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100 years on: Darkened lustre of victory

by
14 August 2015

August 17, 1945.

THE Second World War has ended in a manner which only the chosen few who knew about the atomic bomb could have envisaged a fortnight ago. Germany’s capitulation was not made until almost the entire country had been over-run. Japan surrendered before a single Allied soldier, except as a prisoner, had set foot on her homeland. There are other striking contrasts. While Germany has no central government, the Emperor of Japan retains his monstrous prerogatives: the “son of heaven” commands the instantaneous obedience of his subjects. Germany is now an economic slum, but two atomic bombs were not enough to destroy all Japan’s communications and economic life. General MacArthur, who is presumably to be the Supreme Allied Commander in Japan, will find it hard to prevent the throne from becoming the rallying point of impenitent militarists who may be looking thirty or fifty years ahead. . .

For the moment Britain’s policy is identified with America’s. The atomic bomb has given these two Powers an unexpected ascendancy over Russia, who is not to share her secret. President Truman has said that this secret is not to be revealed until the means of controlling the bomb have been found. His words were not reassuring. There must be already espionage and research on a grand scale to discover the secret, and when it has been discovered the world will be at the mercy of any fool who may choose to use it. The weapon is a boomerang which may one day do the English-speaking people grave harm. In the early months of the war America addressed an inquiry to all combatants about the policy of bombing non-military targets. War weakens the moral fibre, and the shadows of Hiroshima and Nagasaki darken the lustre of final victory.

 

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