“From a technical point of view, he (Stanley Kubrick) anticipated many things. … Since that time, little has changed, honestly. The only difference is that modern weapons systems have become more sophisticated, more complex. But this idea of a retaliatory strike and the inability to manage these systems, yes, all of these things are relevant today. It (controlling the systems) will become even more difficult and more dangerous.” (Emphasis, jw)
Vladimir Putin commenting on the film, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in an interview with Oliver Stone, May 11, 2016. Putin had not seen the movie and did not know of it before Stone showed it to him.
The Doomsday Machine, the title of Daniel Ellsberg’s superb book is not simply an imaginary contraption from a movie masterpiece. A Doomsday Machine uncannily like the one described in Dr. Strangelove exists right now.
- John V. Walsh
In fact, there are two such machines, one in US hands and one in Russia’s. The US seeks to hide its version, but Ellsberg has revealed that it has existed since the 1950s. Russia has quietly admitted that it has one, named it formally, “Perimetr,” and also tagged it with a frighteningly apt nickname “Dead Hand.” Because the US and Russia are the only nations with Doomsday Machines to date we shall restrict this discussion to them.
The Doomsday Machine was published just a little more than a year ago, but its terrifying message has failed to provoke action. And Daniel Ellsberg is a man who knows whereof he speaks; the subtitle of the book is “Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” which is how Ellsberg spent the early part of his career. What follows on this first anniversary of the book’s publication is a brief restatement of the main argument of the book and then a summary of Ellsberg’s plan of action. (Not included are memoirs and personal experiences of this remarkable, very intelligent and moral man, which are found in the book and which I recommend to flesh out the line of thought presented herein.) Ellsberg’s plan is to be considered a stop gap measure to remove the nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over our heads and allow time to move to total abolition of nuclear weapons, a much more arduous task. Hopefully this essay will serve as a reminder of Ellsberg’s warnings and as a call to act on them.
How Do the Doomsday Machines Work? – Two components:
What is the essence of a “Doomsday Machine”? The first component is a mechanism of launching nuclear weapons that is on hair trigger alert and not always in the hands of the Presidents of Russia or the US. The fact well concealed from the US public is that the US President or those in the line of Constitutional succession are not the only ones with a finger on the nuclear button, and the same is true in Russia. The second component of a Doomsday Machine is a weapon of such destructive force that it can kill billions in the immediate aftermath of an attack and then the entire human race and perhaps all animal life on earth.
The Launch Mechanism – Command and Control
Russia and the US each have a First Strike capability, that is the ability to strike the other with great force, destroy the other’s cities and industrial and military base – and knock out the other’s nuclear deterrent. The essence of a First Strike capacity is this ability to wipe out the deterrent of the other side or weaken it sufficiently that the remaining force could be intercepted for the most part. How can a targeted nation prevent the use of a First Strike? It must convince the adversary that such a strike is futile and will not destroy the deterrent of the targeted nation. The attacker must understand that he will not escape retribution, because the nuclear force of the targeted nation, its nuclear deterrent, will survive. …