You hide in your mansion
While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud
You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
– Bob Dylan, “Masters of War” (1963)
October 15, 1969.
That’s the day the world might have ended, had Madman Richard Nixon had his druthers.
In his recent book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg paints a doom and boom picture of the future, unless we immediately engage in negotiations with other nuclear armed nations to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and begin the dismantling of the Doomsday Machine that is programmed to destroy as much life as possible on the planet once global nuclear war begins — a perilously close possibility under the current postures and protocols of nuclear-armed governments. (Even as late as last week, NATO rejected a UN call for the elimination of these omnicidal weapons.)
In the above example, Richard Nixon was inspired by Dwight D. Eisenhower’s strong arming tactics in securing an armistice in Korea. Citing Nixon Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, Ellsberg writes,
Nixon “saw a parallel in the action President Eisenhower had taken to end another war. When Eisenhower arrived in the White House, the Korean War was stalemated. Eisenhower ended the impasse in a hurry. He secretly got word to the Chinese that he would drop nuclear bombs on North Korea unless a truce was signed immediately. In a few weeks, the Chinese called for a truce and the Korean War ended.”
Like Ike, Nixon knew that there was no point in bluffing; your future credibility was on the line. Diminished credibility, if you’re a super power, could be a dangerous thing.
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