peteg's blog - noise - books - 2017 12 22 Ellsberg TheDoomsdayMachine

Daniel Ellsberg: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

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Kindle. I was woken up to this new book by Ellsberg by Adam Shatz's excellent piece in the London Review of Books, and while it's great to hear his voice again, it could have used a severe edit; Ellsberg is repetitious at every level. The salients are entirely contained in Shatz's article and this interview with Lucy Steigerwald. That superweapon policy was and is largely lunacy was confirmed in Ellsberg's mind by the concept of nuclear winter that was developed in the early 1980s. Ironically it depends on the very same climate models denied by those who need business to continue as usual.

In brief, Ellsberg presents a convincing case for what most people probably thought anyway: that mutually-assured destruction (MAD) is actually SAD (self-assured destruction), or more inclusively, omnicide. His wargaming at RAND and restlessly analytic mind somehow needed to know precisely why that was, I guess. Of course Doctor Strangelove was a documentary. I found his calls to action plausible, possibly actionable, and just maybe the American people might decide to allocate some of the trillion-dollar modernization project (thanks Obama) to more useful ends. I would have liked to hear his opinions on Snowden and Wikileaks, especially since Trump's victory in 2016.

Fred Kaplan, who also suggests that The Post is worth a watch, as does Manohla Dargis. Graham Allison. Thomas Powers.