It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Senator Thomas Dodd liked the neutron bomb mainly because he hated communism. He presented a memo endorsing the bomb but John F. Kennedy wasn’t interested. When Dodd persisted, he reminded Cohen that although the fight against communism was important, “the first duty of a politician is to be elected.”
Elected representatives on committees that established policy at the highest level were motivated by base self-interest, expediency, and petty rivalries. They were not only ignorant, but uninterested in educating themselves. Given a choice between saving public money and spending it, they preferred to spend it.
George Orwell suggested in his novel 1984 that a totalitarian state would benefit most from a war which seems threatening yet is never sufficiently dangerous to defeat the nation and can be prolonged almost indefinitely. An ongoing conflict of this type provides an outlet for destructive energy and justifies material sacrifices while discouraging dissent.
I saw George Bush Junior standing on an aircraft carrier, dressed like an Air Force pilot, shouting “Bring it on!” And unlike his father, he didn’t look depressed at all, even though he was ordering thousands of young soldiers into a conflict that was quite capable of killing them, while threatening to undo all the prosperity that we had created for ourselves during our freedom from fear.
My only question is why this fear-based charade still works, and I guess the answer is that the fear makes us stupid enough to allow it to work.
A "salted" nuclear weapon is reminiscent of fission-fusion-fission weapons, but instead of a fissionable jacket around the secondary stage fusion fuel, a non-fissionable blanket of a specially chosen salting isotope is used (cobalt-59 in the case of the cobalt bomb). This blanket captures the escaping fusion neutrons to breed a radioactive isotope that maximizes the fallout hazard from the weapon rather than generating additional explosive force (and dangerous fission fallout) from fast fission of U-238.
Variable fallout effects can be obtained by using different salting isotopes. Gold has been proposed for short-term fallout (days), tantalum and zinc for fallout of intermediate duration (months), and cobalt for long term contamination (years). To be useful for salting, the parent isotopes must be abundant in the natural element, and the neutron-bred radioactive product must be a strong emitter of penetrating gamma rays.
Such a weapon obviously would be more civilized than large-scale hydrogen bombs, and would also be more humane than conventional bombs, because it would create an all-or-nothing, live-or-die scenario in which no one would be wounded.
I remember Cohen in his study, as amiably irascible as I expected and had hoped he would be. I have an image of him lurking in a room of many windows, with a lot of dark varnished wood. I think of him on a La-Z-Boy recliner, scowling at CNN. He was ironic, funny, fatalistic, but still fundamentally an idealist and very much a patriot.