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Win That Nuclear War!

Naturally the bombing of Hiroshima evokes a mixture of triumph and regret. Yes, the atomic bomb saved the world for freedom and democracy (we call it the Peace Bomb around here). And that’s all well and good. But it’s a little embarrassing to admit that our atomic weapons were so puny in those days. A mere 15 kilotons? Hardly an expression of global dominance!

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Since then, we’ve diverted more than 5 trillion dollars and some of our greatest scientific minds to the challenge of making deadlier nuclear weapons. Success! Now we have warheads that are 300 kilotons, with some that are far more massive than that. That’s a nuclear arsenal that’s the envy of children and powerless humans everywhere!

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Of course, one must always suffer the whining of weak and tedious pacifists who keep yammering that nuclear war will annihilate millions. That is so not the point! The point is that when we do have a nuclear war, we will win!

The U.S. government made the 1958 film Power of Decision to reassure its Strategic Air Command forces about this very fact. The military realized that the prospect of slaughtering populations and creating hell on earth might make even the most well-trained soldier a bit uncomfortable. Strategic personnel must be gently taught of the greater wisdom — we will triumph over any enemy. Yes, it may kill 70 million of our people or 100 million of theirs or perhaps more deaths than anyone can imagine. But the point is, in the end, we win!

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Some scoffers dismiss this as the cold war logic of the 1950’s. Fools. Great ideas never age. That’s why we still have some 5,000 working nuclear weapons, with more than 1900 warheads currently deployed and aimed at targets around the world. We’re all set for victory!

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For more on this inspiring film, and other once-classified documents from U.S. government files, go to the excellent National Security Archives.

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