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The Daniel Ellsberg interview


...continued from page 9

So, no ICMBs, no launch on warning, no first use of nuclear weapons several states are not going to give up that ship but we have no rationale for first use of nuclear weapons, and the Russians don't really. Greatly lower number of SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles) because those are accurate and they do threaten any remaining land-based forces you could have, and you want to remove that threat for our own security and world security because it encourages the other side to launch on warning, or false warning, which is a danger. Take away that threat, the way that Gorbachev took away the threat to NATO by removing 5,000 East Line battle tanks from East Germany in 1986 or '87. Take away the threat, then negotiate.

Dismantle the doomsday machine, and of course dismantle the Russian's. They should do that. But, even if they didn't, it would remove the threat of these two hair-trigger doomsday machines that now are each threatened to go off on the basis of false warning. We can take that away, and we should. Obama was interested in doing that, by the way, but his own defense people opposed it, for reasons that are rather obscure, but in the end, came down to this: There's a lot of money making these missiles and these weapons, and people's jobs depend on them, regions depend on them, and votes and campaign donations. That's enough to keep it going. And that's why we live on the brink of a kind of final catastrophe.

As I say in the book, "For years, our strategic weapon forces have posed a catastrophe waiting to happen." Like Katrina, where effects of the hurricane on the levies was foreseen years ahead. Houston, just now, where the total paving over of the entire area has been predicted for years meant that a large hurricane would flood the place. The decision making under that, which is to disregard the catastrophe, the low probability, but not a zero probability of a catastrophe. To just disregard it. That's the way humans make decisions under uncertainty. And the result is the flooding of New Orleans, the flooding of Houston, the near evacuation of Tokyo by Fukushima. Those are all tiny, tiny warnings of what a nuclear war would be. A large nuclear war.

Have some of your thoughts changed since releasing the Pentagon Papers? At one time you referred to it as civil disobedience.

I have known since '64 when the president lied us into the Vietnam War, my president, LBJ, lied us in. I know presidents are more than capable of lying us into catastrophes a very small catastrophe by comparison, but not so tiny in human terms. A president who lies us in is prepared to make decisions that are very reckless, and dangerous. Unnecessary and unjustifiable. I also know, from nuclear planning, which I had known about to some degree since 1958 or '59, 1960, but in particular, 1961, that our nuclear decision making had the seeds of catastrophe in it. But I kept my mouth shut, like everybody else, which I regret. As I say in my book, "I regret very strongly not saying what I'm saying in the book with documents, which I had then, or in '61. Just as I regret that I didn't reveal the lies about the Tonkin Gulf that I talk about in my previous book, 'Secrets.'"

...continued on page 11
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Tags: LONGFORM

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