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Countdown to Doomsday: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Papers 

Countdown to Doomsday: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Papers 

Photo by August Muench | CC BY 2.0

Just as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock closer than it has ever been to our species extinction point reports show that the U.S. warfare state is moving its latest high-tech rendition of tactical nuclear weapons, the B-61 “Gravity Bomb,” to airbases on the island of Guam. Is this an attempt to intimidate North Korea? Or is it a stage in a crackpot plan to destroy NK’s ability to carry out what that state has stated categorically is its defensive strategy against just such an attack?

Every sane individual I know understands that as long as nuclear weapons exist someday, and that day looms sooner every day, they will be used. The sponsors of the Bulletin, the Union of Concerned Scientists, was established after World War II and the atomic incinerations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by some of the very scientists and technicians who had made the bomb possible and who then understood the nature of the monstrous evil they had unleashed. Though Albert Einstein was not one of those scientists his theoretical physics had abetted the basic formula for fission and the Bomb and, believing that Nazi Germany was working on a bomb too, he urged President Franklin Roosevelt to undertake the Manhattan Project. He came sorrowfully to regret this action and spoke regularly about his opposition to war and the nuclear age. “If only I had known,” he declared, “I should have become a watchmaker.”

The renowned physicist also focused attention on the existential quandary unique to the human species when he said “Mankind invented the atomic bomb but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.” Has there ever been another species that actively enabled the instruments of  its own extermination?

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