Just when I thought that the making of the atom bomb perfectly exemplified what can be done with full government backing, coordination, and funding, I realized I only had half the story.
Yes, I was right about how the use of the full force of the state built the atom bomb quickly, but what sense is there in having a nuclear device if you can't bomb the hell out of people? It would be like having a stem cell based cure for blindness and not using it to heal the blind (see here for more information).
No, the story after the bomb was built shows even more clearly how the government played an even more centralized role in both strengthening the destructive power of the bomb and ensuring that the bomb would be delivered to cause the most death possible.
First they wanted to increase the strength of the atomic bomb itself, so they made the new and improved A-bomb, the Hydrogen Bomb. The first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a mere 12.5 kilotons (note: Kilotons does not refer to the weight of the bomb, but it's equivalency in TNT. Therefore the one bomb dropped on Hiroshima was equivalent to dropping 12.5 kilotons of TNT). The hydrogen bomb, developed shortly after the atomic bomb, made the KILOTON value obsolete. The hydrogen bomb raised the count to MEGAtons.
But again, what sense is a few megatons if you're not able to use them?
So in the 1950s the Americans and Soviets went on a frenzy to see who could bomb their enemy the best. They built long range bombers and a wide range of tactical nuclear weapons including nuclear laced artillery shells, short range missiles, and even land mines. Finally Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles in the 1960s allowed each of the superpowers to unleash nuclear weapons with little warning.
Thousands of hydrogen and atomic bombs. So what!
The means to deploy those weapons. So what!
What was needed now was an efficient plan to kill with.
So in 1960, in the last months of his presidency, then-president Eisenhower, along with the military, devised SIOP, short for Single Integrated Operational Plan.
Until that time, each branch of the military - the Army, Navy, and Air Force - had been building their own nuclear weapons with their own war plans. Eisenhower saw it clearly. You can't have everyone running around willy-nilly with nuclear weapons, it was inefficient, what was needed was a COORDINATED plan of attack. SIOP did just this.
A few examples.
If the Soviets attacked the US or western Europe, the US would then launch ALL its nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and red China. SIOP also went as far as to predetermine which weapons and how many of them would be dropped on each target. One thousand four hundred and fifty nine bombs, totaling 2164 megatons - against 654 targets killing 175 million people.
Under the plan, a Russian city the size of Hiroshima would get three bombs: one 4.5 megaton bomb and two 1.1 megatons bombs just in case the first one was a dud. More than 600 times the explosive power of the measly 12.5 kilotons dropped on Hiroshima. A 27 September 2010 article in Time magazine said of the plan, "The calculations that went into the plans were hair raising, resulting in tremendous overkill."
Albania, a tiny country which was then breaking away from the Soviet bloc warranted a MULTImegaton bomb just because they had a large air-defense radar. While explaining the Albanian plan to the new Kennedy administration a general told the new Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara this. "Mr. Secretary, I hope that you don't have any friends or relations in Albania, because we're just going to have to wipe it out!"
Now that's a plan! The device, the means to deliver it, and a plan for delivery.
How about stem cells?