Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama and Hiroshima

You may have noticed, as did I, that on his recent Asian trip, the president did not go to Hiroshima. What I didn't know, but discovered in a recent posting from Foreign Policy in Focus, was that he was specifically invited, but turned the invitation down.

FPIP notes that no US president has ever visited Hiroshima. It theorizes that like them, Obama may have wanted to avoid having to apologize, or make Americans feel guilty about the past.

Obama continues the great tradition of never having (or wanting) to say you're sorry, and stoking the American memory hole, the dustbin of history.

But Hiroshima, or rather the Trinity test a few weeks before, was a hinge-point for the world. I tell the amazing story of the Manhattan Project in great detail in my Insect Dreams, the Half Life of Gregor Samsa.

Gregor, although a six-foot talking cockroach, is appointed by FDR to become the risk management consultant to the Project (after several hundred pages, you'll believe it), and at one point circulates a petition not to drop the bomb among the workers at Los Alamos. The chapter is called "Death by a Thousand Cuts", and lists the many responses of scientists and soldiers about why the bomb must be dropped even though the raison d'ĂȘtre had by then disappeared.

What is striking to me is how those same 1945 reasons resonate still, and are used on every occasion when historical truth is raised in the face of misinformation -- such as during the closing down of the historians' Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian, or by those excusing Obama's snub of the mayor of Hiroshima.

Anyway, I think you'll find Insect Dreams interesting reading, and not just for its history of the Manhattan Project.

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