BOLDEN’S NASA SPEECH: ECHOES OF RONALD REAGAN?June 23, 2011
Last week I posted a short blog about NASA director Bolden's preparedness speech and it caused quite a bit of commentary, and in view of tomorrow's video-conference roundtable with Camelot's Kerry Cassidy, Richard C. Hoagland, and others, I wanted to re-visit the speech in a wider context. Many commented that Bolden's speech could be taken as nothing but typical government bureaucratese. Indeed, it could be so taken.
However, what I found very interesting in Bolden's speech was not only his careful choice of words referring to a NASA presence "off planet" but also his reference to a threat from "outside," a word which in the context of the "off planet" remark uttered earlier, takes on a rather interesting interpretive possibility, for in the context of Bolden's reference to 9/11, a reference to "terrorism" or even "foreign terrorism" would make more sense than a threat from "outside."
What is interesting, in this respect, is to compare Bolden's carefully-chosen and suggestive words, with President Ronald Reagan's sudden change of rhetoric from the Soviet Union, to alien threats from outer space. On Nov 19, 1985, during a toast for the visiting Soviet leader and his team, Reagan made a curious remark: "that if the people of the world were to find out that there was some alien life form that was going to attack the Earth approaching on Halley’s Comet, then that knowledge would unite all the peoples of the world.”
Reagan's then-counterpart, Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev confirmed, in a speech at the Grand Palace in the Kremlin on Feb 16, 1987, that Reagan had brought up the possibility of "alien intervention" to Mr. Gorbachev at their summit in Geneva.
Of course, the most famous example of President Reagan's alien-threat message was given to the United Nations General Assembly, where it could not help but attract global attention: “In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world. And yet I ask — is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspiration of our people than war and the threat of war?” (Emphasis added). It is intriguing, if not suggestive, that President Reagan's choice of words, a "threat from outside of this world" are so similar to director Bolden's "outside threat," and that raises the possibility that Bolden - the director of the space agency after all - was deliberately evoking Reagan's comment.