By Bobson Gbinije
So long as man shall continue to lavish praise
Upon its destroyers than upon its benefactors war shall remain the chief pursuit of ambitious minds—Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
THE intellectualisation of trite statements remains the stout tradition of the literate and the academia. But no amount of academic acrobatics and pedantic romanticisation can stop or prevent the chrysalis from carrying its own load; so mankind has borne its own self-inflicted tragedies and bestialities of war to an enormous extent.
The month of August marks the anniversary of the unleashing of the atomic bomb on the people of Hiroshima – August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki – August 9, 1945 respectively. Over 150,000 people were killed and millions injured, and some would carry an eternal emotional wound in their hearts. It ultimately culminated in the end of the Second World War (1939-1945).
The dropping of the “Anota Gay”, as it was called, climaxed the writing of one of the saddest, darkest and bleakest pages in the history of mankind, confirming the Shakespearian refrain that: “Men have lost their reasons and powers have flown to the brutish beast”.
It further resonated by Nicholo Machiavelli (1469-1527) in his book The Prince that “you must know that there are two ways of contesting: the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second”; and this the Allied Forces led by America did.
Paraphrasing the renowned scientist Albert Einstein: ”It is not the weapons invented that are dangerous, it is the ‘Man’ who put them to wrong use”. The extent to which “Man” could go in exercising his primordial and Neanderthal propensities came to the fore in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies. It remains not only a tragedy for Japan but also for the human race.
In the Memoirs of Survivors (publication of the Japanese authority) quoted in the Awake, a Jehovah’s Witnesses publication of August 22, 1985, one Nosuyo Fukushima said: “When we got to the hospital, it was packed with people. The heads and faces of many of them were covered with blood, while others had burned flesh dangling in strips. The hair on some of them, being singed by the heat, was standing on end. Others with fragments of wood and glass blasted into their bodies, were groaning deeply.
“Their faces were so bloated that it was difficult to tell one from the other. The city had become the large, burned out field, with only an occasional crushing concrete wall still standing in the ashes. Everynight there were fires on the river bank where the dead were cremated. I vividly recall the red glow of the fires and the terrible odour of the burning bodies, like oily fish being grilled. I still shudder and feel sick at heart whenever I think of it.”
This is just one testimony from a catalogue of so many. It vividly portrays how gruesome a nuclear war could be. But have we learnt any lessons from this hideous nightmare, belligerency and sanguinary proclivities of man. This deep scar and cicatrix will be left on the minds and consciences of many Japanese and, nay, mankind for a long time to come. We remain inveterately chagrined at the horrors and destructiveness of war. But have we learnt any lessons?
In the historic, concessionary and statesmanly speech of Emperor Hirohito of Japan on August 15, 1945 he said: “It is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a great peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering the insufferable”. By this singular act and subsequent amendments of their constitution Japan became a “Pacific Nation” denouncing and renouncing war as a means of settling disputes.
In Japan’s constitution, Article 9 glaringly states that “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised”.
From the foregoing, Japan seems to have learnt its lesson from the atomic bomb episode. But a more insightful view will show that in recent years, Japan is on course again to acquiring weapons and the setting up of military units.
It was superlatively present, although playing background supportive role to America and its allies in the Guff war. It is a known fact that Japan has stepped up its military budget and there are many unmentionable covert activities of the Japanese government. Does this show that Japan has learnt its lessons?
The allies have, of course, become worse. Even after the end of the Cold War era, Glasnost and Perestroika, America and Russia are still covertly and overtly busy stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The wanton acquisition of dangerous weapons like the Tomographic X-Ray Laser, Neutron, Atomic and Hydrogen bombs; different ranges of missiles – the exocet, patriot, scud and the intercontinental ballistic missile (Z range-ICBM), etc.
Does this stockpiling of nuclear weapons show any penitence on their side? In the midst of fear of neighbours, likely outbreak of the Third Word War and distrust, the nuclear weapon acquisition fever is currently taking over the whole world, with America as the supreme culprit.
There is current nuclear craze in South East Asia. Recently India carried out a test, followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh. We hear that Iran has followed suit. There is massive nuclear weapons proliferation. Africa is not left out. South Africa has publicly acknowledged its nuclear capability.
It’s likely Nigeria is doing something underground or it will do something as soon as there is political stability. Nigeria now has satellite in space and more. In the light of the aforesaid, one could state without fear of contradiction that the world has not learnt any lessons from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s colossal malady and genocide.
The Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement, SALT 1& II, have all turned out to be more paper protocols and placeboes with no bite. The United Nations that is supposed to broker a call for sanity has only turned out to be an appendage, a legislative arm and a moralistic eunuch of the American government.
As the millennium grinds on, we need no ghost to tell us that the political apocalypse and armamental armageddon looms in the horizon. America and Russia have a dual role to play if the situation must be sanitised.
America and Russia must shed some nuclear weight, thereby giving them the moral locus standi to ask others to do same. Their dual constabulary status in the world and their continuous bossing over every nation will serve to intensify the nuclear race.
Chief Gbinije, a social critic, wrote from Warri.