Kudos to Jonathan Baird for his informative overview (Monitor Forum, Jan. 24) of a recent book, The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. The importance of Ellsberg’s revelations regarding our government’s secret terrifying plans for nuclear war and the implications for renewed dangers today can hardly be exaggerated or ignored. Things were even more perilous than we thought, and Ellsberg believes the nuclear command and control dangers are not now significantly different.
A couple of comments: Baird rightly says that a “limited” nuclear war could easily become large enough to bring on a nuclear winter with catastrophic consequences. A study by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concludes that even an exchange of 100 nuclear bombs (Hiroshima size) between India and Pakistan would cause a nuclear winter and 2 billion deaths, mainly from worldwide crop failure. (Ellsberg learned of a secret U.S. nuclear “total war” plan against the communist enemy in 1961 – with 600 million expected deaths, including 100 million NATO allies. Now that we know about nuclear winter, he says that death toll would have been 2.5 billion people – 99 percent of the world’s population; today, 7-plus billion!)
He chides Donald Trump’s nuclear threat to N. Korea as “irresponsible.” I agree. And I’d add that it’s also a violation of the U.N. Charter Article 2(4) prohibiting “the threat or use” of force.
I agree that Ellsberg “has provided his greatest public service yet.” And I’m glad to say he’s now an honorary member of the Bertrand Russell Society.
RAY PERKINS Jr.