Von Neumann as a Hawk

Quotes from Peter Byrne, The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family

p. 73-74 “And along with his fellow hydrogen bomb-engineers, Edward Teller and John Wheeler, von Neumann was certain that preparing to wage nuclear war was a historical necessity.

Life magazine recalled in his obituary:

After the Axis has been destroyed, von Neumann urged that the U.S. immediately build even more powerful atomic weapons and use them before the Soviets could develop nuclear weapons of their own. … A famous von Neumann observation at the time: ‘With the Russians it is not a question of whether but of when.'”

p. 74 “As powerful advocate for hydrogen bomb testing, von Neumann told Lewis Lichtenstein Straus, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission: ‘The present fear and vague talk regarding the adverse world-wide effects of general radioactive contamination are all geared to the concept that any general damage to life must be excluded.'”

p. 74 “Writing to Strauss in 1951, von Neumann revealed his Freudian side:

The preliminaries of war are to some extent a mutually self-exitatory process, where the action of either side stimulate the actions of the other side. … As the conflict’s ‘foreplay’ progresses, the original agression, and its motivation, become increasingly obscured. [I think] the US-USSR conflict will probably lead an armed ‘total’ collision, and that a maximum rate armament is therefore imperative.”


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