Q-and-A with Daniel Ellsberg: Connecting Students to the World; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley Daniel Ellsberg

High School Students'
E-Mail Exchange with
Daniel Ellsberg

May, 1999

The Cold War

Do you believe that there was any real threat posed against the United States by communism?

Doug Woodbrown's American History Class, Marin Academy High School, San Rafael

In the course of a nuclear arms race, led and dominated by the United States throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union gradually came to acquire massive nuclear forces that have the capability to annihilate most Americans and most other people in the world. That is certainly a very real threat, and those weapons represent a danger to Americans, Russians, and the rest of the world in the hand of the Russians, posing still a danger of mistaken or inadvertent or unauthorized use of or sale or loss by theft or of use in civil war within Russia. No other danger from communism was remotely comparable to this one, yet this has been very largely a result of our own irresponsible and reckless nuclear policies which rejected feasible arms control agreements that would have forestalled the buildup of Russian forces at the cost of stopping our own buildup.

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