On this day in 1945 — exactly 70 years ago — the Nuclear Age started with Trinity, the first nuclear detonation. It was an implosion-design plutonium device — the same kind that we would drop on Nagasaki less than a month later. It’s good to be reminded of this. The typical American believes that we must stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon because they can’t be trusted. I don’t want them to get a nuclear weapon either — but not because of concerns that they can’t be trusted. But that is what Americans think: the Iranians are “crazy” and would give nuclear weapons away to terrorists.
But supposedly one country that can be trusted is the United States of America. Yet we are the only country that has used a nuclear weapon — and we’ve done it twice. I’ve discussed this before, Stalin, Not the Bomb, Defeated Japan. What we did was kill well over 100,000 Japanese civilians. And we did not do it to protect ourselves or to defeat Japan. We did it to send the Soviet Union a message.
As evil as terrorism is, those who engage in it at least think that they are righting some wrong. When we dropped the nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were not doing that. Our leaders very calmly decided that it was fine to kill so many fellow human beings in the name of “flipping the bird” to the Russians. And as it was, it only took four years for the Soviets to get their own bomb. If the US hadn’t dropped those bombs, Stalin likely wouldn’t have felt it so pressing to get the bomb for himself.
I understand why we decided to get the bomb. It was thought that the Nazis would get it and win the war. It’s hard not to sympathize with that thinking. So I don’t have such a problem with the Manhattan Project or even with Trinity. But we didn’t have to use the bomb on fellow humans. Sadly, the leadership of the United States thought exactly the opposite. And for the worst possible reasons.
Welcome to the Nuclear Age, 70 years ago today.