Power of Little Boy and Fat Man should not be forgotten
No August should pass from the calendar without a fond remembrance of two makers of the modern, populous and varied world we now enjoy.
Without their participation and sacrifice, we cannot say exactly how the world would look, but we can say it would be a far more dismal, frightened and terrified place than we have today.
That, admittedly, is saying something, but it’s also true that things can always be worse.
To the fact that they are not, we owe a debt of gratitude to a set of fraternal twins, New Mexicans by birth with a largely East Coast heritage and a smattering of DNA that includes strands from western Colorado.
Not as well known as they should be, the twins have had a profound effect on the world, one frequently misstated.
Their progeny is a subject of constant, even frenetic, discussion, but rarely are either of them mentioned.
These two shapers of the modern era don’t even share a last name.
They are known only as Little Boy and Fat Man.
Little Boy was the first to make his presence known, on Aug. 6, 1945, and when people failed to grasp his significance. Fat Man dropped in.
For those whose grasp of World War II is limited to the keen understanding of the horrific atrocities visited on Japanese airmen by the imperialist U.S. Navy while the Japanese were otherwise peacefully bombing Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the terms “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” might require a bit of explanation.
Little Boy was the nickname given to the first atomic bomb, which was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in an effort to cripple the Japanese war effort and get the attention of the emperor and alert him to the danger of defying the Potsdam declaration demanding the Japanese surrender and end World War II.
Cripple the Japanese war effort Little Boy did, but the empire otherwise turned a deaf ear to surrender demands, so President Truman ordered the second use of an A-bomb, this time by dropping Fat Man on Nagasaki on Aug. 9.
That did it. Japan called off hostilities on Aug. 15 and on Sept. 2 formally surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri.
Then the whining and breast-beating began. Not just in Japan, which seized the mantle of victimhood, but elsewhere.
Suddenly, the fate of the earth supposedly hung in the nuclear balance. The dawn of the age of nuclear warfare was predicted to bring about the end of humanity.
A good measure of the condition of humanity is to look at the number of humans on the planet.
As it happens, a strange thing has happened on the way to Armageddon.
Contrary to the prophets of boom and gloom, the rate of growth in the human population sharply increased even as the United States and then more countries obtained the bomb.
World population, which had been on a slight increase since 1800, bumped up slightly after the end of World War I and continued its rise through the end of World War II, according to United Nations’ estimates.
What had been a slight increase after World War II mushroomed, you should pardon the expression, into a near-vertical increase, as these things are charted on graphs.
That might seem completely normal, but normal isn’t supposed to have been the case. We are supposed to have immolated ourselves by now.
The reasons we’re still around are varied, but two of them have to be Little Boy and Fat Man , whose demonstrated power seems to have curbed the desire for constant direct, rapidly escalating conflict that sapped the vitality of humanity and its ability to multiply.
The world of Fat Man and Little Boy, moreover, is one that has seen rapid scientific, cultural, philanthropic and economic growth. It’s hardly bloodless, but it’s nothing like what preceded it, even less what was predicted.
All of this is not to say that the mad mullahs of Iran need the bomb. Better they should view matters from the perspective of Ground Zero in real time. It’s not like we can’t use the occasional reminder that A-bombs are dangerous tools, but tools nonetheless.
In the meantime, though, lift a glass to Little Boy and Fat Man by Sept. 2. If not for them, the world would be a far worse place.