August 6, 1945, the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. While Japan was still trying to comprehend this devastation three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. ( 9th August 1945)
The 69th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reminds me of Chomsky’s observation that the way to win a war is to attack the other side’s civilian population … it worked in Japan, and (particularly at the moment) it is obviously the strategy.
More than ever before, we are being brought face to face with the horrors of the bloodshed. The genocidal intent of the Israelis in Gaza, the barbarism of ISIS in Iraq, the murderous gas pipeline power struggle in Syria, the little reported ethnic and cultural ‘cleansing’ of the Donbass region of Ukraine and many unreported massacres in the Congo, Sudan and more.
Chomsky illustrates the effectiveness (and hypocrisy) of the strategy in recent piece about downing of the passenger plane in the Ukraine:
Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf….It was a major factor in Iran’s recognition that it could not fight on any longer, according to historian Dilip Hiro.
Naturally, if it is ‘their’ forces, it is described as a massacre and an outrage, but if the killing is from ‘our side’, it is simply collateral damage, unreported or reported as if legitimate.
This is not new, as Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed details in his lecture ‘The Hidden Holocaust’, reposted below. Historically, this was the pattern of colonisation. Millions of indigenous peoples were systematically exterminated and their cultures erased. The remaining population was cowed and of necessity compliant.
But the killing continues. It may be overt as in Gaza, Donetsk or Iraq… or it may be hidden in the statistics about ever increasing global poverty or the million children who die every year from Malaria or from the unrecorded effects of sanctions or from polluted environments or the people dispossessed of their land by corporations or poverty wages or by removing social security or from climate change. None of these need be happening.
Nowadays, colonisation is less about occupying a land mass and more about controlling the economy. For example, in order to eradicate the socialism of Allende and impose strict free market-oriented neoliberal economic reforms, the US-backed Pinochet’s armies killed or ‘disappeared’ at least 3,000. These were representatives from the cultural world, intellectuals, university staff and students, forcing 200,000 Chileans into exile – up to 80,000 people were interned and as many as 30,000 were tortured during the time Pinochet was in government. The proposed trade deals, TTIP, TPP and TISA are the latest way to achieve the same, by setting corporate rule above national governments, to the detriment of ordinary people and threat to the most vulnerable.
But in addition to all of this, the other side’s ‘massacres’ are exploited to persuade populations that their side are the ‘good guys’ and if required, they should go and fight… Pearl Harbour and 9/11 spring to mind. Jim Grundy writes of the start of WW1:
A hundred years ago today the most advanced military machine in the world, the Germany Army, invaded its neighbours. Within 48 hours, the first massacres of civilians took place, not by accident but as a matter of deliberate policy. Thousands were to be murdered in the coming weeks. British public opinion, that had not been sympathetic to Serbia after the Sarajevo assassinations, was appalled by the stories of mass murder committed against a defenceless population. The British State might have gone to war to protect the European balance of power, its own imperial interests but the reason for war was clear to most British people – the avoidance of the fate meted out by an aggressive military power to women and children here at home.
Massacres and atrocities are brilliant tools for galvanising ordinary people into the required behaviour… Capitulation to stop the killing, compliance on the part of the oppressed and public support for conscription, surveillance and draconian security clamp-downs. The global power elites need to convince us because they cannot further their own interests, without our being frightened or fooled into backing them. Don’t believe the hypocritical and sanctimonious talk about the outrage of killing civilians. It is palpably untrue.
As Chomsky says – Israel could “defend” itself by withdrawing from territories it illegally occupies.
When the powers-that-be talk about security, it is not for you and me .. the security they mean is security for the rich and powerful to stay rich and powerful.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed : The_Hidden_Holocaust
Political analyst on security, conflict and global crisis. Director of Institute for Policy Research & Development, London. Author of “The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry” (Duckworth, 2006) and “The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism” (Arris, Olive Branch, 2005).