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Monday, August 06, 2012


The mass, intentional killing of civilians (a.k.a. genocide)

Today is "Hiroshima Day" on which people all over the world remember the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing up to 140,000 Japanese civilians. Three days later another 75,000 were killed by the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. What I choose to remember on this day is that these were not exceptional acts in any way, save the particular method of destruction. Thanks largely to Kurt Vonnegut and his book Slaughterhouse Five and not any history lessons in school, many people know of the firebombing of Dresden, which killed at least 35,000 German civilians, and probably many more. But Dresden was not the only city bombed by British and U.S. forces, and, all told, at least 600,000 German civilians (or "innocent civilians" as they would be called in the corporate media if they were victims of an enemy of the U.S.) were intentionally slaughtered by the U.S. and Britain.

In Japan, the story is the same. The firebombing of Tokyo is relatively well-known (emphasis on the word "relatively"; I doubt students hear much about it in history class either), with 100,000 Japanese civilians slaughtered by U.S. brutality. But an astonishing 67 other Japanese cities were also firebombed, killing hundreds of thousands of more Japanese civilians, exceeding the totals killed by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The story continued after World War II. In Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of civilians intentionally killed by U.S. forces. In the first Gulf War against Iraq, the deliberate destruction of Iraq's water supply with a plan to keep it from being reconstructed which resulted in more than a million deaths, including a half-million Iraqi children. As I wrote,

The U.S. had studied in detail all aspects of Iraq's water system, had planned a strategy for preventing Iraq from reconstructing that system (via the sanctions), and knew in advance that "this could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease."
A deliberate war crime, a plan for mass genocide.

The bombing of Hiroshima is worth remembering, but not because it was a unique event, but precisely for the opposite reason, that it was just one of countless examples of mass genocide committed by imperialism against the people of the world.

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