Daniel Ellsberg spoke at the Annual Friends of the Libraries Reception at UMass Amherst

Daniel Ellsberg spoke at the Annual Friends of the Libraries Reception at UMass Amherst


So greetings, and welcome
to the 21st Annual Friends of the UMass Library’s
fall reception. I’m Simon Neame,
Dean of Libraries here at UMass Amherst. And today I have the
honor of welcoming you to a very, very
special program, plan to celebrate the acquisition
of Daniel Ellsberg’s personal archive
by the university. This collection represents
an important addition to the UMass Library’s special
collections and university archives and to the university. The UMass Library’s
special collections are nationally recognized
for our strength and documenting the history
of unrest, protest, advocacy, and, ultimately,
change in our society with a particular emphasis on
the individuals and groups who are champions of change
and social justice. We thank our many
friends and donors who support the work
of special collections. With their continued
support, and our commitment to preservation
and public access, Daniel Ellsberg’s
archives will be available for teaching,
learning, and research, locally and regionally, through
and, through digitization, globally, for
generations to come. I would like to take
this opportunity to thank Daniel and Patricia
Ellsberg for sharing this incredible resource with
the UMass Amherst Libraries and, in doing so,
with the world. Daniel’s archives
are in good company alongside the papers of WEB Du
Bois, Horace Mann Bond, Kenneth Feinberg, Brother David
Steindl-Rast, the New England Yearly Meeting Archive,
and many, many other agents of social change. We feel the archive
of Daniel Ellsberg is exactly where it belongs. Acquiring a collection like
this involves the work of many. And I’d just like
to take a moment to acknowledge a few
individuals, our Head of Special Collection Rob
Cox and the entire staff of special collections
and university archives here at UMass Amherst,
yay, thank you. [APPLAUSE] I’d also like to thank
Chancellor Subbaswamy and our other leaders
on this campus, in particular, Dr. Bob
Feldman and Dr. Bob Pollin for recognizing UMass as a
rightful home for this archive and for working with
us to make it so. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So to tell us a little
bit more about how UMass came to acquire
this amazing collection, I would like to introduce our
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, or as he’s known to most of us
here at UMass Amherst, Swami. Please join me in welcoming
Chancellor Subbaswamy, [APPLAUSE] Good evening. And thank you Simon. Welcome, everyone,
for what certainly promises to be a very
thought-provoking evening. I would like to acknowledge
my good friend, retired state representative for Amherst Ellen
Story who has joined us today. Ellen, I’m not
sure where you are. Could you please acknowledge? [APPLAUSE] It’s always a pleasure
to have Ellen on campus. I’d like to take
a minute to share how we arrived at this evening. As the Washington
Post once observed, UMass Amherst has, quote,
“developed a reputation as, perhaps, the single most
important heterodox economics department in the country. You can read however
you want to read that.” End quote. That our economics
faculty have earned this prominence reflects
a certain unwillingness to accept conventional thinking. This attitude was evident
when Dr. Robert Pollin, distinguished professor and
Co-Director of the Political Economics Institute,
PERI, as we call it, heard through their economist
grapevine– yes, there is one– that Dan Ellsberg’s
papers, all 500 boxes, were in his basement. Characterizing this
discovery as quote, “crazy”– sorry, Dr. Ellsberg– Dr. Pollin summoned all the
resourcefulness expected of a UMass Amherst distinguished
professor of economics and, in a remarkably
short time, helped foster the relationship between
the Ellsberg’s and UMass. Along the way Bob Feldman,
my senior advisor, became an invaluable
intermediary working with the Ellsberg’s
and an anonymous donor who stepped up to support
acquisition of the papers. This evening, on behalf of
the university community, I want to thank Bob Feldman,
I thank our generous donor, and I thank Professor
Pollin for, once again, eschewing orthodoxy and
enriching the university. [APPLAUSE] Everyone in this room is
affected by the life and work of Dan Ellsberg, some by living
through the tumult of the ’70s, while others, such
as our students, are currently experiencing
his historical imprint in a national moment of deja vu. I belong to the former
camp; that’s how old I am. In 1971, at the age of
20, I boarded a plane for the first time traveling
from my home in Bangalore in India to Indiana
University in Bloomington to pursue a
doctorate in physics. When I arrived, the
campus and the nation were in the throes of unrest. The Vietnam War was just
ending, and Watergate was about to break. I was immersed in
conversations that ordinarily, as a physicist, I
wouldn’t be a part of. Those tumultuous times taught
me about the US Constitution, transparency, politics,
and rule of law. In the years to come, this
unexpected part of my education was invaluable in advancing
my administrative career. As I stand here this evening,
leading the celebration, almost 50 years since
the Pentagon Papers were leaked, after Steven
Spielberg turned the events into a movie starring
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, it’s tempting to view
Dan Ellsberg’s life through the diffused
light of a Hollywood lens. But the movie could have
ended very differently indeed. Dan Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon
Papers to the media in 1971 exposing decades of deceit
by American policymakers during the Vietnam
War when he knew it was very possible
his actions could lead to a lifetime in jail. He had a family and
an enviable career. He had everything to lose,
yet, he chose the truth. His commitment to
protecting the sanctity of the truth for the
good of his country outweighed his
personal well-being. It was a tremendous act
of courage and conviction. Given this university’s
longstanding commitment to social justice
and accessibility and our fundamental mission
as a stronghold for freedom of expression, it is
our deep privilege to receive the papers
of Daniel Ellsberg. As guardians of this
exceptional collection, the university is committed to
making the work of Dan Ellsberg life broadly
accessible, ensuring it remains in the public
sphere, informing or discourse for decades to come. On behalf of the
entire University, I warmly welcome Dan and
Patricia into the UMass Amherst community. Please join me now in welcoming
Dan Ellsberg to the stage. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much. Can you hear me in the back? Can you hear me in the back? If any problem, wave your
arms or something, please. Oh, good. OK, this is a wonderful
occasion for my wife and I. I was just thinking
that I haven’t really been part of an
institution as I am now at PERI since I left RAND. That was quite a while
ago, in basically 1970. And it’s wonderful to be here. Chancellor Subbaswamy, I
so much appreciate the fact that my archive will be here. But I, in particular,
appreciate the appreciation that I’ve gotten from you, from
Robert Cox, from Robert Pollin. It’s really warmed my heart
and Patricia’s, very much so. We were very impressed when the
Vice Chancellor, Bob Feldman representing you, actually
flew across the country almost immediately after hearing
the possibility of getting my archive here. We were very impressed, sitting
around the table, while we were with these people, Robert
Cox, Robert Feldman, Robert Pollin. We had to agree Rob, Bob,
Robert, to distinguish in conversation somehow. And I feel wonderful. And I have been reviewing, as
a result of course, 500 boxes– we’ve sent about 250 so far,
as they slip from my hands, kicking and screaming
here in a way. I look at these boxes,
and I look at the files, I think wait, wait, wait,
I have to reread this. It looks fascinating– the
various things we’ve collected. One thing I realize is,
this is, of course, pretty much, covers my life history. And something I realized
is that that life is almost exactly co-extensive
with the nuclear era. Thinking about that, I’m very
surprised that I’m still here at 88. And even more surprised that
you’re all still here, in fact, and you’ll see why
I feel that maybe at the end of the
evening, although there’s some bad news, a lot of
bad news here actually. The good news is we are here. And that I think
you may appreciate how lucky we’ve been actually to
have come through this so far. And perhaps, what we may need
to do to assure that some of you will live as long as I have,
88, and your grandchildren and their children will have
a chance to be lucky like us. It doesn’t go without
saying by any means. When I say my life
has been co-extensive with the nuclear
era, I’m thinking of the fact I was born in 1931. In 1932, Chadwick discovered
what Ernest Rutherford had conceived earlier, the
existence of the neutron. And in 1933, one year later,
when I was two years old, FDR had just become president,
Hitler had just come to power. Leo Szilard– and I see my
physicist young friend here Subbaswamy nodding on this– Leo Szilard conceived
at a particular moment the possibility of a chain
reaction, which he patented. Actually, and to keep it secret,
patented with the admiralty hoping that the idea would not
come to the country he had just left, Germany, in 1933. Now, Hitler had become
chancellor as a minority party, but in the largest
party, had been named by Hindenburg as
chancellor in January as I recall. Szilard tells, in his memoirs,
which are called, by the way, posthumously, His
Version of the Facts. And he refers to
the fact that he had told someone, one
of his friends, I think, Wigner from Hungary, that
he was writing some notes for a memoir, just for god. And Wigner said, well, don’t
you think god knows the facts? And he said he doesn’t
my version of the facts. So in this, he tells that he
had a bag packed since 1932 in his apartment in
Berlin ready to leave if Hitler came to
power, which he did come to power in January. But two days after
the Reichstag fire, which we still
don’t know for sure whether it was set by the
Nazis as Hermann Goering said at one point, or whether
or not, it’s not clear– but at any rate, it
was used by the Nazis immediately as a reason
to cancel civil liberties, go into emergency state, a
state of emergency basically, they got Hindenburg
to sign this. The first thing was to end the
privacy of the postal service and to listen to
all telephone calls as almost the first thing that
had to be done in this state. And Szilard says that he
picked up his bags, which he said required only fastening
them, and he left the room, and he left Germany. Two days later he
said, it was not because I thought that the
people approved of what Hitler would proceed to do, but
because of their nature as obedient
rule-followers, there would be no real resistance to it. Many people thought– when
I grew up, by the way, the Germans that we saw in
the newsreels and whatnot, I must only obey
orders and something. We’re a very peculiar
culture, very unlike us. And I have to tell
you, at 88, and this is no joke, that’s wrong. And it’s very clear to me now
that what happened in Germany was not because of any
peculiarity of the Germans, as a matter of fact. But Szilard was
essentially right, that there was not
organized resistance in the way that a lot
of things going on– I won’t go into
all that history. But anyways, Szilard left. And in ’33 he was in London
where he read the newspaper one morning that
Rutherford, who had first conceived of the neutron,
had said of Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron. Yes, this is very interesting. And it will make for
very interesting science. But the idea that
it will be possible, and in fact, you’ll be able to
bombard atoms with neutrons. And they had just to
actually split a lithium atom at that point. And he said, it will
have interesting effects, but it is pure moonshine to
believe it will get power from the nucleus. And Leo Szilard,
being who he was, took that as– was quite
irritated by this moonshine. And he took it as a challenge. And that very day of reading
that, as he tells the story, he was waiting for a
red light to change just across from the British
Museum on a London street corner. As the light changed to green,
he stepped off into the street. And in the middle of
the street, the thought occurred to him that if a
nuclear reaction occurred by a bombardment of
neutron in the atom, if additional neutrons
were released, it could affect other atoms. You could get a chain reaction. And that’s how you would get
more power out than you put it, as Rutherford had supposed. And he patented that. His friend Wigner,
by the way, later said, the only thing wrong with
that story was the idea that he had never known Leo Szilard
to wait for a light to change. He said he’d pay no
attention to red lights. Something wrong with that story. But anyway, Szilard
did tell it often. He patented that. Some years went by. And in 1938, German
scientists had a reaction which, to other German
scientists, one of them a woman Lisa Leitner realized,
had split the uranium atom. And he wondered,
could this be the atom that I’ve been thinking
about now for five years? So he borrowed money, and he
got a laboratory and whatnot, in order to test whether
other neutrons were released in the course of this. And let me break
here for a moment why I’m telling this story. I first heard of the
possibility of an atom bomb, not at my youngest
years, obviously, but when I was 13 in 1944. Now, how many people here
are, say, 75 or older? Are there– I suspect some. I want to get a good look. Put your hands up. Keep them up for a minute. How many of you,
with your hands up– keep your hand up if possible– were aware of the
possibility of an atom bomb before August 6, 1945? Anybody? I don’t see. I had a very
peculiar experience. None of you were in the
Manhattan Project, very secret, where the bomb was being
made up till that point. And, of course, I wasn’t
either, nor was my father. He was, in fact, a structural
engineer building factories for the production
of bombing planes. He was the chief structural
engineer in the Ford Willow Run plant, which produced B-24
bombers on an assembly line, like cars for Ford. And he took me out there
once I think when I was 12. And the assembly line
had planes starting out in just bare fuselages
and moving along like cars, car bodies,
people working on them, drilling, doing this and that. Or like, I have to say, like the
carcasses in a slaughterhouse, just moving along this thing,
which was 1 mile and 1/4 long on this line. At the end, they dropped
off, they were fueled up, and they flew off to make war. So that’s what my
father was doing. And he didn’t know anything
about an atom bomb then. But I was a scholarship student
in a private school called Cranbrook in Bloomfield
Hills where most of my peers were actually sons
of car manufacturers and so forth, quite well-to-do. I was a scholarship student. I didn’t suffer for that at all. But I was, as a sophomore, in
the class in 1944, September, October about now, I had a
teacher named Bradley Patterson teaching social studies. And he was teaching
this concept called– by a man named
Ogburn, cultural lag. The idea that,
over the millennia, regularly, technology
had advanced faster than culture in various
ways, but specifically more than institutions were
controlling the technology. That, morality, laws,
institutions lagged behind. Looking back on
that, the question whether they ever
really caught up or whether it’s a possibility. But anyway, that
was a notion that kept getting rediscovered in
the course of the nuclear era. I won’t go into that,
but it was amazing how often I
discovered that people were reinventing this idea as
they looked at nuclear weapons. But anyway, Bradley
Patterson in 1944, when the atom bomb was
super secret, censored, no mention, Harry
Truman, as vice president knew nothing of
it at that point. But Bradley Patterson had
a teacher, it turns out, he told me after seeing
his name in my book. He looked me up in his 90s. He’s retired now,
but he had turned– later became Secretary of
the National Security Council under Eisenhower. But anyway, when he was a
teacher in this high school, we were looking at this, and
he said there is an element. It’s an isotope of
uranium, U-238– U-235, which is capable
of a chain reaction that would produce
a bomb 1,000 times more powerful than
a blockbuster. Now, those of you who
raised your hands I’m sure will remember what
a blockbuster was. The largest bombs of World War
II were 5, 10, 15, some of them were 20– the British had quite
a few 20-ton bombs for their Lancaster. We didn’t have a bomber that
could carry them, by the way. And they were
called blockbusters because they would destroy
a block of city buildings with one bomb. And they were, by that time,
though I didn’t know it, being used on city buildings
with people in them at night by the RAF and
going way by the US. They were being used
to kill civilians. And the idea then was a bomb
that would be 1,000 times more powerful than that. And the question was, you
have a week to write an essay, a short essay, on how this would
affect civilization or society. There was no emphasis as
to who would get this. Actually, I think
it kind of taken for granted that the
Germans would get it first. They had discovered the
process in ’38, ’39, but that wasn’t the issue
because it wasn’t clear when this would come about,
presumably after the war. There was no talk
about it anyway. How would that affect– would it be for good or for bad? Would it create peace,
or would it be dangerous? Now, think for a minute. I was 13 as were my other
classmates in this class. And we all came pretty much
to the same conclusion. But ask yourself, at
your age now, you’ve never heard of such a
bomb, you’re now presented, is it a good thing
or a bad thing to have a bomb 1,000 times more
powerful than a blockbuster? Well, think about it. Think about it tonight. But I remember very
well our reaction, which was the same as
all my friends there, who were nearly all
Republican by the way– which I wasn’t–
like their parents. It would be bad
news for humanity. Bad enough that we
had blockbusters that were being used even by us. But 1,000 times more? Don’t need that. Humanity isn’t up to that. OK, now I’ll jump
ahead for a moment. Nine months go by. None of you raised
your hands earlier. We’re in the same state of mind. And we weren’t thinking
about it particularly until that summer,
August 6, perhaps it was August 7th in Detroit. And I actually can remember the
moment when I saw the headline. I remember the
trolley car we used to have, actually, before GM
bought them up and destroyed them. Trolley car going
along, electric car, clattering along
the street, as I looked at the headline, which
said that the city had been destroyed by a single bomb. The announcement by Truman,
which I heard on the radio was, we have destroyed
Hiroshima, a military base. That was false. That was to reassure
people that, as he said actually, in order
to minimize civilian casualties. There was actually a
base, more than one, on the outskirts of the
city, but it was hardly affected by the bomb. The bomb, the ground
zero had been picked to maximize death of civilians. And it killed, estimates vary,
but perhaps 80,000 people right away, about 150,000,
or 130,000 to 150,000 by the end of the year
with burns and radiation. But I looked at that. And I’ll put it to you, and I
won’t even ask for hands here. Well, actually, how many of you
remember that day, your 75– aren’t there people
here who remember that? Just a couple. Oh, well, I’m surprised. OK. That’s right, I said 75, not 88. Or maybe you were
born about that time, so you were looking
at other things. But I was I was now 14. And I looked at that headline
and say, I know what that is. That’s the bomb that we’ve
studied in Bradley Patterson’s class last fall. We’d got it, and we
dropped it on a city. And I had a very
ominous feeling. I can remember feeling very
uneasy at Harry Truman’s Midwestern accents, and his
very flat, unemotional voice saying this was the greatest
thing, greatest development, wonderful that we
got it rather than anybody else, and thinking
there should have been more anguish in his
voice, more concern. Because I thought,
I’ve already concluded, after all, our class, outside
the Manhattan Project, was almost the only
group of people, we were 13, who had thought
about the possible implications of a bomb like that
before it was dropped. And remember, when
it was dropped, it was in the best
possible context in terms of receiving it. It was a US bomb developed
by the sainted FDR. My classmates didn’t think he
was sainted, but my family did. A lot of Americans did. Done by FDR– it had
ended the war, supposedly. It couldn’t have been
ended without an invasion, killing a million people. It was a savior
of American lives. As a result, most Americans
then and ever since have thought too bad
to kill those people, but it saved a lot of Americans,
and it saved even Japanese from invasion. These premises, by
the way, claimed by Secretary of War
Stimson, a year later, in an article in Harper’s,
and by everybody since then, are all false, as
I’ve learned later. But I’m not going to
spend time on that. But given the
premises that it saved lives, even though it
did kill 100,000 people, was a lesser evil, unnecessary
evil, it was not an evil. It was legitimized in a way
that could almost not have happened any other way. Imagine if the Nazis who had
no bomb program at that time, they had stopped, giving up in
June of 42, just on the grounds that they couldn’t get
it in time for the war– Hitler wanted a short war. So they’d given her up
at the very same month, by coincidence, that we embarked
on the Manhattan Project, in part, because Leo
Szilard, in 1939, had been driven by Edward Teller– come back to him, to visit– and Wigner– to visit Einstein
and get his signature in 1939 in August, a month before the
war started in 1939, in August, convincing FDR that he should
start a crash program on this, which didn’t actually start
as a crash right away. But it got rolling. This was the start of it. And FDR’s reaction
was, you’re telling me, the Germans might get this, and
we have to get it first, right? Yes, right, he signed it. They went on that. However, what I’m saying
is, my unease about that, at that time– some people have said, oh, we
couldn’t– a friend of mine saying you couldn’t really
have thought that at 13. I was very happy about it. But if we hadn’t
been in that class, and we hadn’t really thought
about what the future might hold, well, it wasn’t just
13-year-old adolescents who saw an ominous thing in this. Szilard himself, having
patented the idea, wanted to find out if uranium
might be the element that would give the extra neutrons
and started chain reactions. So I won’t go into details. But he actually had
to borrow some money, and he got a block of
beryllium, I think it was– I don’t know–
something to work with. And he put it up on a– didn’t have television–
an oscilloscope. Bombarding it with
slow neutrons to see if there would, on a screen,
be any evidence of more neutrons coming out, that
his idea might actually work. And by the way,
nothing else in physics demanded that this be the case. If it had not been the
case, almost nothing would be different except for
the possibility of an atom bomb. No other physical theory
would have to be changed, but they couldn’t predict it. So he, with his
friend turned it on, the oscilloscope supposedly,
and nothing happened. And then the other guy realized
they hadn’t plugged it in. So they plugged in
the oscilloscope. And Szilard saw flashes
confirming the suspicion, quote, this is from My
Version of the Facts, “that neutrons were emitted in
the fission process of uranium, and this, in turn, would
mean that the large scale liberation of atomic energy
was just around the corner.” He says, “We watch them,
flashes, for a little while. And then we switched
everything off and went home. That night, there was very
little doubt in my mind that the world was
headed for grief.” Well, a few years
later, as I said, having heard about
the bomb myself, months later, I realized,
we have used it. The US use this Nazi-like bomb. Because imagine, if the Nazis
had, in fact, had one bomb. They didn’t have
much chance for many that we had under
bombardment and its uranium but supposing they had one, two,
or three, and had used them? It would have been the very
apotheosis of Nazi bombing. It would be like the
blitz of firebombing London on a scale of 1,000,
or the Japanese in Shanghai, or Chongquing. The Franco regime with actually
Nazi planes and Italian planes, condor legion, and
Guernica in 1932, leading to the
Picasso famous mural of civilians being killed. And I didn’t make a note
here, but there was– I know I have it. What happened in September ’39
when the war started, which is, what 70 years ago now, right– on September 1, when the
first attack went on– here it is. Into Poland, Franklin
Roosevelt addressed this appeal to all the belligerent states. The ruthless
bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified
centers, which has raged in various quarters of Europe. He was talking about
Guernica, Shanghai, so forth, which had led to
League of Nations protests by the US and so
forth at the time. Said, “has shocked, has sickened
the hearts of civilized men and women and has
profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.” This is on September 1. No big bombing going
on– tanks rolling across the border in Poland. “If resort is had to this
form of human barbarism during the period of
tragic conflagration with which the world
is now confronted, hundreds of thousands of
innocent human beings who have no responsibility for
it, who are not even remotely participating in the hostilities
which have now broken out, will lose their lives,
hundreds of thousands. I am therefore directing
this urgent appeal to every government, which
may be engaged in hostilities, publicly, to affirm
its determination that its armed forces
shall, in no event and under no
circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the
air of civilian populations upon the understanding that
these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed
by all their opponents. I request an immediate reply.” The British who had
not yet declared war– they were about to– immediately said yes, as did
Hitler who had, by the way, no intention of doing, at that
point, what FDR was denouncing. He knew he was vulnerable. He didn’t want
German cities hit. And given strict orders,
which weren’t entirely obeyed, not to get that process started. And he said yes. A key thing by the
way, before the blitz, before the British
bombed Germany, was that some German bombers, by
mistake, bombed London thinking they were elsewhere over
a port, which Churchill took as the immediate
signal now to do what he had wanted to do for some time. He felt, what we can
do is bomb cities. And so he sent the
bombers over Germany. Well, that’s a long story, which
I tell here in some detail. What I wanted to make a
point was FDR’s words there now, which– anybody have any
memory of ever having heard such a declaration here? I don’t see any hands– quite striking. Was not something
FDR had invented, but that reflected 1,000
years from Thomas Aquinas, and to some degree,
2,000 from Augustine, saying that the key notion
of just war and just means in war, in other
words, the kind of war that could be participated
in by Christians, the key thing was the absolute
immunity from direct attack of noncombatants, civilians. That was the basis
of the law of war and always had been, Hague
Conventions, the Geneva, everything else, that was key. So FDR was just
saying, we’ve seen this violated by bestial
tactics in China and in Spain. Let’s all observe
that we will not do this, to which everybody
agreed to right away, very reluctantly on the British
side because Churchill really was very anxious
to carry this out, but he had to go along with it. OK. Carry the story forward fast. For every bomb that Germany
dropped on London or England– of course, there were, which
killed a lot of people, something like 40,000 people. The US and the RAF dropped more
than 10 bombs on German cities and by the end of the war
had killed, some say 300,000, but a better figure is
600,000 German civilians, including two firestorms. They were trying
to do every time– and I’ll explain what that is
in a minute because it’s very pertinent– in Hamburg and Dresden. They tried to create a
firestorm in February in Berlin, but couldn’t get it
started because they didn’t have wooden dwellings there. They were brick and masonry. And they killed 25,000
people in one night. But LeMay General LeMay was
put in charge in the Pacific with the express
purpose from his bosses, General Norstad, later a
RAND trustee that I remember addressing about the [INAUDIBLE]
war and Hap Arnold, who created the RAND Corporation later. And LeMay actually was one of
the first sponsors of the RAND Corporation that I later
worked for and the airforce. But he sent 300 bombers,
only 300, on low altitude, 7,000 feet instead
of 25,000 or 30,000 so as to have more bomb-load
of incendiaries, napalm, white phosphorus, some others. I, by the way will come back
to this, but in Vietnam, I saw children in hospitals who
had been burned by our napalm– and the VC didn’t
have any of this– and our white phosphorus– the
napalm creates peculiar scars on people and on the children. The white phosphorous burns
through the skin to the bone. You see white bone from
the children in there. And actually, it is outlawed
under the Chemical Warfare Convention against civilians. It’s supposed to be used for
illumination and for smoke. Because and I’ve seen it dropped
in Vietnam from small planes. It’s very beautiful. You can’t miss white phosphorus. It comes up like this in a
wonderful fireworks display, if you like
fireworks, which I do. And nothing like it– extremely white, folks,
with little scarlet tips at the end of the
plumes on this. Except, as I say, I knew at that
point what I was looking at, that this burns
through to the bone. And as a former Marine,
I had said long– and I’d trained with
flamethrowers and napalm. I said to myself, I don’t
want to be defended by napalm. That may sound sentimental, but
I wasn’t alone in that point. There are other
stories about that. White phosphorus was just
used by Turkey against Kurds, in last week. And what came out yesterday
was that a number, dozens of British firms, had sold
the phosphorus to Turkey, which is being used
against Kurdish civilians as we speak right now. OK. Well, it was used
on Japan, Tokyo. I have believed for
a very long time that you can’t understand
the nuclear era unless you understand the strategic
bombing, the firebombing of World War II. You can’t understand
how we got where we are. I think I have to say
what happened in Tokyo on the night of March 9 and 10. More people were killed than
in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki on the first night and
virtually more than both of them together, between
80,000 120,000. It was the largest massacre
as LeMay boasted, the largest destruction of life
in human history. And actually, in
his memoir, he goes through the London Fire, the
Tokyo Fire, the San Francisco Fire– no. We did more than that. It was firebombing. It got a firestorm which means
that winds were brought in, because it was such a
widespread fire, that winds– it created its own weather. And winds were brought
in at hurricane force into this thing like a
bellows in a furnace bringing new oxygen to the
fire and increasing the temperature to over
1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. So people all– the oxygen
is burned in the shelters. They were asphyxiated
as in Dresden. How many of you have
read Slaughterhouse Five. Well, you’ve read
the description then. Well, Vonnegut was
in a slaughterhouse and thus survived, as a prisoner
of war, the Dresden bombing and came out and found
people dehydrated by the heat to the size
of little gingerbread men, basically. OK, well, in Tokyo,
a month later now, people as they say were
in the shelters were fixated. But if they tried with their
families and their babies– and the Japanese have infants
strapped either on their back or on their front
like swaddling, to escape the
shelters, they were turned into human
torches on the street because the asphalt had
melted, and it was burning. And they couldn’t move. And so the street was
filled with human torches. And many accounts of people
who survived seeing babies caught out by these hurricane
winds into the flames from their mothers’
arms or swaddling. But many of them set out to go
in the canals, which turns out, Tokyo then and now,
was crisscrossed with canals like Venice. And they went to the
canals to escape the heat. But the canals were boiling. And tens of thousands
boiled to death. And the smell of roasting
flesh sickened the pilots who were bouncing from
the air currents that were going up here. They had to put on oxygen masks
because they were nauseated by the smell of human flesh. OK, the point is, after that– this is six years
after FDR’s appeal. FDR was dead by this time, but
he had put all of this in– he was president under
Tokyo, under the Tokyo fire, during when that happened. LeMay proceeded under
this great success of destroying so much part
of Tokyo, so many people, to do the same tactics
and the same thing to the next 67 cities in a row. In fact, I just happen
to read yesterday, he took an almanac
by population. And he went down the list
of population for 67 cities. So they killed some
900,000 Japanese civilians before Hiroshima
or Nagasaki, which together added about 300,000
between the two of them. 1.2 million people
killed, which, by the way, is about how many were
killed in Auschwitz or gassed in Auschwitz. And actually, they
didn’t die better than the people in Auschwitz. Being burned alive it’s
not a better death. And if it sounds odd to hear,
I’m saying, yes, a Marine. I was trained to fight. I was a company commander. I was very proud of that. I was in Vietnam. Clearly, I was not a pacifist. And I’m not now a total
pacifist, although, much, much more skeptical of
any claimed rationale for going to war,
for killing people. But still, Marines know
they face this stuff. There are better and
worse ways to die. And actually, this
was a bad way. That’s why I didn’t want
to be protected by napalm. So the war ends. LeMay is made head of the second
head of Strategic Air Command, believes that he
has won a war, which was wrong, by bombing– not
by the atom bomb, by the way. He had mixed feelings
about using the atom bomb, actually, which he was in charge
of because, as his superior, in PACAF, Carl Spaatz had in
fact to have said, how can we justify a large airforce when
one plane does the work of 300? And they were very uneasy
about that at first. There is an irony here. I’m looking at my wife. It so happens that Carl
Spaatz is the godfather of one of Patricia’s brothers
and Curtis LeMay is the godfather of another. And “Rosie” O’Donnell, who lived
the bomb campaign into Tokyo is another godfather– a
strange thing, but trivia here. So the first atom
targets the planning, which is cities on population. Moscow, Kiev in Ukraine, and
so forth, Odessa, Leningrad. So the first 8
cities, and 11 cities, as we got a few more bombs. Then, when the Russians
got a bomb in ’49, pretty much when Szilard and
the others had predicted it, LeMay now could say,
ah, every air base in all of East Europe and
Russia is a potential source of attacks on it. So they’re targets. 500 targets were added almost
overnight to our target list. But we didn’t have
that many bombs. We had, by 1952, under
Truman, the bombs having gone onto
UMass production bases like the planes at Ford Willow
Run, of numbered about 1,000 all aimed at cities, basically. If I can leap ahead, if that
plan had been carried out, in the Berlin crisis in
’48, we wouldn’t be here because, for reasons no
one knew at that time, the firestorms created
by those atom bombs would have propelled
smoke upwards. We always thought
of the firestorm as intensely
causing temperatures that would kill people. But it has another effect. Where there’s
smoke, there’s fire. And that may seem a truism,
except from that date to this, we know the joint
chiefs have never included fire in the
effects of their war plans. It’s hard to calculate. They include blast, prompt
radiation, immediate heat, and followed, radioactivity
came from that, not fire because it’s too
hard to calculate, depends on the weather, it
depends on whether it’s wood, or what you’re dealing with. They’ve never counted
fire, and so they never really thought about smoke. But the smoke, as in some
of these other cities, in Tokyo, where there
were real firestorms, was not really a big problem. It dissipates. It’s rained out. The smoke from a firestorm is
propelled up by the firestorm into the upper troposphere, the
low edge of the stratosphere, where it is warmed
further by sunlight, and goes further into
the stratosphere, where it doesn’t rain out. And it surrounds the
globe fast within days, and prevents about– in a large war, which
is the only kind we’re prepared for with Russia, 70%
of the sunlight is blocked out. So the temperatures on the– in this age of global warming,
but for about a decade, or at least much of a decade,
certainly for several years, the temperatures actually
are like the ice age, killing at the very
least, all the harvests, below freezing part of every
night, if not during the day. All the harvests are
killed worldwide, most of the vegetation. And nearly everyone would starve
to death within about a year. I won’t go further into that. But world supplies of food
are about 60 days concentrated in some countries, like
ours that’s a food exporter. But we would stop exporting
very quickly, those of us who survived the blast and would
last a little longer than food importing countries, but not
a year and not 10 years, which is how this was long. So essentially,
if Truman’s plans had been carried out, as I said,
we’re lucky that didn’t happen. You wouldn’t be here. Those of the younger of you,
your parents would have died, you would have died– starved to death. Again, not a good way
to die, by the way. It’s not overnight, but you
watch your children go first and you old people. And that’s what happened to
nearly everybody in 1952. OK. Eisenhower comes in and
inherits 1,000 atom bombs. The H-bomb comes in, basically,
and is conceived in ’51, is tested pretty much in ’52. But the first droppable H-bomb
is in ’54 under Eisenhower. I have [INAUDIBLE]. How many people here,
very honestly, frankly, feel you know the
difference between and A-bomb and an H-bomb? I see maybe 15 hands. How many do not, actually? OK here, you’re tracking
here, and then some are not sure whether
a lot or do not know. But very– and we’re getting to
the end here the bottom line, to make it easy, the A-bomb
that destroyed Hiroshima and a plutonium
A-bomb on Nagasaki– 1,000 times more
than the blockbuster. A [INAUDIBLE] bomb works
by splitting heavy elements and releasing it [INAUDIBLE]. The H-bomb, so-called
is a hydrogen bomb because its fuel is basically
hydrogen, lithium deuteride, and hydrogen isotope and works
by fusing together the lightest element instead of the
heaviest, instead of splitting, and releases more
energy than the A-bomb. And the fastest way to
describe the difference that I was asking for is this way. Every H-bomb, of which
nearly all of our bombs are H-bombs and have been for
a long time, small or large, every H-bomb requires a Nagasaki
type A-bomb as its trigger, as its detonator,
the percussion cap. When you’re looking at a picture
of Nagasaki, which, by the way, I saw just the other day,
Nagasaki side by side with Tokyo– they look exactly the same
after the firebombing. You can’t really
see any difference. And by the way, the victims
look very much the same. Most of the people in
Nagasaki died from burns, not from [INAUDIBLE],, and the
same in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most died from burns. OK. What you’re looking at
in a picture of Nagasaki is the picture of what happens
to a city when you explode on it a trigger to a modern
thermonuclear weapon, an H-bomb, the percussion cap. As I say, Eisenhower inherited
roughly 1,000 A-bombs. By the time he left
office, eight years later, we had 21,000 nuclear
weapons, mostly H-bombs. That’s when I came– well, actually, I worked
under Eisenhower in ’58, ’59, ’60, the RAND Corporation. Then Kennedy came in. I worked a great
deal in the Pentagon. Kennedy inherits 21,000. And when Johnson leaves
office for Nixon, it’s 27,000 weapons, a much
smaller number of Russians at that point. Now, how did I, from my
13-year-old anguish about a nuclear era, come to be,
as I’ve alluded to right now, just– it’s in the book– working on war
planes, which I was. Well, because I was
told in top secret, as soon as I had a top secret
clearance in ’58 when I was 27– that the Russians had a
crash program of ICBMs. They were a little ahead
of us in testing an ICBM and were, as Hitler would have
done, had he had any bombs and had he had ICBMs, was
working night and day to have the ability to wipe out
our strategic air command and have a monopoly of nuclear
weapons around the world essentially and destroy us in
the process, their main rival. So just the way Szilard
ended up working on the bomb, with his misgivings about
the world coming to grief, I was working on war
planes for the same reason, to prevent a nuclear
war from happening. Szilard worried about
a German program that we had to be first on,
again, which didn’t exist, but it was plausible. I was worried about
a Soviet program as were all my colleagues,
and I learned it from them. Same reason– to prevent a
nuclear war from happening by having the ability
to retaliate as Szilard had been concerned. Now, actually, my mentor and
boss, Albert Wolfstedter, made the point very much
that it might be hard, under a Soviet surprise
attack, to ensure that they would lose people as
much as they had in World War II, which, as he
said in writing, they recovered from very
well in a few years. So that’s hardly a basis
for deterrence, adequately. So we were working
very hard to assure that, under the best possible
Soviet surprise attack, we would be able to
kill more than they had suffered in World War II. Now, as I say in the book,
one way of describing that was planning for
retaliatory genocide, killing 24, 20, 30, 40 million
people under any circumstances, a genocide. We obviously didn’t
think of it that way. It’s retaliation. But the concern, the
conscience of what could be done in the world,
had evolved quite a bit since September
1, 1941 with FDR. And again, I might
say, by the way, that, when I say I’m very
surprised to be here– when I looked around
in ’58, I was 27, when I went there permanently
I was 28, the other younger– the only other young
person in the department was Alain Enthoven leader and
Assistant Secretary of Defense. We were each about 28. RAND had a very generous
retirement fund. Actually, TIAA-CREF the
big university fund, which supplied– maybe
a lot of you have that. Lucky you. Because, very generous,
the institution provides more than half
of the money for that. Neither Alan nor
I joined TIAA-CREF because, in that period of the
missile gap where they were ahead of us, we didn’t
think there was a chance we would collect on that. We were doing our best. And I never got
around to doing it. Alain was smart enough, and
I was irresponsible here. I never got around to
joining a retirement plan. So UMass archive is
my retirement plan. I’ve been saying for years that
my retirement plan was prison. And we’ll see how
that comes out. But even if I’m in,
thanks to my archive, our son will be able to keep
their house, which did not appear to be in the cards. But I quoted Szilard in ’38,
he was actually the person who conceived the possi– he patented a nuclear reactor
which could make plutonium. But he and Enrico
Fermi were in charge of building the reactor
beneath a football field Stagg Field in Chicago,
University of Chicago. So Szilard was there the day
that they got the reactor going, which, by the
way, the Germans who did pursue an energy
program, not a bomb program, never got a reactor
program going. They had concluded the graphite
was not a suitable moderator. And Szilard had realized that
most graphite had was impure, had some boron, and you had
to have super-grade graphite without the boron to enable
you to have this reaction. And so he, again,
was, in effect, responsible for the
feasibility of this. And on December 6, 1941, ’42
rather, not Pearl Harbor Day. He watches the flashes
on the oscilloscope, and he encounters when
they take the rods out. The by the way, the rods with
the moderators were on ropes. And there were people
above standing there in a balcony with
axes to cut the ropes and get those rods back
as fast as possible so as not to blow up Chicago. But they didn’t have to. It worked. They watched for a while. They were getting a moderated
reaction, not a bomb, for reactors. And Szilard takes out– somebody brought out a flask
of Chianti, of pre-War, and they pass it around. The others leave, and
Szilard says to Fermi, this day will go down as a
black day in human history. Now, that actually
hasn’t happened, has it? I mean, first of all, you
don’t even know the day. I’ve forgotten here, but
certainly not thought a black day that we did that. And the war hasn’t happened. It wasn’t just Alain and I who
thought that war was likely. I don’t think any of the
Manhattan Project people who mostly became protesters
of the bomb and resistance later could imagine that 70
years would go by with no more nuclear explosions on people. Nobody expected that. Has to be explained. There’s various
ways to explain it. I’ll mention it came up
last night at dinner. How do you explain that? Many people see not only the
Hiroshima bomb as a savior, but the arms race
which did follow as having saved us from, not
only a big war with Russia, whether that was in
the cards or not, but a little war
with Russian troops. Till now, actually, we
haven’t shot Russians, and they haven’t shot
us with one exception during the Cuban
Missile Crisis when a Soviet Colonel
acting against orders shot down Major
Anderson in his U2. And that was the casualty as
an overt casualty in the war. How come we haven’t
had a war that could have escalated in here? Well, the bombs on both sides– people very cautious. So people are very
grateful to them. Why change this? It’s worked so far. And that’s not
without plausibility. I would say it’s not even
without some truth, actually. I won’t go through
the whole argument. But I think, for example,
had the Russians not had a deterrent as
of ’49, we would have used nuclear weapons in Korea. We would use them if
we’d had a monopoly. And if the Chinese had
not developed a weapon in ’64, which I was in
the Pentagon at that time, and I remember
the day very well, we would have used nuclear
weapons in Vietnam. And we had the plans for it,
and we had the readiness for it, and we had everything else. But the Chinese had a weapon. So the stand-off
together kept us– and by the way, the
war from happening. Very good. Except at the cost of a
genuine non-zero risk, a positive risk much– small year by year, year
by year, occasionally high in the Cuban Missile Crisis– and I don’t have
time to go into that, but I do in the book, of course. And in another
case that you don’t know about I’m almost
sure, 1983 when Andropov believed that Reagan
was crazy and preparing a first strike with his
talk of an evil empire and with the biggest buildup
of first-strike weapons since Kennedy and the
biggest, till now, under Obama and Trump. Is it possible that Putin
thinks the current president is a little deranged and
impulsive and hard to predict, as Andropov thought? And Andropov was
ready to preempt that, to go first rather than second. In the belief held
by our own Air Force, wrongly, that going first has to
be at least as good or better. Actually not. With nuclear winter
hitting even a few city– well, a couple of
hundred, I meant to say a couple
hundred cities– which, we had targeted in ’61 every
city over 100,000 in the Soviet Union and 80% of those over
10,000 in the Soviet Union and every city in China. OK, more than enough to
cause nuclear winter. But any war now would
cause a nuclear winter. Going against military
targets, so many of them are in the cities or near
cities, the cities would go. Had Andropov done what
he was ready to do in ’83 and had a false alarm in
the very midst of that in which the Colonel Stanislav
Petrov was told by all of his subordinates,
announce that we’re under attack because the
alarms were going off, red lights refreshing,
the screens were showing five missiles
on their way to Russia, and he wasn’t sure and
didn’t want to end the world. And he lied to his superiors
and said below Andropov, but up to Adropov, not what
he thought, which was that it was perhaps
a 50% chance that they were under attack. His subordinates thought 100%. He wasn’t sure because the
ground-based radars were not yet showing what they
should have been showing. So he wasn’t sure
which ones are wrong. But instead of saying
50%, which is– he told me indirectly
in a message– he knew would cause
them to preempt. He lied and said, false alarm. And he wasn’t sure of that. And he waited for
the next 10 minutes to see whether it turned out. He was censured for this
for lying to his superiors. He was forced out. He had a breakdown,
this and that. He died recently. Stanislav Petrov, there
is a BBC film about him, other films with
the title, The Man Who Saved the World,
which is true. We would not be
here if Petrov had said either we’re under attack
or there’s a 50% chance we’re under attack. Because they were poised to go. So we wouldn’t be here. In 1961, I was working then
on these plans in the belief that the Russians had a great
many more missiles than we had. We had 40 intercontinental
ballistic missiles. About 40 submarine
missiles, [INAUDIBLE],, and actually close to 4,000
planes within range of Russia– slow moving planes, in effect,
but they had the ICBMs. Later that year I was
at Strategic Air Command headquarters. LeMay is now the Vice
Chief of the Air Force, and his power was now
the SAC headquarters was the commander that LeMay
had managed to replace Power. Power, by the way, had done
what LeMay wanted to do and led the raid into– by the way, Power
is not a godfather, I think of any of your– brothers. But Power was now the chief,
regarded by his subordinates, by the way, as clinically
insane and paranoid and cruel, a sadist. But anyway, that’s
another story. But he was in charge of SEC,
in charge of the war plan. And he said the Russians, in
August of ’61, had 1,000 ICBMs. And I tell, there is a more,
almost a funny story connected with that, oddly enough. But the actual reality is
we knew, two months later, after our reconnaissance
satellites had finally gone through the whole of
all the possible things. They didn’t have 1,000. They had 4. We had 40. We had thousands of planes,
2,000 strategic bombers. I said 4, but a better
figure was 3,000– 2,000 strategic bombers
and 1,000 tactical bombers in range. They had 4 ICBMs at that point. So that was a total myth at
that point, basically a hoax by the Air Force, which
was trying to get thousands of Minuteman missiles. And it couldn’t do that if
the Russians had 4 ICBMs. But once we learned,
did it change actually, which we learned in
October, on a program. At this point, we had
no Minuteman missiles. Did we say to the
Air Force, you can’t have the 10,000 LeMay asked
for or even the 6,000, or the 1,600 that– you kind of know. Boeing and Lockheed and
Raytheon and General Dynamics were building missiles. And there were contracts to
be had as there are today when there is not a single
excuse for there being ICBMs, even from a Cold
War point of view, in a world where both sides have
submarine-launched missiles. But in April, having written
the guidance for the war plans and how could I
do that at 30 years old? How is a 30-year-old–
a friend of mine said, that’s frightening. At 30, you were writing the
guidance for the war plan? Yeah, it is frightening,
but you should have seen the plan I was
replacing by Eisenhower. But in the course of that– I have run out of
time here, I know. But this is, in
a way, the point. In order to embarrass
the joint chiefs about their current
plans, which called for hitting every city
in Russia and China and so forth on the first
strike on everything else, I asked a number of
questions for McNamara to send to the joint chiefs. And one of those questions
was picked up by the Deputy to McGeorge Bundy in the
White House, Robert Komer. And he sent it to
the joint chiefs in the name of the
President, John F. Kennedy. How many people will be killed
in the Soviet Union and China alone if your plans are
carried out as planned? And remember, they will
first-strike plans. Our commitment to
NATO was then and now to initiate nuclear war,
first-use, first-strike against the overwhelming
non-nuclear forces of the Soviet Union. Well, the Soviet
Union is no more. Russia has tremendously
gone down, I think. I don’t know. I think their
forces are something on the order of 10% of
ours, something like that, except for their nuclear
forces, which are quite parity. And we still have the first-use
commitment as a basis of NATO. Nobody can get out
after the Cold War over. If the plan is carried out,
how many people will be killed? And I said only the
Soviet Union and China because I thought they
didn’t have an answer. I’d been told by colonels,
they’d never computed that. They didn’t want to know it
any more than they wanted to know about smoke because, if
you knew about another effect, you’d need less planes,
less bombs to do it. So forget about smoke. Well, they weren’t
thinking about smoke in the stratosphere. But they came back
with an answer. I was wrong. Like, I said, only the
Soviet Union and China because they didn’t want
them to say, wait, we have to compute Albania here. Give us a little more time. And so– no, just
the Soviet Union. the answer came back in a chart
with a horizontal axis time to allow for fallout
to kill more people over a six-month
period, month by month, vertical axis of fatalities,
not casualties, fatalities. And I won’t take
time at this point to do a quiz of how many
people you might think the joint chiefs would tell the
president that, if he ordered us to carry out our commitment
to NATO, how many people would be killed in the
Soviet Union and China. And I’ll just say, when I
do ask that, people often guess 10 million. Come on, 10 million
in Moscow alone. It’s got to be higher than that. 20 million, The number was
275 million in the first week. But then over six months,
there were 50 million more from fallout and
325 million six months. Well, they had a calculation,
which I hadn’t expected. So we asked another question
from the White House. How many altogether? And that came back,
not in a graph, but a chart which– in a table. And that said
another 100 million on top of the 325 million,
another 100 million in East Europe, the
captive nations, in part by hitting
radar stations and air defenses and whatnot
so that our bombers could get through to Moscow, 100
million people of Hungarians and Poles and
Romanians, whatnot. Another 100 million
in West Europe, NATO, depending on the winds,
which depended on the weather, from fallout without
a single warhead of ours falling on West Europe. Keeping in mind, by
the way, this did not include Russian retaliation. And although they had
only four ICBMs in ’61, they had hundreds of
medium-range missiles in range of Europe. So they would have wiped out
Europe, whatever the weather was, without the wind. But we ourselves would destroy
100 million people in NATO. And another 100 million–
this is roughly, but it’s pretty close,
in contiguous areas, neutral countries, like Sweden,
Finland, Austria, Afghanistan, Japan, more or less
of an ally, India– a total of 600 million. So I thought that’s
100 holocausts. And I looked at that piece
of paper, at the first 325, and I thought, this
is the most evil plan that has ever existed. And this wasn’t some
hypothetical thing in the future what war
might involve or whatnot. This was the annual operational
plan for the actual existing forces on alert as they are
now in Minuteman missiles to go if either the
president, or as I do, and I won’t go into this,
somebody else, ordered them to go. It was not only the
president who could do this. There was an almost
unknown number of fingers on the
button, then and now. And you don’t have to
worry, then or ever that, if Washington is
destroyed by a terrorist bomb or by a bomb or by, if
the president is killed, that our forces
will be paralyzed. We and the Russians have
always delegated in a way that if communications
are out with the capital, you can be sure that the forces
are released and will carry out their plans. And that’s probably true
in every nuclear state, certainly, in a number of them. How many fingers on the button? Almost no head of
state probably knows. It’s very hard to
know exactly who might do it without
authorization or with authorization. But the point I
was looking at was, this gave me a question about
my species and about my country, America, that had certainly
not in my mind before. I knew by this time, how many
civilians we had deliberately targeted in World War II. But that had, after all,
been started by the Nazis and started– they declared war
on us before we– by the Japanese. And then I cut and end to that. I knew a lot of people
would be killed. In fact, I’d been helping to
make sure that a lot of people would be killed if
we were attacked. This was a first
strike, 600 million? Now, the reality
was, first of all, they weren’t counting fire,
so that would have taken up to 1 billion right away. The world population
was 3 billion, so it’s one third of
the Earth’s population. And as Edward Teller, who
invented the H-bomb with Stan Ulam, has said, including
in my presence, at the most, with H-bombs would kill a third
of the Earth’s population, 2/3 left– wrong. OK, the smoke would
kill everybody. And that was true, and
it’s true right now. In other words, we do have
what Herman Kahn, my colleague at RAND called a doomsday
machine, which he conjectured, at the time, was a concept
that was just a mind experiment that no one
would ever want to build. Who would want to kill everyone? What for? Well, no one wanted
to kill everyone. In fact, no one ever
except– conceivably LeMay– and that’s not a joke. No one wanted a first strike
in this country or in Russia. Nobody wanted to carry out those
plans when it comes down to it. As Reagan put it in ’85, ’86,
a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought,
which he said with Gorbachev. But he did not say,
must not be threatened, must not be prepared
for, must not be readied, must not be risked. And every president
since, for the last 50– since 1950 or so
has been prepared, has made first-use threats,
sometimes very explicitly in a given moment, secretly
from the American public, other times not– been prepared to carry this out. The $1.7 trillion
modernization program in this country and a comparable
one in Russia is to, quote, “modernize” our
doomsday machines, which is what they are. And nobody wants
them to be launched except that, if they are,
which is absolutely possible, everybody goes. Not everybody. Extinction is not
really a problem. It’s kind of a straw man. Maybe as much as
10% of the people would survive according
to [INAUDIBLE] on mollusks and seafood on the coasts of
Australia and New Zealand. That’s 70 million people, a
lot of people, historically. But 90%, gone within a year. Do we have a right to
have such a capability with a non-zero possibility
of its actually going off. And let me tell you, it has
never been close to zero. And there have been a number
of times when it is very high. In fact, it was the way
to bet on October 26, 1962 when I was in the Pentagon and
working for the White House. If you’d known
everything at that time, and it’s in the book,
you’d have to say, this is going to happen. It’s going to go off. We didn’t know about
nuclear winter, 600 million. McNamara, my boss, that night
on Saturday night, October 26, looked, as he left the White
House at a beautiful sunset as he left the White House
to go back to the Pentagon, and he’s recorded several
times, I thought to myself, I might never see
another sunset. Well, if he didn’t see
another sunset, who would? Not his family, not
the rest of America, not US, not NATO, not Asia. And this is to say, what
we now know is nobody, not the southern hemisphere, no. Did he tell the president
this must not happen. You’ve got to accept Kristof’s
latest offer of the trade? No, he didn’t. He went back to the Pentagon
and prepared to carry it out. He was not the worst human
that’s ever lived by any means. He was very smart and really
had very liberal instincts in many ways. And he was against
nuclear weapons. And yet he records that he
was in a chain of command, which he felt– another way he
other put it was I might never see
another Saturday night. Well, that’s a whole week away– one sunset, one day away. Nor did anybody else tell the
country or, nor, of course, deny that. And in other words, we’re always
hearing about that’s not us, and that’s not American,
that’s not who we are. Well, I’m telling you who
we are, among other things, including some very
good things, is a country that has
constructed a doomsday machine and is in the process
of reconstructing it. As is Russia, as is
eight other countries to a somewhat lesser extent. If India and Pakistan
go to war over Kashmir, which they are fighting each
other over right now, if they go to war and it
escalates to nuclear war, it will not cause
nuclear winter. It will only starve, according
to [INAUDIBLE],, calculated this, about 2 billion
people out of 7.4. Do we have the right to be
threatening that, planning it, preparing it, risking
It how can that be possible? And yet, we’re learning
a lot of things about who we are that we didn’t know. I’ve learned more about who
we are since Charlottesville in the study of Civil War
and racism in this country than I ever knew before. Who we are is a country where
the president’s base of support that will allow him to do
anything as we’re hearing today in polls is actually,
among other things, good people by many, many
different standards– and they are racists, they’re
misogynist, and homophobic, and fundamentalist, and
absolutely supportive of Israel among other things because,
unless all the Jews go back to Israel– I’m talking about
the fundamentalists who are 38% of America– unless all the Jews
go back to Israel, the messiah cannot come. The second coming cannot come. Pre-millenial
dispensation was here. And the rapture can’t happen. So that’s who we are to
a considerable extent. I’ll close with this. I was late, and I wish
I’d come to it earlier. My hero now– there’s no one
I admire more in this world than 16-year-old Greta
Thunberg at this moment. [APPLAUSE] And my wife and I– let me get one
piece of good news. I was unhappy– we met her. We had a good long talk
with her in Sweden, joined her in her strike in
front of Parliament on a snowy Friday morning, about
60 people from school. Two months later, thanks to
her, 1.6 million young people have struck from school. Two months later, on a Friday
morning, leaving that school and so forth– last October, 4 to
6 million abroad. However, she has her eye
very much on the ball. And what I learned–
and she doesn’t say– she says the question is,
are the emissions going down? And they aren’t. Now, what I learned this
afternoon, two hours ago is, I was unhappy when she didn’t
get the Nobel Prize, which she was so odds on for. But I said to Patricia,
when that happened, there isn’t a person on this
planet whose behavior will be less affected
or whose mood will be less affected by whether
she does or does not win the Nobel Prize. I was sure of that. Well, this afternoon,
it turns out that last night she was given
an award by the Nordic Council for awakening a debate on the
world on this, which carries with it a prize of 370,000
Danish krone or $52,000, which she turned
down this morning. And she said, the environmental
movement, the climate movement does not need awards. We don’t need more awards. He said, you Nordic
countries talk a good game. He said you have a reputation
for environment and whatnot, but your emissions are going up. And what counts is
action, is getting the emissions going down. And now I will end with
a piece of good news, not on climate actually,
but on what could be done. Somebody asked me yesterday,
a professor here, [INAUDIBLE],, a question in my
lecture, can you think of any catastrophes
that have been averted by a whistleblower
or political action or by prompt action
of some kind? Climate, not really no, no, no. I actually couldn’t
think of anything. I said I’m sure
there are things, but I haven’t ever been
asked that question before, and nothing comes
to mind right away. And then I realized
later, quite wrong. That was really wrong. Now, Patricia, you
all remember, when we talked to Greta in Sweden,
I wanted to tell her– I said I’m very
appreciative of the fact that you are not
just demonstrating, that you’re striking. You’re taking off
during the school day, exposing yourself to a risk,
and kicked out of school, and not getting
[INAUDIBLE] and so forth. And I said there is actually
a very promising precedent for that. And this is what could
have been my answer to [? Isabella ?] yesterday. On October 15, 1969, 50
years ago plus a few days, 50 years ago, 2 million people
marched not on a Saturday or Sunday, but on a weekday. It was a general strike
against the war on Vietnam. They had thought of calling
it a general strike, which is what it was. Take off from universities,
take off from work on a weekday, and hear speeches,
demonstrate, lobby Congress, do this and that. But they were a little
worried about calling it a strike sounded
too provocative. So they called it a
moratorium, basically banks– not business as
usual, moratorium. What none of them knew,
including me at that point– and I had started copying the
Pentagon Papers on October 1, 1969, 50 years ago,
last October 1, I started copying
the Pentagon Papers. I had worried that the war would
lead to nuclear war eventually, but probably not until an
offensive sometime in ’72. When the offensive did occur
in ’72, Nixon was heard on the tapes– if any of you seen these? How many did we kill? How many have we killed in Laos. Kissinger says about
200,000 civilians. Nixon says very matter of
factly, oh, oh, no, no, I’d rather use a nuclear bomb. Got that Henry? Kissinger says
[INAUDIBLE],, oh, I think that would
be just too much. That bothers you Henry,
the nuclear bomb? I just want you to think
big for Christ’s sakes. This is where we have come. This is where we–
and where I afraid we would be coming in ’69. But what I didn’t know was that
Nixon had plans for nuclear war in ’69 on November 3, the
anniversary of the bombing halt, which he
felt had cost him– almost almost cost him the
election a year earlier. So he had made threats
directly through the Russians and directly to the Vietnamese,
a massive escalation, going into Laos, going into
Cambodia, going into Vietnam, mining, hitting the
dikes after all, and nuclear targets
had been hit. Nobody in those 2 million people
knew, including me as I say. I was copying the Pentagon
Papers because someone here– well, first of all,
someone here [? Janaki ?] who introduced me to Gandhian
thinking a year earlier and had led me to be at the
War Resisters League Conference in Haveford in
August, war resisters being a group with the honorary
chairman of Albert Einstein, conscientious objectors
during and after World War I in World War II. I went to that
conference, and there I heard another friend here
[? Randy ?] Keilar who was on his way to prison who
had put in my mind the thought, it could be worth going to
prison to help in this war because I can see the effect on
me of [? Randy ?] doing that. He’s showing me that that’s
something I could do. I could pull out
the Pentagon Papers and go to prison for life. I could do other things. Because he’s not that
different from me– younger there in Harvard. And so I’d copy the
Pentagon Papers, but not with the
thought that we were averting nuclear war in ’69,
which we were doing and did. And Nixon himself
says, I understood from those demonstrations
on October 15 and another one on November,
bracketing the time he intended to launch nuclear
war, 2 million people in the streets when
they didn’t know he was planning nuclear war– not good if he used nuclear
weapons at that point. The country would
have shut down. It wouldn’t have been to 1.2
schoolkids, general strike, I believe, we’re ready for it. And it would have happened. So he didn’t do it. Actually, how many people
here remember October 15 and November 15, 1969? OK. Some of you I think we’re
not very old at that point. There were people in
strollers on their back. They were doing exactly
what their parents were doing, preventing nuclear war. Nothing less than that is going
to make the moral change here and the planning change,
the operational change, and the institutional change– nothing less than that. And that could only be
one thing among many. But a readiness to take
risks, a readiness to show, a willingness to stop
business as usual to get in the wheels of
the war machine, like I said in Berkeley, all of that
will be necessary and more. Is it likely to change things? Greta Thunberg said, in one
of her recent speeches– and they’re collected
in a little book that you should get. She says to a group
of parliamentarians, here’s what has to be done. I don’t believe, for
a second, that you will rise to that challenge. But I hope I’m wrong. That’s what she said. Well, that’s where I am. After all, that’s
not an idle hope. I started this whole thing
by saying, after all, I was wrong that we couldn’t
get through 70 years without a nuclear war. It actually happened,
could happen again. It was a miracle, as
far as I see, a miracle. It took a luck, tremendous luck. But it happened. And it was possible. In the Soviet
Union, I don’t think there was one person in
the world would have said, in 1983, the Berlin Wall
will be down in 1989. That wasn’t unlikely. That was impossible. Nobody even thought of it. And when Reagan did say,
take down that wall, he was kidding or
something, you know? Nobody thought, yeah, nice
thing to say, but impossible. But it happened. Tony Lewis said a majority
rule in South Africa, in The New York Times
without a violent revolution? Impossible. It happened. The impossible happened. Actually, the change that needs
to take place in this country and the rest of the
world is not less than what happened under
Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, not less than what happened
in South Africa, which did not create any heaven on
earth in either case, but which was just the
impossible happening. And that’s what Greta
Thunberg is saying, yes, it is not impossible. It is possible. And that’s what we have
to work with and enlarge. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] I used up the time, but do
you want to go on, or not? I’m happy to, but– We’ll do a couple. We’ll do a couple questions. We’ll do a couple. OK. Thank you. Hello, there. My name is Rob Cox. I’m one of the gnomes who
works in the archive up in special collections. [APPLAUSE] Dan has said how surprised
he is to be here. And I think listening to
everything you said tonight, I think we’re all
surprised to be here. But we’re also
grateful to be here. And I’m really very happy that
Dan is a member of the UMass family now. So if we can just
say thank you again. [APPLAUSE] But I think one thing I was– I’m tempted as a
former paleontologist to talk about extinction, but
I won’t subject you to that. But as a historian,
I’m particularly grateful to hear
how Dan has tied his history into the issues that
are so current for us today. And there’s no better evidence
of how these archives will affect, as we go forward, will
affect what we think and do in the world around us. So with that, what
I’d like to do is open the floor for just a
couple of questions for Dan if anybody has it. I’ll try to point people out. I will warn you that, because
I don’t wear my glasses, I can’t see beyond
the first row. But give it a shot. We have one right back
there in the middle of the aisle if we have
somebody with a microphone. And please do speak up,
and we’ll try to get you– to the question to Dan. And with my hearing, I may
have to have it repeated. by Robert. Hi, Daniel Ellsberg, I covered
you, actually, in Berkeley. My name is Helen [? Berg. ?]
And you divulged the Pentagon Papers during what was known
as the living room war. We knew about it. We are not getting
the video of anything. Nothing’s in real time anymore. Nothing is alive. Everything is canned. Could you comment on Julian
Assange and his ability to even survive the treatment. Because apparently
his health is so bad. Yes, I’m glad to. I can hear. I’m OK. Absolutely. As a matter of
fact, I just signed a letter this afternoon, about
three hours ago, addressed– I mean this sounds bizarre,
actually, I’ll just tell you. It’s addressed to the Queen of
England, the House of Lords, the chief prosecutors,
four or five people on the addresses,
very well written by a friend of mine,
[? Diana ?] Johnstone pointing out that
Julian Assange is in danger of dying where he is. He was just in court
after nearly a year now of solitary confinement
where they’re keeping him in to decide whether to extradite
him to the US for a clearly political crime. And by the way, he’s not
under charges in Sweden, sexual thing. He is not under
charges for anything he did in 2016,
which I, by the way, disagree with very
much for his judgment, but I don’t hold
a friend of mine very accountable for judgment
after seven years in one room, it so happens. But that’s not what
he’s charged with. He’s charged with putting out
what Chelsea Manning gave him– and Bradley Manning– collateral murder. How many people have
seen that video? I’m sorry to say only a handful. Take a look up on YouTube,
and just put the words, “collateral murder,”
and you’ll see it. It’s in several forms, some
kind of a 15-minute form, and then there’s
a 38-minute form was put out that Julian put out. And then, because
he was dissatisfied with the distribution
of that, the next time, Chelsea Manning gave
him a 100,000 documents, which I couldn’t have
done in the age of Xerox, but in digital form, revealing
torture by US people, handing people over to
Iraqis to be tortured– a crime. Should have been disobeyed,
should have been exposed. That’s a guilty– only
Chelsea exposed it, of all the people who
knew all that was true, et cetera, et cetera. That’s what he put out, gave
to a number of newspapers so it couldn’t be a blanket. That’s what he’s charged with. In other words– journalism. I was the first
person in this country to be charged under the
Espionage Act or any act for disclosing
classified information, unauthorized
disclosure, leaking. I was not the first to leak. I didn’t invent that. But I was the first
to be prosecuted. After me, two others,
one of which was dropped, case was dropped, the [? APAC ?]
case, actually involving Israel, was dropped, the case. Obama brings nine prosecutions
for that under the Espionage Act. Inevitably, Trump has
brought eight prosecutions in his first two years. Obama was under
eight years, nine, three times more
than anybody before. I mean, all presidents
before, put together. Trump has matched
that in two years, and, obviously, he’s
going on, and now to get to your question,
Assange is the first person in American history, as a
journalist, to be tried under– the other rest of us
were sources to the press and should not have been
tried under the Espionage Act. It was impossible. It is impossible to get a
fair trial for a whistleblower or a leaker. The current whistleblower,
the anonymous whistleblower, is using a new
Act, which did not exist in our day, which
supposedly keeps them anonymous and keeps them from
prosecution because they went– she or he went through channels. The president is clearly calling
on his vigilante constituency, 40% of the public, to kill
this treasonous spy, person, who revealed the Ukraine thing. She or he has a target on her
back painted by the president. And the Republicans, yesterday
in questioning Vindman, spent most of their time
trying to get him to tell who this whistleblower was. So for what purpose? Not to prosecute. You can’t prosecute her. Now, it so happens– I say her. I hope it’s a she
because everybody is gone assuming it’s a
he, but it would be nice if it turns out that it
is someone like Katharine Gun in England who is
the subject of the movie, Official Secrets,
which I urge you to see if you haven’t seen it. She’s a great whistleblower. This whistleblower,
the law required, when her hearsay, secondhand
testimony as the president points out, was confirmed
by first-hand people, like Vindman who just
testified yesterday, the IG was then, under the
law, the Inspector General, compelled to give that
information to Congress with no investigate– if
he had not confirmed it, he doesn’t have to give it. He did confirm it, but he
sent it to the White House and to the CIA general counsel. And they bottled it
up, held onto it, locked up the conversation. And it would not have
gotten out despite her going through channels and whatnot. What would she or he have done
had it been totally bottled up? We don’t know. Would she have then gone on
her own to Congress or not? We don’t know. It wasn’t tested. Because some
unauthorized leakers, risking prosecution for
giving classified information, told Congress that
the complaint existed. So Congress was able to
issue a subpoena for it and actually get what
we’re now hearing is a partial transcript. Some of you will
remember the first set of transcripts we got from Nixon
with all the expletives deleted and a lot missing from them. And eventually,
thanks to a number of people, Alex Butterfield,
we got the tapes and so forth. OK, history is repeating,
in other words. I was sure that that
transcript they put out was not the whole transcript. What Vidman testified
yesterday was, well, they cut out a lot of discussion
of Biden, a lot of discussion. The quid pro quo is
much more explicit. In the end, the full thing,
which we haven’t gotten yet. Congress hasn’t yet gotten it. Will somebody leak it or not? Come back to Assange. Assange then, these
are all sources. But Assange was in the position
of a publisher, of an editor. If he is extradited in the
current state of the courts, he will be convicted, probably
for life or something else. Meanwhile, he’s being held,
and he will be the first. There will be no First Amendment
worth discussing anymore. There are reporters who,
like him, will go to jail, and most of them won’t actually. So we’ll get government
handouts from now on, and we’ll have more wars
like Vietnam and Iraq and Somalia and Sudan,
more than we have already. It’ll be really very secret. We might even not
know that tanks are going to Syria this week,
days after the president says he’s getting out of
Syria, making people mad. We are now getting into combat
with US troops protecting the oil from who? ISIS. As he said, ISIS
has been destroyed. Well, it hasn’t
actually been destroyed, but they’re not going
to control the oil– protecting it from the Syrian
government, the Russians, and the Iranians that are there. So we’re putting
combat troops in there for oil, as in the case of Iraq,
exactly, clear-cut aggression. I’ll just mention to you, with
all I’ve been saying here, we’ve managed– neither side has managed to
shoot the other for 50 years here now. Except for Major
Anderson, Russians haven’t shot Americans except
actually on covert missions. They have shut down some of
our reconnaissance planes. We’ve shut down some of theirs. But we don’t admit
any of that, so it doesn’t cause a big escalation. There are now how many countries
that are nuclear capable are fighting in
Syria in one country? Well, there’s been Israel,
France, Britain, the US, Russia, Turkey, still a NATO
ally and a first-use nation, that has just announced
they want to get their own nuclear weapons. So they’re all in one country
fighting people, sometimes this group, sometimes
that group, and so forth. This is dangerous. It’s very dangerous. OK, Assange puts out
that kind of stuff. Meanwhile, after seven
years in one room, actually a couple of rooms. He could move
around a little bit. But no sunlight for seven
years– he was out on a balcony a couple of times. But when I visited him,
there were British police on the next building
watching him 24 hours a day to see if he got on that
balcony and jumped down. So no sunlight– he’s
very light-skinned, white-haired anyway. Now he looks terrible. And the last time I saw
him, he was terrible. But he’s worse now. He’s in solitary
awaiting extradition. Now, their excuse is we can’t
count on him not to flee. Well, that in itself
is fair enough. He did go to the
embassy before, OK. Solitary? 23 hours a day? When he goes to his
cell block to exercise for one hour, part of an hour. The others all have to be
locked up so no communication. When he recently testified
in court for the first time, since he’s been
incarcerated here, he couldn’t remember
his name or his age. He’s in very bad shape. He’s, in effect, being tortured. Solitary confinement
is torture, and that’s what he’s been for a long time. So anyway, the appeal– actually, I wrote this
letter, and I said, look, you’re going on legal grounds. It’s very clear, of course,
he should not be extradited. Of course, he
should be released. Of course, these
political prisoners should not be subject
extradition in February. But I did say to
[? Diana, ?] I must say, don’t hold up the
petition on my account. But I do have to
say, shouldn’t there be mention of the fact of his
mental or health condition and a humanitarian
aspect to this? So what it comes
down to, unless there is a hell of a lot
more attention on this than there ever has been– and many people hate
Julian, a lot of them without good reason, and a
lot of them with good reason, basically, because of 2016. But the fact is that
if he is convicted over here and extradited, there will
be no more First Amendment. Forget it. And on this thing– won’t be just sources– pure censorship. I don’t want to exaggerate here. There will be a few people
like James Risen and Sy Hersh and whatnot who will not
reveal their sources, and who will go to jail, but
that will not be the norm. So there has to be a
change in the law here that permits a justification
defense, which– I seem to be going on here. But last week, the
Kings Bay Plowshares 7 was not allowed
to argue in court to show witnesses like me. They wanted to call me– as to why they had poured
blood on Trident missiles in Trident– and not
a statue some statue trident they had gone into
the King’s Bay Trident Base in Georgia, some of them been
in jail for 18 months now. Last week they were
tried without being able to argue that they
had a reason for doing it– irrelevant. Did you go in? Did you trespass? Yeah. The necessity defense would
have been to say, yeah, we broke the law. That’s an evil. But in a way, it’s a lesser
evil than omincide, which is what Trident is built for. And if the Tridents at that
base ever launch their missiles, it’s over. Not if one missile goes off. That doesn’t do it. But if they’d launched a whole– if one Trident submarine
launched all of its warheads as it’s entitled to,
that’s the effect of an India-Pakistan war. I just got the calculation
from environmental science– 2 billion dead. One Trident
submarine– we have 14, and we’re building new
ones because building them is profitable, has votes,
district, and the ICBMs, as I said. So It goes off a little. But what I’m saying is, they
weren’t allowed a justification defense. So they told me, you
don’t have to come. They wouldn’t allow you
to testify last week. No whistleblower
has been allowed to say why they did
what they did to a jury. That started with me. I wasn’t allowed to say that. That law has to change. That’s ridiculous. And that means take the
current whistleblower revealing criminality. If they hadn’t gone through
channels, which almost were blocked illegally, if the other
people hadn’t revealed that to Congress, the other people
who revealed that, revealing classified
information, that means they could be prosecuted
under the Espionage Act. And they could not
tell why they did. And they couldn’t say, but what
we’re revealing was a crime. Yeah, but it was classified. How did it get classified? As Vindman testified
yesterday, what we’ve heard of it, from a
statement, it was unclassified. It had nothing to do
with national security. It had to do with presidential
extortion, abuse of power in order to get personal
benefit in an election by smearing his rival. It had nothing to do
with national security, but it was a crime. So crimes have to be classified. So it was locked up, locked
up in a higher than top secret security system, which
they’re also using to hide transcripts– this
has come out– of Trump’s discussions
with Putin and with Erdogan are in that same computer. It’s higher than top secret. It’s for the purpose of
communications intelligence, for assassination plots,
for coups, whatever, higher than top secret. This, a discussion of, I want
you to get dirt on Biden. Well, it’s classified. So the people who
leaked that would be subject to the Espionage Act. It’s an absurd situation. And of course, it’s
not only this country. In England, it would
be open and shut. But even and so,
we’re saying, look, we’ve got to get
Assange out of there. We’ve got to get Assange
out of that jail. And so an appeal is
being made to the court. So we’ll see. Long answer, sorry. I think we have time
for one more question. And we do have a reception
out there at the end just so you know. And can we go up here? Rob, please, could we– I can’t hear. We have a question here. Oh, all right. I’m just standing up to
exercise [INAUDIBLE].. Hi. So my name is Matt, and
I’m a freshman here. I’m just wondering,
in your opinion, what can kids my age
and my generation as a whole do to follow
in your footsteps to try and hold the
government more accountable? I think the question
is, what would you suggest to people
of his generation, they could do to follow
in your footsteps? Oh, well, look, without
[? Randy ?] Keilar, when he was– how old were you
when you went to prison 25? [INAUDIBLE] In ’70, ’69, I was what? [INTERPOSING VOICES] 38 38. 38. What? 38. Is that right? I’m 88. Arithmetic is not my forte. Without [? Jonica ?] here
introducing me to Gandian thought, which [? Randy ?]
was following, Barbara Deming. I saw there was just a lecture
about Barbara Deming here. Barbara Deming’s
Revolution & Equilibrium changed my life a long– I read it around the same
time as [? Randy. ?] Very, very important,
Revolution & Equilibrium. The only time I met her
was on May Day 1971. I see her on 14th Street where
we’re trying to stop traffic. And I recognized her. And I had her book with
me expecting go to prison. Her book, Revolution
& Equilibrium. I thought, if they let
me have a book in prison, I’ll take this in. And there was she along with
Ben Spock talking to each other. And I went and got her to
autograph her book for me, anyway. So a first answer is inform
yourselves and others. Where was the person
who asked that? Hard to see, there, OK. May I take one moment to
say the most embarrassing– I can’t see anything
here because there’s a light right into my eyes. The most embarrassing moment
of my life that I can remember is that there was a
film showing about us. And I was getting up
afterwards, in ’71– this was with Patricia–
to speak to the audience after the film. The lights were in the eyes, so
the audience was totally black. I couldn’t see anything. So I wanted– like
now pretty much I think– so I wanted
the guy with the lights up there either
to turn those down or to bring the house lights up. So I said, OK, bring the house
lights up, then I can see. I can see most of you know. So I went like this. I was looking up
there, and like, uh– and people began
one by one raggedly to get up for a standing
ovation thinking that I was summoning them up
for a standing ovation here, whatnot. That was a bad moment. But anyway, on this,
I believe, by the way, I would like to see Greta’s– it will depend on youth
to a large extent. They are doing that. And the strike, as I told you,
going back to the moratorium, prevented nuclear war. I thought for a
long time that you have to have a movement first. You have to have the awareness. But the tactic– much
better than a demonstration. And I’ll tell you, I would
not have copied the Pentagon Papers, and I did
not think of it, on the basis of the
Saturday morning and Sunday morning days off
of people demonstrating. Sorry. It was fine to do that,
but it was people in ’69, and I didn’t even know
it, who went on a weekday and took a strike. And they were going to
do two days on November. In fact, that’s
what they did do. And then there was going to
be three days in December, a rolling strike. I told Great, you remember? I said, you’ve got a
strike here on Fridays. But think of the possibility
of a two-day strike and then a three-day
strike, a rolling thing. And then, so it was the
strike that put it– and I started out as
a labor economist. I would have had gotten on
with some of your PERI people here on that. And the unions– I
joined the UAW at 17 and was going to be in labor. So I was I was used
to the idea of it. And I still say, for example– I’ll give an example. There should have been a
general strike in the year 2000 when the Supreme Court
cut that voting off. And people should have
said no, absolutely not. Gore did not go for that. That was a good time for it. If there is an immediate
prospect– and we’ll only know this from
a whistleblower. But now whistleblowers
are in bitter odor than they’ve been for
quite a while this week. So maybe there will
be a whistleblower before an attack on Iran. There should be a
general strike if there’s a prospect of an attack on Iran,
which would be a catastrophe. I’m not in the business
of giving Great– [INAUDIBLE] that one time of
sending her advice, whatnot. But I have two thoughts that
I would like to pass on. For one thing, she keeps saying,
because she’s still only 16– and this is her
first big action, which she’s been at since
she was 9 basically or 11. And she knows the subject. She said, if only people
knew what I know– this is a paraphrase– they would take care of this. And the only thing she’s
asking all the time, like today, she said,
I don’t want a prize. All I’m asking is that you
listen to the scientists. Actually, that’s not enough. There’s a lot of people who
have listen to the scientists. They’re not doing diddly squat
in Congress or anywhere else. We’re debating health
in the debates, are we debating climate? The guy who made that
his one big issue was out after one debate from
Washington University. So one thing is, it
is more than people just listening to
the scientists. And it’s more than the
scientists just talking. People have to act. And she does say
this all the time. What I want is action. Yes, to do something. Act on it. And just knowing the
science is not enough. The example of people who
are doing more than that is contagious and
can lead to more. The other suggestion
I would make to Greta, but I’m not going to bother. She’s doing fine on her own. But if I was talking
to her, I would say, have those school children
make their parents join this strike the way you
changed your parents. She won’t go on the air. She came across here on a
boat to cross the country. She won’t go on air because of
the oil, the fossil fuel that’s involved. OK. Her mother is a major
international opera singer, and she got her mother
to stop using jet planes. Her mother just sings in Sweden
now, changed her whole career. I said OK. Then she got her
parents to be vegan, except that she
did say she thinks they sneak up
sometimes to eat cheese when they think she’s asleep. But if they can
change their parents and the others, and
the school teachers– why are the school
teachers letting the children be out on strike? Have they not gotten the picture
here, gotten the message? So get the school teachers out. And I don’t mean just in
Sweden, all over the world. But not only school. They’ve got plenty
to complain about. But this is– they can
follow their schoolchildren on this who happen to be right. Why should we listen to
a 16-year-old girl with Asperger’s? What are they saying? Well, because she’s right. She’s wise. She’s got the picture. Because she’s right,
and you’re not. So this– in other words, you
say what can young people do? Follow Greta Thunberg’s example. She is a model for organizing
and for getting things moving, and for keeping eye on the
ball, and getting other people into it, and not just shaming,
but realizing, educating, that they have to act as well. When I said that– I want to close with this. When [? Janaki ?] here
Chanel, introduced me to the thinking of Martin Luther
King, Barbara Demming, Gandhi, I looked up a quote that I had
only slightly in my mind today on the web of what Gandhi
had said about Hiroshima. And here’s what he said. “Those who invented
the atomic bomb have committed
the greatest sin.” As [INAUDIBLE]
came before me, sin is more of a Christian concept. He was very Hindu. It’s not a typical
thing for Gandhi to say. He said, when I heard
about it, I could only sit in silence for a long time. That’s part of what he said. “Unless the world
adopts nonviolence, this will spell certain
suicide for humanity.” Well, yes, suicide,
you can call it that. Strictly speaking, it’s murder. It’s unjustified homicide. Those people are not more
evil committing suicide than the people under a
gun in Jonestown in Guyana were committing suicide. They were being
spoon-fed cyanide at the risk of being
shot, actually. It was not mass
suicide by 900 people. It was murder. What we’re talking about here is
collateral murder, collateral– and that’s what
Assange released, Collateral Murder, except this
is collateral mass murder, multi-genocide. It’s not genocide. That’s 5, 6 million people. 600 million people
it’s not genocide. So what you call it? Multi-genocide. But it’s not everybody. Except that it was
everybody, nearly everybody– it’s omnicide. But John Somerville
said, that philosopher. You have to have a new term. Humans have not faced
up to the difference it makes to the
institution of war to add nuclear weapons to it. War is now dangerous in
a way that has not been for 4,000 years in a new way. War has been compatible,
even big war, with global population rising
steadily, all too much. That’s not true of World War
III or what’s promised on this. So the last statement
that Gandhi made was– and this was one
of them [? for– ?] “What has happened,” he said,
“they have destroyed Japan.” Well, they didn’t destroy it. Japan is still
there and so forth. But it was what Szilard
and the others saw coming. And I might say that as early as
’42 when the Manhattan Project started, Szilard knew– Truman didn’t even know there
was a Manhattan Project. He didn’t know there was a bomb. He knew nothing about it. But these scientists knew that
it was not just an atom bomb, that the atom bomb could be
the trigger for an H-bomb. They knew that from
the beginning in ’42. They couldn’t tell people that
without losing their clearance. So a guy named Eugene
Rabinowitch, when Szilard and James Franck
had a committee in May, just after the German surrender,
in May or June of 1945, to examine the implications
of a nuclear weapon and what should be done,
Franck, Nobel Prize winner had participated in the poison
gas project in World War I. So and that was under a guy
named Fritz Haber whose wife committed suicide because
of what her husband had done. Frack had said OK, I’ll go
in the Manhattan Project, but only under the condition
that, as a scientist, my voice will be heard on the
policy before the bomb is used. So they had a committee
to keep him quiet. And Szilard was
on, and a guy named Rabinowitch was the
rapporteur, later the head of the
Federation of American– Bulletin for the
Atomic Scientists. And the Doomsday Clock, which
started in I think 1947, ’46. So Rabinowitch actually
advised in writing– and I just saw this recently. We should tell the Congress and
the public what’s coming here and what this all means. Truman never did hear it. They made a petition
not to use the bomb. And the first form
of the petition, which had about 100 scientists,
but he wanted to get more– the first one said don’t
test it without the Russians. If you test it, an arms
race is inevitable. And they thought, the
world will blow fast. They underrated what
deterrence would do. But it will blow. We’ll build a doomsday machine. That’s what they said. They said OK, and moreover,
you should not use it. And they did not know
that the Japanese that we were reading their
cables, communications intelligence here– the scientists did not
know that the Japanese were willing to
surrender at that point that the emperor was– on condition that the emperor
would be preserved, would not [INAUDIBLE]. People at the top knew that,
but the scientists didn’t. So they thought maybe there
will have to be an invasion. And Szilard actually
said, even– and the Franck committee– even if US lives
are at stake, this should not be used,
even if US lives are a cost as a result,
an amazing statement. So the report was
bottled up just like this
whistleblower’s report. Truman never did see it. Stimson didn’t see it
till after Potsdam. Groves bottled it up. Szilard later had
wrote a paper called “The Voice of the Dolphins.” I wont’ go into the context,
but it included a chapter, “My Trial as a War Criminal.” And he fantasized being
tried by the Russians for what he had done. He said, but I
advised against it. And the prosecutor would say,
but you went through channels. You knew it wouldn’t
get anywhere. He said, I had to admit. It’s true. I hadn’t done what could
be done, and he didn’t. But Rabinowitch said
we should leak it. I’ve never seen a statement
like that anywhere in the government,
in papers, somebody’s actually saying and writing
what Tony Russo said to me after being fired from
RAND, you ought to leak that. OK, never seen it. Well, they didn’t do that. So Rabinowitch wrote
a letter to the times in 1971, when Patricia and
I were eluding the FBI. We were underground. So I didn’t see it at the time. I saw it much later, thanks to
my friend who put it in a book. Rabinowitch writes
a letter and says, [INAUDIBLE] the case of Daniel
Ellsberg, whom we didn’t know, he said, who’s
being sought for– they didn’t use the
word whistleblower– for revealing this and so forth. I now want to reveal that
I spent sleepless nights in 1945 considering
whether I should not tell the Congress and the
public that we were about to use an atom bomb on Japan. And he said later, he said
I don’t flatter myself that the public would
have denounced that, would have gone against it. They probably would
have accepted it. But at least they
would be responsible. They would know what
they were getting into. They would know that
this was not inevitable, et cetera, et cetera. He says, I still feel– this
is when I’m eluding the FBI– I still would I would not
have been wrong to do so, says Rabinowitch, the head
of the doomsday clock. What Gandhi said two
days after Hiroshima, “What has happened to the
soul of the destroying nation is yet too early to see.” The soul of the
destroying nation– it’s not too early to see now. It hasn’t been too
early for a long time. It wasn’t just
Hiroshima, primarily. It was Tokyo, and Hamburg, and
Dresden, and all the others– the willingness to
massacre civilians as an instrument of
war, which was simply implemented by the atomic bomb. It made it cheaper, that’s all. It didn’t raise any new moral
problem, whatever, for Truman. To kill 100,000
people with one bomb was simply a cheaper
way of doing it than to kill them as we’d
done five months earlier with firebombs, with 300 bombs. So there’s no moral issue. The only reason not to do it
was civilization and humanity is endangered ultimately. Not next month,
but by doing this. And that remains true today. So we need a moral revolution. It’s not enough to get back to
the pre-World War II immunity of civilians, which
isn’t going to happen, per se, with the institutions
remaining as they are. No, it has to be a rapid
evolution of humanity here or what I think
your chancellor calls revolution in UMass, or Bernie
Sanders says revolution. And that has a ring
of violence to people, which should be
rejected I believe, explicitly, be very clear. Violent revolution is not
going to get you there, is not going to make any of the
change that you need, no matter what it did change. It might change things, but it
wouldn’t change any of this. So nonviolent transformation
of morality as well as institutions and the
structure and everything is very urgently needed. And we do have
examples leading there. And as I say, Greta Thunberg– can’t do better. Look at her [INAUDIBLE]. [APPLAUSE] Thanks everyone.

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