Correspondence

A Technical Point

Letter From Albion

The event known as the accident at Chernobyl will be remembered by history for the scarcity of contemporary information about it in the world at large, a degree of ignorance far more remarkable than the event itself. The event, after all, was diagnosed as an accident, which made it interesting to the antinuclear left; was it not to their advantage to obtain accurate reports on the scope of the disaster, or perhaps even exaggerate its magnitude? As a catastrophe on Soviet territory, the event was of interest to the country club center; after all, was this not a major industrial failing, symptomatic of the decrepitude of the Soviet technological, and hence military, potential? By procuring more data, the left might have been able to influence Western atomic energy programs as well as nuclear defense strategies, while the center's argument might have helped to convince the right that increased defense spending, unlike good Bourbon, is unnecessary.

But—unbelievably(?)—none of this has taken place. Neither the left nor the center has unearthed any facts beyond what the Soviet reports contained, and even on the right speculation was only slightly ahead of Soviet misinformation. While not as complacent as the center's, the attitude of the right revealed that it had fallen into an ancient Soviet trap. To make the mistake of distinguishing between the civil and the military in Soviet Russia would mean admitting that the...

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