Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds

As you should know, today marks the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of the civilian target of Hiroshima, arguably the single largest terrorist attack in the history of the world. Even though Japan was already devastated and on the verge of surrender (or collective murder-suicide), the decision was made to detonate 130 pounds of uranium-235 two thousand feet over the city, and at at 8:15 AM, 80,000 civilians were killed. Three days later a second attack similarly devastated the city of Nagasaki, and many more died later from the effects as well.

These attacks were timed not to end the war with Japan, but instead timed precisely to coincide with Russia's entry into the Pacific theater. Their intent was to start the Cold War — a show of force not to the Japanese, but to the Soviet Union. $2 billion dollars of US tax money had already been siphoned into developing nuclear bombs by the time of the attacks, and since then nearly six trillion dollars (more) of nuclear tax money have lined the coffers of military contracting corporations. The Soviet Union has invested similarly staggering amounts of money trying to keep up with this suicidal arms race, and as one of the most singularly profitable ventures in the history of the planet, development continues.

Today, the US and the former Soviet States have about 10,000 nuclear weapons apiece, with a variety of nations such as China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom adding several thousand more. Countries such as Canada, Brazil, and South Africa have “unassembled” nuclear weapons systems, and others such as Libya, Iran, and North Korea have at a minimum precursors of nuclear weapons systems. Point is, we have a lot of nukes.

Now, I'm not personally convinced that terrorists already have fifty nukes inside US borders ready to detonate in what they call an 'American Hiroshima'. I desperately hope that I'm right about that, but really, that doesn't begin to quell my fears that one of these monstrosities again incinerates humans.

Last Saturday Sgt. Roberty Decouteaux shot himself after returning from Iraq. Two days later, Spc. Robert Hunt, who also served in Iraq, hung himself in his apartment. Pfc. Stephen S. Sherwood sent his eight month old daughter to stay with a neighbor and then shot his wife and then fatally turned the gun on himself. The Pentagon reports that a third of troops returning from Iraq are suffering from mental health problems — Second Lt. T. Michael Hammons warns that four of the men he served with have already committed suicide.

President Bush, his chickenhawk masculinity challenged, has reiterated his unwillingness to consider a withdrawal from the region. In light of strained and incomplete healthcare for veterans, it forces one to ask how far this will escalate. It doesn't take a terrorist to blow off a nuke in America — Americans have far more access to nukes than Islamic extremists (and Russians even more).

When Spc. Matthew Sepi returned from Iraq earlier this year he tried to block out “the 'weird noises' children make when they die” and other fond memories from Iraq. He tried to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for help with post-traumatic stress disorder, but they were too backed up to see him any time soon — on Sunday he was arrested for a double shooting in his neighborhood.

It only takes one mistake — or one breakdown — to plunge us into Armageddon, be it by a disturbed American soldier, a Russian, or a Pakistani. The more weapons we have the more likely this is to happen, and given enough time, it is a statistical certainty. Until we eliminate war and the devastatingly profitable murderous weapons that power it, death looms always on the horizon.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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