A Little Angel Named Sadako
It’s been said that the first casualty of war is the truth. I’d say all atrocities and war crimes come with a bag of lies – before, during and after. That’s why US history textbooks are full of lies. Genocide against the natives, slavery, frequent wars, massacres, invasions, bombings, lynchings, racism, detention camps for the Japanese, have all been whitewashed, explained away, misrepresented or outright lied about at one time or another. Just about every war has come with lies, not just about the reason for starting it, but also about massacres and atrocities committed by US troops during the war, from My Lai and Ha My massacres and indiscriminate carpet bombings in Vietnam and the massacre of unarmed civilians in No Gun Ri, Korea, to the Haditha massacre in Iraq and the Deh Bala wedding party bombing in Afghanistan, which killed 47 people, mostly women and children, leaving the party in a bloody mess of severed limbs and heads of women and children, for the villagers to clean up.
Lies always came without hesitation, even when there was public support for their action. Even the circumstances of the assassination of Bin Laden remains a mystery to this day; the White House changed its story several times, about whether he was armed at the time he was shot, about who else was with him that was also killed, and about the reason for dumping his body in the sea.
The lie about the Gulf of Tonkin gave the US the excuse to escalate the war in Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive, in 1968, the entire countryside in southern and central parts of the country became a “free-fire zone,” meaning that any human or animal within it was a legitimate target. A month after this incident, a similar massacre took place in the neighboring province of Quang Ngai, later known to the international community as the My Lai massacre. Declassified military documents also show how US commanders ordered their forces to target and kill refugees, caught on the battlefield in the Korean War. Fearing North Korean infiltration, in July of 1950, up to 400 Korean civilians were killed by US forces from the 7th Cavalry Regiment. They lied about all of these.
Although the systematic killings of the American Indians, which resulted in the biggest genocide of all time, stands out in its unsurpassed scale and level of cruelty and injustice in the entire history of mankind, there is another large and horrendous war crime, committed by this government that isn’t discussed much and has been lied about and misrepresented in history books. That’s the decision to drop the atomic bomb on two large and heavily populated Japanese cities, incinerating over two hundred thousand people at once. By 1950, another 230,000 Japanese had died from injuries or radiation. Not only is this unique in history, as far as the number of people killed in a matter of days, but also for the lies that have been told about it and accepted by the vast majority of the American people.
The official reason given to people is that the bombs were dropped to bring the war to a quick end and avoid many more casualties. The truth is something else, entirely. By 1945, the Japanese supply lines had been cut, their air force was a shambles, and Tokyo was nearly in ruins with 140,000 killed and a million injured. Its biggest ally, Germany, had been defeated and the Soviet Union was about to declare war on and enter the war with Japan, which would have ruined US plans for imposing their own exclusive terms on the Japanese and occupy it with their troops and thus keep the Soviets out of it, altogether. The US goal, looking forward from that point on, was to curtail the influence of the Soviet Union and stop socialism from spreading. That’s why they occupied Germany and Italy and have kept them occupied, to this day. That was also the biggest reason for the Marshall Plan to help Europe recover since the call for socialism was getting louder. Were the Soviets to enter the war with Japan and move on to enter the country, the US reasoned, their plan for imposing their exclusive terms and occupying and dictating their policy on Japan, would have collapsed and the Soviets would find a foothold in the Pacific, similar to what happened in Eastern Europe. That’s the only thing that can logically explain the US frantic rush to test and drop history’s first atomic bomb. If they were so worried about more US casualties, why not let the Soviets enter the war and help them finish it together? Why the rush, especially about undertaking such a huge mass killing? The test was conducted at Trinity, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945; the order to drop it on Japan was issued on July 25, almost immediately after observing the test results.
The second reason for dropping the atomic bomb also had to do with the Soviet Union. They wanted to intimidate and threaten the Soviets, by showing what they were capable of, as in “be forewarned”. Even though, the Soviets acquired the bomb themselves a few years later, in 1949, they were still threatened with nuclear attack in 1961, during the Cuban Missiles Crisis. You can see the potential such a weapon and its successful use, as demonstrated on two urban cities, could have, politically, for the US, which had risen to world dominance and had plans to expand that dominance. It gives the party owning it blackmail capability and the US wanted the Soviets to know what they might face, themselves.
The third reason for dropping the nuclear bombs was to be able to assess their effects when dropped on a populated area, rather than on an uninhibited New Mexico desert, and see its radiation effects, too. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not chosen because they were the most important cities, militarily. They were not. They were chosen to see the aftermath. Also, two different sizes of the bomb were used to see the different effects, on two different geographic topologies. Hiroshima is mostly flat because it sits on a flat river delta. The bomb was dropped on the city center, an area crowded with wooden residential structures. That’s why the death toll and destruction was greater there. Nagasaki, in contrast, is hilly with the hills concentrating the effects of the bomb in areas lying between them, killing almost everyone and destroying everything, while partially shielding other areas.
Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was taught at the time to make paper cranes. She thought that was supposed to protect her and make her recover from leukemia, which she contracted from exposure to nuclear radiation. So, she feverishly made paper cranes until she succumbed to the disease and died. The US and Japan went on to sign the surrender agreement, without the Soviets, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians dead and hundreds of thousands more in the following years, due to radiation.