This Day in History: 1945: Hiroshima Nuclear Strike

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the United States’ attack on Hiroshima with the nuclear weapon dubbed “Little Boy.” This, along with the strike of “Fat Man” over Nagasaki three days later are the only two uses of Nuclear weapons to date, and catalyzed the end of the War in the Pacific.

The Emperor Showa (a wartime photograph).

The Emperor Showa

Following the signing of the Potsdam Declaration by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Republic of China which called for the surrender of the Empire of Japan on 26 July 1945, the Empire refused the order by the allies and vowed to continue forward.

A few days later, the first bomb was dropped — on Hiroshima. The equivalent of 50,000 pounds of TNT blasted above the city, killing over 100,000. Three days later, with the Japanese licking their figurative wounds from the first strike, the United States Air Force dropped the next weapon on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 50,000.

With further strikes of the weapons of mass destruction possible, including the fact that the Imperial Japanese Navy now devastated to such a point it was unable to function effectively as well as plans to initiate Operation: DOWNFALL, an allied-planned and manned invasion of Japan, AND now a declaration of war by the Soviet Union, the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito (now Showa) ordered the immediate surrender of the Imperial Japanese Forces and unconditionally accepted the terms of the allied forces in the Potsdam Declaration, bringing the War in the Pacific and World War II to an end.

Signing the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Emperor was the Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu si...

Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945.

Afterward, the United States Military Occupation of Japan, which took effect immediately, lasted until 1952. The level of military devastation to the Japanese islands weren’t completely apparent until after the fighting stopped. Devastated infrastructure made caring for the Japanese nation very difficult, but was rebuilt by the efforts of the Occupation and the strong will of their new Japanese friends.

Today, the day is celebrated in Japan as a remembrance to those who died at Hiroshima, and to the valiant efforts to everyone, not just Japanese, who gave their lives to the battles that brought an end to World War on the planet.

In an age where just a few small weapons can destroy the world dozens of times over, those weapons brought about calls for global peace and calls for cooperation never before seen, so their usage would never again be necessary.

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Guantanamo Bay Prison — The 21st Century Manzanar?

ImageThe more and more I give thought to it — the more and more I wonder if history will look back on our generation, and judge the indefinite imprisonment of those at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as our version of Manzanar.

Japanese Issei, Nisei or Sansei were often the most targeted group for forced relocation during World War II — relocated almost strictly due to their lineage, family ties, or just because they even looked Japanese.  Other groups were forced to relocate as well, but Japanese Issei and Nisei were the groups targeted the most.

Thankfully, none of the prisoners at Guantanamo are children or family members; but many similarities exist: they are not afforded a civil trial, as the prisoners have been designated as “unlawful military combatants,” in that while they are not a member of a recognized, uniformed military service, they either conduct, have been trained to conduct, or otherwise engage in or support militarized warfare.  However, interestingly enough, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Human Rights Watch maintain that the United States has not held the Article 5 tribunals required by the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that, “Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.”

I do give the United States Intelligence Community credit when I say that they are privy to information about these people that we, as civilians, do not know.  It’s quite possible these people are as dangerous as the US Government says they are — why otherwise hold them?  But…  why is there a[n apparent] lack of jurisprudence for these people?  Do those who fall between the cracks of the law just sit there, and wait for a trial that may never come?  Will history look back on Guantanamo Bay Detention as a necessary evil, and something that kept the United States safe?

Or…

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…will it be a stain of blood on our hands that even time can’t wash away?

UN on Belle Isle? Detroit had a say in this…

English: The James Scott Memorial Fountain in ...

English: The James Scott Memorial Fountain in Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in the 40s, even during the hottest parts of World War II, the world was trying to decide exactly where to place the headquarters of the up-and-coming United Nations, a place where the nations of the world could come together in a single place and discuss everything from commerce to diplomacy.  In the midst of this, Detroit jumped right in and said “We have the PERFECT place for it!”

The place: Belle Isle.  A large island connected to Detroit, now a preserve and park, then, almost became the world’s center of diplomacy.  It’s location almost dead-on the US-Canadian border made it an ideal place in the eyes of local leaders — on both sides of the border.

Indeed, almost over night, the City of Detroit found itself in hot competition with other cities across the nation, including Boston and Chicago.

When it was decided that the Midwest was far too against the idea of Globalization than more costal areas, that, and a grant from John Rockefeller in the amount of $8.5 Million USD essentially made the deal for the City of New York.

 

Socialized Capital — The next evolution of Capitalism?

One of my personal heroes is Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and former managing director of Grameen Bank.  A social entrepreneur who inadvertently birthed the idea of Microcredit.  From it spawned a new era in financing, while modeled for the poor — Grameen Bank’s ideas and basics spawned everything from Kiva, which I’m a member of, to Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  Microcredit/Microfinance/Crowdfinance has gone from an uncertainty, to a now accepted business practice, with everything from money for the poor, to basement start-ups and high-tech entrepreneurs who are just looking for a fresh infusion of capital to get them going, when they may not qualify for a traditional loan or grant otherwise.  This socially-geared form of finance has proven highly successful, both in “grant” style, and in loan-repayment style — Kiva often bills itself as having higher repayment rates than most banks in the United States do.

The world’s economy has gone through three major cycles in it’s history:

The Agrarian economy, which was from the birth of civilization, till about the industrial revolution, which consisted of land owners as the upper class, and the land workers as the lower class.  Land was the king here.  Agriculture and husbandry was the big thing here.

The Capitalist economy, which took off during the industrial revolution, and continued through to World War II.  Here, MONEY was the king.  You had Capitalists as the upper class, and the Blue collar people as the middle and lower class.  Here, it was about paper money, and [generally] unskilled labor.

The Post-Capitalist economy began after World War II, was a drastic shift from where simply having money didn’t mean you made money.  You now needed to have knowledge.  Knowledge-based workers are the upper class, more often than not, and service-based workers are the middle and lower classes, more often than not.  Those who succeed MAY have a healthy dose of capital, but it’s usually more often that their knowledge in an industry or a specific sub-set of skills makes them successful in their given area.

Is this the future of capitalism in the world?  Will the 21st century be the birth of the next evolution in our world’s economy?

Some Links:

Professor Muhammad Yunus talks about the birth of his idea of Microcredit
 Some background on Amartya Sen, another economist I admire