Editorial: Bombings, Bombers and a Bomb
The recent traumatic events in London provide a poignant reminder of the depths of anger, frustration and outrage simmering beneath the outward demeanour of many people who are leading apparently normal lives.
When such extreme acts of violence,with their tragic repercussions, happen so close to home, they understandably impinge more acutely on our consciousness and touch us in a far more personal way. Straightaway our thoughts become crowded with the names and faces of any family or friends who might possibly have been travelling near the affected area and we anxiously seek assurance of their wellbeing.
Fortunately such barbarous occurrences remain comparatively rare in London or the other major cities of Western Europe but in some parts of the world, alas, they are an almost daily experience. Any half-decent, sensible human being quite properly deplores the invidious, misguided zeal – be it personal, political or religious – that spawns such a terrible, unreasoning thirst for bloody retribution in the name of whatever injustice or absolute truth. Political leaders, of course, waste no time in making a sanctimonious response by roundly condemning the “evil terrorists” and “brain-washed fanatics”.
Doubtless their perception of the public mood is accurate but the weasel words of politicians assuming the high moral ground are an unwelcome encroachment. They intrude upon the very real sympathy and feeling of support we reserve for the victims of such atrocities by inducing another kind of feeling altogether: one of profound nausea.
The breathtaking hypocrisy with which these serial perpetrators of ultimate, officially sanctioned, state violence, denounce those who, unofficially, pursue similar tactics – which, though horrendous, are on a far small scale – is truly stomachchurning.
They uniformly assert that only warped minds, with a callous disregard for human life, would deliberately choose to detonate bombs in an environment (such as a tube train) specifically selected to cause the most damaging effects and indiscriminately kill or injure the greatest possible number. And without giving any prior warning. And in the rush hour when the maximum number of people would be exposed.
State-approved violence has been responsible for tens of millions of deaths. The ethics of “legitimate” or “just” war have no bottom line. If there ever was such a bottom line, the saturation bombing of Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo, generating the new military tactic of fire-storms, certainly plummeted below it. These raids resulted in vast numbers of victims exceeding by far any previous tally.
Sixty years ago, this month, on the 6th August 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was virtually flattened – unnecessarily – by a single atomic bomb carried by a single plane. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The city of Hiroshima was specifically selected (though obviously not by warped minds with a callous disregard for human life) as a target with an environment likely to cause the most damaging effects and indiscriminately kill or injure the greatest possible number. Many of its buildings were composed of paper, wood and straw. Mock-up structures built from similar materials had earlier been erected in the Utah desert for testing incendiary potential. Also, Hiroshima had been spared any previous aerial bombardment so that the precise effects of the explosion could be determined. The bomb was dropped at 8.15 am, without prior warning. In the rush hour when the maximum number of people were exposed. The official recorded number of deaths from the bomb is 186, 940.