Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Happy Nuke Day!

Because I was on the clock for over sixteen hours yesterday, I failed to make note of the sixtieth anniversary of the last time that a nuclear weapon was used in anger: the dropping of the atomic bomb "Fat Man" on Nagasaki, Japan, on 9 August 1945, at 11:02 a.m., by the B-29 Superfortress named "Bock's Car."

Much ideological claptrap as been written over the years trying to rewrite the history of why the bombs were dropped (Fat Man was preceded three days earlier by Hiroshima, where the Enola Gay dropped "Little Boy"). It's really not worth discussing here.

What is worthy of note is the fact that six decades have passed without a direct military engagement by the world's great powers. Indeed, the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was resolved with the demise of the latter without a major military engagement.

Credit to this era of relative peace should go to the existence of these horrible weapons. Given the history of the world to 1945, including a recently misnomered "War to End All Wars" between 1914 and 1918, there is little reasons to expect that the world could go six decades absent such a conflict yet, as of yesterday, it had.

As literary critic Paul Fussell, a combat soldier in the Pacific in 1945 once wrote, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb."

To that, I would also add, "Thank J. Robert Oppenheimer, Hans Bethe (who died only five months ago), Albert Einstein, Gen. Leslie Groves, Edward Teller, and countless others, including Harry Truman, who had the wit and the courage to use it."


Ben Kyber said...

I'm sure Oppenheimer would be thrilled. I mean, he only spent the rest of his life riddled with guilt over what he helped create.

James Young said...

Even bright guys lack the benefit of hindsight that we enjoy. And frequently, the wit to understand human nature that people like Ronald Reagan embodied.