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First Strike – About atomic bombs and a (mostly) unintended nuclear war

12
Nov

President Telephone to Russia

“I’m sorry, Dmitri… I’m very sorry…All right, you’re sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well…I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don’t say you’re more sorry than I am, because I’m capable of being just as sorry as you are… So we’re both sorry, all right?… All right.”

These are the words US president Merkin Muffley (his greatness Peter Sellers) utters to his sovjet counterpart after informing him that the US Air Force has lost control over a nuclear weapon carrying plane heading for East. This scenery happens to be a part of Stanley Kubricks wonderful movie “Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” in 1964. (Even the Trailer is a magnificent piece of popular culture). The film deals in a striking humorous way with the ridiculousness of political mongering with threat and counter threat and reflects the constant fear of a menacing nuclear war. For one of the best scenes here’s a good visit tip on The Culture Blog.

Sadly it must be admitted that the plot about the doomsday machine mentioned in the movie is not that far fetched. After a short time of nuclear monopoly by the United States, the Sovjet Union launched their first nuclear bomb in 1949 and a process of massive military buildup in the nuclear weaponry formed by the idea of Balance of Terror known as Cold War. The pure fact to be capable of responding a nuclear attack the same way and the assumable devastating effects of such a exchange of blows leaned on the doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD). After this conception each side controls enough bombs to destroy the other side, as well as each side is expected to pay back an attack with full retaliation. In a rush of overhauling the enemy each side developed thousands of nuclear warheads and multiple delivery vehicle systems till the extent that they were capable of destroying manhood a multiple times which is implied by the term nuclear overkill. And because of another strategy of nuclear weapon retaliation – the Launch in warning concept (LOW) – which predicts a counter attack before the detonation occurs lead to the fact that neither side dares to launch a first strike resulting in unacceptable losses for both parties and eventually starts effects similar to the doomsday machine Kubrick tells.