The Age of Lunacy: The Doomsday Machine

Jerri-Lynn here: Lest anyone be deluded into thinking that the current lunacy of Trump foreign policy is unprededented and ahistoric, part eight of an excellent Real News Network series  on Undoing the New Deal reminds us this simply isn’t so.

That series more generally discuses who helped unravel the New Deal and why. That was no accident, either. In this installment, historian Peter Kuznick says Eisenhower called for decreased militarization, then Dulles reversed the policy; the Soviets tried to end the cold war after the death of Stalin; crazy schemes involving nuclear weapons and the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba put the world of the eve of destruction.

Three things I’ve seen recently made me think readers might appreciate  this interview. First, I recently finished reading Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers, about the baleful consequences of the control over US foreign policy by Dulles brothers– John Foster and Alan. These continue to reverberate to today. Well worth your time.

Over the hols, I watched Dr. Strangelove again. And I wondered, and this not for the first time: why has the world managed to survive to this day? Seems to me just matter of time before something spirals out of control– and then, that’s a wrap.

Queued up on my beside table is Daniel Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Haven’t cracked the spine of that yet, so I’ll eschew further commentary, except to say that I understand Ellsberg’s provides vivid detail about just how close we’ve already come to annihilation.

 

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network, I’m Paul Jay. We’re continuing our series of discussions on the Undoing of the New deal, and we’re joined again by Professor Peter Kuznick, who joins us from Washington. Peter is a Professor of History, and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. Thanks for joining us again Peter.

PETER KUZNICK: My pleasure, Paul.

PAUL JAY: So, before we move on to Kennedy, and then we’re going to get to Johnson, you wanted to make a comment about Eisenhower, who made a couple of great sounding speeches about reducing military expenditure but I’m not sure how much that actually ever got implemented. But talk about this speech in, I guess, it’s 1953, is it?

PETER KUZNICK: Yes. The world had a great opportunity in March of 1953 to reverse course rather than this insane military spending that was beginning. On March 5th, 1953, Stalin died. The Soviet leaders reached out to the United States. They offered the Americans an olive branch. They talked about changing the direction of our relations. They talked about, basically, ending the Cold War. We could’ve ended the Cold War as early as March 5, 1953, taken a different route. Eisenhower and the others in his administration debate what to do, how to respond. Churchill, who was now re-elected and back in office in England, begged the United States to hold a summit with the Soviet leaders and move toward peace, rather than belligerence and hostility. Eisenhower doesn’t say anything publicly in response for six weeks. Then he makes a speech. It’s a visionary speech. It’s the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there

PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

PETER KUZNICK: “This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” What a great speech and the Soviets were thrilled. They republished this. They reprinted it. They broadcast it over and over, and then two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing. Instead of an olive branch, he gives the Soviets a middle finger and he accuses the Soviet Union of trying to overthrow every Democratic government in the world. The exact wrong message.

And so, it’s sort of like Trump, where Tillerson says something sane and then Trump will undermine it two days later when it comes to North Korea. The same thing happened in 1953 with Eisenhower and Dulles. We’re really much more on the same page, but if you look at the third world response, you’ve got the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955, and the third world leaders are all saying, “We have to be independent. We have to be neutral.” They say, “It is insane to spend all these dollars and all these rubles on the military when we need money for development.”

PAUL JAY: So, what went on with Eisenhower, making that kind of speech? He’s not known for any big increase in social spending domestically. He helps build, as you said, the military industrial complex, especially the nuclear side of it. So, what was that speech about, and then how does he allow Dulles to contradict him two days later?

PETER KUZNICK: That’s one of the mysteries. That’s why… writing books on the debate, what was going on in that administration. Did Eisenhower speak for it or did Dulles speak for it? Was Eisenhower the militarist or was Dulles the militarist? In many ways, the ’50s was a very, very dangerous time. And there were so many harebrained schemes that were going on.

We talked a little bit about Sputnik but one of the proposals after that was to blast a hydrogen bomb on the surface of the moon to show the world that we really are the strongest. And they talked about putting missile bases on the moon, and then the idea was to have the Soviets respond by putting their own missile bases on the moon. We could put ours on distant planets, so that we could then hit the Soviet bases on the moon. The great independent journalist I.F. Stone mentioned that the word for lunar, for moon, in Latin is Luna. And he said, we should have a new department in the cabinet and call it the Department of Lunacy because of the crazy ideas that were being promulgated at the time.

This comes across, really, with the nuclear policies. So, when McGeorge Bundy asks Dan Ellsberg in 1961 to find out from the Joint Chiefs what would be, how many people would die as a result of America’s nuclear launch in the event of a war with the Soviet Union, the Pentagon comes back with the idea that between 600 and 650 million people would die from America’s weapons alone in our first PSYOP. And that doesn’t even account for nuclear winter, which would have killed us all, or the numbers who would be killed by the Soviet weapons. That includes at least 100 million of our own allies in Western Europe.

We are talking about a period the lunacy and insanity was captured best by Stanley Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove in 1964. That policy was so close to what was actually occurring at the time. Did Eisenhower speak for this? When Eisenhower wanted to, one of his visions was for planetary excavation using hydrogen bombs. People should study the lunacy of Project Plowshare.

PAUL JAY: They used to have tourism to go look at nuclear tests outside of Las Vegas and people would sit just a few miles away with sunglasses on.

PETER KUZNICK: And we sent American soldiers into the blast area, knowing that they were going to be irradiated. Yeah, the irrationality in these times. People are going to look back at the Trump administration and if we’re here later, maybe they’ll laugh at us. If we survive this period, they’ll laugh. They’ll look back and say, “Look at the craziness of this period.”Well, if you look at the history of the ’50s and early ’60s, you see a lot of that same kind of craziness in terms of the policies that were actually implemented at the time, and the ones, for example, one of the ideas was to melt the polar ice caps using hydrogen bombs. We wanted to increase polar melting. We wanted to increase the temperature on the planet by exploding nuclear bombs.

PAUL JAY: And this was to do, to what end?

PETER KUZNICK: For what end? I’m not sure. I mean, one-

PAUL JAY: Well, they may get their way, the way things are heading right now. They may get that.

PETER KUZNICK: And one of the things from Trump’s National Security speech was to not talk about, or to say that global warming is not a National Security concern as Obama and others had believed it was. But they wanted to actually redirect hurricanes by setting off hydrogen bombs in the atmosphere in the path of the hurricane, so they could redirect hurricanes. They wanted to build new harbors by setting off hydrogen bombs. They wanted to have a new canal across the, instead of the Panama canal, with hydrogen bombs and reroute rivers in the United States.

I mean, crazy, crazy ideas that was considered American policy. And actually, it was the Soviets who saved us because Eisenhower wanted to begin to do these programs, but the Soviets would not allow, would not give the United States the right to do that because there was a temporary test ban in the late 1950s. And Eisenhower would have had to abrogate that in order to begin these projects.

PAUL JAY: Okay. Let’s catch up. So, we had just, the last part dealt with some of Kennedy. We get into the 1960s. Kennedy is as preoccupied with the Cold War, the beginning of the Vietnam War, Cuba, the Missile Crisis. And we had left off right at the moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Give us a really quick recap because I think on this issue of militarization and former policy, we kind of have to do a whole nother series that focuses more on that. We’re trying to get more into this issue of the New Deal and what happened to domestic social reforms in the context of this massive military expenditure. But talk a bit about that moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

PETER KUZNICK: Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis is very important because now we’re going through the Korean Missile Crisis, and if Trump has his way, we’ll also go through the Iranian Missile Crisis. And the last time we were this close to nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. What happens there is that Khrushchev, in order to try to accomplish two things, or three things, really.

One is to, he knows the United States is planning an invasion of Cuba. The United States had been carrying out war games, massive war games, 40,000 people participating in these war games. Like now, we’re carrying out war games off the Korean coast. And the war game that was planned for October of ’62 was called Operation Ortsac. Anybody who doesn’t get it? Certainly the Soviets did. Ortsac is Castro spelled backwards.

And so, we were planning, we had the plans in place to overthrow the Cuban government, number one. Number two, Khrushchev wanted a credible deterrent. The Americans learned, Kennedy says, “Let’s find out what the reality of the Missile Gap is.” And he has McNamara do the study. We find out that there is a Missile Gap. By October of ’61, we find out that there is a Missile Gap, and it’s in our favor. The United States is ahead between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1 over the Soviet Union in every important category.

Still, the pressure was to increase America’s missiles and so, the Strategic Air Command in the Air Force wanted to increase our missiles by 3,000. McNamara figures that the least number he can get away with is to increase our intercontinental ballistic missiles by 1,000 even though we’re ahead 10 to 1 already at that point. The Kremlin interpreted that, and said, “Why is the US increasing its missiles when it’s so far ahead of us?” They said, “Obviously, the United States is preparing for a first strike against the Soviet Union.” That was the Kremlin interpretation. It needed a credible deterrent.

They knew that, initially they thought, “Well, the fact that we can take out Berlin will be a credible enough deterrent. The Americans will never attack.” Then they realized that that wouldn’t be a sufficient deterrent to some of the hawks in the American military, the Curtis LeMays, who had a lot of influence at the time. Or before that, the Lemnitzers. And so, they decide, “Well, we’ve got to put missiles in Cuba, which is a more credible deterrent.”

And the third is that Khrushchev wanted to appease his hawks. Khrushchev’s strategy was to build up Soviet consumer economy. He said, “The Soviet people want washing machines. They want cars. They want houses. That’s what we need.” And so, he wanted to decrease defense spending and one of the cheap ways to do that was to put the missiles in Cuba. So, they do that foolishly. It’s a crazy policy because they don’t announce it. It’s very much like the movie Strangelove, where Khrushchev was planning to announce that the missiles were in Cuba on the anniversary of the Soviet Revolution. That was coming up in a couple-

PAUL JAY: You mean Dr. Strangelove, meaning what’s the point of a doomsday machine if you don’t tell people you’ve got it?

PETER KUZNICK: As Strangelove says, “Well what’s the point of the doomsday machine if you don’t announce that you have it?” And then, the Americans didn’t, the Soviets didn’t announce that they had the, if they had announced that the missiles were there, then the United States could not have invaded Cuba the way the military wanted. They could not have bombed Cuba. It would’ve been an effective deterrent, especially if they announced that also, that the missiles were there, that the warheads were there and that they also had put 100 battlefield nuclear weapons inside Cuba.

That would have meant that there was no possibility of the United States invading and that the deterrent would’ve actually worked. But they didn’t announce it. And so, the United States plans for an invasion and we got very close to doing so. But again, the intelligence was abysmal. We knew where 33 of the 42 missiles were. We didn’t find the other missiles. We didn’t know that the battlefield nuclear weapons were there. We didn’t know that the missiles were ready to be armed.

And so, the United States was operating blind. We thought that there were 10,000 armed Soviets in Cuba. Turns out, there were 42,000 armed Soviets. We thought that there were 100,000 armed Cubans. Turns out, there were 270,000 armed Cubans. Based on the initial intelligence, McNamara said, “If we had invaded, we figured we’d suffer 18,000 casualties, 4,500 dead.” When he later finds out how many troops there actually were there, he says, “Well, that would’ve been 25,000 Americans dead.” When he finds out that there were 100 battlefield nuclear weapons as well, he doesn’t find that out until 30 years later, and then he turns white, and he says, “Well that would’ve meant we would’ve lost 100,000 American Troops.” Twice as many, almost, as we lost in Vietnam.

He said, “We would’ve definitely destroyed Cuba and probably wiped out the Soviet Union as well.” So, that’s how close we came at this time. Which is again, as Robert Gates, another hawk, warns, “The United States should not invade Syria,” he said. “Or should not bomb Syria because haven’t we learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, that whenever these things happen, you never know what the consequences are going to be. It’s always the unintended consequences that are going to get you.”

Which we learned in Cuba. We learned in Iraq and Afghanistan or we should’ve learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, Trump hasn’t learned it and we had better learn before we do something crazy now in Korea.

PAUL JAY: All right, thanks, Peter. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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82 comments

  1. Disturbed Voter

    It takes two to tango. The idea that the US is solely to blame for the continuation of the Cold War, or that the US is solely to blame for a revival … is Soviet/Russian propaganda. Great powers are aggressive, and rarely circumspect. The existence of nuclear weapons, was what prevented either the US or the Soviet Union/Russia from attacking each other. Otherwise the sport of kings would have continued as usual.

    And given Churchill’s anathema toward Communism in general, and the Soviet Union in particular, and given that he was the architect of the Cold War from the West … I find the idea of him being a peacenik to be bizarre.

    1. Chris

      It’s always that word, “communism”, isn’t it? As long as that word is used, everything is justifiable. If you look at it closely, it would seem that the Russians have discovered that communism is every bit as susceptible to corruption as capitalism. Communism has been, in fact, MORE discredited than capitalism (for now.) With Russia on the other side of the planet, what would be the harm in letting whatever failed ideologies they have fail like Kansas failed? As Jesus might say, “Ah… Ye of little faith.”

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2017/06/07/the-great-kansas-tax-cut-experiment-crashes-and-burns/

      1. Tomonthebeach

        The vast majority of Americans today have no idea what communism is. Most cannot even thing about communism in terms of it being just another economic system different from capitalism. (No, it is slavery!) They do not appreciate that there are different manifestations of both economic models. (Neoliberalism is eating us alive.) They do not appreciate that communism was probably the salvation of both post-war Russia and China. They conflate socialism with communism, view high taxes as communistic, and ignore that the countries with the highest standard of living are quite socialist.

        In many cases, Americans vote against their own interests just because some pol labels a new social program as communist so he can give his new bill and edge.

        Ike was so right about the Military-Industrial complex, and yet we have only enabled it to grow to the point that it dominates every political decision – every law – every regulation in ways that ensure weapons are expended so more can take their place; and more weapons need to be developed because the boogeyman out there (pick a regime) probably, maybe, could be building an even nastier weapon. Make no mistake, Sputnik was viewed as evidence that the Russians already had better weapons and that they would take over “outer space” and we would thus be at their mercy. Back in the 60s the US did worry that communism was working better than capitalism, and that fear enabled a lot of foreign policy (gunboat diplomacy).

        Trump is anything if he is not politically and strategically a dim wit. Thus he probably buys into the communist boogeyman scenario common in our culture. He is likely attracted to the economic stimulus that more guns and less butter offer in the short run. Our problems seems to hinge on leaders who limit their action to the short run, and the long run (ensuring survival of the human species?), well, they never get around to that.

        1. Moocao

          I would not be so loving over the “communistic ideals”. My great grandparents were murdered for the fact that one was a postal office manager, another was a sock factory owner. Believe what you want, but communism is far from just an economic theory.

          Communism, once you force the politics into the economic theory, is this: equality of all men, regardless of abilities, and damn if you started off well because everything will be taken from you. Your life is not your own, your family is not your own, your work is not your own: it belongs to the state.

          Capitalism has fatal flaws, but we should all thank Communism died the way it did.

          1. Kevin R LaPointe

            Yeah, it’s not like Communism has been since its inception perpetually under siege by the forces of Imperialism and Capitalism, which have sought to undermine, invade, and assassinate all resistance to its dictates and package these grotesque actions of aggression as the expansion and defense of Freedom. By that logic we must praise the death of Rosa Luxemburg as be a key prevention of an even greater atrocity in German than what was about to befall it. It’s also not as if many of the so called dictators of “Communist” regimes, despite how loosely the term was thrown about by Western governments, could only have maintained power for as long as they did because the specter foreign influence and invasion was always on the horizon and backed by historical precedence.

            You also, based on the wording of your post, seem to think that there should be a justified inequality amongst people based on abilities, despite the numerous studies demonstrating that most so called “abilities” are in fact derived from economically sensitive factors as nutrition, access to education, quality of said education, parental education, and the larger community infrastructure. You also seem to justify the transfer of further unearned and unjustified advantage, atop an empirically observed superior quality of life of the early and developing years, through inheritance. Do you perhaps feel that you have been robbed of your rightful superiority, your divine blood, by the degenerate hands of the masses? Do you feel the curious vacancy of the cudgel of Wealth upon your dominate hand? Do you wonder how it is that world knows (or does not know!) of your distinction between you and the other lowly men who walk the Earth.
            Your claims are pure, unsubstantiated, propaganda bunkum that has nothing to do with Marxist Theory or Socialist Thought in general.

            Hierarchy is a delusion that is reinforced on the masses through force and reinforced in the Elites through comfort and sycophancy. Capitalism is a system of Hierarchy, and it has the blood of slaves, natives, peasants, and civilians pressed in gold coins to fill the coffers of your men of greater abilities, who use those “abilities” and there inheritance to reek havoc with the caprice of the most depraved emperors and tyrants.

            1. Knute Rife

              It’s always enlightening to ask people, “Of the US, UK, and USSR, which ones invaded the others?”, explain to them the USSR was invaded by both and invaded neither, and have them look at you like you’re a brain-damaged, treasonous liar.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Yaas, it;s just Putinfriendly propaganda, that’s all. Let us persuade ourselves that the vast bulk of provocations and exacerbations in that now-reprised Cold War were a pas de deluxe, not mostly driven by our own insane US leaders, like the ones discussed in small detail in the post. Conveniently ignoring the whole escalation process of the Exceptional Empire doing the “policies” of the Dulleses and their clan, the craziness of stuff like the John Birchers and the McCarthy thing, and the madness of MAD (which I believe was a notion coined by that nest of vipers called RAND, that “we have to be understood to be insane enough to commit suicide, to kill the whole planet, for the ‘deterrent effect’ of Massive Retaliation (forget that the US policy and military structure very seriously intended a first strike on the Evil Soviets for quite a long time, and are now building “small nukes” for ‘battlespace use’ as if there are no knock-on consequences.)

      How does one break the cycle of ever-increasing vulnerability and eventual destruction, that includes the extraction and combustion and all the other decimations of a livable planet? how to do that when the Imperial Rulers are insane, by any sensible definition of insanity? And the Russians sure seem to be wiser and more restrained (barring some provocation that trips one of their own Doomsday Devices that they have instituted to try to counter the ridiculous insane provocations and adventures of the Empire?

      Maybe revert to “Duck and cover?” Or that Civil Defense posture by one of the Reaganauts, one T.K. Jones, who wanted Congress to appropriate $252 million (1980 dollars) for Civil Defense, mostly for SHOVELS: in the firmly held belief that “we can fight and win a nuclear war with the Soviet Union:”

      Three times Mr. Jones – or someone speaking in his name – agreed to testify. Three times he failed to appear. The Pentagon finally sent a pinch-hitter,

      Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle. But the Senate wants Mr. Jones. It wants an authoritative explanation of his plan to spend $252 million on civil defense. Evidently, most of that money will go for shovels.

      For this is how the alleged Mr. Jones describes the alleged civil defense strategy: ”Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top. It’s the dirt that does it.”

      Mr. Jones seems to believe that the United States could recover fully, in two to four years, from an all-out nuclear attack. As he was quoted in The Los Angeles Times: ”Everybody’s going to make it if there are enough shovels to go around.”

      Dig on, Senator Pressler. We’re all curious.

      Russia suffered 20 million dead in WW II, pretty much won that war against fascism, and the leaders there get dang little decrepit for being (so far) so much more the “grownups in the room” in the Great Game Of RISK! ™ that our idiot rulers are playing. Go look up how many times, however, beyond that vast set of slapstick plays that led to the “Cuban Missile Crisis”, the human part of the world skated up, by combinations of accident and error, to getting its death wish. And the main impetus for the nuclear “standoff” has been the US and the “policies” forwarded by “our” insane rulers and militarists.

      “Tu Quoque” is an especially weak and inapposite and insupportable argument in this context.

      1. Chris

        SPOT ON! IF Robby Mook and the gang can stir up a Russian frenzy from hell based on nothing more than sour grapes, and IF what we know about the deep state is only the tip of the iceberg, and IF the media is largely under the control of the ‘Gov, THEN a logical human must at least be open to the possibility that there is also such a thing as American propaganda, must (s)he not?

        https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2018/01/08/hillarys-campaign-manager-the-russia-investigation-is-not-a-winning-strategy-n2429189

      2. Summer

        Indeed, WWII was never a war against fascism, just particular fascists that ventured off the establisment reservation.

        1. rd

          Yes. Nobody invaded Argentina when Juan Peron et al took over. Hitler and Mussolini could have died as dictators decades later if they had simply kept their armies home.

      3. steelhead23

        It seems to me that today Russia’s global influence is far smaller than that of the old USSR. For the most part, this retreat was amicable, but NATO’s expansion into nations that had been in the Soviet sphere and the placement of missile defense systems ever-closer to Russia, has increased tensions and led to events in the Crimea and Donetsk. I do not hold Russia blameless, nor do I see the U.S. as an archvillain. The real villain is a lack of trust, which is difficult to overcome when spying and hacking abound.

        The Strangelovian flavor of the day is enhanced by the latest craze of global billionaires – the luxury bunker (avoiding Strangelove’s dreaded mine shaft gap). Not just a saferoom to escape the home invaders, but digs that would survive global themonuclear war. Putin and Kim don’t scare me. This scares me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrp4FTIbZAs

        1. animalogic

          “I do not hold Russia blameless, nor do I see the U.S. as an archvillain. The real villain is a lack of trust, which is difficult to overcome when spying and hacking abound.”
          I’m sorry, I do not accept your effort at moral
          equivalency between the US.
          Of course Russia is not blameless, but it is not the Rogue state the US has become. Do I need to rehearse the dozens of US crimes, broken promises & Imperialistic forays ? Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libyia, Ukraine, Nth Korea, Syria, Africa….etc. There is no equivalency. And as for “trust” its not some kind of preexisting resource, ready to mined by the clever. Trust is “done”; its earned — and the US for years now has acted as if trust is for lesser, unexceptional nations. (There’s a Russian expression used of the US: that they are not (even) deal capable)

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      Guys, I generally treasure the NC comments section, and I am not singling anyone out, but some of the rhetoric here is starting to remind me of ZeroHedge doomp&rn. Let’s please recover some perspective.

      Every year of human history since the expulsion from Eden will let us cherry pick overwhelming evidence that the lunatics were running the asylum. Or that every generation of our forebears gleefully built our civilization atop heaps of skulls of [insert oppressed groups here].

      Yet during the Cold War, there were plenty of prominent people calling out the McCarthys and Lemays of the world as loons (and behind the Curtain, even Stalin was removed from key posts before his death). Guess what, sane generally wins out over the mad king. The arc of history indeed bends toward justice, though never without sacrifice and diligent truthseeking. The ones to worry about are the snake oil merchants, who pee on our shoes and tell us it’s raining.
      g.

      Here endeth my catechism.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Keep whistling past the graveyard: http://nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/issues/accidents/20-mishaps-maybe-caused-nuclear-war.htm

        Such faith we have in ourselves, and such little evidence other than maybe a couple of world wars and long histories of the loonies playing stupid with whole populations, that we don’t need to worry about the concentrated efforts of the sociopathic lunatics to rise to positions of great power and do stupid stuff.

        1. Summer

          Yes, this is what the world gets when technological advancement is combined with a socio-economic system that rewards sociopathic tendencies. A system advanced by propaganda (disguised as entertainment and education) backed up with the barrell of a gun and cameras everywhere.

      2. bob

        “The arc of history indeed bends toward justice”

        You’re going to need some proof for that wild, completely baseless claim.

    4. beth

      I know that I am late to post but I have been out of town. To further your understanding of this issue, I recommend:

      “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles & Their Secret World War” by Stephen Kinzer.

  2. oaf

    “It’s the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there”

    Was he subsequently co-opted, or BSing?

  3. Don Midwest

    This article is not scary enough.

    Find out that in 1983 there was almost a nuclear war. Both sides have a first strike strategy and a Russian general thought that actions of Reagan were getting ready for the first strike and he was going to strike first.

    And during the Cuban missile crisis, Russian subs had nuclear weapons on them and we dropped low level depth charges on them and we didn’t know that they were armed.

    This is a very long interview of Daniel Ellsberg in Seattle on Jan 9, 2018.

    Daniel Ellsberg with Daniel Bessner:
    The Doomsday Machine

    Now that everyone, except many in the USA, knows that when the USA changes a government that the country is ruined, this may have forced North and South Korea to get together.

    Ellsberg says that any nukes used in the Korean Peninsula would result in at least 1 million dead and while 60 million in WWII were killed during the course of the war, with nukes that many cold be killed in a week. And then, nuclear winter would finish off the rest of us.

    I am scared.

    1. Massinissa

      To be fair, there are now doubts among scientists that Nuclear Winter as classically described would even be a thing.

      But that doesn’t help the millions who would die on the peninsula. Further, whats known as a Nuclear Famine could still occur, which would be pretty damn devastating for civilization, even if mankind itself manages to survive.

      1. Synoia

        Science is about doubt and skepticism. That’s what the scientific process is.

        Doubt a nuclear winter: Ok, I’ll bite.

        We have examples – Large Volcanic eruptions, and we have the year without a summer sometime in the 1830s I believe – that is in recorded History.

        The we searched to archeological record for more evidence, and found large die-offs following a layer of volcanic dust.

        Again and again, I believe.

        Quoting scientists who “doubt nuclear winter” requires more examination:

        List them, together with their credentials and “donor$.”

        1. Donald

          You can google nuclear winter early enough. And yes, there are scientists who are skeptical for various reasons. The only group that has written a paper on it in recent years is composed of some of the same scientists who originally proposed it and they think it is real.

          Reasons for skepticism include doubt about the amount of smoke that would be produced. And the volcano and asteroid comparisons are imperfect because the details are different. People used to talk about volcanic dust, and now it is mostly sulfuric acid droplets. With asteroids the initial thought was the KT boundary layer represented trillions of tons of submicron size dust and then Melosh proposed ejects blasted around the world heated the upper atmosphere and ignited global fires and created soot and then his grad student Tamara Goldin wrote her dissertation saying the heat might not be quite enough to do that and then people suggested it was ( I won’t go into why) and others suggested the bolide hit sulfur layers….

          The point is that there is not a consensus about the detailed atmospheric effects of either large asteroid impacts or of super volcanoes like Toba and yet we do have some evidence because these things happened. We don’t have an example to study in tge geologic record where hundreds of cities were hit simultaneously with nuclear weapons.

          I could go on, but I don’t want to give the impression I have a strong opinion either way, because I don’t. But I think the case for global warming is overwhelming because vastly more people are working on it and it is happening in front of us. It is not just computer models.

          1. Sy Krass

            Forget possible nuclear winter, the economic effects alone would be worth 10 Lehman brothers (2008 meltdowns). And then the knock on effects would cause other knock on effects like other wars. Even without a nuclear winter, civilization would probably collapse within 18 months anyway.

          2. JBird

            All this, while true, only change the details not the results. The Chicxulub impact almost certainly exterminated the majority of then living species, and the Toba Supervolcano probably almost caused our extinction. That suggest throwing massive amounts of anything into the atmosphere is not good.

            As a student I would like to know the details, but in practice, it’s like arguing whether a snow storm or a blizzard killed someone. Humanity as a species would probably survive a nuclear war okay, but many(most?) individuals as well as our planetary civilization would be just as dead. The numbers dying would be slightly different is all.

            1. rfdawn

              Humanity might survive as a species but not as an idea. Am about halfway through the Ellsberg book and, yes, it does make Dr. Strangelove look like a documentary. Current thinking does not seem much changed.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Something missing from the sequence of events here is that the main reason that the Kremlin put nuclear missiles in Cuba was the fact that more than 100 Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles were deployed in Italy and Turkey in 1961 by the US, thus cutting down any reaction time by Moscow to minutes in case of a US attack.
    The main – unacknowledged – part of the climb down from the Cuba missile crisis was that as Russia pulled its nuclear missiles out of Cuba, the US would do the same in Europe. It cooled things down again until Reagan was elected.
    I had forgotten that the 50s had just as many crazies as present times – the Dulles brothers, Curtis LeMay, Edward Teller, J. Edgar Hoover – really scary people and probably founding members of the deep state.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Excellent point about the missiles deployed in Turkey and Italy– and one I might have mentioned if I had remembered it, absent your prod.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        The Jupiter missile agreement was a secret at the time. Kennedy wanted to minimize the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. The subsequent presence of Pershings and Tomahawks in Europe (but not Turkey) was a reaction to the mobile IRBMs deployed by the Soviet Union. Which they still have. France and Britain have their own independent deterrents. Which is just as well, since the Pershings and Tomahawks were traded away as part of START/SALT.

        The more recent escalation of NATO into E Europe, the Baltics and the Ukraine are a definite violation of the spirit of the Cuban Missile Crisis agreement, and are pure aggression against a Russia that was seen as too weak to do anything about it … until they did do something about it in 2014.

        An aggressive NATO is something I view with horror. One does not poke the bear. But Kissinger (the German) and Berzhinski (the Pole) are fanatically anti-Russian. They made up for the passing of Churchill.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Just recently Russia deployed more nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania. Maybe something to do with all those special forces NATO keeps stationing on the Russian border?

          1. JTMcPhee

            And all the a—-oles who Command and Rule, and most of the commentariat and punditry, all treat these affairs as if they are playing some Brobdingnagian Game of Risk ™, where as with Monopoly (which was originally intended to teach a very different lesson) the object of the game is all about TAKING OVER THE WHOLE WORLD, WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… an idiotic froth on top of an ever more dangerous brew of exponentially increasing,and largely ignored, mutual if often asymmetric, deadly vulnerability.

            Stupid effing humans and their vast stupid monkey tricks…

    2. Carolinian

      LeMay had suggested that we should perhaps wipe out the Soviet Union before they had the chance to catch up to us in nukes. It was an era ruled by fear of nuclear war–a fear that was unleashed by the use of the bomb in Japan. Truman and Byrnes (the latter in a meeting in his hometown–my hometown) rejected calls by some of the Los Alamos scientists to share the nuclear secrets with the Russians and forestall this arms race or so they hoped.

      So no the crazy didn’t start with Trump and Trump had even advocated we make nice with the Russians until the Dems, their remnants at State and Defense and the press forced him to change course (on threat of impeachment). The elites who have gained more or less permanent power over the direction of this country are a threat to us all.

      Anyhow, thanks for the above post. Those who forget history…..

      1. polecat

        Let’s not forget the little country that could … with it’s aggregated threat of 300+ undeclared …
        They’re ‘in-the-mix’ too !

      2. Disturbed Voter

        In so far as the US has moved away from the JFK view of nuclear deterrence to the LeMay view of nuclear first strike … we are dead.

    3. erichwwk

      The Manhattan Project is integral to understanding the deep state. While one can make the case that it began with Edward Bernays and the Creel Commission, the CFR and the Dulles Bros( with the support of the Rockefeller family), it was the realization that a project of THAT scale, involving so many people, locations, and resources, could be implemented with an end run around Congress made it clear that if one could claim “State Security Secrets” (which is what the Atomic Act of 1946 essentially did), unelected folk with an understanding of resource control could essentially “govern” the US in terms of military and foreign policy, now broadened to include economic policy. A decent explanation of this for those unfamiliar with how “Bomb Power works, is “this Fora video by Historian Garry Wills , about his book of the same title.

  5. David

    Different world. The first generation of nuclear weapons had yields (around 20-30Kt) that were comprehensible in terms of conventional bombing, which of course would have required many more aircraft but was also much more efficient per tonne of explosives. For the formative years after 1945, therefore, people thought of nuclear weapons as weapons in the classic sense and, at that time, nobody really knew that much about the effects of radiation and fallout. This all changed with the advent of the hydrogen bomb, but even then it took a long time for the likely catastrophic effects of the use of such weapons in large numbers to sink in. Nuclear technology, and both delivery and guidance systems, evolved far more quickly than rationales for their use could be found. Indeed, you can say that the Cold War was a period when nuclear powers found themselves acquiring weapons with technologies that couldn’t actually be used, but couldn’t be un-invented either. Enormous intellectual effort went into trying to provide post-hoc rationales for having these weapons, some of it very ingenious, most of it wasted.
    Don’t forget the role of paranoia either. NSC-68, the report that formalized US strategy during the Cold War, reads today like the ravings of a group of lunatics, seeing, almost literally, Reds under the beds. And if Stalin was dead, the Soviet leadership had just gone through a war which had cost them almost 30 million dead, and any, literally any, sacrifice was worth it to make sure that they prevented another war, or at least won it quickly.

  6. rd

    Dr. Strangelove has moved from the archive boxes of historical artifacts to being a “must see” movie again.

    1. Baby Gerald

      It never left the ‘must see’ list. Its just moved higher up the rankings in recent months, what with all this ‘collaboration’ conspiracy drivel.

      From wikipedia:

      US military casualties in WW2: 407,300
      US civilian casualties in WW2: 12,100

      USSR military casualties in WW2: estimated by various sources [see the footnotes] between 8,668,000 to 11,400,000.
      USSR civilian casualties in WW2: 10,000,000 [plus another 6-7 million deaths from famine, a line in the table that is completely blank for the US]

      Simply put, for every American that died, somewhere between a thousand to two thousand of their Russian counterparts were killed. And somehow people in the US were convinced and worried that Russia wanted to start yet another war when they still hadn’t finished burying the dead from the last one.

      1. rd

        1. Stalin made his pact with the devil that gave Hitler free rein to invade Poland and France. Hitler then invaded Russia from Poland as the jumping off point. Stalin miscalculated big-time.

        2. Invaded countries always have many more civilian countries than un-invaded ones.

        3. Germany started WW II only 20 years after the end of WW I that also slaughtered 2 million German soldiers. Past losses generally does not appear to impact the decision-making of dictators regarding new wars. So it would have been irrational for the West to think that the USSR had no intent to expand its borders. That was the blunder that France and Britain made in 1938-39. However, the paranoia did get extreme in the Cold War.

        1. Yves Smith

          This isn’t accurate. Stalin tried repeatedly and even towards the end, desperately, to sign a treaty with the Britain and France. They rebuffed him because Commie. He signed up with Hitler only after those efforts had clearly failed. It was a self-preservation move. It probably did buy him less time than he thought. But let’s not kid ourselves: Hitler’s first move otherwise would have been to the East. What were later the Allies would have been delighted to see him take over the USSR. This was why British aristos were so keen on Hitler, that he was seen as an answer to Communism and therefore “our kind of man”.

          1. JBird

            The Poles have been the Germans and Russians chewtoy ever since it was completely partitioned. All the countries immediately around Russia have been horribly abused by Russia. Putin is doing his country no favors by reminding everyone of that. He can cow them into submission, but like the American government is finding, just because they are doesn’t mean they cannot cause trouble. Heck, the current Great Game could be said to have started with the Soviet-Afghanistan War.

            Going into the war every country was unprepared and unwilling to fight and had difficulty choices. The German military itself was not prepared. It was Hitler’s choice to start when and where and by 1938 everyone knew it. Hitler was surprised that France and Great Britain honored their guarantee to Poland.

            As evil as Stalin’s regime was, and his invasion of Poland was just as bad as Hitler’s at first, I don’t think most people really understood just how evil the Nazis were and what they were planning on doing for Germany’s living space. It was worse than anything that Stalin did and between the Ukrainian famine, the Great Purges, the takeover of the Baltic States, the invasion of Finland, etc he did serious evil.

          2. rd

            The Soviet archives lay this out, but there is far less information about this in the western archives and personal diaries. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/3223834/Stalin-planned-to-send-a-million-troops-to-stop-Hitler-if-Britain-and-France-agreed-pact.html

            This was a period of mass confusion, deception, and incompetence in “The Great Game” with many competing interests between the players around Germany. The Soviet offer appears to to have required annexing the Baltic states and invading Poland in order to get close to Germany, which would have been a diplomatic non-starter with Britain and France. However, this is unclear as there appears to be little documentation of the offers on the receiving end with Britain and France. It appears that both sides were talking past each other and unwilling to get down to brass tacks on what a successful agreement would look like. In contrast, Germany was willing to cede the Baltics and Poland to the USSR in exchange for a non-aggression pact.

            Ultimately, Stalin’s biggest blunder was not adequately preparing for Hitler to break the non-aggression pact and invade in June 1941. If he was so concerned about Germany, his non-aggression pact had bought him two years to be better prepared which was critical time as he had made major purges in the Red Army leadership in the late ’30s. He could have built up and positioned his defences. Instead, he ended up with defences less effective than the Maginot Line and the Germans penetrated deep into Russia and Ukraine within two months. http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/93

            The Soviet scorched earth policies to deny the Germans local foraging were a major element of civilian deprivation and death. Stalin had actually developed the western part of the USSR as a sacrificial territory without a lot of industrial or energy production precisely so it could be torched and abandoned if invaded. He deported millions to Siberia and other areas and moved almost all of the railroad stock to safety in front of the Germans. https://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p-91_Sanning.html Stalin industrialized the scorched earth concept that had previously been used against invaders, such as Napolean.

            Ultimately, the thing that saved Russia was “General Winter” that German logisticians had inadequately prepared for. Once the Germans were brought to a halt in front of Leningrad in 1941 and subsequently Stalingrad in 1942, then the Soviets were able to use the winters to prepare for the great 1943 counter-offensive using their own industrial production sequestered in the East and the equipment coming in from the US https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_convoys_of_World_War_II.

      2. Harold

        General LeMay was responsible for the death of a fifth (some say a third) of the North Korean population by saturation bombing with napalm, was he not? A third? Isn’t that one in three?

  7. xformbykr

    Additional books that shed light on both leaving the new deal behind and the Cuban missile crisis are (1) “The Devil’s Chessboard” by Talbot and (2) “JFK and The Unspeakable” by Douglass. The first is mostly about Allen Dulles but has interesting chapters on McCarthy, Eisenhower, Nixon, etc. It is reasonably well foot-noted. The second is about the assassination and has loads of detail about the missile crisis and its power players. It is meticulously foot-noted.

    1. JTMcPhee

      For those with a shred of remaining optimism who want to be rid of it, might I suggest a book titled “With Enough Shovels” by Robert Scheer. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/robert-scheer-4/with-enough-shovels-reagan-bush-and-nuclear-war/

      I was going to post the text of the short review, but all I got at the moment is this blankety iPhone and its limits with cut and paste.

      Not many read books anyway these days, and what sufficient moiety of them will form the groundswell that tips over the Juggernaut we are all pushing and pulling and riding toward the cliff?

      I read this stuff mostly to sense which hand holds the knife… and not to go down asking “What happened? What did it all mean?”

  8. John k

    Trump has been bellicose re NK and Iran, but I see him as resisting the Syrian adventure, while cia plus military hawks pushing forward.
    Dems today are real hawks, itching to confront Russia in both Syria and Ukraine…the latter another place trump may be resisting hawks, the area has been quiet since the election, I.e. since dems were in charge.
    It’s an odd thought that in some theaters trump may be the sane one…

      1. marku52

        Yeah, the title of this post would lead one to believe that their is something uniquely horrible about Trump’s foreign policy. From anything I can detect, her bellicose statement about a no-fly zone in Syria and her abject destruction of Libya, HRC’s FP would have been even worse.

        If she had been elected, we might already be in a ground war with the Russians in Syria. The only hopeful sign is that while Trump spends his day watching TeeVee, State, DOD, and CIA are all working at cross purposes and getting in each other’s way.

        Foreign policy? We have a foreign policy? If anybody finds it, will they please explain it to me?

  9. William Beyer

    I almost never comment, although I rely on NC for most of my news and blood pressure control. You are a treasure.

    May I recommend another book – “All Honorable Men” – by James Stewart Martin. Published in 1950 and shortly thereafter all bookstore copies were hoovered-up and burned by the CIA. It might have been referenced in one of the RNN segments, but I haven’t slogged through all of them yet.

    You can get a hardback at Amazon for a mere $298. An i-book is cheaper.

    After reading “The Brothers,” and “The Devil’s Chessboard,” I considered starting a non-profit using GPS technology – Piss-on-their-Graves.org.

    1. JBird

      The Forbidden Bookshelf series by Open Media is fantastic. Sadly for dinosaurs like me, it is mostly ebooks, but they do the occasional hard copy reprints, and since much in the series would be out of print without Open Media, even the ebooks are great to have.

      And it is interesting to see how many bothersome books just go away even without any “censorship” even with the First Amendment being the one right courts have consistently, and strongly, enforced.

  10. shinola

    This article reminded me of an interesting/disturbing thing I saw on tv last night – a local news show had a bit on what to do in case of nuclear attack!

    Boomers & older probably remember the drill: go to the basement or innermost room of the house, have 72 hours of food & water stashed & don’t go outside for at least 3 days, etc. (yeah, that’s the ticket).
    Thought I was having a flashback to the 60’s…

    Of course the best advice I ever heard on the subject was “Squat down, put your head between your knees & kiss your sweet [rear end] goodbye.”

    1. JBird

      Well, as I recall they were trying to give us the illusion of control so that we would not go all nihilistic or into a drunken fatalistic stupor. I don’t know if telling people, like little JBird, that the bombs might start dropping anytime in which case you’re just [email protected]@@@d would have done any good.

  11. Oregoncharles

    One interpretation of the Cold War, that I found revealing, was that the two “opposing” militaries colluded to magnify the threat so as to pump up their respective budgets. So both were essentially conning their own governments – and putting the whole world at risk in the process.

    Of course, another big factor, equally obvious at the time, was (and is) that world “leaders,” elected or not, can’t resist the temptation to play chess with live pieces. They don’t seem to care that people wind up dead, or that occasionally they put the whole world in danger.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I don’t think active collusion was needed to feed the whole arms race (prior version). Though one has to wonder…

      But the generals on both sides did talk to each other, sometimes with positive results for the peasants, sometimes not. Both “sides” of the Vast Human Death Wish Machinery include their sects of what we call “neocons” and true believers and people like LeMay and Teller and the Dullnesses and in differing forms, “patriots” and partisans happy to set up the mechanics for hair-trigger doomsday weapons system face offs and all the skullduggery of spycraft and state security. All the incentives necessary to keep ratcheting up the rhetoric and accelerating the militarization and massing up “more than enough weapons to kill all human life” were present — careers and paydays all based not on figuring out how to live sustainably on the planet, live in comity and tolerance, but on preparing to “end it all, one way or another.” Nukes of all types and sizes, bioweapons, now we got the run up to those “Slaughterbots” (did the Berkeley prof who created that video, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=H-5mYyvpXJc , at least think to trademark and copyright the “Slaughterbot” brand?)

      One asks what true, fundamental organizing principle can be inferred? Surveying all the activity of techies and arms manufacturers and the “general staffs” and the procurement structures and supply chains and insertions of YUUUGE amounts of fiat money into threat-counter-threat-counter-counter-threat-leapfrog-to-still-more-dire-threats (requiring still more disruptive “innovation” in yet more comprehensive ways to kill and destroy) treadmilling, and little windows into “policy” like the latest “national defense (sic) strategy (sic) and nuclear posture review,” and the visible components of what used to be called the Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) and is now “OPLAN 8044 and 8010-12.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Integrated_Operational_Plan

      Read ‘em and weep.

  12. rkka

    It’s SIOP, not PSYOP. SIOP stands for Single Integrated Operating Plan, which was what the first nuclear war plan was called. PSYOPS are Psychological Operations.

  13. VietnamVet

    Having served in the first Cold War, it simply is beyond my comprehension that the Democrats restarted it all over again. Even weirder are the neo-con proponents of a First Strike. If the USA wins, at least one or two major cities (if not all) will be destroyed. New Zealand becomes the sequel to “On the Beach”. We are in the same position as Germany in the 1930s except we know that the world war will destroy us. Tell me, how in the hell, did a few thousand U.S. soldiers and contractors ended up in the middle of Eastern Syria surrounded by Russians, the Syrian Arab Army and Shiite militias at risk of attack by Turkey?

    1. JBird

      Tell me, how in the hell, did a few thousand U.S. soldiers and contractors ended up in the middle of Eastern Syria surrounded by Russians, the Syrian Arab Army and Shiite militias at risk of attack by Turkey?

      Why they are needed to fight the evil-doers of course! Anything to protect our Freedom and the American Way. Now, ifyou keep asking these inconvenient questions, then “they” might start asking if you support the terrorists.

      It’s like when my half blind aged mother, and her possibly weaponized cane, is scrutinized as a possible al-Qaeda terrorist with a super hidden weapon, and I ask why it’s 9/11 and the very bad people might hurt us.

    2. rd

      I think the key in the next nuclear war will be nuclear weapons used as EMPs instead of low-level explosions just taking out individual cities. A handful of high-altitude nuclear explosions could potentially destroy the Western economies. I think that is the big threat a North Korea with a limited number of nuclear weapons poses as a form of asymmetric warfare. The mass deaths would come over the next year or so due to starvation and exposure. Blowing up a half-dozen cities would be more survivable that taking down everything electrical the way our societies and economies are currently structured.

  14. Max4241

    Nuclear winter. How quaint. Soot and dust. Rapid cooling. Crop failures. Starvation. Billions -perhaps- dead.

    But life, certainly, will…find…a…way!

    Not in my world. All-out thermonuclear war means 250 nuclear reactors melt down simultaneously and several hundred thousand tons of loosely stored nuclear waste becomes aerosoled.

    The resulting radiation blast burns the atmosphere off and the earth becomes a dead planet.

    We can never look the thing straight in the eye. Take North Korea. We have been told, repeatedly, endlessly, that they have 20,000 artillery pieces trained on Seoul!

    Again, how quaint. How SCARY! What we should be reading about, are the priority targets, the game changers:

    http://res.heraldm.com/content/image/2012/03/23/20120323001281_0.jpg

    Light those five softies up and you can say good-bye to South Korea forever.

  15. Bobby Gladd

    “People should study the lunacy of Project Plowshare.”
    __

    Yeah. In 1992 my wife was serving as the QA Mgr for the Nevada Test Site (NTS) nuke remediation project contractor. In 1993 a successful FOIA filing unearthed the Alaskan “Project Chariot.” One of the brilliant Project Plowshare ideas was the potential utility of nuke detonations to carve out deep water harbors (they now deny it), so they took a bunch of irradiated soil from NTS and and spread it around on the tundra 130 miles N of the Arctic circle on the coast of the Chukchi Sea to “study potential environmental impacts.”

    The nuke “dredging” idea went nowhere, so they just plowed the irradiated crap under the surface, where it remained secret until the FOIA revelation decades later. DOE told my wife’s company “go clean this shit up” (Eskimo tribes were freaking after finding out), so off goes my wife and her crew to spend the summer and fall living in tents guarded by armed polar bear guards (they had to first plow out a dirt & gravel runway, and flew everyone and all supplies in on STOL aircraft). They dug the test bed area all up (near Cape Thompson), assayed samples in an onsite radlab, put some 30 tons of “contaminated” Arctic soil in large sealed containers, barged it all down to Seattle, loaded it on trucks and drove it all back down to be buried at NTS.

    Your tax dollars.

    She looked so cute with her clipboard, and her orange vest, steel toed boots and hardhat.

      1. Bobby Gladd

        Yeah, Cheryl has been to Hanford, and pretty much every other DOE site. Among other things, she’s an NQA-1 Certified Lead Auditor.

      1. JBird

        I can sorta kinda maybe see using some bombs in a mega construction project. If a major benefit could be had. What I do not understand stand is all the above ground testing using ever larger more radioactive bombs as it did not take that long before it was understood radiation was bad. Perhaps worse than the blast and fire itself. I grew up listening and reading all the research and I still wonder what the Holy Hades were they thinking? Or not thinking. For some fun reading about the Soviet Tsar Bomb. Largest atmospheric bomb test ever and the scientists had to dial back the blast on the sly.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I read somewhere that every human alive has been irradiated with radioactivity from all those atomic blasts back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. We were actually stupid enough to irradiate our own planet.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            A standard way to date groundwater (as in, identify when it fell to the ground as rain before entering groundwater) is to test for tritium, which is emitted by atmospheric H-bombs. The levels peaked at the point of the atmospheric testing ban. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, all freshwater is contaminated with easily measurable amounts – the only ‘clean’ water is groundwater thats been untouched since before 1950.

          2. Bobby Gladd

            In the spring of 1986 I was managing our lab’s database for the Perry Nuclear startup plant (OH) environmental baseline project. We routinely assayed all manner of environmental matrices and biota. My Perry weekly air filters always came back “below LLD” (Lower Level of Determination, “LT 0.04 pCi/cubic mtr” (4/100ths of a trillionth). One WEEK after Chernobyl, we got significant positive hits for airborne I-131 radionuclide on all of our air sampling stations. The readings went back down below LLD after a month (8.05 day half-life).

    1. erichwwk

      More on Project Chariot, the start of the environmental movement, before Silent Spring here: “The Firecracker Boys: H-Bombs, Inupiat Eskimos, and the Roots of the Environmental Movement Paperback – November 6, 2007
      by Dan ONeill (Author) http://amzn.to/1PYQhQJ

      More mad man covers (what the “Atoms for Peace” really was) to justify the US role in the Arms race was the use of Atom bombs dropped down none producing oil wells as an early form of fracking. There is (now) a free online site to view a film of this film, “Do it for Uncle Graham”

  16. Anti-Schmoo

    Not mentioned, oddly enough, is Russia’s Kanyon; it’s an autonomous (unmanned) torpedo armed with a 100 megaton nuclear warhead. Check out the stats on their 50 megaton, Tsar Bomba; that should, at the very least give one pause; if not terror.
    Purpose? To anihilate the eastern and western coasts with a tsunamia and generations of radiation via a “salted” bomb. This is no joke;
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a15227656/pentagon-document-confirms-existence-of-russian-doomsday-torpedo/
    The reason should be obvious; to let the wackos in the military, know that a first strinke will not save them.

    1. JBird

      Return to the Planet of the Apes is not supposed to be a guide to military strategy, you encephalopathic testosterone poisoned loons!

      To even hint at the possibility of developing, never mind actually doing, something something that would likely poison multiple coastlines as well as the fishing areas of much of the planet just begs for a preemptive strikes or guarantees retaliatory strikes from everyone . Tidal waves are omnidirectional and salting them would salt the oceans. And let’s give the DPRK some ideas. It’s not like that they would think it a good idea or anything like that!

      My apologies.

      The stupid. It burns.

  17. Lambert Strether

    > two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing.

    So how does that happen? Eisenhower doesn’t strike me as a patsy, so…

    1. JTMcPhee

      Repeat after me: “There is no such thing as The Deep State. America’s Government is a government of laws, not of men.”

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