This Wednesday, we will be hosting a screening of the Dr. Stangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, directed by the great Stanley Kubrick. When Dr. Strangelove premiered, it stirred up quite a bit of controversy. The military stringently rejected the notion that a military officer could dictate a nuclear strike and assured the public that the nation's nuclear arms were under secure safeguards. Those assurances, however, may not have been completely truthful.
According to a New Yorker article published in 2014 on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Stangelove, "Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated." Near accidents have been recorded since the US nuclear program's inception, and there are no guarantees that our nuclear weapons are completely safe, nor is there any guarantee of safeguards for the thousands of nuclear weapons in Europe and NATO alliance states, Russia, Israel, North Korea, China, India and Pakistan.
Following the fall of the USSR, the nuclear issue seemed less relevant as most assumed that, with the end of the Cold War, the US, its allies and Russia would begin to seriously tackle the job of dismantling the thousands of active nuclear weapons that threatened humanity. Reduction has occurred, but there are still approximately 1,800 warheads on high alert and the US has recently committed a trillion dollars over the next three decades to modernizing and upgrading our nuclear capabilities.
In Kubrick's film, General Ripper may be mad, but it is also madness for governments to invest billions of dollars in weapons of mass destruction. According to Pope Francis, writing to the Vienna Humanitarian Conference in December of 2015, “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations,” ...To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty."
Please join us for this brilliant film and for a discussion following the fillm led by Dr. Stephen Muller. In 1980, Dr. Muller cofounded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a group that received a Noble Peace Prize in 1985 for organizing popular opposition to President Reagan's arms race. Today, Dr. Muller is seeking to reignite popular opposition to nuclear weapons as we move into an era of unstable executive leadership.
This program is co-sponsored with Nuclear Weapons Matter, a study group on campus that works to raise awareness and discussion of issues relating to nuclear weapons, and the Nuclear Community of the MIT Energy Club.