Bob Schwartz

Tag: WMD

God and the H-Bomb

God and the H-Bomb

The Hydrogen Bomb is in the news, thanks to North Korea’s questionable claim that they have one and have tested it.

In the years following World War 2, the H-Bomb was big news. Big, just like The Bomb. The world had seen the destructive power of the A-Bomb used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The H-Bomb made the A-Bomb look like a stick of dynamite. Where once there was the power to destroy cities, we could now destroy the world. And ourselves. We were as gods, at least in our punishing might.

In 1961, a book called God and the H-Bomb was published. It’s not in print, but you might find a copy used or in a library, as I did a few years ago. The cover carries this question: “What counsel do our spiritual leaders offer in response to mankind’s greatest challenge?”

The roster of contributors is an impressive list of thinkers, some of whom are still recognized names, some less familiar. Paul Tillich, Martin Buber, Pope Pius XII, and so on.

We don’t see many—any—religious and spiritual leaders interviewed about the North Korean test, about the Iran deal, or about any Bomb related stories. Except for those religious and spiritual leaders with political strategy in mind or a political axe to grind.

That’s not what this 55-year-old book is about. It is about the moral and spiritual dimensions of the H-Bomb. That is reflected in the titles of the pieces. The power of self-destruction. War and Christian conscience. Fifteen years in hell is enough. Thy neighbor as thyself. The road of sanity.

The foreword is by Steve Allen, who is a little remembered as a significant television personality, but less as one of the most entertaining and brilliant public intellectuals of the middle twentieth century. Here’s what he writes:

That our nation is in the throes of moral collapse of serious dimensions is, apparently, no longer a debatable conclusion. Liberal and conservative spokesmen vie to see who shall express the conviction most vigorously. Churchmen and secularists, too, agree that we have fallen upon evil days. These various groups naturally differ as to the reasons for the situation, but that it exists no one seems to doubt….

Will our nation be guided in this dread hour by the moral code it professes to honor?

Will it?

Donald Trump, The Birth Certificate And The WMDs


Donald Trump continues to pump up the question of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, even on the eve of the Republican National Convention. In fact, the big “surprise” he has in store for the convention may have something to do with that (publication of the President’s “actual” birth certificate, perhaps?)

There are two sides to the question of Barack Obama’s birth: one small group that seemingly refuses to accept the reality that he was born in the United States, and one very large group—including plenty of Republicans—who can’t understand how there is a small group still denying that reality.

This is all about reality, and the way that politics deals with it.

The underlying truth about the curious stubbornness of “birther” partisans is not that they deny the President was born in Hawaii. It’s that they deny and refuse to accept that he is the President, wherever he was actually born. They will never be satisfied by any proof that Barack Obama wasn’t born outside the United States, because as a necessary political matter, he really was born outside.

We faced a similar issue nine years ago. In the prelude to the Iraq War, two possible realities fought it out, and there were large numbers of both believers and skeptics about the reality of WMDs, which was the casus belli. Some circumstantial evidence was offered for their existence, which didn’t quite satisfy a number of reasonable people. But as a political matter, WMDs had to exist, and since there was no way of definitively answering the question short of invasion, invade we did. All these years later, there is broad consensus that there were no WMDs. But that hasn’t stopped a small but durable band of believers from still insisting that they were there, because as a political matter they have to have been. For them, there will never be enough proof to the contrary.

It may not seem like it in the midst of this election season, but politics actually has some good uses. Denying reality is not one of them. Politics is supposed to serve reality, not the other way around.