BY MEHMET AKIF USLU
NOV 21, 2022 – DAILY SABAH
Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles travel past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing, China, Sept. 3, 2015. (Reuters Photo)
In the spirit of the law, there is an aim of protecting weak states and individuals from the arbitrary and tyrannical practices of powerful states and individuals, but we see that the law as in the case of World War II could not say ‘stop’ to the eradication of a country’s past and future
Do you hear the distant sounds of nuclear war? The figures clearly show the damage and loss of life in the past era caused by nuclear weapons, which are generally under the title of weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear bomb (atomic bomb) invented by American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team was first used in World War II by the United States against Japan to put an end to the war.
So while the U.S. killed officially 250,000 people – unofficially, close to half a million people – which political or legal institution did Harry Truman, the 33rd U.S. president, get permission from?
The law, in the simplest definition, is a set of rules regulating the relationship between people and states. In the spirit of the law, there is an aim of protecting weak states and individuals from the arbitrary and tyrannical practices of powerful states and individuals. However, we see that the law as in the case of World War II could not prevent the arbitrary and tyrannical practices of the powerful or say “stop” to the eradication of a country’s past and future.
The U.S., which signed the United Nations Charter on June 26, 1945, bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and more than a month later Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.
Let’s get to the response to our question; neither U.S. President Truman nor any U.S. official institution received permission from any global political or legal institution to carry out these relentless attacks. The U.S, which did not hesitate to even kill its own troops who were taken prisoner with these attacks, only told the public that it was trying to conclude the war with the least amount of loss by using the right to self-defense as justification.
The dead institution
Regarding Article 11.1 of the U.N. Charter, the U.S., which was present in the General Assembly pursuant to the article, should have made recommendations to the Security Council and members of the organization in order to carry out the necessary cooperation for the provision of international peace and security. However, the fact that the U.S. carried out these attacks before its signature even dried shows that the U.N. has been a “dead institution” of sorts since its establishment.
Although it was accepted that the use of nuclear weapons was against humanitarian law with the 1996 advisory decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the fact that it did not declare whether nuclear weapons could be used in an extraordinary self-defense situation prevented the use of nuclear weapons being deemed fully unlawful.
Article 51 of the U.N. Charter regulates that when a member state is subjected to an armed attack, it has the right of necessary defense until the Security Council takes security precautions.
The important point here is that it should not be legally possible to raise the issue of self-defense between two countries that are thousands of miles away from each other, however, even if it is accepted in terms of a global war, the right of self-defense must be used in moderation. To use such a weapon against a country that does not have nuclear weapons with the intention to cause the loss of civilian life and property across an area of miles can not be accepted as self-defense in any way.
As a matter of fact, all nuclear arms in the group of weapons of mass destruction not only target the military power of the enemy country but its civilian population, too. It is impossible to protect the civilian population from the wrath of any nuclear weapon.
The year 2022
Undoubtedly, Japan’s biggest shortcoming in World War II was that it did not have a nuclear weapon to easily lean back on and use as a threat. No one expected that the U.S. would cause such a massacre and force Japan to surrender, however, the unexpected happened and Japan surrendered with a historic loss.
Now we know who used the first nuclear bomb, but was it the first and last?
The nuclear weapon, which was used for the first time in the international arena, showed the whole world how to end a war that lasted for years in a matter of seconds, and after this date, a serious nuclear armament race started. Currently, the U.S. and Russia possess more than 90% of all nuclear power in the world, and we are sure that the presence of this nuclear leverage is the most important reason for the countries not coming head-to-head without pawn states. Russia is not nuclear-free like Japan, nor is there a Japan that does not have nuclear power against the U.S.
For this reason, countries that do not have nuclear power such as Türkiye should be aware of this issue and desire to obtain nuclear power; not because they are eager for war, but so as not to be Japan in World War II.
Although the law is as defined above, this definition has no value in the field. The ideals and desires of countries that have power and authority prevail against the law. If today, the world’s most oppressive state, like the U.S., cannot make a direct military move against its biggest enemies, Russia and China, the most crucial reason for this is the nuclear power in the hands of its opponents. Certainly, the U.S. would not want its own people to experience the ill fate and unfortunate history it brought to the Japanese people in 1945.
There are regulations made to prevent the increase and spread of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty dated 1970 and the Treaty On The Prohibition Of Nuclear Weapons dated 2017 are just some of them. However, the table is clear; these agreements count for nothing. As a matter of fact, some states officially increase the volume of nuclear weapons while others states do so secretly.
In a world order where the law is defeated by power and ideals, the solution may be simple. Either ensure that all countries and organizations eliminate the nuclear power in their hands by creating a global regulation with deterrent rules and sanctions, or each country should be equipped with nuclear power so as not to fall victim to the threat of nuclear weapons.
*Attorney at Law at the Istanbul Bar Association