Michael KreponBest Quips Competition

This post is geared to the silent majority of ACW readers who refrain from commenting on what they read on this site. So let’s try something new: The first annual ACW Best Quips about the Bomb Contest. (Unless this experiment bombs, in which case, the first competition shall be the last.) There are two categories: best quip by somebody you’ve read or heard, and best original quip. Winners will receive a signed copy of one of my books (estimated value: ummm, not much), with the inscription of your choice. Submissions can be by nom d’internet, but if you win and you want to receive a book, you will have to declare your mailing address, if not your true self.

The deadline for submissions, which will be posted as they arrive, will be November 30th. The panel of judges shall consist of Jeffrey, Joshua and me. We shall be utterly subjective. I intend to give extra credit to students and to quips that are not already in my shoeboxes. Winners will be declared in early December.


  1. Nick (History)

    “No more nukes until you use the ones you have!”

  2. Michael Izbicki (History)

    As Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group, I was the final channel that communicated this fraudulent image of Christ to the crews of the Enola Gay and the Boxcar. All I can say today is that I was wrong.

    – “Blessing the Bombs,” Father George Zabelka, a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, served as a priest for the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and gave them his blessing

    I also have the actual blessing given by the Protestant chaplain on MP3, if you can figure out a way for me to post it.

  3. marjorie (History)

    Edward Teller to a colleague, Bob Serber, who was heading into the desert for an early atomic test: “I asked him how he planned to deal with the danger of rattlesnakes. He said, ‘I’ll take along a bottle of whiskey.’ … I ended by asking, ‘What would you do about those possibilities [of an unforeseen, horrible accident]?’ Bob replied, ‘Take a second bottle of whiskey.'”

    — from Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics, by Edward Teller with Judith L. Shoolery (Basic Books, 2001)

  4. Hairs (History)

    I can’t offer a quip directly about the bomb, but with regard to some of the shriller posters here on ACW – yes, you know who you are! – I’d like to offer:

    “Often in error, but never in doubt”.

    (With apologies to physicist Lev Landau, who first said this when talking of cosmologists)

  5. Chaz P. (History)

    I think you should have a third category, for the worst:

    “St. Paul and Nagasaki are sister cities, and the Japanese mayor was in town for a good will visit when the faux pass occurred. During an exchange of gifts, [Mayor Dave] Thune offered a roller derby player card of his daughter, and said she “skated for the Atomic Bombshells.”

    from http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2010/04/dave_thune_asha.php

  6. John B. Sheldon (History)

    My offering is a comment made to students by a faculty member at the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, on the recent reintroduction of a nuclear strategy elective he said:

    “For many months you have been taught the art of irregular warfare. Today, I wish to propose to you a refreshing alternative: nuclear war.”

  7. Mario Quinteros (History)

    I have been a very regular reader of ACW for several years now and remain very thankful for all the information and insights received. Bravo! for the quip contest

  8. LowObservable (History)

    It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a major population center.

  9. Paul Stokes (History)

    Sign posted on a photo of a Titan missile an reentry vehicle:

    “We care enough to send the very best”

  10. Muskrat (History)

    Not really quips, but the fact that the Missile Defense Agency once put out not just a coloring book for kids but also instructions for a “Missile Defense Game” for kids to play by lobbing balls at each other never ceased to amaze me. For ‘original’ I would offer my annotation of MDA’s rules for the game:


  11. Thomas (History)

    This is probably paraphrasing, but I heard a story that during the development of the first SIOP, one of the USAF generals in attendance at a RAND briefing started complaining – sotto voice – that the civilian presenter had never seen combat, had never fought in a war, had no idea what he was talking about, etc.

    The presenter stopped, looked the general in question right in the eye and responded “I’ve fought in just as many nucelar wars as you have, general.”

  12. Steve Hayes (History)

    Overheard at a CW training exercise.

    “Don’t bother holding your breath, that’s a blister agent.”

  13. agentX (History)

    “I believe in a reasonable amount of “right to bear arms”. But private citizens of the United States are not allowed to own nuclear weapons. I always wanted a nuclear weapon, if I could have gotten one. I’m every other kind of power, but I’m not a nuclear power.” – Ted Turner

  14. FSB (History)

    “Ha! That! That’s not a modernized warhead — I ain’t afraid!”

    — no-one

  15. Doug (History)

    In Persian, the word for promise–قول [qol]–and the word for deception–گول [gol]–sound nearly identical to American ears.

  16. Kevin (History)

    Michael – long time reader, first time post-er.

    “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed…”
    –Gen Buck Turgidson, USAF

  17. Jack Pirate (History)

    Hardly original, but it’s hard to beat the “World-wide delivery in 30 minutes or less, or your next one is free” sign found at a Minuteman silo.


  18. P.E.T. (History)

    “We believe that Peaceful co-existence is best maintained by being too tough to tackle.”


  19. marc liggin (History)

    Not about “the bomb” but about Chernobyl. Elena, a biker chick, cruises through the dead towns and cities around Chernobyl and takes pictures. Her quip: “Chernobyl is free from any tyranny, except for tyranny of nuclear isotopes.”

    But what I like best is her description of the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science:

    “The new element has been named “Governmentium.”

    Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 98 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 212. These 212 particles are held together by forces called morons. Morons still unexplored substance, the distinctive feature of which is large amount of pockets.

    Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it mass will constantly increase over time, because during decay cycle, the mass of pockets of assistant neutrons, deputy neutrons and assistant deputy neutrons on the increase and when it reaching critical concentration, the stucture undergoes a reorganization, in which some morons become a neutrons, a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes everything with which it comes into contact and it comes in reaction with everything that has electrons and not inert. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take over four days to complete.

    When Gv decays, it falls into another new elements, Retiredum (Re) and Retardium (Rt) which some call Dementium (Dm)”

    See her pictures at:

  20. George Hogenson (History)

    Apropos your logo, the Nuclear Weapons Effects Calculator (AKA the Whiz Wheel), those of us who actually carried the silly things around while working with nucs in the Air Force–and I assume the Army and Navy as well–used to remark that their only real use was to tell you whether you were sitting on the edge of the crater after a bomb went off. I am not sure whether my friend and former colleague, Sid Winter, one of the designers of the calculator, ever entirely forgave me for telling him what the troops on the ground thought of his creation.

  21. Andrew Tubbiolo (History)

    Well if good taste has been thrown to the wind, I’ll take the fallout for this one.

    Be happy with the bombs you have now! Kids in North Korea are starving so they can have just a handful of bombs.


  22. Alan (History)

    David Lange, when PM of New Zealand, in the 1985 Oxford Union debate “Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible”, when responding to an interjector:

    ” ….. hold your breath just for a moment … I can smell the uranium on it as you lean forward.”

    No doubt everybody is aware Lange was the PM who upset the US by banning their navy from NZ ports as part of the process of declaring NZ a nuclear free zone, thereby attracting a variety of US economic and diplomatic threats. The US Ambassador at the time was H. Monroe Browne, who owned a racehorse called Lacka Reason.

    Lange told him “you are the only ambassador in the world to race a horse named after your country’s foreign policy.”

    It wasn’t all bad – I once did very well backing Lacka Reason at Trentham racecourse.

  23. Nick (History)

    And of course Bhutto’s famous comment:

    “If India builds the Bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry. But we will get one of our own.”

  24. Carl Vehse (History)

    Developer of the Strategic Air Command, Gen. Curtis LeMay, provided many enjoyable (if not apocryphal) quotes, such as at a Senate hearing when asked why, with already enough nuclear bombs to reduce the Soviet Union to cinders, he still wanted more nuclear weapons, LeMay replied, “I want to see the cinders dance.”

    • bradley laing (History)

      Who would be qaulified to track down the original sources of Curtis LeMay qoutes, and seperate first hand accounts from second hand accounts, as well as the dates a “LeMay Qoute” first appeared in print?

    • krepon (History)

      LeMay is a great source for quips. If we’re lucky, Stan Norris will weigh in.

    • Carl Vehse (History)

      I got the quote from Gen. Curtis LeMay out of two books, one of them a 1998 Tom Wolfe novel. I suspect the quote goes, if true, back to Gen. LeMay’s later years as SAC Commander, and if not, back to 1968 when Gen. LeMay ran as VP candidate on the American Independent Party ticket. The quote is not in LeMay’s biography, Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay (Thomas M. Coffey, New York: Crown Publishers, 1986).

      BTW, wasn’t the first annual ACW “Best Quips about the Bomb Contest” last year’s “Best One-Liners About the Bomb“?

    • krepon (History)

      Your memory is better than mine. There was a ‘best quips’ last year. But it wasn’t a contest. So there.
      Clearly, we need to give some kind of award to Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern, who wrote the screenplay of Dr. Strangelove.

  25. Carey Sublette (History)

    Nick’s unsourced quote seems to be a reduction of this one by the great (and not yet late) Jack Handey:
    “Instead of trying to build newer and bigger weapons of destruction, mankind should be thinking about getting more use out of the weapons we already have.”

  26. archjr (History)

    “When we build, they build. When we don’t build, they build.” – former SecDef Harold Brown in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the freeze.

  27. jeannick (History)

    A Whitehall public servant retiring in the sixties after a lifetime career
    every week someone would predict some world war , I always told them they were imagining things ,in more than forty years , I was wrong only twice

    Nukes , the only power equal to human stupidity

  28. Andy (History)

    My submission is from this declassified Air Force video. The narrator begins about 1 minute in with:

    “Nevada, USA. This is the valley where the giant mushrooms grow.”

  29. Carl Vehse (History)

    Submitted to the first annual ACW Best Quips about the Bomb Contest:

    From the movie, “Dr. Strangelove”, in response to President Merkin Muffley’s comment “General Turgidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of nuclear weapons,” General “Buck” Turgidson replies:

    “That’s right, sir, you are the only person authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority.”

  30. Carl Vehse (History)

    Again from the movie, “Dr. Strangelove”:

    Ambassador de Sadesky (on admitting the Soviet Union had built a Doomsday Machine): “The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.
    President Merkin Muffley: This is preposterous. I’ve never approved of anything like that.
    Ambassador de Sadesky: Our source was the New York Times.

  31. Carl Vehse (History)

    “The atomic bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.” – Admiral William Leahy, on US Atomic Bomb Project, to President Truman in 1945.

    quote taken from Memoirs: Year of Decisions, Harry S. Truman, Vol. 1, 1955, p. 11.

  32. Carl Vehse (History)

    “During a meeting at the White House in October 1945, [Robert] Oppenheimer tried to convey his deep moral crisis. ‘Mr. President, I have blood on my hands,’ he remarked. ‘Never mind,’ Truman replied, ‘it’ll all come out in the wash.’ (According to some accounts he offered Oppenheimer a hankerchief.) ‘Don’t you bring that crybaby in here again,’ Truman later told an aide. ‘After all, all he did was make the bomb. I’m the guy who fired it off.'”

    Excerpted from The Bomb: A Life (Gerard J. DeGroot, Harvard University Press, 2004, p. 111)

  33. George W. Bush (History)

    “Proliferators must not be allowed to cynically manipulate the NPT…”

    me, February 11, 2004.

  34. RAJ47 (History)


  35. kevin (History)

    “Peace Is Our Profession”

    — from the Strategic Air Command coffee mug on my desk. Presumably, this is in your shoebox somewhere.

    nevermind the irony from Strangelove: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgoDJMtCHZQ

    Is it overly simplistic to think that wonkers of all stripes would ascribe to this sentiment?

  36. krepon (History)

    These come from Stan Norris of NRDC, who is working on a biography of Curtis LeMay:

    “If I see the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they get off the ground.
    “But General LeMay,” [Eisenhower adviser Robert] Sprague said, “that’s not national policy.”

    “I don’t care, LeMay replied. “It’s my policy. That’s what I’m going to do.”

    Quoted in Fred Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon, p. 134

    “Deterrence cannot be assured in a vacuum. It must rest, not upon the ability to withstand a first strike and retaliate effectively, but on the ability to launch a first strike and win if necessary.

    America is in Danger, 1968

    “These bombs brought into the world not only their own speed and extent of desolation. They brought a strange pervading fear which does not seem to have affected mankind previously, from any other source. This unmitigated terror has no justice, no basis in fact. Nothing new about death, nothing new about deaths caused militarily. We scorched and boiled and baked to death more people in Tokyo on that night of March 9-10 than went up in vapor at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”

    Mission with LeMay , p. 387

    I have always liked this one from MacArthur – almost poetic.

    “And with restless hands we work feverishly in dark laboratories to find the means to destroy all at one blow.”

    General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army (Ret.)

    Speech before a Joint Session of the Congress of the Philippines

    July 5, 1961

  37. Alex W. (History)

    “I was directing [two] projects. One was on the separation of isotopes and the other was on chain reaction. People on one project weren’t allowed to speak to people on the other. I was in the position of not being allowed to talk to myself.” – Physicist Henry DeWolf Smyth, on compartmentalization of the Manhattan Project. Quoted in “Talk of the Town,” New Yorker (19 January 1946), 15.

  38. Carl Vehse (History)

    What should also be noted in Fred Kaplan’s earlier pages (132-133) is the description of Robert Sprague’s realization, from results of mock alert exercises, that the “national policy” would quite likely be destroyed in a surprise Soviet attack and his frustration in Gen. LeMay’s apparent indifference about that fact. When, in mid-Septamber, 1957, Sprague confronted LeMay about this, he was given LeMay’s response, quoted above.

    Kaplan’s description (p. 134) of what Sprague DIDN’T say is also another good bomb quote:

    “This was why LeMay seemed unfazed by that exercise at NORAD, where not a single SAC plane could take off the ground during the entire period of tactical warning, and why LeMay was unimpressed with all the studies…. Sprague decided that no staff member of the Gaither Committee, or anyone else he ever talked with, would know anything about it.”

  39. bradley laing (History)

    —Found on a religious opinion weblog:


    I cite as an example an “ancient retiree from the Research Department of the British Foreign Office [who] reputedly said, after serving from 1903—50: ‘Year after year the worriers and fretters would come to me with awful predictions of the outbreak of war. I denied it each time. I was only wrong twice.'”4 [World War I and World War II!]

    —The cited source at the weblog is:

    Thomas L. Hughes, The Fate of Facts in a World of Men—Foreign Policy and Intelligence-Making (New York: Foreign Policy Association, Headline Series No. 233, December 1976), 48, cited in Richard K. Betts, “Analysis, War, and Decision: Why Intelligence Failures Are Inevitable,” World Politics 31/1 (1978): 62 n. 2.

  40. Numerius Negidus (History)

    “The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas, and letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom of the ocean. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy, as one of my critics labelled me, exploding these bombs to satisfy my personal whim.”

    -Vice Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, speaking before Operation Crossroads (1946)

    (see )

  41. N.A.J. Taylor (History)

    “Let’s sanction Iran, marry Pakistan, and bomb North Korea”. – Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund on The Colbert Report http://tiny.cc/yhj9g

    “Relations in the Middle East are tense enough without the need for WMD”.
    N.A.J. Taylor http://tiny.cc/488mq

    • Mark Gubrud (History)

      We’re already bombing Pakistan, and sanctioning North Korea. The one we’d really like to marry is Iran.

      Alright, that’s a rerun, I’ll admit it.

      Lasers in the Sky for Doomsday: Raygun hallucination
      -sign protesting SDI

      Okay, that’s not quite a quip, either. Neither is this:

      During the immediate post-war years, Stalin was determined not to allow the U.S. monopoly of the atomic bomb to influence the course of international affairs. If anything the Americans’ possession of the weapon, made Stalin more obdurate. In September 1946 he told a British journalist that “Atomic bombs are meant to frighten those with weak nerves.” He went on to concede that the bomb did, of course, create a threat, but he warned, “monopoly ownership of the atomic bomb cannot last for long.”


      Or this:

      “The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the U.S. reactionaries use to scare people.” Mao, of course. And though the quote sounds pithy, if you read it in context, it’s rather crazy… he continues, “It looks terrible, but in fact it isn’t. Of course, the atom bomb is a weapon of mass slaughter, but the outcome of a war is decided by the people, not by one or two new types of weapon.”


      I don’t know, seems to me these giants of mass slaughter were right only because deterrence worked. Otherwise, the outcome would have been very much determined by the weapons.

  42. Jack Pirate (History)

    How can we forget Tom Lehrer? There’s too many good lines to quote, but here’s some songs:

    So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)

    Wernher von Braun

    We will all go together when we go

    The MLF Lullaby

  43. Agent X (History)

    Pro football is like nuclear warfare; there are no winners, only survivors….Frank Gifford

  44. Agent X (History)

    “All you have to do is go down to the bottom of your swimming pool and hold your breath.”
    David Miller, US DOE spokesperson, on protecting yourself from nuclear radiation.

    “Experts say that Iraq may have nuclear weapons. That’s bad news – they may have a nuclear bomb. Now the good news is that they have to drop it with a camel.” David Letterman

  45. Mark (History)

    There are lots of great movie quotes beyond ‘Dr. Strangelove’, although that one probably has the greatest concentration. Here are two more:

    Paul’s mom: Paul, did you build an atomic bomb?
    Paul: Only a little one.
    -The Manhattan Project (1986)

    Keyes: By your actions, sir, you are risking the future of the human race!
    General Sline: To guarantee the American way of life, I’m willing to take that risk.
    -Spies Like Us (1985)

  46. Carl Vehse (History)

    Edward Teller:

    “Had we not pursued the hydrogen bomb, there is a very real threat that we would now all be speaking Russian. I have no regrets.” – The Real History of the Cold War: A New Look at the Past, Alan Axelrod (Sterling Publishing, 2009, p. 143)

    “I tried to contribute to the defeat of the Soviets. If I contributed 1%, it is 1% of something enormous.” – Quote taken from Time magazine, Vol. 162, Monday, December 29, 2003, p. 144.

  47. Carl Vehse (History)

    “Don’t bother me with your conscientious scruples. After all the thing’s superb physics.”

    Enrico Fermi, taken from Brighter than a Thousand Suns, Robert Jungk, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1970, p. 202.

  48. Steeljaw Scribe (History)

    Reprising the 1980’s nuclear warfighting debate:
    “If there are enough shovels to go around…everybody’s going to make it” Thomas K. Jones

  49. Carl Vehse (History)

    “The atom bomb was no ‘great decision’… It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.” – Harry S. Truman, at a Columbia University Seminar, April 28, 1959, New York City.

    As quoted in The Buck Stops Here: The 28 Toughest Presidential Decisions and How They Changed History, Thomas J. Craughwell, Edwin Kiester Jr., Quarry Books, 2010, p. 178.

  50. Bob Kelley (History)

    Many years ago at a plowshare conference Edward Teller told this one. “There is radiation everywhere, even in our bodies, so it is dangerous to sleep next to a woman. But it is so much more dangerous to sleep next to two women.”

  51. Carl Vehse (History)

    Excerpted from Heisenberg and the Nazi atomic bomb project: a study in German culture, Paul Lawrence Rose, University of California Press, 2002, p. 181, footnote 29:

    Abraham Pais, in Niels Bohr’s Times: In Physics, Philosophy, and Polity (Oxford, 1991), p. 461, recalls that in February 1939, Fermi’s office mate [Physicist George] Uhlenbeck told him “how one day Fermi had stood at the window of their office in Pupin Laboratory, looking out over the city, then had turned around, and said: ‘You realize, George, that one small fission bomb could destroy most of what we see outside?'”

  52. Carl Vehse (History)

    “Compartmentalization of knowledge, to me, was the very heart of security. My rule was simple and not capable of misinterpretation—each man should know everything he needed to know to do his job and nothing else. Adherence to this rule not only provided an adequate measure of security, but it greatly improved our over-all efficiency by making our people stick to their knitting.” – General Leslie Groves (1896-1970) Now It Can Be Told 1962 ( New York : Harper and Row) p. 140.

  53. Carl Vehse (History)

    “Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement, and I therefore think that action should be taken in the sense proposed by Lord Cherwell [Frederick Lindemann a British physicist and advisor to Churchill]…” – Winston Churchill (1874-1965) to General Ismay, for the Chiefs of Staff Committee, 30 August 1941, on report of MAUD Committee that it would be possible to make a uranium bomb; in The Churchill War Papers: The ever-widening war, 1941, Sir Winston Churchill, Martin Gilbert, W. W. Norton & Company, 2001, p. 1138.

    BTW, there is an interesting exchange between Lord Cherwell and Gen. Groves. In July 4, 1945 Groves wrote Cherwell asking for any evidence the petition-circulating Leo Szilard had revealed secret information about the bomb to Cherwell. Groves then could nail Szilard for violating the Espionage Act. Groves’ request and Cherwell’s reply can be read here. Ironically, in 1943 the American and British atomic bomb projects merged to a degree, and Britain sent a number of its nuclear scientist to work at Los Alamos… including Klaus Fuchs.

    BTW2, the MAUD Committee (the group of British scientists investigating the possibility of making an atomic bomb) was initially known as the “Thomson Committee,” named after its chairman, Imperial College Physics Prof. G. P. Thomson. Why “MAUD”? (I ran across the the answer while ‘quote-searching.’)

  54. Carl Vehse (History)

    “[In 1958] Sakharov went on in that vein, pleading with me not to allow our military to conduct any further tests. He was obviously guided by moral and humanistic consideration. I knew him and was profoundly impressed by him. Everyone was. He was, as they say, a crystal of morality among our scientists. I’m sure he had none but the best of motives. He was devoted to the idea that science should bring peace and prosperity to the world, that it should help preserve and improve the conditions for human life. He hated the thought that science might be used to destroy life, to contaminate the atmosphere, to kill people slowly by radioactive poisoning. However, he went too far in thinking that he had the right to decide whether the bomb he had developed could ever be used in the future.” – Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) Khrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament, Nikita Khrushchev, Strobe Talbott, Little Brown, Boston, MA, 1974, p. 69.

  55. Carl Vehse (History)

    Lord Charles Percy Snow (1905-1980) (in an editorial in the British magazine Discovery, September, 1939, p. 2) –

    “We cannot delude ourselves that this new invention [the atomic bomb] will be better used. Yet it must be made, if it really is a physical possibility. If it is not made in America this year, it may be next year in Germany . There is no ethical problem; if the invention is not prevented by physical laws, it will certainly be carried out somewhere in the world. It is better, at any rate, that America should have six months start.

    “But again, we must not pretend. Such an invention will never be kept secret; the physical principles are too obvious, and within a year every big laboratory on earth would have come to the same result. For a short time, perhaps, the U.S. Government may have this power entrusted to it; but soon after it will be in less civilized hands.”

  56. Carl Vehse (History)

    “Science has nothing to be ashamed of, even in the ruins of Nagasaki.” – Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974), Science and Human Values Harper and Row, New York, 1959, p. 73

    “No country without an atom bomb could properly consider itself independent.” – Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), New York Times Magazine 12 May 1968, pp. 102-103. Quote also found here.

    “We have spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history — and won,” President Harry Truman, The New York Times, Tuesday, August 7, 1945, p. 1

  57. Arun (History)

    In a reply to Pakistani leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s famous statement about “eating grass” to acquire a nuclear weapons capability; PN Haskar, then Indira Gandhi’s Chief Secretary had said, “If by eating grass one can produce atom bombs, then by now cows and horses would have produced them. But, of course, the people of Pakistan under the great and charismatic leadership to which they are now exposed might produce a bomb on a diet of grass.”

    As quoted in Jacques E.C. Hymans, The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions and Foreign Policy, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006, pg. 186

  58. MikeP (History)

    Placard seen at an anti-nuclear demonstration outside RAF Greenham Common during the ’80s:


  59. Hairs (History)

    A colleague told me that some months ago he was watching a BBC report about nuclear weapons on digital TV. Without a hint of irony the presenter had turned to camera and said, “To learn more about the effects of nuclear weapons press the red button.”

  60. Jim S (History)

    Overheard someplace I shouldn’t have been:

    “Do we have a plan for dealing with REDACTED?”


    “What is it?”

    “Nuke ’em till they glow & shoot ’em in the dark.”

  61. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    “ABMs won’t work, and they won’t work because MIRVs do work.” – Harold Brown, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense

    “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”
    “Radio has no future.”
    “X-ray is a hoax.”
    – Lord Kelvin, Cambridge Scientist, President of the Royal Society

    “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein

  62. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    “In your guts, you know he’s nuts.” and “He sees the world through rose-colored bomb sites.” – said of Barry Goldwater during 1964 presidential campaign

    The LBJ campaign claimed that, if I voted for Barry Goldwater we would end up in a war in Vietnam. Well, they were right. I voted for Barry Goldwater, and we ended up in a war in Vietnam.

    “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” – Ronald Reagan

  63. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    “Let’s drop the big one now.” – “Political Science” – Randy Newman

  64. Carl Vehse (History)

    “There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. The glib supposition of utilizing atomic energy when our coal has run out is a completely unscientific Utopian dream, a childish bug-a-boo. Nature has introduced a few foolproof devices into the great majority of elements that constitute the bulk of the world, and they have no energy to give up in the process of disintegration.”

    Dr. Robert Andrews Millikan (1863-1953), 1923 Nobel Laureate, in 1928 at the Chemists’ Club (New York), excerpted from “It’ll Never Work!

  65. Carl Vehse (History)

    “The energy produce by the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.”

    Lord Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), Cambridge University Professor of Experimental Physics, 1908 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, known as the ‘father of nuclear physics’, as quoted in The New York Herald Tribune, September 12, 1933. Excerpted from Science Says: A Collection of Quotations on the History, Meaning and Practice of Science, Rob Kaplan, E-reads/E-rights, 2009, p. 61.

  66. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    “…on the day that two army corps can mutually annihilate each other in a second, all civilised nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops.” – Alfred Nobel, commenting on his invention, dynamite.

  67. bruce roth (History)

    “Rediculously Redundant Warhead” – Joe Cirincione, referring to Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW)

  68. Carl Vehse (History)

    Bruce A. Roth’s incomplete quote from Alfred Nobel has an interesting history behind it.

    In 1876 in Vienna, Baroness Von Suttner, seeking to break up the romance between her son, Arthur, and her daughters’ governess, an intelligent, talented, and beautiful woman, but not of high enough social/financial standing for her son, shows the governess, Bertha, a want ad from a wealthy, cultured, elderly gentleman, living in Paris, looking for a lady to act as his secretary and household manager.

    Bertha, taking the hint and needing a job, meets the gentleman, one Alfred Nobel, and agrees to work for him. However just as Nobel is starting to have possibly a more romantic interest in Bertha, she elopes with Arthur and they go to what is present-day Georgia. Arthur and Bertha become famous and wealthy from writing books against war and promoting the peace movement. They return to Europe, no longer estranged from Arthur’s family, and Bertha and Alfred Nobel continue to exchange letters – her letters pushing the peace movement, his including financial support for her peace organization more out of friendship for her than as a devotee to her peace groups.

    Nobel does oppose the wars fought increasingly with his invention in Europe and elsewhere, but he thinks peace can be accomplished more effectively with practical treaties between governments rather the propaganda of peace societies in which Bertha is involved. In the complete quote Nobel wrote to Bertha in 1892:

    “Perhaps my factories will put an end to war even sooner than your congresses; on the day that two army corps can mutually annihilate each other in a second, all civilised nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops.”

    At another time, Nobel realized that the mutual annihilation of armies would not be enough to stop war and wrote:

    “A mere intensification of the deadly precision of war weapons will not secure peace for us. The limited effect of explosives is a big obstacle to this. To remedy this defect war must be made as death dealing to the civil population at home as to the troops at the front. Let a sword of Damocles hang over every head, and you will witness a miracle – all war will stop instantly.” (see Alfred Nobel: the man and his work, Erik Bergengren, 1960, p. 194, or Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nov 1980, p. 10)

    The reader can determine whether these claims proved to be correct. Nevertheless, Nobel continued to support Bertha and her peace movement and encourage her – “Inform me, convince me, and then I will do something great for the movement.”

    And before he died in 1896, Nobel did set up in his will the plans for the awarding of a Peace Prize. In 1905 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Bertha.

    For more information, see Irwin Abram’s Alfred Nobel, Bertha Von Suttner and the Nobel Prize”, published as “The Odd Couple” in Scanorama Vol. 23 no. 11 (November 1993), pp. 52-56 and “http://www.irwinabrams.com/articles/bvs.html”>Bertha Von Suttner and the Nobel Peace Prize.”

  69. Carl Vehse (History)

    “Mick Jagger and I just really liked each other a lot. We talked all night. We had the same views on nuclear disarmament.” – American model and actress Jerry Hall, 1985, noted on the blog site, “Wisdom of the Supermodel.”

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