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Will Kokura’s Luck Run Out For Us?

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Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern suggests that Cheney’s recent visit to the Middle East was intended to deal with “the Iranian threat” before Bush-Cheney leaves office. McGovern observed, “With so much destructive power at the disposal of George W. Bush, we need to be increasingly alert to signs that additional delusionary policies are about to be executed.”

While the American people are still more worried about Dancing With the Stars than they are the international crises (although they are beginning to rouse to the domestic alarm bells), this is not the case with every other nation.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said recently, “A prudent person must make all his calculations, especially when we have to deal with an administration which knows how to strike but does not know how to withdraw.”

Withdrawal may not be the plan if the Saudis are correct. Richard Clark of opednews.com posted about a top Saudi newspaper, Okaz, reporting the Saudi government is now preparing plans to deal with “any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards” that may arise from an attack on Iran’s nuclear reactors. He quotes Chris Floyd at the Empire Burlesque web site, who points out that nothing in Saudi Arabia becomes the top news story without government approval. “That such a story should be released the day after Cheney’s visit, sends a message to everyone about what’s on Cheney’s mind.”

Hopefully King Abdullah quoted Cheney’s commentary to Pat Leahy back at him in response to the news.

Floyd goes on to note that on Juan Cole’s site just a few days ago, former mideast policy official William K. Polk noted the last time Cheney visited the nations of this current trip was right before the Iraq attack in 2003.

People should be extremely concerned about this revelation. but it’s hardly getting any coverage. It’s clear that most people have forgotten the lessons of August, 1945, when atomic weapons were first used in anger. Thankfully, not everyone has – and those who haven’t understand much better than most what’s at stake.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December 2006 asserted that even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more.

But for the rest of you who aren’t so enlightened, I’ve gathered a few links for you to raise your consciousness about the dangerous path the Cheney-Bush Gang is intending to travel.

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

The release at 08:15 (Hiroshima time) was uneventful, and the gravity bomb known as “Little Boy”, a gun-type fission weapon with 60 kg (130 pounds) of uranium-235, took 57 seconds to fall from the aircraft to the predetermined detonation height about 600 meters (1,900 ft) above the city. It created a blast equivalent to about 13 kilotons of TNT. (The U-235 weapon was considered very inefficient, with only 1.38% [Approximately 600 milligrams of mass] of its material fissioning.) The radius of total destruction was about 1.6 km (1 mile), with resulting fires across 11.4 km² (4.4 square miles). Infrastructure damage was estimated at 90 percent of Hiroshima’s buildings being either damaged or completely destroyed.

This was once a thriving city

A map of the Hiroshima blast damage

Photos of Hiroshima Ground Zero before and after

Models of the city before and after, with the hypocenter shown in the after model (read the captions).

The victorious American military machine’s blood lust was unsatiated, aided by the position of Japanese scientists who insisted that the evidence of American atomic technology was lacking, and that surrender was unthinkable. Thus, Nagasaki suffered the fate of Hiroshima:

The “Fat Man” weapon, containing a core of ~6.4 kg (14.1 lbs.) of plutonium-239, was dropped over the city’s industrial valley. Forty-three seconds later it exploded 469 meters (1,540 ft) above the ground… the blast was confined to the Urakami Valley and a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills.

Map of Nagasaki damage, which illustrates how terrain kept the damage and casualty count lower than at Hiroshima.

This post-bombing photo shows a typical Nagasaki residential area that survived the bombing with little damage due to the hill rising in the background, while this one wasn’t spared.

The resulting explosion had a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT. The explosion generated heat estimated at 3900 degrees Celsius (7000 degrees Fahrenheit) and winds that were estimated at 1005 km/h (624 mph).

Fat Man’s efficiency was about 10 times that of Little Boy: Approx 1.176 Kilograms of plutonium converted to energy.

Nagasaki Ground Zero before and after.

Far more damaging than the loss of real estate was the loss of life. Casualty estimates for immediate deaths range from 40,000 to 75,000. Total deaths by the end of 1945 may have reached 80,000.

Simple pictorial for those who only want the basics of the numbers killed by these inefficient bombs.

More details about atomic bombing casualties than most will understand.

Factual post-war report by US researchers regarding the effects of the atomic bombs.

Many survivors of the bombings, known as hibakusha, have related small portions of the horror they experienced.

Ms. Akiko Takakura was in the Bank of Hiroshima 300 meters away from the hypocenter:

Many people on the street were killed almost instantly. The fingertips of those dead bodies caught fire and the fire gradually spread over their entire bodies from their fingers. A light gray liquid dripped down their hands, scorching their fingers. I, I was so shocked to know that fingers and bodies could be burned and deformed like that. I just couldn’t believe it. It was horrible. [more here]

Fujie Urata Matsumoto, a Nagasaki hibakusha, relates a similar tale:

“The pumpkin field in front of the house was blown clean. Nothing was left of the whole thick crop, except that in place of the pumpkins there was a woman’s head. I looked at the face to see if I knew her. It was a woman of about forty. She must have been from another part of town – I had never seen her around here. A gold tooth gleamed in the wide-open mouth. A handful of singed hair hung down from the left temple over her cheek, dangling in her mouth. Her eyelids were drawn up, showing black holes where the eyes had been burned out…She had probably looked square into the flash and gotten her eyeballs burned.”

One man was estimated to be only 100 meters from the hypocenter at Hiroshima – and lived to tell about it. Another managed to live through the Hiroshima bomb only to evacuate to Nagasaki in time to live through that bomb as well.

It wasn’t just “those bug-eyed monkeys” (thank you John Wayne!) who died in the blasts. Some 3,200 Japanese-American citizens died in both bombings [Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia, pp. 3], as did eleven Allied POWs known to be in Hiroshima and at least eight more [some of whom were here] POWs died in Nagasaki.

This is the sort of hell Cheney-Bush wants to unleash upon Iran – and eventually, any other nation which stands up to them. This is what the Syrians expect to face if an atomic war is launched against Iran.

With all of this in mind (assuming you are still with me and haven’t gone off to read the latest about K-Fed), imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from the Oval Office when the intended target of American nuclear bombs halted the Iraqi puppet government’s campaign to rid Basra of the enemies of the American petroleum conglomerates.

Close to the opening of the attack by Iraqi “government” forces, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hossein called for talks intended to end the excuse for “the continued illegal presence of the occupiers.”

Next, Iraqi “government” officials secretly crawled on their yellow bellies to meet with Sadr’s representatives at a gathering held in the holy Shi’ite city of Qom, Iran, hosted by Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods brigades of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. These folks were declared a terrorist organization by the terrorists hiding in Washington.

So, dance on George! Take a spin with your anointed replacement, George Bush v2.0. He needs to dance with the one what brung him, after all. And, you’ll need the boost when you go back to restarting the Other Rich White Oilman’s War. You surely remember that one. It’s the one you are losing outside of Kabul and Bagram.

Meanwhile, where are the adults? If George isn’t stopped from playing rough with Oppenheimer’s Deadly Toy, the revenge sentiments expressed by survivors of the bombings in Japan will come back to haunt us – in spades.

A survey of Japanese citizens after the war found that only one in fifty openly hated the Americans for using the bomb. Few
expressed their anger in such terms as “cruel, “inhuman” and “barbarous.” Among the comments reported by those who would speak openly were:

  1. When I saw the injured and killed, I felt bitter against the enemy.
  2. After the atomic bomb exploded, I felt that now I must go to work in a munitions plant…
  3. My sons told me that they wouldn’t forget the atomic bomb even when they grow up.
  4. The people all say that if there are such things as ghosts, why don’t they haunt the Americans?

Few societies are as circumspect as the Japanese were following their surrender. Even this US report noted that “The reaction of hate and anger is not surprising, and it is likely that in fact it was a more extensive sentiment than the figures indicate, since unquestionably many respondents, out of fear or politeness, did not reveal their sentiments with complete candor.”

One can be sure that this will not be the case in the Muslim world should Iran become the next Atomic Target. Just ask Salmon Rushdie, or maybe the Netherlands, or Denmark. If George tweaks the dragon’s tail at the expense of Islam, one can expect that righteous retribution will be on the way. We can only hope that our luck continues to hold and Cheney-Bush doesn’t take that final fatal footstep.

About the title: The phrase Kokura’s Luck was coined in Japan to describe escaping a terrible occurrence without being aware of the danger, or (as described in Thinking Is the Best Way to Travel: Essays along the Journey, page 281) “astonishing good luck for the people of Kokura and catastrophic bad luck for the unfortunate folk of Nagasaki”.

Kokura was to be the target that day, but the weather conditions didn’t allow for the bomb to be dropped visually. Nagasaki proved to have marginally better weather conditions, and suffered the wrath of hell in their stead.

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About pessimist

  • bliffle

    As time goes by and nuclear bombs become more available at the retail level, one might hope that human societies would become more cooperative and able to reconcile differences. But, alas, the best our Dear Leaders seem able to come up with is Full Spectrum Global Domination.

    Our future is grim, I fear.

  • Maurice

    The victorious American military machine’s blood lust was unsatiated, aided by the position of Japanese scientists who insisted that the evidence of American atomic technology was lacking, and that surrender was unthinkable. Thus, Nagasaki suffered the fate of Hiroshima:

    Quoted for bullshit! Truman was Commander in Chief and the military obeyed him!

  • Doug Hunter

    “It’s clear that most people have forgotten the lessons of August, 1945”

    No they haven’t. The lesson was that nuclear power can avert protracted warfare and avoid force on force conflict between nations.

    Dropping the bombs on Japan was the best thing that has happened for security in the history of the planet! Since then there has not been all out war between major powers, low intensity conflicts with much lower death totals have become the norm.

  • Franco

    Please tell me this is an April Fools opinion piece!

    This is the sort of hell Cheney-Bush wants to unleash upon Iran – and eventually, any other nation which stands up to them.


    This is the sort of hell Cheney-Bush Iran wants to unleash upon Iran Chaney-Bush support for Israel – and eventually, any other nation which stands up to them.

    It’s the inconsequential thinking of Realist that can lead to the grater threat of nuclear war. To assume that only America would use this power is the most obtuse thinking of all.

    The rational is this opinion piece is so flawed in ist logic that I can not help holding out hope that this is Realist April Fools jest.

  • Doug Hunter

    Also, I know its easy for a TV raised Latte sipping pacifist moron to fret over a few thousand deaths, the 4000 in Iraq or the tens of thousands from the bombs are a total outrage to those without memory or perspective.

    To put some perspective, WWII killed 70,000,000 people, the vast majority of them inflicted on the allies.

    Thanks to security actions like the development of nuclear weapons your ungrateful ass will never have to deal with any conflict within an order of magnitude of that. Now continue biting the hand that fed you with your spoiled childish leftist rantings.

  • Dan Miller

    The article is extremely well written, and the number of relevant links is simply awesome. All in all, it does a great job of stating the obvious facts that War is Hell, that a Great Big War is even worse, and that even a Teeny Tiny War involving nuclear weapons (or nasty germs or chemicals, perhaps) is even worse.

    However, the underpinning thought seems to be that the one use in history of two crude atomic bombs was wicked beyond description (although the author does a great job of trying to describe it), amounting to the lowest depth to which any civilization has ever sunk, leaves me a tad underwhelmed.

    Even one violent death is bad. Lots of violent deaths are even worse. Unfortunately, by 1945 it had become necessary to end the war in the Pacific. Lots of people were killing or maiming each other, on both sides. Japan (which, some may remember, attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 and did lots of bad stuff later) was not about to surrender, conditionally or unconditionally. A massive attack on Japan using conventional forces was in the works. Such an attack on the mainland of Japan would have cost an unthinkable number of lives, both American and Japanese, and not only in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, over an extended period of time. The death toll would almost certainly have been far worse. The article does not provide any realistic basis for thinking that this would have been better.

    The attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may well have had good effects beyond ending the war quickly and with casualties less than would have been produced by continued conventional war. During the more than half century since then, there has been sufficient reluctance to use nuclear weapons that none have been used, other than through their possession as deterrent to use by others. Until recently, nuclear weapons have been the sole province of what we like to call “civilized” countries. That is changing, and that is very troubling. To lay that problem at the feet of long dead American soldiers intent upon satisfying their unsatiated blood lust is at best misguided.

    Dan Miller

  • The Realist’s train appears to have derailed.

  • bliffle

    Regardless of all the fine words justifying any and all sides, the conclusion one must come to is that the human race will destroy itself with the unfortunate combination of Great Power and Insufficient Wit.

    As it happens, it will not, apparently, be the commies and the West pulling the MAD trigger, but the Christians vs. The Muslims.

    How fitting that a religious war, even more demented than a political war, will destroy us all.

  • Wrong. The final war will actually be the one waged between cat people and dog people.

  • Dan Miller


    But are you in violent agreement with the derailing comments?


  • Dan Miller

    “Some say the world will end in fire,
    some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire,
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.”

    courtesy of Robert Frost

    So, even if we don’t all kill each other, and Global Warming or Global Cooling does the trick instead, it will be OK.

    Dan Miller

    Robert Frost

  • Maurice

    Regardless of all the fine words justifying any and all sides…

    Eleanor Roosevelt spoke in support of this view when she said, in 1954, that Truman had “made the only decision he could,” and that the bomb’s use was necessary “to avoid tremendous sacrifice of American lives.”

  • Clavos

    When did Rushdie become a fish???

  • The Realist is spot on about the likelihood of the United States attacking Iran and using nukes in the process. That is in the cards. In addition, we see war brewing like so much coffee: The Syrians are arming the border and whispers are of HizbAllah getting more and more equipment.

    War by PessaH is a real possibility.

    But the Realist’s train derailed when he made a big stink over the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They are not relevant to the issues at hand

  • it will not, apparently, be the commies and the West pulling the MAD trigger, but the Christians vs. The Muslims. How fitting that a religious war, even more demented than a political war, will destroy us all.

    Oh, ye of little faith! Is G-d’s Hand short? If I really thought this way and cowered like you do, I’d have never moved from Minnesota to Israel, and certainly would never have moved to Ma’alé Levoná. I’d be hiding like a little wimp seling Whopper sandwiches while my kids got drunk at keggers and screwed shiksas.