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Nuclear War quote

The atom bomb fueled the entire world that came after it. It showed that indiscriminate killing and indiscriminate homicide on a mass level was possible ... whereas if you look at warfare up until that point, you had to see somebody to shoot them or maim them, you had to look at them. You don't have to do that anymore.

BOB DYLAN, Rolling Stone, May 3, 2007

The children of the nuclear age, I think, were weakened in their capacity to love. Hard to love, when you're bracing yourself for impact. Hard to love, when the loved one, and the lover, might at any instant become blood and flames, along with everybody else.

MARTIN AMIS, Experience

Now, for the moment, we are safe. The only kind of international violence that worries most people in the developed countries is terrorism: from imminent heart attack to a bad case of hangnail in fifteen years flat. We are very lucky people--but we need to use the time we have been granted wisely, because total war is only sleeping. All the major states are still organized for war, and all that is needed for the world to slide back into a nuclear confrontation is a twist of the kaleidoscope that shifts international relations into a new pattern of rival alliances.

GWYNNE DYER, War: The Lethal Custom

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, letter to Christopher Tolkien, Aug. 9, 1945

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, "Introduction: Thinkability," Einstein's Monsters

War had become nothing more than slaughtering soldiers from a safe distance. When this failed to produce victory, civilians too became targeted for annihilation. It took more than a century, two world wars and the invention of the ultimate weapon, the atomic bomb, before the impact of this change started to become fully realized: war had become 'total war'. Warfare in the twentieth century is now an industry. It is bureaucratized, to the extent that its main decisions are being taken anonymously and committed to paper by people far removed from the actual killing zones.

HYLKE TROMP, "On the Nature of War and the Nature of Militarism"

The arms race is a race between nuclear weapons and ourselves.

MARTIN AMIS, "Introduction: Thinkability," Einstein's Monsters

In a world which had become a nuclear powder keg upon which nearly a billion people now sat, it was a mistake--perhaps one of suicidal proportions--to believe there was a difference between good shooters and bad shooters. There were too many shaky hands holding the lighters near too many fuses. This was no world for gunslingers. If there had ever been a time for them, it had passed.

STEPHEN KING, The Drawing of the Three

The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.


The arms race is a race between nuclear weapons and ourselves.

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. The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts. And the way to make sure it never starts is to abolish the dangerous costly nuclear stockpiles which imprison mankind.

OMAR BRADLEY, speech on Armistice Day, 1948

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, Boston Globe, Mar. 18, 2005

In nuclear war all men are cremated equal.

DEXTER GORDON, attributed, 100 Common Misconceptions About Dexter Gordon

Within the U.S. nuclear complex, a common refrain is that "you can't put the nuclear genie back in the bottle," a statement providing a moment of animistic self-reflection where nuclear technology is assumed to have taken on a life of its own, now defining its own destiny, charting an inevitable, if uncanny, course. The genie metaphor is carefully chosen, as it represents both the possibility of wondrous gifts (unlimited energy, national security, international prestige) and the potential for treacherous acts (terrorism, species mutation, nuclear war).

JOSEPH MASCO, The Nuclear Borderlands

I really think that we can put the nuclear genie back in the bottle--or back in the lamp; which is how the story actually goes in "Tales of 1001 Nights". It may not be the same bottle or lamp the genie came out of, but we can still seal it away again. The weapons are a symptom of something deeper. It's not a biological need, like for food. It's a boundless desire for power. These days, we understand the destructiveness of nuclear weapons--and we can save ourselves or destroy ourselves with that knowledge.

TED TAYLOR, attributed, Aftermath: The Remnants of War

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, State of the Union Address, 1984

In our new age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen pressing an electronic button. Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it. There will be no conquerors and no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet.

WILLIAM L. SHIRER, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

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

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 in New York City, Oct. 20, 1945

Our moral imperative is to work with all our powers for that day when the children of the world grow up without the fear of nuclear war.

RONALD REAGAN, attributed, Reagan's Secret War

Nuclear War quote

There’s a kind of theology at work here. The bombs are a kind of god. As his power grows, our fear naturally increases. I get as apprehensive as anyone else, maybe more so. We have too many bombs. They have too many bombs. There’s a kind of theology of fear that comes out of this. We begin to capitulate to the overwhelming presence. It’s so powerful. It dwarfs us so much. We say let the god have his way. He’s so much more powerful than we are. Let it happen, whatever he ordains. It used to be that the gods punished men by using the forces of nature against them or by arousing them to take up their weapons and destroy each other. Now god is the force of nature itself, the fusion of tritium and deuterium. Now he’s the weapon. So maybe this time we went too far in creating a being of omnipotent power. All this hardware. Fantastic stockpiles of hardware. The big danger is that we’ll surrender to the sense of inevitability and start flinging mud all over the planet.


Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

ALBERT EINSTEIN, New York Times, May 25, 1946

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