by Noam Chomsky and Tom Engelhardt, October 16, 2012
Here was the oddest thing: within weeks of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on a second Japanese city on August 9, 1945, and so obliterating it, Americans were already immersed in new scenarios of nuclear destruction. As the late Paul Boyer so vividly described in his classic book?By the Bomb?s Early Light, it took no time at all ? at a moment when no other nation had such potentially Earth-destroying weaponry ? for an America triumphant to begin to imagine itself in ruins, and for its newspapers and magazines to start drawing concentric circles of death and destruction around American cities while consigning their future country to the stewardship of the roaches.
As early as October 1945, the military editor of?Reader?s Digest?would declare the first atomic bomb ?dated,? and write, ?It is now in the power of the atom-smashers to blot out New York with a single bomb? Such a bomb can burn up in an instant every creature, can fuse the steel buildings and smash the concrete into flying shrapnel.? By 1947, in ?Mist of Death Over New York,? that staid magazine would have a description in ?realistic detail? of an atomic explosion in New York harbor. (?Within six weeks, 389,101 New Yorkers were dead or missing.?) In November 1945, in the ?36-Hour War,??Life?would feature a mushroom cloud rising over Washington in a surprise attack slaughtering 10 million Americans. That December, the?Wall Street Journalwould run a feature article imagining ?an attack by planes and missiles that could wipe out 98% of the population of the United States.? Continue reading “?The Most Dangerous Moment,? 50 Years Later”