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The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg-Review

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Title: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Author: Daniel Ellsberg

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing


Pages: 432; Price: Rs 699

 

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, is written by none other than Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers of modern history. Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst and is best known for releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers.

The cover of the book has a quote by another famous whistleblower from recent times, Edward Snowden, that says, “The long-awaited chronicle from the father of American whistle-blowing.” And, it is no secret that Ellsberg is a strong supporter of Snowden. Steven Spielberg’s 2017 movie, The Post, is perhaps one of the bravest movies Spielberg has made. The Guardian, in London, brought the two famous whistleblowers together in an interview during a two-hour internet linkup between Ellsberg in California and Snowden in Moscow, wherein, they discussed the issues pertaining to ethics, press freedom, world politics, and so on.

Interestingly, back when, Snowden was deliberating on his decision to leak secret NSA documents that revealed the scale of mass surveillance by the government, it was a 2009 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, that inspired him and he finally went on with releasing the documents.

In the book, Ellsberg says, “In 1959, the nuclear control officer on the staff of CINCPAC Admiral Harry D. Felt told me that President Eisenhower had given Felt a secret letter, signed by himself, delegating to Felt the authority to execute his nuclear plans on his own initiative if he felt necessary at a time when communications were out between Washington and his headquarters in Hawaii… Only the President could legitimately make the decision whether or not to go to nuclear war, and that he must make the determination personally at the moment of decision… That is what the American public has been told throughout the nuclear era.”

The book has opened a Pandora’s Box, and it is only time that will tell us, whether Americans, Russians, other world leaders, and the entire human race can rise against these challenges and reverse these policies and eliminate the danger of near-term extinction caused by their own inventions. In the introduction-section, Ellsberg’s statements are spine-chilling as he states, “In sum, most aspects of the U.S. nuclear planning system and force readiness that became known to me half a century ago still exist today, as prone to catastrophe as ever but on a scale, as now known to environmental scientists, looming vastly larger than was understood then. The present risks of the current nuclear era go far beyond the dangers of proliferation and non-state terrorism that have been the almost exclusive focus of public concern for the past generation and the past decade in particular… The hidden reality I aim to expose is that for over 50 years, all-out thermonuclear war—an irreversible, unprecedented, and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth — has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima Daiichi, and before these, World war I, a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these. And that is still true today.”

“To those who struggle for a human future.” These poignant words by the author on the very first page of the book say everything, well, almost everything. For the rest, grab this insightful book.