Sunday September 22, 2019

Debate on morality regarding Barack Obama’s Historic Visit to Hiroshima

About 71 years ago, a mushroom shaped cloud lit up the sky over Hiroshima, and three days later over Nagasaki. Some 140,000 people in the two cities died within the year, and survivors and their children faced untold suffering due to radiation poisoning.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center left, puts his arm around Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, center right, after they and fellow G7 foreign ministers laid wreaths at the cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. Image source: VOA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTVH4JevrdI

During what may be his last tour of Asia, President Barack Obama will make history as the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, the site where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb in wartime.

Even before the president sets foot on what many consider hallowed ground, the announcement has sparked new debate on the decision to drop the bomb, and whether the United States should apologize or if a U.S. president should even visit.  Obama is expected to make a statement from Hiroshima, and will likely have to navigate a symbolic minefield.

Nearly 71 years ago

It was a moment that literally changed the world nearly 71 years ago when a mushroom shaped cloud lit up the sky over Hiroshima, and three days later over Nagasaki.  Some 140,000 people in the two cities died within the year, and survivors and their children have faced untold suffering due to radiation poisoning.  The U.S. rationale for the decision was to bring years of Japanese aggression to a quick end, potentially saving many more lives than would have been lost in a U.S. invasion.  But many Japanese see it differently, saying innocent men, women and children were unnecessarily incinerated and poisoned.

Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima last month.  He said he was deeply moved and that “every human being” should visit the site.  Some experts think that should include the U.S. president, among them Chris Appy of the University of Massachusetts.  He told VOA: “I was very pleased that he decided to go.  I think just showing up is important symbolic act that many Japanese have wanted for a long time.”

But Appy says he thinks the United States should also apologize for the atomic bomb attacks, “I am disappointed that the president appears not willing to apologize.  After all I think in our personal lives, we consider it the height of maturity when an adult is willing to take responsibility and accountability for actions.  Particularly actions that lead to the suffering of the innocent victims.”

Others strongly disagree, including Brian Harding of the Center for American Progress, who told VOA, “The president will not be issuing an apology and the Japanese government is not asking for one either.”

Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims nuclear bombing. Image source: Wikipedia
Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims nuclear bombing. Image source: Wikipedia

‘Special Responsibility’ for atomic bomb use

White House officials have made clear that the president will not apologize.  White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “What I think the president does appreciate is that President [Harry] Truman made this decision for the right reason.”

But Earnest said the United States does have a “special responsibility” as the only country to have ever used an atomic bomb to work tirelessly for nuclear non-proliferation.

McCain opposes visit

Others, including many older Americans and war veterans oppose Obama’s visit.

Republican Senator John McCain is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who ran against Obama in 2008 for the presidency.  He told VOA he simply does not see the point of the trip, “I’m not in the business of telling the President of the United States where to go.  But where, what is the purpose of it?  In some ways, you dredge up very unpleasant memories, but if the President wants to go somewhere he can.”

It is not yet clear whether the president will meet with any of the few remaining survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The president will be accompanied in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.  They will lay a wreath, and Obama will make a statement.

The White House says the leaders will highlight the horrors of war and the need to work towards a world without nuclear weapons. (VOA)

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Diplomatic Moves Do Not Work against Terrorists

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo realised it once again how the diplomatic moves did not work against terrorists

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Diplomatic, Terrorists, US
Taliban has been exposed as an incorrigible set of Islamic extremists wedded to jihad to achieve their objective and so has been the collusive role of Pakistan in sheltering a whole lot of Taliban leaders. Pixabay

The year long efforts of Zalmay Khalilzad – US representative holding talks with Taliban to hammer out some sort of ‘Peace Accord’ between the two – primarily to facilitate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan – have come apart with President Donald Trump rejecting the diplomatic exercise following a fresh terror attack by the Taliban in Kabul.

Khalizad has been recalled to the US and there is a new situation now in Afghanistan as that country’s General Election draws close. Taliban has been exposed as an incorrigible set of Islamic extremists wedded to jihad to achieve their objective and so has been the collusive role of Pakistan in sheltering a whole lot of Taliban leaders of Afghanistan on its soil- as given out now by Taliban leadership itself.

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo realised it once again how the diplomatic moves did not work against terrorists and gave up on Zalmay’s initiatives- they were even considering a continued strong military presence in Afghanistan. The US President was never too trusting of the Islamic militants wherever they were and the abandoning of the negotiation with Taliban would hopefully lead to a re-evaluation by him of Pakistan as the hub of Islamic terror groups.

Mohammad Suhall Shaheen spokesman of Taliban came on TV in Kabul to say a few things- in response to Donald Trump’s decision -that established how nothing had changed to the advantage of the US in the face of the creed of faith- based violence Taliban was committed to.

Diplomatic, Terrorists, US
The year long efforts of Zalmay Khalilzad – US representative holding talks with Taliban to hammer out some sort of ‘Peace Accord’ between the two – primarily to facilitate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Pixabay

He confirmed the widely known fact that Taliban derived sustenance from Pakistan for pursuing ‘Islamic interests’. Shaheen’s statement demonstrated how Islamic radicals can never be expected to leave the path of violence and how Zalmay might have allowed himself to be duped by the Taliban – Pakistan combine on the questions of ‘ceasefire’ and Peace Agreement- this axis was all the time working for restoration of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan relegating the democratic rule of Ashraf Ghani to the background.

It was a strategic error on the part of the US interlocutor to hold talks with Taliban totally at the back of the present democratic regime in Afghanistan. Diplomacy can never succeed if it handles only the peripherals without tackling the main problem. In the absence of a ‘ceasefire’ US troops had rightly kept up their counter-terror operations and the Taliban revealed its true colour as a violent Islamic force by carrying out a suicide attack on a US army truck at Kabul killing an American soldier.

Apparently this happened when Zalmay had already submitted the draft ‘peace pact’ to the US President without sorting out the vital issue of ‘ceasefire’. The Taliban spokesman justified the retaliatory act at Kabul showing how the Taliban was totally recalcitrant about not accepting the cessation of its violent methods as a precondition for peace accord.

These developments in Afghanistan underscore the need for the democratic world to wake up to the continuing threat of Islamic terror emanating out of the Muslim world. Zalmay’s mission is a telling example of how diplomacy runs into limitations when dealing with advocates of violence blinded by fanaticism.

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The world must call for an express denunciation of Jehad as an instrument of pursuit of political objectives in today’s world, by individual Islamic countries and by the Organisation of Islamic Conference chaired by Saudi Arabia itself. It goes to the credit of Trump’s presidency that the artificial distinction- promoted earlier by narrow political interests — between ‘ good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’ had been abolished and to the great relief of India , Pakistan was called out by the US upfront for providing safe haven to Islamic militants across the spectrum — from Al Qaeda to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

India, the US, Russia and European countries that see the menace of this new terror must work together in Afghanistan to install a democratic regime there. The world must take the ‘war on terror’ to its logical conclusion. It is becoming difficult to get any voice from the Muslim world that upholds a Democratic Republic as the obvious preference over an Islamic State.

The inherent political asymmetry between a democratic India — that houses more Muslims than their number is in Pakistan — and the Islamic state of Pakistan is a fundamental roadblock between the two countries and the situation is becoming worse with Pakistan projecting Kashmir as a Muslim issue and openly calling for jihad there to bolster its sinister game plan against India. The case of Afghanistan shows how diplomatic instruments will not succeed against those who had taken to terrorist violence to get their way on political issues.

India must firmly stick to the policy of ‘terror and talks do not go together’ and use its diplomatic prowess to convince the democratic nations- and this is not difficult- that the challenge for India in Kashmir was to protect the Kashmiris from the onslaught of hardened Pak terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba infiltrated from across the LoC who were destroying the cultural values of Kashmiriyat and browbeating the law abiding Kashmiris into submission to the oppressive Salafism.

Diplomatic, Terrorists, US
Khalizad has been recalled to the US and there is a new situation now in Afghanistan as that country’s General Election draws close. Pixabay

As the terrorists are beaten back the people in the valley would be willing to come out in freedom and markets would start opening up -overcoming the sense of fear of the militants. The world should know that during this short period of prohibitory orders in Kashmir there have been no casualties.

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The Centre has taken the direct responsibility for providing development and security to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that they were kept from- because of the Pakistan sponsored cross border terrorism. India is committed to restoring the statehood of J&K in course of time. Kashmir is all about people falling victim to terror and not a case of denial of Human Rights. Pakistan’s failed attempt to muster any strength in UNHRC vindicates India’s transparent stand on Kashmir. (IANS)