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January 25: The Neutron Bomb

January 25, 2016

NA-BJ226_REMEM__DV_20101130182919Physicist Samuel T. Cohen, who sought to make nuclear weapons usable on the battlefield by creating the neutron bomb, which kills human beings with radiation while sparing buildings and other infrastructure, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1921. “I doubt whether the agony an irradiated soldier goes through in the process of dying is any worse than that produced by having your body charred to a crisp by napalm, your guts being ripped apart by shrapnel, your lungs blown in by concussion weapons, and all those other sweet things that happen when conventional weapons (which are preferred and anointed by our official policy) are used,” he wrote in his 2005 internet memoir, which he titled F*** You! Mr. President: Confessions of the Father of the Neutron Bomb. Cohen was a scientist with the Manhattan Project (along with many other Jews) who worked on radiation issues involved with the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. During the Vietnam War, he argued that neutron bombs could end the war quickly and save many lives, but American strategists, even while contemplating the use of nuclear weaponry in the war, could not get past the horrible kinkiness of his weapon. President Ronald Reagan actually agreed to manufacture 700 neutron bombs for battlefield use, but his successor, President George H.W. Bush, scrapped them. Towards the end of his life, Cohen was politically involved with Patrick Buchanan, the Jewish Defense League, and other strange bedfellows of rightwing America. He died at 89 in 2010. To see him defending the morality of his weapon, look below.

“It’s the only nuclear weapon in history that makes sense in waging war. When the war is over, the world is still intact.” —Samuel T. Cohen