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The Militant, 13 April 1945

Eugene Varlin

Atomic Destruction and World War III

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 15, 13 April 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


This is the fourth of a series of articles on the death-dealing weapons in the hands of the imperialist warmongers who in their lust for world-domination, threaten the destruction of modern civilization. The first article told how the destructive powers of warfare have multiplied. The second described the new air weapons, and the third discussed the use of disease germs as a war weapon.

* * *

Before August 6, 1945, it seemed that people could no longer be shocked by the mounting slaughters of the imperialist butchers. The cities of Europe were in ruins. Sixty million men had been slaughtered on the European battlefields alone.

In the months before August, thousands of Superfortresses had bombed the cities of Japan with incendiaries. Every Japanese city with a population of more than 100,000 had been burned out. Millions of charred skeletons lay in the shambles. Mankind was becoming accustomed to horrors without end. Men shrugged their shoulders at the mounting statistics of destruction.

Then, on August 6, a lone American Superfortress, manned by a crew of ten, dropped a bomb on the Japanese City of Hiroshima. The whole world was aghast at the consequences. What had happened?

Simply this: one bomb carried by one plane had wiped a city of 343,000 people off the map. A force had been introduced into warfare, which in its first test, proved to be twenty thousand times more powerful than TNT. This force was atomic energy.

Horror at Triumph

Since 1901, scientists had known that by destroying a very tiny quantity of matter, tremendous quantities of energy could be released. Solar energy which for billions of years had been traveling 75,000,000 miles to heat the earth, is produced in this way. For over forty years scientists grappled with the problem of producing atomic energy artificially. Success, they felt, would mean an era of undreamed-of advancement for humanity. Atomic energy would soon replace all existing sources of power – coal, oil, electricity.

Now, at last, they had succeeded. And the world recoiled in horror at their “triumph.” In the hands of the imperialist war-makers, the first fruits of their success were the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the hands of these war-makers, atomic energy could destroy civilisation.

On September 27, Walter H. Judd stated before the House of Representatives:

“We face the prospect in the next half century of a return to the cliff dweller or cave-man stage of civilization. The scientists who created the atomic bomb have spent sleepless nights on the question of what to do with their brain child.”

Today, the atomic bomb is an American monopoly. No scientist believes that this state of affairs will last very long. On October 1, 1945, a group of atom scientists declared:

“There are no longer any fundamental secrets about the atomic bomb ... Even those nations with lesser resources than the United States will be able to produce atomic bombs within two to five years.”

Furthermore, according to Professor Oppenheimer, bombs can be produced cheaply by the tens of thousands.

Deadly By-Products

Moreover, the radioactive by-products of the plants which are manufacturing the atom bombs are deadlier than any poison gas heretofore known to man. Dr. M.L. Oliphant, British atom bomb scientist wrote:

“They could be ... sprayed or otherwise distributed over an enemy territory in sufficient concentration to prohibit the survival of any living thing in thousands of square miles of country.”

There is no defense against the atom bomb. It is so small that enough bombs could be planted inside a country during peacetime to destroy it completely immediately after the outbreak of a war. Atom rockets could be launched from distances of over 5,000 miles from their targets. These rockets travel at speeds of more than 5,000 miles an hour. There is no stopping them.

Small wonder then that the atom scientists live in deadly fear of this Frankenstein of their own creation. They know what it can do. Dr. A.H. Compton warns that no city of greater than 100,000 population will survive the first hour of World War III. Professor Oppenheimer believes that forty million Americans would be killed during the first night of an atomic war. The world-renowned physicist. Albert Einstein, declares that, if war comes again, two-thirds of the world’s population will be slain.

Cities Will Perish

An official inspection of the ruins at Hiroshima was made for the United States government by Philip Morrison, a nuclear physicist. In the recently published book, One World or None, he pictures what would happen to New York City if it should be hit by an atom bomb like the one that devastated Hiroshima.

300,000 people would die immediately. 300,000 would be injured. 20,000, who seemed to have escaped unscathed, would die of after-radiations. This picture is “unreal in only one way,” he said. In a future war, the bombs will come, not by ones or twos, but in hundreds and thousands. And the bombs will be infinitely more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima.

He concluded:

“If the bomb gets out of hand, if we do not learn to live together so that our science will be our help and not our hurt, there is only one sure future: the cities of men on earth will perish.”

(To Be Concluded)

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