Re-thinking ‘the bomb’

A panel discussion on the effects of atomic weaponry was held on Thursday in Penfield LIbrary in conjunction with the "Hiroshima Speaks" poster exhibit.

The discussion, organized by Civic Engagement Coordinator Nola Heidlebaugh, had approximately 40 people in attendance.

"This exposed me to what’s going on worldwide, and it made my interest grow on nuclear topics," Erica Marcial, a sophomore public relations major, said.

The panelists included Stephen Rosow, a political science professor; Alok Kumar, a physics professor; John Kares Smith, a communications professor; Greg Parsons, a history professor; and Kosuke Kisaka, a student from the Japanese province of Hiroshima studying abroad at Oswego State.

Members of the panel addressed the necessity of nuclear weapons in today’s society, the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the politics involved in dropping the bomb, and the long-term effects the bombing had on Hiroshima and the rest of the world.

"We wanted to link the past with the future," Heidlebaugh said.

Smith, the first panelist to speak, gave the history on how the "Hiroshima Speaks" exhibit came to the university.

"August 1945 in Hiroshima [was] not as much an achievement as it was a tragedy," Smith said.

Kumar explained the history of the testing done on the bomb before it was dropped. The first test done on the bomb was in 1942 at the University of Chicago, where scientists who observed it died of cancer, Alok said. He then discussed the developments made in nuclear weaponry since then.

"[The] bomb in Hiroshima is like a firecracker compared to we have today," Alok said.

Kisaka then offered his perspective on the bombing. As a child, he heard stories of his grandmother’s experiences, a nurse who helped victims of the bomb, and would go into school every year on August 6, the day the bomb was dropped, for a moment of silence. Kisaka advocated for peace and an end to the use of nuclear weapons.

"We know the tragedy, suffered through the tragedy, and learned to never repeat it," Kisaka said. "For the same tragedies to never happen again, I believe we need to speak about it."

Parsons then explained the rationale behind dropping the bomb. The biggest reason, he said, was the belief that many American lives would be lost if the U.S. was to invade Japan. Another argument that has been made is that the bomb was dropped to impress the Soviet Union.

"This remains and will remain one of the most controversial decisions of World War II and the 20th century," he said.

Rosow, the last panelist to speak, used to study nuclear strategy.

"Nuclear weapons ushered in a new age of violence," he said.

He went on to explain that nuclear weapons are useless in conventional war because there is no defense against them. The development and use of nuclear weapons, he argued, is more political than scientific.

"The problem of nuclear weapons is primarily political," Rosow said. "The solution to a potential new nuclear holocaust is political."