Best Defense

C.P. Snow (II): On ballistic missile defense and American exceptionalism

C.P. Snow makes some comments in his book on science and government that seem to me to apply to aspects of our lives today. Be wary, Snow writes, of "the euphoria of gadgets" combined with "the euphoria of secrecy." He explains, "anyone who is drunk with gadgets is a menace. Any choice he makes — ...

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C.P. Snow makes some comments in his book on science and government that seem to me to apply to aspects of our lives today.

Be wary, Snow writes, of "the euphoria of gadgets" combined with "the euphoria of secrecy." He explains, "anyone who is drunk with gadgets is a menace. Any choice he makes — particularly if it involves comparison with other countries — is more likely to be wrong than right. The higher he climbs, the more he is going to mislead his own country." This made me think of some of the goofier programs in ballistic missile defense.

He also takes a pop at American exceptionalism: "it often seems that Americans endanger themselves most when they get possessed by a sense of their own uniqueness."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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