From Divided States, A ‘united’ Nation — Thanks To These Men

The United States is still getting rid of its chemical weapons

Setsuko Winchester/Courtesy of Harper On the “wire rope express,” a name for the early telegraph That was the name given by Native Americans to this peculiar phenomenon of a copper or metal wire suspended between poles. … Samuel Morse’s telegraph that allowed the transmission of information from one corner of America to the other in seconds changed everything. And, of course, it led the way to the telephone and radio and television and, of course, to the Internet. So Samuel Morse: hugely important figure. On two American presidents and one massive road system This remarkable, curmudgeonly man Thomas MacDonald who was the chief of the Bureau of Roads was called into the Oval Office by FDR, who unrolled an enormous map and drew, with a chinagraph pencil, three lines east and west, five lines north and south and said to MacDonald, “Build me a road system along those lines.” But it was actually Eisenhower who, long before that, had the first idea of the system, and that was in 1919. Just after the first world war, the American National War College was somewhat afraid that … the United States might be attacked by an “Asiatic enemy,” and by that presumably they meant the Japanese. How do we get troops as rapidly as possible across the country by such roads or railways as exist? So they assembled a convoy 3 miles long, and they trundled off westward as fast as they could. But of course west of Omaha there were no roads and bridges kept breaking, and it was a complete disaster. It took 58 days for them to reach San Francisco at an average speed of 5 1/2 miles an hour. Clearly, if there had been an invasion, it would have succeeded by then.

United States and Afghanistan; hope of an agreement

A senior US administration official said the sides had agreed on language in the draft deal that covers the issue of immunity and “that can be put to his Loya Jirga for their consideration.” “We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement,” Kerry told a news conference. Karzai said the talks had focused on protecting Afghan sovereignty and that major differences had been resolved, including a US request to run independent counter-terrorism missions on Afghan territory. Such operations carried out by the United States have long infuriated the Afghan president, who had been demanding Washington agree to share intelligence instead. Karzai said the U.S. snatching of a senior Pakistani Taliban commander was an example of the kind of action that Afghanistan wanted to avoid. “This is an issue that we have raised in earnest with the United States in the past few days as we have all previous occasions of such arrests in which the Afghan laws were disregarded,” Karzai said, referring to the capture of commander Latif Mehsud. “Therefore our discussion today in particular has been focused on making sure that through the bilateral security agreement such violations are not repeated.” Kerry attributed the complaint to a misunderstanding. “We followed the normal procedures that the United States follows, we did what we are supposed to do,” he said. In view of the negotiations, which have taken place between the two countries, following are some observations: * Agreement on discussion of issues that effect the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan is a positive signal. * Agreement on the need to further consider steps for resolution of differences is a welcome development. Understanding between the two countries is primary to establishment of a framework for peace and stability in Afghanistan. The international community is closely watching what transpires as a result of these efforts. * The United States will want its military troops to have legal protection through immunity by the Afghan law. The Afghan tribal leaders will want an upper hand by demanding that in case of a breach, the Afghan government may be authorized to decide on the fate of a soldier.

A longtime journalist with The Guardian, Simon Winchester is also the author of The Professor and the Madman.

Eventually, the United States signed the international chemical treaty in the 1990s and got serious about getting rid of the chemicals in a way that would not harm the environment or the people working at the plant or living in the area. While the process was slow and expensive, Trujillo said there was not a single casualty despite the volatility of some of the chemicals. “You know the whole task is nothing short of miraculous in my mind,” Trujillo said. “And I was part of it.” Today there are no weapons at the Tooele facility. The process of safely getting rid of these chemicals and munitions took 16 years, and was finally completed last year. Workers there will soon begin the process of dismantling the plants needed to do the job. Yet, there are still more than 3,000 tons of chemical weapons left in the United States, stored at two remaining facilities at Pueblo, Colorado, and Bluegrass, Kentucky. The majority is in Pueblo, where officials plan to start in 2015 destroying 2,600 tons of mustard blister chemicals stored in projectiles in liquid form. The process is expected to take four years. At the Bluegrass plant outside Lexington, Kentucky, there are 523 tons of mustard agent, VX and sarin nerve agents. Officials predict the job of destroying that arsenal, which is slated to start in 2020, will be completed in 2023. Where is Assad hiding chemical weapons? A convoy of inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons prepares to cross into Syria at the Lebanese border crossing point of Masnaa on Tuesday, October 1. Inspectors from the Netherlands-based watchdog arrived in Syria to begin their complex mission of finding, dismantling and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. The U.N.