In essence, the Hiroshima site visit had little to do directly with the South China Sea, an Asia Pivot, or multilateral deals with China. As Press Secretary Josh Earnest said of the trip a week earlier, it was going to be about “sending a signal of his ambition for realizing the goal of a planet without nuclear weapons.” So, while Asian leaders were watching, Obama’s message was far more global. As the only nation on Earth to have utilized nuclear weapons in war, America’s leader was willing to stand in the only nation on Earth to have been on the receiving end of a nuclear weapon and declare that they should never again be used for conflict.
In 1945 the world was a dangerous place, and it remains so today. World War II is still noted as the most catastrophic conflict in history — more than 60 million people died, which accounted for 3% of the world’s entire population in 1940. But in the seventy years since atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese home islands, it has become apparent that ridding the earth of nuclear weapons would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Our own weapons have served as a deterrent to prevent hostile usage on Americans by a foreign power — their value was proven during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It isn’t without it’s problems, but overall American nuclear deterrence remains strong today, and it will continue to be used as a pillar of American security strategy into the 21st Century.
August 6th is the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima with the Atomic Bomb that would lead to the surrender of Japan in World War II. As I consider the historical implications of the bombing, I am drawn to my discussion with my Kodokan Judo instructor, Dr. Sachio Ashida, who fought for the Japanese during World War II and ponder the implications of today’s war against the Islamic State.