them?” This incredibly irresponsible statement was made by Donald Trump in August 2016.
Our future president also did not understand what the “Nuclear Triad” is — the deployment of our nuclear forces on land based missiles, submarines and long range bombers. Once elected he appointed Gov. Perry of Texas as Secretary of energy, who was surprised once in office when he learned that his department was not simply in charge of drilling for oil and promoting fracking, but was responsible for our entire nuclear arsenal as well!
This carelessness — to put it kindly — in nuclear matters continues unabated in the current administration. The U.S. walked away from the Iran treaty, and disparaged our NATO allies, who face the real threat of Russian ‘theater’ nuclear forces.
The President is having a photogenic love affair with the North Korean dictator — who as of this writing is testing new long range missiles but has not given up one ounce of nuclear material (unlike the 24,000 pounds of enriched uranium given up by IRAN) and perhaps most dangerously, he has walked away from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty with the Russians — (strangely — in spite of trusting Putin more than he trusts our own national intelligence agencies when it comes to the issue of election sabotage.)
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has come to the conclusion that both the U.S. and the Russians have violated the INF treaty, which greatly reduced the danger of a nuclear catastrophe in Europe, which could easily spread to a wider arena.
The authoritative Bulletin calls for the urgent renegotiation and restoration of provisions of this treaty that lessen the threat of nuclear conflict in Europe and in East Asia.
Unfortunately the confusion, lack of consistency and outright endangerment of our nation by the current administration’s nuclear policies have met with no comment or significant attention from our elected federal officials, Mark Meadows, and Senators Tillis and Burr.
Nuclear war is unimaginable, yet it is not inconceivable. Arrogance, ignorance and impulsiveness could cause the world to stumble into a catastrophe that would, like the spiral of events that led to World War I, accelerate out of control- especially in the era when leadership may have less than 30 minutes to decide if the incoming radar picture is a flock of geese (this did happen!) or Russian/Chinese/North Korean missiles.
The fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should give us pause when we applaud leaders who posture, shout, rabble rouse, yet display little interest in the complexities of issues that may decide the fate of all of us and our children.
Dr. Stephen Wall is a retired physician who lives in Waynesville. He joined Physicians for Social Responsibility in 1975 and was an active participant in its educational activities in Texas and Michigan. PSR won the Nobel Peace prize in 1980 for its work in elucidating the medical consequences of Nuclear War. Dr. Wall’s opinion are his own and not necessarily those of PSR.
Letter writers get it wrong
To the editor:
This is in regard to letters recently featured in The Mountaineer.
To be pro life is to be anti abortion. Every baby has the right to be given a chance in this world, and to make up excuses as to why that isn’t true is selfish and disgusting. If you can’t take care of a child, don’t get pregnant, or give it up for adoption. If you actually needed asylum, you wouldn’t travel through two or three countries to get here. You would get to the nearest place as fast as you could. And who is against being paid a living wage?
For the writer who references our “so called President of the United States,” he is the President of the United States. He won the election. Nothing “so called” about it. You disrespect him as if he is just some guy on the street.
Nothing he says is racist. You have no idea what racism is. Why would someone who doesn’t like the USA want to live here? They can go away. How is that racist? Please explain. The President of the United States putting the people of the United States first and taking care of their needs first is not racist. It is what any good leader should do.
If anyone had written something like that about Obama, you wouldn’t have printed it. A political cartoon calling our President a rat is a disgrace. You should be more equal and not only print liberal thoughts and views. And you should be ashamed of yourself.
(Edditor’s note: The Mountaineer prints every letter received. We don’t pick and choose.)
Let’s look at Chicago
To the editor:
Is it now time to address the gun violence in Chicago?
The city and state can stop much of this carnage. First, the city needs to pass a stop and search ordinance that states that any vehicle found to be transporting any firearm or person with a firearm.
Vehicles shall be confiscated and sold. All occupants or individuals to be arrested and charged with being an accessary to the transport of an illegal firearm. Proceeds should go to the police department. Second, on an unannounced date (a Friday evening) seal off every entrance to and exit from the Southside of Chicago. This would require the use of national guard troops and possibly army personnel.
Search every vehicle and every person going to or coming from that part of the city. After this is done, publicly announce that every other area of the city will receive the same scrutiny on unannounced dates.
Third, establish mandatory jail time for all arrestees, with a 30-day minimum.
We either have to be serious about the violence in Chicago or we aren’t.
To the editor:
Why do you print guest columns without checking some kind of facts first?
This guy wrote a pants-on-fire lie of a column. Since 1970 the post office has not received funds from taxpayers. Look up the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.
Also, if it were not for the fact that our government has had the post office pre-fund their retirees’ health benefits to the amount of $47.5 billion, the post office would have made money most of those years he mentioned. The prefunding amounts to 92 percent of the postal services losses.
Newport Richey, Florida
We can learn a thing or two from Canada
To the editor:
While vacationing in Canada, my first observation was the security of my credit card. They, as most other countries, use a debit machine for all credit card transactions. My card was never out of my sight or position. No one handled my card but me.
As for drivers: They use their blinkers. They stop at crosswalks when someone is waiting. When passing on a four-lane road they immediately get back into the proper lane.
What is most annoying, and I believe is a major cause of road rage, are people who poke along in the left-hand passing lane rather than getting back over into the proper lane. Why do so many people in North Carolina, and I am sure other states, feel they own the highway and will drive in any lane they wish ignoring both the law and the rights of others behind them to be able to pass?
I wish there would be law enforcement crackdown on drivers that do not obey the law. Use your blinker. That is what shows your intentions to the person behind you. Stop when someone is waiting at a crosswalk to cross the road. Stay in the right-hand lane except to pass.