Seventy years ago on this date, the United States military detonated an atomic bomb in the Nevada desert with 6,500 combat personnel as witnesses, many in foxholes. In the cutesy jargon of the era, the event was called Operation Buster-Jangle. These tests were milestones in the development of nuclear weapons following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki intended to bring World War II to an end.
Atomic bombs fostered awe among the public but the nation’s determination to demonstrate superiority was amplified one year later on November 1, 1952, with the test detonation of the first hydrogen (thermonuclear) device at Enewetak, an atoll of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific.
Mutually assured destruction (MAD) became a meme for the end of civilization as multiple nations engaged in and showed off their nuclear musculature.
Mutually assured destruction (MAD) became a meme for the end of civilization as multiple nations engaged in and showed off their nuclear musculature. The 1962 Cuban missile crisis drove the reality of nuclear conflict across the globe. Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) dramatized that fear with deadly sarcastic comedy in 1964.
A number of nuclear arms treaties (mostly US-Russian) were concluded in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. By the 1980s, President Reagan adopted the phrase Trust But Verify as a theme to guide nuclear treaty discussions. Ironically, as it turns out, the phrase has Russian origins, an entendre that Reagan employed for dramatic effect with Russia’s leadership.
Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) have been pursued, mainly with Russia, with the latest concluded on October 21, 2021. The stability and reliability of such détente among nations is challenged by the behavior of North Korea.
It is doubtful that any current poll would produce results that loving the bomb has become the predominant belief in the US.