Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, discusses his article “For nuclear security beyond Seoul, eradicate land-based ‘doomsday’ missiles;” the slow pace of nuclear weapons reductions, despite much lip service from every US president since Carter; the surprising low number of hydrogen bombs required to cause nuclear winter and effectively end life on earth; redefining nuclear deterrence in terms of dozens of missiles instead of thousands; why everyone loses in nuclear war, even the nation to get a “first strike;” and the complete list of references for the scientific studies, data, and historical incidences mentioned in the article.
Update: Your host was apparently wrong. The footnote I was thinking of was this report [.pdf] which does not refer to 14 nukes anywhere. Sorry.
MP3 here. (47:19)
Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. His upcoming book is titled The American Doomsday Machine.
In 1959 Daniel Ellsberg worked as a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. He joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), John McNaughton, working on Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification on the front lines.
On return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, he worked on the Top Secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.