Letters to the Editor

Nuclear threat

July 30, 2012


To the editor:

Aug. 6 will be the 67th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, Japan. As it has done for many years, the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice will sponsor a memorial vigil at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at Ninth and Massachusetts streets to remember the many who died at Hiroshima but also to remind us all that nuclear weapons remain a serious threat to world safety. Despite the occasional disarmament treaties, Russia and the U.S. still maintain huge and very expensive arsenals of nuclear warheads and bombs. This malevolent technology has spread to other countries, Pakistan being the most worrisome, and various nuclear materials left over from the Cold War remain unaccounted for or in questionable security. Our nuclear weapons certainly are no defense against terrorists.

Incidentally, the white and black rocket-like object on display at Centennial Park for many years is the shell of a Polaris missile. This was a submarine-launched missile carrying nuclear warheads with a power up to 80 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. Our Polaris missile easily could have destroyed any major city in the world and killed millions of its residents. It is ironic that we went to Iraq in a futile search for weapons of mass destruction but could find them right here in our town. The next time you see our missile, think of obliterated cities, vaporized humans, burned and irradiated children.


Abdu Omar 5 years, 10 months ago

It makes me sad to think that the USA is the only country to use nuclear weapons against another country. The destruction is so horrid that one wonders how this can be done to fellow human beings. But it was. This should never happen again by any country for any reason.

Phoghorn 5 years, 10 months ago

As horrible as the damage and loss of life were, they prevented an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Had the Allies invaded Japan, there would have been more Japanese civilians killed in the fighting then were killed by the two bombings.

The Japanese Imperial Government was providing special hand grenades to civilians to use in the event of an allied invasion. Thus, civilians would have been armed, and would have had to be killed by the allies. Additionally, given the high density of Japan's urban centers, there would have been a massive amount of street fighting which would have resulted in more civilian deaths.

Of course, the above does not take into account the loss of life for the allies which would have been astronomical. The Japanese coast was heavily fortified, and the earlier battles at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and others had taught the allies that the Japanese would fight to the last man.

I wish that the Japanese had surrendered earlier so we would not have had to drop the bombs. But, they did not and thus the allies had a very limited number of ways to end the war.

Of course, I hope that no more nuclear warheads ever have to get dropped by anyone.

Phoghorn 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes, the firebombing did kill more people, partially because much of it was done over Tokyo.

Brock Masters 5 years, 10 months ago

Doesn't make me sad, doesn't make me proud. War sucks, but when you have no choice but to defend your country then by all means use every weapon at your disposal and hope you kill more of the enemy than they kill of you.

Is it better that we let the war in Iraq and Afghanistan linger for decades when we have the military power to have ended the war years ago? How many unnecessary American deaths occurred because we want to level the warring field?

Don't get me wrong, we shouldn't have gone to war with Iraq, but damn if we do go to war, lets remember the goal is to kill as many of them as it takes to stop the threat without too many of us being killed.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, nuke those civilians!


tbaker 5 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, yes. Fred is spot on Jafs. The objective of war has always been to win it as quickly and with the least expediture of blood and treasure possible. The fire bombing of cities in Europe and Japan with conventional incendiary bombs (like that matters to the dead people) killed far more people than the two atomic bombs many times over. It's horrible. It's barbaric. It’s sickening. It’s supposed to be so maybe we won’t be so quick to do it again.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

And yet, we have had fairly continuous wars for quite a while - doesn't seem to be achieving that objective, does it?

The distinction between civilians and combatants is a vitally important one, to my mind.

I suppose that torture is ok too, for you?

Brock Masters 5 years, 10 months ago

Jafs - a few points.

We have had continuous wars because we have strayed from the Constituion in terms of declaring a war.

The distinction between a cilviand and combatant is important but sometimes in war cilviand get killed. If you have a bomb factory in the middle of a city then it is the governments fault that cilvians get killed when the other side bombs it.

We shouldn't kill civilians if it can be avoided but the possible death of civilians should not deter a country from its objective of neutralizing the threat ASAP and with minimum loss of lives on their side.

Your comment about torture is akin to me saying to you, so jafs you support not defending your country under any circumstance? Neither has anything to do with the issue. But yes, under certain circumstances torture might be warranted although I am generally opposed to torture. I know other countries use it but that doesn't justify it as a rule. And I might add there are different types of torture. Blaring rock music vs mutilation so it is not a black and white issue.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

I was responding to tbaker.

You seem to have conflicting views here - first you say use all the weapons, and do everything you can to end the war quickly, then you say we shouldn't kill civilians if it can be avoided.

Why would you oppose torture if you want to use "all the weapons" as well?

tbaker says war is supposed to be barbaric so that it deters us from war, but that doesn't seem to work very well, does it?

Brock Masters 5 years, 10 months ago

Jafs it is difficult because like most serious decisions it is not black and white.

Let's start with torture. As I said I am not opposed to it in all circumstances and in all forms. We have to be careful that we do not become barbaric when engaging in the barbaric act of war. Sleep depravation may be a useful form of torture and may be appropriate but under no circumstances would cutting off a mans fingers or raping a female soldier

As for killing civilians yes we should take precautions not to kill them but under certain circumstances it would be appropriate as in the case of bombing Hiroshima. Now if it comes to sending in ground troops knowing we will incur heavy casualties or bombing the city with no loss of American life but loss of civilians I'd opt to bomb the city.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

That's fine, and a much more nuanced approach - I don't necessarily agree with everything you said.

But, it's very different from your first post - perhaps if you take a more nuanced approach like this one, you should reconsider posting things like that.

skinny 5 years, 10 months ago

Here come all the bleeding heart liberals!! If it wasn’t for those nuclear war heads you all wouldn't be sitting in your easy chairs writing crap about how horrible they are!! I‘d be willing to bet you had no family members in World War II! If you did did you ever stop to think the dropping oof those bombs saved their lifes.

I am so glad the majority rules here in the United States!

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

1) I had a great uncle that was in a unit that was headed to Japan in order to force a surrender. He served in the Pacific theater since he was an ethnic German. It was very likely he would not survive the war, and everyone in his unit knew that.

But, after the bombs dropped, he had orders to go home. Then the war was over, and ever after that, he would never ride in a Japanese car.

If you have any sympathy for the Japanese Army, you should read about what happened in Nanking, China. Sure, they didn't drop a big bomb, they just kidnapped girls and forced them into prostitution. And, the Japanese almost totally destroyed just about everything in Manilla, which was known as the Pearl of the Orient before the war. Today, only a small area of Manilla still has anything from before W.W. II.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

2) But, the Nazis also forced girls into prostitution, but you will find very few references to that. You have to read a lot of history books to find any mention of that fact. Think about Paris, France. Adolf Hitler issued orders for the entire city to be destroyed, but fortunately for the world, those orders were never carried out.

I also had an inlaw uncle that was also an ethnic German, and I believe that since he was so fluent in German, he would be perfect for reconnaissance missions. He had a very close call once, you can read about it here, this is a reposting of a comment I made on this site 11 months ago:

As an aside, I have a small tidbit of history that I am absolutely sure you will never find in any history book, because I know the man involved and he never talked about it until I believe the 1980s. He didn't talk about the war at all for decades, totally refused to discuss it, and the only thing he ever said until the 1980s was that he was never going to go back to Germany, ever. But in the 1980s, he finally talked, and told his son in law, who was my brother, something that had happened, and my brother thought it to be father funny in a tragic way.

Mr. B., who is still living, was an American soldier fighting in Europe. It was terrifically unusual that he was there because he was an ethnic German. Very few ethic Germans were sent to fight in Europe, most of them were in the Pacific theater.

Even to this day Mr. B. speaks German better than he speaks English. He certainly speaks English with a very heavy German accent!

Mr. B. was on a reconnaissance mission, and he and only a few crossed the Rhine on a very small boat in the middle of the night to scout out German positions.

The group scattered, to see if they could discover any German positions. Mr. B. was making his way through some brushes in a wooded area, when every reconnaissance man's worst nightmare happened.

Very loudly, he heard a very loud shout: "Wer ist dort?"!!! (Who is there?)

A German patrol consisting of a few German solders was passing by, and one of them had heard something suspicious moving in the bushes.

Very loudly, he shouted back in extremely fluent German "I'm, das eine Scheiße nimmt!" (I'm taking a ****!)

"Heil!" was shouted back, and the German patrol kept on patrolling, looking for Allied spies to shoot.

The only reason he survived was because of his very fluent German. In German, he has no accent at all.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

"Our Polaris missile easily could have destroyed any major city in the world and killed millions of its residents."

There is a major problem with the claim made above. The guidance systems that were used at that time were only gyroscopes. After takeoff, there was no external guidance at all. The chances of actually hitting the city that the missile was targeted at were approximately the same as you will find in any casino in the world.

The populations of both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. were deceived to the point of believing that the missiles would actually hit the intended target.

Now there are very accurate guidance systems, but that old Polaris missile would be very much like a Ford Model T trying to keep up with traffic on an interstate highway.

But the threat still remains, and it appears to me that the only solution in sight is the arrival of the Mashiach, the second coming of Jesus Christ, or the return of the 12th Imam.

Stu Clark 5 years, 10 months ago

Hi Ron, You tell some great stories, but the statement about no guidance after lift-off is wrong. I worked at the MIT lab that developed the Polaris guidance system in the early '60s. There was no guidnace after engine burn-out, but during the powered part of the flight , a system of gimballed gyros and accelerometers set up a trajectory that would create a ballistic path to the target. The primary accomplishment of the Lab was to package this system, the technology of which was well established, into a sphere the size of a basketball.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure you're correct, I hadn't thought of accelerometers. That's rather odd that I didn't even think of that, since I worked for a company that did flight tests of business jets and we did use accelerometers on the systems that I built from instruction.

I have a tendency to remember and repeat what I've read or been told, without a whole lot of references. I was told that only gyroscopes were used, and I believed it!

MattressMan 5 years, 10 months ago

Next time I "see our missle" I'm going to think back to my childhood and remember going to that park with my brothers, cousins and grandparents. I'll think about climbing on the plane that used to be there and pretending to blow away the commies. Or lainching that missle to destroy some target hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

Thanks Joe for bringing back such wonderful memories, those were the days.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 10 months ago

Thinking about allthose "Civil Defense drills" in grade school.Hidingunder our desks would save us, huh?

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

"Duck and Cover was a social guidance film produced in 1951 by the United States federal government's Civil Defense branch shortly after the Soviet Union began nuclear testing. Written by Raymond J. Mauer and directed by Anthony Rizzo of Archer Productions and made with the help of schoolchildren from New York City and Astoria, New York, it was shown in schools as the cornerstone of the government's "duck and cover" public awareness campaign. The movie states that nuclear war could happen at any time without warning, and U.S. citizens should keep this constantly in mind and be ever ready."

TheYetiSpeaks 5 years, 10 months ago

When is the Lawrence Coalition for Peace's vigil for the victims of the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

That would be the next day, Aug 7th. The vigil for the London bombings will be Aug. 8th, holocaust victims, Aug. 9th, rape of Nanking Aug. 10th. 9/11 victims is Aug. 11th.

What is so unfortunate, yet so true, is that we can fill in all 365 days and still not be able to remember all who have died at the hands of man's inhumanity towards man.

verity 5 years, 10 months ago

Rarely agree with you, but this time I do---except for a slight error, 9/11 would be September 11, wouldn't it?

I find it sad that whenever the peace coalition is mentioned, so many snarky remarks are made. Whether you agree with the Japanese bombings or not, can you not remember the innocent people who died there?

Whether you agree with everything the peace coalition does or not, surely it's good to have somebody as a counter balance to the war-mongering in our government. Obviously not an equal counter balance, but at least they're trying to do something.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 10 months ago

When is the Lawrence Coalition for Peace's vigil for the victims of the massacre in the Katyn Forest?

BigAl 5 years, 10 months ago

When is the Lawrence Coalition for Peace's vigil for the victims of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor?

RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

The Japanese were developing their own versions of atomic weapons during World War 2 and would have used them on us if possible. There's even some evidence they detonated a small nuclear weapon just days before bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let 'em whine, our President Harry S. Truman (D) saved countless American lives by beating them to the punch .

Truman was a failure as a businessman and as a farmer. He was voted best dressed congressman though. And his secretary of state won the Nobel Peace Prize.

BigAl 5 years, 10 months ago

It was an unprovoked, cowardly attack on Pearl Harbor.

Brock Masters 5 years, 10 months ago

KansasLiberal - maybe your history knowledge is better than mine. What did the US do to justify Japan bombing Pearl Harbor?

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not due to any one single factor.

A) The Japanese wanted to expand the Japanese Empire, that is, the Japanese wanted to control more of the Pacific Ocean.

B) The Japanese felt threatened by the USA.

C) The cutoff of fuel destined for Japan, they were under embargo from fuel supplies at the time.

There is a significant point that is often overlooked, and that is that the Japanese concept of the conclusion of a war is very different than ours. The Japanese were under the very mistaken impression that the result of the war would be that an armistice line would be drawn father eastward. That concept was part of the Samurai tradition. Since Japan was so small, the wars that they had fought for centuries were no more than a redrawing of the boundaries of principalities or kingdoms.

Of course, that is not a complete list, there have been many lengthy books written on that very subject.

A cultural clash, and a war begins. That's an endless history.

That's off the top if my head, I'm sure there were other reasons as well.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 10 months ago

In the 20th Century many, many more people died under Communist regimes than were killed by atomic bombs.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 10 months ago

When I see the Polaris shell I think of the "duck and cover" (and kiss your butt goodbye) exercises I went through in grade school. What a memory with which to grow up.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

Ah, you must be remembering the old poster that listed ten things to do in case of a nuclear attack. The first nine made sense, move away from windows, that sort of thing. Number ten was to kiss your ass goodbye. Sold in every "head" shop in America. Ah, Memories.

tbaker 5 years, 10 months ago

In the summer of 1945, GEN George C. Marshall briefed President Truman on the casualty estimates for the invasion of mainland Japan set for November of 1946. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were not in agreement. Estimates ranged from 200,000 to 500,000. Marshall told the President that he believed 1 million was a more accurate estimate with at least the same number of dead and wounded Japanese.

Casualties (dead and wounded) from the two atomic bombs were ~150,000 at Hiroshima ~75,000 at Nagasaki.

Do the math.

The next time I see our missile, I will commemorate all the American and Japanese lives that were saved by nuclear weapons.

Phoghorn 5 years, 10 months ago

I think it would depend on the circumstances. I hate nuclear bombs as much as the next guy, and I hope no more of them are ever detonated. That being said, please see my response to wounded_soldier above.

Brock Masters 5 years, 10 months ago

If Kuwait used it against Iraq when Iraq invaded their country then no. If Iraq used it against Kuwait then yes.

Rex Hargis 5 years, 10 months ago

Roe-the middle name of Harry S Truman is "S" not "S.". It stood for nothing- "S" was his middle name.

RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

True, but it was old Harry himself that initiated the use of a period after the S to avoid confusion in the media . . . (from a source!)

Liberty275 5 years, 10 months ago

My Father served in the Pacific in WW2. Without the Japanese surrender following the demonstration of what they had coming, he may very well had died.

Hold hands, sing songs and vigil all you want. It's a free country.

RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

My Dad was recovering in Australia from shrapnel wounds and a bullet to the shoulder he got in the Philippines when the bombs were dropped. Two weeks later he would have been on a ship bound for a landing on Japan. Instead he was on a ship heading home.

Bob Forer 5 years, 10 months ago

My dad was a waist gunner and radio operator on a B17 bomber. He spent the last months of the war killing time at Scott Field near St. Louis. Although he didn't know it at the time, his squadron was being held in reserve for the anticipated invasion of Japan. Had the two atomic bombs not been dropped, I may very well have never been born.

The atomic bombings were a horror, but a necessary one. More human lives--both American and Japanese--would have been lost in an invasion, than were lost in the atomic blasts. Truman had one viable option. He did the right thing.

Bob Harvey 5 years, 10 months ago

KSlib, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all live in a world of children holding hands singing "I want to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony"? Sadly that is not the case, regardless of how much we would like it to be.

War, sadly, is sometimes the answer. At times one must stand up to the bullies and despots. Freedom is something pretty spectacular, however so many take it for granted. An expression I most like is, "For those that fought for it freedom has a flavor the protected can never know."

Regret war and condemn it all you like because it is horrible. No one in the right mind enjoys going to war. But thankfully some are willing to protect those left behind.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.