[FOUNTAIN]Dreams and destruction

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[FOUNTAIN]Dreams and destruction

On Dec. 17, 1903, for just 12 seconds, the Wright brothers made the first machine-powered air flight. On a mildly cold day in March 1926, the American scientist Robert Goddard scored another first by firing a liquid fueled rocket that rose 13 meters into the air before crashing 2.5 seconds later.

These little moments in history helped to change the world. They had humble beginnings, but our lives never were the same afterward. Flying was a childhood dream for man and the development of the rocket rose from the pursuit of space travel. The Russian scientist Constantin Tsiolkovsky, who opened the rocket age by providing the basic theory that a rocket could fly in space, said at the beginning of the 20th century, "Mankind will not stay forever on mother earth."

Nevertheless, science has brought both welfare and war upon the human race. The harmless airplane has become a fighter jet and the rocket has been transformed into a high-tech weapon called a missile. In Afghanistan, American warplanes and missiles have pummeled the enemy to dust. The beautiful sky that was once the aspiration for dreamers has turned into a bloody battlefield.

The Nazi regime of Germany drafted young people from private clubs that were supposed to be places to practice hobbies. From these aviation clubs came officers for the German Luftwaffe, while glider clubs served as breeding grounds for Nazi pilots. Wernher von Braun, the father of space exploration, was a product of a German rocket club for youths under 15. Von Braun cooperated with the Nazis and made the first man-killing missile, the notorious V-2 rocket. The V-2, developed in 1942, entered mass production in 1944. Four thousand of them reigned terror on the United Kingdom, killing an estimated 20,000 people. After the war, von Braun went to the United States where he continued to participate in missile and space development projects while some of his German peers served in the Soviet Union. American and Soviet atomic missiles were derived from these developments. The current modern ballistic missiles and anti-ballistic missiles are both rockets, but of a different purpose. Indeed, they are like the relationship beween a spear and a shield.

The United States has withdrawn from the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty as a pretext to build another missile defense system. Anyone can see that the United States wants to have both the spear and shield in missile weaponry, just like a spoiled kid that can't get enough.

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chae In-taek

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