For technical reasons, we were unable to publish this article on the 78th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the US military. We do so ten days later, remembering that hundreds of survivors of the first impact were still dying in terrible suffering from the lethal effect of the blast and radiation on their bodies. In any case, any day is a good day to reflect on the sword of Damocles that hangs over humanity with the existence of nuclear weapons. August 6 was the 78th anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear bomb on the city of Hiroshima. As every year, several thousand people gathered at the Peace Memorial Park to commemorate the fateful event. Why is it still important to remember it 78 years after? The loss of memory is a drama for the people who suffer from it: loss of identity, asking the same questions over and over again, being stuck in the same dead end… It is the same for people; unfortunately, after every war we tend to forget what happened, to make up a story favourable to our interests or simply to forget it so as not to face an uncomfortable reality that questions us. Who remembers the war in Afghanistan, in which we participated for almost 20 years, investing billions, to leave a devastated country, in famine, exodus and hatred?
The Hiroshima bomb was a milestone for humanity, as thousands of people were killed instantly and deliberately in what is undoubtedly a huge crime against humanity. But, in addition, the use of this infernal bomb has plunged mankind into a military mad race which today poses the most serious threat to life. It is important to commemorate this event because it allows us to address a pending task for a crime against humanity such as this: a truth commission that can bring us a minimum of justice and reparation for the victims and, above all, that can give us light and guarantees of non-repetition. After the Japanese surrender and occupation by the American army, numerous documents about the bombs were seized and subjected to that sack of crime and impunity called military secrecy. Data, truths or journalists who make people uncomfortable are hidden, distorted or silenced, with the aggravating factor, always present, of being enemies of the homeland. To speak of justice after a war or a situation of extreme violence is very difficult, because in wars, although propagandists assure you of heaven, no one has been able to bring the dead back to life. Nor is there any reparation for the damage done to the dead. The loss of even one life is irreparable. Nor was there justice for the hibakusha (bombed people) who had to endure the re-victimisation of being considered undesirable for having suffered radiation, having to hide a crime they did not commit. The ultimate goal of any process of historical memory is non-repetition. In the case of the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagashaki, there was insufficient reaction to condemn them unreservedly and to distance humanity from the danger of such cruelty. The victors spin the story of the dropping of the atomic bomb as the weapon that saved lives and ended World War II. The reality is that it ushered in an era of threat and uncertainty for all humanity and for the future of life on the planet. The elimination of all nuclear weapons is the only guarantee of non-repetition of another holocaust that could affect hundreds of cities and indirectly the entire planet.
This challenge was taken very seriously by “ICAN,” the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was the promoter of the United Nations Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (CTBT), adopted in 2017 and which entered into force on 22 January 2021 when it was ratified by 50 states. Spain has yet to join and ratify the NPT. In order for the Spanish state to sign it, committing not to use, develop, test, produce, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons, more than 40 organisations from all over Spain joined together in May 2023 to form the Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament (https://alternativasnoviolentas.org/2023/05/27/se-presenta-la-alianza-por-el-desarme-nuclear/) in order to raise public awareness and demand that political leaders sign the treaty. Despite having contacted the leaders of the various parties, few have included the signing of the NPT in their election manifestos. Unfortunately, the differences on militarist policies are minimal in the two major political parties. It is hard to understand that a country with almost 40 years of military dictatorship and a military service refusal movement that forced the suspension of military service is spilling out into serious militarist policies with huge military spending when social needs have increased with the pandemic and the precariousness of public services.
What reasons can there be for not signing the NPT ( https://alternativasnoviolentas.org/2021/08/06/la-intolerable-amenaza-nuclear-a-76-anos-de-hiroshima/)? Is the nuclear threat a fair and reasonable way to solve conflicts? Are people safer with governments that threaten and are threatened with nuclear weapons or with governments that are committed to dialogue, détente, respect between peoples and human rights? What can we think of governments and states that admit nuclear holocaust as part of security policy? Can we call them terrorists or should we be cautious and wait until they are burnt out? Of all that the treaty prohibits, what do governments and political parties disagree with? All these questions should be asked to our politicians. We can advance some reasons why they have not signed the NPT:
- Our membership of NATO and the existence of American bases on Spanish territory condition “defence” policy in a decisive way. Almost no NATO country has signed the NPT; and for Spain to sign it would mean, among other things, that American bases would not be able to house or transit nuclear weapons, something that our American friend is not willing to do. Such a reality is yet another demonstration of our lack of independence, of our mortgaged national sovereignty and, in short, of our submission as an American colony. Not paying obeisance to their flag has consequences.
- The military-industrial complex in Spain has achieved such power, with important political revolving doors, that a decision such as signing the NPT would put at risk the juicy and murky business of the arms industry, well-trained in opacity, blackmail and mutual support for plundering and pillaging. Industries of death do not give life, they only produce profits, for a few.
- Most of our politicians will not step forward in defence of life, rationality and common sense by joining the NPT, unless citizens react and deny them their vote. Sad reality, but reality. Only the struggle has succeeded in getting them to take on some feminist or environmentalist postulates, as timidly as circumstances have allowed them to do so. I trust that the day will soon come when we will wake up and dare to say: “not one vote for the nuclear threat”, “no vote for war”. “For life EVERYTHING. For war NOTHING.” Once again, we must ask her if armies defend us or attack us; are they our defenders or our enemies; do they give us life or suck our blood.
Coinciding with the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the film Oppenheimer brings the problem of nuclear weapons back to the present (https://catalunyaplural.cat/es/oppenheimer-o-sobre-lo-que-no-es-necesario-hacer-ninguna-pelicula/) More commercial than documentary, it gets bogged down in a cumbersome process that does little to improve our understanding of the problem. Reading between the lines, we can remove it to some conclusions:
- Wars are organised by ruthless men aided by a few “right-thinkers”.
- It is only necessary to disseminate and ennoble an end in order to end up accepting the most atrocious means as good and desirable.
- War and its preparation require the collaborators of thousands of people, which dilutes responsibilities and numbs consciences.
Our security is in the hands of a few people disconnected from reality and more concerned with their delusions and ambitions than with the common good.
- Congratulations to those who have endured to the very end. Your patience and hope are commendable.
The war in Ukraine also brings us back to the reality of the existence of nuclear as a weapon of war, not only because of the threat of a nuclear conflict between powers but also because nuclear power plants are military targets, with serious risks to life, because of the use of depleted uranium bombs that seriously contaminate territories and affect the health of the population, as has been seen in Iraq and Serbia, because of the existence and possible use of tactical nuclear weapons of limited power… The dangerous “war game” is getting out of hand and we are barely capable of being spectators confident that our politicians will solve it. Big mistake. We are lulled to sleep on a comfortable mattress on a powder keg. We do not see the threat, we do not perceive the danger, and therefore we cannot deal with the problem. Militarism has subjected us to a double threat of insecurity, the insecurity caused by the military dynamics of threat and confrontation, and the insecurity caused by investing in preparing for war, when we lack food security, access to health, education and quality social services.
It is urgent to sign the NPT and nuclear disarmament, just as it would be urgent to disarm a madman in a square. The solution to militarism lies in disarmament, but the objective must be demilitarisation as a necessary condition for a society in which violence, threats, domination and the subjugation of women, people, animals and nature cease to play a leading role. Policies for equality, the defence of nature, animal protection, the defence of human rights… are not going to be very effective if, on the other hand, we nurture militarism, the cornerstone of the patriarchal society that envelops us, dominates us, exploits us and subjugates us.
You can also read the article published on this page: Spain, accomplice of the nuclear threat.