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Doomsday Machine

Daniel Ellsberg interviewed by New York Magazine

Andrew Rice interviewed Daniel Ellsberg for a profile in New York Magazine.

Here are some passages:

“Keeping secrets was my career,” Daniel Ellsberg says. “I didn’t lose the aptitude for that when I put out the Pentagon Papers.” This might come as a shock, considering that the former Defense Department analyst is best known for leaking classified information nearly half a century ago, thus bringing about a landmark legal precedent in favor of press freedom and, indirectly, hastening the end of both the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration. But for many years, even as Ellsberg beat prosecution, became a peace activist, and wrote an autobiography titled Secrets, he still had something remarkable left to disclose….

The Doomsday Machine is being published at an alarmingly relevant moment, as North Korea is seeking the capability to target the United States with nuclear missiles, and an unpredictable president, Donald Trump, has countered with threats of “fire and fury.” Experts on North Korea say that the risk of a nuclear exchange is higher than it has been in recent memory. Ellsberg, as one of the few living members of the generation of theorists who devised our nuclear strike doctrines, has been grappling with such possibilities for much of his life. “It is kind of astonishing,” he says, “that people will put up with a non-zero chance of this happening.”….“It’s like living on Vesuvius — that’s what humans do,” Ellsberg said. “That’s why I think we’re likely to go.”…. Continue Reading

The Secret History of the Bomb: Daniel Ellsberg interviewed in Esquire

Rick Perlstein interviewed Daniel Ellsberg in Esquire. Here are some highlights pertaining to Kim Jong Un and nuclear weapons:

Ellsberg: The war games we run against North Korea, which have been leaked, are always described as involving “decapitation.” And there have been news stories about the South Koreans developing a special “decapitation team.” Now, what can we expect? First, we can be virtually certain that Kim Jong Un has made provisions so that it would not paralyze his system just to kill him. That’s true of every nuclear state. But now let me add something that’s much less obvious. I’m pretty convinced—this is speculation, but it’s based on history and experience—that Kim has, in fact, also made provisions for massive retaliation if he is killed. A “dead hand” system….

The American people are being led to believe that they have to fear a surprise attack from Kim, which is crazy. It would be an act of self- annihilation if he did that. What he wants is a deterrent. Trump is threatening to do something crazy. Now, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it’s totally incredible. Both sides are cultivating an image of impulsivity and backing it up with a readiness to use massive force. It really does have a chance of blowing up, and that’s the theme of my book. We should not be talking about or threatening or preparing to go to war against Kim Jong Un any more than he should be preparing to go to war against us. What does that leave? Negotiation.

 

“The Doomsday Machine” reviewed by Greg Mitchell on BillMoyers.com

Greg Mitchell reviewed The Doomsday Machine on BillMoyer.com:

“At a time when nuclear dangers grow, along with activism to combat them—elevated just this week by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receiving the Nobel Peace Prize—Ellsberg’s book is a timely reminder of the nuclear threat and essential reading in the Trump era.”

Read the full review via the link above.

 

Eradicate Land-Based Doomsday Missiles

Daniel Ellsberg and David Krieger’s opinion piece, originally published in the Christian Science Monitor:

America’s 450 launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. We’re not exaggerating.

President Obama and other world leaders gathered at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, this week to address threats posed by unsecured nuclear material. If Mr. Obama is truly concerned about nuclear safety, he should seriously consider doing away with the 450 inter-continental ballistic missiles deployed and ready to fire at Russia on a moment’s notice.

Last month we were among 15 protesters who were arrested in the middle of the night at Vandenberg Air Force Base, some 70 miles north of Santa Barbara, Calif. We were protesting the imminent test flight of a Minuteman III inter-continental ballistic missile.

The Air Force rationale for doing these tests is to ensure the reliability of the US nuclear deterrent force; but launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. Continue Reading

U.S. Nuclear Terrorism

[Daniel’s chapter in Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World, eds. Susan Griffin and Karin Lofthus Carrington]

Long after the ending of the Cold War, the chance that some nuclear weapons will kill masses of innocent humans somewhere, before very long, may well be higher than it was before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

One phase of the Nuclear Age, the period of superpower arms race and confrontation, has indeed come to a close (though the possibility of all-out, omnicidal exchange of alert forces triggered by a false alarm remains, inexcusably, well above zero).  But another dangerous phase now looms, the era of nuclear proliferation and with it, an increased likelihood of regional nuclear wars, accidents, and nuclear terrorism.  And the latter prospect is posed not just by “rogue” states or sub-state terrorists but by the United States, which has both led by example for sixty years of making nuclear first-use threats that amount to terrorism and may well be the first or among the first to carry out such threats. Continue Reading

Roots of the Upcoming Nuclear Crisis

[Daniel’s chapter The Challenge of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, ed. David Krieger. It was originally presented at The Challenge of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, a conference organized by the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, in partnership with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, September, 2007 in San Francisco.]

The chance that some nuclear weapon will kill masses of innocent humans somewhere, before very long, may well be higher than it was before the fall of the Berlin Wall. One phase of the Nuclear Age, the period of superpower arms race and confrontation, has indeed come to a close, for now. But another dangerous phase now looms, the era of nuclear proliferation and with it an increased likelihood of regional nuclear wars and nuclear terrorism. This prospect is enhanced not just by “rogue” states or sub-state terrorists but above all by the United States. Continue Reading

Ending Nuclear Terrorism: By America and Others

[Daniel’s chapter in At the Nuclear Precipice: Catastrophe or Transformation?, edited by Richard Falk and David Krieger. Originally presented at the 2006 symposium, At the Nuclear Precipice: Nuclear Weapons and the Abandonment of International Law organized by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.]

Long after the ending of the Cold War, the chance that some nuclear weapons will kill masses of innocent humans somewhere, before very long, may well be higher than it was before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

One phase of the Nuclear Age, the period of superpower arms race and confrontation, has indeed come to a close (though the possibility of all-out, omnicidal exchange of alert forces triggered by a false alarm remains, inexcusably, well above zero). But another dangerous phase now looms, the era of nuclear proliferation and with it, an increased likelihood of regional nuclear wars, accidents, and nuclear terrorism. Continue Reading

Call to a Fast for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

[Drafted and issued by Daniel Ellsberg, April, 1995]

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference taking place at the United Nations from April 17 to May 12 offers a unique and historic opportunity for global rededication to the goal – expressed in the Treaty – of a world free of nuclear weapons.

We are asking world political and religious leaders, outstanding figures in the arts and sciences, and concerned citizens in every country to participate, by fasting for one day, or more, wherever they are, in a worldwide Fast for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons during the period of the Conference.

We invite you to join us in this Fast to bring a sense of moral urgency to the decisions being made in our name at the Conference.  They will affect the future of humanity and the fate of the earth. Continue Reading

Call to Mutiny

[Daniel’s introduction to Protest and Survive, 1981]

“It has never been true that nuclear war is ‘unthinkable.’  It has been thought and the thought has been put into effect.” E.P. Thompson refers here, in the brilliant and moving essay that opens this volume, to the deliberate destruction of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. What he does not mention is that the Americans who conceived and ordered this project, like those who prepared it and carried it out and the great majority of the public who learned of it after the event, regarded the effects of the first nuclear war as marvelously successful. Such thoughts get thought again, and acted on. Continue Reading