In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Fred Kaplan about the ever-present threat of nuclear war. They discuss the history of nuclear deterrence, U.S. first-strike policy, preventive war, limited nuclear war, tactical vs. strategic weapons, Trump’s beliefs about nuclear weapons, the details of command and control, and other topics.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I the last time you thought about the prospect of nuclear war mean seriously thought of them,
and even a semblance of an appropriate emotional response. Just think about it.
It is, though you ve, lived your whole life in a house that has been rigged to explode.
And it is rigged now at any point in the last seventy five years. In fact, the doomsday clock was just advanced closer to midnight than it has been at any point. In the last seventy five years,
It now reads one hundred seconds to midnight now
whether you put much significance in that warning. Just
a moment to consider that the people who focus on this problem,
I was worried now as they ve ever been, but do you think about this inferred asked
How long it's been since you worried that you might have some serious illness or that your kids might
How long has it been since you ve heard about being a victim of crime
or worried about dying in a plane crash. It problem.
He hasn't been that one might have happened last week, even
but I would wager that very few people listening to US podcast have spent uneasy
living in time feeling
locations of what is manifestly true,
all of us are living under a system of
self annihilation. That is so diet.
Luckily unstable though we might stop.
People into a nuclear war based solely on false information. In fact, this is almost happened.
On more than one occasion. Do you know
name Stanislav petrol.
He should be one of the most famous people in human history, and yet he is basically unknown.
He was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet AIR Defence forces
it is widely believed to be almost entirely responsible for the fact that we didn't have
world war. Three you may year, nineteen eighty three, this was at the height of the Cold war,
and the Soviet Union had just mistaken. A korean passenger jet flight, seven for a spy plane and shot down after strayed into
burying airspace and the U S
and our allies were outraged over this
and on high alert. Both for you
ass in the Soviet Union had performed multiple nuclear tests that month, and so was in this context,
in which soviet radar reported that the? U S had launched five icy, be at targets.
When the soviet union- and
and the data were checked and reject and it was apparent
no sign that they were an error and Stanislav Petrov stood at the helm
now he didn't have the authority to launch retaliatory strike himself. His responsibility was to pass the information up the chain of command, but given the protocols and plays its work.
We believe that, had he passed at information along a mass
retaliatory strike against the United States would have been more or less guaranteed and if
upon the scene
incoming missiles of which there would likely have been hundreds. If not thousands,
We would have launched day retaliatory strike of our own.
And that would have been game over
Millions of people would have died
or less immediately now, happily Petra declined to pass information along
and his decision boil down to mere intuition right, the poor,
to call demanded that he passing information along
because it showed every sign of being a real attack, but
Petra reasoned that if the United
they were really going to launch a nuclear first strike. They would do
with more than five missiles, five missiles doesn't make a lot of sense, but I also believe that any of the other
people who could have been on duty that night instead of petrol, would have
surely passed this information up the chain of command and
killing a few hundred million people and thereby
wiping out the United States and Russia as you'll, soon hear our attack
I'd worry strike protocol entailed wiping out Eastern Europe and China for good man.
This could well ended human civilization, so thing
but year the year was nineteen. Eighty three.
One way to remember where we,
There is just remember the movies released that year. Here's the list return of the jet. I terms of endearment, Flash dance trading places risky business, the big chill breathless, scarface silk would start eighty, the right stuff,
rumble fish. The outsiders, Monty Python, the meaning of life,
You're from movies, but those were almost
The last films ever made.
Ironically war games and the day after were also made that year. Those are both films that encapsulated this concern about nuclear war.
And there have been several other incidents that were nearly the scary
Therefore, in nineteen sixty, U S, radar equipment in Greenland
interpreted a moonrise over Norway as
large scale, soviet attack and this put our own weapons systems on high alert. However, Nicky
Khrushchev happened to be in New York City at the time at the U N and it was reasoned
surely the Soviet Union wooden initiate a first strike with their leader on? U S, soil right.
There was even one occasion where a war game scenario caught accidentally loaded into the computer.
Or a strategic air command, and it was before
the two hundred and fifty ballistic missiles had been launched at the U S, and then it became clear that
fact. It was twenty two hundred missiles that were incoming. Then it was only subsequently discovered that this was a false alarm. So when you think about human fallibility and air
of judgment and realise that this ability to destroy the species is at all times,
every minute of the day,
in the hands of utterly imperfect people.
Certain cases, abjectly imperfect people think of the current occupant of the oval office should make the hair stand upon the back of your neck and the infrastructure that is maintained.
In all of these systems on hair trigger alert his aging, and
The cases run on computers, so all that any self respecting business would be embarrassed to own them in
For some reason, almost no one is thinking about this problem for some
and I find that I've just begun thinking about it seriously for the first time in several decades,.
I am planning to do a series of park ass on this topic- and this is the first to Damn speaking with Fred Kaplan,
Fred as a national security columnist for slate and the author of five previous books,
What is most recent is the bomb president's generals and the secret history of nuclear war he's also in a previous book.
This topic, the wizards of gettin and his covers
cyber war and other related issues.
To hold a phd in international relations from MIT
and in this conversation we get into many aspects of this problem. We discuss the history.
If nuclear deterrence, the cuban missile crisis. U S first track policy, the distant and dismal prospect of finding a limited nuclear war, tactical verses, strategic weapons. President trumps believe
about nuclear weapons, the details of command and control in the? U S,
and many other topics
there's no pay! On this episode, I considered a public service announcement.
So without further delay. I bring you frank happen,
I am here with Fred Kaplan Fred thanks rejoining me. Thank you.
So you have written a m and all to timely book of either the truth as it would have been timely last year or the year.
For that or really any year
I've been alive but were approaching the seventy fifth anniversary of the trinity test, and this
when bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and you have written the bomb president's generals in the secret history of nuclear war, which is a really a fantastic introduction to
One angle on this problem has been many books about this issue, but you really take the president's and administrations I view of what is
to think about this problem with fresh eyes every decade and how ineffectual that once a bean- and it really is a very strange look at what every president seems to experience coming into office right well, I hope my first book, which I wrote in nineteen eighty three, which was called the wizards of Armageddon, was about the group of defence intellectuals, who invented these notion
of nuclear deterrence and nuclear war fighting and it got into the administrations, and I got you know thousands of documents, declassified back then and interviewed everybody, but at that time, for example, there was almost nothing
declassified on what say. President Kennedy thought or said about anything:
and now that I, like, I take another look at this subject in some depth. Thirty, seven years later,
Anders all kinds of things: declassified and and that's what this book is about. Is it is about the President's who confronted crises in which the use of nuclear weapons was contemplated seriously, and there were more of these crises, then people think and how they fought through the issues and why,
they came up with yet so just to give people the contacts. Anyone under the age of sixty five, who is hearing us right now has lived every moment of his or her life,
on the brink of possible annihilation by nuclear bombs, the whether by intent or by accident and the prospect of accident, really has been ever present. There have been extraordinary accidents and the fact that you- and I can even have this conversation right now-
haven't spent. The last. Nearly forty years, just living in a toxic hell, Scape really do
the restraint of one person in the soviet commander, Stanislav petrol.
This is a name that should be followed.
You're to everyone, and this is if ever there was a person who saved the career of our species single handedly, its
and yet this name will be unknown to most people twas a fairly tense moment in? U S, then soviet relations
and he was the lead in the Soviet AIR Defence Command
at night, and he saw the radar springs. American icy becomes what he should have done by all. This training was to alert his superiors.
But he looked at it, and he said this. This can't be right. This is got to be something wrong, and so he did not tell his superiors who might have taken a much more precipitous action is, for example, you know just just a short while before this incident, air defense commander saw what appeared to be a spy plane coming in.
Soviet territory. It was in fact korean airlines flying seven and ended, shooting down there
that wasn't the only accident that there have been periodic cases of a flock of geese mistaken for a flight of HIV.
I am a software failure where you kind of like that that man
we were games when people think it's a real war, but in fact it's just an exercise that that that's playing out in real life. Now that there are, but you know it's
just people lower down than the side. I would contend, for example, that President Kennedy did in fact single handedly prevent world WAR three from breaking out during both of Berlin and the cuban missile crisis of nineteen sixty one two hundred and sixty two. Yet in your book,
port facts about the cuban missile crisis that were not widely known it and we're actually systematically concealed to some effect, but perhaps going to that for a second, because it gave us a sense that bluffing on the brink of nuclear war was a successful strategy. Cuz people still want that. That's what it happened that you just basically stared cruise ship down, and you know cruise ship
but that's not quite what happened. Then I went up what we most of us do know now, because it was revealed twenty years after the fact that, in fact,
The final day of the crisis Khrushchev proposed a deal secret deal. I will take out my missiles from Cuba a view
It states take out your very similar missiles from Turkey and Kennedy took the deal,
isn't generally known, and I don't know why it isn't known because you can listen to this whole exchange on tapes that were declassified twenty years ago. But the you were read about in maybe two or three other books, and if that many but Kennedy reads through the proposal, and he says and young this is he secretly tape recorder ominous? He goes
well. This seems like a pretty fair deal and everybody around the table all of his advisers, not just the generals, but the civilians to Bobby Kennedy.
Robert Mcnamara Mc George Bundy. All these paragons of good sense and reason feverishly opposed this deal. Nato will be destroyed. The Turks
you merely our credibility- will be lost forever and I
Kennedy, let them talk, and then you know he said well you're the
Following Monday, they were the United States. Military was scheduled to start in the attack that we're going to be five hundred are sorties a day against the missile silos missile sites. In
in Cuba, followed four days later by an invasion and Kennedy took the secret deal. He only told six people about this, though, and if I keep put out the myth that there was no deal, because this was the height of the cold war, it would look like a piece meant one of the six people that he did not tell.
His vice President Lyndon Johnson, who therefore went into the Vietnam WAR, convinced by the lesson of Cuba, the false lesson of Cuba that you dont negotiate you you stare them down, but here
once you ve been scarier. We later learned. This was not known at the time that some of those missiles already had nuclear warheads loaded on them so that they could have been launched.
Warning. Another thing we didn't know until much later is at the Soviets had secretly deployed forty thousand troops on the island of Cuba, some of them armed with tactical nuclear weapons, to stave off an anticipated, a mirror
an invasion. Therefore, if anybody else around the table, except John Kennedy had been president or if he had said
You're right. This is a bad deal. Let's proceed with the plan, then there would have been a war with the Soviet Union without an in question
Yeah, it's amazing and its own. Your book, you he report on that
the details of these encounters between each? U S, administered,
Vision and the war planners, which are generally the the air force and the Navy, and each incoming president
in a weather, we're talking about. You know Kennedy and his team with Mcnamara or Nixon and Kissinger or Clinton
Obama and their teams each president comes,
to these meetings and for the first time is told what our first strike and second strike policies are and each one it sounds like comes away absolutely appalled by what the doctrine actually is and committed from that day to changing it
and yet each has found himself more or less unable to change it and in ways that fundamentally alter them game. Theoretic logic here, and these discussions are like really out of doktor. Strangely, the most preposterous see
means in Doktor Strangelove are no more comedic than some of these exchanges, because these are plans that call
Were the annihilation of hundreds of millions of people on both sides and ever since Kennedy we ve been passed the point where a first strike prevented the possibility of a retaliatory strike from the Soviet Union, so we're talking about protocols that
are synonymous with killing a hundred and fifty two hundred million people on their side, and
losing that many on our side and for the longest time the protocol was too
Neild, China and Eastern Europe, or whether they were even part of the initial skirmish with the Soviet Union right the Eu S policy throughout the night in fifties and into some of the sixties, thee policy. This wasn't just the strategic
command. This was signed off on by President Eisenhower and the joint Chiefs of staff. It was that if the Soviet Union attacked West, Germany or Awkward took over West Berlin
And knew this was at a time and in the late fifties, early sixties, when we really didn't have any conventional armies in Europe. But the plan was that at the outset of the conflict
unleash our entire nuclear arsenal at every target in the Soviet Union, the satellite nations of Eastern Europe and in his use, point out, chow
Even if China wasn't involved in the war- and it was inquired what how many people is just going to kill in the estimate was about two hundred and eighty five million and that probably wasn't under estimate. Now what happened in the early sixties wasn't soviet started to develop their own nuclear arsenal?
the US and some people said well, this policy is a little loony, quite aside from any moral qualms that you might have about it.
Then bade Western Europe, and we respond by new them. They're gonna nuke us this is a policy of suicide and sober
getting with with Kennedy and Mcnamara. They try due to devise some plans to make of the initial and use of nuclear weapons and by the way, this was almost always our going first, more limited, something that would make
just aimed at their military forces, and maybe that would help them from responding orbit or they can respond. Maybe they would respond,
by hitting our military forces, not killing zillions of people. Maybe we can bring this down and die
one thing that I learned from researching this book is it you know Kennedy would an and MAC Merwin sign off on this new guidance kind of setting new options, as they call them limited nuclear options for the war plan and basically the commanders, its strategic AIR Command in Omaha, pretty much ignored it. They just they just didn't, do it that they always wrote into the directive, something like
to the extent this is militarily feasible or when appropriate. You know we were limit and, and of course, naked rule. Well, now, it's not militarily feasible and it's not appropriate
not until really an end and every president since tried to bring down the limited options, really not until practically the end of the war,
then, at the end of the cold war did did this situation change and then it change through the most
kind of bizarre and unlikely way. It did that in a way that that nobody else, as far as I know his has ever written about so yeah.
Give us that change now and and tell us. Why? Don't you understand our policy is today so so that that the directed published by the time, George H, W Bush became president.
Can actually, this was even a little towards the end of Reagan's presidency. The policy from Washington
emphasised a lot of limited nuclear options that we're not gonna, throw out through everything right away
So there was a civilian who is working for of all people, Secretary of Defence, Dick Cheney, who has a different kind of guy back then, and when he was when it
came vice president, who had read all of these doctrinal things over the years about limiting nuclear options, he goes to the latest sack briefing about a nuclear war plan. He hears nothing about limited options. You know what what's going on here. So with the permission of Cheney, he and as his team get very very deep
into the actual nuclear war plan deeper than anybody any any civilian had ever done before, and they discovered some amazing things.
That there was an amount of overkill. Let nobody could have imagined, for example- and this was in the late eighties now there were seven hundred nuclear weapons most.
Them of a megaton, an explosive power or more that were aimed at Moscow. There was an air base, a soviet air base in the arctic circle,
The current even be used for three quarters of the year. Seventeen nuclear weapons were aimed at this space. There was an anti ballistic missile site in Moscow that we learned after the cold war couldn't have hit, couldn't shot down anything there were sixty nine nuclear warheads aimed at this site and and then the real insight came to this George H. W Bush was negotiating some nuclear arms reduction Treaty and the civilian, whose name was Frank Miller, asked one of his contacts Itzhak. He doesn't listen if we brought down the arsenal to some,
in such a number of weapons, could you still perform your mission and the officer said: that's not the way we think about this. Well, what I mean he does not understand what you mean, but we're not authorized to ask that question. What we do here is we take the weapons that we have and we allocate them to the targets that we ve listed, in other words in the actual war plan, as opposed to what people are saying in Washington. At no point did anyone say
Ok. How many of these things do we really need to accomplish, or whatever the aim is nuclear deterrence, nuclear war fighting limited strikes whatever you want to do? How many do we need
Nobody had asked a question at one point that there was a sack commander named General Jack chain who testified before Congress. He said I need ten thousand weapons, because I have ten thousand target.
And a lot of people thought that either he was kidding or he wasn't too bright, but no. That is how this was determined. It was a completely mechanical thing, utterly divorced from any sort of rational undertaking, yet to give a clear sense of the the redundancy overkill
These plans are forget which administration uncovered this, but they did an analysis of the targets in the Soviet Union and they
found day, Hiroshima Sized, oh yeah.
Eddie. That was you basically position.
Similarly, within with respect to industry and infrastructure and analyzed how much was targeted
this one among in over hundreds of targets, and it was six hundred fold the distress
Dave power, we brought down on Hiroshima who was Alex
that is, as yet name was steady. Does this was back in nineteen sixty werent when sack was creating its first, but they caught sight of a single integrated operate
no plan, and yet the eyes in our science adviser sent one of his staffers out there and in the staff or sent I'm gonna, look up and get ass, the CIA. What city most resembles Hiroshima, which was hit with twelve and a half killer tons, and he went out there and he said how many weapons do have aimed at this city and this guy, who who I talked with and for my first
can I mention this in this book to, and he had forgotten the name of the city unfortunate, but yeah it was it was. It was three weapons, each one with like for megatons and three more with one megaton in yard. You do the math of us. It was well over six hundred times.
Struck to power and that the whole war plan was like that it remains so for decades and and even the mechanics of the war plan, it was completely vulcanised, for
apple. Let's say they said. Okay, we want to destroy the Soviet Tank Army, okay, so what did they do? Whether they didn't only allocate weapons to destroy the tanks, but they also would destroy the factories that made the tanks and the factory that made the spare parts for the tank, and
factories that rolled the medal for the tanks and the mines where they got them having it was just so redundant and so that this kind of redundancy and and thoughtlessness really wasn't addressed, wasn't acknowledged, realized addressed and changed until right after the cold
where was over some eight am basically we in many ways lucked out through these decades when
basically no one was in charge. This was this with some giant machine that was completely dysfunctional. So what is our current policy as you understand it? Well, our current policy, as I best understand, are
policy, I mean, let's leave tromp aside where we're gonna get that I was going
that is theirs there. There is. There is the political level which is above invisible, sorted and then that there's this stream of thinking and policy in places like Omaha that that that run their own separate logic. But still you know we do have a policy and always have that. We reserve the right to go first
not being a bolt from the blue first strike, but, for example, of were of an ally is invaded or word delta, cyber attack or or a chemical or biological attack. We reserve the right to go first, in effect Obama. Let a discussion in the National Security Council to see if we should change that and e where he was talked out of doing it, though our policy, its not strict,
and never has been strictly retaliatory policy. In other, been this myth all along that allow the policies, mutual assured destruction they attack ass, we blow upon other cities, are weapon.
Have never been primarily aimed at an adversary cities. They have always been aimed primarily at military targets, not enough
Jerry targets, many them or near some of them, are even in city. So it's not like millions of people wouldn't get killed, but the point has been
everybody who is actually been involved in making the policies in executing the plans envisions nuclear weapons as military weapons writ large and even Mcnamara. He came up with the phrase. Is he called it? A shirt destruction the idea that they attack us? We attack their cities, a critic of that called it mutual assured destruction so that he could come up with the acronym mad. That was a critic, but even Mcnamara in in top secret memos.
As it is. Canada and Johnson would say after outlining this, he says now is a nuclear war actually happened. This is not how the weapons would actually be use of the thousands of weapons we had only about two hundred were aimed at what were called urban industrial targets. The rest were all military targets. Mcnamara came up with this idea of a shared destruction. Neither it's when you get to the point where you have the number of enough weapons to blow up say:
every a soviet city that had a hundred thousand people in it. Even though that's not how they were aimed, then you don't need any more. This was a budgetary and political device to dampen down the appetite of the air force which wanted even more missiles than he agreed to so it was, it was strictly a rhetorical device. It had absolutely no resemblance to the policy that actually would have been
carried out there. The nuclear word happened so currently we still have
renounced a first strike option know that way. We would
Not only have we not renounced, we explicitly say that that we preserve the right and we ve been threatened to do this recently immediately. Try
threatened to not only nuke North Korea.
It wasn't even in response to a conventional attack, much less a nuclear attack, Trump threatened to nuke North Korea. If they continued to threaten us verbal on that- and that was something new
I have to say yeah what right do you know what, when, when six months into his presidency, comes out of his golf course in admitting New Jersey and and threatens to
rain fire in fury like the earth, has never seen on north
Maria, if not they attacked South Korea or they attacked us, but just they kept talking and threatening way and kept testing yourself. This is what we call not a pre emptive attack, but a preventive attack attacking a country for developing the mere capability of attacking us in an here's. The interesting thing about that this often trump will say something in his just
out of his hat. He was not talking out of his head at use or on his orders. The military had developed a new war plan against North Korea.
Which was designed to to unleash a series of attacks, starting small with possible escalation, all the way up to nuclear in response to a provocative,
Seeming cast an end that year in other North Koreans, launched about fifteen missile tests and on each test there was assembled a conference call
among the various commanders- and this was the kind of conference call the would be assembled if there were intelligent intelligence of Say, an impending russian attack and Jim matters. This sector defence at the time was given advance authority if he thought it necessary to launch not nuclear missiles, but we had there were these short range or medium range, conventional ballistic missiles, cod attack em, said Vance Tactical missiles in South Korea. He was given advance authority to fire them at the launch site in North Korea, with the intention of destroying alongside end may be killing some leaders do. It was known that Kim Jong and liked to go watch some of these,
and there were two occasions when matters did he didn't launch them into North Korea, but he launch these missiles into the sea of Japan in parallel with the north korean missiles, just kind of a signal that hate we can do this.
We condemn them to the left instead of the right the next time you do this, so did this with some very dicey stuff going on so I went when Trump talked about fire fury. He was talking about what was actually reflected in the plans at the time. Let's hold tramper for a second, because I still want to talk through thee, how untenable
all this is even with totally competent and well informed and ethical mines in place. What so crazy making about the status quo here is:
it seems to the range
everyone, biased logic, no matter how well intentioned, and even at the outset of all this Bertrand Russell, although this some dispute about how fully he articulated this position, but he he certainly said something that could be construed as support for preventative war against the USSR before they go
their own nuclear capacity, because he had walked through the annihilation of logic of nuclear proliferation
and realized earnestly changed his mind later. Yeah you're, right, yeah so
You don't have to be a moral monster to contemplate killing hundreds of millions of people once you spend too much time
down the rabbit, all that's right where that there isn't there, but also not just hundreds, Miss
Meanwhile, we now think about people who advocate limited nuclear. Were these limited nuclear option, Sir
using nuclear weapons from strictly is up. Isn't
military weapon? That sounds horrific, but when that began, these were people trying to come to grips with, with trying to minimize the damage kind to mitigate the moral horror of these things
but then what? When have let linger? On this point, the african sure? Why is the prospect of
finding a limited nuclear war so untenable, because everyone seems to flirt with this, but then come away thinking
But you are least one ass point blank, and even the people who prepared the limited nuclear response plans when asked will how likely do you think it is that this will stay limit
it seems that to a man, they say: well, it's not very likely right right well, so so
there's. The idea here here is the first strategy for this. Some people came up with around with the late fifties: early sixties, the ideas, ok, soviets invade Western Europe, her take over rest, Berlin or something instead of just launching Oliver stuff. How about? If we do this, how bout a we just destroy their strategic nuclear forces there missiles and farmers and submarines, and then we say to them. Ok, we withheld a lot of weapons and
Have them in submarines or in MRS Silos or something you can't easily attack them back off your threads, take away your army, let's talk or will unleash the rest of our weapons, which are aimed at your city,
in other words, is trying to make this like a chess game. You know it's check maiden for moves right. The problem with this is the problems are several for. First,
there are neither was, nor is any intelligence that the Soviet and now the Russians have any notion of this as something that they are able to respond to or want to. Second, it's not like
the people in charge, omniscient beings, you can look down on the earth and, like a chess board and say: okay, we destroyed those targets, and now we have complete control
we're all of our other weapons, we know exactly what the chessboard
looks like, and they know what the chess board looks like. So we can control are moves. In fact, once you start firing off nuclear weapons are kinds of things can happen. Communications networks go out in a letter magnetic pulse whether or not the president or the soviet or russian soviet Premier, Russian,
president can can actually still communicate with the missile man and the submarines. It is an unknown thing. It's just this becomes. This becomes not so easily controlled as as you're nice academic blackboard
sir sizes might suggest. Also there's a matter of interpretation that were lying in this case would be relying on the Russians to interpret our limited staff.
As a limited strike, as a linear strike, for example, went went when this guy Frank Matter was doing these analyses and in his latest nineteen nineteen nineteen eighty nine ninety. He asked some one of the defence intelligence agency to do an analysis of the soviet early warning radar systems and he said ok cause they are they. They were able to get some coffee,
and so forth. They said looking at what point that this is where the Soviet air defence can no longer be able to see discreet missiles coming over the horizon. But just the whole screen is like a big blob. It it just, and it was it about two hundred. In other words, if we launched any more than two hundred missiles
it would. You were just fill up the entire radar screen they went. No. This would look like an all out attack and at that time the smallest,
emitted nuclear option that we had would have involved
nine hundred missiles. So so I mean for given all the very fancy and
sophisticated dialogue on this you're, going back to two nineteen sixty
If this had ever really happened, it's gotten a little better sense, but if that it happened at any point,
and even if the Russians were willing to give this a shot to play this kind of tit for tat nuclear exchanges, they called it, they would have been completely unable to do so. So it was all just an abstraction that that had no resemblance to reality
where we get shades of Dr Strangelove, I mean it's very hard to get out of juice during the day, but it's it's Daniel Ellsberg, who, at the time, doctors trained
of came out in early nineteen. Sixty four was what was the Pentagon official
not at all the the Anti WAR guy that he later became, but he had done
some very, very detailed studies on the nuclear command control system. In the late fifties and early,
because he's probably knew more about it than any other civilian, and he told me that he and and an associate played hooky one day to go, see a man named Doktor Strangelove and he came out of the theatre and he turned to his friend, and he goes that was a documentary year. I won't take for the highest level game, theoretic problem here, which it seems to me a minute several aspects to this, but I prefer the there
not weapons of war, you can't really use them right, because it is certainly at every point past Eisenhower to use them is to assure your own destruction of, as you say, that these are weapons of suicide and annihilate
vision and none the less they persist. But there's always come stumble into the paradoxes. They persist because
one that difference in our world politically between
having them and not having them is substantial. When you have them, countries treat
differently than when you don't have
right. So we a we invade countries that don't have them and we don't invade countries that have them and they only work as a deterrent. For
conventional or in a nuclear aggression from outside. On the assumption
that you'd be willing to use them, and so the only deter take the simplest and gravest case in our relationship to Russia. Now you know, are nuclear arsenal only deters a russian first strike on the assumption that we would actually respond to a first strike with a retaliatory strike of our own, and yet, when you look at the the logic of this act, just imagine the psychology of oppressed
and upon hearing of an incoming first drag me first, we ve already established it. He has to worry about whether or not he might beginning false information right. He could be the next Stanislav Petra, whose just there's a radar glad shore a computer virus or of the system's been hacked or something could be off and is not really enough time to.
Fully that all of that, how much time is there now? How many minutes does the president have to respond to a first?
right from Russia. Now from you know, from sobs and and misled some subsided
from from russian soil, to our soil is but a half hour, but for submarines could be like you know, ministers on your right off the code, yeah right be could be. Ok at the outside he's got a half hour to decide whether before he witnesses the ruination of everything he cares about Manette, as if he's not
immediately reduced to ash himself. If he survived, he's gonna witness the obliteration of society. The United States is about to become a toxic wasteland inhabited by people who have accidently found themselves far.
If on the periphery of a firewall and a blast wave such that now they get to know
first there burns and their shrapnel injuries and await radiation poisoning in something very much like hell right, we're talking about every facet of civilization being suddenly destroyed in the communications food production.
Everything in an instant, and so now we have a president who incur
completing this, which is good
happen in Vienna, whether eight minutes fifteen minutes a half hour at the outside? He has to decide he or she has to decide whether
in what is likely to be his last act of any significance on earth. He wants to be
the greatest mass murderer in human history by ordering counterstrike and killing Hunter
the millions of people on the
side of the world in a way that will do absolutely no good
to him or any one else he will ever know, so it works as a deterrent. Only on the assumption that a president will do that right to what human purpose
What is the purpose of doing that in that scenario? And yet the assumption is now
only that that will happen, Vanessa policy
We rely on the expectation and without that none of this makes any sense at all, since just the game theory breaks
if you are not going to retaliate to a first strike. You have no deterrent against a first rate
and then you guys, will not have these arsenals in the first place fears we are getting into the true dilemma. So if all you want to do is deter
Yeah. You said: okay, you you head ice. Where can I buy we're going to devastate? You were going to destroy you, but then yeah. So then they start getting nuclear weapons. So then it becomes well. Is that deterrent really credible, as you put it? If they attack us and just attack our military forces say: will they really believe
give that we would strike back again, Sir cities and so people with good intention,
and said yeah you're right. We need to create our own limited options and we need to be able to say. Ok, no one will strike back in a limited way that becomes more credible, but then to do that. You ve gotta, believe in yourself, so you ve got to develop some doctrine to do this sum certain kinds of weapons to do this. Some plans to do this and, as this evolves over a period of a decade or so the concepts of nuclear deterrence and
clear were fighting converge in this frightened in this rabbit hall of logic.
There is no longer any distinction between the two to have a credible deterrent requires
nuclear war, fighting capability and mentality, and it's interesting. President Kennedy was the first one to address in a roundabout way shortly after the cuban missile,
crisis- and this is on tape. This is another one of these secret Kennedy. Tapes, I hand Secretary fence, Mcnamara Maxwell Tailor. The chairman of the joint chiefs are talking about the next year's defence budget and Kennedy said
you know I I don't understand why were buying more nuclear weapons? I mean it seems to me that forty missiles getting through an and destroying forty soviet cities,
That should be enough to deter. I mean when the Soviets put twenty four missiles in Cuba. That was enough to do
for me from a lot of things, but then is the conversation went on Kennedy said you know. Actually I guess of deterrence failed
I guess I would want to go after their missiles, not their cities, and I guess I need more than forty weapons for that and there and he stated the dilemma, but then he he drew an even broader realisation. Kennedy believed that if there was a war with the Soviet
it would probably go nuclear and if you started in using nuclear weapons, there would be little way too to prevent it from going all the way and so Kennedy decided we need to get out of the cold war. That's the problem here and he gave a speech at American University in June of sixty three and enhance its fascinated. Go back and read this speech in your Fido Illyricum speech, where he basically prevent proposed it into the cold WAR and Khrushchev the soviet power
First problem is vesture. They reprinted this speech in its entirety, the soviet government. They they lowered the jamming. They turned off the jammer to let Voice of America and Radio Free Europe come in, so that people could listen to this speech and Christoph responded to it. I told the: U S ambassador. This is the greatest speech by an american president's since since Roosevelt and they started doing things like
a test Ban Treaty and a hotline, and they were going to do a lot more than Kennedy gets assassinated year. Later, Khrushchev has asked it and really not until nineteen sixty four does the nuclear arms race, as we know it really start to take off. So there was a potentially pivotal moment way back then, and then we ve been sort of the way we ve been following the term that that the pivot actually ended up taking ever since her he. I guess we should clarify a couple of points here, as we ve used this distinction between tactical weapons end and that of your name
them but strategic weapons. But how do you differentiate them because to speak of tactical weapons? Is this not a small as people might imagine that our tactical weapons, or about as powerful as what we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Oh, we usually more but tat,
Weapons are saved, give you
fighting a war in Europe or any place, and you want to use weapons on the battlefield. Those would be tactical weapons if you want to use weapons against the homeland. Those are strategic weapons, it's kind of a weird use of the term, but for example, you your time
about you know this whole dilemma of the usability of nuclear weapons. Just last week, the United States deployed a weapon, a new weapon that has been talked about for a while on a low yield, warhead for the trident missile and tried and said,
rings. This would be a warhead of about eight killer tonnes, whereas ordinary trident warheads about a hundred and fifty
and the idea is that the Russians have been talking a lot and even doing a little bit of testing and extra
sizing of using low yield weapons against, say NATO. There's a war in Europe's against NATO, say the airbases. Where were storing smart bombs?
something, and the idea is we need a low,
had ourselves to show them that hey, we,
and respond to you in kind of you to do this, and then it gets very broken
we already have weapons and about this yield on on planes. We could we could drop them is bombs, but it became a kind of a doctrine or fine points so that the question is this: on the one hand, yeah, you know, we shouldn't have weapons.
Two hundred five hundred kilotons megaton? Wouldn't it be better if they were like eight kilotons, but you know there is a side
the notion that the more you think that these things are usable, then the more likely it is that you use them and also lets think about this. Eight killer tonnes is still not enough
curiously moves, twelve and a half to utter it's gonna, be there. There was a high. I write about this in the book. There was a seminar. Is a conference it at Aspen Colorado couple years ago, where, where one of the people who is a big advocate of these, were
it was on a panel and the moderator asked him so in use
they low yield. What what do you mean? Anything ass, high, single digits and muttered should be kilotons, get killed
just so sort of like Hiroshima, and he said well, you can get produce
without any want and operators it. Well, I'm nothing pejorative. I just want to make
third everybody that we're not talking about firecrackers, you know eight killer, such eight thousand tonnes
that sixteen million pounds
you know one of these weapons
sixty million pounds of twenty year, plus the radiation in the fire and condemn radioactive fallout nor the rest, but the
last alone is is more destructive
Any bombing raids, much less single bomb, the that anybody has ever seen since the end of world war. Two so
you can kill yourself. I had a professor of the stuff wine too, when talking about the defence budget and the destructive power of weapon, she said.
It's easier just leave off the zeros, the bill,
billions of dollars in the thousands of negative megatons or whatever you can kill yourself into it. You can you can look at this in a way to abstract way and and kid yourself that
you're still talking about even on very low levels,
An enormous amount of destruction that the likes of which you know nobody currently alive and active, has ever seen yeah yeah, so ok, fast forward to the the present where the current occupant of the of office has changed,
perception of the risk here and I think in part this inspired your recent book as well, and we we all realise that the the so called human element here is
Paramount and when we start promoting humans of dubious qualifications into the positions of greatest power and our society, it becomes scarier that that might otherwise.
They and, as you pointed out, and we have a president who has has threatened
nuclear war, now you've also point out that previous presidents have threatened it. I think Ellsberg at one point states in your book that you know prior to Trump's threats, there have been at least twenty five explicit
of first strike from from our side, but mainly in response to some actual threat is something
and the conventional in other, worn Vietnam, where it wherever it may interesting? You you
you detail one meeting on this topic among
congressmen where some Democrat just makes it concern explicit. They were here dealing with a president who is
who seems uniquely unstable and unqualified, to make decisions of this kind,
and and now we need to talk about just exactly what is standing between his capriciousness end
in the annihilation of another country, should he mean a wake up in the middle of the night and and choose you know first strike over tweeting
what stands in his way and what was interesting. One thing there was interested in that the sky.
Was that none of the Republicans really
demurred on that assessment of the present characters? I no one can work with a straight face, can deny that we are in the presence of some one who shows a very different temperament than we are used to in a president, so
What is your understanding of what stands between his next thought?
and the annihilation of of half the world. Should that thought?
baby you're. What I need to do now is is launch a first strike
what stands in the way would be a kind of a massive active insubordination. What you referring to is it yeah shortly vary in the first year of Trumps office. Around the time of the fire and fury there was a hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on presidential Launch Control Authority. This was the first hearing the Congress had held on this subject since the mid seventies, and it was initiated by the sender Bob Corker, then republican chairman in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who kind of a just learned
the president had the sole authority to do this. You didn't have to ask permission from anybody there. He could just do it on his own, and so he called this hearing. And, yes, you said one of the democratic senators setting up, let's cut through the crop here. The reason why we are having this is hearing is because our president is reckless, and yet you go back. Look at the transcript. This was an open hearing. I watched
Don T spend three when it happened that yet no no Republican do moors at all. So there
through this whole thing. There are several witnesses, including of a retired general, who had just recently been the commander of strategic Command, and he admits that yeah. You know he could do
the sound his own. I mean there are all kinds of conferences and consultations that is supposed to go to bed yeah. He could do it.
And this general, whose name was Bob Killer, retired, generally, came away from the hearing very frustrated because, as he told them, because look at me of you guys want to change the launch procedure, you don't you you're entitled to do that. You have the country, you have the power to do that. You know that again. There is not much time to do anything of its responding to somebody else's first strike, but if it's a contemplated preventive first strike any of you guys want to pass a law that says, Congress must be consulted or a majority of the cabinet has to vote. Ok, you can do that. Let's do it and, of course the Senate did nothing. This is for our hearing. They did not
and he came away frustrated that you know what you really shouldn't do is raised questions about the legitimacy and reliability of the command structure and then do
think about it,.
Hey you want to something about it. Ok, but it don't use raised a lot of
questions which may or may not be valid and
do nothing about a beer. This is this is worth Congress, except for a few
years. After the passage of the war powers act in the MID seventies Congress, they ve always shirked responsibility for this sort of thing, either for going to war or for getting out of war. They don't want to take the blame. If things go south, they are happy to let you know the king make all the decision
and then go south that goes with it turns out. Well, they can say yes, I was supporting him in it and if it doesn't, they can wash their hands of it. It's it's. It's kind of
gusting really there there there there shirking their their constitutional duties. In this respect your this is where we get
we land squarely back in Doktor, Strangelove territory,
because when these conversations
Happening around here that the details of command and control and
someone asked the question what what would happen if the president is seen off his meds and orders a first strike at first you get a
very sanguine response? Well, you know the milk, the military can always refuse and
unlawful order right, they're supposed to write supposed yet, but but but the this is where you get it
a kafkaesque wrinkle in me.
In the machinery here, because any pre set attack plan right of which their Lord knows how many the fact that
our pre set the fact that there in the manual proves that they have been all
rivetted by lawyers right, no trade
by definition their legal. These restrict attack plan. This was this was admitted by General Keller in the course of the
during our who decides whether a lawful, orderly goes well. Those head of stride com would do that and then but one of the authority a plan, and yet he had to admit that yet it all comes down to the human factor, and you know it's interesting, President Truman at the very beginning, the dawn of the nuclear age. He was very polish on the atomic bomb when it into the create word were too, but then he took a look at it in all the footage and stuff
showing how destructive it was in their there's? This meeting that was recorded in the diaries of David Lilienthal, who was his atomic Energy Commissioner, where he's meeting with his generals- and he says you know that this isn't a military weapon it. It can't be used to get assist, its kills women and children, and so he took the bomb
of the control of the military, put it under civilian authority. His authority
and in fact, for many years after that event, sack of some crazy general
wanted to launch a nuclear weapon attack? He would have to get the bomb from the Atomic Energy Commission that that was changed later, but still it was airtight. But the assumption of this was that, while the civilian in charge would
the same one- and you know is, as we know from reading, you know Hamilton and medicine, and these guys they always foresaw that the possibility of a tyrannical leader and which is why they they worked into the constitution, all kinds of checks and balances with legislature with the judiciary with
possibility of impeachment, and you know that there words mean nuclear weapons. Back then Sir said they were thinking of checks and balances on that and and nobody
has ever since there was one incident in nineteen,
and before in the last days of Nixon when he was gonna, go
around the White House sloshing drinks and getting our paranoid about Watergate Investigation and so forth. James slashings, the secretary defence, went to the chairman of the joint cheats and
listen if you get any strange orders, don't carry them out without talking we're me first and again at the time,
I am neither lessened nor the chairman of the Joint Chiefs was actually in the chain of command. Nixon could have done something
really what how launch attack over that? Basically, the the football isn't in other the black box it that the president has it there's nothing in there there's a book in their there's a book in there and has code words to use to launch certain kinds of attacks, and this suit case is carried by one star general and they, the president, gets on a certain phone and cause the national
military command centre, which is in the basement and ban again, and he talks to a one star general there and he says something, and I don't know what it is- that authenticates his identity, its nets not liking other movies, where he puts his fingerprints. It's nothing like that, but he authenticates his identity. He tells which are
and he wanted to fire and then the National Military Command Centre again a one star general
conveys that orders to the people of the missile silos to the people on the submarines, the people in the bomber bases and the people who occupied the national military command
our picked according to their well they're, not picked according to their creativity. Ok they're picked for their readiness to salute and follow orders and the
I'm not necessarily in on what's going on nor the people down in the middle side of the state? They don't remember that scene and doctor strange. Look when they're up in the bomber in Denton and they got this or
and they say now what's going on it as well as in the Abbey
This order, that means that the Russians have already attack they don't know, and unless we
Them stands up and says nothing I can do this, for which is really risking treason. The order will go out. It's amazing. We have
built. A doomsday device which is, it just seems on its face, so poorly calibrated and is driven
at every point by the most unreliable,
while device of all at this point as the what
the human brain manages to get itself elected and put in a put in proximity to the football. Its do you have any
Do you think of that is wise to say about how we can well back from the brink. Hear me: what do you think we should do politically in over the next ten years to change the status quo area? You said it's a poorly calibrated mission. In fact, it's very finely calibrated to give the president
the sole authority, to do this so yeah it's. I say you know what you did. You have to look at it two ways. If we're talking about responding to a strike, that's already happened or that's in the process of being there there. You know, I hate that there just isn't any time to go. Consult
Congress or the cabinet, but if you're talking about ok, I want to learn, but I'm actually for the active. I'm stuck, I'm not even convinced that the logic of respond
in all out nuclear strike makes any sense. Well, one thing that you want to do is, and we ve done it to sell,
Degree and Obama tried to do more about, but got resistance is too sharply
reduce the number of weapons that we have on american soil, so, for example,
if we had no land based Icy, PM's or even just a few right night, another only four
their single warheads. You know we have a few thousand weapons
You get everything else was pretty,
in vulnerable to an attack. You could write out the attack just cause the ice,
the Amazon or are under attack doesnt mean the president. Has twenty minutes to respond. You can let that happen and then contemplate a little bit more, so one one thing
do is just to get him to get rid of even more of the icy becomes get rid of them altogether. Serious people have thought about that is like it. It's it's an active jujitsu. You deprive the other guys of of their time
so that's one thing that lead than they would just have to be targeting the population as well, but I don't think anybody would do that as a first strike, because, though they would face, I mean I you're right through the question would become. Why should we care Moscow just cause? They killed New York? Well,
don't know either, but I doubt that I had a chance to take, but another reason just a closed loop on that that point.
The reason not to get rid of our land based missiles is if someone
were to invent tomorrow a great way to take out submarines. We would be left without eyes a virus, that's the argument that is the argument or about bombers, can take off and go into airborne alert
But there is always an argument. You're just so happens. You know why do we have three legs of the Triad Land based missiles, the submarines in the bombers, because we have three.
Services Army near Navy and Airforce. They eventually the Airforce got the Lamb base missiles. Originally, that was
gonna be the army, so we had five services. We probably have five different kinds of said it's on a coincidence, but people have come up with very elegant arguments for for protecting all three legs of the triad, but you know it's on a little bit arbitrary and especially if you look at wealthy, obviously obviously that nets, it's all just if it's kind of arbitrary and the
the technology is, come first and the arguments and rationale of come after me, and it seems that we now poised
to wait. I'm sorry! You also asked what else we could do. Yeah, yellow that element of our others. Add one one peace here to listen to what you just said with the inner reducing are armaments. It seems like we're on the cusp of what looks like a another arms race, at least potentially could say. Does not we have a new start treaty with Russia that that lapses in twenty twenty one, and then you know who knows power incentivize to improve our our nukes after that remain depending on what they do. What
Do you have any sense of where this is going in the near term? Well, go it's a disturbing thing. I mean there has been a dark side to arms control treaties to over time. President needs to get two thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty, and he also needs the joint chiefs of staff to endorse it upon the hill to get even anybody.
Take it seriously, and so what has happened a lot ever since the first SALT Treaty back in nineteen, sixty nine seventy to wear with Nixon was that the choice of the Chiefs or the republic,
in congress- are ok yeah I'll go along with this treaty, but you ve got a by the following weapons and
You know Jimmy Carter had to buy onto the
MAX missile, even though he loved it in order to get sought to
President Obama had to agree.
To somehow modernize all three legs of the triad. In order to get ratification of new start now, trumped doesn't have this problem. The new start treaty, which which placed modest limits it had modest reductions in place, limits on both sides, nuclear arsenals and also provided for quite intrusive inspection rights. To verify that both sides were continuing to abide by the treaty. It expires in February, twenty twenty one. All that it takes to extend it is to get two guys in a room and
sign it. That's all it takes at, and you know that the weird thing is it: there's nobody in the? U S military now who is arguing that
need more nuclear weapons. Many think we need new nuclear weapons and different kinds of nuclear nobody's, pushing for anything to go beyond the limits that were set by this treaty, but tromp, partly because he just as unlike treaties, cause they confine our flexibility and more to the point. This was negotiated by Obama and therefore it can't be any good. That's the fundamental reason why you got out of the iranian Nuclear deal, even though all of his advisers at the time said he should stay in it because at the very least it was better than no deal it's very personal with him. But yet, if ever you just take the limits off and especially if you get rid of the forums that allow for inspections
then? You know that the gloves are off. The rope is, is loosen. These guys could build more and more. For example, Trump got out of the enemy intermediate range. Nuclear forces deal that ragged and Gorbachev side. He got out of the treaty. The Russians had been violating it a little bit. Actually the Russians never met
this treaty to say we're leaving it and they leave it there. They can do a lot more with it later, but then the first thing at least that the military does is start testing missiles that had been banned by this treaty, and I I called up several people who I knew in the Pentagon, and I said so what what is the strategic rationale for
for going back to building these kinds of weapons, and they said well, we don't have a rationale. Yet we haven't. I
Would the allies yet on where they might be based? We don't know at the targets,
we don't know what the reason is, but it was basically okay. We can
who had so, let's do it and the rationale will come later. Among I'm afraid that especially relations between the two powers stays quite tents. Loved the military will just go on there there that there are ways to build as many as they can,
in other countries which have been constrained in part by our own restrained well, then say: well, ok time for us to get into this game to yellow. We ve talked about
How this all comes down to the decisions of the president when, when push comes to shove, and
you know. We know we have a very stable genius in charge that there are a couple detail
your book that sheds light on on trumps beliefs about his own insight into this
nature. This problem at one one actually predates his presidency by many years where he went
we needed himself to be someone who could make
shade. For the? U S in in our nuclear stalemate with the Soviet Union paint that scene for me. So so President George W Bush is elected president in eighty eight unease about to occupy the White House and eighty nine and tromp has just
written is best selling? Our quota quote written this best selling book called the art of the deal and he's fashioned himself as a terrific deal makers. So he wants to become the: U S: arms control, negotiator and even lobbies himself. He knows a lot of Republican. She says yeah put me up for this job and everybody thought it was a joke. He was
laughable character at the time, and so he meets at New York Cocktail Party. Richard bird, who was the veteran diplomat who Bush
in fact, actually nominated, which I'm going to go sit and Trump says. I understand that you're, the guy is going to be the negotiator right and go seek
Listen, I have an idea for you about how to get a good deal with the Russians and by the way this story has been confirmed to me by Burt so broke. You know he kind of an interesting character. He said yeah. What was that
and from this ok. So here's what you do first meeting you have with the Russians, you go in late and then you walk up to their side of the table and you pound your fist on the table and you say fuck you and you know Bert, obviously did not follow. His advice
and negotiated a pretty substantial arms reduction deal a few years later over the same,
The time another one of Donald Trump Business ventures went bankrupt, so you know, do the math on that one. The other incident which will probably be asking about is the famous meeting in the tank with ATO, yes, advisers. You know that this has been with certain aspects of this meeting has been written about and other books in Woodward's Birchen.
New book, very stable genius by the Washington Post reporter. She goes and has a meeting in what is called the tank, which is the joint Chiefs of Staff Conference room in the Pentagon and out of his advisers. Were there the military's air there,
giving them a kind of a tour DORA Zone of the world and our alliances and our problems and prospects and good things and bad things. At one point- and I was told this by the few people who were there.
One of the generals here shows this chart showing nuclear weapons over the past number of nuclear weapons over the past decades- and you know the peak was around Nike late sixties. We had thirty thousand nuclear weapons, and now we have by three thousand sailor,
shows this graph going down in. This was meant, as is an illustration of the of you now that the worthiness-
of nuclear arms control and good relations between the nations and so forth. Tramp says he says it looks at a different way goes how come
I can't have as many nuclear weapons as I had back in the late sixties and its economy,
to him that well you another these arms control agreements in its very expensive and there was real overkill back. Then we don't know
really needed. This many and what we have now really more capable heap. He not just how'd. He gets it, but then I was told about a week later used in a White House meeting with his their national Security Adviser Atomic Mass
or in some other people when you said he my mind, flits back to this chart.
Why can't I have as many nuclear weapons is a summer layer president did their becomes? It becomes a dick measuring contest, the outcome. I can't haven't that big and- and
explain to him again right. Well, you know you build way more
and send you need the now think that we're about to launch a first strike and now build more weapons and, and then at least once maybe twice to more times over the next few weeks. He raises this again. You just can't get it out of his mind and it gets to the point where word gets around about this, and matters says to a group of his own assistance under secretaries. You know: don't worry, we're not going to get into a nuclear arms race as long as I'm here,
we should remind people in response to this first meeting, where Trump had been given a tour of our arsenal and ass this. This question why he can have more bombs when Trump was out of the room
what'd tellers and say in response to trumps performance. At that out, I mean an area
had been reporting elsewhere, but I gotta confirmed by a few people but Secretary of State Tennyson as trumpet
the room? He says it s kind of a stage whisper, but that can be heard by several people on their images. The president is a fucking moron,
and you know when that was revealed. You know you knew right then, and there that terrorists instead is a secretary of state were numbered and in fact he was. He was canned about four months later. There's no reason to take this too far in the direction of what will be
saved as partners in politics. But this really is a non partisan point. Absolutely at the entrance of people.
Most military officers really are non partisan. They stay out of politics, they don't want any,
part of it at an if their partisan and ourselves. Air republicans I mean, is that they see themselves as part of the chain of command. They do not want to get involved in this, and yet
that the source for a lot of these stories, both in about tramp both in my book and I assume and in other accounts, are military officers and ensure that they were too to the extent we do know something about their voting record or political conditions are generally not Democrats right,
We're afraid you ve given a say on a fairly startling tour of stock
nonetheless grateful is depressing but very, very useful to talk to you. I'm worried that it seems like very few people are thinking about this right. This is not its only with
the emergence of trump that we ve been reminded that many
We been reminded that this sword of Damocles has never not been over our heads, but it seems like
We should be thinking about this much more, but there's this additional wrinkle, which is thinking about it, is it's just
hard. To get your mind around
reality of the risk and just how bad these outcomes are. Her would be
If anything really went wrong. You're did this
This is the main
and why wrote this book? I had written this book, the wizards of Armageddon and nineteen. Eighty three and I thought I thought there would never be another reason to write a book about this subject again, and you know it is
what struck me when trumpeted the fire and fury remark, is it for the previous Savona thirty years, almost
nobody had been thinking much less worrying about this stuff. This was from another era, and yet you know
the people in the subterranean world, where these weapons were still being turned out and the work plans were still being devised.
And exercised. And you know, scenarios were being drawn up that this was still going on
and underneath under our own radar scopes in, and you could say that one one thing that the Trump has done.
Here's to remind us that these things still eggs
and the reason that I wrote the book was because I thought it was time again to to write something that would spell out the entire history of this thing and laid out the dimensions of this rapid home into which we had plunged down into all
his years ago and we are where we are still in a running around in amaze, even if
out of her own making, and that no and that's the thing that you now the president who have dealt with crises in which nuclear weapons have been contemplated. They have actually done very deep into this whole there
have the record, shows Dave, examined the logic examined. The scenarios really plunged themselves into it and then come away thinking. No, I do not want to go there.
And scattered out of the hole and try to come up with a diplomatic solution to the crisis and then we're now stuck with the president to is not known for thinking deeply about things who acts by his own York Knowledgement on his gut and you know, guts can lead to
very turbulent slices of bread. Thank you for your work and thank you for taking the time to speak with me. No thank you.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-19.