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Issue #1792      August 30, 2017

Why we remember Hiroshima

The horror of remembering the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima 72 years ago is not so much about what we know of the effects of such a dreadful weapon, but that it marked the second stage of development to dramatically affect the modern warfare we may face today.

The first stage was gunpowder and industrial capacity. The second, the A-bomb. And the third, robotics and artificial intelligence, with LAWS – or “Lethal Autonomous Weapons” – a dangerous development that must also now be stopped. Lethal autonomous weapons operate where there are no human beings in the attacking loop, and according to General Paul J Selva of the US joint chiefs of staff, America, within a decade, will have the technology to build a robot capable of deciding whether or not to kill.

We know that soon after the A-bomb was dropped, be it weeks or months later, survivors noticed in themselves and others a strange form of illness. It consisted of nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite; diarrhoea; fever and weakness; inflammation and ulceration of the mouth, gums, throat and urinary tract; loss of hair; extremely low white blood cell counts; and in many cases a progressive course until death.

The dropping of the A-bomb was a geopolitical rather than strictly military act, since the Japanese had already offered to enter negotiations for surrender. The United States, however, sought immediate and unconditional surrender, to stop the Russian advance into Asia and to signal the immensity of US military power.

The A-bomb and the Cold War started the chapter headed MAD – “Mutually Assured Destruction”. Fast forward to today and the memoirs of a senior analyst in the Strategic Weapons Evaluation Group in the Pentagon allow us to conclude that it is now widely believed in US strategic circles that America has attained “strategic primacy” that is, with using only a small part of its nuclear arsenal the US can launch a first strike which eliminates an opponent’s nuclear arsenal or at least their land-based ICBM sites. This includes Russia and China.

This brings new meaning to the latest missile defence systems, like that installed by the US in Romania and those they are seeking to deploy in South Korea, as they are not so much defensive as offensive weapons – useful mainly in stopping the smaller number of an opponent’s missiles following a US first strike. This madness must be stopped because it simply underestimates the unforeseen consequences of ANY future nuclear explosions.

We must not only be aware and frightened, but active and optimistic.

Next article – Military industrial complex rises to power

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