Monday, May 5, 2008

What Firecrackers Can Do

It has been said that the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 -- with the respective force of 15 and 20 kilotons of TNT -- were firecrackers compared to the nuclear weapons of today, which are measured in megatons.

The Hiroshima bomb, called Little Boy by the US when it was dropped by the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945, caused immediate deaths somewhere between 70,000 and 130,000. The death toll in the five years following the explosion number in the 200,000 range.

An unknown photographer snapped photographs of the devastation to both buildings and people. A U.S. serviceman, Robert L. Capp, found rolls of undeveloped film in a cave outside the city. He donated the photographs to the Hoover Institution Archives in 1998 with the provision that they not be reproduced until this year. The entire set of 10 photographs can be found here. It is a devastating accounting of the horrors of war. Just in case anyone wonders whether a nuclear war can be won, these photographs graphically illustrate how utterly absurd an idea that is.

Now, Some of our more insane citizens want to consider this nuclear option against Iran or North Korea. Just so we're clear: a 15 megaton blast is 1,000 times more powerful than a 15 kiloton blast.

When my sons are old enough, they will see these photographs. My hope is that their images become as seared into their brains as they now are into my own, and that they become strong voices for the elimination of these weapons.

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