Nukes in the Twenty-First Century

Mike Magut ‘20
EE Staff Writer

The day is August 6, 1945. The citizens of Japan are going through the motions of an average day. Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary is happening. It is, by all means, normal. Suddenly, an American bomber jet is seen just over the horizon. The aircraft slows as it reaches its destination, Hiroshima. A great ball of light forms and is overtaken by a massive cloud in the shape of a mushroom. The earth shakes as an entire city is seemingly vaporized. The world has just witnessed the first use of a nuclear weapon.

The introduction of nuclear technology into the military in the mid-1940s was revolutionary. The concept was completely incomprehensible to most people at the time. Whether they were for or against the use of these so-called “nukes,” everyone could agree that the potential damage caused by a nuclear bomb was simply catastrophic.

After President Truman’s decision to deploy atomic bombs in Japan, there was significant backlash. Critics antagonized the president as well as the entire U.S. nuclear program. However, the man was nothing if not proud of the choice he made.
In August 1963, 18 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, Harry S. Truman wrote a letter in response to a Chicago-based newspaper which expressed a positive view of his decisions as president.

“I knew what I was doing when I stopped the war that would have killed a half a million youngsters on both sides if those bombs had not been dropped. I have no regrets and, under the same circumstances, I would do it again,” Truman wrote.
It has been over 70 years since the United States military used nuclear bombs to end the Pacific Theater of World War II. In those 70 years, the threat of a nuclear attack being carried out by an opposing nation has been the source of dread in the minds of many all over the world.

Immediately following World War II came the Cold War. This was a series of strategic moves made by the U.S.S.R. and the United States to undermine each other in order to achieve supreme dominance in the world. The war lasted over 45 years. During that time, there were countless attempts by each nation to strengthen their respective nuclear programs. This period is known for the extreme hostility and almost childish trickery employed by either side. All the while, the possibility of nuclear war loomed over everyone.

“I think the fate not only of our own civilization, but I think the fate of world and the future of the human race, is involved in preventing a nuclear war,” John F. Kennedy said in his 1960 presidential debate with Richard Nixon.

Though the Cold War ended in 1991, the threat of nuclear warfare is still alive, well into the twenty-first century. Currently, the main confrontation is between the state of North Korea under Kim Jong-un’s vicious regime and the United States under President Trump.

Up to this point, there has been a troubling exchange of insults and unofficial declarations of war between the two leaders.
“(The United States will unleash) fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” Trump said in August 2017.

Though all of this is little more than rhetoric, words do carry significance. The possibility of nuclear war is very real at this time. The events to come in the near future will determine the fate of millions of people.
Maybe true peace can be achieved between leaders and the hostilities are pushed aside. Or maybe the people of this world will be getting used to a sight very similar to that on August 6, 1945.

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