Nova on PBS ran an episode this week about the secret history of Sputnik. The show explored the real reason that the Soviets beat the Free-World into space: Eisenhower desperately wanted spy satellites to forestal a nuclear Perl Harbor so he deliberately held back the U.S. launch so and let the Soviets go first. Doing so required the Soviets to establish a legal precedent for satellite fly over, something Eisenhower desperately wanted so that the U.S. could launch spy satallites.
If the Soviets had not gone first they no doubt would have employed their considerable propaganda power to raise powerful objection in international law to the orbiting of satellites. The law of space and subsequent development of space flight of all kinds would have evolved much differently and most likely, much more contentiously. Sputnik represented a subtle strategic coup for the Free-World, one that arguably saved the entire world from nuclear destruction by reducing paranoia and fears of a surprise attack on both sides.
Yet, the world and especially the American public, saw Sputnik as a devastating defeat for the America. It damaged Eisenhower’s presidency to such a degree that had he been in his first term, the event would have most likely cost him his reelection. It prompted a flurry of legislation that federalized education and scientific research. The sting of the perceived defeat led directly to the largest and most expensive work of political art in the 20th century, the Apollo moon missions.
Chicago Boyz has a post on why the American people sees so much disconnect between what our leaders so and what we think they should do: we don’t know as much as they do. One example is given above, with Eisenhower prudently allowing the Soviets to launch Sputnik first, even though we could have beaten them to space. Widely seen as a defeat for America, it gave us the freedom to launch our space satellites that would allow us to keep tabs on their activities and prepare necessary responses.
I think this idea, too, can inform those on the radical left (or in the case of Ron Paul supporters, those on the radical right), who bemoan the lack of progress made in surrendering in Iraq. It seems like there’s always just enough Democrats to give President Bush the support he needs in Congress. Maybe that’s not a sign of cowardice in the face of Republican outcry; maybe it’s intentional. Maybe, the Democratic leaders in Congress know just a little bit more about goings on in Iraq than do the bloggers and NutRoots. Maybe they see that a defeat in Iraq would be devastating for the nation and our standing overseas, since we would have those who seek to harm us a huge propaganda victory. Even those who opposed the war recognize that for those not caught in the past, the decision has been made and we need to deal with the consequences of that decision making things work the best that they can given the hand we’re dealt. Maybe they recognize the need to “move on” from past fights and deal with the reality we’re in now, as opposed to that of five years ago. Maybe they’ve looked at the actual information and seen that surrender is not the best path forward, and are trying to skate a thin line between the intolerance of the Radical Left and the reality of the situation?
This is actually another part of the reason I’ve been doing less political blogging lately: I know don’t know all the information that our leaders do. It’s why, although I generally favor wind power, I don’t blog on it much since I don’t know all the factors involved, and neither does anyone else on the Delaware blogosphere (with the likely exception of Tommywonk) despite all the hot air that’s been raised about. I don’t know the data and neither do they, despite their claims otherwise.
And, that’s part of why I’m conservative: I don’t want people who know little about the decision making the decision. Leave up to those who know what they’re talking about, who are usually those with a personal stake. For all their flaws, Delmarva Power is in the power delivery business and they know it better than we do. So, if they don’t want to do it, there might be a reason and I don’t see the wisdom in pushing it on them. Let Bluewater Winds compete on the open market like any other service and see if they can find a buyer, rather than having their friends in the Legislature mandate one.
In summation, since I’ve babbled long enough, beware of making grand pronouncements about our leader’s idiocy or corruption, because, the odds are, they know a little bit more than you do. So if these “idiots” know more than you, what does that make you?