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Two, in less than fifteen minutes from now the Russkies will be making radar contact with the planes. Three, when the do, they are going to go absolutely ape, and they're gonna strike back with everything they've got. Four, if prior to this time, we have done nothing further to suppress their retaliatory capabilities, we will suffer virtual annihilation. Now, five, if on the other hand, we were to immediately launch an all out and coordinated attack on all their airfields and missile bases we'd stand a damn good chance of catching them with their pants down.

Hell, we got a five to one missile superiority as it is. We could easily assign three missiles to every target, and still have a very effective reserve force for any other contingency.

A New Cold War? Michael's essay

Now, six, an unofficial study which we undertook of this eventuality, indicated that we would destroy ninety percent of their nuclear capabilities. We would therefore prevail, and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from their remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated. President Muffley: "General, it is the avowed policy of our country never to strike first with nuclear weapons. LeMay: "If I see that the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack I'm going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.

LeMay: "I don't care, it's my policy. That's what I'm going to do. Not quite the same scenario, and there are times when pre-emption might be wise. But isn't the commander-in-chief supposed to be in on launching a full scale nuclear war?

Dr. Strangelove | The Current | The Criterion Collection

If we look at crises more generally, both scenarios illustrate their dangers. But you may be very sorry, even sorrier than I am, when you read the section on civil-military relations below and note that the U.

Dr. Strangelove: The Hilarity of Nuclear Annihilation

What if there were any LeMayskis on the Soviet side? Incentives for first strikes can increase drastically in a crisis, and things get worse when the leadership is not fully in control of its own state's crisis management strategy, tactics, and assets. The Security Dilemma and how it drives arms races. The security dilemma is that what country A does to improve its security usually diminishes the security of country B. This is because as country A buys weapons, the relative strength of country B is decreased. The security dilemma underlies the spiral model of arms races in which each country builds up its arms responding to or fearing the adversary's buildup.

Dr. Strangelove Essay

A security dilemma is a zero-sum situation in which any state's gain is another's loss. When states are deeply suspicious of each other, the zero-sum nature of their competition is even more pernicious. If each state can not trust the other to abide by agreements, then no agreements are possible to try to despiral their arms races or tensions. Suspicions and the security dilemma lead states to become pre-occupied with their relative position against others. When concerns over relative position are high, chances for cooperation are again diminished because cooperation by definition yields positive-sum results.

Thus, suspicious states facing severe security dilemmas and preoccupied by relative gains concerns are Strangelove when:. And at the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we'd been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap" President, we must not allow Note: doomsday envy is an extreme but illustrative case. Turgidson wants one, even though having two is redundant and even having one is illogical.

But arms races are, in the language of game theory, mutual defection.

Idea and Symbols in Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove"

They are not a realization of common interest. Relative Gains and Zero-sum Games. Relative gains concerns, and the zero-sum nature of the Cold War, hindered arms control and other forms of cooperation between the U. Turgidson epitomizes relative gains concerns. For example, he sees no value in the transparency provided by Ambassador De Sadeski's presence in the war room and always calculates things in a zero sum or relative gains perspective re the Soviet Union.

Any advantage for them is bad for us, and vice versa. Even after 90 years in a mineshaft, after billions of people are killed, it is still us against them Many of Jervis' Hypotheses on Misperception 14 come to life here. Examples include: thinking the enemy is more evil than it really is, not realizing one's own faults, and not understanding how one is perceived by the other side.

Ripper's fluoridation commie conspiracy scare is probably the prime example of exaggerated evil among many examples in the film. Similarly, Turgidson's analysis of inferior Soviet technological capabilities or how the U.

Dr. Strangelove Essays

He is not aware that we may have been somewhat at fault for spirals. Cold War Paranoia. Many of those who watch Dr.


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Strangelove today may not have reached political awareness during the Cold War. The paranoia exhibited by Turgidson and the whole defense posture seen in the film is not much of an exaggeration. We were really paranoid and we were on a hair trigger nuclear posture with armed airborne planes for a number of years.

Senator McCarthy ran un-American witch trial hearings to denounce communist infiltrators in government, Hollywood, and other important and influential industries and sectors.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union was in fact often more evil than even its opponents dreamed killing its own citizens, environmental degradation, a huge biological warfare program, etc. People often think of the s as a time of pax americana and white picket fences. But it is worth remembering that it was also a time that our schoolchildren hid under their desks as they practiced responding to a nuclear attack. Mirror Imaging and hypocrisy. This is a frequent theme of the movie.

Sometimes Kubrick uses mirror imaging to make statements about the Cold War or humanity more generally. This sword of sarcasm is often targeted against the military. Examples abound:. Turgidson: "I said, Premier Kissov is a degenerate atheist commie! In his defense, Buck does not sport a wedding ring in the film but this was even less determinate in the 'good old days' than it is now.

Admiral: "Try one of these Jamaican cigars, ambassador, they're pretty good. De Sadeski: "Thank you, no. I do not support the work of imperialist stooges. Admiral: "Oh, only commie stooges, huh? Civil-Military Relations. Civil-military relations are important because they determine who controls the armed forces and the extent to which the armed forces control the country.

In general, Americans are lucky in that they have little to fear from military coups or other rogue military action. However, Dr. Strangelove's depiction of poor civil-military relations is unfortunately similar to what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Strangelove asks the question: Is the President in control of the U. Generals Turgidson and Ripper do not respect the President, the President is not in control of Ripper, and Turgidson borders on insubordinate.

Ripper: "Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war? I don't think I do sir, no. Ripper: "He said war was too important to be left to the Generals. When he said that, fifty years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. Chief of Staff LeMay's deputy for operations , speaks about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the value of strategic superiority:.

They did not understand what had been created and handed to them Fortunately, there was enough panic in Washington when they saw those missiles going in So we were able at the military level, from the JCS on down without involving the politicians to put SAC on a one-third airborne alert, to disperse part of the force to civilian airfields [and take other alert measures] These were things that would be visible to the Soviets We could have written our own book at the time, but our politicians did not understand what happens when you have such a degree of superiority as we had, or they simply didn't know how to use it.