Category Archives: Atomic Veterans

Lincoln Grahlfs [Vets for Peace] on Nuclear Weapons

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WNPJ: F. Lincoln Grahlfs – member of Madison’s VFP Chapter speaks out about nuclear weapons  

“Observers on the bridge of the USS Mt. McKinley watched a huge cloud mushroom after an atomic bomb test in the Marshall Islands in July 1946. Four hours later, Lincoln Grahlfs, a U.S. Navy veteran, went into ground zero to help put out fires and tow away damaged ships. Grahlfs is a long-time member of the Madison Veterans for Peace chapter. Grahlfs says he’s seen the initial horror felt over the use of nuclear weapons on Japan fade from the public conscience as other concerns take precedence. “Part of my job is to remind them these things can wipe us all out.”


VFP Nuclear Abolition Group: Sign Up Today

350 Madison: James Janko of Veterans for Peace Speaks On Militarism & Climate 7 Feb @ 7pm

The Cost of War & Militarism for the Climate Crisis

WHAT: 350 Madison Monthly Meeting
WHEN: Monday, February 7, 2022, 7:00–8:10 pm, followed group discussions
HOW: Register in advance for the meeting here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting via computer, tablet, or smartphone. 


Join 350 Madison and Quakers on Monday, February 7, to hear James Janko of Veterans for Peace speak about militarism and the climate crisis. This is an excerpt from what Jim, a medic in Vietnam, has written about why he joined the Veterans for Peace Climate Crisis & Militarism Project:

“In Viet Nam, I saw first-hand the destruction in the Cu Chi and Tay Ninh countryside, the forests and fields razed by bombs and defoliants, the land seemingly stripped of all life for as far as the eye could see. Sometimes I felt we were fighting the earth itself…. The destruction occurring because of climate change dwarfs the almost indescribable devastation I witnessed in Viet Nam. No organization in the world emits more greenhouse gases than the Pentagon. For this reason, issues of militarism and the consequences of militarism need to be at the forefront of the climate movement.”

As part of his presentation, he will talk about the environmental impact of the F-35s, something that he talks about with all groups, but of particular relevance for us at 350 Madison. His talk is co-sponsored by the Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).”

Jim Janko Statement: WHY I’VE JOINED VFP’S EFFORTS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE

350 Madison Climate Action Team on Facebook

Why the Pentagon Is Equipping the F-35 Jets With a Thermonuclear Bomb

Why the Pentagon Is Equipping the F-35 With a Thermonuclear Bomb
Kyle Mizokami
Fri, November 5, 2021

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is nearly certified to carry a new thermonuclear weapon, the B61-12.

Although the U.S. military has a variety of ways to deliver nuclear weapons, there are only a handful of ways to use them on the battlefield.

Using a crewed delivery system ensures there is a person in the loop for the entire flight who can execute last minute instructions.

The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is nearly ready to take on a new mission, that of a nuclear-capable bomber.

The Air Force has completed the flight testing to ensure the F-35A can safely—and reliably—drop the B61-12 thermonuclear bomb. The combination of crewed aircraft and nuclear bomb will ensure the U.S. government would have options in the event of a crisis, including one where a nuclear bomb could be literally recalled at the last second.

Nuclear weapons are divided into two categories: strategic and tactical. The two main differences between the two types are explosive yield and range. Tactical nuclear weapons typically range from about .3 kilotons (300 tons of TNT) to about 50 kilotons (50,000 tons of TNT).

Strategic nuclear weapons are in an entirely different class altogether. The yield of strategic nukes can range from 100 kilotons to well into the megaton range, with the U.S. military’s largest weapon having a yield of 1.3 megatons (the equivalent of 1,200,000 tons of TNT). Tactical nuclear weapons are generally shorter range weapons with ranges of 500 miles or less, while strategic nuclear weapons are designed to cross entire oceans to strike targets on the other side of the planet.

Today, tactical nuclear weapons are delivered by aircraft and submarine-launched missiles. The most numerous U.S. tactical nuclear weapon is the B61 series of bombs, a series that has been in continuous use since the 1960s. In the 2010s, the U.S. military developed a new B61 bomb, the B61-12. The B61-12 is not only more accurate, it’s designed to penetrate earth and concrete to strike underground facilities—think North Korean underground leadership bunkers, Iranian nuclear facilities, or similar targets.

This penetrating capability allows it to be more effective at nuking underground threats with less explosive power. The B61-12, rebuilt from older B61 series bombs, has a smaller yield and in fact has a “dial-a-yield” mechanism that allows for the yield to vary from .3 kiltons, 1.5 kilotons, 10 kilotons, and 50 kilotons.

One of the most important principles behind nuclear weapons is the idea of maintaining positive control over them at all times, as much as possible, up until the moment of detonation. This is not only a safety feature, it allows decision-makers increased flexibility under incredibly stressful circumstances.

A crewed aircraft makes an ideal platform for maximum control. With a crewed delivery system, the President of the United States could order a F-35A armed with the B61-12 to strike a target, then change his or her mind if the circumstances change. If the enemy suddenly calls for peace, the strike can be called off. This “recallability” is replicated at the strategic level with bombers like the B-2 Spirit, and the F-35A/B61-12 combo offers war planners the same capability at the tactical nuclear level. The F-35A’s stealth gives it a greater chance, unlike legacy aircraft like the F-15E Strike Eagle, of successfully penetrating enemy defenses and reaching the target.

What kind of targets could a F-35A drop a nuclear bomb on? Thanks to America’s overwhelming conventional firepower, it’s difficult to see the U.S. use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear targets. One target could be the location of a Russian missile command post, nuking it to sever the chain of command between Moscow and its own tactical nuclear forces. The actual missiles could be another target. If tactical nuclear weapons are already in use, a F-35A could dial the yield down to 1.5 kilotons and strike conventional targets, such as headquarters units, supply depots, and marshalling points for conventional forces.

The F-35A/B61-12 combo will be a tactical nuclear system primarily used against military targets. Still, “a nuke is a nuke,” and the use of tactical nuclear weapons would shift any conflict into a terrifying new phase. The use of tactical nukes could very well kick off a chain of escalation that grows to include the use of strategic nuclear weapons—with civilians and human civilization itself in the crosshairs.”

 

Take Action 

Nuclear Capability by Tom Boswell

Working Group: Veterans for Peace Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Send your e-mail address to vfp.nonukes@gmail.com

 

Lanterns for Peace 2020

Join us from your home for this family friendly event to commemorate the lives lost in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings 75 years ago and make sure that such nuclear attacks never again take place. We remember the past, so that we can envision and work for a peaceful, just and nuclear-free future. Due to COVID-19, there will be no public gathering for Lanterns for Peace but we will still be holding a lantern launch streamed online.

Lanterns for Peace 2020 Youtube Video

Lanterns for Peace: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Wisconsin

 

 

The use of nuclear weapons is a war crime.  The use of nuclear weapons violates multiple parts of the Laws of Armed Conflict.


Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum—America’s shrine to the technological leading edge of the military industrial complex—hear a familiar narrative from the tour guides in front of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atomic weapon on the civilians of Hiroshima 70 years ago today.

The bomb was dropped, they say, to save the lives of thousands of Americans who would otherwise have been killed in an invasion of the Home Islands. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely destroyed and the lives of between 135,000 and 300,000 mostly Japanese women, children, and old people were sacrificed—most young men were away at war—as the result of a terrible but morally just calculus aimed at bringing an intractable war to a close.

This story may assuage the conscience of the air museum visitor, but it is largely myth, fashioned to buttress our memories of the “good” war. By and large, the top generals and admirals who managed World War II knew better. Consider the small and little-noticed plaque hanging in the National Museum of the US Navy that accompanies the replica of “Little Boy,” the weapon used against the people of Hiroshima: In its one paragraph, it makes clear that Truman’s “political advisors” overruled the military in determining the way in which the end of the war in Japan would be approached. Furthermore, contrary to the popular myths around the atomic bomb’s nearly magical power to end the war, the Navy Museum’s explication of the history clearly indicates that “the vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military.”
Indeed, it would have been surprising if they had: Despite the terrible concentrated power of atomic weapons, the firebombing of Tokyo earlier in 1945 and the destruction of numerous Japanese cities by conventional bombing had killed far more people. The Navy Museum acknowledges what many historians have long known: It was only with the entry of the Soviet Union’s Red Army into the war two days after the bombing of Hiroshima that the Japanese moved to finally surrender. Japan was used to losing cities to American bombing; what their military leaders feared more was the destruction of the country’s military by an all-out Red Army assault.

The top American military leaders who fought World War II, much to the surprise of many who are not aware of the record, were quite clear that the atomic bomb was unnecessary, that Japan was on the verge of surrender, and—for many—that the destruction of large numbers of civilians was immoral. Most were also conservatives, not liberals. Adm. William Leahy, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, wrote in his 1950 memoir I Was There that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.… in being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

The commanding general of the US Army Air Forces, Henry “Hap” Arnold, gave a strong indication of his views in a public statement only eleven days after Hiroshima was attacked. Asked on August 17 by a New York Times reporter whether the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender, Arnold said that “the Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that “the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan…” Adm. William “Bull” Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that “the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…. It was a mistake to ever drop it…. [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it…”

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, for his part, stated in his memoirs that when notified by Secretary of War Henry Stimson of the decision to use atomic weapons, he “voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives…” He later publicly declared “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” Even the famous “hawk” Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that “the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
The record is quite clear: From the perspective of an overwhelming number of key contemporary leaders in the US military, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not a matter of military necessity. American intelligence had broken the Japanese codes, knew the Japanese government was trying to negotiate surrender through Moscow, and had long advised that the expected early August Russian declaration of war, along with assurances that Japan’s Emperor would be allowed to stay as a powerless figurehead, would bring surrender long before the first step in a November US invasion, three months later, could begin.

Historians still do not have a definitive answer to why the bomb was used. Given that US intelligence advised the war would likely end if Japan were given assurances regarding the Emperor—and given that the US military knew it would have to keep the Emperor to help control occupied Japan in any event—something else clearly seems to have been important. We do know that some of President Truman’s closest advisers viewed the bomb as a diplomatic and not simply a military weapon. Secretary of State James Byrnes, for instance, believed that the use of atomic weapons would help the United States more strongly dominate the postwar era. According to Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard, who met with him on May 28, 1945, “[Byrnes] was concerned about Russia’s postwar behavior…[and thought] that Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia.

”History is rarely simple, and confronting it head-on, with critical honesty, is often quite painful. Myths, no matter how oversimplified or blatantly false, are too often far more likely to be embraced than inconvenient and unsettling truths.

Even now, for instance, we see how difficult it is for the average US citizen to come to terms with the brutal record of slavery and white supremacy that underlies so much of our national story. Remaking our popular understanding of the “good” war’s climactic act is likely to be just as hard. But if the Confederate battle flag can come down in South Carolina, we can perhaps one day begin to ask ourselves more challenging questions about the nature of America’s global power, and what is true and what is false about why we really dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.”