When Dr. Robert Oppenheimer witnessed the Trinity test, the first explosion of an atomic weapon, he is quoted as saying, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” However, that is a bit of a misnomer as the line became part of the public lexicon after a 1965 interview when he was asked about his initial reaction to seeing the test. He said that he thought of the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita. So, it was a thought that has now been altered to being his quote. Anyway, he later went on to say that “The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country.”
So, Oppenheimer had observed first hand the destructive potential of nuclear weapons. The world saw the true impact of just a relatively small nuclear weapon at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Oppenheimer, like many others suggest that the nuclear age might make war extinct..that the destruction wrought was not worth any potential gain. Alfred Nobel thought that his invention of dynamite would make war obsolete. Wars have certainly gone on after dynamite and there have been many since the first atomic explosion. But, we have not seen any more world wars, of which there have been many with the most horrific in history being World War I and World War II. Some would argue that nuclear weapons have made such large scale violence obsolete. Fear of someone going nuclear has always been on the minds of nations and in particular, the Soviet Union and the United States who took on the MAD policy of Mutually Assured Destruction. If one side used nukes, the other would do the same and everyone would lose.
But, in the 1970’s 1980’s in particular, a movement to ban nuclear weapons world wide really got going in some circles. Arms limitations agreements arose that called for the reduction in nuclear weapons on the part of the Soviets and Americans. But, others had nuclear weapons and now still more nations have them with others trying to get them. So, with the proliferation of technology and nations desiring to have the ultimate deterrent for security, how does one really think that the world can be “rid” of nuclear weapons. Does anyone really think that a terrorist who gets his hands on one would give it up because no one else has them or would he be more likely to use one? Would India really trust Pakistan, and vice-versa enough to give up their weapons? If there have been no world wars since the nuclear age, is it really a good idea to go back to a world without the nuclear deterrence…to the time when there were global conflicts, including the two biggest in the first half of the 20th century?
Apparently, President Obama’s remarks to the United Nations regarding disarmament and non-proliferation suggest that he thinks its the way to go. In June of 2009, President Obama warned Iran against developing nuclear weapons, which seems to be consistent with the position of global disarmament and non-proliferation. But, Iran continues to defy UN sanctions and threats and continues to develop its nuclear program and many feel threatened in the region, particularly Israel. At some point in time, if Iran getsa nuclear weapon, that very fact will be a deterrent from anyone attacking Iran so if one needs to stop the nuclear program by force,then it must be done before it is complete. An pre-emptive strike by Israel might be described as an act of self preservation, an act of war or an act of enforcement of the ideals of a non-proliferation policy.
The former security advisor to President Carter seems to suggest now that the US should consider shooting down any Israeli aircraft that might fly over Iraqi airspace if they tried to attack Iran in an effort to stop them from completing their program that is said to be one of weapons aspiration. So, in effect what Zbigniew Brzezinski is saying is that the US should be the last line of defense for Iran. If Iran is indeed developign nuclear weapons and the “world” does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons but has not been able to stop it, then wouldn’t such action proposed by Brzenski mean that the US would be using force against an allie in order to allow Iran to complete its desire to develop a nuclear weapon, which would go against the Obama adminstration stance regaring disarmament and non-proliferation?
Is the disarmament policy of the US or the west in general a good idea and should the US use force, if necesary, to prevent Israel from preventing further proliferation and also to maintain its own security? Is Brzezinski’s statement contradictory to the Obama stance as outlined to the UN or is it consistent? Is it dangerous for a former security advisor to be even making such a public suggestion? My guess is that you probably are not a diplomat, but I’d wager that you do have an opinion.
On This Date In History: This date in 1861 was not a good day for flying. At 3:30 AM on April 20, 1861 Thaddeus S C Lowe decided it was a good time to test his new 20,000 cubic foot balloon called Enterprise. I’m not sure if the balloon was shown in the Star Trek movie that showed all of the previous vessels called Enterprise. I don’t think that I recall that being the case. Anyway, he takes off from Cincinnati before the sun comes up and his little test mission turned into a misadventure. He got whisked away by 100 mph winds aloft that sent him to South Carolina. He thought he’d get welcomed like a crowned prince like the Wizard of Oz. Instead he was arrested as a spy. Apparently the professor was absent minded as he had no clue that 6 days before Fort Sumnter had fallen and the Civil War had begun. Fellow academics convinced the state authorities that Lowe was on a scientific mission and they let him go.
I’m not sure if Lowe was ticked at being arrested or if his buddies were
wrong because Lowe promptly went north and became the leader of the Union’s Army of the Potomac Aeronautic Corps of balloonists. Lowe designed and built several balloons for a whole Union fleet with the largest being the 32,000 cubic foot Intrepid that required 1200 yards of silk. This was a group of mainly civilians who made some 3000 flights in the first two years of the war. They would tether up and view the battlefield from aloft and then use a telegraph to wire down the enemy position and direct artillery fire. It was the forerunner to aerial reconnaissance. In fact, later in WWI, the airplane was used initially for that purpose until it was discovered you could drop bombs from planes or put machine guns on the plane and shoot down enemy planes and blimps. Anyway, on this date in 1861 Lowe himself was shot down. Somehow he ended up behind enemy lines. I don’t know if he got caught up in another 100 mph wind or enemy fire cut his tether or if he was just going on another “scientific excursion” but down he went and he was captured again. His wife Leontine was a witness to the whole thing. Did she sit and cry? Did she hope that academics would again get her husband set free? Nope. Instead, she personally led a raid of nighttime commandos who moved in and rescued the professor.
Before the war, Lowe had established a reputation for new theories and study in Chemistry, Meteorology and Aviation. He had a dream of a transatlantic balloon flight. I guess he got rich because after the war, he moved to Pasadena, CA and built a 24,000 foot house. He established a railroad to Mount Wilson and tinkered in all sorts of things. They’ve named a Mountain for him and the Lowe Observatory among other things. Funny thing is the guy ended up living with his daughter in her Pasadena home as he lost his fortune. Makes you wonder if now California will rename its mountains something like Mount AIG or Mount Lehman Brothers.
Weather Bottom Line: The forecast is holding on track. That is for more of the same. More clouds than sunshine with rain chances through Saturday. The Hydrological Prediction Center has rainfall totals for Friday Through Sunday the greatest just to our east/northeast. We are in the inch to inch and a half range with the maximum of 3.26″ at the conjunction of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky borders. That’s close enough to ponder whether or not we may get a bit more than currently advertised. The risk for strong storms will be greates with an initial front late Saturday. Sunday should be pretty nice with drier air and sunshine then cooler air for the first part of the week comes in. Look for upper 60’s and low 70’s on Monday with Tuesday probably a little cooler. In fact, overnight lows in the 40’s Tuesday morning will probably be fairly common. You could tell last night that we’d be cloudy with rain today…there was a channel of moisture streaming up from the Gulf to our west that extended into Iowa. It was fairly predictable that would shift over the Ohio Valley…and sure enough…we got it this morning and the clouds stuck around all day.