Since the dawn of collectivism humankind has engaged in biological, chemical and conventional warfare. The bloodiest wars have always been between collectives that believed almost the same thing. Union versus Confederacy, Christians v. Jews, Protestants v. Catholics, Mohammedans v. Christians, Communists v. National Socialists… these mystical hatreds underlie the deadliest wars of recent millennia. These international wars are all gone now.
Chemical weapons were gasped at in 1916 because they made young men appreciate the 13th Amendment–the one that outlawed involuntary servitude. American conscripts were ordered to shoulder clumsy arms and march into louse-ridden foreign trenches to save the Federal Reserve banks from war loan defaults after Russian communists quit the opium war. The war stopped efforts to use the Hague to curb heroin dumping, so it was a war to make Bayer Great Again–at least in Germany. American youths faced with the prospect of being sprayed like cockroaches in those foreign trenches might prefer imprisonment in support of the 13th Amendment. That’s the Amendment where the Supreme Court “could not see” the military draft as coercive, but COULD cancel the First Amendment right to hand out copies of Amendments from the Bill of Rights. Being blown to bits in distant trenches to protect the French opium regie in Vietnam or morphine acetylizing plants in Marseilles or Scotland was different from being gassed. High explosives were ‘murrican! Artillery shells were okay to politicians on the Republican and Democrat sides of the aisle. Poison gas, however, was baaad. Germs and nukes are also baaad, perhaps because they might muss the hair of the politicians and lobbyists who order attacks. That kind of hair-mussing is “mass destruction.”
So it was that things muddled along until a nuclear physicist named Sam Cohen worked out ways to make small H-bombs allocate less energy to explosive force and more energy to the production of neutrons. Sam found that neutrons could penetrate an incoming warhead and cause a premature chain reaction to melt an incoming bomb. Neutron-induced chemical reactions in the lensed explosive jacket could likewise be counted on to damage those enemy bombs. Sam Cohen briefed then-candidate Ronald Reagan on this class of weapons and how they might be deployed.
To Soviet military planners this was really bad news. Fighter pilots could not be trusted with enough fuel to cross borders. A Soviet pilot with plenty of fuel could defect and exchange the plane for a good reception from immigration authorities. Bombers and submarines presented that same vexing problem, plus the possibility their crews might nuke the Politburo or Soviet military installations instead of their intended victims.
Intercontinental ballistic missiles were naturally the communist weapon of choice. Fire them off and relax, with no chance of human meddling–until Ronald Reagan as President realized that Sam Cohen’s neutron bombs could cook those incoming ballistic warheads on their simple and predictable paths. Stinger missiles were doing pretty much that to Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan. To Soviet partisans, a way had to be found to stop America’s militias from keeping and bearing arms that could intercept and ruin incoming nuclear missiles.
The Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty was the first such attempt, signed by Quaker Prohibitionist President Richard Nixon. Nixon was promptly ousted, but Soviet Socialists pushed Strategic Arms Limitation talks for a SALT treaty to really disarm These Sovereign United States. Debates in Physics Today were, in 1982, discussions of the virtues of preemptive surrender to communist regimes. That changed in 1986, with the possibility that any such treaty might infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms. That right to bear arms is in the Second Amendment, in the Bill of Rights–a thing that makes These States different from all the ancien régimes of Europe and Asia and their colonies in Africa and Latin America.
What happened next changed the Cold War. Stay tuned…
When the need arises for translations involving nuclear energy in South American or African Portuguese, look me up.