Prohibit public access to Rocky Flats02 Sep

Prohibit public access to Rocky Flats
By LeRoy Moore
Boulder Daily Camera, September 2, 2025

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) did a “soft opening” to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. One can now join a group of 10 or fewer for a three-mile hike to see plants, wildlife and birds. To the aware public, the “soft opening” is an insult. It catches us unawares and preempts public input before the full opening mentioned in official documents. It flies in the face of broad opposition to public access expressed in 2004 when FWS sought public comments on its Environmental Impact Statement for the future refuge. Eighty-one percent of commenting parties opposed public access.
Refuge visitors could be exposed to radioactive plutonium-239 in the environment at the refuge and the Department of Energy (DOE) land that surrounds it. The two-square-mile DOE plot is the former industrial area of the Rocky Flats nuclear bomb plant, which for 37 years produced the explosive plutonium core of nuclear warheads. Fires, accidents and routine operations released billions of tiny, highly toxic particles of plutonium-239 into the environment.
For reasons known to the concerned public, FWS should not allow public access to the refuge — reasons also known to officials at DOE and the agencies that regulated the Rocky Flats Superfund cleanup: the EPA and Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE). DOE has routinely denied the scientific and medical reality at Rocky Flats. EPA and CDPHE went along, perhaps because they are paid by DOE to regulate DOE, a little noticed conflict of interest.
Key reasons for prohibiting public access to the refuge:
•Plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,110 years, is present in the environment at Rocky Flats in the form of particles too small to see.
•The radiation from plutonium cannot penetrate skin, but if plutonium is inhaled or otherwise internalized it lodges in the body and constantly irradiates nearby tissue, endangering one’s health.
•Columbia University researchers found that a single particle of plutonium taken into the body induces genetic mutations that may produce cancer or other ailments.
•Those responsible for the cleanup assumed plutonium left in soil would remain in place, despite Dr. Iggy Litaor’s discovery in 1995 that plutonium migrates during rain events and Dr. Shawn Smallwood’s finding in 1996 that burrowing animals bring plutonium to the surface, where it can be redistributed by the wind common at Rocky Flats.
•Plutonium on DOE land will migrate onto the refuge. This probably happened in the September 2013 flood, but DOE’s streambed monitors failed during the storm, leaving us in the dark about whether and how far the plutonium traveled. Sheet flooding, present in 2013, has never been monitored at Rocky Flats.
•The Rocky Flats Superfund cleanup was designed to protect a wildlife refuge worker. But plutonium will far outlive the refuge. The greatest harm will be to future generations.
•Genetic effects of plutonium on wildlife are poorly understood. There have been no genetic studies of wildlife at Rocky Flats.
•The FBI raided Rocky Flats in 1989 to collect evidence of environmental law-breaking at the site. The documents were sealed. EPA and CDPHE were given the opportunity to review the evidence during the cleanup, but they declined. In the raid EPA took environmental samples that have never been revealed.
•Although children are especially vulnerable to radiation, FWS expects them at the refuge.
Of the more than 600 national wildlife refuges, Rocky Flats is the only one on the radioactive site of a former nuclear weapons factory. To FWS, this doesn’t matter, as evidenced by the “soft opening.”
In the face of all this uncertainty, biology professor Harvey Nichols and former county commissioner Paul Danish generated a very sensible proposal. Congress should enact legislation requiring that all DOE nuclear weapons sites that undergo Superfund cleanup remain closed to the public for at least 250 years after completion of the cleanup.
Enactment of this proposal would protect the innocent and bring praise for supporting legislators. It would introduce into the nuclear realm the precautionary principle that where uncertainty regarding harm to public health and environmental integrity exists, as it does at Rocky Flats, caution should prevail over carelessness. People of future generations will be grateful. I strongly suggest that our current state and congressional delegations support this concept. By the time a site has been closed for two-and-a-half centuries, whether visiting it poses a danger or not should be known. Any questionable site could be kept closed permanently.

LeRoy Moore works with the Rocky Flats Nuclear Guardianship of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.


Mt. McKinley–The importance of being ashamed! Saul Changed his name to Paul31 Aug

By Bob Kinsey

Mt. Denali– Good. Mt. McKinley — bad –just celebrates a President who began a war with Philippine Freedom Fighters and bent a war allied with Cuban Freedom fighters to the establishment of a “Protectorate” over them, the Manifest Destiny Imperial crowd that even the Progressive but Social Darwinist President TR joined as he sent the Great White Fleet around the globe. This is a dark strand in the history of the US and its so-called commitment to the idea that all humans should be free and have natural rights to life, liberty and property (pursuit of happiness). This dark strand is racist and militarist (US Navy push for “coaling stations” in the Pacific, overly proud of its so called Western “Civilization”– in the name of which President McKinley went on his knees in prayer and learned from the Almighty that he should take the Philippines and “civilize them”(having to water board them first). Just so did President Truman “Thank God” for giving us the Atomic bomb shortly after he used it (of course, to save lives –really?).

The blindness of so called Progressive Republicans and Democrats to this underlying history of unjust conquest and dominance, racism and militarism, is nearly ubiquitous as none will dare to challenge the mindless, a-historical promulgation of the myths by such groups as the American Legion, VFW, and NRA who cannot endure the shame they must face in this history. More recently AIPAC joined in self righteous conquest of land and the killing of Palestinians in the name of self defense, (though they include a large body of conquest in that Zionist definition of “self”) including the right to disobey international law and the Non Proliferation Treaty. And the US supported all this with arms sales and transfers as well as international cover as our “Friend”. So much for the self determination of people. PNAC (Project for a New American Century) finds its roots in this dark strand of history that funded and armed the genocide of Mayans in Guatemala, the Contra War in Nicaragua, the death squads and assassination of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador, the genocide in East Timor, all in the name of fighting for their proclaimed God ordained Capitalism vs. “godless” Communism. This dark strand was rooted in the Machiavellian strand of the Renaissance– a justification of the rule of the Borgias (including Pope Alexander V!) and the Medici by force and fear. Mr. Cheney — war criminal — reads “The Prince” as a New Years ritual. Mr. Trump’s bombast about making America great again is the redneck version.

We cannot be offended by the facts of our history–our military/imperial/economic history. Yes it involves enduring some shame but there is more honor in correcting our errors as much as possible than in denying and continuing them. It’ s time to change the name of Mt. Evans to Mt. Soule in Colorado, as Gov. Evans was an exterminationist empire builder who set Col. Chivington on a band of submissive Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek. Take down the war memorials celebrating the victories in this imperial strand of US history. Sure mourn the deaths of those who were ignorant of the land speculators’/investment bankers motives and called to military service under false pretenses, but lets honor the likes of Lincoln who voted against the Mexican War of conquest, and Silas Soule who blew the whistle on Chivington as a bald faced liar bent upon destruction of Indians who tried to defend land and way of life, or Samuel Clemens and the anti-Imperialist league in the Congress. Stop honoring President Reagan for his illegal and immoral foreign policy because it “won the Cold War”. Like Cheney he never showed up on the front lines but was happy to praise the dead as heroes and damn the “enemy” dead (mostly all civilian) as evil empire Communists. Reagan National Airport, Reagan this, Reagan that.

Self Righteousness is so much more comfortable than confession and repentance. Have we no shame? Well, its hard when we won’t face facts or teach them to our children. Shame on those Christian Churches who join in the self-righeous self-congratulatory acts of the past (remember how those “Christians” justified the institution of slavery in the early 19th Century? –and weep.) They were willing to spill the blood of countless brothers in the Civil War. They are the same type who are upset about renaming Mt. McKinley or telling the truth about the Enola Gay.


Michael Bennet — Support the Iran Deal!! Now.27 Aug

An open letter to Senator Michael Bennet,

It is critical that you immediately announce your support for the Iran 5+1 Agreement and to speak out in its favor. If you take the other road you will just be reinforcing the foreign-militarized policy of Project for a New American Century (PNAC). The world cannot endure this policy based on steel without any feel for vast numbers of humans or respect for their natural rights, including our own military citizens–our sons and daughters.

This Agreement was negotiated in good faith by an administration led by your party. It places the inspection regime in the hands of the IAEA, an international organization which, led by Hans Blix, had the Iraq situation right. That is, there were no nuclear warheads in Iraq nor were they developing any. The US intelligence “community” led by Vice President Dick Cheney and his PNAC team lied to the American people and involved us in a war that was immoral, illegal, unnecessary, and, by destroying civil society and governmental structure, created a weakened society that gave birth to ISIS and left millions of refugees and dead civilians. ISIS make Hezbullah and Hamas look pacifist. The people criticizing this Agreement are the same liars who got us into the Iraq mess. They are war profiteers whose sick ideology is often as “fundamentalist” as any Wahhabi Muslim–a combination of Zionism and American Capitalist Exceptionalism whose only hope is in some kind of Rapture eschatology

Israel is the only Arab-Middle East country that possesses nuclear weapons. Its leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been seeking to push the US into a war vs. Iran just as Cheney (PNAC) lied us into a war with Iraq. PNACers don’t like an International community that calls Israel to task for maintaining an occupation and settlement policy based on war and
invasion. They don’t like international law or treaties but seek rather to create a hegemonic rule by the US military that dominates the Arab nations (in the name of “freedom” and “protecting American –and interests and “friends”) . Iraq is proof perfect — this isn’t going to happen–and in the process the US will bankrupt itself literally and morally–devoting its resources to war and militarism rather than to creating a just and sustainable economy for itself and the world. Diplomacy and cooperation are the only sane paths into a survivable human future. This Agreement is a step in that direction.

Bob Kinsey, 615 San Fernando Place, Colorado Springs 80906



From Ralph Hutchison

Is your email box filling with appeals to you to contact Congress about the Iran deal? Are they telling you we have to have this deal or we’ll have war with Iran? After getting too many of those emails from surprising sources, it seemed worthwhile to step back and look at the big picture and remind myself what my commitment to nuclear abolition means. The result is this open letter:

Dear Friends who I love dearly and who I believe with all my heart mean well,

Please stop sending me “It’s the Iran Deal or War” crap. My inbox is filling with “Don’t Bomb Iran” and “Diplomacy Not War.”

I’m asking you to stop for two reasons:

Surely you don’t mean it. Surely you find that insidious threat as stomach-turning as I do. “Don’t make us kill you for no reason at all. Because we’ll do it.” Despite the fact that, deal or no deal, Iran is still in compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty—way more in compliance than the US, not to mention our staunchest MidEast ally which has not even signed the Treaty because it won’t comply with it.

That kind of talk is dangerous, right-wing cant and we should not legitimize it for one split second by pretending it might be true. It’s not an honest or fair framing of the question on the table. It’s a trap. Don’t fall for it, please, please, please.

The fight to get the Iran deal approved by Congress is not our fight. It’s a dangerous distraction from the work of getting rid of all nuclear weapons.

I’ve thought about this a lot, trying to figure out what makes this deal so precious, and to whom, and here’s what seems clear to me. I’m looking at the big picture, because, really, that’s close enough to see what’s going on. The details, in this case, are devils distracting us from the big picture.

Here are five important things to remember about the Iran deal.

The Iran deal codifies an astonishing double standard—though it’s probably lost its power to amaze in the United States. We get bombs; you don’t. We’ve taken this double standard as our right for decades, part of our idea of American Exceptionalism, I guess (which, technically, applies to a fraction of North America).

The Iran deal doesn’t change much—Iran was submitting to inspections before and will be submitting to them some more (with or without a deal).

The Iran deal props up the basic illusion of security on which nuclear weapon policy depends, that:

a) nuclear weapons—which are suicidal as well as homicidal—somehow grant nations that have them a measure of security;
b) if Iran is stopped from developing them, no one else will get them, either;
c) nuclear weapons offer some assurance of regional stability.

The Iran deal maintains an imbalance that, if you think of it from Iran’s viewpoint, is completely irrational: We, and Israel, are allowed to threaten Iran with our nuclear weapons (nothing is off the table, we always say), and allowed to “protect” ourselves with our nuclear weapons. They are not allowed to do either—they are not allowed to have nuclear weapons. In what rational world does this approach anything remotely resembling fairness or justice?

The Iran deal also makes Iran jump through way more hoops and submit to way more inspections and accountability measures than we ourselves do.


And some others think it is this deal or war.

What I am not hearing anyone consider is this possibility, however remote it seems to us, armed to the teeth as we are with our nuclear suicide vests, laughing incredulously when Oscar Arias says our nuclear weapons are a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength:

Maybe Iran is serious when both its political and religious leadership say they don’t want nuclear weapons. The reason I ask you to consider it is twofold: 1) If you were an Iranian in Iran, you could make equally rational arguments for and against nuclear weapons (if you set aside moral qualms, which apparently they are not willing to do); and 2) there is no evidence to suggest otherwise (even US intelligence estimates concur). I know! It’s just impossible to believe, isn’t it?

Bottom line: if the Iran deal is a good thing, it’s virtues are limited, and the framing of the current push to get Congress to approve it as “war or diplomacy” provides a wonderful cover for the weaponeers who continue to fund our nuclear modernization program with billions of tax dollars.

If we’re serious about nuclear abolition, I think the Iran deal is not our fight. At least some of us need to be saying, loud and clear, that any one-sided deal that countenances the nuclear double standard not only kicks the can down the road, it increases the nuclear peril by undermining the hopes of the rest of the world that nuclear weapons states might one day honor their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.


alice slater says:
August 24, 2015 at 2:25 pm

I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. As I wrote on the action alert for world beyond war:

Wouldn’t it be great if the US stopped provoking Russia, agreed to a space weapons ban which it has been blocking, dismantled NATO or at least the eastward expansion which we promised Gorbachev we wouldn’t do after the wall came down, rejoin the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia which we walked out of and get our new missile bases out of Turkey, Poland and Romania so then Russia would talk to us about getting rid of our 15,000 nuclear weapons out of the 16,000 on the planet. so we can have complete nuclear disarmament as we promised in 1970 in the NPT and do it in 15 years, so we won’t have to worry about Iran when the deal is up. As Pogo said, “We’ve seen the enemy and it is us!”


Hooked on Nukes??14 Aug

Peace Train August 14, 2015


In the wake of the flurry of attention on the possible agreement between Iran and world powers, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on known nuclear weapons states, to begin disarming their own atomic arsenals.

He wrote in the Guardian, “I sincerely believe that the nuclear agreement between my country—a non-nuclear-weapon state—and the P5+1 (which control almost all of the 19,000 nuclear warheads on Earth) is symbolically significant enough to kickstart this paradigm shift and mark the beginning of a new era for the non-proliferation regime.”

Meanwhile. . .According to the National Institution on Drug Abuse “23% of heroin users cannot quit the drug.” Is is possible that addiction rates to nuclear weapons among the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany and Israel are far higher?

There is no public evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program; conclusions by multiple U.S. government agencies are that the country has no plans to develop one, according to “Common Dreams.”

In a glossy ‘kickass’ sort of publication of the “CBRNe World,” (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) the addictive excitement of Weapons! Equipment! Special Operations! Engineering! PROFIT! is lavishly advertised and illustrated. ‘Gorgeous’ ads by Lockheed Martin, Emergent Biosolutions, Battelle and on and on, are to peace activists in agonizingly nightmarish contrast to the peace-crane-making that swept the world last week as many people somberly acknowledged the 70th anniversary of the horrendously tragic U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

And then, there is the vast majority of human beings just trying to put food on the table, get an education or struggling to stay alive, or for upper classes, focusing on their ‘Smart Phones’ or ‘Instagram,’ all oblivious to either the excitement of ‘Weapons!,” or the poignant determination of people carrying candles walking a labyrinth together as many of us did in Denver last Thursday evening on the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. Weird.

As my friend, Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in Tennessee wrote recently, “as it stands now, the Iran deal is dramatically one-sided; preserving the unbelievably arrogant double standard that is US nuclear policy.”

Yes, to the Iran deal, it may be a start, but No! to continued reliance on the profits from nuclear posturing. Surely the world is mature enough to go beyond this.


We Didn’t need to drop the bomb and we knew we didn’t need to!12 Aug

The following article by Dennis Kucinich is a great review of the actual opinions of military leaders that puts American President Truman, Secretary of State Byrnes, and a host of other players of the “Great Game” in the spotlight of a great wrong done by the USA. Yet the American Legion and others were able to get the curator of the Smithsonian Museum fired for attempting to fix the record in 1995 (50th Anniversary of Hiroshima) when he created the Enola Gay exhibit. We could not face our own history–again.

by Dennis Kucinich
Seventy years ago this week, the United States ushered in the age of nuclear terror by dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing an estimated 200,000 and injuring another 100,000 who would eventually succumb to their wounds or radiation poisoning. At the time, the American public was led to believe that the bomb helped end the war and “saved lives.” This was never true.

As commemorations occur around the world to reflect on the bomb and its centrality to our past and present lives, it is an appropriate time to ask, “Was the use of nuclear weapons against civilians necessary for victory in Japan?”

There is a trove of information revealing that many senior U.S. military officials believed the bombs were not needed to end the war in the Pacific. President Truman approved of Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s destruction, but many of the top-ranking brass, from Douglas MacArthur to Chester Nimitz, knew better.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson informed Dwight D. Eisenhower, general of the armies, that the bomb would be dropped on Japan. In “Mandate for Change,” Eisenhower’s autobiography, Ike related this exchange: “I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face.’”

There are many more such testimonials, if someone takes the time to look:

–“When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the Emperor.” That’s from “The Pathology of Power,” by Norman Cousins.

— “We didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.” That’s Brig. Gen. Carter Clarke, quoted in “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” by Gar Alperovitz.

–“The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”– Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Pacific Fleet.

–“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part from a purely military point of view in the defeat of Japan. The use of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.” – – Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

–“Certainly, prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability, prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if atomic bombs had not been dropped.” — Adm. William D. Leahy, chief of staff to President Truman, in the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey.

–“The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.” –Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay.

This is only a partial list I compiled in preparation for my efforts in Congress in 2012 to stop the creation of a national park in honor of the Manhattan Project, which created the bomb. (I held up the legislation for two sessions of Congress. The measure passed after I left the House.)

The dropping of the atomic bomb was not a military necessity, but a grim political calculation to dissuade our World War II ally, the Soviet Union, from global ambitions. A three-pronged Soviet army attack upon the Manchurian region that Japan controlled, with an army of a million and a half men, commenced two days after Hiroshima was destroyed. Japan’s army lasted through three more weeks. While a hot war ended, an ideological cold war emerged as a psychology of one-upmanship gripped political elites in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, incubating new nuclear threats.

The use of nuclear weapons by the United States against Japan requires a new era of truth and reconciliation between our two nations and between America and the world. Today America is being fed another false narrative, for strictly political purposes, that Iran is preparing nuclear weapons.

The argument goes the U.S. must strike preemptively to stop Iran, notwithstanding a lack of evidence that Iran is developing the bomb. I gave countless presentations in debate in the House of Representatives warning of the consequences of threatening Iran with a military attack (and in some cases unleashing our nuclear weapons against Iran) and urged diplomatic resolution.

The Obama administration, led by Secretary Kerry, has crafted an agreement with Iran that sets the stage for an era of cooperation in nuclear threat reduction. Will America take a new direction? Or will we continue to be held captive by our own history and our own limited politics?

In 1945, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese were sacrificed to American geo-politics and the use by our political leaders of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Beginning in 2003, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and many of our soldiers, were sacrificed to American politics over a phony threat of WMD. In 2012, the lives of thousands of Libyans were sacrificed to American politics and a false narrative of “responsibility to protect” and “humanitarian intervention.” The decision to attack Libya brought increased destabilization and spawned the growth of terrorism.

If the past 70 years have taught us anything it is that when it comes to our politics, truth gets buried so deeply and for so long that when it is finally exhumed few recognize it. It is time we start asking some hard questions about our own history as a nation, about the choices our leaders made and continue to make in our name, and whether those choices have made or will make the world safer or more dangerous.


Peace Train 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings02 Aug

Peace Train July 24, 2015


On a sparkling August morning 70 years ago August 6, the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and three days later, on Nagasaki. By the end of that year it is estimated that 220,000 people had died as a result of the bombs.

The nuclear establishment has become a lethal facet of the U.S .national character. Mighty laboratories, handsomely paid scientists and engineers, thousands of people working in the Department of Energy’s nuclear complex spread poisonously across the U.S. comprise a major aspect of U.S. and world economies.

The entire nuclear cycle, from uranium mining, to weapons production, to war, damages the health and life of people and the planet. It’s all lethal.

Rocky Flats, eight miles south of Boulder produced 70,000 plutonium pits. They are the central core of every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The site has been cleaned only to a cleanup level of 50 picocuries of plutonium per gram of soil in the top three feet of soil and much more the deeper you go. It will blow in the winds and drain through the streams and aquifers essentially forever, brought to the surface by millions of burrowing animals and insects and can be lethal if breathed in.

People of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nuclear activists worldwide are trying to warn the world about the unimaginable terror and death rained on these cities and the unending aftermath. To remind modern societies of the deadly industry the world is balanced on precariously, people of conscience world wide are creating ways to mourn and re-inspire resistance to nuclear advances happening across the world.

At the Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 1, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center will host the first of many area remembrances. There will be large photographs from the bombed cities, paper cranes to make, people to talk with about all things nuclear. It will be close to the intersection of Canyon Blvd. And 13th Street in Boulder, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Sunday, August 2, 7:00 to 9:00 PM there will be a Peace Concert filled with music and a myriad of

unique expressions of remembrance and resistance; it is a joint effort of the Peace Center and the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and will be held at the Fellowship Hall, 1241 Ceres Drive, Lafayette.

See the website for more events.



Review of Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard
New York Times Book Review — August 2, 2015
By Ian Buruma

There are good reasons for writing a book about the atom bombing of Nagasaki and its agonizing aftermath. Most people have heard of Hiroshima. The second bomb — dropped by an Irish-American pilot almost exactly above the largest Catholic church in Asia, which killed more than 70,000 civilians on the day and more in the long term — is less well known.

Susan Southard’s harrowing descriptions give us some idea of what it must have been like for people who were unlucky enough not to be killed instantly: “A woman who covered her eyes from the flash lowered her hands to find that the skin of her face had melted into her palms”; “Hundreds of field workers and others staggered by, moaning and crying. Some were missing body parts, and others were so badly burned that even though they were naked, Yoshida couldn’t tell if they were men or women. He saw one person whose eyeballs hung down his face, the sockets empty.”

Gen. Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project, which had developed the atom bomb, testified before the United States Senate that death from high-dose radiation was “without undue suffering,” and indeed “a very pleasant way to die.”

Many survivors died later, always very unpleasantly, of radiation sickness. Their hair would fall out, they would be covered in purple spots, their skin would rot. And those who survived the first wave of sickness after the war had a much higher than average chance of dying of leukemia or other cancers even decades later.

What made things worse for Japanese doctors who tried to ease the suffering of atom-bomb victims is that information about the bomb and its effects was censored by the American administration occupying Japan until the early 1950s. Even as readers here were shocked in 1946 by John Hersey’s description of the Hiroshima bomb in The New Yorker, the ensuing book was banned in Japan. Films and photographs of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as medical data, were confiscated by American authorities.

The strength of Southard’s book is that her account is remarkably free of abstractions. She is a theater director, albeit one with an M.F.A. in creative writing, and her interest in the story began in 1986, when she was hired as a translator for one of her subjects who was on a speaking tour in the United States. Instead of statistics, she concentrates, like Hersey, on the fates of individuals. We read about Wada Koichi, an 18-year-old student worker for the municipal streetcar company, as well as a 16-year-old schoolgirl named Nagano Etsuko, another teenage girl named Do-oh Mineko, a 13-year-old boy named Yoshida Katsuji, and several others.

They were so badly disfigured by the blast that it not only took them years to recover some kind of health, but they were also hesitant to reveal themselves in public. Children would cry or run away from them, thinking they were monsters. Younger survivors were often bullied at school. Atom-bomb victims (hibakusha) found it hard to find marriage partners, because people were afraid of passing genetic diseases to their offspring.

The only reason we know about the people described by Southard is that all of them overcame their deep embarrassment and “came out,” as it were, as kataribe, or “storytellers” about the atom bomb, reminding people of the horrors of nuclear war by speaking in public, at schools, conferences and peace gatherings all over the world.

Without excusing Japanese wartime behavior, Southard writes with compassion about Japanese victims, and measured indignation about postwar American evasions and hypocrisy. Although her lack of theory and abstraction is a blessing, she might have analyzed the politics of discrimination, as well as the nuclear issue in Japan, a bit more closely.

Hibakusha were not just ostracized because of their grotesque scars. It so happened that the epicenter of the bomb was over an area called Urakami, which was inhabited not only by a large number of Christians, but also by traditional outcasts, or burakumin, the people who did jobs that were polluted in Buddhist eyes: jobs that had to do with death, like those in the meat or leather industries.

As a consequence, the borderlines between hibakusha and burakumin became blurred. Christians, too, although not outcasts, had been persecuted, even after religious freedom was granted in the late 19th century, because of their suspected lack of patriotism. It was often assumed that they would be more loyal to the Vatican than to the Japanese emperor.

And yet the most celebrated victim of the bomb was a young man named Nagai Takashi, a Christian physician who wrote “The Bells of Nagasaki” in 1949, before dying a few years later. Dr. Nagai, also known as “the saint of Urakami,” regarded the bombing in terms of Christian martyrdom: Nagasaki was sacrificed to pay for the sins of war.

The subjects of Southard’s book did not see their suffering in this light. But there is something evangelical about the kataribe’s mission of peace. Wada, Do-oh, Yoshida and the others found a meaning in their lives by spreading the word about the evil of nuclear bombs. World peace became something like a religious mantra. One has to feel sympathy for this. Their suffering ought not to be forgotten, and neither should the horrendous effects of such cruel and destructive weapons. What could be unleashed on cities today would be immensely more devastating than the bombs that obliterated much of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nonetheless, preaching world peace and expressing moral condemnation of nuclear bombs as an absolute evil are not a sufficient response to the dangers facing mankind. For even though the kataribe of Nagasaki, and their sympathetic American interlocutor, are driven by human rather than political concerns, the peace movement they promote was politicized from the beginning.

Southard mentions Nagasaki Peace Park, for example, with its many monuments to world peace. The park was established in 1955. Many of the monuments donated by foreign countries were from such places as the Soviet Union, Poland, Cuba, the People’s Republic of China and East Germany. The peace movement was at least partly a propaganda tool in the Cold War. That killing a massive number of civilians with a radiating bomb is an act of barbarism is hard to refute. Whether the world would have been a safer place on the terms of the Soviet Union and its satellites is less clear.

Domestically, too, Japanese anti­nuclear and peace organizations were manipulated by political interests, conservative as well as leftist. Right-wing nationalists like to cancel out the history of Japanese atrocities (which they often deny anyway) by claiming that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were far worse. Left-wing pacifism has often been just as anti-American, but from the opposite political perspective.

Since Southard set out to concentrate on individual lives, rather than politics, one cannot really blame her for dodging these complications, but when she does mention them she can be oddly off beam.

In 1990, Motoshima Hiroshi, the Christian mayor of Nagasaki, was shot in the back by a right-wing extremist for publicly holding the Japanese emperor partly responsible for the war. Southard explains that Motoshima “broke a cultural taboo.”

In fact, Motoshima was courageously challenging a right-wing political goal, which is to strengthen the imperial institution, and undo some of the postwar liberal reforms, including pacifism. Southard says these reforms were “forced on Japan by an occupying nation,” which is also what right-wing nationalists claim, I think wrongly. Most Japanese were happy to enjoy their new freedoms. They didn’t have to be forced, for they cooperated quite willingly with the Americans who helped instigate them.

Still, the merits of Southard’s book are clear. It was bad enough for the Americans to have killed so many people, and then hide the gruesome facts for many years after the war. To forget about the massacre now would be an added insult to the victims. Southard has helped to make sure that this will not happen yet.

NAGASAKI: Life After Nuclear War
By Susan Southard
Illustrated. 389 pp. Viking. $28.95.

Ian Buruma teaches at Bard College. His latest book is “Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War.”


It’s Time to Ban the Bomb–Hans Blix01 Aug

It’s Time to Ban the Bomb

STOCKHOLM – The nuclear agreement between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, and the EU, comes at a historically propitious moment. Seventy years ago next month, the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened the darkest chapter in the long history of humanity’s wartime horrors. Fire, bullets, and bayonets were now joined by nuclear radiation – a silent, invisible killer like gas and biological agents.



<<>>29 Jul

By Gary G. Kohls, MD

August 6, 2015, is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, a civilian city that had minimal military value, despite the claims of President Truman when he announced the event to the American people.

The whole truth of what the Nuremburg tribunal would later help define as an international war crime and a crime against humanity has been heavily censored and mythologized ever since war-weary Americans in 1945 accepted the propaganda that the bombings were necessary to shorten the war and prevent the loss of a million US soldiers during the allegedly planned November 1945 invasion.

Of course, the reason that the United States wasn’t sanctioned like Germany was for the Jewish holocaust was that America was the victor and the occupier and thus it was in charge of making and enforcing the rules in the New World Order.

The United States military ambushed the equally defenseless Nagasaki City three days later with the second atomic bomb to ever be used against a civilian population (that no longer had any military value to Japan). “Fat Man”, the plutonium bomb named after Winston Churchill, was detonated before the Japanese leadership fully understood what had happened at Hiroshima.


My high school history teachers all seemed to be ex-jocks who weren’t athletically talented enough to make it to the majors. The main chance for them to continue playing games for pay was to join the teaching profession and coach high school athletics. American history was of secondary importance in many small town high schools but it hardly made the list of interests for coaches, who reluctantly accepted the job; and so my classmates and I “learned” our lessons from some very uninspired, very bored and/or very uninformed teachers who would rather have been on the playing field.

In my coach’s defense, the history books that they had to teach from had been highly censored in order to promote patriotism; and so we “learned” that most everything that the “noble” British colonizers and “honorable” US empire builders ever did in the history of warfare was self-sacrificing, democracy-promoting and Christianizing – and that everything their freedom-seeking, revolutionary colonial victims did was barbaric, atheistic and evil. Anybody who resisted colonial oppressors was treated as a terrorist.

It was from these history books that we learned about the “glorious” end of the war against Japan via nuclear incineration. Everybody in my high school, including myself, swallowed the post-war propaganda hook, line and sinker.

<<<50,000 American soldiers deserted or went AWOL during WWII>>>

Of course, I now realize that my classmates and I, just like most other Americans (including the volunteer or conscripted members of the military), have been naïve victims of “lies our history teachers taught us”. In their defense, those teachers had been misled in their own schooling by equally mis-informed teachers who got their information from a variety of dis-informers who wrote the books: and those authors were the war- and empire-justifying militarists and assorted uber-patriotic pseudo-historians who had been duped into believing the myth of American exceptionalism.

Not included in that group of true believers were the 50,000 WWII American soldier-members of the “Greatest Generation” who, in many cases, logically and understandably deserted or went AWOL during their war service, a reality that has been conveniently censored out of our consciousness.


One of General Douglas MacArthur’s first acts after taking over as Viceroy of Japan was to confiscate or otherwise destroy all the photographic evidence documenting the horrors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He imposed total censorship over journalists who wanted to report to the world about what had really happened at Ground Zero, again proving the old adage that “the first casualty of war is truth”. Embedding journalists in the US military so that only America-friendly reportage happened wasn’t the original idea of General Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf in Gulf War I.

Back in 1995, the Smithsonian Institution was preparing to correct some of the 50-year-old pseudo-patriotic myths about the Pacific War by staging an honest, historically-accurate display dealing with the atomic bombings from the Japanese civilian perspective.

Swift, vehement and well-orchestrated condemnations directed at the Smithsonian historian’s plans to tell unwelcome truths about war came from right-wing pro-war veterans organizations, the GOP-dominated Congress at the time, and other militarist groups (such as Newt Gingrich’s paymaster Lockheed Martin, one of many war-profiteering merchants-of-death multinationals whose profits and products depend on Congressional and Pentagon largesse). Gingrich actually threatened to stop federal funding of the Smithsonian, thus forcing it to censor-out all of the contextually important parts of the real story. And so the pseudo-patriotic myths about Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to be preserved to this very day.


We historically-illiterate Americans are blocked, again and again, from learning historical truths about the American Empire – and the control that the military and multinational corporations have over it. Anything that might shake voter confidence in – or incite grassroots revolution against – the unelected ruling elites, the Pentagon or the conscienceless transnational corporations (that control our two major party politicians, the mainstream media and the “invisible hand of the market”) is verboten.

The Smithsonian historians did have a gun to their heads, of course, but in the melee, we voters failed to learn an important historical point, and that is this: the war in the Pacific could have ended in the spring of 1945 without the need for the August atomic bombings, and therefore there might have been no Okinawa bloodbath that senselessly doomed thousands of American Marines.

And there would have been no need for an American land invasion of Japan in November. Indeed, in the 1980s, released top secret records revealed that the contingency plans for a large-scale US invasion (planned for no sooner than November 1, 1945) would have been unnecessary.

To the victors go the spoils, and the American victors were the ones running the war crimes tribunals and thus also determined the content of my history text books.


American intelligence agencies, with the full knowledge of President Roosevelt’s and President Truman’s administrations, were fully aware of Japan’s search for ways to honorably surrender months before Truman gave the fateful order to incinerate Hiroshima.

Japan was working on peace negotiations through its ambassador in Moscow as early as April of 1945, with surrender feelers from Japan occurring as far back as 1944. Truman knew of these developments because the US had broken the Japanese code even before Pearl Harbor, and all of Japan’s military and diplomatic messages were being intercepted. On July 13, 1945, Foreign Minister Togo wrote: “Unconditional surrender (giving up all sovereignty, including the deposing of Emperor Hirohito) is the only obstacle to peace.”

Truman’s advisors knew about these efforts, and the war could have ended through diplomacy by simply conceding a post-war figurehead position for the emperor (who was regarded as a deity in Japan). That reasonable concession was – seemingly illogically – refused by the US in their demands for unconditional surrender, which was first demanded at the 1943 Casablanca Conference between Roosevelt and Churchill and then reiterated at the Potsdam Conference between Truman, Churchill and Stalin. Still, the Japanese continued searching for an honorable peace through negotiations.

Even Secretary of War Henry Stimson said: “the true question was not whether surrender could have been achieved without the use of the bomb but whether a different diplomatic and military course would have led to an earlier surrender. A large segment of the Japanese cabinet was ready in the spring of 1945 to accept substantially the same terms as those finally agreed on.” In other words, Stimson knew that the US could have ended the war before Hiroshima.


After Japan officially surrendered on August 15, 1945, MacArthur allowed the emperor to remain in place as spiritual head of Japan, the very condition that forced the Japanese leadership to refuse to accept the earlier, humiliating, “unconditional surrender” terms.

So the two essential questions that need answering in order to comprehend what was going on behind the scenes are these: 1) Why did the US refuse to accept Japan’s only demand concerning its surrender (the retention of the emperor) and 2) why were the atomic bombs used when victory in the Pacific was assured?


There are a number of factors that contributed to the Truman administration’s fateful decision to use the atomic bombs.

1) Investment. The US had made a huge investment in time, mind and money (a massive 2 billion in 1940 dollars) to produce three bombs, and there was no inclination – and no guts – to stop the momentum.

2) Revenge. The US military and political leadership – as did many ordinary Americans – had a tremendous appetite for revenge because of the Pearl Harbor “surprise” attack. Mercy wasn’t in the mindset of the US military, the war-weary populace or even of average American Christians and their churches. The missions against Hiroshima and Nagasaki were accepted as necessary, with no questions asked, by most of those folks who only knew the sanitized, national security state version of events. Most Americans wanted to believe the cunningly-orchestrated propaganda.

3) A “use it or lose it” mentality and scientific curiosity. The fissionable material in Hiroshima’s bomb was uranium. The Trinity test bomb (exploded on July 16, 1945) and the Nagasaki bomb were plutonium bombs. Scientific curiosity was a significant factor that pushed the project to its deadly completion. The Manhattan Project leaders were curious. “What would happen if a city was leveled by a single uranium bomb?” “What would happen if plutonium was used?” Now that the war against Nazi Germany (the original intended target) was over, the most conscientious scientists felt that the bombs should not be used against civilian targets.

4) “Orders are orders”. Actually, the military decision to drop both bombs had been made well in advance of August 1945. Accepting the surrender of Japan prior to their use was not an option if the experiment was to go ahead. It should be obvious to anybody that the three-day interval between the two bombs was unconscionably short if the purpose of the first bomb was to force immediate surrender. Japan’s communications and transportation capabilities were in shambles, and no one, neither the US military nor the Japanese high command, fully understood what had happened at Hiroshima. (It is a fascinating fact that the Manhattan Project had been so top secret that even MacArthur, commanding general of the entire Pacific theatre, had been kept out of the loop – until July 1)

5) The Russians. Stalin had proclaimed his intent to enter the war with Japan 90 days after V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945), which would have been two days after Hiroshima was bombed. Indeed, Russia did declare war on Japan on August 8 and was advancing eastward across Manchuria when Nagasaki City, the center of Japanese Christianity, was incinerated.

Certainly Russia was still feeling the sting of humiliating defeat and the loss of territory from the disastrous Russo-Japanese War of 1905 when they were beaten by upstart Japan. Elephants and ego-bloated nation-states have long memories, especially when they lose an argument, lose a fight or are embarrassed in public. Witness the 150 year old enduring promise from segregationist devotees of the Confederate flag like Dylan Roof, the KKK, and the White Citizen’s Councils that “The South Will Rise Again”; or consider the rabid right-wing, sociopathic NeoNazis all around the world in their devotion to Adolf Hitler and their symbol of fascism, the Swastika.

The US didn’t want Japan surrendering to Russia and thus sharing the spoils of war. Russia was soon to be one of only two world superpowers – and therefore a future enemy of the United States. So the first “messages” of the Cold War were sent by the US to the USSR on August 6 and 9, 1945: “Stalin, stay away from Japan’s carcass. We own it. And besides, we have the bomb.”

Russia didn’t receive the spoils of the Pacific War that they had anticipated, and the two superpowers were instantly mired in the multi-trillion dollar stalemated nuclear arms race and the multitude of proxy wars that regularly risked the total extinction of humanity. What also happened along the way was the moral bankruptcy of both of the paranoid super-power nations that insisted on fighting the stupid cold war, a war that was fueled by war-profiteering corporations and borrow and spend economics.


An estimated 80,000 innocent civilians, plus 20,000 weaponless young Japanese conscripts died instantly in the Hiroshima bombing raid. Hundreds of thousands more suffered slow deaths and disabilities from agonizing burns, radiation sickness, leukemia, anemia, thrombocytopenia and untreatable infections. The Japanese survivors and their progeny suffered a fate similar to the survivors and progeny of America’s “Atomic Soldiers”. (Atomic Soldiers were those soldiers who were exposed, in the line of duty, to the hundreds of nuclear tests in the 50s and 60s or to the depleted uranium that the US military used in the two Gulf Wars.) Each of those groups were afflicted with horrible radiation-induced illnesses, congenital anomalies, genetic mutations, immune deficiencies, cancers and premature deaths, still going on to this very minute.

(Another shameful reality that has been covered up is the fact that 12 American Navy pilots, their existence well known to the US command prior to the bombing, were instantly incinerated in the Hiroshima jail on that fateful day.)


So the official War Department-approved, highly censored version of the end of the war in the Pacific was added to an ever-lengthening list of myths that we Americans have been continuously fed by our corporate-controlled military, political and media opinion leaders. In the process, the gruesomeness and cruelty of war has been cunningly propagandized so that we consumers of information see only the glorification of American militarism.

Among the other censored out realities include what really happened in the US military’s participation in the destabilize-and-conquer campaigns and coups d’etat in Ukraine, Honduras, Venezuela, Libya, and bloody invasions and/or occupations of Korea, Iran, Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Granada, Panama, the Philippines, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, Colombia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, etc. This list doesn’t necessarily cover the uncountable secret Pentagon/CIA covert operations and assassination plots in the rest of the world, where some 150 “sovereign” nations have been coerced into allowing the building of American military bases (permission lavishly paid for by bribes or threats of economic or military sanctions).

But somehow most of us still hang on to our shaky “my country right or wrong” patriotism, desperately wanting to believe the cunningly-orchestrated myths that say that the war-profiteering corporate elite (and the politicians, military leaders and media talking heads who are in their employ) only work for peace, justice, equality, liberty and “making the world safe”, not for democracy, but for predatory capitalism.

While it is true that the US military has faced down the occasional despot, with necessary sacrifice from dead and incurably-wounded (in body, mind and spirit) American soldiers and veterans, more often than not the rationalizations for going to war are the same as those of the “godless communists”, the anti-American “insurgents” and “freedom fighters” who just want us Yankees to go home where we belong.

August 6 and 9, 1945 are just two more examples of the brain-washing that goes on in all “total war” political agendas, which are consistently accompanied by the inevitable human death and destruction that is euphemistically labeled “splendid slaughter”, “collateral damage” or “friendly fire”.


It might already be too late to rescue and resuscitate the (mythical?) moribund humanitarian, peacemaking America that we used to know and love. It might be too late to effectively confront the corporate hijacking of liberal democracy in America. It might be too late to successfully bring down the arrogant and greedy ruling elites who are selfishly dragging our planet down the road to destruction. The rolling coups d’etat orchestrated by the profiteers of what I call Friendly American Fascism may have already accomplished its goals.

But I suppose there is always hope. Rather than being silent about the destabilizing conflicts that the war-mongers are provoking all over the planet (with the very willing assistance of Wall Street, the Pentagon, the weapons industries and their lapdogs in Congress), people of conscience need to start learning the whole truth of history, despite the psychological discomfort that they may feel (cognitive dissonance) when the lies that they had been led to believe can’t be believed any more. We need to start owning up to America’s uncountable war crimes that have been orchestrated in our names.

And so the whistle-blowers among us need to rise up in dissent, go to the streets in protest and courageously refuse to cooperate with those sociopathic personalities that have gradually transformed America into a criminal rogue state. Like Nazi Germany or Fascist Japan, rogue nations throughout history have been eventually targeted for downfall by its billions of angry, fed-up, suffering victims who live both inside and outside its borders. That fate awaits America unless its leaders confesses their sins, honestly ask for forgiveness and truly promise to join the peace-loving human race.

Doing what is right for the whole of humanity for a change, rather than just doing what is profitable or advantageous for our over-privileged, over-consumptive, toxic and unsustainable American way of life, would be real honor, real patriotism and an essential start toward real peace.

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