During eighteen months at the University of Hawaii preparing to teach English in China by means of a course called English as a Second Language (ESL) I learned more about the nuclear tight wire upon which we all live.

One evening in 1980 a military officer in Honolulu visited our small group of friends and said, “I no longer believe in what my own country is doing, but do not have the courage to express my frame of mind.” Of course, he did not want to be arrested for treason or be deprived of his rank. He invited us to enter the Nuclear War Policy room in Camp H.M. Smith (means “Howling Mad”, a name given to General Smith when he put down a 19th century insurrection in the Philippines.) The officer wanted us to do a religious service in the war room on Ash Wednesday, March 4, 1981. With Defense Department identification on his Volkswagen bumper, we easily passed the security gate and entered Camp Smith.

Father Dan Dever, the superintendent of Hawaii Catholic schools was among those who walked into the war room. If we were all incarcerated, how would officers feel about the fact their children would not be able to attend  Catholic private schools  because the Pentagon had thrown the superintendent into prison for conspiracy, entering a restricted area and damaging federal property by placing ashes on the office walls? Lawyers predicted a lengthy prison term and hefty fine. All ten of the “guilty” were arrested, booked, then thrown off the base. We were told that was a quick Pentagon decision upon learning security had been breached in the war room. The following day security at Camp Smith was tight as a snare drum. All who entered that devious room learned the US had 40,000 targets in the former Soviet Union. There were only 200 Soviet   cities with one million people. We also learned a Silver Eagle military plane was at the ready in Hickham Air Force base. It would whisk off the governor, military officers, and high officials of Hawaii (but not their wives!) in the event of a looming nuclear exchange.

Why did the captain wear an eye patch? Obviously, he would be blinded looking from the cockpit upon a world in which nuclear weapons were being used to obliterate the enemy. With the protection of an eye patch he would still have one good eye to fly the plane which would be “transitioning” from a sane world into the ashes of a society in where dozens,   hundreds, maybe thousands of nuclear weapons were used. J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the atomic bomb designers, warned of that flaming scenario. Oppenheimer’s warning,  40,000 targets, the eye patch, are not science fiction.

Shortly after August 1945 nuclear scientists published The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BOAS) which I have perused since the 1960’s. Every issue has a “Doomsday Clock” on the front cover. Midnight is the hour of nuclear conflagration. Shortly after the USSR imploded in 1989 because of spending billions on weapons, the BOAS clock stood at fifteen minutes till midnight. Presently, the hand has been moved by editors to just a few minutes before midnight.

THE NEW YORK TIMES of September 22nd reported a nuclear weapons facility twice the size of the mighty Pentagon was built in a prairie near Kansas City. The cost of such a monstrosity and enhancement of the US nuclear arsenal will approach $1 trillion.

Will elected officials in the US respect the vision of Admiral Noel Gaylor, after 45 years in the US Navy?
“The day we dropped an atomic bomb on Japan, we made ourselves completely defenseless. The day we detonated a hydrogen bomb we made ourselves 1000 times more defenseless. The only defense against nuclear weapons is to stop building them.” (Haverford College, Philadelphia, August 6, 1984)

Mr. Obama might consider returning the Nobel Peace prize and issuing eye patches to his advisers.