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Boardman writes: "The sterile language of a detached president illustrates how far we are from facing the reality of our own government's deliberate atrocities."

President Obama lays a wreath at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. (photo: AP)
President Obama lays a wreath at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. (photo: AP)

"Historic" Empty Suit Visits Hiroshima

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

05 June 16


“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.”

he sterile language of a detached president illustrates how far we are from facing the reality of our own government’s deliberate atrocities. Hiroshima was certainly destroyed, abstractly, with “a terrible force unleashed” – but by no one? In the president’s passive parsing, it’s as if he thought it was an “act of God.” More honestly told: President Truman approved the atomic bombing of Japan, which was carried out on August 6, 1945, by a Boeing B-29 named Enola Gay, after the pilot’s mother, that dropped a uranium-235 fission bomb cutely nicknamed “Little Boy” on a largely civilian city, killing an estimated 140,000 people (thousands of whom were vaporized without a discoverable trace, while thousands more died from radiation effects over ensuing years, a death toll made worse by US denial of radiation danger and strict censorship of any public discussion during the occupation). Hiroshima was one of the greatest military massacres in history, eclipsing American massacres of Native Americans by several orders of magnitude.

In his initial announcement of the Hiroshima bombing, President Truman said, misleadingly, that the bomb had “destroyed [Hiroshima’s] usefulness to the Army.” In a radio broadcast three days later, Truman falsely characterized Hiroshima as “a military base.” Hiroshima was not a military base, though it had some relatively unimportant military installations. Hiroshima was chosen as the A-bomb target in part because it had so little military significance that it was one of the few Japanese cities that had gone almost un-attacked by the daily American bomb runs. Because it was largely intact, Hiroshima was ideal as a place to demonstrate the A-bomb’s total destructiveness.

The US chose an almost undamaged city full of civilians as the target that would best bring the Japanese to their knees. Now that is something to “ponder,” as Obama suggested, but chose not to do. It doesn’t take much pondering to begin to wonder whether incinerating thousands of civilians might not be a war crime. It would be, if it happened today. During World War II, the laws of war made it a war crime for armies on the ground to attack, harm, and kill civilians. The laws of war did not specifically apply to aerial warfare, and so all sides cheerfully murdered civilians from the air with the kind of legalistic self-righteousness only corrupt lawyers can create. That’s why there were no war crimes trials for any of the horrendous bombings of the war – Rotterdam, Shanghai, Coventry, Cologne, Warsaw, Tokyo, to name a few.

Are war crimes actually war crimes until they’re illegal?

The Anglo-American firebombing of Dresden in February 1945 burned tens of thousands of people alive, including mostly civilians and prisoners of war (one of whom was Kurt Vonnegut, who survived). The actual death toll is unknown, with good faith and politically-motivated estimates ranging from 25,000 to 500,000. The US firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945 killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed more than 15 square miles of the city. By any reasonable moral reckoning, all these air campaigns were war crimes, crimes against humanity in the most obvious sense. American history teaches us that World War II was a just war, “the last good war,” and there’s a case to be made for that. It was also, on all sides, a ruthless criminal enterprise.

None of this very real history was part of Obama’s speech in Hiroshima. American presidents are not expected to be truthful, and would likely be crucified if they were. Once Obama acknowledged the “terrible force unleashed” out of nowhere by nobody, he shifted to a conventionally maudlin but politically shifty call “to mourn the dead,” whom he listed by category. First he somewhat lowballed the Japanese dead, consistent with US policy for 71 years now. Then he mentioned “thousands of Koreans,” a reference to Korean forced labor that would play well in Seoul if not Tokyo. And then he referred to those 12 “Americans held prisoner,” for decades an official secret, in part because other POWs who survived were suffering from radiation sickness and the US government didn’t want anyone to know about that.

Now the first sitting president of the US has visited Hiroshima, has solemnly visited a scene of American crime, and has been greeted with equally hypocritical solemnity by a Japanese government whose own hands are just as dirty and whose own current ambitions are as imperial as America’s in Asia. Obama’s speech would have you believe that that his goal is to “eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons” and to mark “the start of our own moral awakening.” That doesn’t fly when he’s making nice with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose goal is to re-militarize Japan and eliminate all pacifist tendencies from its constitution. Obama is an enabler of Japanese militarization, not only for the sake of arms sales, but also as a “response” to China’s agitation over US provocations under the strategic umbrella of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”

Why does Obama address Hiroshima in the passive voice?

The conventional wisdom and mainstream media call Obama’s trip to Hiroshima “historic” because he’s the first US president to go there, not because there’s anything actually historic about the visit. Politically, the Hiroshima event appears to be pretty reactionary on both sides. Before Obama in 2016, Richard Nixon went to Hiroshima in 1964, before he was president, and former president Jimmy Carter went there in 1984 when he, too, pledged to “eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of this earth.” Early in his presidency in 2009 in Prague, Obama echoed this sentiment:

So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. [Applause.] I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly – perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, “Yes, we can.” [Applause.]

But this was only a sentiment, expressed in campaign rhetoric. America had made no such commitment, even if the president was sincere. America is a long, long way from making such a commitment. American presidents and candidates still talk about using nuclear weapons as if that were a sane option. Yes, the Obama administration negotiated a new treaty (START) in which the US and Russia each agreed to deploy no more than 1550 strategic nuclear warheads and bombs each. That’s a cap, but a high cap. And it applies to no one else, leaving the UK, France, Israel, China, India, Pakistan, and even North Korea a rational basis for each having its own 1550 nukes. The US currently says it has 1528 warheads and bombs deployed, ready to use. The US also says it can “maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent while safely pursuing up to a one-third reduction in deployed nuclear weapons from the level established in the New START Treaty.” [Emphasis added.]

Both Bushes reduced nuclear weapons more than Obama

At its peak in 1967, the US had more than 30,000 nuclear warheads, both deployed and in reserve. By September 30, 2014, the total was 4766 warheads. This represents roughly a 10% reduction since Obama took office. Among other presidents, Reagan maintained the US nuclear arsenal at well over 20,000; George H.W. Bush cut the greatest number of warheads of any president (41% of more than 20,000); and George W. Bush cut the greatest percentage, 50% of slightly more than 10,000 when he took office).

To get Republican support for the START treaty in 2010, President Obama had to promise to improve and expand the US nuclear arsenal in other, creative ways. Obama’s nuclear “modernization” plans, insofar as they’re known, will cost the US an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years (more than $30 billion a year). “Modernization” includes things like nuclear-tipped cruise missiles or new, “smaller” bombs that might be politically easier to use. By today’s standards, the Hiroshima bomb is “small.” (Nuclear modernization is also intended to upgrade “a command and control unit tasked with coordinating the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces [that] still uses 8-inch floppy disks and runs on an IBM / Series 1 computer … first produced in 1976” even though the Pentagon says “it still works.”)

Factors like these – the slow pace of reducing redundant weapons and the willingness to risk a renewed arms race with nuclear “modernization” were enough to arouse one Democratic senator – but only one, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts – to criticize the president:

If Obama wants to keep the pledge he made in 2009 to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security,” he must rein in this nuclear spending insanity. The lesson of Hiroshima is clear: Nuclear weapons must never be used again.

If the United States wants other countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals and restrain their nuclear war plans, it must take the lead. It cannot preach nuclear temperance from a bar stool.

Preaching nuclear temperance has been done to inebriation, as it were

Picturing Obama preaching from a bar stool might seem harsh. But the United Nations’ Open-Ended Working Group on multilateral nuclear disarmament, with more than 100 countries, has been working for two years – without US participation. Also without participation by China, France, Russia and the UK – and they don’t even preach from barstools. Nor do many of them visit Hiroshima. The vision of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is the complete international abolition of all nuclear weapons and the promotion of world peace. It’s where officials go to engage in lip services.

If Obama had wanted to be genuinely historic, he could have visited Nagasaki. There was no excuse for Nagasaki; it was a pure war crime. Unlike Hiroshima, there’s no credible military argument that Nagasaki had to be destroyed to get Japan to surrender. Hiroshima on August 6 was probably enough. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria and declaration of war on Japan on August 8 was surely enough. The class was done, all the grown-ups had to do was collect the papers and start grading them. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito publicly accepted the terms of unconditional surrender on August 15. The Soviets, who had been begged by the Allies for months to enter the war, continued fighting till the official surrender on September 2.

Some historians argue persuasively that the US used the atomic bomb more as a warning to the Soviet Union than as a military necessity, although these are not mutually exclusive – not for Hiroshima in any case. The bombing of Nagasaki was gratuitous overkill with no demonstrable military value in the field. But testing the Nagasaki bomb had real value as a military experiment. Unlike the uranium fission bomb that obliterated Hiroshima, the Nagasaki bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” was the last atomic bomb the US had, and it was different: it was an implosion bomb with a plutonium core. Its prototype had worked in the first atomic explosion in a controlled test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, less than a month earlier. But would it work operationally? Military planners wanted to know and, without any order from the president, they successfully destroyed Nagasaki and some 70,000 people (even though the bomb was two miles off target). The experiment proved that the US could build two kinds of atomic bomb, and both worked.

Truman had his fill of killing “all those kids,” as he said

Apparently surprised by the gratuitous wiping out of Nagasaki, Truman issued an order that no more A-bombs be used, apparently unaware that the entire US atomic arsenal had been expended.

Obama seems to hope, like any rational person, that nuclear weapons will never again be used, but he has done little to change the governmental reality that holds nuclear weapons high on its list of final military solutions. Obama could have gone to Nagasaki and talked about Truman’s order to use no more. He could go to Alamogordo and express sadness that the first test worked. He could go to Bikini and finally make things better for Marshall Islanders who were victims of US nuclear testing. He could go to the Nevada proving grounds where the US government used American soldiers as guinea pigs in assessing the effects of ionizing radiation, and he could apologize for that and so much more. But he didn’t, he hasn’t, and probably he won’t. Crocodile-tear rhetoric is the best we’re likely to get. And maybe that’s because the dream of nuclear disarmament is impossible to realize in a world where the US can’t be trusted.

Even as the president was all hopey-changey in Hiroshima, his government was in its second year of participating in a criminal war in Yemen, where the US is helping the Saudis and their allies slaughter civilians from the air. It took over a year for the US to stop selling internationally condemned cluster bombs to the Saudis. And every time this president orders another drone strike on someone he decides with no due process is an enemy, he commits another of his own war crimes. “We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil,” Obama said at Hiroshima – a homily he illustrates with his failure to confront evil. As the country approaches the 2016 election, Obama has created a context where the president can act as assassin-in-chief with impunity and where the development of miniaturized nuclear warheads for drones is a possibility. Sounds like the ingredients for making America great again.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+47 # RMDC 2016-06-05 14:29
Thanks fore this article. it is a good deconstruction of Obama's lecture. His emptiness in many of his speeches is just appalling. In 2008 this emptiness was not so apparent. But now it is just intolerable. I'll just be glad when he is gone and I never have to listen to him again. But the future looks bad - it could be Trump or Clinton and they would be empty too. '
+3 # Bruce Gruber 2016-06-06 07:46
I find it truly disappointing that this investment in historic legacy-inciting generalizations has become the speech-de-jure of a still-young symbol of American potential.

Barack Obama was the embodiment of a multitude of progressive dreams about the future envisioned by the more "enlightened" idealists among our founders. His election represented a potential turning point in our collective sense of egalitarian achievement.

However, it has devolved into the slog of 'incrementalist ', Hegelian indifference to the reality of a more demanding future - yielding, instead, to a status-quo, genteel indifference to both the pain and demands of that future - allowing, instead, the expansion of income (and control) inequality.

The absence of any intent to lead or push forward with his heretofore 'compromised' and obstructed potential is implied. I fear it expresses a form of capitulation to forces supporting Clinton that do not auger well for the success Obama has had in successfully manning the leak in the dike of humanity's self-inflicted, and drug-induced sense of righteous Empire.
capitulation to a Clinton era
+65 # sashapyle 2016-06-05 17:10
I don't think the words were sterile; in fact some of what Obama said was lovely and thoughtful. BUT those words will be HOLLOW, which is worse than sterile, if the planned trillion-dollar "modernization" --military upgrade-- of our nuclear bomb factories is allowed to happen.
Words are one thing; sucking your own nation dry of resources to keep weaponeers fat while the rest of us struggle, that's another. I live in New Mexico and the nukes industry has us in a stranglehold, economically and environmentally , as coal has historically had West Virginia. The decision to prioritize bomb-making when we have a perfectly good deterrent in our existing arsenal is shocking, tragic, and dangerous.
+25 # futhark 2016-06-05 18:36
This is the economic addiction to militarism which we must overcome for ethical reasons and for our own survival as a species. Addictions are fairly easy to slip into, but take determination, planning, and patience to overcome.

Step 1 is always recognition of the problem. Yes, it is unfortunate that so many people, mostly civilians, would suffer from financial dislocation as their current employment developing or manufacturing weapons or just providing maintenance services at military bases is wound down and terminated. There may also need to be a conversation over the role of the military in developing responsible citizens. As things are in my community, many see the military as an institution in which young people develop proactive approaches to life and acquire useful skills. These need to be questioned and peaceable alternatives need to be developed.

Step 2 then is to identify useful employment for such affected persons, making the necessary transition to genuinely constructive work as painless as possible. This requires society reorienting its goals and possibly redefining the term "national security".

These necessary steps can only be accomplished if we choose leadership that displays wisdom and courage. Falling back on the old mantras of "Making America great", etc. is not going to result in any tangible progress.
-9 # MidwestTom 2016-06-05 19:09
Whenever I heard people talk about finding employment, I know that they are not in the hiring/firing end of a business. Most of the people employed in our military supply firms are highly skilled or engineers earning big wages. Replacement jobs for them simply are not out there. Those with lesser skills now find themselves fighting for positions with people who are here illegally who are willing to work for lower wages (guess who gets hired).

Our military industrial group has trapped us. They are the highest payers, and as a group one of the largest industries, if not the largest. Cut them back, and you will accelerate our economic decline. Stop creating wars, and the market for our biggest exports drops. If the complex declines, so does our standard of living. Only the Wall Street types make money as the country declines, and the fly-over zone gets crushed.
+33 # Promoting Peace 2016-06-05 20:31
Does this mean that killing thousands of innocent people is far more important than some Americans having to retrain for jobs that creat value, rather than destroy other people and our environment, and possibly the world as we know it??? When will we ever develop the guts to transition from war and destruction, to people's health and happiness??? One day I hope we develop the wisdom and courage to begin putting people ahead of money and greed!!!
+14 # economagic 2016-06-05 20:46
Tom, I'm busy with a computer problem and shouldn't take the time, but I can't let that pass. I can't let it pass because it points to a dead end, no solution, might as well roll over and die.

That is bullshit and on some level you know it. There are two kinds of solutions, some of which are idealistic and highly unlikely to occur, others realistic and practical, if not as perfect as we could wish. Solutions of the first kind include electing a president not hell-bent on projection of US power and extension of the empire. Such solutions by stipulation if not by definition are unlikely, but they serve as a guide to where we would like to go.

The second kind of solution is far from ideal, at least in terms of our current thinking, but they have the great advantage that they can actually be implemented by individuals and communities. We've been hearing about the "jobless economy" for a decade now, and it's here to a large extent. The "sharing economy" in terms of Uber and Air b 'n' b is TOTAL bullshit, the worst of the Old economy with none of its benefits. But where there are human needs to be met there are opportunities. How will jobless people "buy" what they can't do for themselves? The same way we always have: We barter, we invent money ("whatever people agree to use as money"), and probably before all else fails, we share. Seriously.

I'm out of time and characters, but to say there is no way out is to create that reality. How many "good" jobs are there even now?
+13 # vicnada 2016-06-05 21:25
Sterile, plodding logic will never find our a way out of this Faustian pact to gain world-imperial power.

While Albert Einstein did not directly participate in the invention of the atomic bomb, he did urge President Franklin Roosevelt to build it. And, being a pacifist, he must have suffered greatly knowing that this genie could never be put back in the bottle. He maintained, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Is there not a call in this formulation of his for something higher, say, a moral imagination that we must awaken to find our way forward? And is it not this imagination that will forever elude us as long as we don't take full responsibility for the continuing horror that we wreak upon our world?

Meanwhile Presidents come and go,
talking of heart but none to show.
+18 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-06-05 21:37
"Most of the people employed in our military supply firms are highly skilled or engineers earning big wages. Replacement jobs for them simply are not out there."

Renewable energy technology? Non-Military industry? Where's your imagination, Tom?
+14 # JayaVII 2016-06-05 19:05
Yes, there's altogether too much of the "lovely and thoughtful" in Obama's rhetoric, too little of the straightforward and forceful. In the home stretch of his presidency, he still presents himself as a candidate, not as a wielder of power. Hollow is a good word for this man.
+16 # wantrealdemocracy 2016-06-05 20:22
No mention by our Peace Prize President about the nuclear weapons we have used in Faluja. Scientist working to figure out why the cancer rates of children in that city was so high. They tested the ground to determine if the cause of the problem was our use of depleted uranium weapons. To their surprise, (and horror!) they found high levels of high intensive weapons levels of uranium in the soil. This proves that the United States has used nuclear weapons in these endless wars in the Middle East. Our nation is the terrorist champion of all the world. We are the bad guys, no doubt about that. The citizens of this nation must change our corrupt and evil government. The sooner the better. Don't vote for any D or any R, there is no lesser evil between these two.
+3 # Caliban 2016-06-05 23:17
"This proves that the United States has used nuclear weapons in these endless wars in the Middle East". Not exactly, # wantrealdemocra cy. This article is about the use of the atomic bomb at the end of WW2. In this context, you seem to imply that the US has used atomic bombs (or some equivalent) in today's Middle East.

But as you should know, depleted uranium is not an explosive form of uranium but rather a weaker form used by arms manufacturers to strengthen metal armor and to give armor piercing bullets greater power to penetrate their targets.

In short, the presence of depleted uranium does not mean the US has been exploding atomic bombs in Falujah or anywhere else in the Middle East. It does mean that the US and its allies are using current technology to build more effective conventional weaponry.

Does this make war and killing any better? No. But knowing what depleted uranium is and how it is used does make for more accurate statements about the topic at hand.
+31 # keenon the truth 2016-06-05 17:11
Thank you, Mr. Boardman. As I said in a previous post, I knew from the start of the very first sentence that we were in for a hypocritical speech. Death fell from the sky? No, it didn't fall, it was dropped, and we all know who did it. In fact, the Japanese translator choose a different word for 'fell', a word much closer to 'was dropped', and the Japanese audience was duped.

The Japanese language is rather indirect, often with no obvious subject in the sentence. It can feel rather unsubstantial and Obama's speech was easy to translate. Many Japanese people I spoke to were happy about it.

At least the BBC drew attention to the hypocrisy when remarking on the presence right behind Obama of the official carrying the briefcase with the nuclear codes.
+34 # capt400 2016-06-05 17:21
B-52??? How about a B-29 named Enola Gay?
+13 # WBoardman 2016-06-05 19:17
capt 400 is so very correct, but I did get the name right ;-)))
# Guest 2016-06-06 09:30
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
+1 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 15:09
Speaking as both a Geezer age 76 and a writer and editor whose career began 60 years ago next November, and with apology and all due respect to Mr. Boardman, his B52/B29 error is symptomatic of our abysmally bad educational system, which is undoubtedly and by far the very worst in the industrial world.

One of its most damning problems is that its graduates emerge with all sorts of wrong assumptions, including (as I discovered to my horror in a recent conversation with a theoretically well-educated 25-year-old) such a meager knowledge of history they assume operational jet aircraft (which were invented by the Nazis in 1943) have been with us since the dawn of aviation.

Probably this is the combined fault of Hollywood (showing for example Model 1894 Winchester repeaters in use in 1865) and the UFO cult (which assumes all modern technology was "given" humanity by space aliens). But even when one understands the cause, the ignorance it demonstrates is no less appalling.

Of course it is entirely possible Mr. Boardman's error was nothing more than a slip of the keyboard -- a momentary mental malfunction that sooner or latter afflicts every journalist, especially under deadline pressure, and typically results in notoriously botched headlines such as HUNDREDS FLEE AS RUPTURED MAN SPEWS TOXIC GAS.
+6 # WBoardman 2016-06-06 18:34
lorenbliss, I fear, makes too much of my B-29 error,
which was, as they say psychologically , a brain fart.

I know perfectly well the Enola Gay was a B-29,
my step-father worked on B-29s during the war,
I've always known it was a B-29, I just missed it
writing/proofin g this story.

The B-52, as may or may nor be well known,
was also used to commit war crimes,
in particular the carpet bombing of Viet-Nam.
+9 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 20:24
@Mr.Boardman -- I deliberately sought to cut you the mental-malfunct ion slack because it has surely happened to me just as it has happened to all of us in this line of work. My apology for not making that more clear -- or not placing it higher up in my rejoinder.

And -- yes -- I am well aware of the U.S. war crimes in Southeast Asia, which revealed to the world -- or should have -- the extent to which the U.S. had already deteriorated into the Fourth Reich. (A 1959 Regular Army enlistee, I avoided Vietnam only by the luck of the draw. Went to Korea instead, then missed the 1965 reserve call-up by a matter of days.)

That said, I cannot count the number of younger people I have met who are totally ignorant of history, including modern U.S. military technology and the murderous imperialism that has spawned it. I have met kids who actually thought it was the "Reds" who dropped the Bombs on Japan. The worst example was maybe two years ago when I had to explain to a couple of otherwise-brigh t college students -- this in the socializing that followed a political-actio n meeting -- that the Soviet Union and the Third Reich were not synonyms. We truly are the most abysmally ignorant nation on earth -- maliciously reduced to functional morons to ease our enslavement by our capitalist masters.
+19 # zach 2016-06-05 18:57
The article is both right in criticisms as well as have done.
President Obama had to make this a cold, academic 'deus ex machine' event, otherwise his use of drones looks too much like the same thing. After all, if you are roasted to a crisp by a terrible force from the sky, does it really matter how many ÿou's" there are?
Perhaps he should have said, there were 5 "high value targetsA"elimin ated with regrettable, but unavoidable, collateral damage.
The problem is that "war is hell." Once the dogs of war are unleashed, there is no knowing where it leads, but usually it leads to terrible consequences. The arrogance of power temps us to think war is a video game, that this time it will be different.
Obama, for being a very smart man, is a fool.
+8 # zach 2016-06-05 19:00
Apologies for some errors. My glasses are broken and I am having a hard time seeing.
-9 # Caliban 2016-06-05 19:00
Perhaps the President will have a speech more to Mr. Boardman's liking on December 7, 2016.
+14 # WBoardman 2016-06-05 19:20
Caliban is cute, but irrelevant.

That's the day Shinzo Abe has promised
to lay a wreath at Pearl Harbor....
-2 # Caliban 2016-06-05 23:28
And his turn to be ridiculed?
+1 # angelfish 2016-06-05 19:11
After 60+ years this is the ONLY American President to have EVER ventured to this site! WHY is he getting NOTHING but criticism? I call BULL-PUCKEY! on Mr. Boardman and ANYONE who tries to diminish this deed! Harry Truman DROPPED the Bomb, President Obama DIDN'T! Harry took the Heat. WHY is everyone so quick to jump on this President? I have hope that SOME DAY we will practice War NO MORE. It is a USELESS occupation and is based SOLELY on the Greed and desires of the Mega-Wealthy who LIKE the Status Quo and want to reinforce it to the Hilt! Just another reason to support Bernie Sanders for the Presidency. He is the least likely to bomb anyone or go to useless War without REAL cause. Get OVER the Hill and the Hair and FEEL the Bern!
+18 # AshamedAmerican 2016-06-05 22:04
He went there- so what? And he did what he does well: he made himself appear to have a conscience, at least to those that mindlessly view his hollow acts and words. If his visit was to be useful, he would have had to have been honest, and to have admitted that our government was profoundly and morally wrong to have dropped that bomb, and for all the previous firebombing of civilian populations in that country. It is true that he did not bomb Japan. But he has bombed several other countries without valid reason. His hypocrisy deserves nothing but negative criticism.
+20 # tigerlillie 2016-06-05 23:11
angelfish, I suspect that Obama's primary mission in going to Hiroshima was to make a statement to the Chinese, i.e., saber rattling. At the end of WWII, the peace treaty the Japanese signed committed them to only having a bare bones military for defense; they were never to be allowed to build a world class military that would enable them to be military aggressors abroad again. So Obama shows up at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, allegedly to give a peace talk, but really to align himself with a Japanese prime minister that wants to remilitarize Japan. What kind of message do you think he is giving China? From a park memorialuzing a nuclear attack? Remember that the memory of the last brutal Japanese invasion into China is very fresh. Just one more step in menacing China, our trade partners that we have borrowed so much money from. The goal is perpetual war. Good money making for the big boys, you know.

As for President Obama, it is impossible to tell what he really thinks about anything, because his actions invariably contradict his speech.
+3 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 14:42
@tigerlillie: "(I)t is impossible to tell what (Obama) really thinks about anything, because his actions invariably contradict his speech."

Thank you, tigerlillie, this is the single most accurate statement I have seen anywhere about this president. My anecdote about his (constant) transformation from Obama the Orator to Barack the Betrayer is accurate, but yours, though less poetic, is far more accessible.

That said -- and taking your statement to its logical conclusion -- on the basis of experience we can generally assume the Betrayer's actions will be the opposite of what he promises.

Note in this context his notoriously broken promises -- promises that were now obviously nothing more than especially brazen pre-election lies -- to restore our constitutional rights, grant us single-payer health care, enact the Employee Free Choice Act, etc. ad nauseam.

In my opinion he is the most deliberately malicious, deliberately dishonest, deliberately tyrannical president of my (76 year) lifetime -- many times worse than Nixon -- which makes me wonder about his true motives for seeking office.
+3 # tigerlillie 2016-06-06 19:40
It is my instinct to assess people, even politicians, as people, but Obama is truly unknowable, I find.

It makes me a little nostalgic to recall the photographs of Hillary Clinton when her husband first emerged on the national scene. She appeared so naive, wistful, and awkward. But maybe she really always was a Goldwater Girl. There is certainly no evidence of a sincere human being inside her publuc persona now. I always assumed that overwhelming and terrifying trauma was what turned people into shells of humanity. And maybe marriage to Bill constituted overwhelming trauma. I avoided all specific knowledge of his sexual exploits in horror, but overheard enough to wonder if any kind of sexual relationship with him was monstrously traumatic. It is always difficult to understand why people willingly abandon their humanity. Isn't that our greatest treasure? Oh well, onwards and upwards with the production of negative karma, that seems to be the only path to eventual wisdom.
0 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 20:46
@tigerlillie -- when I am being mercifully inclined -- which were I ever one of the three judges in a traditional People's Court passing judgement on capitalists I would hope is never -- I acknowledge even members of the Ruling Class can be unwillingly trapped in self-destructiv e roles.

The object lesson in this matter was a lover of mine in Manhattan c. 1966, who despite the seemingly mutually satisfactory intensity of our relationship was compelled by her family to "marry money to restore the family fortune," and -- since I have always been impoverished -- vanished from my life via Europe that fall, never to return. Decades later I learned she had been married five times, and because I had not only loved her but knew the value she placed on a stable relationship, what I felt for her was a huge sorrow, akin to pity but actually far deeper.

In Hillary's case though I find no evidence to dissuade me from the probability her courtship of Evil began with her commitment to Barry ("Nuke Hanoi") Goldwater and has aggressively continued ever since. I literally believe she will extinct our species (and most other life on this planet) if she wins access to the Doomsday Button. Indeed -- given her close alliance with the Christian fanatics (for which see Jeff Sharlet's "The Family: the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," especially pages 272-277), that may indeed be her intent.
+2 # tigerlillie 2016-06-06 21:01
Ok, I guess I am going to have to read this book you keep citing, "The Family:," but it sounds deeply depressing. Fortunately, I live with a little 17 year old who lights up my days, although I fear this eccentric old lady may have imprinted her a little too deeply. Forget all the theories for a minute, though, and try looking at some old photos of Hillary when she was young and dumb, so to speak. I knew a lot of people who said stupid things like "Nuke Hanoi" back in the day, but still possessed their humanity, I think.
+2 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 23:01
@tigerlillie: "The Family" is deeply depressing because it shows that our turn toward formalized Christian theocracy began in 1954 with the addition of the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Moreover, because of the context and capitalization, this deity is clearly the predatory, vengeful Abrahamic God and none other.

But the publication of "The Family" is also elating because it proves we are not (yet) so strangled by censorship, such works of rightful protest can indeed still find their way into publication.

Equally relevant are Chris Hedges, "American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America"; Kevin Phillips, "American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Oil, Radical Religion and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century"; and Susan Jacoby, "The Age of American Unreason."

This quartet will, probably more than any other four books, educate you in the political and theological cancer that is metastasizing throughout our nation to threaten the very survival of our species and indeed most life on this planet.
+5 # lorenbliss 2016-06-07 00:18
tigerlillie: by the way (meant to say it before but was interrupted by a telephone call), your statement about Obama's "primary mission in going to Hiroshima" is superb analysis, almost certainly true -- and, albeit obliquely, in much the same way the original nuking of Japan was an uplifted middle finger to our ally Stalin.

Bottom line: the United States is the most untrustworthy ally on Planet Earth. (Just ask the Iroquois, the Cherokee, the Lakota, the Cheyenne, the Arapaho, the Kiowa, the Navajoes and all the other First Nations peoples.
+1 # Henry 2016-06-06 15:30
Quoting angelfish:
Get OVER the Hill and the Hair and FEEL the Bern!

Nice line ...
-7 # angryspittle 2016-06-05 19:25
Jesus, get an editor. It was not a damn B-52, they weren't even produced until 1952. It was a B-29.......
+15 # economagic 2016-06-05 19:56
Mentioned above. It's a good idea to read the comments before commenting.
+15 # lfeuille 2016-06-05 19:54
Yeah, but Obama is detached about everything. Drone warfare, government and Wall Street corruption, income equality,survei llance state. It's all intellectual games to him. The only time I've ever seen him really engaged is the Sandyhook massacre and other gun atrocities. Maybe he identifies as a parent. But he doesn't seem to have the imagination to put himself in others shoes on any other issue.
+2 # JayaVII 2016-06-06 09:33
Good point here. I've also noticed that the president only shows enthusiasm when supporting programs that benefit the rich and powerful -- e.g., "trade" agreements, military ventures, etc. When discussing social programs for the 99 percent, his body language becomes clenched and his voice tightens, and the overall effect is one of apology and timidity.
-1 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 14:47
@lfeuille: The Betrayer's response to Sandy Hook had nothing to do with his parental instincts. He responded as he did because -- were he able to do it -- he would forcibly disarm the entire USian civilian population, the better to impose the Gestapo-type police state to which he yearns to reduce our nation -- and which, by his federalization and militarization of the local police, he has already come closer than any president in history to making murderously real. What Obama and his Wall Street masters want is a Fourth Reich, and -- barring the Sanders miracle or something like it -- within a few years that is precisely what they will have built upon the graves and bodies of our resistance.
+1 # Caliban 2016-06-07 17:28
Is this mishmash of accusations based on misunderstandin g (my hope), GOP slanders (my expectation), or some sort of cognitive chaos (my fear)?

Whatever the source, there is nothing in Barak Obama of the Hitlerite monstrosities with which #lorenbliss abuses the president in this comment.
+21 # CarolYost 2016-06-05 20:24
Boardman is right on target. I thank him. One more thing to mention is that before the atom bombs were dropped, the Japanese were defeated and ready to surrender; they just needed assurance of the Emperor's safety. The US held off on that assurance so that it could have an excuse to drop the atom bombs. Despicable! Unspeakable horror!

I find most of the comments very useful, except for the complaint that we should lay off on criticizing Obama. He needs a lot more. He's murdering people. And that speech was so empty!
+11 # Auteur47 2016-06-05 22:14
Then there was the consideration that we (Truman) had to demonstrate to Stalin that he'd better know his place in the post war world. It's sickening how all these civilians were being fried so that we could make an impression on the Soviets. Even McNamara admitted that he and LeMay would have been tried as war criminals had the Axis won WWII instead of the other way around.
+10 # AshamedAmerican 2016-06-05 22:26
"Apparently surprised by the gratuitous wiping out of Nagasaki, Truman issued an order that no more A-bombs be used, apparently unaware that the entire US atomic arsenal had been expended." Seems more likely that he said this to leave the Soviets thinking that we did have more to use, if necessary.
+3 # Lennie 2016-06-05 23:41
Just a slight correction. Fact checking, you may call it. It was a Boeing B-29, named after the pilots mom. Not a Boeing B-52. Might not be important to the main thoughts of the article, but details do count. The arguments of the correctness of the bombing of Hiroshima, and even more so, of the bombing of Nagasaki, will go on for a very long time. With good arguments on both sides. War is not a good answer to our problems. A LAST resort, maybe. Will we ever learn? Probably not.
+9 # Roger Kotila 2016-06-06 02:34
It gets a bit tiresome, but even a brilliant writer like Boardman neglects to point out that there is a way to eliminate war and nuclear weapons: Establish a democratic world federal union government with enforceable world law. That what the United Nations isn't, and that's why the UN has failed to end war or eliminate nukes.

Let's get on board with Einstein on Peace, my friends. That why we have the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (now called the "Earth Constitution") waiting and ready to go -- to replace the fatally flawed UN Charter.
+3 # Caliban 2016-06-06 11:28
Wonderful vision, but--with a failed UN--who would the world's nations trust to make it a fair and balanced reality?
+4 # lark3650 2016-06-06 06:30
Empty suit is right. His words and actions do not match.
+13 # newell 2016-06-06 07:43
It is good that liberals are finally addressing this atrocity. But you diminish your argument when you say it is much worse than the Native American atrocity. We killed millions, not 140,000. We also killed languages, cultures and most of their land we have turned into parking lots and strip malls.
+10 # WBoardman 2016-06-06 09:55
Newell makes an excellent point, and the ambiguity is mine.

When I wrote
"Hiroshima was one of the greatest military massacres in history, eclipsing American massacres of Native Americans by several orders of magnitude"

my intent was to compare the scale of killing at single events.

I did not intend to suggest that bombing Hiroshima
was worse than the U.S. genocide against the native peoples
of this continent. Clearly that is not the case.

There is no sane moral calculus that allows one
to say that one was worse than the other. Both involve unspeakable acts that our nation has committed and
with which we have yet to come to meaningful terms.
+3 # Helen Marshall 2016-06-06 08:57
What Obama did not tell us is that we will get to his world without nuclear weapons by using them all in our quest for permanent domination of the earth and space, and there won't be anyone left to make more of them when the war is over.
+7 # 2016-06-06 10:32
Anyone who is disappointed in Obama's empty suit quality was engaging in wishful thinking in 08. At the time, I called him a Rorschach test and wrote Marc Ash that he was only 1 degree to the left of Clinton.

Reading this article brings home how every Democratic president since FDR have been what a recent article called "liberal cold war hawks" (different from neo-cons but also dangerous and deceitful) , which may well be written into the party's DNA. Therefore, In my opinion, the movement Bernie has inspired is far better off creating a new Progressive party, which will have far more supporters than any third party to date. This is has happened in several European countries, where the Social Democrats have become a center left establishment and corrupt to boot. In Spain, where I live, Podemos, the progressive party which grew out of a movement started in May of 2011, is now polling more votes than the Social Democrats, who will have to pact with them from a weaker position to keep the right from governing. And they've pushed the Social Dems to the left more successfully than they could have from the inside. I know pacts are easier in a parliamentary system but with some imagination it's doable. It's high time the US joined the 21st century and went beyond a 2 party system.
+2 # elkingo 2016-06-06 11:04
O fuck. Of course you're right, Bill. Must this culture generate moron leaders, even the ostensible best? Capitalism...
+2 # elkingo 2016-06-06 11:15
Roger Kotilla:
Right on the nose. A step toward world federalism, a step in turn to a Planetary Nation. The only hope, not only for banning nukes, but also for the very survival of the planet/species. Abolish the lethal anachronism of the nation-state, and with it capitalism, the two being nearly synonymous.
+4 # elkingo 2016-06-06 11:18
Since someone mentioned it, it strikes terror in my heart that the B-29 was named after the pilot's mom: Enola Gay. Most of the rest of the bombers were named after babes in bathing suits and or alluring poses. May seen a trivial point, but I ask you: which seems healthier?
+3 # elkingo 2016-06-06 11:30
A propos Boardman's correct, proper and even courtly response to Newell: bravo to both parties. But doesn't this too display the insane cultural addiction to numbers,status, hierarchies, production figures, death tolls and batting averages? Of course millions murdered is worse than thousands murdered, but that is in the realm of ABSTRACT statistical observation. What about the suffering of each individual, one at a time? What if a victim of the slaughter of the Japanese or the Americans was your mother? I assure you, there are/were people out there of whom of whom this obtains. "Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." John Milton
+8 # WBoardman 2016-06-06 13:48
elkingo and I seem to agree, actually.

My use of statistics was not at the heart of my argument,
nor was it intended to be. Statistics can sometimes be useful
in getting people's attention, but they can also sometimes
contribute to psychic numbing.

It seems to me the core of what elkingo says is
pretty much what I said differently in my comment:

"There is no sane moral calculus that allows one
to say that one was worse than the other. Both involve unspeakable acts that our nation has committed and
with which we have yet to come to meaningful terms."

American individualism, as well as exceptionalism, is
the antithesis of believing that no man is an island.

John Donne wrote it circa 1624 and it's still trying
to get cultural traction:

'No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
+6 # lorenbliss 2016-06-06 20:55
Hence too Hemingway's greatest work, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," the one novel in this life I have read seven times, its name taken from John Donne's poem.

(I read the novel first when I was 14, and if I have the time, I will probably read it once more.)

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" should be read by anyone who wants an unsparing look at civil war or revolution, which Hemingway properly combined with his most powerful heroine Maria and the war-tragic love that evolves between her and Robert Jordan, his other main character.

A reader with such interests should also consider Isaak Babel's far harsher "Red Cavalry" mandatory.

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