Met up with Tiffany and Faisel at TIFF and saw the 1964 classic, Dr. Strangelove. I would be lying if I said that Major Kong riding the bomb does not bring to mind a certain president of the United States. But what really disturbed me was how much the more normal characters reminded me of Rumsfeld in the 2014 documentary, The Unknown Known, justifying what he did because he didn’t want to end up testifying to Congress how the United States had missed some apocalyptic Pearl Harbor-type attack.
Ambassador Alexi: Some of us fought against it. But we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time, our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned your country was working along similar lines. We were afraid of a doomsday gap.
President Merkin Muffley: I will not go down in history as the greatest mass-murderer since Adolf Hitler.
The less cynical part of me thinks there are some serious politicians conducting some serious conversations regarding whether a nuclear-armed Iran is more or less dangerous than the consequences of a preventive war to stop it from getting the bomb. The more cynical part of me thinks there are some serious politicians conducting some serious conversations regarding whether nuclear weapons are the best way to capture the imagination of the people.
And I’m not being cynical about politicians. It’s only natural for politicians to try to capture the imagination of the people regardless of the kind of political system in which they dwell. The amazing thing is that fear seems to be the best way to capture the imagination of the people regardless of the kind of political system in which they dwell. It’s hard to think about this without thinking about Nietzsche: “And to repeat at the conclusion what I said at the start: man will sooner will nothingness than not will …”
The system in which we all dwell is so complex that it feels as if it’s impossible to will anything. Since it is not human nature to not will, we create enemies to will against even knowing that the final outcome is mutually assured destruction. At the end of the day, President Merkin Muffley and the people who elected him are no less responsible for the end of the world as we know it than Major Kong or General Ripper.
So knowing that, if such a thing were to happen today, I would have less than one in a million chance to influence the outcome, what should I do? Stop worrying and love the bomb! To paragraph Andrew O’Hehir: Life is about facing death with as much courage and love as you could muster, and what could be more grand and romantic than that?