Daniel Ellsberg: “America has been asleep at the atomic wheel for 64 years” (recommended reading)

Arms control is an important issue for me, not just because I scared myself shitless from nanotechnology science fiction during college, but because I also managed to get a ‘biological and chemical arms control’ course under my belt at Vassar . Our worldly relationships as nation units have built up a great deal of terrible weapons. More fear, more weapons. Sadly, when the fear diminishes, we don’t unbuild the tools our fear built.

From the man who delivered the Pentagon papers in 1971:

“We have long needed and lacked the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers on the subject of nuclear policies and preparations, nuclear threats and decision-making: above all in the United States and Russia but also in the other nuclear-weapons states. I deeply regret that I did not make known to Congress, the American public and the world the extensive documentation of persistent and still-unknown nuclear dangers that was available to me 40 to 50 years ago as a consultant to and official in the executive branch working on nuclear war plans, command and control and nuclear crises. Those in nuclear-weapons states who are in a position now to do more than I did then to alert their countries and the world to fatally reckless secret policies should take warning from the earlier inaction of myself and others: and do better.”

Unlike nearly everyone else outside the Manhattan Project, my first awareness of the challenges of the nuclear era had occurred—and my attitudes toward the advent of nuclear weaponry had formed—some nine months earlier than those headlines, and in a crucially different context.
It was in a ninth-grade social studies class in the fall of 1944. I was 13, a boarding student on full scholarship at Cranbrook, a private school in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Our teacher, Bradley Patterson, was discussing a concept that was familiar then in sociology, William F. Ogburn’s notion of “cultural lag.” …

…The idea was that the development of technology regularly moved much further and faster in human social-historical evolution than other aspects of culture: our institutions of government, our values, habits, our understanding of society and ourselves. Indeed, the very notion of “progress” referred mainly to technology. What “lagged” behind, what developed more slowly or not at all in social adaptation to new technology was everything that bore on our ability to control and direct technology and the use of technology to dominate other humans….

read more at wikileaks… my favorite source for world news!

…Recently I spoke with a friend of my father’s who had interviewed nuclear scientists in the 90s at the Alamo research labs. At one point he spoke with a well respected nuclear physicist who explained his raison d’être. The scientist had grown up alongside the grad students at Princeton eager to construct bombs, and decided then and there to learn bomb-making just so he could disassemble them down the road. Fifty years later, he is one of the few living nuclear physicists capable of disassembling nuclear bombs, and is frantically disassembling / building disassembly schematics for the aging thousands upon thousands of bombas–all with aging trigger systems–around the world. Sadly, he (whose name I forget) is now in Russia where his skills are golden mana from heaven.

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