CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History

Khalid Elhassan - February 26, 2021

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
Sputnik 1. International Association of Astronomical Artists

3. The Small Satellite That Shattered America’s Sense of Invulnerability, and Stirred Up a Hornets’ Nest of Crazy

In 1957, Americans’ sense of security at home was shattered when the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite. That terrified America. Sputnik itself was harmless, but Soviet rockets powerful enough to launch it into space were powerful enough to launch atomic weapons at the US. America’s sense of invulnerability evaporated. To restore national confidence, many ideas were bounced back and forth, quite a few of them extreme and weird. However, few of them were as extreme or as weird as the idea of nuking the Moon.

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
A Soviet R-7 rocket of the type that launched Sputnik into space – and that could have launched a nuclear warhead at the US. Universe Today

At the time, America’s space program was on the ropes, while the Soviets scooped us by successfully launching satellites – and demonstrating the power of their rockets. So the Eisenhower administration came up with a secret project, “A Study of Lunar Research Flights”. The project’s innocuous title masked its true purpose: detonating a nuke on the Moon. The former Armour Research Foundation, now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, was tasked with the research. Among the researchers was a then-young graduate student, Carl Sagan, who would go on to become a global celebrity for popularizing science and astronomy on TV.

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
Mr. Moon would not have liked getting nuked. Sputnik News

2. The Mild Mannered Carl Sagan Once Researched Nuking the Moon

A young Carl Sagan contributed to the Moon-nuking project with research and calculations. He focused mostly on the expected behavior of the dust and gas caused by a nuclear detonation on the lunar surface. As the project envisioned, an American missile carrying a nuclear bomb would launch from Earth, travel 238,000 miles to the Moon, and detonate upon impact. As an official involved in the project recounted decades later: “Now it seems ridiculous and unthinkable. But things were remarkably tense then“.

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
Carl Sagan. Comunidade Cultura e Arte

The Eisenhower administration hoped that seeing the nuclear flash on the Moon from Earth would restore American confidence after the launch of Sputnik. Simultaneously, it would intimidate the Soviets by demonstrating that the US had an effective nuclear deterrent. The plan could have been carried out by 1959 when the US Air Force began deploying ICBMs. However, the weird project was abandoned because of the risk to people on Earth in case of failure, and because scientists raised concerns about contaminating the Moon with radiation.

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anthony Eden, when they were still on speaking terms. Imgur

1. The Extreme British Plan to Punish a Troublesome Egyptian Ruler by Blocking the Nile

Egypt was a British client state and protectorate from 1882 to 1952, and Britain-based troops there to protect her interests. Most important of those interests was safeguarding the Suez Canal, of which the British government was a majority shareholder. Then in 1952, nationalist Egyptian officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew Egypt’s pro-British king. The new government demanded that British troops leave Egypt, and in 1956, nationalized the Suez Canal. Nasser infuriated British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, who was determined to put the Egyptian upstart in his place. So secret plans were drawn for an extreme solution: cut off the Nile’s flow of water.

CBS Funded Invasions to Televise and Other Extreme Lengths in History
The Owen Falls Dam in Uganda. Pintrest

Britain controlled Uganda, where the Owen Falls Dam lay astride the White Nile, a main source of the river flowing into Egypt. The idea was cut off the flow in Uganda, thus reducing the Nile’s water volume by seven eighths by the time it reached Egypt. The plan was ultimately rejected because it would deprive other countries between Uganda and Egypt of water, would take too long, and would produce a PR nightmare. Instead, Eden opted for a direct military intervention. The result was the 1956 Suez Crisis, which ended with Britain forced into a humiliating climb down, and the wrecking of Anthony Eden’s political career.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Ceilan, Cynthia – Thinning the Herd: Tales of the Weirdly Departed (2007)

Cracked – 6 Times the News Went Totally Overboard Chasing a Story

Daily Sabah, August 6th, 2015 – The History of Fratricide in the Ottoman Empire

Encyclopedia Britannica – Al Hakim, Fatimid Caliph

Gabriel, Richard – Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan’s Greatest General (2004)

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (2002)

Guardian, The, May 14th, 2000 – US Planned One Big Nuclear Blast for Mankind

Guardian, The, December 1st, 2006 – Lawyers Warned Eden That Suez Invasion Was Illegal

How Stuff Works – Japanese Holdouts

Los Angeles Times, May 18th, 2000 – US Weighed A-Blast on Moon in 1950s

Mason, Phil – Hitler’s Secret Jewish Psychic and Other Strange and Obscure History (2014)

Mike Dash History – Final Straggler: The Japanese Soldier Who Outlasted Hiroo Onoda

Motherboard, April 25th, 2013 – The Soviet Scientist Who Dreamed of Melting the Arctic With a 55 Mile Dam

National Archives, UK – Operation Unthinkable

Raphael, Chad – Investigated Reporting: Muckrakers, Regulators, and the Struggle Over Television Documentary (2005)

Smithsonian Magazine, September 4th, 2018 – When the US Government Tried to Make it Rain by Exploding Dynamite in the Sky

Snopes – Did a Man Die Demonstrating a Window’s Strength?

Stewart, Desmond – Great Cairo: Mother of the World (1981)

Wikipedia – Inland Customs Line

Williams, John Alden, ed. – The History of Al-Tabari, Volume XXVII: The Abbasid Revolution, AD 743-750 (1985)

Yorkshire Post, November 30th, 2006 – Britain Hatched Plot to Cut Off River Nile Amid Crisis Over Suez