Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

INTERVIEW/ Daniel Ellsberg: Smart statesmen can make bad decisions leading to nuclear war

Asahi Shimbun, , By KOJI SONODA/ Correspondent, June 19, 2021  WASHINGTON—U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower seriously considered launching a nuclear attack against China during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958, according to a former Department of Defense official.

Daniel Ellsberg, 90, a nuclear policy expert who has disclosed a confidential document about the incident, said Eisenhower was prepared for possible nuclear retaliation from the Soviet Union.

In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on May 25, Ellsberg also expressed strong concerns about the current tensions between Washington and Beijing over the Taiwan Strait.

“We’re talking now about possibly intervening in the civil war between China and Taiwan with U.S. force,” Ellsberg said. “I felt that this study was particularly relevant now to public debate and consideration.”

Ellsberg is famed for his acquisition and exposure of the classified Pentagon Papers in 1971, which he created with other staff members at the U.S. Department of Defense for the Vietnam War.

At that time, Ellsberg made a copy of another top-secret document written and examined by Morton Halperin, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, in connection with the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis.

The secret document shows that Eisenhower and high-ranking military officers at a meeting were considering the use of tactical nuclear weaponry for a pre-emptive strike against mainland China.


Ellsberg, who was deeply engaged in compiling the U.S. nuclear war plan, said, “When we look at decision-making that led to catastrophe … there is a very strong tendency for people to think: ‘Well, that was long ago. Those people were dumb.’

“That’s absurd,” he continued. “The statesmen (then) were at least as smart people as the ones right now or in between. They made horribly unwise judgments.”

Ellsberg was quite concerned about the possibility of the current U.S.-China friction leading to an all-out war.

“Both sides would suffer very great costs,” he said. “If they are not stupid and foolish and reckless and crazy, they will not start a war … . But you know, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”

Excerpts from the interview follow:……………………………………………………….

The Cuban Missile Crisis, in which I participated as a consultant right below the level of the White House, the executive committee of the National Security Council, I was reporting to them, and studied that for a great deal. I conclude that, contrary to their public statements, neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev had any intention of going to armed conflict. They were, in effect, bluffing.

They were threatening the others and intimidating the others, and were deploying in readiness for nuclear war, but they had no intention actually of carrying out a nuclear war. And nevertheless, as my book “Doomsday Machine” and other places show, they came within a hair’s breadth of an all-out nuclear war because of actions of subordinates who did not realize that their leaders were bluffing, and who were readying for nuclear war in a way that almost exploded into all-out nuclear war……………….

When we look at decision-making that led to catastrophe, like World War I, by almost all parties, or the decision-making in Japan in 1940-41, which looks inconceivably bad when you look at it, or the decision-making in Vietnam, or invasion of Iraq, or in 1958, there is a very strong tendency for people to think: “Well, that was long ago. Those people were dumb. They were naive. They were immature. We’re not like that now. Weren’t they strange and awful?” And so there’s no lesson to be learned for us. That’s absurd.

The statesmen in 1914 were at least as smart people as the ones right now or in between. They made horribly unwise judgments. And that is equally available to our decision-makers right now.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14373137

June 19, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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