The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings—A Reminder of What Imperialism Will Do

Aug 7, 2023

It’s been 78 years since the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Today, we see the U.S. providing powerful weaponry to Ukraine in its war with Russia. The U.S. has repeatedly engaged in provocations against China off its coast in the South China Sea. And recently the U.S. and other NATO countries agreed to construct new bases in eight countries bordering Russia and to mass a quarter of a million new troops there in the next two years.

The big imperialist powers have agreed to greatly increase their military spending in the coming years. The recent debt ceiling bill between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy included an agreement to increase “regular” military spending at least one percent faster than the rate of inflation. Japan plans to increase its military budget by at least 65% within five years. Germany says it will increase military spending by 25% this year. France will increase its military spending, which now stands at 45 billion euros, more modestly, by 3 billion euros every year from 2024 to 2030.

The corporate media and the bosses’ politicians hint that Vladimir Putin has considered the use of nuclear weapons. Yet the United States remains the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons against another country, and in the current tense situation it’s not hard to imagine the next world war and the possibility of nuclear weapons being employed.

All this makes it important to understand the real history behind the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The recent release of the film Oppenheimer has also put the issue front and center for many.

The history taught by the U.S. military and its supporters would have us believe that the U.S. needed to drop the bombs to force Japan to surrender, and that had it not done so, the U.S. would have had to launch a bloody invasion of Japan that would have cost the lives of one million U.S. soldiers.

In fact, Japan was on the verge of surrender before the bombing. Over 1.7 million Japanese soldiers and sailors had died in combat between 1937 and 1945. Another 300,000 Japanese died from disease and starvation and nearly 400,000 Japanese civilians died from the firebombing of Tokyo and bombings of 65 other Japanese cities by the U.S. and its Allies in the spring of 1945. In total, over 2.7 million Japanese had died, compared to 100,000 American deaths.

Records show that the U.S. government knew perfectly well that Japan was already defeated, and that no invasion would be necessary to secure the unconditional surrender the U.S. insisted on. After the war, the U.S. military’s own Strategic Bombing Survey Report concluded that even without the use of the atom bombs, Japan would have surrendered by at least the end of 1945 and possibly by November 1 of that year.

Yet U.S. military officials pushed President Harry Truman to order that the newly developed atom bombs be dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. It is estimated that between 130,000 and 226,000 people were killed in the bombings of the two cities, not counting all those who died in the following years from the effects of the radiation. Everyone and everything close to the blasts was simply vaporized. People further out were crushed by falling debris, burned by fires, or inundated with radiation that made them go blind or made their skin fall off.

The U.S. chose to use the end of its war with Japan to put the world on notice that it would and could bomb and murder indiscriminately to protect its interests, its domination of the entire world.

The U.S. has proved its willingness to use the same kinds of murderous tactics that it used against Japan many times since: firebombing North Korean cities in the Korean War, bombing villages in Vietnam, more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What guarantee is there, that the U.S. and other military powers wouldn’t use nuclear weapons in the next war, another war over control of the world’s resources? None! They have demonstrated the opposite! If decisions are left in the hands of those who serve the wealthy ruling classes of the world, we are guaranteed a deadly result.