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Cam & Ray's Cold War Podcast
61 minutes | 2 years ago
#109 – The Haiphong Incident
Vietnam. Late 1946. The gears of war are turning. One President commits suicide. Another continues to fight for a peaceful settlement. A new government is formed. Then the French army in Indochina decides to take matters into its own hands. They seize a Chinese junk in Haiphong harbour – a deliberate provocation. The Vietminh fire on the French. The French respond by bombing the city. French Indochina High Commissioner d’Argenlieu made a bold prediction, especially for a Frenchman: “We will never retreat or surrender.” HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
52 minutes | 2 years ago
#106 – Andrew Roberts, Churchill
Andrew Roberts has a huge new biography out on England’s favourite son, Winston Churchill, and he was nice enough to come on the show to answer a few of our questions about the man. You may remember Andrew talked to Cameron and David about his Napoleon biography a few years ago. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
58 minutes | 2 years ago
#103 – The First Indochina War (Part I)
After Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam in September 1945, the British and Chinese troops arrived in Saigon and Hanoi to disarm the Japanese and prepare the return of the French – and the shooting begins. Some scholars thing that *this* was the beginning of the First Indochina War. Meanwhile, Ho continues to try to get Truman’s support. But who will Truman stand behind? A people wanting self-determination? Or the French colonialists? Here’s a picture of the seahorse for reference. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
58 minutes | 2 years ago
#99 – Ho Chi Minh III
* On December 7 1941, Japan’s main carrier force, seeking to destroy the American fleet and thereby purchase time to complete its southward expansion, struck Pearl Harbour. * And the world celebrated. * As De Gaulle said “that’s it, the war’s over.” * He was totally confident in U.S. superiority. * He must have been part American. * Unfortunately FDR’s confidence in de Gaulle was much lower. * He hated him. * And the more powerful de Gaulle became, the less sure FDR was that the French should get their colonies back after the war. * But if Indochina and potentially other colonies should not be returned to the colonial powers after the war, what should happen to them? * Roosevelt proposed a trusteeship formula by which the colonies would be raised to independence through several stages. * Those not ready for independence—which in FDR’s view included all of France’s possessions—would be placed under a nonexploitive international trusteeship formed by the United Nations. * In laying out this plan to British foreign secretary Anthony Eden in March 1943, the president singled out Indochina as an area that should be controlled by this new system. * Eden, who would end up playing a huge role in Britain’s Indochina policy for the next dozen years, wondered outlaid whether FDR was being too harsh on the French. * FDR just ignored him and said that France should be prepared to place part of her overseas territory under the authority of the United Nations. * Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, the man who wrote the original draft of the UN charter, Mr Ol’ Black Threesome himself, asked “But what about the American pledges to restore to France her possessions?” * Roosevelt replied that those pledges applied only to North Africa. * Sumner thought “hmmmm I bet there’s a lot of blacks in North Africa….” * FDR’s trusteeship sounded a lot of like Wilson’s mandate system that divided up the Middle East after WWI. * But this was going to be totally different. * Because it had a different name. * The way he saw it, the enforcement mechanism would be a greater degree of international accountability. * As before, the core principle was that a colonial territory is not the exclusive preserve of the power that controls it but constitutes a “sacred trust” over which the international community has certain responsibilities. * Eden knew that this was old wine in new bottles, and he didn’t like the taste. * He and others in the Foreign Office suspected the Americans of seeking to use trusteeships to their own economic advantage—the “international supervision of colonies” would simply be a smoke screen by which America could facilitate access to the economic resources of the colonies and spread her influence globally. * And the British didn’t like the sound of “international supervision”, especially of their own colonies. * He suggested other countries would, at most, had an advisory capacity. * FDR though insisted that it be an international trusteeship. * So the Brits just changed the subject, talked about black threesomes, and that was that. * So FDR went to Cairo for his only wartime meeting with Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of China’s Kuomintang nationalist government. * FDR wanted Chiang on board with his trusteeship program. * But Chiang resisted, expressing a preference for outright independence for Indochina and other Asian colonies. * Probably because it would make them easier for him to take over. * FDR tried to sweeten the deal by saying he supported the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule. * So Chiang said “go tell Winny The Poo that, then come back and talk to me about Indochina.” * Meanwhile, the Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong, who had been waging an intermittent struggle against Chiang’s Nationalist (Guomindang) government since the late 1920s, were gaining strength in the north. * From Cairo, FDR traveled to Tehran for meetings with Churchill and, for the first time, Stalin. * During their initial get-together, FDR stressed to Stalin the importance of preparing the people of Indochina for self-government along the lines of what the United States had done in the Philippines. * Stalin agreed that Indochina should not be returned to France and said he supported independence for all colonial subjects. * Because if Stalin was anything, he was a nice guy. * A note taker at Tehran noted that “The president remarked that after 100 years of French rule in Indochina, the inhabitants were worse off than they had been before.” * When Roosevelt brought up his trusteeship scheme, implying that Chiang Kai-shek agreed, and Stalin expressed support. * As the meeting drew to a close, they agreed there was no point in discussing the India matter with Churchill. * For the British, FDR’s idea was a dangerous game of dominoes: * If Indochina was allowed to fall from colonial control, what would keep Burma, Malaya, India, and other parts of the British Empire from being next? * after learning of another Roosevelt attack on the “hopeless” French record in Indochina, Alexander Cadogan, permanent undersecretary of the Foreign Office, warned * “We’d better look out. Were the French any more ‘hopeless’ than we in Malaya or the Dutch in the East Indies?” * For the British, Indochina was the linchpin of all Southeast Asia, a barrier between China to the north and a string of prized British possessions to the south. * Japan had used it as a forward base for her operations against Malaya and Burma, and this could not be allowed to happen again. * As always, Strategic considerations – protecting British colonies – took precedence over morals about “freedom-seeking peoples of the world”. * The Brits also knew they were going to need a friendly and powerful France after WWII to help them control Europe. * And help maintain the balance of power with a powerful Soviet army, U.S. military and economic superiority, and possibly a revived Germany. * How to secure such a cooperative France? * Partly by supporting Charles de Gaulle’s determination to retain the French colonies, including Indochina, and partly by avoiding arguments with Washington on the issue. * Churchill said to Eden in mid-1944 ““Roosevelt has been more outspoken to me on that subject than any other colonial matter, and I imagine it is one of his principal war aims to liberate Indochina from France.… Do you really want to go and stir all this up at such a time as this?” * Quietly, London stonewalled American efforts in early and mid-1944 to negotiate on the colonial issue. * Roosevelt continued to push his trusteeship plan and his opposition to a French return to Indochina, but with less urgency as 1944 progressed. * Partly because he was having to re-think his “Four Policeman” plan for running the world after the war. * China was getting deeper and deeper into an all out civil war and they probably weren’t going to be much help. * And he knew he needed the co-operation of the British and the French. * Who would be less inclined to give the U.S. what they wanted if they felt like their colonial possessions were being ripped out from underneath them. * And then Eisenhower allowed de Gaulle’s Free French forces the honor of entering Paris first. * Which really pissed FDR off. * On August 25, 1944, de Gaulle announced the liberation of Paris. * And everyone knew he was going to be the President of the new country. * And you might be forgiven for thinking that a country who had recently been occupied and now had been given back its independence might have something of an awakening about their own position as a colonial power – but no. * These is the French. * But I’m kidding. * Do you think many Israelis ever stop and think “gee after what happened to our people in WWII, maybe we shouldn’t be such cunts to Palestine?” * Of course they don’t. * They say “but they want to destroy us!” * And I say “yeah that’s what the Nazis said about the Jews in the 1930s too.” * Was it a justification back then? No? Okay then. Peace in the Middle East solved. What’s next? * So there was no way under the Big Celery Stick that Indochina was going to be given its independence. * At the Yalta conference in the Crimea in February 1945, Roosevelt backed off his insistence on enforcing an international trusteeship over colonial areas; except in the case of Japanese-mandated territories, he now said, such internationalization would happen only with the consent of the colonial power. * At Yalta, he informed Stalin that he would not allow U.S. ships to be used to carry French troops to Indochina, but he also recommended to the Soviet leader that they not raise the Indochina matter with Churchill. * “It would only make the British mad,” FDR rationalized. “Better to keep quiet just now.” * Then FDR died in April. * One month earlier, in March 1945, the Japanese took full and complete control of Indochina. * The French just caved in completely. * This Was A Pivotal Moment For France In Indochina. * The March coup dealt a blow to imperial authority from which it would never fully recover. * Colonial rule had been based on the notion of European cultural and military supremacy, and though France had offered little more than token resistance to Japan in 1940, only now did most Vietnamese fully grasp how hollow was the French basis of power. * The Japanese diplomatic victories in 1940–41, important though they were in many respects, had not appreciably altered everyday sociopolitical relations in Indochina—French officials thereafter still governed in the countryside and the villages, where Japanese officials seldom if ever set foot. * Now, however, in the space of a few days, French colonial authority had disappeared, in plain view of Vietnamese in both urban and rural areas. * De Gaulle gave a big speech. * “Not for a single hour did Fran
67 minutes | 2 years ago
#98 – Ho Chi Minh II
* Ho’s speech to the French socialist congress in 1920 was 12 minutes long and delivered without notes. * It got some applause but that was about it. * He realised that French socialists were more worried about affairs at home than they were about colonialism in a distant land. * When a group of socialists broke off to form the French Communist Party, Ho went with them. * He had read Lenin’s “Theses on the National and Colonial Questions,” a document that attracted him as a means of liberating Vietnam and other oppressed countries from colonial rule. * Other Marxist writers whose work he knew seemed concerned only with how to achieve a classless utopia. * Only Lenin spoke powerfully about the connection between capitalism and imperialism and about the potential for nationalist movements in Africa and Asia. * Only Lenin offered a cogent explanation for colonialist rule and a viable blueprint for national liberation and for modernizing a poor agricultural society such as Vietnam’s. * Lenin’s message was simple and direct. * In their struggle to overthrow the capitalist system in advanced industrial countries, Communist parties in the West should actively cooperate with nationalist movements in colonial areas in Asia and Africa. * He understood that Many of these movements were controlled by the native middle class, who, in the long run, were not sympathetic to social revolution. * But the enemy of my enemy is my friend. * Who said that first? * The earliest known expression of this concept is found in a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, the Arthashastra, which dates to around the 4th century BC, while the first recorded use of the current English version came in 1884 * The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror’s territory is termed the enemy. * The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend (of the conqueror). * So any alliances with bourgeois nationalist groups should be implemented with care, and only on the condition that local Communist parties maintain their separate identities and freedom of action. * But given such limitations, Lenin viewed the national liberation movements of Asia and Africa as natural, albeit temporary, allies of the Communists against the common enemy of world imperialism. * It was the ability of the Western capitalist countries to locate markets and raw materials in underdeveloped countries that sustained the world capitalist system and prevented its ultimate collapse. * Cut off the tentacles of colonialism in the far-flung colonies, and the system itself could be overthrown. * Ho Chi Minh assured his Vietnamese allies in Paris that Communism could be applied to Asia,; more than that, it was in keeping with Asian traditions based on Confucian notions of social equality and community. * On top of that, Lenin had pledged Soviet support, through the Comintern, for nationalist uprisings throughout the colonial world as a key first step in fomenting worldwide socialist revolution against the capitalist order. * What could be more relevant to Indochina’s situation? * Years later speaking of Lenin’s pamphlet, he said “What emotion, enthusiasm, clear-sightedness and confidence it instilled in me. I was overjoyed to tears. Though sitting alone in my room, I shouted aloud as if addressing large crowds: ‘Dear martyrs, compatriots! This is what we need, this is our path to liberation.’ ” * Ho stayed in Paris for a few years – writing plays, writing articles for many magazines, reading victor Hugo and Voltaire and Shakespeare. * Then he finally came to the conclusion that the French Communists cared for the plight of the Vietnamese only slightly more than the other French socialists, so in 1923 he moved to Moscow, hoping to meet Lenin. * Unfortunately when he got there, in July 1923, Lenin was already ill and dying. * He died January 1924. * Ho took the news hard: “Lenin was our father, our teacher, our comrade, our representative. Now, he is a shining star showing us the way to Socialism.” * He stuck around in Moscow for a while, attending meetings of the Comintern, giving speeches about Asian self-determination, but again felt like a “voice crying in the wilderness.” * The Moscovites, like the French, were mostly interested in Europe. * But his time in Moscow was useful and a relief. * He didn’t have to watch over his shoulder for French police to arrest him for treason. * And he got to know various Soviet leaders, including Grigory Zinoviev, one of the original Politburo, and Kliment Voroshilov, one of the original five Marshals of the Soviet Union. * And he became known as a specialist in asian affairs. * In the autumn of 1924, the Soviets sent him to southern China, ostensibly to act as an interpreter for the Comintern’s advisory mission to Sun Yat-sen’s Nationalist government in Canton but in reality to organize the first Marxist revolutionary organization in Indochina. * To do that, he published a journal, created the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League in 1925, and set up a training institute that attracted students from all over Vietnam. * Along with Marxism-Leninism, he taught his own brand of revolutionary ethics: thrift, prudence, respect for learning, modesty, and generosity – which were principles he learned from Confucianism. * In 1927, when Chiang Kai-shek began to crack down on the Chinese left, the institute was disbanded and Ho, pursued by the police, fled to Hong Kong and from there to Moscow. * The Comintern sent him to France and then, at his request, to Thailand, where he spent two years organizing Vietnamese expatriates. * Then, early in 1930, Ho Chi Minh presided over the creation of the Vietnamese Communist Party in Hong Kong. * Eight months later, in October, on Moscow’s instructions, it was renamed the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP), with responsibility for spurring revolutionary activity throughout French Indochina. * There were already plenty of nationalist parties in Vietnam but as usual most of them suffered from the old Judean Peoples Front problem. * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoIl7g8AAbM * Which left the door wide open for Ho. * French security services soon singled out the ICP as the most serious threat to colonial authority and devoted most of their resources to identifying the leadership. * But Ho and his top lieutenants survived all French efforts to eliminate them. * Ho kept constantly on the move in the 1930s, spending one year in Moscow, then in China, then in the USSR again, using different pseudonyms, his health often poor. * In the mid-1930s, the party benefited from changes in the international scene. * From 1936 to 1939, pressure from French authorities eased as a Popular Front government in Paris allowed Communist parties in the colonies an increased measure of freedom, the result of increased cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies against the common threat of global fascism. * In late 1939, however, after Moscow signed a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany, French authorities outlawed the ICP and forced its leaders into hiding. * A few thousand French officials could maintain effective control over some twenty-five million Indochinese. * as the 1930s drew to a close, only the most optimistic Vietnamese revolutionary—or pessimistic colonial administrator—could believe that France would soon be made to part with this Pearl of the Far East, this jewel of the imperial crown. * But when WWII broke out in 1939 and France was on the brink of disaster, Ho saw his opportunity. * At a meeting with his leadership colleagues in Southern China he said he saw “a very favorable opportunity for the Vietnamese revolution. We must seek every means to return home to take advantage of it.” * When France fell to Germany in 1940, most Americans probably knew very little about Indochina. * Not many lived there or had ever visited there or had much reason to pay attention to what was happening there. * Which is one reason why the American government did nothing to assist the French authorities in Indochina when the Japanese threatened to invade and the Vichy government in France did a deal to let them in. * Sensing opportunity with the fall of France in June, the ICP in the autumn launched uprisings in both Tonkin, the north eastern section of Indochina, and Cochin China, the very southern tip, against French authorities, only to be brutally crushed. * Despite Ho’s objections. * He thought the action as premature. * YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT PREMATURE THINGS, RAY. WHY… * In Cochin China, the French used their few aircraft as well as armored units and artillery to destroy whole villages, killing hundreds in the process. * Up to eight thousand people were detained, and more than one hundred ICP cadres were executed. * It would take the southern branch of the party years to recover. * But despite the losses, Ho still saw his chance to move. * In 1941 he snuck back into his home country for the first time in 30 years. * And he called for a plenary meeting of the ICP. * He set up camp in a cave, just a mile from the Chinese border. * The group slept on planks of wood in the cold and damp cave and had only one small oil lamp among them. * The diet was meager, mostly soup of corn and bamboo shoots, fortified by fish caught in the stream. * Each morning Ho woke up early to do calisthenics and then swim in the stream before sitting down to work at a flat rock he used as a desk. * He spent long hours reading, writing—on his trusted Hermès typewriter—and conducting meetings, all for the purpose of setting up a new Communist-dominated united front and outlining a strategy for liberating Vietnam from foreign rule. * The delegates sat on simple wood blocks around a bamboo table, and out of their discussions a new party came into being. Its official ti
69 minutes | 2 years ago
#97 – Ho Chi Minh I
In 1919 a 29 year old Vietnamese man wrote a list of demands for political rights for his people to present to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference. Nobody paid him any attention. His name was Nguyen Ai Quoc. He devoted the rest of his life to achieving those demands. History remembers him as HO CHI MINH. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
71 minutes | 2 years ago
#96 – Marshall Plan III
* America’s approach to providing financial aid wasn’t popular with some of their allies either. * Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, resented American dollar diplomacy, in particular the linking of desperately needed financial assistance to London’s submission on political matters central to British sovereignty. * The American loan agreement, signed in December 1945 after nearly four months of difficult and often humiliating negotiations in Washington, required Britain to accept American air and naval bases on British and Commonwealth territory. * Bevin’s decision to support the manufacture of British nuclear weapons was driven not by a German or Soviet threat, but by his belief that the country “could not afford to acquiesce in an American monopoly of the new development.” * So, in other words – he wanted the UK to have nuclear powers to defend themselves against America. * Britain, as Bevin saw his country, was “the last bastion of social democracy,” standing against both “the red tooth and claw of American capitalism and the Communist dictatorship of Soviet Russia.” * This is coming from a country that, until recently, had imperial control over 25% of the world. * Mmmmm smell that social democracy. * Another recent ally was also suspicious. * Russia. * The Kremlin was receiving a constant flow of intelligence from highly placed British sources—among whom Guy Burgess at the Foreign Office in London and Donald Maclean at the British embassy in Washington. * Maclean, who had access to all of the embassy’s classified cable traffic, was reporting that “the goal of the Marshall Plan was to ensure American economic domination of Europe.” * The spies also warned Stalin that the Brits and Americans were getting ready to announce that they were going to renege on the Yalta agreement regarding reparations. * They were going to cut off German reparations to the USSR, which at the time was the Soviet’s only source of foreign income. * Instead, they were going to re-build Germany. * Well the parts under their control, anyway. * And the Marshall Plan aid was to be implemented outside the United Nations framework, because they wanted some of it to go to Germany – and Germany was not a member of the U.N. * And the Soviets needed the German money and goods to finance their efforts to control Eastern Europe. * And – in the early stages, the ERP funds were going to be offered to Eastern European countries and even the U.S.S.R. * The United States offered immense grants of cash and material aid to all of the European nations, not just those in the West, on the sole condition that the recipient nations agree upon a common economic plan to use these resources. * Of course, this economic plan had to be based upon market capitalism, a stipulation not mentioned formally in the proposal but obvious nevertheless. * Eastern European nations that accepted the American offer, as many were initially keen to do, would therefore have become incorporated into the American economic system, gravitating naturally into the U.S. orbit as their material fate became dependent upon American, not Russian, alliance. * In addition, the terms of the Marshall Plan, when released, as we’ve discussed, gave the Americans a very high degree of say in how the money was spent. * And it forced the recipients to buy products from American companies. * And to give up their own funds for the Americans to spend however they saw fit. * SPECIAL PROVISIONS: The Administrator is authorized to use funds made available to promote an increase in production in participating countries of materials required by the U. S. where there are actual or potential shortages in the U. S. * This involved strategic goods needed for military purposes, and it prevented recipients from selling these things to Moscow or Eastern European countries, so they could use Marshall Plan funds to buy raw materials, eg uranium and plutonium, that they needed. (the_marshall_plan_-_the_extension_of_empire.pdf) * * More on that later. * But This of course was intolerable to the Soviets – as the Americans, of course, knew it would be. * As we discussed with Benn Steil when he was on the show, it was planned from the beginning the the Soviets would have to turn down the American money, and insist that the countries in Eastern Europe that were in their sphere of influence would also turn it down. * As Bevin said to his private secretary, after Molotov stormed out of their last Foreign Ministers meeting in 1947: “This is the beginning of the Western bloc.” * The Marshall Plan, Molotov said, was “nothing but a vicious American scheme for using dollars to buy its way” into European affairs. * If the Soviets had just said “yes sure wonderful” and jumped both feet into the Marshall Plan, they probably could have killed it from the inside. * Which is what Ambassador Novikov had recommended. * But instead, Stalin refused to be part of it on principle. * Which turned out to have dramatic consequences for the world. * So the Marshall Plan, like the Truman Doctrine, has to be viewed, at least in part, as a political tactic for Truman. * But in order for it to be useful in the upcoming election, he needed to sell it. * To build support with the public, the “Committee for the Marshall Plan” was established. * also known as Citizens’ Committee for the Marshall Plan to Aid European Recovery * The committee contained eminent people like: * Allen Dulles, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, later to become the director of the CIA * Alger Hiss, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Soviet spy * Philip D. Reed, chairman of General Electric * Dean Acheson, United States Under Secretary of State, who would later be Sec of State * Robert Patterson, Secretary of War * Hugh Moore president and founder of the Dixie Cup Company * Winthrop W. Aldrich president and chairman of the board of Chase National Bank * Union leader James B. Carey * Another union leader David Dubinsky * * To sway public opinion, the committee advertised, issued various documents (press releases, editorials, policy papers), sponsored radio broadcasts, hired speakers bureaus. Targets included women’s clubs, church councils, and public affairs groups. * Dean Acheson went on his own speaking tour around the country. * His Message focused on American idealism, self-interest, and ideology – particularly, humanitarian and economic concerns. * Allen W. Dulles: “The Marshall Plan … is not a philanthropic enterprise … It is based on our views of the requirements of American security … This is the only peaceful avenue now open to us which may answer the communist challenge to our way of life and our national security.” * Government propaganda to convince the people to let them give THEIR money to American corporations in the name of European aid. * A congressional committee headed by Representative Forrest A. Harness concluded its long study of the problem with this estimate in 1947: “Government propaganda distorts facts with such authority that the person becomes prejudiced or biased in the direction which the Government propagandists wish to lead national thinking.” * Exactly ten years later, General Douglas MacArthur offered an even more biting commentary on the same pattern of distortion. “Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear—kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor—with the cry of a grave national emergency. . . . Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” * (The Tragedy of American Diplomacy – William Appleman Williams) * When the plan passed, as it easily did (with even Taft’s vote), the ink was hardly dry on the legislation when the ships full of goods hit the high seas. * At any given moment over the next few months, 150 boats were carrying wheat, flour, cotton, tires, borax, drilling equipment, tractors, tobacco, aircraft parts, and anything else big domestic manufacturers could get their hands on. * As with most goods shipped under the Marshall Plan, American producers had the advantage: 50 percent had to be sent on American vessels. * Taking a leaf from the Roosevelt playbook, Truman bypassed the usual bureaucracy and established a new bureau—the Economic Cooperative Administration—to distribute the aid. * It too was staffed by the heads of major industrial-corporate interests who stood to benefit at public expense. * Paul Hoffman – the same guy who founded the CED – headed the group and passed out billions to well-heeled corporate powers. * As historian Anthony Carew summarizes, the Marshall Plan “was in all major respects a business organization run by businessmen.” * Most of all, the aid was used for purchases at distorted prices by American tax dollars in the hands of European governments. * Like we see with Pentagon contract even today – when you’re taking taxpayer money, which they have no say over, and give it to corporations, particularly when there is an emergency, there’s no time or incentive to check how competitive the prices are that you’re being offered. * The result was the largest peacetime transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to corporations until that point in U.S. history. * The Marshall Plan aid was mostly used for the purchase of goods from the United States. * The European nations had all but exhausted their foreign exchange reserves during the war, and the Marshall Plan aid represented almost their sole means of importing goods from abroad. * Chomsky https://chomsky.info/200311__/: * Of the $13 billion of Marshall Plan aid, about $2 billion went right to the U.S. oil companies. * That was part of the effort to shift Europe from a coal-based to an oil-based economy, and parts of it would be more dependent on the
59 minutes | 2 years ago
#95 – Marshall Plan II
* Something that Marshall mentions only briefly in his speech is the effect that would have on the US economy. (around the 7’20″ mark) * Europe’s economy might have been destroyed after the war, but America’s wasn’t looking too bulletproof, partly BECAUSE the European economy had been shattered. * In 1947, there were serious concerns about the state of the US economy. * Benn Steil: * There was a report written in 1946, I think, by the SWNCC, the State, War and Navy department staff, which said “The conclusion is inescapable, that, under present programs and policies, the world will not be able to continue to buy United States exports at the 1946-47 rate beyond another 12-18 months.” * They anticipated “substantial decline in the United States export surplus would have a depressing effect on business activity and empolyment in the United States.” * And in 1946, the gross national product of the U.S. was already down 11.6% on the previous year, as the government stopped spending money on the war effort. * Navy Secretary James Forrestal characterised American priorities in Europe as “economic stability, political stability and military stability… in about that order.” * Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs Clayton redefined the problem as one of disposing of America’s “great surplus.” * He explained in May 1947 : “The capitalistic system, whether internally or internationally, can only work by the continual creation of disequilibrium in comparative costs of production.” * “Let us admit right off that our objective has as its background the needs and interests of the people of the United States. We need markets — big markets — in which to buy and sell.” * Clayton was saying implicitly what Dean Acheson had argued explicitly in 1944: the profitability of America’s corporate system depended upon overseas economic expansion. * Marshall and other advocates of the program also spoke openly of the parallel between their policy and America’s earlier westward expansion across the continent. * America needed to expand. * But wait!? I thought it was the SOVIETS who were trying to take over the world? * Marshall argued that the nation faced an either-or situation. * He claimed that Unless the plan was adopted “the cumulative loss of foreign markets and sources of supply would unquestionably have a depressing influence on our domestic economy and would drive us to increased measures of government control.” * So by defining America’s expansion as the key to prosperity, Marshall defined foreign policy as the key to domestic problems and to the survival of democracy at home. * (The Tragedy of American Diplomacy – William Appleman Williams) * * If the European economy didn’t recover quickly, it would crash the US economy. * It’s all connected. * And if the European economy DID recover, but as part of a Soviet trading bloc, it would STILL crash the US economy. * (Cox, Michael, and Caroline Kennedy-Pipe. “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy? Rethinking the Marshall Plan.”): * * And so they came up with a plan. * A plan to give $13 billion to European countries over 4 years. * So The Plan, Contrary to popular mythology, it was not just a simple program of aid. * It had a TON of conditions. * It wasn’t like the U.S. just dumped pallets of cash on Europe’s doorstep and said “have at it”. * This was very carefully engineered and managed so that it would benefit the American economy. * And Truman politically. * As the influential British economist Sir Alec Cairncross pointed out, US Aid to Europe had been flowing across the Atlantic for the better part of two years even before Marshall’s speech. * What made the June 1947 initiative different, he noted, was its attempt to link aid to the reform of European institutions and practices. * Moreover, although the tone of the speech was mild and nonideological, its implications were anything but. * it was the most dedicated effort so far to reduce Communist influence in Europe and was intended to affect not only the most obvious countries like France and Italy, but also the smaller states under Soviet control. * This was certainly how George Kennan conceived of the Plan. * Although Kennan continued to believe that the basic cause of the crisis in Western Europe was not Communism as such but the need to restore the continent’s economic health, he was in no doubt that the Plan had a deeply subversive purpose. * Dean Acheson agreed, noting that what US “citizens and the representatives in congress alike always wanted to learn in the last analysis was how Marshall aid operated to block the extension of Soviet power and the acceptance of Commu nist economic and political organisation and alignment. * At a meeting on 28 May 1947, when U.S. Officials decided that the East European countries would be allowed to participate in the program, they stipulated that any countries taking part would have to reorient their economies away from the USSR toward broader European integration – and capitalism. * Because most of the resources and goods purchased with Marshall Plan funds came from the US itself, this benefited American exporters and domestic industries. * It allowed the US to recover from a short-term economic slump in 1946-7 and enter a period of economic boom. (http://alphahistory.com/coldwar/marshall-plan/) * But the real upshot of the Marshall Plan was a political maneuver to loot American taxpayers to keep influential American corporations on the government dole. * The Plan’s legacy was the egregious and perpetual use of foreign aid for domestic political and economic purposes. * It was the beginning of large scale Keynesian Economics during peacetime. * Using government spending to bolster the economy. * But of course “government spending” is the spending of the people’s money. * The public treasury. * And that money ends up going to private companies and their owners and shareholders. * A little-known business group, founded in 1942 and called the Committee for Economic Development, was elevated into a think tank for a new international order—the economic counterpart to the Council on Foreign Relations. * Founded by a group of business leaders led by Paul G. Hoffman, President of Studebaker Corporation; William Benton, co-founder of Benton & Bowles advertising firm; and Marion B. Folsom, treasurer of Eastman Kodak Company. * These groups understood that they owed their profit margins to government subsidies provided by the New Deal and wartime production subsidies. * Faced with post-war peace, they feared a future in which they would be forced to compete on a free-market basis. * Their personal and institutional security was at stake, so they got busy dreaming up strategies to sustain a profitable statism in a peacetime economy. * CED successfully worked to garner support among the American business community for the Marshall Plan. * As Julius Krug, secretary of the interior, said in his memoirs, the Marshall Plan, “essential to our own continued productivity and prosperity,” was a Tennessee Valley Authority on a world scale. * “It is as if we were building a TVA every Tuesday.” * But it was going to take some selling both to the American people and the politicians. * Unlike today, they weren’t as familiar with the concept of Keynesian Economics and how it benefited their constituents. * Benn Steil: * Henry Wallace, FDR’s old VP, the man who SHOULD be President, led the attack from the left. * Far from reviving the European economy, he said, the ERP would undermine the most positive elements of it, such as nationalization of industry, social welfare expansion, and government controls on trade. * The State Department, which he believed to have been captured by monopoly private interests, was determined merely to perpetuate Europe’s “semicolonial dependence on the United States.” * Its program would cleave the continent into rival blocs, slow recovery by severing traditional East-West trade links, and fan international tensions—possibly leading to “World War III.” * In the United States, Wallace said, the ERP would boost the profits of agricultural, oil, steel, and shipping “trusts” at the expense of “American workers and farmers and independent businessmen,” who would have to contend with the resulting shortages, inflation, union busting, and social service cuts. * In its place, Wallace advocated creation of a $50 billion fund, three times as large as the administration was calling for, run by the United Nations, which would finance a European “new deal.” * The primary beneficiaries would be the victims of Nazi aggression, including the Soviet Union and the east European states. * But of course if the UN is running it, how can they make sure it will benefit U.S. interests? * * Henry A. Wallace’s Criticism of America’s Atomic Monopoly, 1945-1948 By Mayako Shimamoto: * Wallace claimed that although Western Europe was forced to buy non-essential items from America, they were banned from buying essential items from their neighbors. * The economically weak Western industries were vulnerable to competition with American corporations. * So they American companies would end up dominating the market for those products in Europe, shutting out European manufacturers from their own markets. * And Wallace could see, even then, that this was a giant sham. * American money spent on this gigantic scheme of the ERP returned to American pockets. * To Wallace’s eyes, the huge rush of American taxpayers’ money worked well as a pump primer, returning huge profits only to American corporations as a justifiable reward in the name of humanitarian aid programs. * Steil: * But the Marshall Plan wasn’t only getting attacked from the left. * Guys like Ohio Republican senator and presidential candidate Ro
64 minutes | 2 years ago
#94 – Marshall Plan I
* One of the greatest pieces of mythology to ever be produced in America is the “Marshall Plan”. * It’s right up there with the idea of glorifying the “Founding Fathers”, who were actually just tax dodgers who orchestrated a bloody coup. * It’s also of course one of America’s greatest pieces of foreign policy. * The Marshall Plan is sold to Americans as the greatest gift mankind has ever received since Jesus died on the cross. * Even today, 70 years later, it’s almost impossible to find analysis of the MP that doesn’t position it as a ‘gift’ or ‘humanitarian aid’. * But the truth is, it was really neither of those things. * The Marshall Plan was completely self serving. * You will often hear it it was about stopping the Soviets from spreading Communism and stopping another World War, and those things are partially true. * But that’s also missing the point. * Both for the U.S. as a whole and, particularly, for Truman. * And it was a genius move. * It was, at the time, the biggest transfer of wealth from the public treasury into the hands of the wealthy during peacetime probably in history. * But nearly nobody understands it. * I’ve been researching this topic for years and the lack of understanding of it blows my mind. * But let’s go back a bit and provide some background. * The European winter of 1946-47 was the worst in a hundred plus years. * widely believed to be the snowiest winter since 1813-14 * Not the coldest, but it was the snowiest winter in a long time. * Known as a “hunger winter” * And of course everyone was still living in the aftermath of war. * The Germans, Brits and Americans had been terror-bombing civilian populations for years. * railways, bridges and roads were blown up, factories smashed, farms and fields ravaged by tank battles and firefights * The war had also forced the old European colonial powers, most notably Britain and France, to begin the painful and, they soon learned, financially costly process of withdrawing from some of their overseas possessions, either as a result of military retreat or simply because they could no longer afford their imperial commitments. * Or because the Americans insisted on it. * Open door policy, free trade, and all that. * Apart from complete destruction of their economies and infrastructure and the deaths of tens of millions of their people, Europe had to contend with something else. * The realisation that they sucked. * At the beginning of the 20th century, European countries prided themselves on their superiority. * But In the space of thirty years the most powerful nations in the history of the world had set upon themselves in two ruinous wars. * They had killed tens of millions of their citizens, injured tens of millions more, and had stripped from each of themselves of the rank of first-class power. * Even Great Britain who was victorious in both wars. * At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a belief in the superiority of European civilization. * Now that seemed like a cruel joke. * Superior civilizations don’t elevate warmongers to absolute political power in order to destroy themselves in unremitting industrial warfare. * They don’t bombard defenceless civilians, or send conscripted soldiers to certain death in battle after battle, or massacre ethnic minorities, or attempt to commit genocide. * So The conclusion seemed inescapable: the European way of politics had wrought disaster. * So across Europe, people wanted dramatic changes. * And political movements arose to drive those changes. * And most of them were left leaning. * Because these superior European countries had all been capitalist. * Yes, even Nazi Germany. * Nazi Fascism was extreme capitalism. * They believed in private property and a market economy – they just wanted it to serve the State. * And the monarchies were all capitalist. * So after WWII, people are exploring new ideas, creating left parties, which were being supported by Moscow. * Because who else is going to support left-leaning parties? * These parties were in a good position to seize political power in places like Greece, Italy, and France, where they had huge political credibility as a result of their dominant role in resistance campaigns against fascism. * And those parties talked about the economic state of affairs in Europe, which was obviously atrocious. * In France, you could only buy meat on the black market, and bread was almost as hard to get. * And hard when you got it * In Britain, which suffered far less than most of Europe, the economy had hit rock bottom. * Even in the once-mighty British realm, two years after a war they had technically won, people lived on bare rations and in unheated homes, often without electricity. * The worst suffering by far, however, was taking place in Germany. * So it’s all well and good to contain the Soviets. * But what do you do if the people in Europe are starving and looking for new political leadership that only the Soviets can provide? * The argument from American strategists was that America needed to get directly involved in re-building the economies of Europe. * Truman thought it was only common sense to “spend twenty or thirty billion dollars to keep the peace” over the coming four years than to spend multiples of that annually fighting a war. * WWII had cost the U.S. $350 billion. * Here’s how one economist put it in 1948: * Another war would cost considerably more: not only because the war would not be paid for out of additional output as was World War II, but also because warfare is going to be much more devastating in the future. We can be certain that after the next war, we shall not raise our income from $70 billion (as in 1939) to $160 billion (at War’s peak) and $205 billion in 1947. Even in stable prices, our income is up almost 75 per cent since 1939. Another war should cost us at least twice the last war, say $150 billion a year over 5 years; or if it is a knock- out war, an optimistic guess would be the loss of half to three- quarters of our income over a period of at least 10 years or, say, $1, 500 billion. It is well to ask whether we should take the prudent risk of spending $25 billion over 10 years in order to save $1, 000 billion (say), on the assumption that the stabilization of a democratic Europe will contribute substantially to saving us from a war. * (* https://www-jstor-org.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/stable/pdf/2975441.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A51ed83cc6d9ab6a23c1c636ccb6403ee * Seymour E. Harris Source: The Journal of Finance, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Feb., 1948)) * And so the European Recovery Plan was born. * It was conceived mostly by George Kennan. * But it was announced by another George – Marshall, now the Secretary of State. * And so it became known as the Marshall Plan. * As Ray mentioned on the last episode, he’d replaced Jimmy Byrnes. * And Marshall was a very serious guy. * Remember the story about the time when FDR called Marshall by his first name? * Marshall apparently responded, “It’s General Marshall, Mr. President.” * What happened to Byrnes? * On Jan 6, 1947, Byrnes had been TIME’s Man of the Year. * A day later he was gone from Truman’s cabinet. * He’d only been in the position for a 18 months. * Why? * The official reasons were his health. * He was 67. * It can’t have been that bad though. * Four years later he was Governor of South Carolina. * We know today that there was a ton of tension between Truman and Byrnes, from day one. * Byrnes died in 1972, at the age of 89 – so he had another 25 years in him after 1947. * It seems quite obvious that he was pushed out by Truman, as was his predecessor, Big Stetty, Edward Stettinius. * And Truman wasn’t holding up too well politically at this stage. * His reputation was pretty damaged. * Remember the leaks about the Soviet spies, how the Manhattan Project had been infiltrated, the Soviets weren’t playing nice, and the US economy is struggling. * 14 percent inflation in 1947 and rising unemployment * The huge growth the economy experienced during WWII, thanks to Military Keynesianism, was over. * The military budget had been massively reduced. * Here are Truman’s opening paragraphs when he presented his budget to Congress in January 1947: * To the Congress of the United States: As the year 1947 opens America has never been so strong or so prosperous. Nor have our prospects ever been brighter. Yet in the minds of a great many of us there is a fear of another depression, the loss of our jobs, our farms, our businesses. But America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. The job at hand today is to see to it that America is not ravaged by recurring depressions and long periods of unemployment, but that instead we build an economy so fruitful, so dynamic, so progressive that each citizen can count upon opportunity and security for himself and his family. Nor is prosperity in the United States important to the American people alone. It is the foundation of world prosperity and world peace. And the world is looking to us. * But people weren’t buying his optimism. * According to Walter Lippmann, regarded as the most greatest political commentator of his day, Truman was an embarrassment. * He said Truman’s bravado and quick decisions were a facade for an essentially insecure man filled with anxieties. * WOW – does that sound familiar? * He’s had to fire his Secretary of State for undermining him. * And there’s an election coming in 1948. * Marshall, on the other hand, had huge respect. * His appointment as SOS was unanimously accepted by Congress. * Even though he’d just come from a massive failure as you mentioned on the last episode. * He’s been sent to China by Truman to try and negotiate a peace between Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao. * And there was a report that came out after WWII
95 minutes | 3 years ago
#87 – The Aftermath Part 2
* The military had long declared that radiation dissipated quickly in the atomic cities and posed little threat to the soldiers. * A 1980 Defense Nuclear Agency report concluded, “Medical science believes multiple myeloma has a borderline relationship with exposure to ionizing radiation. That is, there are some indications that exposure to radiation may increase the risk of this disease, but science cannot yet be sure.” * In the years that followed, thousands of other “atomic vets,” among the legion who participated in hundreds of U.S. bomb tests in Nevada and in the Pacific, would raise similar issues about exposure to radiation and the medical after-effects. * The Japanese government repeatedly asked the U.S. for the full footage of what was known in that country as “the film of illusion,” to no avail. * A rare article about what it called this “sensitive” dispute appeared in the New York Times on May 18, 1967, declaring right in its headline that the film had been “Suppressed by U.S. for 22 Years.” * Surprisingly, it revealed that while some of the footage was already in Japan (likely a reference to the film hidden in the ceiling), the U.S. had put a “hold” on the Japanese using it — even though the American control of that country had ceased many years earlier. * Then, one morning in the summer of 1968, Erik Barnouw, author of landmark histories of film and broadcasting, opened his mail to discover a clipping from a Tokyo newspaper sent by a friend. * It indicated that the U.S. had finally shipped to Japan a copy of black and white newsreel footage shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. * The Japanese had negotiated with the State Department for its return. * From the Pentagon, Barnouw learned in 1968 that the original nitrate film had been quietly turned over to the National Archives, so he went to take a look. * So he got his hands on it and made a short 16 film, “Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945”. * He arranged a screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and invited the press. * He approached the three TV networks that existed back then and offered them the film, but none expressed interest in airing it. * Despite this exposure, not a single story had yet appeared in an American newspaper about the shooting of the footage, its suppression or release. * When that footage finally emerged, journalist Greg Mitchell spoke with the man at the center of the drama: Lt. Col. Daniel A. McGovern, who directed the U.S. military film-makers in 1945-1946, managed the Japanese footage, and then kept watch on all of the top-secret material for decades. * McGovern told him: “I always had the sense, that people in the Atomic Energy Commission were sorry we had dropped the bomb. The Air Force — it was also sorry. I was told by people in the Pentagon that they didn’t want those [film] images out because they showed effects on man, woman and child….They didn’t want the general public to know what their weapons had done — at a time they were planning on more bomb tests. We didn’t want the material out because…we were sorry for our sins. But the AEC, they were the ones that stopped it from coming out. They had power of God over everybody. If it had anything to do with nukes, they had to see it. They were the ones who destroyed a lot of film and pictures of the first U.S. nuclear tests after the war. * He later said: “The main reason it was classified was…because of the horror, the devastation.” * Because the footage shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was hidden for so long, the atomic bombings quickly sank, unconfronted and unresolved, into the deeper recesses of American awareness, as a costly nuclear arms race, and nuclear proliferation, accelerated. * Four days after Wilfred Burchett’s story – remember him from the last episode? Aussie journalist, first into Hiroshima? – splashed across front pages around the world, Major General Leslie Groves, director of the atomic bomb project, invited a select group of thirty reporters to New Mexico. * Foremost among this group was William L. Laurence, the Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter for The New York Times. * Groves took the reporters to the site of the first atomic test. * His intent was to demonstrate that no atomic radiation lingered at the site. * Groves trusted Laurence to convey the military’s line; the general was not disappointed. * Laurence’s front-page story, U.S. ATOM BOMB SITE BELIES TOKYO TALES: TESTS ON NEW MEXICO RANGE CONFIRM THAT BLAST, AND NOT RADIATION, TOOK TOLL, ran on September 12, 1945, following a three-day delay to clear military censors. * “This historic ground in New Mexico, scene of the first atomic explosion on earth and cradle of a new era in civilization, gave the most effective answer today to Japanese propaganda that radiations [sic] were responsible for deaths even after the day of the explosion, Aug. 6, and that persons entering Hiroshima had contracted mysterious maladies due to persistent radioactivity,” the article began. * Laurence said unapologetically that the Army tour was intended “to give the lie to these claims.” * Laurence quoted General Groves: “The Japanese claim that people died from radiation. If this is true, the number was very small.” * Laurence then went on to offer his own remarkable editorial on what happened: “The Japanese are still continuing their propaganda aimed at creating the impression that we won the war unfairly, and thus attempting to create sympathy for themselves and milder terms. Thus, at the beginning, the Japanese described ‘symptoms’ that did not ring true.” * Laurence went on to write a series of ten articles for the Times that served as a glowing tribute to the ingenuity and technical achievements of the nuclear program. * Throughout these and other reports, he downplayed and denied the human impact of the bombing. * Laurence won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. * He was wrong about the Trinity site. * Today the radiation levels at the site are 10 times greater than the region’s natural background radiation. * Of course that’s probably one of the main reasons the U.S. wanted to discredit the connection between atomic bombs and dangerous radiation. * THEY HAD BLOWN ONE UP IN NEW MEXICO. * Imagine what the locals would do if they thought they were eating irradiated food and breathing in irradiated air? * Which, of course, they were. * For years, many of the residents of Tularosa, a small town roughly 35 miles from the Trinity site, have experienced unusually high rates of cancer. * They are known as “downwinders”. * For the past several years, a bill to list residents near the Trinity site under the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act has been rejected repeatedly by Congress. * Of course, the U.S. didn’t stop testing nuclear weapons after Trinity. * United States has conducted 1,054 nuclear weapons tests to date, involving at least 1,151 nuclear devices, most of which occurred at Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands, with ten other tests taking place at various locations in the United States, including Alaska, Colorado, Mississippi, and New Mexico. * Lots of downwinders in Arizona, Nevada and Utah but also in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. * Chrissy’s hometown in Utah as well. * Several severe adverse health effects, such as an increased incidence of cancers, thyroid diseases, CNS neoplasms, and possibly female reproductive cancers that could lead to congenital malformations have been observed in “downwind” communities exposed to nuclear fallout and radioactive contamination. * From 1951 to 1962 the AEC detonated more than 100 bombs, sending huge pinkish plumes of radioactive dust across the stony valleys and canyons of southern Utah and northern Arizona. * It gave each “shot” names like Annie, Eddie, Humboldt and Badger. * The official advice: enjoy the show. * “Your best action is not to be worried about fallout,” said an AEC booklet. * Families and lovers would drive to vantage points for the spectacle, then drive home as ash wafted down on their communities. * It was a cheap date. * At first the local press cheered the chance to beat the Russians and be part of history. * “Spectacular Atomic Explosions Mean Progress in Defense, No Cause For Panic,” said an editorial in the The Deseret News. * Eleven bombs were detonated in 1953, including several between March and June that coated St George, Utah, a small town about half an hour away from Chrissy’s hometown, and other towns in grey dust. * A year later St George hosted the filming of The Conqueror, a big budget blockbuster about Genghis Khan, starring John Wayne. * Of course. * Who else? * A People magazine article in 1980 reported that of 220 cast and crew, 91 had contracted cancer, with 46 of them dying. * Including The Duke, plus leading lady Susan Hayward, director Dick Powell and dozens of other cast and crew members. * Wayne’s two sons, Patrick and Michael, who were on location, also got cancer. * Back to journalist William L. Laurence, the guy who wrote there was no radiation from Trinity. * Apparenlty he was not only receiving a salary from The New York Times. * He was also on the payroll of the War Department. * In March 1945, General Leslie Groves had held a secret meeting at The New York Times with Laurence to offer him a job writing press releases for the Manhattan Project, the U.S. program to develop atomic weapons. * The intent, according to the Times, was “to explain the intricacies of the atomic bomb’s operating principles in laymen’s language.” * Laurence also helped write statements on the bomb for President Truman and Secretary of War Henry Stimson. * A curious twist to this story concerns another New York Times journalist who reported on Hiroshima; his name, believe it
64 minutes | 3 years ago
#86 – The Aftermath Part 1
* TRUMAN ANNOUNCES THE BOMB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN_UJJ9ObDs * On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb over the center of Hiroshima, killing at least 70,000 civilians instantly and perhaps 50,000 more in the days and months to follow. * Three days later, it exploded another atomic bomb over Nagasaki, slightly off target, killing 40,000 immediately and dooming tens of thousands of others. * Mr. Akihiro Takahashi was 14 years old, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. * He was standing in line with other students of his junior high school, waiting for the morning meeting 1.4 km away from the center. * “The heat was tremendous . And I felt like my body was burning all over. For my burning body the cold water of the river was as precious as the treasure. Then I left the river, and I walked along the railroad tracks in the direction of my home. On the way, I ran into an another friend of mine, Tokujiro Hatta. I wondered why the soles of his feet were badly burnt. It was unthinkable to get burned there. But it was undeniable fact the soles were peeling and red muscle was exposed. Even I myself was terribly burnt, I could not go home ignoring him. I made him crawl using his arms and knees. Next, I made him stand on his heels and I supported him. We walked heading toward my home repeating the two methods.” * He was under medical treatment for about year and half. * Eiko Taoka, then 21, was one of nearly 100 passengers said to have been on board a streetcar that had left Hiroshima Station at a little after 8:00 a.m. and was in a Hatchobori area, 750 m from ground zero, when the bomb fell. Taoka was heading for Funairi with her one year old son to secure wagon in preparation for her move out of the building which was to be evacuated. At 8:15, as the streetcar approached Hatchobori Station, an intense flash and blast engulfed the car, instantly setting it on fire. Taoka’s son died of radiation sickness on August 28. * When we were near in Hatchobori and since I had been holding my son in my arms, the young woman in front of me said, ‘I will be getting off here. Please take this seat.’ We were just changing places when there was a strange smell and sound. It suddenly became dark and before I knew it, I had jumped outside…. I held [my son] firmly and looked down on him. He had been standing by the window and I think fragments of glass had pierced his head. His face was a mess because of the blood flowing from his head. But he looked at my face and smiled. His smile has remained glued in my memory. He did not comprehend what had happened. And so he looked at me and smiled at my face which was all bloody. I had plenty of milk which he drank all throughout that day. I think my child sucked the poison right out of my body. And soon after that he died. Yes, I think that he died for me. * Ms. Akiko Takakura was 20 years old when the bomb fell. She was in the Bank of Hiroshima, 300 meters away from the hypocenter. Ms. Takakura miraculously escaped death despite over 100 lacerated wounds on her back. She is one of the few survivors who was within 300 meters of the hypocenter. * Many people on the street were killed almost instantly. The fingertips of those dead bodies caught fire and the fire gradually spread over their entire bodies from their fingers. A light gray liquid dripped down their hands, scorching their fingers. I, I was so shocked to know that fingers and bodies could be burned and deformed like that. I just couldn’t believe it. It was horrible. And looking at it, it was more than painful for me to think how the fingers were burned, hands and fingers that would hold babies or turn pages, they just, they just burned away. For a few years after the A-bomb was dropped, I was terribly afraid of fire. I wasn’t even able to get close to fire because all my senses remembered how fearful and horrible the fire was, how hot the blaze was, and how hard it was to breathe the hot air. It was really hard to breathe. Maybe because the fire burned all the oxygen, I don’t know. I could not open my eyes enough because of the smoke, which was everywhere. Not only me but everyone felt the same. And my parts were covered with holes. * On August 6, 1945, Yoshito Matsushige was 32 years old, living at home in Midori-cho, Hiroshima. * His home was 1.7 miles away from ground zero, just outside of the 1.5 mile radius of the total destruction created by atomic blast effects. * Miraculously, Matsushige was not seriously injured by the explosion. * With one camera and two rolls of film with 24 possible exposures, he tried to photograph the immediate after effects of the bombing of Hiroshima. * During the next ten hours, Matsushige was only able to click the shutter seven times. * He said, “It was such a cruel sight that I couldn’t bring myself to press the shutter.” * In addition, he was afraid the burned and battered people would be enraged if someone took their pictures. * Matsushige could not develop the film right away but eventually did so after twenty days, in the open, at night, using a radioactive stream to rinse the photographs. * Only five of the seven photographs were developable. * His photos would be the only immediate record of the destruction at Hiroshima. * A few weeks after the atomic bombing, the American military confiscated all of the post-bombing newspaper photographs and/or newsreel footage, but failed to confiscate many of the negatives. * As a result, photographs from the Hiroshima atomic bombing were not published until the United States occupation of Japan ended in April 1952. * The magazine Asahi Gurafu initially published Matsushige’s photographs in a special edition on August 6, 1952. * “Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence,” described Australian war correspondent Wilfred Burchett in his September 5, 1945 article “Atomic Plague” in the London Daily Express * Burchett was the first Western journalist to enter Hiroshima after the bombing – Armed with a pistol, a typewriter and a Japanese phrasebook * which is my plan for our trip to europe * He travelled 400 miles from Tokyo alone and unarmed carrying rations for seven meals * He was shocked by the devastation. * Under the banner “I write this as a warning to the world”, Burchett described a city reduced to “reddish rubble” and people dying from an unknown “atomic plague”. * At the time it was ignored by most Western newspapers. * General MacArthur ordered him expelled from Japan, and his camera with photos of Hiroshima mysteriously vanished while he was in the hospital. * U.S. officials accused Burchett of being influenced by Japanese propaganda. * They scoffed at the notion of an atomic sickness. * The U.S. military issued a press release right after the Hiroshima bombing that downplayed human casualties, instead emphasizing that the bombed area was the site of valuable industrial and military targets. * I want to close out this episode by reading the entire article by Burchett. * In Hiroshima, 30 days after the first atomic bomb destroyed the city and shook the world, people are still dying, mysteriously and horribly — people who were uninjured by the cataclysm — from an unknown something which I can only describe as atomic plague. * Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts as dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the world. In this first testing ground of the atomic bomb I have seen the most terrible and frightening desolation in four years of war. It makes a blitzed Pacific island seem like an Eden. The damage is far greater than photographs can show. * When you arrive in Hiroshima you can look around and for 25, perhaps 30, square miles you can hardly see a building. It gives you an empty feeling in the stomach to see such man-made devastation. * I picked my way to a shack used as a temporary police headquarters in the middle of the vanished city. Looking south from there I could see about three miles of reddish rubble. That is all the atomic bomb left of dozens of blocks of city streets, of buildings, homes, factories and human beings. * There is just nothing standing except about 20 factory chimneys — chimneys with no factories. I looked west. A group of half a dozen gutted buildings. And then again nothing. * The police chief of Hiroshima welcomed me eagerly as the first Allied correspondent to reach the city. With the local manager of Domei, a leading Japanese news agency, he drove me through, or perhaps I should say over, the city. And he took me to hospitals where the victims of the bomb are still being treated. * In these hospitals I found people who, when the bomb fell, suffered absolutely no injuries, but now are dying from the uncanny after-effects. * For no apparent reason their health began to fail. They lost appetite. Their hair fell out. Bluish spots appeared on their bodies. And the bleeding began from the ears, nose and mouth. * At first the doctors told me they thought these were the symptoms of general debility. They gave their patients Vitamin A injections. The results were horrible. The flesh started rotting away from the hole caused by the injection of the needle. * And in every case the victim died. * That is one of the after-effects of the first atomic bomb man ever dropped and I do not want to see any more examples of it. But in walking through the month-old rubble I found others. * My nose detected a peculiar odour unlike anything I have ever smelled before. It is something like sulphur, but not quite. I could smell it when I passed a fire that was still smouldering, or at a spot where they were still recovering bodies from the wreckage. But I could also smell it where everyth
62 minutes | 3 years ago
#82 – Alex Wellerstein
Our guest today is Alex Wellerstein, a self-described “historian of science, secrecy, and nuclear weapons”. He’s a Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He blogs here and is on Twitter here. He is also the creator of the NUKEMAP. Alex joined us to talk about the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Did Truman know Hiroshima contained civilians? Did he know the military were going to bomb Nagasaki a few days later? How much deliberation went into the question of whether or not the bomb should be used? And was it necessary to end the war with Japan? These questions and more on this episode. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
57 minutes | 3 years ago
#77 – Bombing Japan
* Which brings us to April 1945. * Only weeks before Germany surrendered on May 7, FDR dies. * And Truman takes over as POTUS. * He knew nothing of the Manhattan Project or the atomic bomb. * He was briefed on it immediately by Sec of War Stimson. * By the time Truman took office, Japan was near defeat. * Keep in mind that the bomb was developed primarily to fight the Nazis. * But now that they are out of the picture, nobody wants a $2 billion white elephant. * At this stage, American aircraft were attacking Japanese cities at will. * As we mentioned recently, the B-29 was the world’s first pressurized bomber. * So it could fly at high altitudes that the few remaining Japanese fighters couldn’t reach. * Although kamikaze pilots did take down quite a few. * BTW, do you know what the B stands for in B-29? * Lots of people think it stands for “bomber”. * But it really secretly stands for the name of the guy who came up with the name of the planes – Barry. * It’s the Barry-29. * A single fire-bomb raid on Tokyo in March 1945 killed nearly 100,000 people and injured over a million. * On 13 April, the Imperial Army Air Force’s laboratory where early Japanese research on the atomic bomb had been done was hit. * And that’s something we haven’t talked about – the Japanese attempts to build a bomb. * In 1934, Tohoku University professor Hikosaka Tadayoshi released his “atomic physics theory”. * Hikosaka pointed out the huge energy contained by nuclei and the possibility that both nuclear power generation and weapons could be created. * Keep in mind that the West didn’t understand that concept until 1938 when the Germans worked it out. * Leading Japanese physicist Nishina Yoshio was keen on utilizing nuclear fission as a military weapon, but was also justifiably concerned that other countries like the U.S., were also trying to create a nuclear weapon. * Before the war, he was apparently friendly with Einstein and Neils Bohr * Nishina had previously established his own Nuclear Research Laboratory to study high-energy physics in 1931 at RIKEN Institute (the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research), which had been established in 1917 in Tokyo to promote basic research. * BTW, Ricoh, the Japanese camera company, also came out of Riken. * In 1936 Nishina constructed a 26-inch (660 mm) cyclotron, and a 60-inch (1,500 mm), 220-ton cyclotron in 1937. * In 1938 he also purchased a cyclotron from the University of California, Berkeley. * After meeting Japanese director of Japan’s Army Aeronautical Department’s Technical Research Institute, lieutenant-general Yasuda Takeo (surname first), Nishina told him about the possibility of Japan building its own nuclear weapon’s arsenal. * In April of 1941, Army Minister and later Prime Mininster Tojo Hideki (yeah, that Tojo) ordered Yasuda to look further into the possibility of Japan being able to create nuclear weapons. * Yasuda then passed the order down to viscount Ōkōchi Masatoshi director of the RIKEN Institute, who then passed the order down to Nishina. * By this time, Nishina had over 100 nuclear researchers. * Japan’s Army and Navy were always in competition with one another, so perhaps it would come as no surprise that the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Technology Research Institute had been looking in to the possibility of creating nuclear weapons, too. * They had been in talks with scientists from the Imperial University in Tokyo, for advice on constructing and possible use of nuclear weapons. * This resulted in the formation of the Committee on Research in the Application of Nuclear Physics, chaired by Nishina, that met 10 times between July 1942 and March 1943. * It concluded in a report that while an atomic bomb was, in principle, feasible, “it would probably be difficult even for the United States to realize the application of atomic power during the war.” * Well… if the U.S. couldn’t do it, why should the Japanese Navy bother? * Rather than worry about nuclear weapons, the Navy focused its attention on radar. * But the Army still thought the awesome might of a split atom would be just dandy to use, that same Committee on Research in the Application of Nuclear Physics worked with the Army and set up the Ni-Go Project at the RIKEN complex. * Via the Ni-Go Project, scientists were TRYING to separate uranium-235 by thermal diffusion. * It took until February 1945, but at the RIKEN complex, scientists separated a small amount of some radioactive material… but it was not uranium-235. * The attempt to separate the U-235 ended two months later after U.S. bombing fire-damaged the facility. * Japan’s biggest problem in attempting to create nuclear fission was its inability to procure enough uranium for experiments. * The Japanese Navy and Army did conduct searches for uranium ore, looking in Fukushima, of all places, as well as in conquered territories in Burma, Korea and China. * They also tried to get some from Germany, with some 1,230 pounds (560 kilograms) of unprocessed uranium oxide sent via German submarine U-234 (interesting name). * Do you know what the U stands for? * Unterseeboot, literally “undersea boat” * It was the U-234’s first and only mission into enemy territory, but on May 14, 1945 it was told to surface and surrender by German Admiral Dönitz, as Germany was offering its unconditional surrender. * The 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of uranium disappeared. * It was most likely transferred to the Manhattan Project’s Oak Ridge diffusion plant. * The uranium oxide would have yielded approximately 7.7 pounds (3.5 kg) of 235U after processing, around 20% of what would have been required to arm a contemporary fission weapon. * But, there was another Japanese plan for nuclear weapons going on at the same time as Ni-Go Project… this one called F-Go Project * F-Go was a Navy program – another one, taking place at Kyoto’s Imperial University under the auspices of Arakatsu Bunsaku (surname first), who as the then-current No. 1 Japanese physicist had studied at Cambridge under Ernest Rutherford and at the Berlin University under Albert Einstein. * By the time WWII concluded for Japan, he had designed and was constructing an ultracentrifuge that could spin at 60,000 rpm (rotations per minute) – current ultracentrifuge’s can spin at a speed of 1,000,000 g’s, which is approximately 9,800 kilometers per second squared, which is effing fast. * But he didn’t manage to produce any U-235 before the end of the war. * However – in 1946, a journalist for the Atlanta Constitution, David Snell, who had also served in the army during the war, wrote an article where he claimed Japan built and tested an A Bomb three days before the end of the war. * They called it “genzai bakudan” (or greatest warrior). * He claimed the project was moved to Konan, aka Hungnam, in Korea before the end of the war, because of the B-29 bombings, and that the Soviets had taken control of that area after the war and captured the Japanese atomic scientists. * He said he learned all this from a Japanese officer, who said he was in charge of counter intelligence at the Konan project before the fall of Japan. * He also said this was the reason the Soviets shot down the B-29 “Hog Wild” over the Hungnam region on August 29, 1945. * David Snell went on to become Senior Editor of LIFE Magazine. * Meanwhile… another air attack on Tokyo in May killed 83,000. * Similar attacks followed on 67 cities, including Yokohama, Kobe, Osaka, Toyama and Nagoya. * As more islands fell into American hands, the bombing campaign was ramped up. * According to the Japanese government’s official statistics, air attacks killed 260,000 people and destroyed 2,210,000 houses, leaving 9,200,000 homeless. * The Japanese just gave up. * Much later, Mr Abe, the minister in charge of home affairs, said: ‘I believe that After the 23–24 May 1945 raid on Tokyo, civilian defence measures in that city, as well as other parts of Japan, were considered a futile effort.’ * By the end of the war, Japan was surrounded by the US and British navies, shelling the ports at will. * Their blockade severed the islands’ supply lines. * But the accepted view was that the Japanese would fight to the bitter end and an invasion of the home islands would be costly. * Of course, this ignores what they would do when the U.S.S.R. Joined the Pacific War, as the Americans had urged them to do, and Stalin had agreed. * He was scheduled to end his neutrality pact with Japan and declare war within three months of the end of the war with Germany * Which means earliy – mid August. * On August 3, Marshal Vasilevsky reported to Stalin that, if necessary, he could attack on the morning of August 5. * More on that later. * So American policy-makers clung to the idea that the successful combat delivery of one or more atomic bombs might convince the Japanese that further resistance was futile. * There was little doubt of the determination of the Japanese to fight on. * After the bombing of Tokyo on 9 – 10 March, Tokyo radio said: ‘If by any chance the enemy believed that he could demoralize the Japanese people, he has made a big mistake. The Emperor of Japan, on the morning of 18 March, deigned to pay an unexpected personal visit to the stricken districts of the Capital. He went on foot, exposing himself to the cold March wind. All the people, touched by his sympathy, renewed their determination to prosecute the war, saying: “This is a sacred war against the diabolical Americans.’’’ * But of course that’s typical wartime propaganda. * American troops had suffered terribly in the face of the fanatical Japanese defence of the Pacific islands they had held. * When American invaded the island of Iwo Jima, just south of Tokyo, 19 February – 26 March 1945, they ended up with 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded out of a force of
72 minutes | 3 years ago
#74 – Benn Steil & The Marshall Plan
Benn Steil is an American economist, author of a great new book on “The Marshall Plan”, and senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
58 minutes | 3 years ago
#73 – k
* Fission involved breaking apart the nuclei of heavy elements like uranium or plutonium. * Fusion involves forcing the nuclei of lighter elements, like hydrogen or deuterium, together. * And deuterium, which is basically heavy hydrogen, is far easier to get your hands on than uranium. * But there’s still not a ton of it. * There is one D atom in 6420 of H. * D accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all the naturally occurring hydrogen in the oceans, while protium, the other isotope of hydrogen, accounts for more than 99.98%. * But a fusion bomb is also a lot more powerful than a fission bomb. * That’s why all of the nuclear weapons today operate by fusion instead of fission. * BTW, a fusion bomb is also known as a hydrogen bomb or thermonuclear bomb, becaue a fusion bomb actually contains a fission bomb which creates the heat, thermo, required to initiate the fusion reaction, the nuclear part. * In late November, there was a scare. * Neither Groves nor the S-1 Executive had been told that Compton was building the experimental pile at Stagg Field. * They were faced with the vision of a chain reaction possibly running wild in heavily populated Chicago. * However, Fermi’s calculations provided reasonable assurance that this was not going to happen. * But for a few days there, everyone was panicking. * So let’s talk about k. * And I’m not talking about Tommy Lee Jones from Men In Black. * Here’s the situation. * Remember that to get a fission reaction to happen, you had to get just the right number of neutrons to hit the right number of uranium nuclei, causing them to fission, which would give off more neutrons, which would hit more nuclei, etc. * Some of the neutrons would be lost, they might bounce in a direction where there wasn’t a uranium nuclei. * So you have to put up a kind of shielding that would make the neutrons bounce back into the chamber. * To quantify this, the physicists came up with a number – k. * If the number of neutrons in the chamber was less than k, there was no chain reaction, the process would just fizzle out. * If it was exactly k, when k = 1, you had a sustainable reaction. * But if it was larger than k, it could go supercritical, and you might have a bomb go off in the middle of Chicago. * But of course at this stage nobody knew if achieving k was even possible. * To try and achieve k, they put the uranium in the middle of the pile and surrounded it with cubes of graphite, which would act as a moderator, slowing down the neutrons. * The first pile that Fermi built on the campus at Columbia in September 1941 comprised cans of uranium oxide surrounded by graphite bricks. * Its k was 0.87. * Which he said sucked but at least it was a starting point. * By July 1942, at Stagg Field, they had edged k up to 0.918, then 0.94. * To get closer to k they realised they were going to need purer graphite and uranium metal, instead of uranium oxide, which had too many impurities. * The problem was – uranium metal of that purity didn’t exist. * It wasn’t until November that they could get enough manufactured, from a range of companies who were all working without knowing exactly why, to their specifications. * So in November, Fermi started to build the main pile in Chicago. * interestingly, some of the physicists working on the project were pacifists. * They believed that the existence of atom bombs would prevent future wars. * But Fermi still didn’t know if the pile would go critical. * So they had the idea to cover the entire thing in a huge rubber balloon so they could pump all of the air out of it. * Gases absorb neutrons and they wanted to negate that factor. * The balloon was made by Goodyear, who of course weren’t allow to know WHY they were building this huge rubber balloon. * Maybe they thought it was a huge condom. For a giant. * The pile had graphite bricks in the center. * Surrounded by a wooden frame. * Then uranium was placed on the next layer. * More wooden frames. * Then alternating graphite and uranium for each layer. * Into a roughly spherical shape. * And these guys needed to carve the graphite into the shapes they needed. * One of them said: ‘We found out how coal miners feel. After eight hours of machining graphite, we looked as if we were made up for a minstrel. One shower would remove only the surface graphite dust. About a half-hour after the first shower the dust in the pores of your skin would start oozing. Walking around the room where we cut the graphite was like walking on a dance floor. Graphite is a dry lubricant, you know, and the cement floor covered with graphite dust was slippery.’ * Imagine you’re one of the world’s leading physicists, and you’re spending your days carving graphite, covered in dust, trying to build the world’s biggest bomb. * That’s a hard day’s work. * Fermi was described by his associates as ‘completely self-confident but wholly without conceit’. * He’d made his calculations and he was certain of them. * In Chicago in the early afternoon of 1 December, tests indicated that the pile was reaching critical size. * At that point Fermi’s massive lattice pile contained some 400 tons of graphite, 6 tons of uranium metal and 50 tons of uranium oxide. * The average African elephant weighs between 2.5 and 7 tons, to 400 tons of graphite is about 80 elephants worth. * Imagine spending your days carving 80 elephants into nice little cubes. * About 8.30am on the morning of Wednesday, 2 December, the scientists began to assemble at the squash court where the pile had been built. * The pile was built in the doubles squash court in the west stands of Stagg Field. * Fermi and other scientists watch from the balcony of the squash court. * The giant balloon was fitted, and the air was pumped out. * What if it went supercritical? * They had a an emergency cadmium rod, which would absorb neutrons, suspended above the pile, attached to a rope, which could be cut with an axe if needed. * But that wasn’t enough security. * Remember – this had never been done before. * So there was a suicide squad on stand-by. * If things went pear shaped, these three guys would rush in and cover the entire pile with cadmium-sulphate solution. * What a job description. * The experiment started at 10am. * First the emergency rod was slowly pulled out a bit. * The neutron counter in the pile started ticking, showing Fermi the number of neutrons being released. * 37 minutes later, they removed the rod a bit further. * The ticking went higher. * Fermi is doing manual calculations on a slide rule to make sure the counter matches his calculations. * They pull the rod out a little more. * Another half an hour goes by. They pull it out another foot. * Fermi does his calculations. * Then suddenly – there is a loud crash. * Everyone freezes. * It turns out that the rod had just slipped back down. * “Let’s go to lunch, I’m starving” said Fermi. * They spent a couple of hours at lunch, talking about anything BUT the experiment. * Then at 2pm they go back to try again. * They repeat the process. * Slowly removing the rod up a bit. * Then Fermi watches the needle on the counter. * Does his math. * Gives the order to pull it up a little more. * And a little more. * Finally Fermi says “This is it. The reaction will now be self-sustaining.” * He watches the needle. * They all watch him watching the needle, doing his math, calm as a cucumber on a cold day in the Antarctic. * Then Fermi broke into a huge smile and closed his slide rule. * ‘The reaction is self-sustaining,’ he announced quietly, happily. ‘The curve is exponential.’ * The world’s first nuclear chain reactor operated for 28 minutes. * At 3.53pm, the control rods were replaced. * The counters slowed and the pen headed downwards across the paper. * The test was over. * The team had succeeded in initiating a self-sustaining nuclear reaction – and then stopping it. * They had released the energy of the atom’s nucleus and controlled it. * One of the team presented Fermi with a bottle of Chianti. * He’d kept it hidden behind his desk the entire time. * The U.S. was at war with Italy and it was illegal to import Italian wine. * Fermi pulled out some paper cups and they all drank in silence. * No toast. * They were all aware of what they had accomplished. * They just weren’t sure if they were the first. * No way of telling if the Nazis hadn’t beaten them to it. * Fermi got all of the guys to sign the straw wrapping around the bottle. * Compton then phoned Conant at Harvard and delivered a message in the pre-arranged code. * ‘Jim,’ said Compton. ‘The Italian navigator has landed in the New World.’ * ‘Is that so,’ said Conant. ‘How were the natives?’ * ‘Everyone landed safe and happy,’ Compton replied. * As the crew filed out of the West Stands, one of the guards asked one of the scientists: ‘What’s going on, Doctor, something happen in there?’ * On this momentous day in scientific history, they had generated half a watt of energy. * That would be increased 10 days later to 200 watts – enough to power two light bulbs. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
78 minutes | 3 years ago
#70 – No Military Justification
* The Potsdam declaration on Japan was tricky. * It was drafted while Churchill was still PM. * In fact it was probably one of the last things he did as PM. * But it was signed by Attlee. * Stalin had to be involved, but he couldn’t sign it because the U.S.S.R. was still technically under a non-agression treaty with Japan. * Truman also wanted Chiang KaiShek to sign it. * Which meant it needed they needed to get it translated and sent to him at his remote headquarters nears ChongKing in central China. * The final text gave Japan “an opportunity to end this war” before the “prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan . . . until she ceases to resist.” * It also advised the Japanese of what befell the Germans when they fought to the end. * It warned that “the might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people.” * But of course it’s worth keeping in mind that many in the Japanese military prided themselves on their particular militaristic interpretation of the Bushido code. * The classic book, Bushido, the Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe, written in 1899, portrays Bushido – which he says translates as Military-Knight-Ways – as being very similar to the code of chivalry supposedly adopted by the European knights in the Middle Ages. * He portrays it as relatively pacifistic. * It’s about courage and honour, sincerity, frugality, loyalty, mastery of martial arts, and honour to the death, but stresses morality as well. * It was the code of the samurai. * Here’s some crazy numbers. * By the end of the 19th century, somewhere between 5% and 10% of the Japanese population were samurai. * The census at the end of the 19th century counted 1,282,000 members of the “high samurai”, allowed to ride a horse, and 492,000 members of the “low samurai”, allowed to wear two swords but not to ride a horse, in a country of about 25 million. * Under the bushidō ideal, if a samurai failed to uphold his honor he could only regain it by performing seppuku (ritual suicide). * In an excerpt from his book Samurai: The World of the Warrior, historian Stephen Turnbull describes the role of seppuku in feudal Japan: * In the world of the warrior, seppuku was a deed of bravery that was admirable in a samurai who knew he was defeated, disgraced, or mortally wounded. * It meant that he could end his days with his transgressions wiped away and with his reputation not merely intact but actually enhanced. * The cutting of the abdomen released the samurai’s spirit in the most dramatic fashion, but it was an extremely painful and unpleasant way to die, and sometimes the samurai who was performing the act asked a loyal comrade to cut off his head at the moment of agony. * Unfortunately bushido was hijacked and adapted by militarists and the government from the early 1900s onward as nationalism increased around the time of the Russo-Japanese War. * And by WWII, it had reached epic proportions. * I don’t know how much western strategists understood bushido in 1945, but they were certainly aware of kamikaze pilots. * Kamikaze translates as “divine wind” or “spirit wind” * The Kamikaze were a part of the Japanese Special Attack Units of military aviators who initiated suicide attacks for the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible with conventional air attacks. * About 3,862 kamikaze pilots died during the war, and somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 naval personnel were killed by kamikaze attacks. * The idea for kamikaze came very late in the war. * It’s not something you do when things are going well. * Has a tendency to deplete your airforce pretty fucking quickly. * But by late 1944, the Japanese airforce was already running out of experienced pilots and their planes were outclassed by the new American planes. * Captain Motoharu Okamura, in charge of the Tateyama Base in Tokyo, as well as the 341st Air Group Home, was, according to some sources, the first officer to officially propose kamikaze attack tactics. * The first successful attacks happened on 14 October or 15 Oct 1944. * Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima, the commander of the 26th Air Flotilla (part of the 11th Air Fleet), is sometimes credited with inventing the kamikaze tactic. * Arima personally led an attack by about 100 Yokosuka D4Y Suisei (“Judy”) dive bombers against a large Essex-class aircraft carrier, USS Franklin, near Leyte Gulf, on (or about, accounts vary) 15 October 1944. * Arima was killed and part of a plane hit Franklin. * The Japanese high command and propagandists seized on Arima’s example: He was promoted posthumously to Vice Admiral and was given official credit for making the first kamikaze attack. * It is not clear that this was a planned suicide attack, and official Japanese accounts of Arima’s attack bore little resemblance to the actual events. * Maybe they just jumped on an accidental collision and said “oh yeah he meant that”. * Although other sources say it was an Aussie ship that was the first attack. * Early on 21 October, a Japanese aircraft, deliberately crashed into the foremast of the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia. * The attack killed 30 personnel, including the cruiser’s captain, Emile Dechaineux, and wounded 64, including the Australian force commander, Commodore John Collins. * The Australian official history of the war claimed that this was the first kamikaze attack on an Allied ship, although other sources disagree because it was not a planned attack by a member of the Special Attack Force, but was most likely to have been undertaken on the pilot’s own initiative. * over the next few months over 2,000 planes made such attacks. * It was claimed by the Japanese forces at the time that there were many volunteers for the suicidal forces. * Captain Motoharu Okamura commented that “there were so many volunteers for suicide missions that he referred to them as a swarm of bees,” explaining: “Bees die after they have stung.” * A kamikaze pilots’ manual said: When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills. * Anyway – so that was one consideration when thinking about ending the war with Japan. * Would the military be happy to die with honour rather than surrender? * But for all its harshness, the Potsdam declaration followed the advice of the moderates. * It did not mention the emperor, either by name or by reference to the institution he represented. * The words “unconditional surrender” appeared only once, in the final paragraph, and then specified only the unconditional surrender of the armed forces, not the Japanese nation. * The alternative was “prompt and utter destruction.” * The fate of Emperor Hirohito was left ambiguous. * He was not mentioned. * This was, of course, a problem for the Japanese. * They considered the Emperor to be divine. called the “Son of Heaven” * In State Shinto, the Emperor was believed to be a Arahitogami (a living god). * In Japanese mythology, according to Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the Emperor and his family are said to be direct descendants of the sun-goddess Amaterasu. * The significance of the Emperor in Japanese society was no secret to American leaders: The Japanese regarded the Emperor as a deity, a god—more like Jesus or the incarnate Buddha than an ordinary human being. * Until the surrender occurred, the Japanese people at large had never been allowed to hear the Emperor’s voice; many were moved to tears when, on the radio, they first listened to their deity speaking directly to them. * In 1937, fearful that traditional values of loyalty and devotion might be displaced by Western immorality, the Thought Bureau of the Ministry of Education issued a document titled “Cardinal Principles of the National Polity” which defined and celebrated a “national character that is cloudless, pure, and honest.” * The “Cardinal Principles” emphasized that “our country is a divine country governed by an Emperor who is a deity incarnate.” * They needed confirmation that he wouldn’t he arrested or harmed in any way. * The idea of their divine emperor being put up on war crimes charges was inconceivable. * Fun fact: Currently, the Emperor of Japan is the only head of state in the world with the English title of “Emperor”. * The standing U.S. demand for “unconditional surrender” directly threatened not only the person of the Emperor but such central tenets of Japanese culture as well. * Because of the Emperor’s unique political and religious status, U.S. leaders were repeatedly advised that a surrender would likely be accepted only if the Japanese people were assured the Emperor-God would neither be removed from his throne nor harmed (or tried and possibly hanged as a war criminal, as German leaders were about to be tried). * A report by the Joint Intelligence Committee observed in March 1944—sixteen months before Hiroshima—that the * course of conduct of Japanese armed forces deployed in the areas under consideration, to a large extent, will depend upon the Japanese political situation as of the time that our peace terms are enforced. The crux of the political situation will lie in the all-important status of the Japanese Emperor. * Another report put together for Mac
59 minutes | 3 years ago
#67 Clement Atlee
Attlee was Churchill’s lame duck deputy PM. In fact he was the first Deputy PM the UK ever had. I didn’t realise this, but in the UK the role of the Deputy PM isn’t like you’d expect, like it is in Australia or like the Vice-President in the USA. The Deputy PM doesn’t take over if the PM is incapacitated or resigns. If the PM is sick or dies, the Deputy does NOT take over. In the UK, only the sovereign can appoint a PM. So having a Deputy who is PM-in-waiting is seen as a no no. One argument made to justify the non-existence of a permanent deputy premiership is that such an office-holder would be seen as possessing a presumption of succession to the premiership, thereby effectively limiting the sovereign’s right to choose a prime minister. But of course you might think “well surely the Monarch can just say “okay I make you PM and I make you Deputy PM and therefore you’ll take over if something happens”, but apparently that would be too much work. Attlee was the Deputy PM because the Churchill war ministry was a coalition government of men from both major political parties, handpicked by Churchill. The idea went back to the first World War, when both Asquith and David Lloyd George had a coalition government in which Churchill was a minister, and back then he was with the Liberal Party, because he’d quit the Tories for a while. And Attlee was the leader of the Labor Party. In fact he was the leader for 20 years, from 1935 – 1955. Not a bad run. Now remember that Churchill himself HATED socialists more than he hated wasting a cigar, so it was a pretty remarkable thing that he found a way to work with these guys, and it’s something I can respect him for. Anyway, the UK election had happened before Potsdam, despite Attlee suggesting they should wait until after the defeat of Japan, but the results were still being tallied. On July 25, the conference took a two-day break so that the most senior British officials could return to London for the tabulation of the votes. There was a three week delay between the vote on July 5 and the results to give the 3 million troops still overseas time to cast their votes. Everyone, including Attlee and the British communists, expected Churchill to win, all that seemed in doubt was the size of the majority.. But Churchill later claimed that before he left Potsdam he had had a nightmare. “I dreamed that my life was over,” he later recalled. “I saw it—it was very vivid—my dead body under a white sheet on a table in an empty room. I recognized my bare feet projecting from under the sheet. It was very life like. . . . Perhaps this is the end.” I wonder if his corpse was smoking a cigar? The elections produced a historic surprise, of course – it was a landslide victory for Labour and Clement Attlee. The Conservative majority in the House of Commons disappeared as the number of Tory seats plummeted from 585 to 213. Labour emerged as the dominant party, meaning that Clement Attlee would return to Potsdam as Britain’s prime minister, and that Churchill would at least temporarily leave government. Churchill briefly thought about returning to Potsdam and forcing the new Parliament to vote him out, but he soon bowed to the inevitable and resigned. Attlee offered Churchill and Eden the chance to return to Potsdam with him as advisers, to show the world the continuity of the British system, but both declined. Attlee himself could hardly believe that he and his party had won, and by such an enormous margin. When he went to Buckingham Palace to meet the king, George VI told Attlee that he looked quite surprised to have won. “Indeed I certainly was,” Attlee replied. Needless to say – everyone back at Potsdam was in shock. No one quite knew what to make of the change; Winston Churchill now had no role in British policy. In his diary, Admiral Leahy recorded his concern that, Churchill’s flaws notwithstanding, Britain simply could not go on without him. The change in government, Leahy wrote, “is in my opinion a world tragedy. I do not know how the Allies can succeed without the spark of genius in his qualities of leadership.” Now, instead of Roosevelt and Churchill at Potsdam, the Allies had Truman and Attlee, both of whom seemed to Leahy to be grossly inadequate substitutes for their illustrious predecessors. ATTLEE BIO Clement Attlee’s background was about as far removed from Chuchill’s as you could imagine. Attlee was born into a middle class family, the seventh of eight children. His father was Henry Attlee (1841–1908), a solicitor, and his mother was Ellen Bravery Watson (1847–1920), daughter of the secretary for the Art Union of London. But young Clement went to Oxford, where in 1904 he graduated BA with second-class honours in Modern History. He trained as barrister and went to work for his father’s firm, but didn’t like it. In 1906, he became a volunteer at Haileybury House, a charitable club for working-class boys in the East End of London run by his old school, and from 1907 to 1909 he served as the club’s manager. Until then, his political views had been more conservative. But now he was face to face with the poverty and deprivation of the slum children, and he came to the conclusion that charities would never be able to make a dint in the problem, and that what was needed was government intervention and income redistribution. And so he became a socialist. He joined the Labor Party and was employed for a time by the UK gov, where he rode around the country on a bike explaining the new National Insurance Act that was introduced in 1911 by David Lloyd George. That’s right Americans – The UK has had a form of universal health care for over a century. Do you know the first country to introduce it? Germany in 1884 under Bismarck. We should do a BS series on health care. Anyway, back to Clem. He was a lecturer at the London School of Economics until WWI broke out. He tried to join the army, was rejected because he was too old at 31, but tried again and was accepted He ended up at Gallipoli with my great-grandfather. the Gallipoli invasion of course was architected by – Winston Churchill. But Attlee was actually a fan of the idea and had a lot of respect for Churchill as a result. But he got sick at Gallipoli and was sent home on a ship. But he said he wanted to stay and fight, and was let off at Malta, where he recovered in a hospital before going back to the front lines. He ended being injured in Iraq and was sent back to the UK where he recovered, was promoted to Major, and trained soldiers. Then he ended up the war on the Western Front in France. After the war he went back to lecturing at the London School of Economics. He entered politics and became the mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney, one of London’s most deprived inner-city boroughs, in 1919. During his time as mayor, the council undertook action to tackle slum landlords who charged high rents but refused to spend money on keeping their property in habitable condition. Then he wrote his first book, The Social Worker, which laid out his political philosophy. The book attacked the idea that looking after the poor could be left to voluntary action. He wrote on page 30: In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways – they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. and went on to say at page 75: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice. In 1922 he became a Minister in the Parliament. And in 1924 became the Under-Secretary of State for War in the short-lived first Labour government. In 1927 he joined the Royal Commission set up to look at granting India independence. Which he finally made happen in 1947 during his government. He became the leader of the Labor Party in 1935. Although in the next few years he fought against the build up of Britain’s army, believing the money was better spent building up the welfare system, by 1937 he disagreed with Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement of Hitler and came to agree that they needed to rearm and get ready for war. Then in 1940, Chamberlain was out, and Churchill created his coalition war ministry. Attlee played a fairly low key role during the war, mostly behind the scenes. Although in the times when Churchill was overseas, Attlee stepped in and took over as the face of the government. In many ways, during the war, Churchill was focused mostly on the war, and Attlee had been running the country. Unlike Churchill, he didn’t have much charisma; Beatrice Webb, the sociologist, economist, socialist, labour historian and social reformer, who coined the term “collective bargaining”, and was a friend of Ivan Maisky, wrote in her diary in early 1940: He looked and spoke like an insignificant elderly clerk, without distinction in the voice, manner or substance of his discourse. To realise that this little nonentity is the Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party… and presumably the future P.M. [Prime Minister] is pitiable. Not to mention that he had a Hitler mustache and Himmler’s glasses. Imagine a balding Hitler wearing Himmler’s glasses. When the war with Germany was over, both Attlee and Churchill wanted to postpone the election until Japan had been defeated, but the
75 minutes | 3 years ago
#65 – Michael Neiberg
Prof Michael Neiberg is Chair of War Studies and Professor of History, Department of National Security and Strategy, US Army War College. He has also written a number of excellent books on the First World War – as well as the book we are talking about today – Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
72 minutes | 3 years ago
#62 – Truman
Harry S. Truman. Farmer. Soldier. Failed businessman. Given his political career by a mobbed-up bootlegger. Became President through fate. Adopted John Wayne persona to try to look tough. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
48 minutes | 3 years ago
#59 – Stalin Versus The Pope
Stalin crushes the Ukrainian Catholic Church, partly because socialists believe religion is the opium of the masses, and partly because the Pope, Pius XII, had done a deal with Hitler and was a virulent anti-Communist. HOW TO LISTEN If you’re already a subscriber, you can listen to the full show in the player below or subscribe through iTunes or any podcast player. If you haven’t heard any of the series and want to know if you’ll like it before you sign up, you can listen to the first six episodes totally free. You might want to start with Episode 1, unless of course you’re an old school George Lucas fan, in which case feel free to start at Episode IV. We don’t recommend it though. Sign Up or Login to listen to our premium episodes If you haven’t already, join our Facebook page and you’ll be in the running to win prizes in our regular “Share The Love” and other competitions. If you’d like a chance to win a prize, write a funny or insightful review on iTunes.
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