A Brief History
On August 6, 1945, US Army Air Force B-29 Superfortress bomber, Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb ever to be used against a real target.
The major Japanese city of Hiroshima had been left largely undamaged by bombing for the specific reason of preserving the city for just such an attack, to better demonstrate the terrible power of the atomic bomb (or nuclear bomb as it is called today), and also to better analyze what damage such a bomb does to a real life city.
Only 3 days later the Japanese city of Nagasaki became the second hapless target of an atomic bomb, killing another 39,000 to 80,000 Japanese people. Since Nagasaki, no other city or other combat target has been subjected to nuclear attack, in spite of a world where something in excess of 20,000 nuclear warheads have existed for decades.
Shortly after the United States developed nuclear weapons, the UK, the USSR, China, and France also became nuclear powers, and in more recent years India and Pakistan, deadly rivals as hostile neighbors, have also armed themselves with nukes. Israel is long believed to be a nuclear power, though they refuse to confirm or deny the information, and North Korea is now believed to have at least rudimentary nuclear weapons. Iran, a rogue state theocracy with the stated intention of wiping Israel off the map is suspected of working on the development of nuclear weapons, and as a sponsor of terrorist groups, the idea of a nuclear armed Iran terrifies much of the world.
The Cold War may be over, but nuclear tension is not. With so many warheads in so many countries, and questionable accountability of the old Soviet stockpile the possibility of someone willing to use a nuclear weapon getting their hands on one is rising, despite our best efforts at nuclear non-proliferation. The science of creating a nuclear weapon is no longer a secret held by a few, and with nuclear power plants all over the globe the base materials and technicians are ever so more available.
So, the question is, who will be the next to use a nuclear weapon in anger and against whom? Will it be India or Pakistan against the other? An Islamic terrorist group against Israel or a Western country seen as an Israeli ally? China vs. Taiwan? North Korea vs. Anybody? Israel with a pre-emptive strike against an Muslim country or group they fear will attack them or develop their own nuclear weapon? Will China and Russia ever face off in a nuclear exchange? Will the US ever feel threatened enough to nuke another country?
Question for students (and subscribers): The next question would be, when? Is this possibility something that could take place in the next few months or years, or are we a long way from such a scenario? Will diplomats have the morals and skill to avoid a nuclear attack? Feel free to give us your thoughts on this subject, and if you are so inclined, on whether or not the US should or should not have nuked the Japanese cities in 1945 in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Morgan-Witts, Max and Gordon Thomas. Enola Gay: Mission to Hiroshima. Open Road Media, 2014.
Morgan Witts, Max and Gordon Thomas. Enola Gay: The Bombing of Hiroshima. Konecky & Konecky, 2006.
Rich, David Lowell, dir. Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb. Interglobal Home Video. VHS Tape.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of Hiroshima in the aftermath of the bombing, is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.