This Big Journalism piece on the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it Brothers
Ninnyhammer Schell reminded me that, over the decades, few things have managed to chap my withers more than the moralistic preening and hand-wringing fatalism of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and their pet project, the Doomsday Clock.
Far from being a diverse representation of free world nuclear physicists, this is a rag-tag group of fellow travelers, death cultists, and anti-Western propagandists who hijacked the Bulletin in 1947 from its Mahattan Project founders in order to propagandize doomsday scenarios for their Soviet puppetmasters in the hope of frightening the West into abandoning nuclear weapons.
A review of the timeline of the Clock over the last 63 years reveals the remarkable fact that, despite great upheavals in world affairs, there is an amazing level of the unremarkable in the doomsday predictions: it's almost always 7 minutes to midnight. As the Bulletin's resident Chicken Littles began with a completely fabricated baseline, I'd say that's an insanely awesome feat we warmongers managed to achieve.
Let us look at the timeline of the Big Old Clock, and see if we might ascertain any politicization of the process:
1947: 7 minutes to Midnight. Considering the US was the only possessor of nuclear weapons at that point, and the Great Patriotic War was over, I'd say the only alarm the Atomic Scientists were reacting to was the fact that the Soviet Union had yet to successfully create an A-bomb from the secrets the Scientists had so assiduously stolen for them.
1953: 2 minutes to Midnight. After the balancing of power in the aftermath of Russia's A-bomb, the bloodthirsty Americans detonated an H-bomb, those bastards. Time to ramp up the espionage, Fellow Scientists.
1963: 12 minutes to Midnight. Despite the recent Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Soviet's detonation of Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear device ever tested, well, it was Camelot time. The Clock always moves back for Democrats.
1968: 7 minutes to Midnight. That fucking Nixon was elected. Better move the Clock up. Plus, those damned Israelis had the temerity to defend themselves successfully again against our boys. End of Times stuff, sladkayas.
1972: 12 minutes to Midnight. That crazy Nixon signed SALT and the ABM Treaty and supped with Chairman Mao! He is botching our gig, and we still hate him, but the impending election of McGovern allows us to move the hand back a few minutes.
1981: 4 minutes to Midnight. Forget the invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran last year. Ronnie Raygun just got elected. Better move the hand up a few minutes while we wait for this rodeo clown to annihilate us.
1984: 3 minutes to Midnight. The rodeo clown was reelected. Need we say more?
1991: 17 minutes to Midnight. The Cold War is over, no thanks to us. It's the end of history!
2002: 7 minutes to Midnight. Another rodeo clown in the White House. Nuclear stockpiles are at an all-time low, but did we mention there's another rodeo clown in the White House? Memo to self: Pete says it's Ivan's turn to stand in front of the cameras and move the minute hand up while scowling at the audience in resignation and despair. I thought it was my turn.
You realize, of course, that with the fall of the Soviet Union the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was in grave danger of becoming obsolete. Fortunately they were able to add Climate Change and Biosecurity to their list of concerns, they being Atomic Scientists and all. That should be good for another sixty years of posturing and fulminating.
Posted by Velociman at January 8, 2010 5:48 PM
I've saved the best for last: there is to be a New Announcement on January 14th! Please join the Bulletin "for a live streaming of the event from the New York Academy of Sciences featuring a question and answer session open to you, the online audience."
I know you all are as pregnant with anticipation as I am. I figure with Obama watching over us as we sleep the Bulletin will move the Clock all the way back to 5 AM. Unless we don't get Cap and Trade. Then it will be, like, noon. As catastrophic as Climate Change is, I'm sure the Atomic Scientists figure Obama's pecs are worth at least twelve hours.
H/T Gerard at American Digest for the Big Government article, and the memorable expression "Upper West Side brain slop served in a drool cup."