Don Surber: Nuclear weapons deter war
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- AUGUST marks the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which helped end World War II some 68 years ago.
The anniversary brings the annual debate over the ethics of using two atomic bombs to end a war that killed more than 100 million people.
Over time, we lose the American soldiers whose lives those bombs spared because they did not have to go into Japan, while the academicians opposed to a strong military expand in number.
One is now president.
"After a comprehensive review, I've determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third," Obama told Berliners in June.
"And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures."
Once again, Barack Obama is wrong.
That we are still having this debate 68 years later is the dog that did not bark, as Sherlock Holmes might say.
We debate the end of World War II today because there was no World War III.
There was no World War III because of how World War II ended -- with a preview of the apocalypse.
To be sure, many other factors came into play.
The Marshall Plan certainly played a role.
Rather than leaving Germany vanquished and stuck with a reparations bill, the allies split it and rebuilt it.
Free trade also helped. The rise of fascism in the 1930s coincided with a worldwide depression that trade barriers helped deepen and lengthen.
The United Nations worked where the League of Nations failed.
But there were still conflicts that threatened world peace. Consider the Soviet's blocking the other three allied powers from access to Berlin in 1948.
Instead of bombs, President Truman bombarded Berlin with supplies in one of the most harrowing and satisfying logistics efforts in history.
Pilots who learned their craft flying supplies over "the Hump" -- the Himalayan mountains -- in World War II applied their knowledge to this crisis and flew supplies into Berlin. They flew everything from chewing gum to coal.
Better to drop gum than bombs.
Other crises arose in the 45-year Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Each nation armed itself to its teeth, but no bombs were ever deployed because the world had seen what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
An estimated 150,000 to 240,000 people were killed in the dropping of just two bombs.
Those were real places with real people and real deaths, not some mock town in the deserts of Nevada.
Technology has developed over the years, but man remains the same.
People today are no smarter than their ancestors. We are just as capable of evil and certainly we have the same range of emotions.
Among the largest of those emotions is fear.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki put the fear of the Lord back into the geopolitical world.
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones," Albert Einstein said.
He is correct, of course, but we do know what weapons we fought with in World War II and I like to think that the last of those weapons --- the nuclear option -- has postponed World War III, and as far as I care, I hope the postponement is permanent.
Peace lasted less than 21 years between the two world wars and now we have gone almost 68 years without that third one.
Sadly, the American people elected a president who is ignorant of the value of the very nuclear arsenals that made war too expensive to wage.
Surber's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.