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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.