Thank God for the Atom Bomb

August 7, 2015

 Nuclear Weapons: A Time-Lapse History 

By Terence T. Gorski 

All people with a conscience have mixed feelings about war and the weapons of mass destruction used in modern day warfare. 

The fear of nuclear war is once again raising its head. Many of us would prefer to ignore the issue and pretend “it can never happen again.” The current deal with Iran over nuclear weapon development and the possibility of widespread nuclear proliferatio in the Middle East is raising the issue and the fear of the real possibility of nuclear war. 

People without a conscience (i.e. psychopaths/sociopaths) are not hobbled in their decision making about nuclear weapons by issues of morality, empathy, and fighting for the good. When making decisions involving the use of weapons of mass destructions psychopathic/sociopathic leaders will do anything necessary to expand their power even if it means destroying humanity in the process. 

In my opinion, the reality is that people of conscience need to come to terms with the need for violence to protect personal freedom. This means facing the issue of using violence on all levels to protect individual freedom. This includes, of course, coming to terms with the production and use of nuclear weapons. If they don’t, people motivated by high moral standards will eventually be killed, imprisoned, or controlled by psychopaths/sociopaths who are well armed and organized. This is especially true if evil intent can be cloaked by a religious ideaology. 

People of good will must recognize and name the true nature of the enemy –those who don’t are usually condemned to be defeat by the enemies they refuse to name. 

The following article was forwarded to me by Buck Yancy, a friend and mentor who keeps challenging me to face and think about the hard issues of life. It is the reprint of an essay written in 1981by the late Paul Fussell, a cultural critic and war memoirist. 

Reading this essay was unsettling. It contrasted two perspectives of making decisions about using nuclear weapons: the anstract perspective of those who make and critique policy; and the personal perspective of the troops whose lives were spared because the land invasion of Japan became unnecessary because the use of nuclear weapons forced Japan to surrender. 

Here is an article by the same name in The New Republic

Below is the original essay I received:

Thank God for the Atom Bomb  

 

Wed Aug 5, 2015 7:36 pm (PDT) . Posted by: “Jim Baker” baycur on Aug 5, 2015, at 11:42 AM, by Jeff Murray tamu73@sbcglobal.net [CHAT_281AHC] <CHAT_281AHC@yahoo groups.com> who wrote:

The headline of this column is lifted from a 1981 essay by the late Paul Fussell, the cultural critic and war memoirist. In 1945 Fussell was a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who had fought his way through Europe only to learn that he would soon be shipped to the Pacific to take part in Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese home islands scheduled to begin in November 1945. 

Then the atom bomb intervened. Japan would not surrender after Hiroshima, but it did after Nagasaki.

I brought Fussell’s essay with me on my flight to Hiroshima and was stopped by this: “When we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live.”

In all the cant that will pour forth this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the bombs—that the U.S. owes the victims of the bombings an apology; that nuclear weapons ought to be abolished; that Hiroshima is a monument to man’s inhumanity to man; that Japan could have been defeated in a slightly nicer way—I doubt much will be made of Fussell’s fundamental point: Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t just terrible war-ending events. They were also lifesaving. The bomb turned the empire of the sun into a nation of peace activists.

I spent the better part of Monday afternoon with one such activist, Keiko Ogura, who runs a group called Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace. Mrs. Ogura had just turned eight when the bomb fell on Hiroshima, the epicenter less than 2 miles from her family home. She remembers wind “like a tornado”; thousands of pieces of shattered glass blasted by wind into the walls and beams of her house, looking oddly “shining and beautiful”; an oily black rain. 

And then came the refugees from the city center, appallingly burned and mutilated, “like a line of ghosts,” begging for water and then dying the moment they drank it. Everyone in Mrs. Ogura’s immediate family survived the bombing, but it would be years before any of them could talk about it. 

Because Hiroshima and Nagasaki were real events, because they happened, there can be no gainsaying their horror. Operation Downfall did not happen, so there’s a lot of gainsaying. Would the Japanese have been awed into capitulation by an offshore A-bomb test? Did the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria, starting the day of the Nagasaki bombing, have the more decisive effect in pushing Japan to give up? Would casualties from an invasion really have exceeded the overall toll—by some estimates approaching 250,000—of the two bombs?

We’ll never know. 

— We only know that the U.S. lost 14,000 men merely to take Okinawa in 82 days of fighting. 
— We only know that, because Japan surrendered, the order to execute thousands of POWs in the event of an invasion of the home islands was never implemented. 

— We only know that, in the last weeks of a war Japan had supposedly already lost, the Allies were sustaining casualties at a rate of 7,000 a week. 

— We also know that the Japanese army fought nearly to the last man to defend Okinawa, and hundreds of civilians chose suicide over capture. 

Do we know for a certainty that the Japanese would have fought less ferociously to defend the main islands? We can never know for a certainty. 

“Understanding the past,” Fussell wrote, “requires pretending that you don’t know the present. It requires feeling its own pressure on your pulses without any ex post facto illumination.” Historical judgments must be made in light not only of outcomes but also of options. Would we judge Harry Truman better today if he had eschewed his nuclear option in favor of 7,000 casualties a week; that is, if he had been more considerate of the lives of the enemy than of the lives of his men?

And so the bombs were dropped, and Japan was defeated. Totally defeated. 

Modern Japan is a testament to the benefits of total defeat, to stripping a culture prone to violence of its martial pretenses. 

Modern Hiroshima is a testament to human resilience in the face of catastrophe. It is a testament, too, to an America that understood moral certainty and even a thirst for revenge were not obstacles to magnanimity. In some ways they are the precondition for it.

For too long Hiroshima has been associated with a certain brand of leftist politics, a kind of insipid pacifism salted with an implied anti-Americanism. That’s a shame. There are lessons in this city’s history that could serve us today, when the U.S. military forbids the word victory, the U.S. president doesn’t believe in the exercise of American power, and the U.S. public is consumed with guilt for sins they did not commit.

Watch the lights come on at night in Hiroshima. Note the gentleness of its culture. And thank God for the atom bomb.


Understanding the Terrorist Radicalization Process

February 18, 2015

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This is directly reposted from the Department of Defense (DOD) – Defense Human Resource Activity: http://www.dhra.mil/perserec/osg/terrorism/radicalization.htm I decided to post this blog on the radicalization process because the problem of terrorism appears to be growing and we all need accurate information about how people are recruited to a terrorist cause and the steps taken to motivate them to reject previous belief systems and to embrace new, radical, and often deadly beliefs, even when, on their face, they are absurd and irrational.

We must all understand the raprocess so we can recognize it early and stop the process before the radicalized individual does horrible damage.


The basic message we need to give is clear: the promises of radicalization are false and will lead to horrible inner pain and eventually death. ~ Terence T. Gorski 

Here is the DHRA Report: The Radicalization Process

There has been much research, writing, and theorizing about what causes or motivates people to become terrorists. The one consistent finding based on extensive empirical research is that there is no “terrorist profile” that can be used to predict who or even what type of person might become a terrorist.

Research clearly rules out the early theory that participation in terrorist actions is associated with some sort of personality or mental disorder, that only “crazy” people commit horrible acts of terrorism. Studies have shown that the prevalence of mental illness among incarcerated terrorists is as low or lower than in the general population. Although terrorists commit horrible acts, they rarely match the profile of the classic psychopath. They are also not necessarily from a lower socioeconomic status or less educated than their peers.1

Social scientists, law enforcement organizations, and intelligence agencies all agree that terrorists are the product of a dynamic process called radicalization.

Brian Jenkins, one of our country’s most senior terrorism scholars, defines radicalization as “the process of adopting for oneself or inculcating in others a commitment not only to a system of [radical] beliefs, but to their imposition on the rest of society.”2 The compulsion to use violence to impose their beliefs on the rest of society, or to punish others for their “evil” actions or beliefs is the final stage in the radicalization process.

The commitment to violence is what distinguishes a terrorist from other extremists. This process occurs over time and causes a fundamental change in how people view themselves and the world in which they live. The exact nature of this process is still poorly understood. Researchers have developed a number of different theories and conceptual models that seek to explain the process by which an individual becomes radicalized, but these theories have not been empirically tested.

Most see three to five stages from beginning to end of the process, from initial exposure through indoctrination, training, and then violent action. However, different researchers conceptualize these stages differently and use different terminology to identify or explain them.

There is broad agreement, however, that many people who begin this process do not pass through all the stages and become terrorists. Many people who become extremists stop short of the violence that is typical of militant jihadists.

Our focus here is on violent jihadism, and specifically on several aspects of the radicalization process about which there seems to be some consensus. While the researchers have not identified causes of terrorism, they have identified three vulnerabilities that may provide sources of motivation or make one more likely to endorse violence. These vulnerabilities are:

1. Perceived Injustice or Humiliation: Violent attack may be perceived as an appropriate remedy for injustice or humiliation.

2. Need for Identity: An individual’s search for identity may draw him or her to extremist or terrorist organizations in a variety of ways. The individual may be searching for a purpose or goal in life that defines the actions required to achieve that goal. A violent act may be seen as a way to succeed at something that makes a difference. The absolutist, “black and white” nature of most extremist ideologies is often attractive to those who feel overwhelmed by the complexity and stress of navigating a complicated world. Without struggling to define oneself or discern personal meaning, an individual may choose to define his or her identity simply through identification with a cause or membership in a group.

3. Need for Belonging: Many prospective terrorists find in a radical extremist group not only a sense of meaning, but also a sense of belonging, connectedness, and affiliation. One researcher argues that “for the individuals who become active terrorists, the initial attraction is often to the group, or community of believers, rather than to an abstract ideology or to violence.” 3

There is also some consensus on two factors that facilitated the radicalization process.. These are:

1. Spiritual Mentor: About 20% of the homegrown terrorists examined in one study had a spiritual mentor, a more experienced Muslim who gave specific instructions and direction during the radicalization process. Such a mentor might be associated with a mosque or be accessed via the Internet. The mentor keeps the radicalization process on track. About a quarter of the terrorists in one study had a perceived religious authority who provided specific theological approval for their violent activity. 4

2. Internet: The increased radicalization of American Muslims is driven in part by a wave of English-language websites designed to promote the militant jihadist doctrine. These websites are not run or directed by al-Qaida, but they provide a powerful tool for recruiting sympathizers to its cause of jihad, or holy war against the United States, according to experts who track this activity. Jihadist websites and chat rooms provide indoctrination and training to aspiring jihadists and enable them to establish contact with like-minded individuals in the United States or with terrorist groups abroad. “The number of [active] English-language sites sympathetic to al-Qaida has risen from about 30 seven years ago to more than 200 recently,” according to the head of a Saudi government program that works to combat militant Islamic websites.5

Terrorism is not random violence for its own sake. It is violence guided by an ideology that provides the rules for one’s behavior. “Ideology is often defined as a common and broadly agreed upon set of rules to which an individual subscribes, and which help to regulate and determine behavior.”6 The rules often link behaviors to anticipated long-term positive outcomes and rewards. This is the basis for the suicide attacks that are characteristic of violent jihad. By fulfilling one’s duty to God by killing infidels, one allegedly gains access to paradise.

The ideology that supports militant jihad is very different in its substance from other forms of extremism or terrorism such as white supremacy groups or eco-terrorism, but they all have four features in common. All terrorist movements are: 5

1. Polarized: They have an “us vs. them” mindset.

2. Absolutist: The beliefs are regarded as truth in the absolute sense, sometimes supported by sacred authority. This squelches questioning, critical thinking, and dissent. It also adds moral authority to framing us vs. them as a competition between good and bad (or evil).

3. Threat-Oriented: External threat causes in-groups to cohere. Good leaders know this intuitively. They persistently remind adherents that the “us” is at risk from “them.” Because the “us” is seen as being good and right in the absolute sense, this works not only to promote internal cohesion but also opposition to all nonbelievers.

4. Hateful: Hate energizes violent action. It allows principled opposition to impel direct action. It also facilitates various mechanisms for moral disengagement, or dehumanization, which erode the normal social and psychological barriers to engaging in violence. This is an important point, as it is the active support for violence that distinguishes the simple extremist from the terrorist.

The section on The Militant Jihadist Terrorism Threat describes the threat. One empirical study of 117 homegrown jihadist terrorists in America and the United Kingdom has identified the following observable manifestations of the radicalization process. This may be useful for identifying how far along individuals are in the radicalization process. 4

At an early stage, one comes to trust only the interpretations of an ideologically rigid set of religious authorities. These role models and scholars one looks to as guides have a significant impact on how others interpret what their faith demands of them.

Also at an early stage, one adopts a legalistic interpretation of the Muslim faith. There are rules that must be followed, not just for practice of the faith, but also for virtually every aspect of one’s daily life. For example, playing music, taking photographs, or women laughing in the street may be considered sinful.

At the final stage of radicalization, these rules include an obligation for all believers to undertake violence against infidels in order to advance the faith.

As they radicalize, Muslims come to perceive a fundamental conflict between Islam and the West. The idea of loyalty becomes critical: they have obligations to Islam alone and cannot have any kind of duty or loyalty to a non-Muslim state. Even participation in the democratic process in one’s own country violates religious principles that the rules are made by Allah, not by man.

This rigid interpretation of Islam leads to a low tolerance for any alternative interpretations or practices. After changing one’s own beliefs and practices, one feels compelled to impose the newly found beliefs on other family members and close friends. Any deviation by others from this rigid interpretation is seen as a personal affront. This is usually expressed by telling others that they are not good Muslims, which can sometimes lead to violence. It causes some individuals to separate themselves from and come to hate other Muslims who previously had been an important part of their lives.

In the latter stages, radicalization usually includes political as well as religious beliefs. Radicals believe the Western powers have conspired against Islam to subjugate it politically and corrupt it morally. They want to restore the caliphate that once united the Muslim world and ruled according to Allah’s dictates.

Remember that in the United States, expression of radical or extremist views is not illegal. It is illegal only when it reaches an advanced stage of supporting or engaging in an act of violence or other illegal behavior. For an individual who holds a U.S. Government security clearance or some other position of public trust, however, a stricter standard of allegiance to the United States applies. Advocacy of militant jihadist views as described in The Militant Jihadist Terrorism Threat is clear evidence of an absence of loyalty to the United States and is grounds for denial or revocation of a security clearance or access to other sensitive information or installations.

References
1. Randy Borum, “Understanding Terrorist Psychology,” in Andrew Silke, ed. The Psychology of Counter-Terrorism. Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2010.
2. Brian Michael Jenkins, “Outside Experts View,” preface to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Laura Grossman, Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K.: An Empirical Examination of the Radicalization Process. Washington, DC: FDD’s Center for Terrorism Research, 2009.
3. Martha Crenshaw, “The Subjective Reality of the Terrorist: Ideological and Psychological Factors in Terrorism,” in Robert O. Slater & Michael Stohl, eds., Current Perspectives in International Terrorism. Hampshire, UK: Macmillan, 1988, p. 59.
4. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Laura Grossman, Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K.: An Empirical Examination of the Radicalization Process. Washington, DC: FDD’s Center for Terrorism Research, 2009.
5. Randy Borum, ibid., p. 9.
6. Randy Borum, ibid., pp. 10-11.
7. Donna Abu-Nasr & Lee Keath, “200 Web sites spread al-Qaida’s message in English, The Washington Post, November 20, 2009.


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