It’s happened before. It may very well happen again. There are those who believe megadeath from a nuclear exchange to be inevitable – that it is not a question of if, but when. The very existence of the world’s nuclear arsenals suggests that future megadeath remains an option entertained by world leaders.
“Although the Cold War is said to have ended in 1991, the US and Russia each still operate under the assumption that the other could authorize a nuclear attack against them. The failure to end their Cold War nuclear confrontation causes both nations to currently maintain a total of about 2000 strategic nuclear warheads on high-alert status, which can be launched in only a few minutes”- nucleardarkness.org
The articles quoted below explore the moral – if that word may be used in this context – casuistry which led to the bombing of unarmed populaces and justifies the continued targeting of civilian populations.
SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS
From Mussolini’s bombing of civilians in the 1930’s Ethiopia and Hitler’s deliberate targeting of women and children in Guernerica, there was a demonic intensification of slaughter of innocents.
“From fall 1940 through spring 1941, Hitler’s air force struck London and other English cities with terrifying night bombing raids. The bombing of London, the main target of German planes, cost the lives of 30,000 people.”(1)
In February 1942, the British abandoned their “precision bombing” strategy. For the rest of the war, the British concentrated on the systematic widespread destruction of German cities by RAF nighttime air raids, a strategy called “area bombing.” One reason the British took this fateful step was to “dehouse” the German people, which hopefully would shatter their morale and will to continue the war.”(1)
“In the early hours of 25 July 1943, nearly 800 RAF Halifaxes and Lancasters launched a 50-minute bombing raid on the Third Reich’s second largest city, Hamburg. The pilots used the neo-Gothic spire of St Nikolai’s church in the city’s historic heart as a landmark and killed 1,500 people. Three nights later, just after midnight, the bombers returned. What was to follow was immeasurably worse. The RAF’s target was the city’s overcrowded working-class districts, Hammerbrook, Hamm and Borgfelde, to which many of those who had lost their homes in the previous bombardment had fled. Unusually warm weather and heavy loads of incendiaries combined to create a hurricane-like firestorm. In the face of temperatures of 800˚C, ‘every human resistance was quite useless,’ Hamburg’s chief of police later wrote. People jumped into canals and waterways, swimming or standing for hours; many were asphyxiated in bomb shelters as the fires raging in the streets devoured every trace of oxygen. Two more overnight raids would follow, complemented by heavy American daytime bombing of Hamburg’s ports, but it was on the night of 27 July that most of Operation Gomorrah’s 40,000 victims would die. The ten-day pounding of Hamburg was, Air Chief Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris conceded, ‘incomparably more terrible’ than anything thus far visited upon Germany. Ten square miles of the city were obliterated, forcing 900,000 of its inhabitants to flee. In the aftermath, suggested a contemporary account, ‘Rats and flies were the lords of the city.'”(2)
“From February 13 to February 15, 1945, during the final months of World War II … Allied forces bombed the historic city of Dresden, located in eastern Germany. The bombing was controversial because Dresden was neither important to German wartime production nor a major industrial center, and before the massive air raid of February 1945 it had not suffered a major Allied attack. By February 15, the city was a smoldering ruin and an unknown number of civilians—estimated at somewhere between 35,000 and 135,000 – were dead.”(3)
FIRESTORM IN JAPAN
On the night of March 9-10, 1945 (Major General Curtis LeMay’s) B-29 bombers attacked Tokyo, a city of 6 million people. Nearly 600 bombers dropped 1,665 tons of fire bombs on the Japanese capital, destroying 16 square miles of the city. The resulting firestorm killed 100,000 people, more than died at Hiroshima or Nagasaki from atomic bombs a few months later. Most of the victims were women, children, and old men. The B-29 crew members put on oxygen masks to keep from vomiting at the smell of burning human flesh. LeMay’s planes continued firebombing Tokyo and more than 60 other Japanese cities in the following months. He thought he could end the war quickly by destroying Japan’s economy and crushing the morale of the Japanese people. LeMay argued against using atomic bombs. He believed that his firebombing tactics would force Japan to surrender before American forces were scheduled to invade the homeland. On August 6, 1945, one B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, creating a firestorm that wiped out 70 percent of the city and killed 70,000 Japanese. The atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki three days later was somewhat less destructive due to the geographical features of the city. After some hesitation, Japan finally surrendered. The decision to use atomic weapons was fairly easy for American political and military leaders, given the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths already caused by the bombing of cities during the war. The outrage about such killing at the beginning of the war had been numbed by the horror of “total war” and the desire to quickly bring it all to an end.”(1)
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “The real mortality of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan will never be known. The destruction and overwhelming chaos made orderly counting impossible. It is not unlikely that the estimates of killed and wounded in Hiroshima (150,000) and Nagasaki (75,000) are over conservative.”(4)
“In Hiroshima, at least 66,000 people were incinerated in an instant, at least 30,000 three days later when we used a second bomb, codenamed “Fat Man” on Nagasaki. Exact casualty figures are impossible to state, because population records turned to ash along with the record-keepers, and radiation caused many deaths long after the actual explosions. Tadatoshi Akiba, a former math professor at Tufts, published an article in 1983 in which he calculated that 200,000 people had died as result of the bomb in Hiroshima by 1950, and another 140,000 in Nagasaki. Nearly all were civilians—only 150 Japanese military were killed.”(4)
Following World War II, the Cold War developed between the United States and Soviet Union. It never erupted into actual warfare, but the possibility of World War III loomed. The two nations engaged in a nuclear arms race. Each targeted the other’s civilian population, aiming thermonuclear missiles at cities. The massive destructiveness of nuclear weapons made avoiding civilians impossible. It also made nuclear war unwinnable. The standoff between the two nuclear superpowers ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union disbanded. Nuclear war had been avoided, but the threat remains that some nation might use them someday.”
For a comparison of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs with present day nuclear weapons, see rhe infographic at: http://www.businessinsider.com/this-chart-shows-the-terrifying-power-of-modern-nuclear-bombs-2012-6
“Hydrogen bombs are thousands of times more powerful than their atomic predecessors. The first hydrogen bomb the United States ever tested in the Marshall Islands in 1952, called Ivy Mike, had the force of 10 million tons of TNT (or 10 megatons).
“The most powerful hydrogen bomb ever — a Russian nuke called Tsar Bomba, literally “king of bombs” — had a yield of 50 megatons of TNT. A blast from Tsar Bomba could cause radiation burns as far as 62 miles away. Windows more than 500 miles away shattered during the Tsar Bomba test.”(5)
The following quotes are from nucleardarkness.org:
“If 1% of the nuclear weapons now ready for war were detonated in large cities, they would utterly devastate the environment, climate, ecosystems and inhabitants of Earth. A war fought with thousands of strategic nuclear weapons would leave the Earth uninhabitable.
“A large nuclear war would utterly devastate the environment and cause most people to starve to death. Already stressed ecosystems would collapse. Deadly climate change, radioactive fallout and toxic pollution would cause a mass extinction event, eliminating humans and most complex forms of life on Earth.
“The U.S. and Russia keep hundreds of missiles armed with thousands of nuclear warheads on high-alert, 24 hours a day.
“They can be launched with only a few minutes warning and reach their targets in less than 30 minutes. We must end this madness.”(6)