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Problems foretold - a brief essay as we look ahead to 2010

By       Message Richard Spisak       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Under the tree of lights, a few mornings ago I found a book of essays by the scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer. He had been chosen to lead the scientific team at Los Alamos that developed the first nuclear weapons. He later became a fierce critic of Atomic Warfare, and worked tirelessly to solve the problems of Atomic Energy, Weapons [and what we now call proliferation]. I want to share some thoughts that arose after reading one of the essays written back in 1946. How very prescient, he was back at the dawn of the Atomic Age.

His calls for the Internationalization of Atomic Energy as well as Weapons research resulted in his being catapulted from the highest levels of national scientific policy. Ultimately he lost all of his clearances. Internationalism was an unwelcome stance during the McCarthy era.

Oppenheimer offers in his 1946 essay a suggestion wherein the threats of Atomic warfare, and the promise of Atomic power can be freed from the dangerous instability of the nation state. Again and again he shows that it will be nearly impossible to cultivate the benefits of Atomic (Nuclear) Power without the increasing spread of the inevitable threats of Atomic Warfare.

He outlines the obvious benefits that would follow from an new International Atomic Agency or a U.N. Atomic Authority which could control and disseminate the benefits of Atomic Power while simultaneously limiting access to the dangerous weaponized nuclear materials. He also delineates the difficulties that will face any nation or bloc of nations when they try to verify any nuclear proliferation treaties. He dismisses those that would suggest that the knowledge of Atomic Weapons development and power could be constrained by borders and political theologies. He further states that even strict adherence to guidelines intended to constrain the type of nuclear materials generated to those which would be optimized for power generation purposes, would in the end create materials suitable [if not optimized] for weapons applications.

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He further anticipates that wars will be unleashed as the result of unsatisfactory investigations into Atomic proliferation. He suggests that this will be the cause of countless and unnecessary innocent civilian deaths. He also points out that since information on nuclear research can never be contained, and since such dangerous knowledge will always be sought. chasing loose information will be both an endless as well as fruitless endeavor.

A far better solution he suggests would be to Internationalize Atomic Power and Weapons research. Information must be shared if only for the necessity of maintaining leadership in research. He had hoped to disconnect the benefits of nuclear (referred to then as Atomic) power by the Internationalization of all Nuclear Power research.

FLASH FORWARD half a century... Wondering about weapons in Iraq, we better invade! Mistrust Iran? Weapons of mass-destruction in the hands of unstable regimes across Central Asia. Seems that J. Robert had a heck of a point? Nuclear weapons out of control, weapons in the hands of unstable governments, J. Robert wasn't afraid of the Black helicopters. He could see far enough into the future to see the missing weapons of mass-destruction in Iraq, the mistrust of Iran, and the instability of Israel and Pakistan? Maybe we should revisit the ideas of removing these dangerous weapons from the hands of myopic militant nationalists.

solidarity & peace

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Rick Spisak


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An activist since the Edmund Pettis Bridge March, and the Chicago Police Riot of 1968 when Pigasus was Nominated. Recently a founding member of Miami for Peace, Richard has produced and edited the ( website which has carried (more...)

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