Monday, May 01, 2017

Truman's Greatest Blunder?

After the war, Oppenheimer, Acheson and others were tasked with the problem of how to control the nuclear Genii they had loosed on the world. They came up with a plan, but Bernard Baruch torpedoed it. This fragment of dialog between Truman and Oppenheimer is a good illustration of the kinds of errors of judgement even a smart President can make:

“When will the Russians be able to build the bomb?” asked Truman.

“I don’t know,” said Oppenheimer.

“I know.”

“When?”

“Never.”

At some level, for Harry Truman, US monopoly mooted the issue of international control.

Rhodes, Richard. Dark Sun: The Making Of The Hydrogen Bomb (pp. 241-242). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.