liaiu L. Borden who after some evident
mental anguish of his own wrote' to J.
Edgar Hoover that: "more probably
'ban met J. Roberl Oppenheimer is an
agent of the Soviet Union" William L.
Borden could have had excellent reasons
for this statement, while al the same
lime excellent reasons existed for believing Oppenheimer lo be a loyal
Perhaps, hy the- principle of complementarity, In- was simultaneously a loyal
Mnciican anil a So\ iel agent.
By ordinary rules that won't do. One
Wipes lhat il will nol do for Robert
"Ppenheimer either. Perhaps his numerous admissions under oath ami his
Delphic revelations in public I he told
' ^ Committee Two in April 1917: "I
know this from experience. I know it
ls not enough to tell someone a secret;
'' is very hard in give away a secret.
'"ii have to work al it week alter week
after week because these things are complex, lhal is out of context, hut lhe
Original context does not. and no context
*'ry well could, keep il from being a
father startling thing for Robert Oppenheimer to have seeiel i perhaps this
c°ntinuing urge to tell (and surely no
one has told so much) - perhaps the
<hs.ease- which Dr. Condon seemed to
'milk was disease may bring him lo full
Confession after all. And in the healing
u|'iih mighl come of that the health
'"al wholeness eef the United States men
'he Al-i.p brothers ibink. or profess
to think, thai Strauss fell personal hat-
h'l For Oppenheimer and thai this hat-
'''I was based on wounded vanity. Op-
'"'"Ii' iine-r. they believe, or affecl to be
',''*'■. refuted Strauss before the Joint
'ance. ' But the Alsops" account of
"'"■ is no ica.-on to suppose that their
'"u lie.l.e.ji. al insight, or pretended psy-
'''"'"'-'Heil insight, is any better,
n ' would he surprising if Lewis
, '"'aiiss hail not felt for Roberl Oppen-
'1,'iln,... _ 1 .1 1.... I Ci
i more love than hatred. Sir
,* 'Hoe years older. Both an- from the
i,-'1'-! type ol American Jewish stock.
J"1'1 are intellectual!) brilliant. Slrauss
*5 an established greal man in business
i "' governmenl: Oppenheimer was a
tar in science ami public re
.I ""is. What could he- more natura
'"' thai th,- ,-lele-r man should feel the
"r""'s kindliness for lhe protege?
o '"I how -hall the patron proceed il
. Protege i- demonstrably nol trust-
fj?'0) ? ihis does nol turn love to bat-
''• Bul it does turn hope to disappoint-
| '^">\e all. Lewis Slrauss is a patriot.
j* ■ now-historic meeting of the AFC
|e '''IT tin- minutes record thai Dr.
j.obm F. Ba.li.'. stated thai "The for-
Ji" distribution eef radioisotopes is rel-
'Ve') ;i -mall matter when compared
with such major actions as lhe export
of electric generators for use in connection with the Dneiperstroy Dam."
"Mr. Strauss responded," the minutes
continue, "thai the Atomic Energy Com-
mission has no primary concern pertaining lo the export of gen era tors, hut
added lhal lie jell lhal the government
agencies thai did have jurisdiction should
prevent such exports."
Strauss is a formal man. vivacious
hut collect. His gratuitous opinion in
Commission meeting lhat other government agencies ought to get on lhe ball
reflects lln- deep e em of an American
for American interests.
No one who knew as much about
Roberl Oppenheimer as Lewis Slrauss
did ami was as devoted to the national
interest of lln- I nited Stales a- Lewis
Strauss was could have been content in
1953 lo leave the enormous prestige of
Robert Oppenheimer undisturbed. Oppenheimer did indeed bestride the narrow world of science-politics like a colossus. But Slrauss not only was no
Cassius acting from dark motives, he
was not a Brutus conspiring assassination from noble motives. Strauss simply
discharged the responsibilities of his
office in accordance with his oath of
office, with,nil regard to whatever personal feelings hi' may have had toward
Robert Oppenheimer. Every legal procedure was followed. Every means of
determining ihe fads, interpreting lhe
law. ami utilizing tlie judgment of men
,,l learning, experience, and high rep-
iilalion was employed. If ever there was
a case- where lhe decision was ineluctable, where no personal bias could off-
sel the great weight of (be evidence,
such was the Oppenheimer case.
Il is hanlly ,le,cut to use a word
much loved of the Alsops—to consider
too curiously the personal emotions of
the' figures in this national event. Yel
speculations about these emotions have
been thrust before lhe public. Il is therefore fair to observe thai the outcome of
the Oppenheimer ease almost surely involved for Lewis Strauss the tragic sense
,il compassion in victory and the understanding thai so far from being able
in acl upon two complementary codes
of loyally, il is so hard lo live bv one
that in oiiler to do il a man may have
lo cut "IT his right hand.
It is by no means lime lo write the
Story of lhe development of alomie
power. Much has been written and little
said .en this subject. The atom-pow ei eel
submarine Nautilus has been built.
ground has been broken at Shipping-
port for an atomic power plant, and
other milestones bene been passed. The
mosl significant announcements have
hen made under Slrauss's chairmanship.
Edward Teller, in this as in the II-
?8 FORUM NEWS, March, MS
bomb, was in lhe record early. In August 1947 Teller wrote to Lawrence Haf-
slad: "The main thing is to prepare a
few concrete plans, decide on one after
proper consultation with people like
Fermi, and then go ahead. This. I think.
could he done in a few months. After
that, one should go ahead with that one
model even if il should turn out to be
in lhe long run not lhe very best possible. The experience so gained will
make up for any deficiencies.
"Perhaps I am overenthusiastic bul
I think lhal we have lots of good long-
range plans—whal we really lack is the
push toward short-range objectives, of
which there was so much during the
war. and of which there is so little' now.
"The reason I am writing this letter.
as you can guess, is my dismay brought
aboul hv ihis situation: I sec five Navy
men. unusually intelligent, and interested
in a detailed, concrete and down-to-
earth plan I if down-to-earth is a proper
Navy objective), hut when I askeel
them when and bow will they proceed.
I am me! with hesitation thai seem,,I
lo me to indicate lhal the whole thing
is not at all approved as yet, and lhal
il is perhaps being pul in the' same class
as senile' of lhe- projects which in more
ways than one' are- way up in the clouds."
Compare tin' attitude' eif Robert Oppenheimer in June 1919 jusl ten days
after he had testified before the Joint
Committee in praise of David Lilienthal s management and in derogation of
Lewis Slrauss's judgment on iseeleepc-.
In an interview with lhe Oakland. California. Tribune, Oppenheimer "termed
the' prospects of civil atomic power extremely remote and from any viewpoint
"'Nuclear power for planes and battleship- is so much bogwash. I think
the difficulties have hen underestimated.'
"Civil power will lake a long lime,
enormous investments of money and the
all-out cooperation of industry, he said.
adding 'if we can'l get there in twenty-
five years we might as well lake il
Like the H-bomb, atomic power at
tin- end of World War II seemed lo a
number of experts tei he just around the
corner. But then for a number of years
ii seemed lo gel farther off rather than
nearer. Most discussions of atomic power in the years 1915-52 were like lhe
K-25 plant al Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion in a glial vacuum.
The statement was frequently made
that security was the emergency
brake we had left on. and that so Ion"
as we bad il we could have no alomie
power. This was a special form of what
has often seemed the most telling argument against security the contention
thai it obstructs scientific progress. This
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