This year, we commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the unjustifiable U.S. use of nuclear weapons against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two attacks demonstrated the horrific power of the atomic bomb, a bomb that is tiny in comparison to the nuclear weapons available today.
Here are a few quotes that are worth pondering as we now face an avoidable crisis with North Korea, a nation with a few nuclear weapons.
After the initial use of atomic weapons, Adm. William Leahy, effectively chief of staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, commented: "It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. ... My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."
In 1948, Gen. Omar Bradley said: "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living."
William Perry, a former secretary of defense under Bill Clinton, recently wrote: "I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War — and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face."
Steven Starr with Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote in 2014: "These peer-reviewed studies — which were analyzed by the best scientists in the world and found to be without error — also predict that a war fought with less than half of U.S. or Russian strategic nuclear weapons would destroy the human race."
Given what we know, it is criminally irresponsible to continue tit-for-tat provocations with North Korea. Russia, China and North Korea have offered a solution that would freeze North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs in exchange for a freeze on joint war games by the U.S., South Korea and now Japan that alarm North Korea with the possibility of a nuclear attack.
For the U.S. to continue with sanctions and war games instead of negotiating is insane as it is endangering the world. An attack by the U.S. on North Korea would likely draw China and Russia into the fighting. Failure to negotiate shows that Gen. Bradley's quote is still correct about our leaders. We must demand that the U.S. negotiate to prevent perhaps the greatest catastrophe of all time.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.