75 years after Hiroshima, they're still feeling its impact.
This bomb has this frank for twenty thousand tons of TNT. Harnessing, the basic power of the universe. What I fifteen I am on August six, nine, hundred, forty, five, the US Air Force dropped the little boy uranium fission bomb on central hero. Shema. Making it the first city ever to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. On August nine Nagy became the second when the bomb exploded around thirty percent of Hiroshima's population that were killed instantly many more died in the months and years to come. Now, the bombs brought to an end to world war two but the wool was horrified at the human cost. Russia has since become a byword for nuclear holocaust forever linked to the words never again. Now, this week marks the seventy fifth anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki joining me to reflect on the legacy of those events. Tashi. Tauch. She is assistant professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and the author of political fallout, nuclear weapons testing, and the making of Global Environmental Crosses. Welcome. Tasha. Thanks for having me and Michael Gordon Professor of history at Princeton University and Co. it is a of a new book called the age of Russia. Welcome. Welcome. It's very good to be here. Now, Michael the fear of the nuclear age is the period after World War Two when the US dropped the bomb. The fee was that the nuclear weapons would become a common part of conventional warfare but in the seventy five years since he Russia and Nagasaki, there's not been a single bomb dropped in a conflict. Question is this because deterrence works or have we just been lucky I would say we've mostly been lucky It's quite rare that there are conflicts between nuclear-armed nations. The major example is the nineteen sixty, nine border conflict between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. So there haven't been many occasions for things to escalate, and there's a strong incentive in those cases to de-escalate. There have however been very close near accidents whether missile just that needing on its own or people launching almost launching in fear of an attack and there. Have Been Plenty of conventional wars that could have escalated that way. So by and large, we've been lucky but we've been abetted by the fact that there has been an ambient taboo that has grown over the years against nuclear first use although that is rarely the policy of any nuclear power. Okay. Now from an Australian perspective, Tic- Japan was seen as an aggressor in the war, the war crimes but also as a victim because of the destruction wrought by the nuclear bombs have is the wool remit in Japan now aggressor and victim. Tarshi. Many pass through consider themselves as victims thinking that Japanese were misled by the government inter- Disastrous Wall Conquest. In this view here stands at the as the ultimate symbol of Japanese victim. But today is victim narrative faces two competing accounts. One is to recognize Japan's acts of wartime aggression, including tweeting massacres, forced labor, and sexual violence. If we see hero Shimmer from this perspective, it takes on a whole different meaning not. Not as a national tragedy, but rather as international event. killed not only the Japanese residents but also many colonial subjects and allied. POW's who are present in the city at the time of the Tom Bombing. The other interpretation that has also gained for Japan is to see the wartime conduct Japan as an act of self defense. This This lesion is narrative recaps here. As the ultimate proof of Western aggression. So fitting the predation of Japan's Joel Roles as. Aggressor and victim during the war will gain the upper hand in the future will depend on how sweet society around the world comes together and develops a shared understanding of the complex legacies or Corna reason on the war in the Asia Pacific region and back to the United States markle. There's a popular conception that Washington had to drop the bomb that it was the only way. To win the war, of course, the war in Europe come to an end in May of forty five. This is early August two, forty five is that true I mean what? What President Truman's options? So. This is a great question and it's one with a lot of confusion around it. Functionally. The only way the only government that had any power to end the war was the Japanese government which was in a position to surrender and the question was when would that happen would have happened later or earlier by summer nineteen, forty, five, it was already clear that the war was militarily lost. President Truman and the US government in general had basically fixed options of what they could do to try and encourage the Japanese government to take that move. There's only two that people usually talk about dropping the atomic bomb or invading the home islands of Japan. Both of those were on the table also having the Soviet Union inducing them to enter the wars of belligerent which happened on August eighth increasing the intensity of firebombing tightening the blockade of foodstuffs into the home islands. and modifying the terms of unconditional surrender to allow Japan to keep the emperor. The interesting thing is all six of those happen Truman pursued all sex and the war ended. It's unclear which ones were determinative. But the point is there wasn't like we had one option or nothing else. The US had plenty of options and exercised actually all of them. On the one level target for the bombs was obviously Japan on another level. Real target was the Soviet Union. How did the Kremlin of you? He Russia Mirror Negga? Second Markle. So. Really, the question here is a small set of people within the Kremlin stolen and his closest advisers and you that there was an atomic bomb project going on in the United States for years they've found that out from spies from Britain from spies in the United States, and they had their own uranium enrichment and bomb development program that was going on at I would say a medium scale What happens after the destruction of Hiroshima is I in absented himself for a few days he went into a depression and didn't. React to any of his advisors and then immediately massively escalated the Soviet development of their own atomic bomb. So they were both caught by surprise and not caught by surprise. It's true that the Americans didn't always think about the Soviet Union as a factor in any decision related to how the war was going to end but they also very strongly, we understood that the key issue was trying to get this the Japanese government to surrender faster because the faster they surrendered the less impact. The Soviet entry in the war would have to how the end game would play out in Asia, my guest, Michael Gordon, and Tashi Hitachi, and we're reflecting on the seventy fifth anniversary of Hiroshima. Tashi. One, hundred fifty thousand atomic bomb survivors still living in Japan. In fact, as a guest of Japan's Ministry of Foreign. Affairs this would have been in September twenty, sixteen I met one of one of the survivors now they're all in education and public law has plied an important part in shaping Japan's post-war Pacifism. Now, as generation dies out, is the role of pessimism in Japanese politics is that diminishing especially in the face of Rausing China Toshi? I don't think the passing of the atomic bomb survivors will diminish the strengths of pacifism in any short-term. The correctly memory of human magazine Japan has been fairly robust and the taken deep roots in popular culture. I can think of a good example that is Japanese animated wartime drama film released just four years ago in two thousand, sixteen cold in this corner of the world. This picture accounts of the wartime life in here she was a smash hit in the box office. Be, atomic bomb survivors will also active in passing down lessons from the world's first nuclear war to the next generation. The city's over here streaming nagy training. Many Japanese Ron Tears as storytellers who share the testimonies are waging victims and a second generation survivors are spearheading efforts for peace unjustice. Well, that brings me to today and really in the last that he is the end of the call was thirty years ago the US. And the Soviets on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty non stop this was President Bush senior and Gorbachev in Russia in the inside at Union. Then just as it was collapsing now, both agree to significantly reduce their nuclear stockpiles and of course, the updated treaty between Moscow and Washington that expose I. Think it's February Knicks Jeez. So that's just a few days after the next president is warning Michael Do you think it will be resigned. I think that's entirely dependent on the results of the election. Joe. Biden has indicated that he would refine the treaty The trump administration has had many opportunities to re-sign the treaty, but they have not taken advantage of those opportunities yet. Russia's indicated that they're very interested in extending