Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Atomic Attack On Japan Was State-Sponsored Terrorism

It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are (1) of obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and (2) making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released.

This is from the notes of the US "Target Committee" meetings, which took place in May 1945 (I found the link on the NPR site, which has a report on the subject here.)

Hiroshima was a real military target, according to the NPR report. But the committee meeting notes show clearly that the aim of the attack was much broader than that:

Use Against "Military" Objectives
A. It was agreed that for the initial use of the weapon any small and strictly military objective should be located in a much larger area subject to blast damage in order to avoid undue risks of the weapon being lost due to bad placing of the bomb.

They wanted the effects to be seen clearly beyond the boundary of the "military" target. They picked a city for this. They wanted to flatten civilian buildings and scorch the earth.

The US government knowingly killed civilians in order to terrorize a foreign power into changing its policy and giving the Americans what they wanted. They wanted fear to play a role in how all other countries dealt with us afterwards.

You can argue that this saved lives. You can argue that Japan had done terrible things to us. But what you can't argue with is that this is exactly what any reasonable definition of "terrorism" is. Did we give notice, and a chance to surrender, to Japan after the Potsdam declaration? Sure. Al-Qaeda gave us a declaration of war in 1996 and 1998. Were we fighting a warlike nation? Yes. To say our policies in the Middle East don't show a contempt for human life invites mockery. All that's different is that our people wore uniforms. That's the distinction here. It's the only distinction. Uniforms.

Here's a statement from Edward Peck, a former terrorism expert from the Reagan administration:

In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us - this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group  - they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities.

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