The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) invites you to a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s classic dark comedy, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, immediately followed by a discussion and Q&A session with “NUKEMAP” creator and historian, Prof. Alex Wellerstein, moderated by MTA Senior Research Associate Nickolas Roth.
Background: Dr. Strangelove was released more than fifty-five years ago, but its themes are especially relevant to current social and political debates raging in the United States. A critique of the logic and illogic of nuclear deterrence, Dr. Strangelove also bitingly portrays concepts of masculinity, sexuality, militarism, and nationalism that continue to permeate American culture. After its release in January 1964, the reviewer for the New York Times described it as the “most shattering sick joke” he had ever come across. Demonstrating a mastery of the subject matter, as well as the medium, many critics place Dr. Strangelove among the greatest movies ever made.
Alex Wellerstein is an assistant professor of science and technology studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Wellerstein specializes in the history of nuclear weapons and nuclear secrecy. His blog, "Restricted Data: the Nuclear Secrecy Blog" was founded in 2011 and features declassified documents and other interesting materials that he has come across while researching for his upcoming book, “Knowledge and the Bomb: Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, 1939-2008.” Wellerstein received his BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley, and his PhD from the Department of History of Science at Harvard University.
Nickolas Roth is a senior research associate at the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom.