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The ancestry of the nuclear bomb

Guest post by Noel Hamel of Kingston Peace Council / CND.

A virtually unknown warmonger’s ideas led to the development of nuclear weapons. After the First World War it was realised trench warfare simply led to carnage and stalemate. Italian General Giulio Douhet, 1869–1930, argued for an airforce to bomb the enemy and bypass troops on the ground. His ideas for aerial warfare clashed with the military establishment and he was sacked.

In 1921 Giulio Douhet published “The Command of the Air” (still available on Amazon) insisting that future wars would be won by air supremacy. He believed in total war, not simply bombing the military, industry and communication but also cities and civilians. His plan was to use explosives, incendiaries and gas to spread terror and despair till civilians rose up and demanded surrender. In the USA, Germany and the UK there were other less extreme advocates of aerial warfare. In 1932 proposals for an international ban on bombing withered for lack of interest. After World War 2, though targeting civilians is clearly a war crime, no one was tried for bombing raids since the victors were the worst offenders.

Douhet’s theory was tested in places like Guernica, Coventry, London Docks, Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo. The main effect was to harden civilian resolve. In Japan Hiroshima and Nagasaki were discounted as just another two cities destroyed. Hence a thoroughly discredited theory?

Today nuclear bombing would certainly destroy all side’s citizens, and innocent citizens not involved, with blast, radiation poisoning and atmospheric damage. Is Douhet’s theory of air supremacy due a rethink after 70 years? Trident submarines have 40 warheads, each 8 X the Hiroshima bomb.

S4P&J at the Environmental Fair

Sutton for Peace and Justice will once again be at the Environmental Fair in Carshalton Park on Bank Holiday Monday, 31 August 2015.

We will be at pitch K05&K06.

This year we will be hosting a series of informal and open discussions at our stall on a range of peace and justice issues, that we have billed as ‘The Colloquium in Carshalton Park’. The sessions are planned to be:

11.15    What is wrong with TTIP and ISDS
12.00    Trident – renew or scrap? (in association with Kingston Peace Council)
12.45    House demolitions in Palestine
13.30    The challenge of Climate Change
14.15    Trident – renew or scrap? (in association with Kingston Peace Council)
15.00    What is wrong with TTIP and ISDS
15.45    House demolitions in Palestine
Please come along and hear about these important issues – find out more, have your say and join the debate.

Colloquium – an informal gathering for the exchange of views, from the latin ‘to talk together’;  a seminar usually led by a different academic or expert speaker at each meeting.

We will also have Zaytoun fair trade goods from Palestine for sale.

Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima

On 6 August 2015 Sutton for Peace and Justice hosted a commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima at Carshalton Ponds. The event was led by Doris Richards:

On behalf of Sutton for Peace and Justice I wish to thank you for coming to this 70th Anniversary Commemoration event to remember the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We are here to remember the victims and ensure that such barbarity is never repeated. We will start with poetry, then the floating of the lanterns followed by a minute of silence; then there will be time for our own contemplation as we pledge ourselves never to forget.

Hiroshima – a poem by Hiromu Morishita

Watch dutifully
With your eyes
Here, something happened that shouldn’t have,
Here now, something irreparable continues,
Here tomorrow, signs of everyone’s destruction
may appear.
Don’t watch with one eye
Don’t watch with your arm or with your head.
With the heart of one who endures despair

Lighted lanterns were then launched on the pond and a minute silence was observed.

The following poem is inscribed on the Hiroshima Monument

No More Hiroshima – composed by Sankichi Toge

Give back the Human
Give back my father, give back my mother;
Give grandpa back, grandma back;
Give me back myself.
Give back the human race.
As long as this life lasts, this life,
Give back peace
That will never end.

A single bomber. A single bomb. The explosion’s suddenness and simultaneity were dumbfounding. It seemed everywhere in the city at the same time, but each individual experienced it as a direct hit on his or her neighbourhood.

And this marks the aspect of this event’s hugeness: the scale of human suffering.

The number of dead the witnesses saw, the monstrous burns and bloating bodies of those still alive, their insistent and unanswerable appeals for help from all sides. Since the weapon had never been used before, it made no sense and it fitted no pattern of warfare, let alone other human experience.

The bigger the event, the less we are able to recognise that, no matter how many people wail their laments, we will never come to terms with our truest feelings, indeed in our attempts to write and speak atrocity , language itself becomes suspect. Because we still live in this atomic landscape, locating ourselves in relation to Hiroshima informs our current experience.

We remember with deep sorrow the 6th August 1945 when the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and 3 days later on Nagasaki. The bombs and the consequent firestorms raised temperatures to 4000 Degrees Centigrade obliterating the cities and killing everyone within one kilometre – between 150,000 and 246,000 people in total. Those closest to the explosion died instantly, their bodies turned to black char, and within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile from ground zero were dead.

We re-affirm that we must do all we can to ensure nuclear weapons are not used again.

The British Government should honour it’s signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which the UK has no right to possess nuclear weapons, is legally bound to disarm.

At this commemorative event we urge the government to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system, and to spend that money for peaceful purposes – affordable homes, schools and hospitals.

At the dawn of the 21st Century,
We honour this passage through darkness.
We must have the courage to enter
The void again…….and again,
Emerging with new life
Healing only comes through learning to forgive,
And making peace with our past.
Peace cannot be kept by force,
It can only be achieved by understanding.

Please take your time to leave, remember to pass on this message to those around you and those in positions of power who can influence the decision making.

6th August 2015 photos

Hiroshima comem 3 (DM) aHiroshima comem 4 (DM) aHiroshima day 2015 reading ahiroshima day candles 4 ahiroshima day 2015 candles 1 ahiroshima day 2015 candles 2 ahiroshima day 2015 candles 3 ahiroshima day candles + church

6th August 2015 Carshalton Ponds

6th August 1945 – 6th August 2015.

Remembering Hiroshima – saying ‘never again’.

hiroshima day 2015 candles 1 b

Remembering Hiroshima

By David Murray

6th August, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the US, on behalf of the Allies, dropping a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and, three days later, a second one on Nagasaki. It also marks the ‘run up’ to the decision whether to renew the Trident nuclear system.

The bombs and consequent firestorms raised temperatures to 4000 degrees C, obliterating the cities and killing every living thing within one kilometre. People closest to the explosions died instantly, their bodies turned to black char.

Hiroshima stands on a flat river delta offering little protection, so when the bomb exploded above the crowded city centre, the firestorm ultimately destroyed 5 square miles of the city and out of a 350,000 total population estimates of deaths range from 100,000 to 180,000.

The Nagasaki bomb was more powerful so, although hills shielded the centre, the harbour and the historic district, the narrowing effect of the hills left virtually nothing standing in the Urakami Valley, where destruction was greater than Hiroshima. Overall nearly a quarter of Nagasaki’s buildings were consumed by fire, but casualty estimates of 50,000 to 100,000 are less than Hiroshima.

By 1950 over 340,000 people had died, more than half the cities’ populations and generations have been poisoned by radiation.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were acts of war. But nuclear testing in the Pacific, Kazakhstan, the US, Africa, South Asia, and China has also caused profound ongoing damage to the environment and local communities around the world.

Today, Britain, as part of its Trident system, owns 225 warheads each with the power to inflict 8 times the damage of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

So with great sadness we remember the victims who died and those who still suffer from such horrific weapons by reaffirming our determination that such barbarity should never be repeated. We also urge the British Government to honour its signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which the UK has no right to possess nuclear weapons and is legally bound to disarm, by not wasting money renewing Trident.

In May this year William McNeilly told of life on patrol on HMS Vanguard, a Trident submarine, a tale of faulty equipment, poor security and safety blunders: a weapons compartment accidentally flooded by operator error; meat dumped in a skip, loaded onto the submarine for the crew to eat; toilets and drinking water supplies not working; and Vanguard failed a critical test to confirm that it could launch its missiles.

And, according to documents provided to Nuclear Information Service under the FOI Act, a flagship £600 million construction project at Aldermaston – centrepiece of plans to manufacture the next generation of Trident warheads – has been put on hold following a series of design problems, project management failures and regulatory setbacks.

Scrapping Trident would thus make practical sense, meet the UK’s legal obligation and release money for peaceful purposes such as hospitals, schools and affordable homes.

Useful organisations and websites

Action AWE – http://actionawe.org/

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – www.cnduk.org/home

Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – http://ccnd.gn.apc.org/

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – www.icanw.org

Nuclear Morality Project – www.nuclearmorality.com

Nuclear Information Service – www.nuclearinfo.org/

Pax Christi UK – http://paxchristi.org.uk/