July 29, 2016

1968. The U.S. and Russia Sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Moscow Sees Nuclear Parity
A naval rocket on display in the Red Square during Moscow's May Day parade, May 1, 1963 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

July 1, 1968

President Johnson's announcement today that the United States and Moscow will soon start talking about nuclear arms reduction has made the world a little less nervous . . . but not less dangerous.

One of the unspoken factors inherent in the Russian agreement to sign the international treaty outlawing the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a fact of military logistics possessed by the Kremlin.

If history is any guide, the Soviet general staff would never have acceded to such a pact—nor approved the impending U.S.-Russian negotiations concerning anti-ballistic missile systems and nuclear arms reduction—if the Kremlin leaders were not sure of one thing: that the Soviet Union now feels it is in a position of such assured power that she can deal from a position of strength with the United States. In other words, the Communist leaders in Moscow now judge that they have nuclear parity with America.

Bolstering the assessment is the final military posture report by outgoing Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Submitted to the Congress last February, that report revealed that last year the Russians had more than doubled their land-based intercontinental missiles to more than seven hundred . . . not including a growing number of smaller, intermediate range nuclear rockets aboard submarines and ships.

Thus the unofficial estimates here in Washington conclude that, during the last ten months of accelerated Soviet missile production, the Russians have equaled, if not surpassed in numbers, the 1,000 plus ICBMs in the land-based United States arsenal. However, they have not yet approached the almost seven hundred Polaris and Poseidon missiles which arm the American nuclear submarine fleet.

A few years ago, any report that the Russians might have "caught up" or "pulled even" with U.S. nuclear weaponry would have had dramatic and chaotic military and political repercussions. The repercussions may still come.

But in the doomsday mathematics of nuclear warfare, mere numbers of supersonic weapons or megatonnage of a warhead or bomb have long ceased to have any meaning. The fact of life and death in this nuclear age is that, for the past decade, the United States and Russia have been locked in a nuclear stalemate, and nuclear warfare has been prevented by the certain knowledge of both of these superpowers that an attack by one would mean automatic national suicide.

Perhaps of equal significance is Russia's sudden agreement to discuss the limitation of nuclear weapons, including the controversial anti-ballistic missile systems. Credit for this diplomatic breakthrough in nuclear arms policy certainly must go to former Secretary McNamara. Last September McNamara addressed a meeting of United Press International editors in San Francisco, where he protested against the "mad momentum" of a nuclear arms race with the Soviets and proposed that the two governments sit down and discuss ways and means nuclear arms control and limitation.

The new nuclear agreements with the Russians do not mean that the US will suddenly cancel the so-called $5 billion "thin-line" anti-missile system designed for defense against Red China. And the Russians have no intention of tearing down their own uncompleted ABM system.

But today's diplomatic ceremonies at the Kremlin and the White House were an act of sanity in an unstable world, and in a sense they were a tribute to the vision of Robert McNamara.

July 27, 2016

1978. "Reflections on Power and Influence" by Charles Collingwood

Reflections on Power and Influence


CBS war correspondent Charles Collingwood delivered this speech on international affairs at Kansas State University on November 3, 1978:

Reflections on Power and Influence
I regard it as a signal honor to be invited to deliver some remarks in a series named for and in honor of Governor Alf Landon, for he is not only a friend, but he has been for a long while an example to me of those qualities which are most admirable in the American life and the American spirit. Moreover, his whole career is a kind of parable of the thesis I will put forward to you today.

Part of my subject is power, but you will be glad to know that I am not addressing myself to the administration's energy program, which would be considerably more opaque than anything I will have to say to you this morning. Rather, I want to talk about power and its alternatives in the context of international affairs. International affairs and foreign policy, something I know occupies Governor Landon very much and on which he is very knowledgeable. It also conforms to the bent of my own interests, having been a foreign correspondent for a large part of my career.

"Power" is one of the strongest and in some ways one of the most ambiguous words in our language. We can speak of "solar power" and "occult power." The word can connote both physical force and mystical effects. I want to talk about power in the specialized sphere of international relations. Power as a nation's capacity, usually by military means, to bend other nations to its will. The capacity that causes some countries to be labeled "superpowers," and others "great powers;" still others "minor powers."

And I want to contrast that with something called "influence."

Now, power and influence are often confused, both in theoretical discourse and in common parlance, but there is a difference. As one whose trade is in words, I make frequent recourse to dictionaries. Let me quote excerpts from the Oxford English Dictionary. It defines power as, among other things, "The ability to act upon or affect something strongly . . . physical strength, might, vigor, telling force."

Now of "influence," it says, "The capacity of producing effects . . . without the employment of physical force or the exercise of formal authority . . . sway, control or authority not formally or overtly expressed."

It is a crucial difference. The exercise of power in international affairs is a highly visible, overt act. The exercise of influence is often unseen. Power depends upon physical strength; influence upon moral, intellectual, economic, and other forms of persuasion. Quite often, especially in international terms, a nation's influence also of course depends upon the possession of power and the possibility that in some circumstances it might be employed. That is certainly the case with the United States. The fact of our military power has a great deal to do with our ability to exercise influence. This is also true of the Soviet Union. But a nation's influence does not increase in direct relationship to its power.

Thus if we accept for purposes of argument—it's an argument I don't want to get into in this context—that the United States and the Soviet Union are roughly equivalent in terms of power, there is little doubt that the United States has more influence in the world than the Soviet Union. An instance in point is the Middle East, where, in spite of our long-standing commitment to Israel, one of the contestants, it is the United States and not Russia which is influential enough with both sides to act as mediator.

It can be argued that Russia has great influence in the Third World, but that influence has proved remarkably transitory and has often depended upon acts of power, such as the introduction of the Cubans into Angola and Somalia. Incidentally, it's also true in the Third World of China, which is not in the same league in power terms with Russia and the United States. And of course the United States exercises great influence in the Third World.

The distinction between power and influence as instruments of foreign policy is becoming increasingly important and is likely to become more important still. The reason for this is straightforward: given the vast nuclear arsenals of the two superpowers—and the mutual assured destruction which that means—resorts to the exercise of naked power have become increasingly risky, and such resorts are apt to be much fewer than in the past and on a more limited scale.

Now if this is so, it follows that the achievement of our foreign policy objectives will depend more on the exercise of our influence to encourage the developments we wish than on intervening with military power to bring them about. The difficulty with this is that much of our doctrine, and the accepted view of our role, indeed, our whole national mindset, has been based on a willingness to use our military power as a last, or even next to last, resort.

Today, even without the deterring effects of the nuclear balance of terror, we also have the profound psychological deterrent of the Vietnam experience. We are now, as a nation, most reluctant to use our military power. So is the Soviet Union, but not as reluctant as we. The Russians will use their power by proxy, at least, as we have seen in Africa, or directly, as we saw ten years ago in Czechoslovakia. Doctrinally, they have by no means ruled out the use of force as completely as we. You can read that in their technical military journals. And how else can you interpret their extraordinary military buildup, across the board from nuclear weapons to conventional ones? Nevertheless, the Russians are very prudent about exercising their power in ways which might bring them into irrevocable conflict with us involving the likelihood of a nuclear exchange.

So, in the short and perhaps middle-term, we are entering an era in which the application of influence, backed of course by our military and economic strength, will be more important in the day-to-day conduct of diplomacy than the application of raw force. This inevitably reduces some of our options and greatly increases others.

Case in point: twenty years ago, the delicately-balanced Christian and Moslem arrangement government of Lebanon began to come apart at the seams. Civil war threatened. President Eisenhower sent in the Marines and equilibrium was reestablished. For, say, fifteen years thereafter, Lebanon was an oasis of tranquility in the Middle East. But when, in 1975, caught in the tensions of the Middle East turmoil, Lebanon began to disintegrate again into the civil war which is still raging. When that happened, the American option of sending in the Marines no longer existed. It was the Syrians from one end and the Israelis from the other who sent in forces, with decidedly mixed results. All the United States could do, and can do yet, is to try to exercise its influence. And the results of that effort, I'm afraid, have been mixed, too.

I will go further and say that in considerable measure, the difficulties which the present administration has encountered in our relations with other countries stems in large part from a failure to understand of what our influence consists and how to bring it to bear in order to further our interests and to achieve the ends that we seek.

The fact is that the United States influences other nations whether it wants to or not. Influence is inherent in us because of our size, strength, and resources, physical, technological, and of national character. The United States gives off influence the way a plutonium atom gives off radiation. We exert influence when we don't do something, as well as when we do. It's in the nature of our whole position in the world. It behooves us then to understand more clearly how influence works.

Over the centuries, we have learned something about the techniques of the exercise of power. Even when our strategy was mistaken, our tactics in the application of power have been relatively sophisticated. But that is not true of our use of our influence, of which we have really only a rough and ready comprehension—except we know it's there. We have not always used our influence wisely or well.

The open exertion of influence now seems to us somehow nobler and cleaner than covert operations of which we have indulged, mainly through the agency of the CIA, but that does not mean that it is automatically more successful.

A case in point is the administration's emphasis on human rights in other countries. Now, on the face of it, nothing is more laudable or consistent with the best of our traditions than an emphasis on human rights, but as a component of foreign policy it is a very ticklish matter. To use our influence to try to rectify or prevent human rights violations in other countries can involve us in many contradictions and unwanted distractions from other policy goals. The most obvious is that we may appear—and I might say we have appeared—to be inconsistent and hypocritical if we apply an ideal human rights yardstick more severely toward our antagonists than toward our friends.

Our leaders do not say much about human rights in Iran these days, for instance, for perfectly understandable reasons. We think the Shah's regime, with all its faults, is a stabilizing influence in the area—and also the country has a great deal of oil. On the other hand, we talk a great deal about human rights in the Soviet Union and have even toyed with the idea of making our trade arrangements—even at one time the SALT negotiations—contingent upon Soviet acceptance of the kind of human rights standards we approve. Now this is not just the administration's policy, it's Congress' as well. In 1974, the Jackson-Vanik amendment linked U.S. trade with the Russians to a more lenient Soviet policy toward would-be Jewish immigrants. The immediate result was that the Soviet authorities cut back still further on Jewish immigration.

The fact is that to try to tell other countries how to manage their human rights invites, and has frequently produced, confrontation rather than compliance or cooperation. Naturally, this has been recognized by policy makers, and so we have tended to apply our influence in regard to human rights sporadically and selectively and according to how it affects the realization of other goals in which we are interested. The result is, as I have suggested, we have often unnecessarily laid ourselves open to charges of hypocrisy and inconsistency. But to my mind the ultimate flexibility in our policy that we have shown, which has been criticized, is really all to the good.

There are other worthy ends to which we have bent our influence. One is to curtail the dangerous international traffic in conventional arms. Yet while deploring it, and antagonizing some countries who sought in vain to have our weapons, we still remain the largest arms merchant in the world, especially to those countries who, for the moment at least, seem more congenial to us, which produces more charges of hypocrisy.

Again, the Congress is as often at fault as the administration. The logic of the Congressional decision to cut off arms supplies to Turkey as punishment for its invasion of Cyprus was based on dubious logic at best, since the same case could have been made as well as against Turkey as against Greece. And the result was to embitter our relations with Turkey, to weaken the southern flank of NATO, push Turkey toward the Russians, and damage the chances for a settlement in Cyprus. I would call it an instance of misapplied influence. The Congress, which started it all, obviously agreed, for it repealed the Turkish arms ban last summer after three years.

There are many other examples which leap to the mind, but it's not my purpose to offer a catalogue of squandered influence, but rather to underline the importance of influence—as opposed to power—and the delicacy with which it must be employed to further our purposes.

Now, what is it that gives a country influence? One thing, as I have suggested, is its military strength; the possession of potential coercive power, held in abeyance, perhaps, but there as a last resort. Thus power and influence are linked, although they're different.

Who would argue that Israel's military power and its demonstrated willingness to use it does not contribute greatly to its influence in the Middle East arena? Russia's influence clearly stems in large measure from its military power much more than its ideology, which has not really commended itself to very many nations—not within its military sphere. The Soviet Union also has a great deal of influence vis-à-vis us as with the SALT talks because of its military power.

But if power and influence are connected, power is by no means the only component of influence. When Stalin contemptuously asked how many divisions does the Pope have, he was talking about power. But not even the Communists would deny the influence which the Catholic Church can bring to bear on a broad array of situations.

But next to military power, a nation's influence in the world depends most conspicuously on its economic strength. Much of America's influence derives from our economy, with its high technology, its huge agricultural surpluses.

It is West Germany's economic strength which has made it the dominant influence, the economic engine, in Western Europe, and it's Britain's economic decline which has been a major factor in its comparative loss of influence. It is the economic performance of industrious, ingenious, protectionist Japan, a negligible military power, which has raised it into the first rank of nations in terms of influence—which it's often reluctant to apply except in the economic sphere, but the influence is there. And of course there is no more obvious example of influence derived from economic strength than that of the oil producing countries who can hold the world at ransom.

Another kind of influence is cultural. The Russians and Chinese are very conscious of this. Denied, or self-denied, many of the continuous contacts with other countries, they make great play with traveling shows of art, archaeology, ballet, and so forth expedited to the far corners of the earth as a kind of exertion of influence. Sports is a part of it, as witness the Olympics, and don't forget that it was ping-pong diplomacy that paved the way for the Sino-American reconciliation.

The influence of American culture, in the broadest sense, is very pervasive. Our literature, theater, films, and graphic and plastic arts, indeed our television programs, are widely disseminated and highly influential in the sense that they, like the dollar, however much it may be depreciated, are the contemporary standard by which the currency of other cultures is measured. Indeed, the whole American lifestyle, from fast food chains to motels, supermarkets, popular music, fashions in dress and attitudes is, if not universally admired, at least widely imitated. The contagion of American culture is certainly influential in itself and is a symbol of our overall influence.

A nation's leadership has much to do with its influence in the world. To the extent that the leadership is perceived by others to be wise, strong, and stable, it commands respect and often adherence, which is part of what constitutes influence. Now De Gaulle is an example of that kind of leadership—a small country without great power while he was there. Churchill was another example, as was Kennedy when he was president. Even Nixon was always much better thought of abroad than in his own country. When a country's leadership, as has sometimes happened in the present American administration, appears to other people to be unsure, willful, or downright weak, that country's influence suffers.

Not the least of what goes into making a nation influential in the world are the policies it pursues in the international sphere. And if those policies are seen to be well-conceived, consistent, generous, and in the interests of all rather than one nation alone, then the nation pursuing these policies will inspire confidence on the part of other nations, gain their cooperation, secure their friendship. However, this is true only to the extent that those policies are real and not just rhetorical. No amount of high-minded speeches from America's leaders about policy can take the place of policy in action, in actual pursuit of the goals proclaimed, of doing what we say we want to do. That's another way of saying that a nation's influence depends to an important degree upon its reputation for reliability. A nation, like an individual, must be countable upon to fulfill obligations and to see its undertakings through.

As St. Paul said, "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

But a nation's leadership and its ability to execute its policies do not exist in a vacuum. They are surrounded by a sea of public opinion, and that sea is made up of many waves of special interests, special pleading, special attitudes. For a country to exert influence in foreign affairs as well as domestic affairs, it must have the understanding and the confidence and the support of its own people. This nation in particular must inform and convince its public opinion of what it is doing, and that what it is doing is right, if it is fully to bring its influence to bear.

There are many other factors which contribute to a nation's influence: the general perception of the national character, of its governmental institutions, of its example to the rest of the world. They're all of them important, for influence is a kind of market basket of all of a nation's strengths, and some of its weaknesses, of its resources, attributes, and governance. It is fundamental to the conduct of our foreign policy, especially since power is denied us in so many circumstances.

Influence is as old as power and has always been an associate of it, but through most of history power has had the primacy. This nation was born in a struggle for power; we've used power more than once. I am suggesting that that has changed, and that being enjoined at this juncture from any casual use of power, we must accept influence as its substitute. I pray we will not use our influence casually, because it can be as expendable and as unreliable as power itself.

We've heard much of the limitations of power. Former Senator Eugene McCarthy wrote a book with that title, although I do not take my theme from him—he wasn't talking about the same thing, really. We must also realize that influence has its limitations as well. The national pride of other countries, their traditions, the stubbornness of their leaders and their public opinion, all conspire to make them resistant to the influence of others. Moreover, by its very definition, since it does not involve the use of overt force or domination, influence implies compromise. Compromise is no easy thing. It involves negotiation, trade-offs, and a sure appreciation of what we want most if we can't have it all. In other words, the influencing nation must often, in turn, allow itself to be influenced by others. It's a two-way street.

This, I may say, has not always been our way in the international sphere. Yet to be influenced by others may not be as great a handicap as the most prideful of us might think. After all, it is the way we've learned to order our own lives in our own communities. As individuals we all get along by engaging in a daily series of compromises; doing some things we might prefer not to do in order to be able to do other things we reckon to be more important.

It would seem clear that this is precisely the way we will have to conduct our relations with other states in this period of history if we are to avoid physical conflict which, in the case of nations, is war. And it is the avoidance of war which is the ultimate test of diplomacy.

The use of compromise and the reliance upon influence rather than power seems to be a relatively straightfoward prescription for dealing with international affairs. However it's not as easy to put into practice on an international scale as in the ordinary lives of individuals. In a world which is both increasingly interdependent and increasingly antagonistic, the range of hard choices which daily present themselves to a decision-maker are enormous. And many of them are interconnected and rub off one upon another, so that trade-offs are inevitable, and as often as not we will have to settle for less than our optimum goals in one area so as not to compromise the achievement of something essential in another.

Thomas Hughes, who is the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has a theory which he's expounded on several occasions. It is that the essence of foreign policy today is the management of contradictions. It's his contention, and I agree with it, that in world affairs in this latter part of the twentieth century, contradictions are inevitable. That is, most situations contain or seem to contain inherently incompatible factors, and the art of diplomacy is to reconcile these without armed conflict. Whether or not that is formally recognized, it's certainly the way that this administration is acting, and doubtless the next will and the one after that will have to deal with problems. The effort to deal with the inescapable contradictions in today's pluralized world politics through influence rather than power is a challenging one.

It involves, as we have seen in the present administration, a number of apparent inconsistencies. It's easy, all too easy, to charge the president with doing something in one situation which he would not do in another at least superficially similar situation. This stems in large part, it seems to me, from our architectonic instinct; our desire to create a model of the world and our role in it which is structured, tidy, and internally consistent.

Unfortunately, that's not the way the world is, if it ever was. How often have we heard the call for the promulgation of an all embracing foreign policy, a kind of grand strategy embracing our relations with the Soviet Union, China, Western Europe, the Third World, automatic answers for everything from SALT to the Middle East to South Africa, Angola, Zaire, not to mention the oil-producing nations, and all the complexities of international economics. But in our contradictory world, so full of surprises and unforeseen developments, there ain't no such thing—no such grand strategy. We yearn for such a seamless and consistent set of policies. Worse, we often act as though there were such.

My own medium, television, and indeed the daily press as well, contributes heavily to this. We are the great simplifiers, boiling down complexities into easily grasped simplicities. We tend to measure our leaders by how well they measure up to unachievable standards of rigid consistency which the media, I must say with the help of the leaders themselves, have largely created. How many stories have you read or heard of alleged departures from this unattainable consistency? The media might do better to explore the complexities of a situation and discuss the true options open to policy makers.

Having said that, let me hasten to add that the present administration has done little to help its own cause in this regard. It sometimes seems that the president and his advisers are as caught up in the mystique of consistency and coherence as is the media and the public. When, as sometimes is bound to happen, the administration is apparently caught in an inconsistency, its tendency is not to explain why it acted as it did, but rather to pretend and insist until it's blue in the face that there really was no inconsistency at all.

Now I'm not trying to elevate inconsistency to a guiding principle of foreign policy, but only to say that some of it is inevitable and that we should recognize it as such and not expect or demand adherence to a spurious coherence in the conduct of our foreign affairs. As I have indicated, compromise is essential in the management of affairs in a world in which influence is, on a day-to-day basis, a more important factor than power. And a series of compromises imply a certain degree at least of apparent inconsistency.

The same holds true of other countries, not least the Soviet Union. It's an old habit of ours to hold up our antagonists as exemplars of virtues we feel are wanting in ourselves. Thus, the policy of the Soviet Union is often presented as a model of consistency in contrast to the presumed waywardness of American policy.

Well, I do not think this is true or that it will bear examination. The Russians blow hot and cold at least as often as we, and have indeed in many cases been more willing than we to abandon unprofitable adventures and seek other avenues.

As Emerson grandly declared, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen, philosophers, and divines." The experience of men and nations bear him out.

Let me recall an old and certainly apocryphal story about an alumnus who returned to visit the hallowed halls of his university, it might have been this one. Encountering an acquaintance, he asked how things were and was told they hadn't changed much. And he asked whether old professor so-and-so's examinations were still as difficult as ever.

"Oh, yes," was the reply. "He hasn't changed. He still asks the same questions every year."

"Well, I would have thought that that would have made his exams pretty easy."

"Oh, no," was the response, "every year he expects different answers."

Now in a period in which influence is likely to prevail more often than physical power, what is needed is not consistency, or a grand and rigid design, but rather a set of goals and priorities which we should seek to achieve despite disappointments, setbacks, and some sacrifice of pristine consistency. In other words, new answers to old questions. It's the formulation of goals and priorities, and the creation of a consensus in support of them, which should be a major preoccupation of our foreign policy and the public discussion of it.

But setting goals is one thing and achieving them is another. If I am correct in my conviction that influence has become a more important tool in the usual handling of our foreign policy than power, then it's going to require a great deal of rigorous thinking about what our influence is and how it really works in the world. We've been so used to thinking in terms of power and the threat of it, that the vastly subtler use of influence has been neglected, if not impugned. Influence, in many connotations, has a pejorative implication. We tend to think of "influence peddling," wire-pulling, under the counter deals, and other unsavory activities. Actually, influence is not, or should not be, that sort of thing at all. It can, and should be, benign.

But it must be said that influence is a much more amorphous concept than power. It is more difficult to define. It resists quantification in terms of megatonnage and predictable accuracy and yield. But it, and not nuclear weaponry alone, is likely to be our principal reliance in resolving the disagreements among nations and in establishing the kind of attitudes which we wish.

To use our influence to its best advantage will require rethinking and a change of attitudes from our instinctive and historic addiction to sheer power or the threat of it

Let me close with an example.

Alf Landon's whole career makes my point, if you'll think about it. Although I've been talking about the life of nations, there are many analogies with the lives of individuals. As far as I know, Alf Landon never commanded much actual power—twice, perhaps, in his long career. Once as a lieutenant in the First World War, where he had a lieutenant's small authority over a small fragment of our military establishment. Again as governor of Kansas when the state police and the National Guard were to some extent under his command. But it was not these meager instrumentalities of power which gave him the prestige and authority and capacity to produce useful results which he has had in this state, in this region, in this whole country. It is the influence based on his accomplishments, the general regard in which he has been held, and above all on his character, his strong convictions, and his willingness to stand up and be counted. Thus, Governor Landon is a living parable for my theme, which is that in the wider world, influence can be as significant as power.

Of course, in the long run power is more important than influence. But in the long run, we will all be dead. And that certainly will be the result if the superpowers resort to power rather than influence in settling their disputes. Thus, it is incumbent upon us as a nation, while maintaining enough power to defend ourselves and those dependent on us, to understand where our influence lies and to use it where power is unacceptable.

Thank you very much.

July 22, 2016

1946. The Bomb Detonates Over Bikini Atoll

"The Greatest Explosive Charge Ever Contrived by Man"
"A mushroom cloud forms after the first nuclear test off Bikini Atoll in July 1946" (source)
From The Kansas City Times, July 1, 1946, by Frank Bartholomew:

TENSE IN THE SKY
_______
 
Observers are Relieved When B-29 Carrying Bomb Is Air-Borne
________

LONG WAIT FOR THE BLAST
________

Black Glasses Keep Reporters From Seeing Flash of Explosion
________

Eyewitness Describes Upward Course of Cloud—Target Fleet is Obscured
________

By FRANK H. BARTHOLOMEW
(Representing Combined U.S. Press)
Aboard B-29 Observation Plane Over Bikini, July 1 (Monday) (AP)—I saw an airplane with a deadly cargo waiting poised on a ramp paralleling the airstrip at Kwajalein at dawn today.

In front of it, a rubber-tired tractor waited, motor running, to ease the bomb carrier and its sensitive cargo down the incline and into position for the takeoff.

Our press radio observation plane, twin of the bomb carrier, taxied to the head of the runway at 5:15 a.m.


Riflemen Guard Plane

Maj. Woodrow P. Swancutt's bomber, 100 feet to our right, was guarded by four riflemen. At the side of the ramp, toward our plane, stood a fire engine with emergency equipment.

Original plans, calling for us to take off seven minutes after the bomb carrier, and to follow it to the target, were changed at the last minute. Our plane was ordered off first, so the method would be provided to report to the world any misadventure to the atomic bomb, the bomb carrier, and to Kwajalein if "Dave's Dream" crashed in taking off.

Back of the bomb carrier, as we sped past on our own take-off, was a fenced rectangle behind which the atom bomb had reposed until yesterday noon, when it was transferred to the bombing plane.

It appeared to be a wooden fence about ten feet high covered with tar paper and topped with strands of barbed wire.

At each corner were two electric lights, with lights on top of the fence, and red warning lights on post extensions above. The lights were dimming in the brilliant yellow tropical sunrise as we thundered past in our take-off.


Fire Engines Line Runway

Lining each side of the runway was vehicular fire equipment of every sort. Fire, we had been told in repeated briefings, was the primary hazard to the bomb which would not explode from the crash alone.

From the expressions on the faces of the fire fighters observed as we eased up in the taxi strip, they took their assignments seriously.

We took off directly into the spectacular sunrise. The sun itself was coming up behind a thunderhead from which long yellow streamers of light radiated across the horizon. A rainbow arched over Kwajalein behind us.

We had an anxious minute or two on the intercom until word came from our radio man that the plane carrying the bomb was safely in the air, eighteen minutes behind us.

Now we are heading for Bikini.

Fifty feet ahead of me, toward the nose of the plane, the head and shoulders of William Downs, radio broadcaster, extend into the astral dome of the aircraft. He has an unobstructed view in all directions, superior to the view from the nose of the plane, which offers visibility in three directions only.

I am high in a revolving seat in the central fire control dome where, in combat operations, sits the spotter for all other gun positions in the aircraft. My seat swings in a full circle. My head and shoulders are eighteen inches above the top of the aircraft, protected by the plastic dome. I have a telephone headset connected with all other positions in the plane.


Dispatch Out by Teletype

At my feet and to the left I face astern is a radio teletype, from which this dispatch is sent through automatic relays aboard the U.S.S. Appalachian and on Guam to San Francisco.

At my feet on the opposite side of the plane sits John Carlisle, elected by all the special correspondents to write the featured story of the bomb drop for pooled distribution. He has access to the left and right gun blisters. His typewriter is mounted on a wooden box.

We all wear parachutes over Mae West life preservers, a bulky combination to handle in connection with portable typewriters, earphones, and the midnight-black goggles which have been issued as a protection against both radiation and glare at the moment of detonation. So dense are these glasses that the sun is barely discernible through them.

It is 6:50 a.m. and we are over our orbit point at Bikini. The sky seems entirely clear over the atoll, with cloud banks obligingly rolled back on all sides.

At 7:10 we swing over the doomed fleet, seventy-three vessels quietly awaiting fury from the sky. The sturdy old Nevada stands out clearly in the bullseye. There is no movement of ships or small boats—no sign of life in the lagoon. Apparently evacuation has been completed and the ships await their fate alone.

We will continue to circle the target until the bomber is ready for its practice run some time after 8 o'clock.

I asked Bill Downs on the intercom system how the panorama below looks from his position.


Fleet Like Sitting Ducks

"Looks like a good morning for shooting ducks—that's what they look like down there," he replies.

I tap Carlisle on the top of his Detroit baseball cap with my right foot and ask him the same question. He writes it out and passes this note up:

"The Bikini target ships, especially those proud old warriors the Nevada, Pennsylvania, Independence, and Arkansas, looked ominously lonely from 7,000 feet. At eight miles away, they seemed like a small boy's toy fleet. As they awaited the atomic bomb over the Bikini, you had a momentary feeling of pity for them. There was such an ominous peacefulness and quietness in Bikini before the atomic storm."

At 8 o'clock we are steadily circling the target array in 16-mile-long swings.

When we cross Bikini island or the reef of the lagoon we pass over a broken overcast of white fluffy clouds. While we are over the lagoon itself and the target vessels it is usually wholly clear and sunny.

Of the seventy-two other aircraft which will be traversing various other orbits in the area we have so far seen only one—a navy torpedo bomber which passed us like an arrow.

At our elevation of 7,000 feet, we are seldom in any cloud formation.

We have moved eastward over the open ocean now and are flying above the ships of Joint Task Force One, including the command ship Appalachian which is receiving our radio broadcasts and press transmission. Feathery trails in the water astern indicate these vessels are all under way.


Watch a Practice Run

At 8:12 a.m. the intercom tells us the bombing plane now is over the target for the first practice run. We strain our eyes and catch a fleeting glimpse of flashing reflected light high in the sky. We are staying clear of the lagoon now.

The executioners are sighting their guns on the historic old Nevada, which has seventeen minutes to live—or is she stronger than the scientists have calculated?

On the intercom we hear a voice from far off: "Hello Broadway One, the target area is clear. The target area is clear."

We are flying in tight circles over the Task Force now.

The air is full of communications from the control ship to the bombing plane.

At 8:25 these communications terminate and the bombing tone is tested. It sounds like a shrill version of a busy signal on an automatic telephone. When started on the bombing run it will continue until the contact is broken by the dropping bomb itself unless the bombardier changes his mind at the last moment.

The scene below is a quiet pastel of blues and white. Deep blue sea, milder bluer sky, soft white clouds. An oddly peaceful backdrop for the greatest explosive charge ever contrived by man.

At 8:30 we hear "Broadway One" tell "Abraham" that he hopes to drop the atomic bomb in twenty minutes.

Then we hear:

"This is Broadway One announcing the actual bombing run."

Maj. Russel Ireland, in charge of our B-29, makes each of the seventeen men aboard inspect and tighten his parachute.


Puts on Black Glasses

A bell rings and we put on the black glasses. They are so black that we could see nothing at all through them. The flash of the atomic bomb exploding does not penetrate the glasses. Another bell rings in the plane and we take off the glasses.

A small, coffee-colored column is shooting up into the sky to the west.

We wait for the sound of the explosion. It does not come.

The roar of our four great engines drown it out. There is no shock wave, either; our plane has been maneuvered skillfully.

We grin at one another. Seventeen men in one airplane above the blast are still alive and kicking; we hope silently that those aboard the 70-odd aircraft in the area share our good luck.

Reassurance comes over the interphone:

"No casualties reported thus far."

The cloud now is spun out in eleven zigzag angles from the water up to an elevation of perhaps 40,000 feet.

We are crossing over the Bikini reef at 9:04 a.m. The base of the atomic cloud seems to cover all ships in the target array. We cannot tell yet what has happened to the vessels themselves.

At 9:06 the cloud is separating into two mushrooms superimposed on each other. The topmost is assuming a creamy yellow color. The bottom one is pure white.

We wheel in close again and I can see a score of the target array still afloat. None seems to be afire.

I cannot see the Nevada.

The great cloud, base and all, is moving westward across the lagoon.

At 9:13 a second cloud is seen forming perhaps a mile away from the base of the first. Whether it is from an exploding ship or an offshoot of the atomic blast we cannot yet tell.

The atomic cloud is thinning out, losing definite outline. It is now 9:16 a.m.—a quarter of an hour since the detonation.

The base of the cloud is being blown westward across the entrance of Bikini lagoon. The top of the cloud, however, seems to hover stationary either directly over the target fleet or perhaps move slowly in our direction to the east.

The vast column now is ragged and z-shape. The top mushroom is attached by a thin, tenuous fog-like connection to the lower column.

At 9:15 the base of the column seems to be boiling up with renewed vigor. We now are at the far end of our orbit off Bikini and cannot tell whether the turbulence is due to explosions or burning ships. Natural clouds are interposing. We turn back on our course toward Bikini once more at 9:21 a.m.


Drones Hover About Cloud

We now can see the drones hovering about the cloud. Whether they are mother ships awaiting their lost children or the pilot-less planes themselves we do not know.

I ask the plane's captain if he can identify any of the surviving ships. The answer comes on the intercom that he can see a bit of red up forward which appears to be the Nevada. "The explosion seems to have blown up most of the ship."

The atomic cloud still is the longest in the whole panorama of sea and island below us but no longer dominates. The natural clouds now, an hour after the atomic detonation, are of firmer outline and substance. However, the atomic cloud reaches out curiously like an octopus, with vague, dark tentacles everywhere against the eastern sky.

It is going to be an increasingly difficult job for the Task Force ships below and the aircraft flying with us to keep out from under those long, vague, angular extensions.

We are closer to the top of the cloud now than we have ever been, and are sheering away for an additional margin of safety, but we are bound for our Kwajalein base and many miles from the scene of the detonation.