The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is presenting a once-in-a-lifetime event: a conversation between UA Professor Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg on the topic of nuclear policy and war. The two will be appearing onstage together for the first time.
The event, titled “The Haury Conversation: Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky Discuss Nuclear War,” will be held on April 24, 2018, from 7:00 - 8:30p.m. at ENR2, Room N120. Tickets are $25 and will go on sale on April 10 at 9 a.m. The discussion will be moderated by Betsy Reed, the editor-in-chief of The Intercept. First Look Media, the parent company of The Intercept, will broadcast a free livestream of the event so viewers from around the world can watch. Ticket and live stream information at https://chomsky.arizona.edu/.
The event is co-sponsored by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, which helped fund Chomsky’s position at the UA.
“Hearing Ellsberg, who has first-hand experience with the U.S. historical nuclear policy, and Chomsky, who has long called nuclear war humanity’s ‘existential threat’, will make this an event not to be missed,” said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Jones.
Ellsberg has authored a new book titled The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, which is an account of the dangers of America’s top secret, 70-year-long nuclear policy. Ellsberg, perhaps best known as the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers to the media, has also recently been in the news because of the movie The Post, which details the printing of the Pentagon Papers.
Chomsky joined the UA faculty this fall and is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. He also holds the title of Agnese Nelms Haury Chair, which is sponsored by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice.
Chomsky, who is considered the founder of modern linguistics and one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world, has published and lectured widely on U.S. foreign policy, Mideast politics, terrorism, democratic society and war. He has also spoken about his concerns that nuclear war is more likely now than even during the Cold War.
“Nuclear war has been a constant, unsettling presence, with an unthinkable outcome, since the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945,” said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “The reality today is even harder to grasp. Scientists predict that the detonation of even so-called ‘regional’ bombs would cause widespread global famine through nuclear winter.”
Jones adds, “I’m indebted to Valeria Wasserman Chomsky for suggesting this event and assisting us in bringing these two longtime friends together for the first time. The fact that Noam and Dan share a history related to the Pentagon Papers will certainly add a historical significance to the event.”
Ellsberg first sent the Pentagon Papers to Chomsky, who, along with Howard Zinn, prepared a fifth volume of the Papers consisting of critical essays by many scholars. Chomsky also defended Ellsberg’s role in releasing the Pentagon Papers (video here.)
Prior to joining The Intercept, moderator Betsy Reed was the executive editor of The Nation, where she led the magazine’s award-winning investigative coverage. She has edited several bestselling books, including Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater and Dirty Wars.
On April 25 at 5PM, Ellsberg will also be at The Loft Cinema where he will discuss the Pentagon Papers and how that event, and Ellsberg himself, have been portrayed in films and how those films inform public knowledge and opinion. Tickets can be purchased at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway, or at loftcinema.org.
More About Daniel Ellsberg
In 1959, Daniel Ellsberg, who earned his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard, became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. In 1961 he drafted the guidance from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the operational plans for general nuclear war. He was a member of two working groups reporting to the executive committee of the National Security Council (EXCOM) during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Ellsberg worked on the top secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on 12 felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him.
Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has been a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era. He is a senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.