Mar 26, 2017
In this podcast episode, we feature President Eisenhower delivering a speech named by others as Atoms for Peace at the United Nations in 1953. This speech was delivered during high tensions of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Berlin Blockade had only been resolved a few years earlier in 1948. That event nearly triggered a military confrontation between those who countries then. Both nations were rapidly developing new weapons with even more destructive force than used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War Two.
To improve their nuclear weapons, both countries were conducting open air tests. The Limited Test Ban Treaty would not be signed by these countries for another decade to prohibit such tests. Both sides were also building many more nuclear weapons that could be used in a war of annihilation against one another or as a deterrent that would discourage a nuclear exchange.
President Eisenhower previously was General Eisenhower serving as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War Two. After the war ended, he retired from the military and was elected President of the United States in 1953. Eisenhower was now in a position to take nuclear energy as a weapon and help repurpose it for peaceful purposes. This speech to the United Nations was part of an intentional campaign called “Operation Candor” to discuss the risks and hopes of a nuclear future for the American people.
In addition to this transcript, I also included another PDF that is a critical entry from Wikipedia providing more context for this speech and the U.S. intentions to influence the European allies and the Soviet Union. I was impressed with the deep analysis of the article. Rather than offering a commentary after this speech, I recommend reading the Wikipedia entry about the speech and the bigger issues.