News Release

“Orwellian” Visit to Hiroshima as Obama Modernizes U.S. Nuclear Weapons


hiroshima_1The Japan Times reports: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday said that U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima during the Group of Seven summit later this month. The visit, which will be the first to the A-bombed city by a sitting U.S. president, is scheduled to take place on May 27, the final day of the two-day summit, Abe said, adding that he will accompany the leader.” For a calendar of upcoming events, see:

Director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England, Gerson’s books include With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination and Empire and the Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World.

He recently wrote the piece “Orwell (and the President) Come to Hiroshima.” Gerson said today: “The symbolism of Obama’s visit has the potential to focus world attention on the increasingly urgent need to abolish the world’s nuclear arsenals, which could end all life as we know it. In fact the United States is obligated by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to engage in good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. However, the best way to divert attention from the world’s 7,000 nuclear weapons and $1 trillion in spending for a new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems would be a distracting, symbolic and Orwellian presidential visit to Hiroshima.”

“It is important to change the current ‘first use’ doctrine of most nuclear armed states. For years, the Soviet Union said it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons while the U.S. government refused to make such a commitment. Unfortunately, Russia has since adopted the U.S. stance. Now, China is the only nuclear armed state with a no first use stance. That policy should be adopted by the others, or else it’s only a matter of time before China adopts the more belligerent stance.

“There have been more than 30 times since the Nagasaki A-bombing that the U.S. government has prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war during wars and international crises, most recently with the simulated nuclear attacks against North Korea and the nuclear-capable bomber flights in response to China’s building new military bases in contested waters of the South China Sea.

“It is also important to address the forces that are fueling the 21st century arms race: the U.S. weapons labs and profiteering military-industrial complex companies; NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders and massive U.S. military superiority in so-called conventional and high-tech weapons and the militarization of space; and the U.S. military pivot to Asia designed to manage China’s rise.”

Gerson is a co-convener of Peace & Planet, an international network that he notes “has urged people to contact the White House urging that President Obama go to Hiroshima, but not to go empty-handed. Peace and Planet has urged President Obama to meet with representatives of Nihon Hidankyo, the Japan Confederation of A- & H- Bomb Sufferers Organizations, and to use his visit to Hiroshima to call for the beginning of negotiations to eliminate the world’s nuclear arsenals and to end the $1 trillion program to create a new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.”

Note to producers: You may want to use the song “Enola Gay,” by OMD as a musical lead-in; this version by Elisa Salasin includes audio clips of President Harry Truman claiming that Hiroshima was “a military base,” and J. Robert Oppenheimer saying: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” See on YouTube.