Double Deja Vu

Author: Gary Hart

 If you live long enough you often see events seem to recur.  In 1979, as chair of the Nuclear Regulatory subcommittee of the Senate Environment Committee, I conducted the Senate’s investigation of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, including flying in a military helicopter over the plant when, we found out later, the reactor was critical.

The subsequent investigation and hearings led to major reforms in operations and oversight of the nation’s existing reactors.  But it all came back with the Fukushima nuclear crisis the last few days.

Even before Fukushima, and despite the emerging consensus favoring renewed attention to nuclear power as a partial solution to global warming, no new reactor construction applications have been submitted.  The problem with nuclear power is not simply one of safety.  It is one more of economics.  So long as we depend on OPEC oil supplies, OPEC can drop its prices and make multi-billion dollar plant investments uneconomic overnight.

In the spring of 1991, I was invited by the Libyan government in secret to negotiate an arrangement with the first Bush administration whereby the PanAm bombers would be turned over to us in exchange for the opening of negotiations leading toward normalization of diplomatic relations.  There were days of serious discussions in Geneva and then in Tripoli.  It came to nothing because the Bush administration turned down the offer and we had to wait several years to finally get the bombers.

While in Tripoli for three days I spent a good deal of time with an English speaking young minister.  A high official in the Italian government told me thereafter that he was “the most dangerous man in the world.”  It turned out to be Moussa Koussa, Libya’s current foreign minister who just defected to the West.

It makes one wonder what further recycling of history may occur.

5 Responses to “Double Deja Vu”

  1. Terry Johnson Says:

    I well recall your leadership of the Three Mile Island investigation. Sadly, many of the ‘lessons learned’ have long since been forgotten – the passage of time breeds complacency – and renewed peril.

    More fundamentally, the failure of several generations of Americans to address our energy insecurity is the center of gravity for the greatest challenges we face as a nation today – military, economic and environmental.

    In the aftermath of a series of OPEC oil embargoes, you (and other forward-looking Members of Congress) started us down a more sustainable path – only to see our technology and industrial lead forfeit to nations willing to take a more strategic approach.

    There are many reasons for this failure: our obsession with short-term profits, to the exclusion of strategic investments; the ascendancy of partisanship over statesmanship – none acceptable – all foreshadowing America’s decline, if these trends cannot be reversed – soon.

  2. Tomas Says:

    Apropos, I call attention to two links:

    http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/the-american-near-fukushima/?ref=mattbai

    http://newstalgia.crooksandliars.com/gordonskene/more-plans-gone-wrong-three-mile-islan

  3. Giacomella Milesi Ferretti Says:

    Your article is extremely timely and interesting, because of Fukushima insofar as nuclear sites and their security risks are concerned and for the Libyan crisis and how too many Western countries, besides others, are concerned.

    As Italian citizen I am going to vote on the June 12 referendum to ban the new Berlusconi government provision that canceled the result of the former referendum banning all nuclear activity in Italy. This shameful – in too many aspects – government we still have wants to impose new nuclear sites at all costs in a country in total economic downfall and in a territory subject to earthquakes from the North to the South and Sicily too, besides having active vulcanoes in the Campania region – the Vesuvio historically famous for the destruction of Pompei, in the Campi Flegrei and the Ischia Island – - and in Sicily – Etna near Catania, the Eolie Islands and the Sicily Channel.
    It is really incredible that in a country nature endowed with sun and wind the government decided to stop sustaining alternative clean energy in order to push for nuclear power! After the tsunami tragedy in Japan, and fearing an emotional reaction from the population, it decided to suspend its project for this year, just taking time. But renewable and safe energies are not to be supported whilst in Germany, a country not known for its sun they are being widely used.
    As for the Libyan tragic support by the group of “generous Western countries” by means of armed attacks via air, it may be sensed I am not and will never be for the (ab)use of force, especially considering that Northern Africa was conquered and colonialized by Europeans, including Italians over a century ago in Libya! It would be too long to comment here what the actual Italian government did with Gaddafi and some former governments too, and how disgusted many of us were and are with the agreements Berlusconi signed that included blocking Africans fleeing from wars and aggressions in order not to make them reach the Italian territory. The geopolitical analysis of all this is too long to be debated here.
    Yet it is important to notice that what you wrote today Gary needs to be reminded or told to those that do not know, especially since Moussa Koussa defected and arrived in the UK. As you told us he was known in time to be a “the most dangerous man in the world” which should worry more than one person, especially since this was the opinion of “a high official in the Italian government”.
    I have not seen any mention of that aspect of Moussa Koussa in the Italian press, not even the one that criticizes the government, such as La Repubblica or L’Unità or similar ones. They all say he was in charge of the Libyan Intelligence before becoming foreign minister, not more than that.
    I would love that someone did a bit more researching and digging into this matter, it would be interesting and useful to many.
    I listened to the declarations of Hague at the UK parliament this afternoon, and he was suggesting that the investigative authorities would be talking with him to have information about the Lockerbie bombing… how can they think they will ever get any such information from him?

  4. Giacomella Milesi Ferretti Says:

    I just found this information via Twitter and then the Al Jazeera English web page, and it seemed to me important as we were commenting about Moussa Koussa:

    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/live/africa/libya-live-blog-april-4

    10:32pm

    The US government says that it has lifted sanctions on Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan foreign minister who has resigned from his post and left Libya for the UK, AFP reports.

  5. P. Edward Murray Says:

    Further recycling? Just look at Obama, I’m sorry to say that it sure looks like he is just another George W Bush.

    Watch what happens Wednesday when he comes to Bucks County and falls all over the folks at the Spanish firm Gamesa that makes wind turbine parts but it’s not an American company?

    We can’t buy much American, can we?

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