Carey Institute for Global Good
Works in Progress – episode 16
Daniel Ellsberg (2016) is probably best known for his 1971 role in disclosing the previously secret Pentagon Papers, which revealed the true story of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A Harvard PhD in Economics and former U.S. Marine Corps rifle company commander, he worked at the Pentagon, White House, State Department and the Rand Corporation before he became disillusioned with the U.S.’s role in Vietnam.
Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has been a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, wrongful U.S. interventions and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing. He is a Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Ellsberg is the author of three books: “Papers on the War” (1971); “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers” (2002); and “Risk, Ambiguity and Decision” (2001). In December 2006 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in Stockholm, Sweden, “… for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example.”
During his time at the Carey Institute, Ellsberg will work on “The Doomsday Machines: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.”
Ellsberg explains his work this way: “For more than half a century, our operational nuclear war plans have offered the president the option of killing over a billion people promptly. In 1961 I drafted the Secretary of Defense Guidance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the annual nuclear war plan, revising the Eisenhower-era plans which had no other option. That is still the most likely one to be executed, though in the more recent light of nuclear winter it would probably lead to death by starvation of nearly everyone on earth. Despite reductions in warheads, the strategic forces of the U.S. and Russia both maintain this capability, with, actually, this likely effect if they are ever launched. Each now plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade to modernize their Doomsday Machine.”