- REST IN PEACE. THE MISTAKE SHALL NOT BE REPEATED.
- Anonymous, Inscription on the cenotaph at Hiroshima, Japan. Quoted in Alan L. Mackay, The Harvest of a Quiet Eye (1977. In Robert Andrews Famous Lines: a Columbia Dictionary of Familiar Quotations (1997), 340
- I'd rather be Red than dead.
- Author unknown. Slogan of Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament supporters; reported in Time (September 15, 1961), p. 30
- The wheel of Time wrote the first half of the poetry of mass destruction on the black board of the ashes of a funeral ground by dint of a pair of pens of nuclear bombs.
- What is the only provocation that could bring about the use of nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the priority target for nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the only established defense against nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. How do we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? By threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And we can't get rid of nuclear weapons, because of nuclear weapons. The intransigence, it seems, is a function of the weapons themselves.
- Martin Amis, Einstein's Monsters (1987), "Introduction: Thinkability"
- The arms race is a race between nuclear weapons and ourselves.
- Martin Amis, Einstein's Monsters (1987), Introduction: "Thinkability"
- We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.
- Armistice Day speech (11 November 1948), published in Omar Bradley's Collected Writings, Volume 1 (1967)
- But of all environments, that produced by man’s complex technology is perhaps the most unstable and rickety. In its present form, our society is not two centuries old, and a few nuclear bombs will do it in.
To be sure, evolution works over long periods of time and two centuries is far from sufficient to breed Homo technikos… .
The destruction of our technological society in a fit of nuclear peevishness would become disastrous even if there were many millions of immediate survivors.
The environment toward which they were fitted would be gone, and Darwin’s demon would wipe them out remorselessly and without a backward glance.
- Isaac Asimov Asimov on Physics (1976), 151. Also in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 181
- The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that current tension between Russia and the West is putting the world in "colossal danger" due to the threat from nuclear weapons. In an interview with the BBC's Steve Rosenberg, former President Gorbachev called for all countries to declare that nuclear weapons should be destroyed.
- BBC World News in Mikhail Gorbachev tells the BBC: World in ‘colossal danger,’, (4 November 2019).
- On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.
The secret contingency plan, called a “doomsday operation” by Itzhak Yaakov, the retired brigadier general who described it in the interview, would have been invoked if Israel feared it was going to lose the 1967 conflict. The demonstration blast, Israeli officials believed, would intimidate Egypt and surrounding Arab states — Syria, Iraq and Jordan — into backing off.
Israel won the war so quickly that the atomic device was never moved to Sinai. But Mr. Yaakov’s account, which sheds new light on a clash that shaped the contours of the modern Middle East conflict, reveals Israel’s early consideration of how it might use its nuclear arsenal to preserve itself.
“It’s the last secret of the 1967 war,” said Avner Cohen, a leading scholar of Israel’s nuclear history who conducted many interviews with the retired general.
- William J. Broad; David E Sanger, "'Last Secret' of 1967 War: Israel's Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display", New York Times, (June 3, 2017).
- If the Israeli leadership had detonated the atomic device, it would have been the first nuclear explosion used for military purposes since the United States’ attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 22 years earlier.
The plan had a precedent: The United States considered the same thing during the Manhattan Project, as the program’s scientists hotly debated whether to set off a blast near Japan in an effort to scare Emperor Hirohito into a quick surrender. The military vetoed the idea, convinced that it would not be enough to end the war.
- William J. Broad; David E Sanger, "'Last Secret' of 1967 War: Israel's Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display", New York Times, (June 3, 2017).
- In the 34 years since Hiroshima, humanity has by no means been free of armed conflict. Yet, at least we have avoided a world war. Yet this kind of twilight peace carries the ever-present danger of a catastrophic nuclear war, a war that in horror and destruction and massive death would dwarf all the combined wars of man's long and bloody history. We must prevent such a war. We absolutely must prevent such a war.
- It's now been 35 years since the first atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. The great majority of the world's people cannot remember a time when the nuclear shadow did not hang over the Earth. Our minds have adjusted to it, as after a time our eyes adjust to the dark. Yet the risk of a nuclear conflagration has not lessened. It has not happened yet, thank God, but that can give us little comfort, for it only has to happen once. The danger is becoming greater. As the arsenals of the superpowers grow in size and sophistication and as other governments, perhaps even in the future dozens of governments, acquire these weapons, it may only be a matter of time before madness, desperation, greed, or miscalculation lets loose this terrible force. In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon it would take for all the missiles and bombs to fall. A World War II every second—more people killed in the first few hours than in all the wars of history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair amid the poisoned ruins of a civilization that had committed suicide.
- Jimmy Carter, Farewell Address, 1981
- The double horror of two Japanese city names [Hiroshima and Nagasaki] grew for me into another kind of double horror; an estranging awareness of what the United States was capable of, the country that five years before had given me its citizenship; a nauseating terror at the direction the natural sciences were going. Never far from an apocalyptic vision of the world, I saw the end of the essence of mankind an end brought nearer, or even made, possible, by the profession to which I belonged. In my view, all natural sciences were as one; and if one science could no longer plead innocence, none could.
- Erwin Chargaff, Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life before Nature (1978), 3
- In 1945, therefore, I proved a sentimental fool; and Mr. Truman could safely have classified me among the whimpering idiots he did not wish admitted to the presidential office. For I felt that no man has the right to decree so much suffering, and that science, in providing and sharpening the knife and in upholding the ram, had incurred a guilt of which it will never get rid. It was at that time that the nexus between science and murder became clear to me. For several years after the somber event, between 1947 and 1952, I tried desperately to find a position in what then appeared to me as a bucolic Switzerland,—but I had no success.
- Erwin Chargaff, Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life before Nature (1978), 4
- [President Trump] is]... perfectly right when he says we should have better relations with Russia. Being dragged through the mud for that is outlandish... Russia shouldn’t refuse to deal with the United States because the U.S. carried out the worst crime of the century in the invasion of Iraq, much worse than anything Russia has done. But they shouldn’t refuse to deal with us for that reason, and we shouldn’t refuse to deal with them for whatever infractions they may have carried out, which certainly exist. This is just absurd.
We have to move towards better—right at the Russian border, there are very extreme tensions, that could blow up anytime and lead to what would in fact be a terminal nuclear war, terminal for the species and life on Earth. We’re very close to that... First of all, we should do things to ameliorate it. Secondly, we should ask why. Well, it’s because NATO expanded after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in violation of verbal promises to Mikhail Gorbachev, mostly under Clinton, partly under first Bush, then Clinton expanded right to the Russian border, expanded further under Obama... The fate of... organized human society, even of the survival of the species, depends on this. How much attention is given to these things as compared with, you know, whether Trump lied about something?
- This revelation of the secrets of nature, long mercifully withheld from man, should arouse the most solemn reflections in the mind and conscience of every human being capable of comprehension. We must indeed pray that these awful agencies will be made to conduce to peace among the nations, and that instead of wreaking measureless havoc upon the entire globe, may become a perennial fountain of world prosperity.
- Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the world has come to the nuclear brink only twice. The first, and better known, was the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The second, and much less discussed, occurred in the early days of the Yom Kippur war, which began 30 years ago today.
- Avner Cohen, “The Last Nuclear Moment”, The New York Times, (Oct. 6, 2003).
- Like John F. Kennedy a decade earlier, Golda Meir had stared into the nuclear abyss and found a path back to sanity. Mrs. Meir's decision not to accept Mr. Dayan's pessimism not only avoided a nuclear catastrophe, it demonstrated to the world that Israel was a responsible and trusted nuclear custodian.
Ultimately, Mrs. Meir's nuclear legacy goes far beyond those days in October 1973. Her prudence contributed significantly to the creation of the nuclear taboo -- the recognition that nuclear weapons are not like any other weapons humanity has ever invented; that under virtually any circumstances they must never be used.
- Avner Cohen, “The Last Nuclear Moment”, The New York Times, (Oct. 6, 2003).
- So many nations today possess the nuclear bomb, the most destructive weapon ever conceived and built, that a future major war would be the ultimate horror: the complete destruction of life on planet Earth. For many millions of years Earth would be a dead planet, a toxic waste. Men, themselves, would have to incarnate on some dark, far-off world, and begin again the long, long journey into the light.
- In discussing the state of the atmosphere following a nuclear exchange, we point especially to the effects of the many fires that would be ignited by the thousands of nuclear explosions in cities, forests, agricultural fields, and oil and gas fields. As a result of these fires, the loading of the atmosphere with strongly light absorbing particles in the submicron size range (1 micron = 10-6 m) would increase so much that at noon solar radiation at the ground would be reduced by at least a factor of two and possibly a factor of greater than one hundred.
- Paul Crutzen and John W. Birks, 'The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon', Ambio (1982), 11, 115
- If you are not ready, and did not know what to do, it could hurt you in different ways. It could knock you down, hard, or throw you against a tree or a wall. It is such a big explosion, it can smash in buildings and knock signboards over, and break windows all over town, but if you duck and cover, like Bert [the Turtle], you will be much safer.
- Duck and Cover (1951), on protecting oneself from an atomic explosion
- War is just another game
Tailor made for the insane
But make a threat of their annihilation
And nobody wants to play
If that's the only thing that keeps the peace
Then thank God for the bomb
- Thank God for the Bomb Robert John Daisley, Ozzy Osbourne, John Osbourne, Jake Williams, Robert Daisley
- We face a probable future of nuclear-armed states warring over a scarcity of resources; and that scarcity is largely the consequence of capitalism itself. For the first time in history, our prevailing form of life has the power not simply to breed racism and spread cultural cretinism, drive us into war or herd us into labour camps, but to wipe us from the planet. Capitalism will behave antisocially if it is profitable for it to do so, and that can now mean human devastation on an unimaginable scale. What used to be apocalyptic fantasy is today no more than sober realism. The traditional leftist slogan ‘‘Socialism or barbarism’’ was never more grimly apposite.
- Terry Eagleton, Why Marx was Right (2011), p. 8
- The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.
- Albert Einstein, Statement on the Atomic Bomb to Raymond Swing, before 1 October 1945, as reported in Atlantic Monthly, vol. 176, no. 5 (November 1945), in Einstein on Politics, p. 373
- I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
- Albert Einstein in an interview with Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May 1949), Einstein Archive 30-1104, as sourced in The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (2005), p. 173
- Differing versions of such a statement are attributed to conversations as early as 1948 (e.g. The Rotarian, 72 (6), June 1948, p. 9: "I don't know. But I can tell you what they'll use in the fourth. They'll use rocks!"). Another variant ("I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones") is attributed to an unidentified letter to Harry S. Truman in "The culture of Einstein" by Alex Johnson, MSNBC, (18 April 2005). However, prior to 1948 very similar quotes were attributed in various articles to an unnamed army lieutenant, as discussed at Quote Investigator : "The Futuristic Weapons of WW3 Are Unknown, But WW4 Will Be Fought With Stones and Spears". The earliest found was from “Quote and Unquote: Raising ‘Alarmist’ Cry Brings a Winchell Reply” by Walter Winchell, in the Wisconsin State Journal (23 September 1946), p. 6, Col. 3. In this article Winchell wrote:
Joe Laitin reports that reporters at Bikini were questioning an army lieutenant about what weapons would be used in the next war.
“I dunno,” he said, “but in the war after the next war, sure as Hell, they’ll be using spears!”
- It seems plausible, therefore, that Einstein may have been quoting or paraphrasing an expression which he had heard or read elsewhere.
- Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would not have lifted a finger.
- Albert Einstein, discussing the letter he sent Roosevelt raising the possibility of atomic weapons. from "Atom: Einstein, the Man Who Started It All," Newsweek Magazine (10 March 1947)
- The conflict that exists today is no more than an old-style struggle for power, once again presented to mankind in semireligious trappings. The difference is that, this time, the development of atomic power has imbued the struggle with a ghostly character; for both parties know and admit that, should the quarrel deteriorate into actual war, mankind is doomed.
- Albert Einstein, address he was writing, left unfinished when he died (Apr 1955)
- All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time, if we believe for one second that nuclear fission and fusion, that type of weapon, would be used in such a war — what is a preventive war?
I would say a preventive war, if the words mean anything, is to wage some sort of quick police action in order that you might avoid a terrific cataclysm of destruction later.
A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today. How could you have one if one of its features would be several cities lying in ruins, several cities where many, many thousands of people would be dead and injured and mangled, the transportation systems destroyed, sanitation implements and systems all gone? That isn't preventive war; that is war.
I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
… It seems to me that when, by definition, a term is just ridiculous in itself, there is no use in going any further.
There are all sorts of reasons, moral and political and everything else, against this theory, but it is so completely unthinkable in today's conditions that I thought it is no use to go any further.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, News Conference of (11 August 1954)
- Variant: When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.
- Quoted in Quote magazine (4 April 1965) and The Quotable Dwight D. Eisenhower (1967) edited by Elsie Gollagher, p. 219
- The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated. The worst is atomic war. The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth. Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. … Is there no other way the world may live?
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, The Chance for Peace, speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, (1953).
- A good start would be if the nuclear-weapon states reduced the strategic role given to these weapons. More than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, it is incomprehensible to many that the major nuclear-weapon states operate with their arsenals on hair-trigger alert — such that, in the case of a possible launch of a nuclear attack, their leaders could have only 30 minutes to decide whether to retaliate, risking the devastation of entire nations in a matter of minutes.
- What a curious picture it is to find man, homo sapiens, of divine origin, we are told, seriously considering going underground to escape the consequences of his own folly. With a little wisdom and foresight, surely it is not yet necessary to forsake life in the fresh air and in the warmth of the sunlight. What a paradox if our own cleverness in science should force us to live underground with the moles.
- J. William Fulbright, address to the Foreign Policy Association, New York City (October 20, 1945), in Fulbright of Arkansas: The Public Positions of a Private Thinker (1963)
- Without birds to feed on them, the insects would multiply catastrophically. ... The insects, not man or other proud species, are really the only ones fitted for survival in the nuclear age. ... The cockroach, a venerable and hardy species, will take over the habitats of the foolish humans, and compete only with other insects or bacteria.
- H. Bentley Glass as quoted in obituary by Douglas Martin, New York Times (20 Jan 2005)
- In 1973, a United States Air Force officer, Major Harold Hering, asked a question that the Air Force did not want asked. Hering, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was then in training to become a Minuteman-missile crewman. The question he asked one of his instructors was this: “How can I know that an order I receive to launch my missiles came from a sane president?”
The writer Ron Rosenbaum would later call this the “forbidden question.” Missile officers are allowed to ask certain sorts of questions—about the various fail-safe systems built to prevent the accidental launching of nuclear weapons, for instance. But the Air Force would not answer Hering’s question, and it moved to discharge him after determining that officers responsible for launching nuclear weapons did not “need to know” the answer. “I have to say I feel I do have a need to know because I am a human being,” Hering said in response.
Hering’s question was taboo because the national defense strategy of the United States is built on the unstated assumption that the American people will not allow a lunatic to become president. If that assumption is wrong, then no procedural, legal, or technological mechanisms exist that are able to fully protect the human race from such a lunatic. Hering discovered a catastrophic flaw in U.S. nuclear doctrine, and for this he was driven from the Air Force.
In most matters related to the governance and defense of the United States, the president is constrained by competing branches of government and by an intricate web of laws and customs. Only in one crucial area does the president resemble, in the words of the former missile officer and scholar Bruce Blair, an absolute monarch—his control of nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon, who was president when Major Hering asked his question, was reported to have told members of Congress at a White House dinner party, “I could leave this room and in 25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.” This was an alarming but accurate statement.
When contemplating their ballots, Americans should ask which candidate in a presidential contest is better equipped to guide the United States through a national-security crisis without triggering a nuclear exchange, and which candidate is better equipped to interpret—within five or seven minutes—the ambiguous, complicated, and contradictory signals that could suggest an imminent nuclear attack.
- Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Case Against Donald Trump”, The Atlantic, (10/2020)
- "...the major objective of Brazilian society is the strengthening of peace. We believe that the ideological conflict between West and East cannot and should not be solved militarily, because if in a nuclear war we saved our lives, we would not be able to save, whether we won or were won, our reason for living".
- UNDER THE four oceans and the seven seas, American and Soviet submarines fight a near-war every day of the year. Relentlessly, they search for one another, trailing an adversary when they can and trying to evade one when detected. They make every move of a real war, except shoot.
The submarines operate in what Adm. James D. Watkins, the former Chief of Naval Operations, has called an era of violent peace. It is an era marked by sharpening debate among naval officers and strategists about the relative importance to the Navy of submarines, surface vessels and air power in a war at sea. Consensus is slowly building among the experts that, against the Soviet Union, the submarine would be the vanguard. At the same time, fueled by political and budgetary concerns, the debate is gaining a wider audience and promises to be a key issue when hearings over the military budget resume in Congress in February.
Should a shooting war erupt, many experts argue, submarines would be the capital ships of the American and Soviet fleets. The battleship dominated naval operations in World War I, and the aircraft carrier brought victory at sea in World War II, but the nuclear-powered submarine would provide the edge in a future conflict.
- Richard Halloran, “A SILENT BATTLE SURFACES”, The New York Times, (Dec. 7, 1986).
- Within days of Britain's highly classified decision in 1941 to begin research on building an atomic bomb, an informant in the British civil service notified the Soviets. As the top-secret plan to build the bomb, called the Manhattan Project, took shape in the United States, the Soviet spy ring got wind of it before the FBI knew of the secret program's existence.
- Marian Holmes, "Spies Who Spilled Atomic Bomb Secrets", Smithsonian Magazine, 20 April 2009
- Some one may pose the question: will China win her rights over the United States of America, by possessing and dropping the bomb? No, neither China nor the Soviet Union will ever use the bomb unless they are attacked by those who have aggression and war in their very blood. If the Soviet Union did not possess the bomb, the imperialists would speak in other terms with us. We will never attack with the bomb, we are opposed to war, we are ready to destroy the bomb but we keep it for defensive purposes. "It is fear that guards the vineyard," is a saying of our people. The imperialists should be afraid of us and terribly afraid at that.
- Enver Hoxha, Reject the Revisionist Theses of the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Anti-Marxist Stand of Krushchev's Group! Uphold Marxism-Leninism!, Speech Delivered by Enver Hoxha as Head of the Delegation of the Party of Labor of Albania Before the Meeting of 81 Communist and Workers Parties, Moscow, (16 November 1960)
- If we do not change course quickly, we will inevitably encounter an incident where that first domino is tipped—triggering a sequence of unstoppable events that will mark the end of our time on this tiny planet... What if 100m or more people marched around the world in protest at what it is we now see: the ineptitude, selfishness, the cruelties and the threats to our collective well-being? ...This has never been done before; but if we did do it, it might just deliver a sort of shock therapy to those dangerous or useless politicians who now threaten humanity.
- A GRIM simulation reveals the horrifying mayhem that would ensue from a war between the US and Russia. The ominous video shows how atomic bombs would rain down on Earth during the conflict, killing an estimated 34million people in under five hours. Most would die within a 45-minute period.
- "This project is motivated by the need to highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current U.S. and Russian nuclear war plans," according to an official Princeton blog post.
- The unacceptability of the Doomsday Machine raises awkward, unpleasant, and complicated questions that must be considered by both policy maker and technician. If it is not acceptable to risk the lives of the three billion inhabitants of the earth in order to protect ourselves from surprise attack, then how many people would we be willing to risk? I believe that both the United States and NATO would reluctantly be willing to envisage the possibility of one or two hundred million people (i.e., about five times more than World War II deaths) dying from the immediate effects, even if one does not include deferred long-term effects due to radiation, if an all-out thermonuclear war results from a failure of Type I Deterrence. With somewhat more controversy, similar numbers would apply to Type II Deterrence. (For example, some experts would concede the statement for an all-out Soviet nuclear attack on Europe, but not if the Soviets restricted themselves to the use of conventional weapons.) We are willing to live with the possibility partly because we think of it as a remote possibility. We do not expect either kind of deterrence to fail, and we do not expect the results to be that cataclysmic if deterrence does fail.
- [US] war plans [between 1953 and 1969] ... were often coupled with the statement that war with the Soviets was inevitable. ... In 1976, a letter was addressed to Eugene Rustow, founder of Reagan's Committee on the Present Danger ... read, "You are fully aware, of course, that in terms of shifting military balance, the U.S. today is about where Britain was in 1938, with the shadow of Hitler's Germany darkening all of Europe." Rustow wrote back, stating, "I fully agree ... that our posture today is comparable to that of Britain, France and the United States during the Thirties."
- Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod (1987) To Win a Nuclear War (South End Press, pp. 13-14, 23-24).
- For the love of God, for the love of your children and of the civilization to which you belong, cease this madness. You are mortal men. You are capable of error. You have no right to hold in your hands—there is no one wise enough and strong enough to hold in his hands—destructive power sufficient to put an end to civilized life on a great portion of our planet.
- George F. Kennan, cited in "Obituary: George Kennan dies at 101; devised Cold War policy". Boston Globe. 2005-03-18. ; also cited in Carroll, James (2006). "Upstream". House of War. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co. pp. 581, note 140. ISBN 0618187804.
- The world is a very different one now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.
- John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address (1961), as quoted in In Our Own Words : Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century (1999) by Robert G. Torricelli and Andrew Carroll, 222
- Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.
- John F. Kennedy, Address to the United Nations General Assembly, (25 September 1961)
- A war today or tomorrow, if it led to nuclear war, would not be like any war in history. A full-scale nuclear exchange, lasting less than 60 minutes, with the weapons now in existence, could wipe out more than 300 million Americans, Europeans, and Russians, as well as untold numbers elsewhere. And the survivors, as Chairman Khrushchev warned the Communist Chinese, "the survivors would envy the dead." For they would inherit a world so devastated by explosions and poison and fire that today we cannot even conceive of its horrors. So let us try to turn the world away from war. Let us make the most of this opportunity, and every opportunity, to reduce tension, to slow down the perilous nuclear arms race, and to check the world's slide toward final annihilation.
- During the next several years, in addition to the four current nuclear powers, a small but significant number of nations will have the intellectual, physical, and financial resources to produce both nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. In time, it is estimated, many other nations will have either this capacity or other ways of obtaining nuclear warheads, even as missiles can be commercially purchased today. I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scattered throughout the world. There would be no rest for anyone then, no stability, no real security, and no chance of effective disarmament. There would only be the increased chance of accidental war, and an increased necessity for the great powers to involve themselves in what otherwise would be local conflicts. If only one thermonuclear bomb were to be dropped on any American, Russian, or any other city, whether it was launched by accident or design, by a madman or by an enemy, by a large nation or by a small, from any corner of the world, that one bomb could release more destructive power on the inhabitants of that one helpless city than all the bombs dropped in the Second World War.
- The living will envy the dead.
- Attributed to Nikita Khrushchev, speaking of nuclear war. Ed Zuckerman, "Hiding from the Bomb—Again", Harper's (August 1979), p. 36, attributes "the survivors would envy the dead" to Khrushchev. This issue of Harper's was stamped in the Library of Congress on July 12, 1979. Senator Frank Church, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also attributed this same quotation to Khrushchev in hearings held July 11, 1979, and again on July 16, 1979. See The Salt II Treaty, hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 96th Congress, 1st session, part 1, p. 333, and part 2, p. 27 (1979). An Associated Press news release, dated August 4, 1979, summarized these meetings: "In a month of hearings on the SALT II treaty, many senators have… quoted and requoted the late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who once said that after a nuclear exchange, 'the living would envy the dead.'" The quotation has been widely used in the press since then, including in The Washington Post (March 20, 1981), p. A23, the earliest attribution appears to be by John F. Kennedy with Khrushchev's comments in referenceto a potential war with Russian/Chinese war. Reported as unverified in the speeches or writings of Khrushchev in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)
- I remember President Kennedy once stated... that the United States had the nuclear missile capacity to wipe out the Soviet Union two times over, while the Soviet Union had enough atomic weapons to wipe out the United States only once.... When journalists asked me to comment... I said jokingly, "Yes, I know what Kennedy claims, and he's quite right. But I'm not complaining.... We're satisfied to be able to finish off the United States first time round. Once is quite enough. What good does it do to annihilate a country twice? We're not a bloodthirsty people."
- Nikita Khrushchev as quoted in Khrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament (1974)
- “The colors were beautiful,” remembers a man in Morgan Knibbe’s short documentary The Atomic Soldiers. “I hate to say that.”
“It was completely daylight at midnight—brighter than the brightest day you ever saw,” says another.
Many tales of the atomic bomb, however, weren’t told at all. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an estimated 400,000 American soldiers and sailors also observed nuclear explosions—many just a mile or two from ground zero. From 1946 to 1992, the U.S. government conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests, during which unwitting troops were exposed to vast amounts of ionizing radiation. For protection, they wore utility jackets, helmets, and gas masks. They were told to cover their face with their arms.
After the tests, the soldiers, many of whom were traumatized, were sworn to an oath of secrecy. Breaking it even to talk among themselves was considered treason, punishable by a $10,000 fine and 10 or more years in prison.
- In Knibbe’s film, some of these atomic veterans break the forced silence to tell their story for the very first time. They describe how the blast knocked them to the ground; how they could see the bones and blood vessels in their hands, like viewing an X-ray. They recount the terror in their officers’ faces and the tears and panic that followed the blasts. They talk about how they’ve been haunted—by nightmares, PTSD, and various health afflictions, including cancer. Knibbe’s spare filmmaking approach foregrounds details and emotion. There’s no need for archival footage; the story is writ large in the faces of the veterans, who struggle to find the right words to express the horror of what they saw during the tests and what they struggled with in the decades after.
- What appalled Knibbe the most was how the U.S. government failed the veterans. “Until this day, a lot of what has happened—and the radiation-related diseases the veterans have contracted and passed on to the generations after them—is still being covered up,” Knibbe said. “The veterans are consistently denied compensation.”
- Morgan Knibbe, “Atomic Veterans Were Silenced for 50 Years. Now, They’re Talking”, The Atlantic, (May 27, 2019)
- I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, Mr. President, but I do say not more than ten to twenty million dead depending upon the breaks.
- Stanley Kubrick, in Robert Andrews Famous Lines: a Columbia Dictionary of Familiar Quotations (1997), 340
- But this very triumph of scientific annihilation—this very success of invention—has destroyed the possibility of war's being a medium for the practical settlement of international differences. The enormous destruction to both sides of closely matched opponents makes it impossible for even the winner to translate it into anything but his own disaster…. Global war has become a Frankenstein to destroy both sides. No longer is it a weapon of adventure—the shortcut to international power. If you lose, you are annihilated. If you win, you stand only to lose. No longer does it possess even the chance of the winner of a duel. It contains now only the germs of double suicide.
- Douglas MacArthur, speech to a joint session of the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines (July 5, 1961); in Representative Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (1964), p. 98. Senate Doc. 88–95
- As we watch the media today, we are spoon fed more and more propaganda and fear of the unknown, that we should be afraid of the unknown and have full faith that our government is keeping us safe from the unknown. But by looking at media today, those of us who are old enough will be reminded of the era of Cold War news articles, hysteria of how the Russians would invade and how we should duck and cover under tables in our kitchens for the ensuing nuclear war. Under this mass hysteria all Western governments were convinced that we should join Western allies to fight the unknown evil that lies to the east. Later through my travels in Russia during the height of the Cold War with a peace delegation, we were shocked by the poverty of the country, and questioned how we ever were led to believe that Russia was a force to be afraid of. We talked to the Russian students who were dismayed by their absolute poverty and showed anger against NATO for leading their country into an arms race that they could not win. Many years later, when speaking to young Americans in the US, I was in disbelief about the fear the students had of Russia and their talk of invasion. This is a good example of how the unknown can cause a deep rooted paranoia when manipulated by the right powers.
- Let us imagine how many people would die if war breaks out. There are 2.7 billion people in the world, and a third could be lost. If it is a little higher it could be half ... I say that if the worst came to the worst and one-half dies, there will still be one-half left, but imperialism would be razed to the ground and the whole world would become socialist. After a few years there would be 2.7 billion people again.
- Mao Zedong, Dikötter, Frank. Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62. Walker & Company, 2010. p.13.
- It did not take atomic weapons to make man want peace. But the atomic bomb was the turn of the screw. The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country.
- J. Robert Oppenheimer Commencement address (1946), as quoted in book review, William J. Broad, The Men Who Made the Sun Rise, New York Times Book Review (8 Feb 1987), 39
- In plain words; now that Britain has told the world she has the H-Bomb, she should announce as early as possible that she has done with it, that she proposes to reject, in all circumstances, nuclear warfare. This is not pacifism. There is no suggestion here of abandoning the immediate defence of this island.... No, what should be abandoned is the idea of deterrence-by-threat-of-retaliation. There is no real security in it, no decency in it, no faith, hope, nor charity in it.
- SGS developed a new simulation for a plausible escalating war between the United States and Russia using realistic nuclear force postures, targets and fatality estimates. It is estimated that there would be more than 90 million people dead and injured within the first few hours of the conflict.
- This four-minute audio-visual piece is based on independent assessments of current U.S. and Russian force postures, nuclear war plans, and nuclear weapons targets. It uses extensive data sets of the nuclear weapons currently deployed, weapon yields, and possible targets for particular weapons, as well as the order of battle estimating which weapons go to which targets in which order in which phase of the war to show the evolution of the nuclear conflict from tactical, to strategic to city-targeting phases.
- A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?
- Ronald Reagan, Third State of the Union Address, (1984)
- The military/security complex has resurrected its Cold War enemy so necessary for its outsized budget and power and intends to keep Russia as The Enemy. The Democrats have an interest in the villification of Russia as “Russiagate” explains Hillary’s loss of the 2016 Presidential election and gives Democrats hope of removing President Trump from office. The media lacks independence, knowledge, and integrity and is the tool used by the military/security complex to control explanations... As strategic and Russian studies are largely funded by the military/security complex, the universities are also complicit in the march toward nuclear war. Republicans are as dependent as Democrats on funding from the military/security complex and the Israel Lobby.
- Paul Craig Roberts in The Self-Genocide of the West, Foreign Policy Journal (26 December 2018)
- All of this self-serving is driving America and its vassals to war with Russia, which might also mean with China. The war would be nuclear and be the end of the West, an act of self-genocide. The US national security establishment is so crazed that Trump’s efforts to get off the war track and onto a peace track are characterized as treason and a threat to US national security....The Russians are aware that the accusations and demonization that they experience are fabrications. They no longer see the problem as one of misunderstandings that diplomacy can overcome. What they see now is the West preparing its populations for war. It is this perception for which the West is solely responsible that makes the situation today far more dangerous than it ever was during the long Cold War.
- Paul Craig Roberts in The Self-Genocide of the West, Foreign Policy Journal (26 December 2018)
- There is a further advantage [to hydrogen bombs]: the supply of uranium in the planet is very limited, and it might be feared that it would be used up before the human race was exterminated, but now that the practically unlimited supply of hydrogen can be utilized, there is considerable reason to hope that homo sapiens may put an end to himself, to the great advantage of such less ferocious animals as may survive. But it is time to return to less cheerful topics.
- Bertrand Russell, Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (1948), part I, "The World of Science", chapter 3, "The World of Physics"
- Suppose atomic bombs had reduced the population of the world to one brother and one sister, should they let the human race die out? I do not know the answer, but I do not think it can be in the affirmative merely on the ground that incest is wicked.
- Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics (1954)
- The best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.
- Bertrand Russell, The Russell-Einstein Manifesto (1955)
- The human race may well become extinct before the end of the century. Speaking as a mathematician, I should say the odds are about three to one against survival.
- Bertrand Russell, Interview, Playboy (Mar 1963). 10, No. 3, 42. In Kenneth Rose One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture (2004), 39
- One must expect a war between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. which will begin with the total destruction of London. I think the war will last 30 years, and leave a world without civilised people, from which everything will have to build afresh — a process taking (say) 500 years.
- Bertrand Russell (one month after the Hiroshima atomic bombing), Letter to Gamel Brenan (1 Sep 1945). In Nicholas Griffin (Ed.), The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell (2002), 410
- If we have to start over again with another Adam and Eve, then I want them to be Americans and not Russians, and I want them on this continent and not in Europe.
- Richard B. Russell, remarks in the Senate during debate on the antiballistic missile (October 2, 1968), Congressional Record, vol. 114, p. 29175
- The prediction of nuclear winter is drawn not, of course, from any direct experience with the consequences of global nuclear war, but rather from an investigation of the governing physics. (The problem does not lend itself to full experimental verification—at least not more than once.)[co-author with American atmospheric chemist Richard P. Turco (1943- )]
- Carl Sagan, A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race (1990), 26
- Every thinking person fears nuclear war and every technological nation plans for it. Everyone knows it's madness, and every country has an excuse.
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1990 Update), "Who Speaks for Earth?" [Episode 13], 17 min 40 sec
- The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.
- Carl Sagan a summary version, as written by Kristen Ghodsee in Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism (2011), 2-3. Note the author states it as “I remember,” and the wording is not verbatim from Sagan's original remark made during a panel discussion in ABC News Viewpoint following the TV movie The Day After (20 Nov 1983)
- Anyway, I'm sort of glad they’ve got the atomic bomb invented. If there’s ever another war. I’m going to sit right the hell on top of it. I’ll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will.
- J. D. Salinger lines spoken by Holden Caulfield, in Catcher in the Rye (1951), 183
- The release of the KGB (Commissariat for State Security) documents regarding the role that espionage played in the Soviet atomic bomb project has raised new questions about one of the most remarkable and rapid scientific developments in history. Despite both the advanced state of Soviet nuclear physics in the years leading up to World War II and reported scientific achievements of the actual Soviet atomic bomb project, strong evidence will be provided that suggests that the Soviets did not truly develop their own atomic bomb in 1949, but rather, through Soviet spies’ heroic acts of espionage, copied the plutonium bomb devised by the Manhattan Project and detonated at Nagasaki in 1945.
Alhough the claim that the Soviets copied the American atomic bomb is not unique, it is based on newly surfaced KGB information that calls its validity into question. The KGB is releasing substantial information regarding its role in the Soviet atomic project at a precarious time in its existence. With the end of the Cold War, the KGB is seeking glory at a point in history when its future is in question. Nonetheless, scientific and intelligence experts who have seen both the material released by the KGB and other still secret information have remarked that “even Edward Teller and Andrei Sakharov could not have built a bomb on that information.” Historian Paul Josephson remarked that by the eve of the Nazi invasion, the Soviets could not only boast of scientists who contributed significantly to the worldwide growth of nuclear physics, but had laid the foundation for work on an atomic bomb. Still, a war-torn nation was able to develop an atomic bomb in only four years, the same amount of time it took the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, with the “massive industrial might and accumulated efficiency of DuPont, General Electric, Tennessee Eastman, and Bell Systems,” research and development expenditures totaling $2 billion, and nearly the entire scientific community mobilized in the Manhattan Project, to develop their bomb.
- Michael I Schwartz, “The Russian-A(merican) Bomb: The Role of Espionage in the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project”, J. Undergrad. Sci, 3:, (Summer 1996), p. 103
- Between the years 1942 and 1954, the KGB obtained thousands of pages of technical information about the Manhattan Project. Sergei Leskov reports that this information included: calculations for the construction of the plutonium charge; calculations for the critical mass of fissile material; information on detonation devices; information on the gaseous diffusion factory that produced U-235; information about a plutonium production report; a report on the study of secondary neutrons; a report on the metallurgy of uranium and plutonium; and information on the kinetics of atomic reactions. Such information would have been unfathomably important to the development of a bomb. Thus, energy could be focused along the successful lines of the American project rather than approaching the situation blindly and attacking all possible avenues. Kurchatov admitted in a memo of March 4, 1943, that certain information “came as a surprise to our physicists and chemists,” such as the centrifugal method of isotope separation. The Soviets also had reached an impasse on the “problem of nuclear explosion and combustion.” Stolen documents revealed that this problem could be rectified by mixing uranium oxide and heavy water together— a method the Soviet scientists thought was impossible. Moreover, the Soviets were provided with information on the “physical process” of the inner workings of the uranium bomb, which Kurchatov said “revised views on many problems,” and, most importantly, told the Russians that an atomic bomb was a realistic possibility.
- Michael I Schwartz, “The Russian-A(merican) Bomb: The Role of Espionage in the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project”, J. Undergrad. Sci, 3:, (Summer 1996),: p. 103, (Summer 1996), p.105
- Suppose Germany had developed two bombs before we had any bombs. And suppose Germany had dropped one bomb, say, on Rochester and the other on Buffalo, and then having run out of bombs she would have lost the war. Can anyone doubt that we would then have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and that we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them?
But, again, don't misunderstand me. The only conclusion we can draw is that governments acting in a crisis are guided by questions of expediency, and moral considerations are given very little weight, and that America is no different from any other nation in this respect.
- The news today about 'Atomic bombs' is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world! Such explosives in men's hands, while their moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope 'this will ensure peace'. But one good thing may arise out of it, I suppose, if the write-ups are not overheated: Japan ought to cave in. Well we're in God's hands. But He does not look kindly on Babel-builders.
- J. R. R. Tolkien, From a letter to his son Christopher Tolkien (9 August, 1945)
- The atom bomb was no “great decision.” It was used in the war, and for your information, there were more people killed by fire bombs in Tokyo than dropping of the atomic bombs accounted for. It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness. The dropping of the bombs stopped the war, saved millions of lives.
- Harry S. Truman in reply to a question at a symposium, Columbia University, NYC (28 Apr 1959). In Truman Speaks (1960), 67
- Once launched, the bomb was absolutely unapproachable and uncontrollable until its forces were nearly exhausted, and from the crater that burst open above it, puffs of heavy incandescent vapour and fragments of visciously punitive rock and mud, saturated with Carolinium, and each a centre of scorching and blistering energy were flung high and far.
Such was the crowning triumph of military science, the ultimate explosive, that was to give the "decisive touch" to war....
- In the map of nearly every country of the world three or four more red circles, a score of miles in diameter, mark the position of the dying atomic bombs, and the death areas that men have been forced to abandon around them. Within these areas perished museums, cathedrals, palaces, libraries, galleries of masterpieces, and a vast accumulation of human achievement, whose charred remains lie buried, a legacy of curious material that only future generations may hope to examine....
"Command and Control" (April 25, 2017)Edit
Allan Childers in "Command and Control", American Experience, PBS, (April 25, 2017)
- Before you left the base, they gave you some codes that gave you access to the complex. You would read the code to the commander and then you would take a lighter, set the codes on fire and drop them down into a box so they would burn up and no one else could use those codes.
- We never knew what our specific targets were, because you didn't really want to know who you were going to destroy.
- You had to be prepared to destroy an entire civilization, and we were trained on that. As heartless as it sounds, I never had a problem with it, I was doing it for my country, I was doing it to protect my country.
"The Doomsday Diet" (Dec 12, 2017)Edit
Garrett M. Graff, "The Doomsday Diet", Eater.com, (Dec 12, 2017)
- The expectation, which seems astonishing now, was that much of the nation’s population would survive a catastrophic Soviet nuclear attack. Around the country, fallout shelters were constructed beneath backyards, in suburban basements, and in the bowels of sturdy municipal buildings, each helpfully researched by FBI agents and engineers and then marked with yellow-and-black signs — many of which are still visible today, faded and rusting on elementary schools and post offices. Government officials also turned to America’s abundant natural wonders: As engineers hollowed out mountains to serve as secret emergency government bunkers and created small underground cities inside places like Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado and Raven Rock Mountain in Pennsylvania, adventurous Boy Scouts were tasked with mapping abandoned mines and underground caves that could be used to protect civilians. In Tennessee, the state’s civil defense director estimated that about 800,000 of the state’s 3.5 million residents could be housed in its extensive network of underground caverns, while in Hawai‘i, civil defense officials identified 28 lava tube caves for residents to retreat to in the event of an attack.
As these efforts advanced — the Army Corps of Engineers ultimately identified 450 caves around the country that could house atomic refugees — officials still struggled with the task of preparing the population of an entire country for the prospect of living underground.
- All told, during the peak of the fallout shelter craze, from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, the government tallied that some “7,000 volunteers had participated in over 22,000 man-days of shelter living in occupancy tests ranging from family size to over 1,000 people.”
These experiments ultimately produced enduring national standards for underground shelters, such as a minimum of 10 square feet of space per person — which, while only half the space allotted inmates in crowded jail cells, was more than three times the amount of space given to prisoners at the Nazis’ Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and six times as much space per person as inside the notorious Black Hole of Calcutta, the government explained helpfully in one report on shelter life.
- In 1955, Eisenhower’s Federal Civil Defense Administration launched a propaganda campaign they called “Grandma’s Pantry,” calling for each household to have ready a seven-day supply of food and water for an attack. “Grandma’s Pantry, the symbol of preparedness. Unexpected company? Grandma always had plenty for everyone,” explained one radio ad. “In an emergency or during evacuation in case of enemy attack. it's too late to plan. You’ll have to depend on your own resources — on Grandma’s Pantry.” Women’s magazines carried articles like “Take these steps now to save your family,” and Sears, Roebuck and Co. erected government-produced “Grandma’s Pantry” exhibits in 500 of its stores, encouraging people to stock up on Hawaiian Punch, Campbell’s soup, Tang, boxes of cornflakes, and candy bars
- The government expected that survivors would be able to emerge from shelters to search for food and water after only a couple of weeks. “The contamination of food and water we think is one of the lesser problems, not one of the major problems of the post-attack environment,” Stuart Pittman, John F. Kennedy’s civil defense head, told one military audience. “If the [radioactive] particles got into the food, you could wash it out. It would be possible to harvest the crops in the field after a rain or two.” Based on research conducted around the site of dozens of nuclear tests in the Nevada desert, planners estimated that few crops would be lost entirely in the first year after an attack and that by the following year, most agriculture could return to normal. Of course, according to the government planners, the lingering gamma radiation would limit the amount of time that workers could safely till the fields, but, according to the actuary tables, enough Americans would die in the nuclear attack that even short work days would suffice to feed the living.
- Officials in each region studied native food stores and agriculture supplies, then estimated the difference between a nuclear war in the springtime and one in autumn. In the southeastern United States, for instance, officials estimated that if an attack occurred in the fall, agriculture harvesting would be 95 percent complete and that survivors in states like Alabama or Georgia would then be able to forage a pound of food a day — catching fish or game, or eating roots or berries.
Nebraska, meanwhile, went one step further and tested out a fallout shelter for livestock—the Roberts Dairy Company built an underground bunker capable of holding 200 cows and ran a two-week test with 35 cows and one lucky bull, named Aristocrat, all overseen by two student cowhands. The cows appeared to barely notice they were living underground.
Next door in Kansas, officials calculated they could probably provide two million pounds of food after an attack, and that if survivors reduced consumption to an “austerity diet” of 2,000 calories, the state’s food stocks could last nearly two months. Besides the official stocks, Kansas’s wildlife could help too: Its forests, plains, and waters contained, officials believed, 11 million “man-days” of food — the amount of food needed to feed an adult for one day — in rabbit meat, 10 million man-days of wild birds, five million man-days of edible fish, and nearly 20 million man-days of meat in residential pets. After an attack, officials also planned to confiscate household vitamins for the good of the general population and ration carefully the state’s 28-day supply of coffee. Everything would be fine.
"Fear of nuclear war increases the risk of common mental disorders among young adults: a five-year follow-up study" (2004)Edit
Kari Poikolainen, Terhi Aalto-Setälä, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, Mauri Marttunen and Jouko Lönnqvist, "Fear of nuclear war increases the risk of common mental disorders among young adults: a five-year follow-up study", BMC Public Health, 2004, 4:42.
- Frequent fear of nuclear war in adolescents seems to be an indicator for an increased risk for common mental disorders and deserves serious attention.
- Risks of war and terrorism are threatening our health, both directly in actual life and also indirectly by the increasingly violent content of video games and other forms of entertainment. How does this affect mental health? Earlier during the cold war period, fear of war was found to be common among adolescents, and more prevalent among girls than boys. Little is known about the influence of fear of war on mental health of adolescents. On one hand, it has been argued that worrying about nuclear war is related to positive aspects of mental health. On the other, fear of nuclear war has been found to associate with several measures of psychological distress in cross-sectional studies. To our knowledge, no follow-up studies have been published.
- Of the 400 women, 27.5% reported having feared nuclear war once a week or more often in 1990. The respective figures for men were 226 and 13.7%.
- The degree of perceived threat of nuclear war may depend on several factors, such as (i) actual presence and size of the nuclear weapon arsenal, (ii) actual political tensions and threats, (iii) media coverage of the former, (iv) mental, conscious and unconscious processing of information, and (v) psychological developmental influences specific to adolescence.
Part of the fear may be based on realistic evaluation of the threat. Our baseline examination was carried out within two months before the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War in January 1991 and before the reductions in nuclear weapon arsenals in the United States and in Russia started.