ATOMIC BOMBINGS AT 75: John Pilger — Another Hiroshima is Coming — Unless We Stop It Now

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were acts of premeditated mass murder unleashing a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of 21st century U.S. war propaganda, casting a new enemy, and target – China.

By John Pilger
in Sydney, Australia

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite.

I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then I walked down to the river where the survivors still lived in shanties.

I met a man called Yukio, whose chest was etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He described a huge flash over the city, “a bluish light, something like an electrical short”, after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. “I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead.”

Nine years later, I returned to look for him and he was dead from leukemia.

“No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin” said a New York Times headline on September 13, 1945, a classic of planted disinformation. “General Farrell,” reported William H. Lawrence, “denied categorically that [the atomic bomb] produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity.” 

Only one reporter, Wilfred Burchett, an Australian, had braved the perilous journey to Hiroshima in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing, in defiance of the Allied occupation authorities, which controlled the “press pack”.

Wilfred Burchett (YouTube)

“I write this as a warning to the world,” reported Burchett in the London Daily Express of September 5,1945. Sitting in the rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter, he described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague”.

For this, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared. His witness to the truth was never forgiven.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of America’s war propaganda in the 21st century, casting a new enemy, and target – China.

During the 75 years since Hiroshima, the most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and to save lives.

“Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war [against Japan] and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The National Archives in Washington contains documented Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the U.S. made clear the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Nothing was done.

The U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the U.S. Air Force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. Stimson later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the [atomic] bomb”.

Stimson’s foreign policy colleagues — looking ahead to the post-war era they were then shaping “in our image”, as Cold War planner George Kennan famously put it — made clear they were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the [atomic] bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the atomic bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.”

The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Harry Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

The “experiment” continued long after the war was over. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years.

The human and environmental consequences were catastrophic. During the filming of my documentary, The Coming War on China, I chartered a small aircraft and flew to Bikini Atoll in the Marshalls. It was here that the United States exploded the world’s first Hydrogen Bomb. It remains poisoned earth. My shoes registered “unsafe” on my Geiger counter. Palm trees stood in unworldly formations. There were no birds.

Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site Marshall Islands. (UNESCO)

I trekked through the jungle to the concrete bunker where, at 6.45 on the morning of March 1, 1954, the button was pushed. The sun, which had risen, rose again and vaporised an entire island in the lagoon, leaving a vast black hole, which from the air is a menacing spectacle: a deathly void in a place of beauty.

The radioactive fall-out spread quickly and “unexpectedly”. The official history claims “the wind changed suddenly”. It was the first of many lies, as declassified documents and the victims’ testimony reveal.

Gene Curbow, a meteorologist assigned to monitor the test site, said, “They knew where the radioactive fall-out was going to go. Even on the day of the shot, they still had an opportunity to evacuate people, but [people] were not evacuated; I was not evacuated… The United States needed some guinea pigs to study what the effects of radiation would do.”

Marshall Islander Nerje Joseph with a photograph of her as a child soon after the H-Bomb exploded on March 1, 1954

Like Hiroshima, the secret of the Marshall Islands was a calculated experiment on the lives of large numbers of people. This was Project 4.1, which began as a scientific study of mice and became an experiment on “human beings exposed to the radiation of a nuclear weapon”.

The Marshall Islanders I met in 2015 — like the survivors of Hiroshima I interviewed in the 1960s and 70s — suffered from a range of cancers, commonly thyroid cancer; thousands had already died. Miscarriages and stillbirths were common; those babies who lived were often deformed horribly.

Unlike Bikini, nearby Rongelap atoll had not been evacuated during the H-Bomb test. Directly downwind of Bikini, Rongelap’s skies darkened and it rained what first appeared to be snowflakes. Food and water were contaminated; and the population fell victim to cancers. That is still true today.

I met Nerje Joseph, who showed me a photograph of herself as a child on Rongelap. She had terrible facial burns and much of her was hair missing. “We were bathing at the well on the day the bomb exploded,” she said. “White dust started falling from the sky. I reached to catch the powder. We used it as soap to wash our hair. A few days later, my hair started falling out.”

Lemoyo Abon said, “Some of us were in agony. Others had diarrhoea. We were terrified. We thought it must be the end of the world.”

U.S. official archive film I included in my film refers to the islanders as “amenable savages”. In the wake of the explosion, a U.S. Atomic Energy Agency official is seen boasting that Rongelap “is by far the most contaminated place on earth”, adding, “it will be interesting to get a measure of human uptake when people live in a contaminated environment.”

American scientists, including medical doctors, built distinguished careers studying the “human uptake”. There they are in flickering film, in their white coats, attentive with their clipboards. When an islander died in his teens, his family received a sympathy card from the scientist who studied him.

“Baker Shot”, part of Operation Crossroads, a U.S. nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in 1946. (U.S. Defense Dept.)

I have reported from five nuclear “ground zeros” throughout the world — in Japan, the Marshall Islands, Nevada, Polynesia and Maralinga in Australia. Even more than my experience as a war correspondent, this has taught me about the ruthlessness and immorality of great power: that is, imperial power, whose cynicism is the true enemy of humanity.

This struck me forcibly when I filmed at Taranaki Ground Zero at Maralinga in the Australian desert. In a dish-like crater was an obelisk on which was inscribed: “A British atomic weapon was test exploded here on 9 October 1957”. On the rim of the crater was this sign:


Radiation levels for a few hundred metres

around this point may be above those considered

safe for permanent occupation.

For as far as the eye could see, and beyond, the ground was irradiated. Raw plutonium lay about, scattered like talcum powder: plutonium is so dangerous to humans that a third of a milligram gives a 50 percent chance of cancer.

The only people who might have seen the sign were Indigenous Australians, for whom there was no warning. According to an official account, if they were lucky “they were shooed off like rabbits”. 

The Enduring Menace

Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan …. Huawei. How confusing it is when “our” most reviled leader says so.

The current phase of this campaign began not with Trump but with Barack Obama, who in 2011 flew to Australia to declare the greatest build-up of U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region since World War Two. Suddenly, China was a “threat”. This was nonsense, of course. What was threatened was America’s unchallenged psychopathic view of itself as the richest, the most successful, the most “indispensable” nation.

What was never in dispute was its prowess as a bully — with more than 30 members of the United Nations suffering American sanctions of some kind and a trail of the blood running through defenceless countries bombed, their governments overthrown, their elections interfered with, their resources plundered.

Obama’s declaration became known as the “pivot to Asia”. One of its principal advocates was his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who, as WikiLeaks revealed, wanted to rename the Pacific Ocean “the American Sea”.

Whereas Clinton never concealed her warmongering, Obama was a maestro of marketing. “I state clearly and with conviction,” said the new president in 2009, “that America’s commitment is to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Obama speaks about 60 years of the U.S.-Australian alliance in Darwin, Australia, Nov. 17, 2011. (Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Wikimedia Commons)

Obama increased spending on nuclear warheads faster than any president since the end of the Cold War. A “usable” nuclear weapon was developed. Known as the B61 Model 12, it means, according to General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that “going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable”.

The target is China. Today, more than 400 American military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one U.S. strategist told me, “the perfect noose”. 

The Unthinkable

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the U.S. Army, the authors evoke the infamous catch cry of its chief Cold War strategist, Herman Kahn – “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war.

Kahn’s apocalyptic view is shared by Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical fanatic who believes in the “rapture of the End”. He is perhaps the most dangerous man alive. “I was CIA director,” he boasted, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses.” Pompeo’s obsession is China.

The endgame of Pompeo’s extremism is rarely if ever discussed in the Anglo-American media, where the myths and fabrications about China are standard fare, as were the lies about Iraq. A virulent racism is the sub-text of this propaganda. Classified “yellow” even though they were white, the Chinese are the only ethnic group to have been banned by an “exclusion act” from entering the United States, because they were Chinese. Popular culture declared them sinister, untrustworthy, “sneaky”, depraved, diseased, immoral.

An Australian magazine, The Bulletin, was devoted to promoting fear of the “yellow peril” as if all of Asia was about to fall down on the whites-only colony by the force of gravity.

‘The Chinese Octopus’, The Bulletin, Sydney 1886, an early promoter of the “Yellow Peril” and other stereotypes.

As the historian Martin Powers writes, acknowledging China’s modernism, its secular morality and “contributions to liberal thought threatened European face, so it became necessary to suppress China’s role in the Enlightenment debate …. For centuries, China’s threat to the myth of Western superiority has made it an easy target for race-baiting.”

In the Sydney Morning Herald, tireless China-basher Peter Hartcher described those who spread Chinese influence in Australia as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows”. Hartcher, who favourably quotes the American demagogue Steve Bannon, likes to interpret the “dreams” of the current Chinese elite, to which he is apparently privy. These are inspired by yearnings for the “Mandate of Heaven” of 2,000 years ago. Ad nausea.

To combat this “mandate”, the Australian government of Scott Morrison has committed one of the most secure countries on earth, whose major trading partner is China, to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American missiles that can be fired at China.

The trickledown is already evident. In a country historically scarred by violent racism towards Asians, Australians of Chinese descent have formed a vigilante group to protect delivery riders. Phone videos show a delivery rider punched in the face and a Chinese couple racially abused in a supermarket. Between April and June, there were almost 400 racist attacks on Asian-Australians.

“We are not your enemy,” a high-ranking strategist in China told me, “but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.” China’s arsenal is small compared with America’s, but it is growing fast, especially the development of maritime missiles designed to destroy fleets of ships.

“For the first time,” wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack… This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy…”

In Washington, I met Amitai Etzioni, distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University, who wrote that a “blinding attack on China” was planned, “with strikes that could be mistakenly perceived [by the Chinese] as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma [that would] lead to nuclear war.”

In 2019, the U.S. staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War, much of it in high secrecy. An armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an “Air-Sea Battle Concept for China” – ASB – blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is fear of such a blockade that has seen China develop its Belt and Road Initiative along the old Silk Road to Europe and urgently build strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands.

In Shanghai, I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist and novelist, typical of a new class of outspoken mavericks. Her best-selling book has the ironic title Socialism Is Great! Having grown up in the chaotic, brutal Cultural Revolution, she has travelled and lived in the U.S. and Europe. “Many Americans imagine,” she said, “that Chinese people live a miserable, repressed life with no freedom whatsoever. The [idea of] the yellow peril has never left them… They have no idea there are some 500 million people being lifted out of poverty, and some would say it’s 600 million.”

Modern China’s epic achievements, its defeat of mass poverty, and the pride and contentment of its people (measured forensically by American pollsters such as Pew) are wilfully unknown or misunderstood in the West. This alone is a commentary on the lamentable state of Western journalism and the abandonment of honest reporting.

China’s repressive dark side and what we like to call its “authoritarianism” are the facade we are allowed to see almost exclusively. It is as if we are fed unending tales of the evil super-villain Dr. Fu Manchu. And it is time we asked why: before it is too late to stop the next Hiroshima.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist and filmmaker based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: In 2017, the British Library announced a John Pilger Archive of all his written and filmed work. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, “Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia,” among the 10 most important documentaries of the 20thcentury. Some of his previous contributions to Consortium News can be found here.  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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40 comments for “ATOMIC BOMBINGS AT 75: John Pilger — Another Hiroshima is Coming — Unless We Stop It Now

  1. paul walter
    August 7, 2020 at 03:10

    Its a variation of an old “grand game” played over the last couple of centuries, first by Britain and Czarist Russia involving control of strategic locations in Eurasia and Western Asia, first the British and now with the USA and China. The British partitioned the Indian sub continent not because of Islamic/ Hindu rivalries, but because the West wanted Afghanistan and Pakistan as a blocking counterbalance in case the new India tried to link up with the Soviet Union.

    A variation was played over a century ago involving Prussian Germany, a suffocation that led to Germany striking out to the East for resources security at the expense of Imperial Russia, then the Soviet Russia.
    The Americans in the end are making the same mistake as previous empires with massive military expenditures and garrisoning that jar their own existence, with recessions of the sort that followed Vietnam for example.

    But “democracy” is only a shopfront and military spending is something deeply gratifying to Wall St and the City of London. It is a closed system and a rigged game. The plebs always carry the can for socialisation of debt and privatisation/enclosuring of wealth.

    I suppose the current Chinese leadership. with its own bellicosity most recently typified in the behaviours of its big fishing fleet as well as at certain internal locations, adds to the problem as to jingoism, but the Chinese desire to avoid encirclement is at least as understandable as the USA seeking to avoid having a rival breaking out and become stronger.

    I think that China, like the former Soviet Union, is greatly over exaggerated as a threat, although there is always the fear in the West that that Russia and now China master new technologies to the extent that they do become a threat. It’s true that the mythologies are deeply useful to the Western Establishment in its efforts to also keep its own populations preoccupied with exogenous bogey people that distract from a realisation that “democracy” itself is a chimera and the so called protectors actually jailers.

    These policies were also implemented the oil rich regions to the west of Afghanistan over the last century, with the Islamic bogey used to scare the public into accepting expensive wars of conquest until western consolidation of resources and trade routes was achieved over over several generations. And the foul mess in South America “South of the Border”, well, what is the real reason “democracy” in the meaningful sense has never been achieved there?

    • August 7, 2020 at 14:54

      @paul walter

      a guess on your final question: well you had the word democracy in quotes, so I think that answers the question.

      I think real world geographical pressure points (such as the one in Istanbul or Constantinople of old if you prefer) indeed have great importance. Still what is the need to exert influence militarily when that sort of battle is coming to an end? I’ll tell you this. It is a big waste of money….and for money based on nothing but “good faith”, ($) it could spell the end of a juvenile country. What do you think?

      Nice Post.

  2. August 6, 2020 at 15:43

    Harry Truman was the worst mass murderer in modern, if not all, human history! I once met a young Japanese teenager who came into my store with a small group of her friends and accompanied by a translator, As the girl approached me to pay for some items she had chosen to buy, I was moved by her demure smile and youthful innocence to ask the translator to tell her that I wished to apologize for what we had done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The girl suddenly burst into tears, dropped the items she was carrying and ran out of the store! I was crushed, mortified that I had unintentionally insulted or hurt the girl. The translator quickly went after her, while everyone in my small store stood in shocked silence. A few minutes later, the girl and translator returned and approached me, tears streaming down their face. I blurted out how sorry I was, how I didn’t mean to hurt her. The translator then assured me no offense was taken. It was rather that the girl’s grand-mother had been vaporized during the attack on Hiroshima! Everyone in the store, including me, began weeping and for one supreme moment of compassion we were truly one humanity. I will never forget that moment nore that little girl and her grand-mother. How can we not rid the world of these demonic weapons?

    • Philip Owens
      August 6, 2020 at 21:18

      If Truman is the worst, where do others with far great death tolls fit in?

  3. August 6, 2020 at 06:30

    The time in which we are living is of tremendous importance.

    As things are moving today, the logical conclusion is a global suicide.

    We are coming closer to a third world war.

    It is sad to recognize the fact, but it is good to recognize it, because then there is the possibility of taking a different turn.

    A single politician, to show his power, can destroy the whole of civilization.

    Moscow, New York, London, Beijing, any place can be vaporized within seconds.

    The whole point of a war is to win, but in a nuclear war nobody wins.

    So war has lost its basic foundation.

    If a nuclear war happens it will be the destruction of all.

    People are completely asleep!

    Yet this is a great moment in the history of mankind.

    If the whole world can be destroyed together within minutes the alternative can only be that the whole world should be together.

    Nuclear weapons need to be outlawed outright globally!

    Why should such unconscious people have access to so much destructiveness, that a single nation could destroy the whole earth?

    Just a few bad people have been ruling the whole of humanity, and millions of good people, seeing destructiveness, seeing violence, seeing criminality, just remain silent.

    They don’t want to get involved in any trouble.

    What are you doing to prevent the calamity that is coming closer every day?

    Thousands of scientists of immense intelligence, talent and genius have become just slaves of a political mechanism which exploits their intelligence in the service of war and death.

    In their sleep they are making nuclear weapons, not knowing what they are doing.

    It is time that scientists should learn to discriminate.

    What helps life and what destroys life.

    The scientists have to realize their responsibility.

    The politician is struggling to have power over people, the scientist is struggling to have power over matter; but the desire is the same, and the mind is the same.

    Mind is continuously trying to dominate, to enslave, to be powerful over others, over matter, because mind has no power of its own.

    All its power is borrowed.

    The mind can become knowledgeable, but it cannot become wise.

    Can you see any intelligence in making more nuclear weapons?

    We are all grave-diggers, and we are all digging our own graves.

    The reason is an imbalance in our evolution.

    We go on developing scientific technology without bothering at all that our consciousness should also evolve in the same proportion.

    It is one of the fundamental laws of existence that the inner truth has to be discovered by each individual by his own efforts.

    It cannot be purchased in the marketplace, nor can it be stolen.

    Nobody can give it to you as a gift.

    It is not a commodity, it is not material.

    It is an immaterial experience.

    The evolution of consciousness is an explosion from your innermost core.

    When suddenly all darkness is gone.

    It means the energy has shifted from memory to intelligence.

    Memory is mechanical.

    Intelligence is non-mechanical.

    That’s why computers can have memory.

    But they don’t have intelligence!

    Intelligence is a totally different matter.

    Intelligence is an alive response, herenow.

    It is the power to face a new situation about which you know nothing.

    Memory is a reaction out of the past, from mind.

    An intelligent person will have a totally different vision of life.

    Their eyes will penetrate to the very root of any problem.

    To face every moment with a totally new response.

    The more you use your light, your intelligence, your consciousness, the more it grows.

    And remember, no creative, intelligent person seeks power.

    No intelligent person is interested in dominating others.

    What are you going to do to help human consciousness rise in such a way that we can prevent the global suicide that is going to happen?

    The destruction is not only of humanity.

    With humanity die all the companions of humanity, the animals, the trees, the birds, the flowers, everything disappears, everything that is alive.

    This is the only planet in the whole of existence which is alive; its death would be a great tragedy.

    But it can be avoided.

    The intelligentsia of the world has to create an atmosphere in the world.

    A tremendous struggle for a great revolution in human consciousness is needed, and everybody is called for that revolution.

    Contribute all that you can.

    Your whole life has to be given to the revolution.

    You will not have another chance, another challenge, for your own growth, and for the growth of this whole beautiful planet.

    You have to become the soldiers for this revolution to avoid the criminal forces, the evil forces, which are getting ready to destroy us.

    The death of this earth is not far away.

    A revolution in human consciousness is no more a luxury, it has become an absolute need, as there are only two alternatives, suicide or a quantum leap in consciousness.

    Nuclear weapons have brought this great urgency for a choice,

    It is now or never.

  4. William Galadakis
    August 5, 2020 at 14:56

    This is a heartfelt and moving piece in support of nuclear disarmament. “Never again” is every bit as valid a response to nuclear warfare as it is to genocide.

    I worry that the part at the end is too one-dimensional in the picture it paints of present-day China. There are far more dimensions to the US-China relationship than questions of military superiority and brinksmanship. China is often hammered in the western media, no doubt, but the CCP’s share of it is well-deserved, from its program of cultural (and, by treaty definition, actual) genocide in Xinjiang, to its crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong.

    There is a false choice, foisted upon us by hawks, between bellicosity with China and tolerating the CCP’s human rights abuses. And indeed, “humanitarian intervention” is one of the most common pretexts for war used by people who secretly care little for human life. Military might has not stopped human rights abuses in the Middle East, and it will not stop them in China.

    And yet, the world must act. Not with escalation and violence, but with disengagement and isolation. Boycotts, divestment, and sanctions worked to end apartheid in South Africa, and they are the clearest tools with which to fight the CCP.

  5. Nico
    August 5, 2020 at 14:31

    I think China and as many other countries as possible should jointly abandon the Non-Proliferation Treaty because it has clearly been abused by the half dozen nuclear states to oppress the rest of the world for decades, while not taking any real steps to remove nukes from the world. Either all countries have the right to those arms, or none.

    In my view the US has always had a racist, genocidal tendency, from Native Americans to African slaves to the Vietnamese, Latin Americans etc. And Americans were even the driving force behind the Holocaust as one can learn from Edwin Black, an American Jew that investigated how American racists such as the Rockefeller Foundation massively financed and promoted the Nazis and their genocidal plans, supplying ideas such as the Nordic master race and the gas chamber for killing off inferior humans.

    Thanks for doing the journalistic work that the NYT, Reuters, etc. are miserably failing to do.

  6. Tom Welsh
    August 5, 2020 at 02:42

    Any idea that a US thermonuclear attack on China would not lead to thermonuclear explosions across the USA is entirely wrong.

    China cannot afford to suffer an attack without retaliating in at least equal measure.

    Moreover, the Russian government has made it clear that it would stand beside China in the event of a war. The combined forces of China and Russia would reduce the entire USA to a wasteland- whatever happens to China and Russia.

    The almost certain outcome of an attack on China by the USA would be the extinction of the human species worldwide. Mr Putin has asked rhetorically, “Who would want to live in a world without Russia?” And I am sure the Chinese feel the same about their people and country.

  7. Daniel
    August 5, 2020 at 00:33

    Excellent article. A rapture fanatic like Pompeo in charge of foreign policy in a country whose explicit geopolitical goal is world domination…not a pleasant thought.

    But the bellicosity won’t end when the Trump administration leaves office. As the dysfunction and decline in western countries continues to worsen, the angry rhetoric and provocations aimed at China and other “enemies” will only get more extreme.

    • LEH
      August 5, 2020 at 03:50

      A person who believes in the Rapture is not a bad person – He believes in the redemption of mankind when they turn back to God. Whether the Rapture happens or not….Christians are ready to meet the enemy as our allegiance is to God, not man. Our country needs some morality, some believers in the power of prayer to change our country to a place where a family could WANT to raise a family without fear of child trafficking, kidnappings, murder, crime galore – a place like the America we grew up in. But, it seems too late for that. The Rapture does not affect an unBeliever.

  8. bob
    August 5, 2020 at 00:24

    Thank you for this well written piece. I do have a question about this part of it though which immediately struck me as odd, “Raw plutonium lay about, scattered like talcum powder” While I do not doubt the Taranaki test site suffers from horrible plutonium contamination, I am skeptical that one would be able to see plutonium laying about with the naked eye. There have been extensive “remediation” efforts undertaken at the Taranaki test site most of which have consisted of removing plutonium contaminated topsoil and burying it which I suppose is only slightly better than doing nothing.

  9. Brian Eggar
    August 4, 2020 at 19:04

    Whenever, I read about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, my thoughts go to Franklin D. Roosevelt and what would he have done if his life was not so tragically cut short. I have a feeling that he would have found a way of getting peace without this tremendous loss of life.

    It gets stranger when you find that at Yalta, FDR and Stalin got on exceptionally well and were even discussing how the two countries should work together for peace after the war had ended. This was much to the disgust of Churchill who was in fact left out of the loop.

    So when a few months later, FDR died of a heart attack, the world lost a person who could easily have brought peace to the world. So it is somewhat strange that there was no autopsy of the body to determine the cause of death.

    One of Truman’s first acts was to set up the CIA.

    An interesting documentary on YouTube is “1932” depicting the part of British Intelligence in American affairs.

  10. August 4, 2020 at 15:27

    Very excellent article.

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    August 4, 2020 at 14:32

    It is the dropping of the second A bomb that I condemn. After seeing the horrific destruction of the first A bomb and then go and drop the second one…pure MURDER. And 75 years later so many people – not even born then, still paying a very high price.

    • Daniel
      August 5, 2020 at 00:39

      So you are ok with “only” dropping one atomic bomb on a city full of civilians? As the article states, Japan was ready to surrender in 1943 but its overtures were ignored.

    • Edward Barrett
      August 7, 2020 at 06:36

      I strongly suspect part of the reason for the secind bomb was to compare the two different designs.

  12. Dienne
    August 4, 2020 at 12:44

    When I read 1984 in high school I thought it was a fair, if perhaps overwrought warning about the dangers of totalitarianism in “those” places. Later I realized it was about our own government/culture. Now I’m beginning to see that it is a blueprint.

  13. August 4, 2020 at 12:30

    It would be, (or are) figments of the imagination of those who think the war will be against China.
    The war unleashed by the US against China would engage Russia and any one of those who consider the US to be an enemy.

    • August 4, 2020 at 16:18

      @Eloy Role 84201230

      The beauty of it all is there will be no war. Just like Iran has not been attacked neither will China or Russia or Taiwan or Ukraine for that matter. War is over. There might be mental games of a sort, but there are enough of us already who refused the pill and that is all it takes. Those mental games are diminishing in efficacy day by day. Can you tell?

      I suspect there is going to be some ignominy for a few when it gets in the mind of the public consciousness what a few have been doing in their own selfish interest…….it is so obvious.

      The few will get what they deserve and they will have fear because that is all they know. How else could it be that they cause so much suffering of innocence?

  14. August 4, 2020 at 10:04

    Mr John Pilger. I greatly admire your work & struggle for truth & justice. Thus, I was appalled to read that you mention Amitai Etzioni as a respectable & reliable source. A man who speculated that Israel should perhaps flatten Beirut to destroy Hezbollah’s missiles.

    • AnneR
      August 5, 2020 at 10:28

      Thank you for this mention. Overall, I too have and still do admire John Pilger’s reporting over the decades, from Vietnam onward, but was rather amazed, and not nicely so – indeed horrified would be the better word, at this commendation of Etzioni…

    • August 6, 2020 at 09:40

      The only description of Etzioni is “distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University” which is accurate enough. The point perhaps is that if someone so part of the Western international affairs establishment states something, it may be worth evaluating. If you only quote people with the same politics as yourself, who else will give you any credibility?

  15. Stevie Boy
    August 4, 2020 at 09:42

    Unusually for the BBC, a decent bit of reporting, adding another piece to the sad nuclear jigsaw:

  16. Zhu
    August 4, 2020 at 05:31

    In the highly unlikely event that the US mounts an Iraq-style invasion of China, and Beijing doesn’t reply with nukes, the US will still lose, bad. Imperial Japan at its height couldn’t defeat Chiang Kai-shek and the warlords. If the US can’t defear Viet Nam or Afghanistan, how can Pompeo et al. defeat China? Backed by Russia?

    • August 4, 2020 at 11:42

      By saying that there are no Rules of Engagement! Kill them all!

    • August 4, 2020 at 15:23


  17. Zhu
    August 4, 2020 at 04:21

    Thanks for taking Pompeo’s Dispensatipnalism seriously. Most journalists ignore the Dispensationalists. Too much mental work, maybe.

  18. Alfred Olaba
    August 4, 2020 at 01:34

    A beautiful article.

  19. Robert Sinuhe
    August 4, 2020 at 00:52

    I’m concerned that much has been done to shield the terrible effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Too much disinformation and outright lies. If the general public really knew the horror that the Japanese people experienced perhaps we could have the empathy to press our government to abandon these weapons. My fear is grounded on the world wide protests over the Iraq War. I and millions protested to no avail. How do you reach a government that will not listen.

  20. David Copper
    August 3, 2020 at 18:57

    As soon as I became aware of the devastation of these incomprehensible weapons as a young teen (sixties) I wondered why nothing was being done to do away with them. As I studied the all consuming destructiveness of these weapons I became active in the “ban the bomb” movement. Going to the Nevada test site in the late eighties to protest continued testing. To NYC with my 5 year old daughter 35 years ago by bus to March past the UN to central park for a ban the bomb rally. I am 73 years old and have lived my whole life under the threat if nuclear annihilation
    I am still involved with banning the bomb living under an illegally elected president who would not hesitate to use a “tactical” nuclear weapon if not worse
    May the Lord protect us all

    • Gretchen
      August 4, 2020 at 03:13

      Well said, Mr. Copper. In my opinion the image of ‘Death Valley, Nevada’ could be a model of land left after a nuclear bomb dropped and detonated. Especially the salt beds within the Death Valley Park with “BAD WATER”……SIGN! The torture of chemical dust falling on humans for testing (research) purposes must be subject to investigation?
      Praying for love, peace, and leadership.

    • Maxine
      August 4, 2020 at 15:43

      August 4, 2020 at 15:40

      Agree and sympathize with everything you have said….However, Donald Trump was NOT “illegally elected”….It was only because Hillary Clinton refused to admit her defeat, that she created the “Russia Did It” myth to make it seem that DT’s triumph was illegal….True, this hideous monster is certainly capable of causing nuclear catastrophe….But so was Hillary, with her Cold War hatred of Russia.

    • Maxine
      August 4, 2020 at 15:57

      Sadly, this hideous president was NOT “illegally elected”.

  21. Buffalo_Ken
    August 3, 2020 at 18:53

    Over many years in my imagination I suppose I’ve personally put forth a lot of effort doing all I can to help avoid and prevent any kind of confrontation with Iran. There have been so many times when this seemed on the edge. Yet, the Persian history is to be remembered, and perhaps this is what stemmed it off. I admire it.

    Same goes with the history of China. I will put forth a double effort when it comes to China. I’ll do likewise for Russia and for Mongolia.

    Aren’t we all sick and tired of the Pompeo’s of this day and age. Ain’t it time for something better. Can’t anybody do anything about it? If you study history, the story of the past, you start to appreciate that which has stood the test of time. In this respect, the US is nothing but a baby. I think it is a baby that has been overtaken by a bunch of spoiled brats and I’m sick of them and all of their propaganda.

    Things are fixing to change.

  22. Douglas Baker
    August 3, 2020 at 16:42

    So the American war department’s dream deferred of of bombing 190 Russian cities with atomic bombs has grown bigger with more Chinese cities than Russian on the bucket list to do ahead of the peace that passes understanding.

    August 3, 2020 at 15:21

    William Laurence won two Pulitzers, but this reporter, mentioned in John Pilger’s article, is William H. Lawrence, who never won a Pulitzer. Laurence, who also worked for the NYT, was aboard a plane to view the Nagasaki bombing. He had been made the official historian of the Manhattan project and even put out government press releases, according to his Wikipedia entry, making him essentially a paid government propagandist while still working at The New York Times.

  24. DW Bartoo
    August 3, 2020 at 14:22

    I read John Hersey’s “Hiroshima”, the first really “serious” book I ever bought, in paperback, in 1957 when I was ten years old.

    Way back then, I wondered why it was that the adults around me had not joined together and insisted that nuclear weapons (we still called them “atom bombs” in those days) be banned, that the whole notion of organized mayhem, be outlawed?

    These adults had, many of them, experienced the war, some very directly, or at least had grown up while it was occurring.

    Now, sixty-three years later, I wonder the same things.

    I have had the good fortune to know a number of people who did dedicate their lives to banning the bomb, many of them are now gone, having grown old (perhaps even weary and saddened that fewer and fewer people seemed to care) and died, as we old folks do tend to do.

    Yet I have seen very few younger people rise up to replace those staunch old warriors who championed peace and reason.

    The same is true with the anti-war movement.

    Indeed, I hear and read comments, mostly from the youngish, that nuclear weapons do not even exist, that they are simply a hoax.

    Of course my generation, the boomers, when we were young and at school, primary and secondary, not only had fire drills, but also “bomb” drills, and were instructed that “fallout shelters” were to be found in most cities, however small, as those cities might be targets of the Russians.

    In those days, it was always the Russians, but “we” had bombs and missiles (many more than they did, as it turned out, but much bipartisan political hay could be made of alleged “gaps” and the Strategic Air Command had nuclear-armed bombers in the air 24/7.

    For a time, wealthier families built their own fallout shelters and stocked up “supplies” that would last several months.

    This movement lost much of its appeal when it sunk in that more than months might be required before the “radioactive” contaminated water and soil OUTSIDE the family retreat would be “safe” to make use of.

    And then, miraculously, everyone simply forgot about the bombs.

    The bombs did not go away.

    In fact, they became “more sophisticated”.

    Eventually the “neutron bomb” was developed which promised to kill all living things, without harming the infrastructure, and would rapidly dissipate its harmful debris.

    It was touted as a great thing for real estate development after the end of hostilities.

    You know, wipe the people out and move in within a matter of mere months.

    None of this seemed to affect people as reprehensible, they seemed to take it quite in stride.

    Of course, that was when the U$ could still pretend that it was the manufacturing and “development” center of the world (or even the universe, for that matter).

    Rationally, nuclear Armageddon is as much an existential threat to continued human presence on the planet as environmental collapse.

    Both, happily, from the perspective of oligarchic domination, are simply ignored by the many and denied by those for whom profits trumps all.

    I do sometimes wonder what people, a hundred years from now, will think about those of us who refused to confront either threat, assuming that people are still around then and even bother thinking about the things we assiduously ignored.

    Assuming further, that they have any feeling about us at all, beyond disgust and wonderment about how we could all be so careless, selfish, and so stupid as to permit the pathologically dangerous and greedy to be the “adults” who were “in control”.

    But then, I recall that old dinosaur who used to say, “Posterity? Posterity hell!
    What has posterity ever done for me?”

    I feel so fortunate to be a member of a generation whose “plan” is simply to no longer be here, when the shit hits the fan.

    In all, it is a clever career move.

    The kids can clean up the mess …

    • August 3, 2020 at 19:11

      @DW Bartoo

      I know you didn’t really mean to suggest that the “kids can clean up the mess”. That ain’t fair.

      From my perspective it is old-timers like you who are going to be the ones who make the difference one way or the other.

      We need your wisdom, but we don’t need fatalism. If the blood is still flowing and you can think, then by all means please make a difference for the better. I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get. So make things better while you still can.

      I’ve got a freaking plan, and I could spell it all out, but who would give a shit……….if it don’t resonate, then it don’t matter. That is why we need to work together. Individualism can only go so far and the limit has been reached.

      I’ll tell you a funny story cause why the hell not? I asked Alexa to tell me about Peter Kropotkin. Then afterwards, I asked her to tell me about Anarcho-Communism…….man the answers were out there more than 100 years ago.

      Take Care,

  25. peter mcloughlin
    August 3, 2020 at 13:50

    A very moving piece by John Pilger. He is right, China is the new “enemy”. Every conflict in history has been about power (manifested as interest). Today the US aims to maintain its global dominance. China has made enormous economic strides in the last forty years, lifting up to 600 million out of poverty, if Lijia Zhang’s figure is correct. The country is not prepared to sacrifice those gains. As a result, the two most powerful nations on the globe are on course for war. Like so many wars in the past, leaders are often blind to what fate awaits them. Every incumbent hegemon eventually faces the very war it seeks to avoid: annihilation of its own power. If leaders and decision-makers cannot see the pattern of history they will never be able to change it, and so survive at all. (

    • August 4, 2020 at 12:48

      The goal of maintaining dominance has bipartisan consensus, but if it has a form of a push, with extreme hysteria and hostility unleashed upon China, Russia, Iran and a string of smaller countries, the backlash will be big and growing.

      In long term, American “benign dominance” lost the ability of delivering prosperity, essential technologies etc., so the dominated region will develop more and more sub-regions of unrest. Bolivia is an interesting case. The “cause of freedom” scored a success, leftist government was overthrown, Cuban doctors, carriers of sinister influence, expelled. But while Venezuela, remaining target of “the cause of freedom” in the continent, has 6 COVID-19 victims per million, Bolivia has more than 200 and the epidemic is on “herd immunity” track, i.e. more than 3 victims per million per day, with growing tendency. The neighboring Peru reached 600 per million, Brazil is getting there. 53% of COVID-19 victims are in Americas.

      Each epidemic has peculiarities, this one is so far impervious to modern medicine and responds much better to mass mobilization methods and relatively simple medication (very small added value of expensive medications, ventilators etc.). But if you look at poverty reduction etc., the membership in the “freedom zone” is underperforming quite terribly. Consider a relatively new member, Ukraine.

      In short, would the project of “isolating China, Russia, Iran etc.” succeed, the dominated territory will be wracked by unrest and revolutions and in a less than a generation it will collapse and it will be remembered as a nightmare period for humanity.

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