Lesson 1 da Bomb Outcomes (swbat)

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Lesson 1 - da Bomb

Outcomes (SWBAT)

  • Define terms such as “MAD”, “deterrence”, “nuclear parity”, and “satire”

  • Create an outline of nuclear proliferation in the post WWII world

  • Analyze a satirical film for its relevance to the nuclear arms race


  1. The Atomic Café – show first two segments (Trinity Test and Guilt Complex) to introduce the concept of nuclear weapons.

  2. World Map – describe the nature of the Cold War in terms of an ideological struggle between democracy and communism. Map should indicate areas throughout the world that fell behind the “Iron Curtain” and those considered to be in the USA’s “backyard”

  3. Nuclear proliferation. Use PPT images to identify the development of nuclear weapons throughout the 20th and 21st century.

  4. Youtube video clip showing nuclear tests since 1945: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W_lLhBt8Vg

  1. Satire – play a clip from “This is That” – 8 hour gun training to visit America. http://www.cbc.ca/thisisthat/episode/2013/11/15/american-tourist-gun-law-money-saving-expert-spacecraft-gordie-returns-2nd-canadian-anthem/

  2. Discuss satire – what are its elements?

  3. Film – “Dr. Strangelove”. As students read through notes following map, continue PPT with characters outlined and importance of the film.


  1. World Map for students

  2. PPT – Nuclear Proliferation

  3. This is That clip

  4. Dr. Strangelove DVD

  5. The Atomic Café DVD

  6. Youtube clip

History Through Film 12 Name ___________________________

Ms. Lacroix

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”

Cold War
Dr. Strangelove is based on the novel Red Alert, by Peter George, a former RAF major in military intelligence.

George conceived the idea to write the book in the 1950s when a B-47 roared over a U.S. airbase in the UK, sending a precariously perched coffee cup crashing to the floor. Someone quipped, “That’s the way World War III will start,” and George was off to write Red Alert.

Deterrence ~ according to Dr. Strangelove, this is “the art of producing in the mind of the enemy… the fear to attack”.
When Dr. Strangelove was made in 1963, there were 34,000 active nuclear warheads. That number reached a high in 1985 at 68,000. Today, there are 4,100 active warheads, with a global total of 17,000 existing in the world.
Mutually Assured Destruction~ the assumption that both sides in war have enough nuclear weapons to annihilate the other, therefore creating a situation in which neither side will escalate aggression.
In Dr. Strangelove, retaliation for a nuclear attack is made credible through two avenues:

  1. Introduce the concept of an automaton, or “Doomsday Device” that detonates without human involvement – completely remove human decision making from the loop

  2. Use illogic and uncertainty – “devolve” control of nuclear bombs to various/lower levels of command. This was certainly done in Cold War Central Europe where there were thousands of tactical nuclear bombs.

General “Buck” Turgidson: “Plan R is an emergency war plan in which a lower echelon commander may order nuclear retaliation after a sneak attack if the normal chain of command is disrupted. You approved it, sir. You must remember. Surely you must recall, sir, when Senator Buford made that big hassle about our deterrent lacking credibility. The idea was for plan R to be a sort of retaliatory safeguard.”

President Muffley: A safeguard?”

Turgidson: “I admit the human element seems to have failed us here. But the idea was to discourage the Russkies from any hope that they could knock out Washington, and yourself, sir, as part of a general sneak attack, and escape retaliation because of lack of proper command and control.”

The Precariousness of M.A.D. in the late 1950s and 60s

In Dr. Strangelove, Turgidson advises striking first. In an ominous parallel, many military advisors in the Kennedy Administration suggested just that when dealing with Castro during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Turgidson: “We would therefore prevail, and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from their remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated”

He continues, defining “modest and acceptable”: “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say ...no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops. Uh ...depending on the breaks.”
Compare this to General Le May, an American Air Force strategist during the Cuban Missile Crisis:
LeMay:If I see that the Russians

are amassing their planes for an attack ...I’m going to knock the shit outof them before they take off the ground.”
Robert Sprague, co-chair of the Gaither Committee: “But General LeMay, that’s not national policy.”
LeMay: “I don’t care, it’s my policy. That’s what I’m going to do”
The Security Dilemma ~ Driving the Arms Race
When Country A does something to bolster its security, it diminishes the security of Country B. This underlies the spiraling model of the arms race. If neither country trusts the other to abide by agreements, there will be no “de-spiraling” or non-proliferation that can occur… for example, the failure of S.A.L.T. II agreements after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
War hawks in America claimed there was a growing “missile gap” between the USA and USSR, and that the Soviets were outperforming them in quantity and ‘quality’ of bombs. This type of fear mongering rationalized a further increase in military spending to produce more and ‘better’ bombs.
Ambassador De Sadeski (Dr. Strangelove) explains why the Soviets built the doomsday device: “There are those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. 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”

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