The acronym MAD stands for mutual assured destruction. The concept has been a cornerstone of U.S. military security policy since soon after the creation of nuclear weapons. The theory: What sane super-power leader would start a nuclear war knowing Armageddon would be the result? To this day, that either helps you sleep at night, or the opposite.
Famed whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg addresses this topic in his new book “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” In 1969, Ellsberg was a military analyst working for the RAND Corporation. Disillusioned by what he learned of U.S. actions in the Vietnam War, he famously copied and later released a trove of top-secret documents.
Part of Ellsberg’s work at RAND involved planning for nuclear war. He became concerned about deterrence issues then, and has renewed his concern of late. The U.S. has been reducing its nuclear weapons stockpile since the late 1960’s. But this past October, NBC reported that President Trump told a gathering of national security leaders he wanted “what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.” Ellsberg’s new book questions the continued viability of policies like MAD, and promotes alternatives and action.
You’ll find the young, brooding Daniel Ellsberg in the new film The Post. His full-on gray and less brooding, but deadly serious self was in Seattle this week for an event presented by Town Hall Seattle and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. This conversation between Daniel Ellsberg and University of Washington professor Daniel Bessner took place on January 9 at University Temple Church. Sonya Harris recorded their talk.
Listen to the full version below: