The Perverse Sensibility of Nuclear War

November 18, 2020
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In the 1950s and 1960s, it became clear that any strategy that involved threatening to start a nuclear war was playing with fire. But what was the alternative? Strategists began searching for ways to wage “limited” nuclear conflicts that wouldn’t bring about Armageddon. But they soon found that putting limits on unlimited destructive power is easier said than done. This episode looks at the early efforts to contain the devastating potential of nuclear war, from an Army nuclear exercise in Louisiana to the Single Integrated Operational Plan to the Trump administration’s effort to build lower-yield nuclear weapons. Usha tries to understand the mindset of the people making decisions about nuclear war – human beings trying to solve a problem that seemed to challenge their very humanity.

 

Guests: Dr. Alex Wellerstein, Dr. Janne Nolan, Dr. Will Hitchcock, Dr. Lynn Eden, Dr. Marc Trachtenberg.

 

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