In the spring of 1961, Daniel Ellsberg saw a sheet of paper marked 'Top Secret', 'Joint Chiefs of Staff', and 'For the President's Eyes Only'. It was the answer to the following question, drafted by Ellsberg on behalf of the President: If your current plans for general nuclear war are... carried out as planned, how many people will be killed in the Soviet Union and China? The answer was that about 275 million people would die immediately, and about 50 million more would die over the next six months and roughly 600 million would die globally. The Joint Chiefs of Staff's desired result exposed a dizzying irrationality, even insanity, at the heart and soul of America's nuclear apparatus. The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's memoir of his early experience working at the highest levels of the U.S. national security system, on the command and control of nuclear weapons, plans for general nuclear war, and preventing (or if necessary, managing) nuclear Armageddon between the superpowers. The basic elements of American readiness for nuclear war remain today what they were fifty years ago: thousands of nuclear weapons are on constant alert.The official rationale for such a system has always been primarily the supposed need to deter - or, if necessary, respond to - an aggressive nuclear attack on the US. That declared policy is a deliberate deception. Ellsberg exposes the true goals of America's nuclear program in The Doomsday Machine, as well as other shocking revelations, such as the system's profound vulnerability to accidents and unauthorized launches, and how the government's secrecy continues to threaten the survival of our species. Ultimately a hopeful book The Doomsday Machine encourages legislative investigation and decalssification.
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