Wednesday, May 12, 2010


WHERE THE FIRST ATOM BOMB WAS DETONATED I was a hundred miles away when I learned that TWICE A YEAR THEY OPEN THE GATES to let the public visit "trinity site". (Sat Apr 4 2010). I "saddled up my horse" drove there arriving at the tiny town of San Antonio, New Mexico after dark, parked for the night here on the outskirts. (notice how other boondockers like to park with "their kind")
Next day I detached from my trailer and got in line outside the gate. Young soldiers checked our drivers license and gave us directions for the 17 mile desert trip.
That's it on the horizon at the base of the mountains.
The very spot where a new era began. The bomb was atop a hundred foot steel tower--which was of course evaporated by the blast. The ground is a slight bowl of 4 or 5 acres, now fenced in. They've scraped away the top layer of glass-like radioactive material called trinitite.
Grass grows just fine here--despite scare stories that the area would be sterile for generations.
They go to great lengths to prove that the area is safe--lending anyone who ask a geiger counter.
Here's what it looked like.
Pictures line the fence showing the blast at several milliseconds intervals.
An aerial shot after the blast.
And the newspaper headlines when the truth came out.
They feel strongly about about this stuff. Went to see what it looks like.
Here it is--they will let you photograph a sample of it.---it's slightly radioactive.

Randy Philosophizes: The bomb? - on balance, a good thing or bad? And dropping it on civilians to terrorize the emperor and the Japanese Military into surrendering? Good idea or bad? Ethical or unethical? Easy questions for me: On balance a good thing---and its mega destructive succesor, the H bomb--also a good thing. And yes, dropping it on 100,000 civilians was a lesser evil than sacrificing a probable million american lives invading Japan. Fanatics must be dealt with decisively. Only the soft minded and sentimentalist fail to see that these awesome weapons actually promote peace between major powers by making wars unacceptably destructive for both sides. It's counterintuitive and paradoxical but nevertheless true that Fear of nuclear war has brought the major powers to an approximate sanity ---slowly we will empower the UN to preserve the peace. THEN we can get rid of nuclear weapons.


cyclerob said...

Have followed your blog for 2 years and this is the first time I really disagree with your thoughts. Development of the Nuclear Bomb may have been necessary because it was going to be developed and the US might as well be the first to have it. Where I disagree is our use of the bomb. By dropping the bomb on Japan we essentially gave permission for future use. We now live in a world where the line to cross allowing the use of nuclear arms has already been established and by doing so the US essentially gave permission for any fanatical group to use nuclear arms when some perceived enemy cross the line they've drawn. What if we had just flown over Japan with the Bomb, announced that the next fly over would bring devastation. Would the Japanese army have surrendered without the actual use of the bomb? Unless we did that and they ignored our warnings, we will never know. What we do know is that the US proved mankind is capable of annihilating the world

Karen said...

Hi Randy, I totally agree with your opinions regarding the atomic bombs. Fanatics must be dealt with but what confuses me these days is why we do not deal with the terrorist fanatics that continue to strike...911 will happen again. Anyway, I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan when I lived in Sasebo in 1956-59. Amazing! Sad! However the world message was understood!

Dixxe's Doodles said...

Gotta play devils advocate here and say even the most Vile Fanatic has not used a nuke to push their ideas or to show their power only the US did our track record puts us at the top of the Number #1 bad guy list...and it opened the door for the rest of the world to want to be in the same catagory in other words you have to fight fire with fire-
I dont like war/weapons at all it should only be a means of Self Protection not prevention.
Always enjoy your thought provoking topics...have safe travels.

Rick Brentlinger said...

Japan was warned they must surrender or face devastating attack.

In the final year of WWII, Japan was still working on their own atom bomb plus other weapons which they hoped would turn the war around.

My Dad was in New Guinea with lots of other GIs preparing for the invasion of Japan.

As Randy correctly points out, invading Japan would have produced enormous casualties.

Viewing the USA as the #1 bad guys for effectively and efficiently ending a murderous war the Japanese started is so far off the mark as to be laughable.

Everywhere the Empire of Japan went, they tortured and murdered the civilian population.

The Rape of Nanking and the Bataan Death March are two examples among many.

Thank God President Truman was not a weasely PC conman like our modern Dem and Repub politicians.

Rick Brentlinger said...

Have you ever considered what would have happened if Japan had developed the first atom bomb?

According to the Link below, they were within weeks of having atomic weapons when we forced them to surrender.

Japan's Atom Bomb

Randy said...

Thanks all for your comments. I'm confident that we all want a peaceful world and only differ as to how to get there. Rick has answered the objections with great clarity (thanks) and provided us with the link to an eye opening documentary: Japans atom bomb. WOW, I urge all of you to see it---absolutely convincing!--interviews with many of the Japanese scientist who worked on the project and just how close they were to success.
To Cyclerob: Many have suggested that an offshore demonstration of the bomb's power might have convinced the fanatical army men to surrender. Christopher Hitchens, one of the world's great thinkers, has argued persuasively that only a demonstrated, utter defeat could have persuaded Japan's population to abandon the dream of coercive empire. Now they have built a trade empire built on mutuality--a much better idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid thermonuclear weaponry has not played itself out, yet.
It remains to be seen if we survive our technology...a little more goddamn humility would be a very good thing.
And it is against any reasonable law to kill everything down to the level of cockroaches.

Rob said...

Over the years from time to time the use of the atom bomb is talked about. I remember a quote from one of those times.
"I had made it through Europe and I was sitting on a dock in Seattle sharping my bayonet for the invasion of Japan when they dropped the bomb", the writer had a very personal stake in the invasion of Japan and thought using the bomb was a good thing. If Japan had surrendered after the first bomb they would not have gotten a chance to try the second one.

They were expecting one million US casualties in taking the Japanese homeland.

My last thought on this subject has to do with knowledge, pollen and God knows what else.
You can't put the genie back in the bottle.
The knowledge that the bomb worked was there and you were no more able to contain it than you can contain the genetically engineered pollen that is blowing in the wind around the world.
Good? Bad? That decision is just entertainment now because the cork has been pulled from the bottle.

Jim said...

I thought it was fairly common knowledge by now that Japan was more than ready to surrender. We dropped the bomb -- primarily -- to send a message to Russia and, less directly, to any other nation inclined to assist a nation we declared to be an enemy. But truth serves no purpose when it doesn't advance the special interest agendae . . . or justify such woefully excessive use of force against civilians already on their knees and begging for mercy. It seems a nation's citizens ALWAYS ultimately pay the price for their government's arrogance and imperialism -- just as we currently pay for our excesses in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . as will our children, their children, -- for how many generations? It's not an atom bomb this time. More like an economic bomb . . . and we dropped it on ourselves.

Rob said...

The bomb was used to get the Japanese to surrender, the first city didn't do it so a second city was annihilated.

All the rest of the second guessing, guilt trips and and armchair quarterbacking over the use of the atomic weapons are just that.

The bomb was used to save the lives of the Americans who would have had to take those islands.

I sometimes wonder how many Americans are alive today because their father or grandfather was not killed invading the Japanese homeland...

daltxguy said...

No sense in speculating what might have been and whether or not dropping the bomb saved lives - no one can really answer that. One thing I know for sure, is that the development of the atomic bomb has not prevented wars from breaking out since then.

Randy said...

I disagree Daltex---there have been no wars between MAJOR POWERS IN 65 YEARS. I believe that the FEAR of ANNILIATION OF BOTH SIDES is what brought leaders to their senses. (e.g. the Cuban Missle crisis) Huge bombs are very much like the doomsday devices of Science Fiction--a nation invents a device that will destroy the whole world and thus is immune to invasion. Atomic weapons are an odd, but true stimulus to peace. This is not an argument for everyone having them but an argument for a SUPERPOWER. The world needs one as certainly as a wolfpack needs an alpha male to preserve order. The sensible way to world peace is to CAREFULLY empower the UN as that alpha wolf.

Jim said...

"Critics from the peace movement and within the military establishment have questioned the usefulness of such weapons in the current military climate. The use of (or threat of use of) such weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, according to an advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in 1996."
"The threat of potentially suicidal terrorists possessing nuclear weapons (a form of nuclear terrorism) complicates the decision process. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) may not be effective against an enemy who expects to die in a confrontation and would not therefore be deterred by a sense of self-preservation. Further, if the initial act is from a rogue group instead of a sovereign nation, there is no fixed nation or fixed military targets to retaliate against. It has been argued, especially after the September 11, 2001 attacks, that this complication is the sign of the next age of nuclear strategy, distinct from the relative stability of the Cold War.


Jim said...

ROB: "The bomb was used to get the Japanese to surrender, the first city didn't do it so a second city was annihilated."
Really? Three DAYS between drops? Is that to be considered a reasonable window of response? For a country deccimated to its core? A nation which cannot distinguish between military and civilian targets should not be permitted to attack EITHER one.
If we can rationalize the logic, then we shouldn't feel bad if someday somebody takes out 120,000 of OUR civilians for something they had NO control over. It was a shameful and desperate act THEN . . . we can't make sense of it because there is no sense to be made of it.

Rob said...

Jim asked:
"Really? Three DAYS between drops? Is that to be considered a reasonable window of response? For a country deccimated to its core? A nation which cannot distinguish between military and civilian targets should not be permitted to attack EITHER one."

My answer is yes.

From the history I've read Japan was tough opponent, tough and ruthless. The whole culture was structured around the military.
Surrender was not an option, the Japanese lost WHOLE armies in Burma (to the man) rather than surrender.
Japan was dragged into the western world by Perry in 1854, by 1902 they had beaten Russia in a war.
Warfare was a way of life in feudal Japan.

I really don't have the desire or the time to argue with today's apologists, who for some reason carry guilt for what the nation had to do during the last declared world war.

As to the dangers today of nukes? The dangers are real but there is no way to put the technology back in the bottle. Wishing it were so is entertainment.

Best of luck to you.