“Oh East is East and West is West,
And never the Twain shall meet.”-Ballad of East and West.
New Lisbon, WI – March 8, 1862. The War Between the States was barely a year old, but already the Northern Blockade of Southern ports was working, and imports and exports were becoming much less frequent.
At Hampton Rhodes, the place where several rivers met, a group of blockade ships had been stationed, until the Confederate ship the Merrimac, an ironclad vessel that cannon balls could not penetrate appeared. Sinking two ships, evening brought an end to the battle which the North could not hope to win. In the morning Merrimac prepared to sink the rest of the fleet, as their guns were powerless against them, when the Monitor appeared, a Union Vessel also ironclad. The two ships fired at each other for hours, but to no avail, no shots pierced the armor. Mutually effective weapon systems had been achieved. To win, one side or the other would have to come up with some new sort of weapon.
In 1945, America dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. For the first time in history a weapon of the magnitude to kill millions of people at a blast had come to be. Not long afterwards the hydrogen bomb came into existence, making the A-Bomb look like a fire cracker, as the new bomb had 100 times the old one’s power.
America was the only nation with this weapon, Word War II had ended, and the world was deciding how to rebuild. There were multiple conferences, from Casablanca to Burr Oaks, in which Churchill and Roosevelt and later Truman tried to appease Stalin, saying that “If we treat Uncle Joe as a part of our club, he may someday act like a part of our club.”
However, the Russians were not a part of the Western “club,” their leadership was altogether different. They began to build a wall, an “Iron Curtain” across East Europe. However, they dared not provoke war, because if they did, they knew that Moscow could easily look like Nagasaki.
So talks continued, the Allies conducted an over 300 day airlift of food to Berlin, the leaders met at conferences, and the people of Russia continued to go hungry. But the honeymoon was over between the allies. It was an alliance forged quickly in war. Churchill had said that if Hitler invaded Hell, he would have given the devil a favorable reference. Some thought he may have done just that when he joined forces with Stalin.
The modern ironclad sailed the air dropping bombs instead of cannon balls, raining death. It would have to be accepted.
On August 29, 1949, the Russians activated an operation codenamed First Lightning. They detonated their first atomic bomb that day. The honeymoon was not only over, so was the American superiority. The devil now had a bite.
Andrew C. Abbott