Fat men and little boys

It's been 60 years since the United States became the first and only country to use nuclear weapons in wartime. In those interveneing years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the decision on both sides of the fence. The insane battle over the Smithsonian's exhibit of the "enola gay" a few years ago is just the tip of the iceberg. Now, I'm sure that if you've read any of my other essays you'll have a good idea of where I stand on the issue, but my intention today is not to dwell on the past; you can't change the past. But what we can do, as it is often said, is learn from it and hope that our past experiences can give us some kind of wisdom for the future.

There are plenty of countries with nuclear weapons (US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and mostly likely Israel) and a bunch more who wouldn't mind having them. And it's pretty obvious why. North Korea has the bomb, and you know what? We don't fuck with North Korea too much. Saddam didn't have the bomb and we took him out. How's that for a lesson about the respect that you get if you've got nukes? Do you think we would be the world power we are today if we didn't have them? Who's the world's largest producer of WMD's? The United States. Hell, we invented most of them. So our government can stop giving lip service to the idea of ridding the world of them.. I mean, taking them away from everyone else but us.

If we were playing Risk right now, this would be all fine and dandy, and if you read some of the reports by the Rand Corp and others from the Cold War (like I have) you'll see that they actually do look at it like Risk. These are people who saw (and see?) nuclear war as survivable, or even win-able. These people are nuts. A few crazy guys flew some planes into a few buildings and killed 3000 people and the country blew a gasket, the economy sunk, and panic ensued. That works out to .001% percent of our population; In the 80's, cold warriors talked about launching a preemptive attack with the USSR where they thought that 30% of our population was an ok swap in order to win. Right now that's about 90,000,000 people. This is far too much power for any person to wield.

There were and are smart people in our government though. And the thought has always been that nukes are so big and terrible that they will never be used, and that they're there as a deterent. Reasonable theory, but considering that over the past 60 years we've spent 1.5 trillion dollars on them, was it really the best use of our money? The thing that scares me most is that there are people in the Defense Dept. (used to be called The War Dept.) who want to develop mini nuke 'bunker busters' for use in bombing raids against terrorists. The war on terror is a whole other discussion, but the idea of blurring the line between conventional weapons and nukes is scary enough to make my head spin. I met a guy the other day who was stationed in Germany in the early 80's and was in a Pershing missle unit (intermediate range nukes) and he said to me, "I don't want to kill anybody, but if the order came down, I'd do my duty". Duty? What the hell is duty and patriotism if millions of people die. Is our country more important than people? Aren't people all our country is? What is possibly worth that scale of bloodshed?

Lots of questions to which I have no answer.

I usually I wrap up an essay like this by contrasting the macro subject with something micro in my life. a little parable or something, but not today. Today I'm going to wrap up early and leave some silence for the 150,000 killed by 2 bombs 60 years ago this week.