At 8:15 AM this morning, fifty-nine years ago, in the course of
prosecuting a global war, Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets, flying a plane named
after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets, dropped a 12 kiloton atomic bomb (a
small bunker-buster-sized device by today's standards) on the city of
Hiroshima, Japan. Of Hiroshima's 255,000 population, (down from 380,000
before the war started and evacuations were ordered) 92,000 men, women
and children died in the immediate effects of the bomb drop. By the end
of 1945, an additional 60,000 had died from subsidiary effects of the
bombing. Three days later, 40,000 more people died at Nagasaki, by
another one of what we would today call "small tactical nukes."
There are certainly several questions about this event which will never
be answered. Certainly, it was war, and war is fraught with tragedy,
just ask the survivors of Bataan, or Dresden, or London, or Pearl
Harbor, etc. It is a difficult thing to pick out certain individuals
for blame, because they were in fear of their lives and the lives of
their families and the survival of their communities and ways of life.
Everyone, on all sides, was working to end the war, decisively, in their
side's favor. Even the Germans, many if not most of whom were not
Nazis, wanted their side to win, and believed that it was the only way
for they and their families to preserve their lives. We may quibble and
fret, and argue over decisions made and unintended consequences reaped,
with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, but we must admit, in the end, that
war produces tragic events and evil consequences in the same way that
strenuous exertion produces sweat: as a natural by-product.
It is not that some people engaged in behaviors which resulted in
attrocities and horrors; it was that those people were part of a large
collective which became embroiled in conflict with other large
collectives. It surprises me that in this day and age, after so much
blood has been spilled, to no good end whatsoever, that people still put
so much faith in large collectives. Consider the disdain for wealth and
and the irrational fear of an unequal distribution of goods and services
in contrast to the average man's blindness to concentrations of
arbitrary power. For all of Bill Gates's billions, Microsoft owns not
one tank, nor can I imagine the ridiculousness of seeing Sam Walton
attempt to convince his board of directors that the most effective
business strategy requires that Wal-Mart possess an atomic warhead.
Only governments have researched, financed, built, and bought nuclear
weapons, and only governments have used them, or would. For all the
supposed evil of rich "robber barons," none of them would conceive of
nuking potential customers. It is only the holders of government
office, the posessors of arbitrary authority, driven by a lust to
control the destinies and lives of others, or citizens enflamed with the
holy zeal of nationalism, which can conceive of anhilating another
people... and yet people still can ask me why I am an anarchist, and why
I do not vote.
"All the shrewdness of 'man' seeks one thing: to be able to live without
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised 'for the good of its
victims' may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's
cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated;
but those who torment us 'for our own good' will torment us without end,
for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
"From the day when the first members of councils placed exterior
authority higher than interior, that is to say, recognized the decisions
of men united in councils as more important and more sacred than reason
and conscience; on that day began lies that caused the loss of millions
of human beings and which continue their work to the present day."
"Men, it has been said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad
in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
"It is clear that war is not a mere act of policy but a true political
instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means"
Karl von Clausewitz, On War