Articles by "Nagasaki"
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On this day in 1945, the United States committed a war crime without precedent in human history. It dropped the first atomic bomb — one of only two that would be used in war — on the city of Hiroshima, killing a third of its inhabitants and maiming thousands more.

Japan had already been devastated. The US firebombing of Tokyo had killed over 100,000 people in a single night in March 1945, and displaced a million. The bombing of Osaka had destroyed eight square miles of the city in one air raid, killing 4,000. Some 100 Japanese cities were devastated or destroyed entirely before the “Little Boy” was loaded onto the Enola Gay.

The bombings of Hiroshima and, days later, Nagasaki, killed over 200,000 people. In Japan, the news did little to change the political calculus — records from the time reveal that it was the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on 9 August that turned the tables. However, news of the bombing created outrage in the United States. In response, Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson helped advance the narrative that the attack was *necessary* to save millions of lives and end the war.

Stimson knew the truth. US President Harry S. Truman had spoken of the bomb as a “hammer” against the Soviets. In July 1945, he approached Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, telling him that the US had a "new weapon of unusual destructive force”. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nakasaki less than two weeks later was a geopolitical power play, a chance for the US to assert its might and a warning to those who dared challenge the US’s move to achieve postwar hegemony. 

Intoxicated by the US’s newfound power, Truman would later threaten to use the atomic bomb to destroy all manufacturing plants from Stalingrad to Shanghai — a threat echoed by Winston Churchill in Britain. Indeed, Churchill ordered the development of plans for a “total war” against the Soviet Union as early as 1945. Operation Unthinkable, as it became known, contemplated the use of the atomic bomb on Moscow. 

This set the stage for the Cold War — a war so far-reaching in its implications that some historians described it as a Third World War. "It is particularly inappropriate to call a war ‘cold’ that begins with Nagasaki and Hiroshima," wrote Italian historian Domenico Losurdo. Even though the US and USSR never fought directly, Losurdo argued, the ever-present threat of total annihilation would distort the entire political and economic system of the US's rival. 

The atomic bomb’s capacity for total destruction still looms over society today. In 2022, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned that the US would consider using atomic weapons “in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners." Hiroshima and Nagasaki remind us that this is no empty threat. The US remains the only country in history to have deployed nuclear weapons, and its “interests” now span the globe.

Today, 77 years after Hiroshima, we reaffirm our commitment to dismantling the war machine and building a new diplomacy of peoples.