August 29, 2018

Coalition for Peace Action Responds To Letter on Use of Atomic Weapons

To the Editor:

In his August 22 letter [“Personal Experiences Lead to Different View of Weapons Used Against Japan”], Mr. Bill McJames of Hillsborough takes issue with the Coalition for Peace Action’s annual gathering to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Like many, he believes that the two atom bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 were the primary cause of the Japanese surrender and thus prevented massive casualties on both sides from an otherwise inevitable U.S. land invasion of Japan.

It is worth mentioning that modern historians vigorously dispute this interpretation of the causes for the Japanese surrender. However, the focus of the Annual Commemoration held by the Coalition for Peace Action is not to look backwards in time and decide if the bombings were right or wrong. True, the destruction caused by those two relatively small atomic bombs was horrific. But the detonation of just a fraction of the thousands of today’s immensely more powerful nuclear weapons could essentially end life on our planet. That is the awful future we must strive to prevent.

And that is why we favor diplomacy, not war, with Iran and North Korea. Thanks to diplomacy, Iran has no nuclear weapons to date; and if President Trump hadn’t withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear Agreement, Iran could not produce such weapons for at least a decade. North Korea does have dozens of nuclear weapons. But the U.S. has over 7,000 of them, far more than anyone can argue might be useful for deterrence.

Agreements like the one with Iran have decreased the danger of nuclear weapons. The U.S. should move back into compliance with the Iran Agreement and should pursue a verifiable agreement with North Korea as well. And we should also enter into negotiations that reduce the threat of nuclear weapons for everyone.

In remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki each year, the Coalition for Peace Action calls for the global abolition of nuclear weapons. This is not an impossible dream. After all, our nuclear reduction agreements with the former USSR have reduced nuclear warheads by about 80 percent to date. And a global agreement could be achieved by all nations complying with the UN’s Nuclear Ban Treaty, which was overwhelmingly approved last summer. Instead of rationalizing the past, we must move forward into a nuclear-free future.


Assistant Director, Coalition for Peace Action