Untold History / Fukushima

Hosted byGeorge Knapp

Untold History / Fukushima

About the show

In the first half, George Knapp was joined by film director, Oliver Stone, and professor of history, Peter Kuznick, for a discussion on how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions, the dangers of American exceptionalism, NSA spying, and the JFK assassination. "There's a tremendous arrogance to our ethnocentricity," Stone observed regarding America's perspective that "we have the right to do as we wish" within the global community. Kuznick noted that the idea of American exceptionalism dates back to the colonial era, but it has evolved, in modern times, to be used as bipartisan justification for less-than-honorable goals such as military intervention driven by economic desires.

Reflecting on the NSA spying scandal which has erupted in recent months, Stone argued that George W. Bush's unchallenged circumventing of the FISA courts led to the exacerbating of government spying under the Obama administration. While the current level of surveillance may seem benign to the average law-abiding citizen, Kuznick suggested that it could be dangerous for innocent civilians in the future as the spying technology gets more sophisticated and, thus, more easily abused by potentially nefarious leaders. Echoing these thoughts, Stone warned that "this is going to go into the future," and could be exacerbated in the event of another terrorist attack. Beyond terrorism, he cited the extensive spying on Vietnam War protesters and surmised that such social movements could be easily stifled in the future by way of this extensive surveillance system.


In the latter half, activist and author, Helen Caldicott, talked about the devastating nature of the Fukushima disaster as well as the dangers of nuclear power in general. "This is the worst industrial accident ever to occur, but it's not over," she cautioned. Caldicot explained that two of the Fukushima power plants are crumbling and, should another earthquake strike the area, one building could collapse and release massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, at the other building, over 250 tons of highly radioactive uranium sits 100 feet above the ground in a cooling pool, which could come crashing to the ground, causing massive fires and releasing irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Aside from the potential danger, Caldicott said, 400 tons of radioactive water is currently being emitted into the ocean every day as thousands of additional tons have being collected in faulty tanks which are both faulty and susceptible to future earthquakes. She stressed that the unprecedented complexity of the disaster, as well as political and economic interests, have resulted in an inadequate response to both solving the crisis and raising awareness over the dangers still posed by it. She accused the Japanese government of "cutting corners" in an effort to save money in the disaster clean up and also blamed national pride for the lack of requests for international assistance. "This is a global, ongoing public health catastrophe and no one's attending to it," she lamented.

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