When you consider that today, 70 years on from the nuclear attack on Japanese city Hiroshima, there are enough nuclear weapons able to totally devastate the world - according to a documentary broadcast on UK TV last night about the bombing of Hiroshima by the USAF - it is a horrifying thought. The programme interviewed both the victims of the bomb which exploded miles above the city and those who flew the 'Enola Gay' that actually dropped the bomb and it was an eye opener listening to the testimonies of those involved on that day.
When the American flight crew aboard the B29 bomber made their approach to Japan and the bomb aimer located the bridge through his scope that was shaped like a 'T' that was to be the aiming point of the bomb, the crew had no idea what they were about to release on the hapless Japanese people below going about their daily lives..
As soon as the bomb exploded, it released the energy of a weapon that the flight crew realised was a weapon of such ferocity it would usher in a new world of destructive weapons and warfare might never be the same again. As the B29 flew away, they observed a mushroom cloud rising higher and higher into the atmosphere. To those on the ground it was hell on earth, Japanese buildings were largely made of paper and wood and were instantly destroyed as were the people who came into contact with the bomb. A whole area of the city had been devastated with the casualty rate reckoned to have been about 80,000.
Japan didn't surrender immediately, and a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Subsequently, with the Japanese government facing a weapon they had no answer to, they had no choice but to surrender and from 1945 until 1952 the Japanese islands were occupied by US forces and the Japan that emerged from occupation was a country made in the image of America.
So the question is posed: what, if anything, have we learned from the horrific first use of a nuclear weapon? The fact that peace was ensured by the very existence of these weapons between the Soviet Union and the USA despite the cold war says something that both sides knew to release such a weapon would be the end of the world as we knew it.