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LEARNING TO LOVE THE BOMB: A Retrospective on Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove

Well thought, well said, deeply felt, and exceptionally executed. Criticism, at long last my lord, for accomplished grown-ups who have been paying attention.

Yes, it is over an hour long. You don’t have to watch it but if you like this sort of thing you will like this sort of thing.

“There is a world dimensional for those untwisted by the love of things irreconcilable.” — Crane

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ThisIsNotNutella May 8, 2022, 8:26 PM

    Gratuitous Tenuously-related Thread Bomb:

    Our man Flint – 1966 (Subt Esp)

    Or How I Learned to Love the Algo.

    • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 5:44 PM

      My mom took me and my brother to see that movie. We went to a drive-in. I still remember almost every scene. James Coburn was perfect.

      • The Tactical Hermit May 10, 2022, 1:28 AM

        Coburn was not in Dr. Strangelove. Perhaps you are thinking of Sterling Hayden or Slim Pickens?

        • Mike Austin May 10, 2022, 1:54 AM

          I was responding to ThisIsNotNutella and “Our Man Flint”.

  • gwbnyc May 8, 2022, 9:39 PM

    Two favorites:
    “Feed me, Mandrake!”
    “You’ll have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company.”

    Idle observation: Sellers liked multiple roles.

    • KCK May 8, 2022, 10:45 PM

      You can’t fight in here! This is the war room.

  • ThisIsNotNutella May 9, 2022, 3:00 AM

    Some viewing for the Resident Russophobes.

    May 9 Moscow Victory Parade.

    It’s two hours. No need to watch it all, but recommend watching at least the first 30 minutes with open eyes and open mind and open heart. Just let it sink in.

    (For those of you with a lot of prior Pavlovian conditioning, think you that the Red Flag you see with white stuff on it is *not* the flag of the Soviet Union: it is the Victory Banner. Think like on top of the Reichstag, ’45 and how many millions of them died to get it there.)

    What the GAE / GloboHomo media never shows you is that this ceremony happens every May 9 in *every* city and town in Russia. There is no way this is not something deeply felt by most of them. You pretty much need to be on certain Telegram channels to see that .

    In the words of a fellow even more unpleasant than myself: “I Beseech You, in the Bowels of Christ, Think it Possible You May Be Mistaken.”

    • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 4:37 AM

      The US has not had such a parade since 1945. But then, why would it? Korea, Vietnam, Granada, Iraq and Afghanistan hardly qualify for such out-and-out military exuberance—to say nothing of victory.

      The USSR lost 26.6 million in World War II—9 million of them soldiers—out of a population of 188 million. Do the math. The US lost 400,000—almost all of them military—out of a population of 130 million. Do the math.

      I saw no transgender battalions, no rainbow flags, no soldiers wearing women’s shoes, no lesbian ship captains.

      Here is an appropriate US response to the Russian Victory Day parade:


      The US regime chomps at the bit to put its military against that of the Russians. Should we laugh now or laugh later?

      • ghostsniper May 9, 2022, 8:19 AM

        Pathetic how this country has fallen isn’t it?
        Funny how the comments were turned off on that video.

        • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 8:50 AM

          Yes, and there is yet far to go before the US hits bottom—if there is one. We are proving Adam Smith’s adage that “there is much ruin in a nation.”

          Biden wants to match Emma against Ivan.


          The military recruitment videos from NATO and China are as ridiculous as those of the US, but in different ways. One thing to remember about China: In all of its 73 years of existence, it has never won a war—though it tried. And I am supposed to fear these people?

          There is these days a tremendous imbalance among almost all major players upon the world stage, an imbalance between what they say is true and what is really true. Obviously this cannot hold. Reality has a way of smashing its way in. The chessboard of the world needs to be upended, and the game needs to start anew.

        • James ONeil May 9, 2022, 8:53 AM

          The comments are turned off on a surprising number of youtube videos I notice. Our beloved Ministry Of Truth at work?

          • james wilson May 9, 2022, 1:20 PM

            Fangraphs, a baseball site, went broke going woke five years ago, and even many commenters jumped onto that site just to be woke, which drove away actual baseball fans. They finally rid themselves of woke writers and get by on the margin now. Back in that day there were colmums asking why there were no women on the field etc etc etc, then one complaining about the lack of muslim inclusion. That one got 171 hilarious comments in no time but then the comments were quickly erased.

            One of the Greeks wrote that all silenced truths become poisonous.

      • Terry May 9, 2022, 9:29 AM

        A piece of advice for a man entering the ring (bare fist boxing). Never pick a fight with a man you have no knowledge of. Or, do not take a punch against a man you know nothing about.

        Take that to the bank. There are no rules in real war. The homofied US military may soon get a lesson in real war. Skirmishes in the desert are, well, skirmishes.

        • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 9:44 AM

          It amuses me—if that is the right word—how many base their views of a nation’s military prowess on official war games. These are popular with Pentagon types, as are PowerPoint presentations. What these have to do with real warfare escapes me. I cannot imagine a Napoleon or a Caesar engaging in such frivolities.

          A lesson in real war would do wonders for the US Military—if it survived.

    • KCK May 9, 2022, 6:24 AM

      I always took you to be anti war.

      The German-Russian War, 1941-1945, was big, and it was big in a milieu of bigness. Other big campaigns, and long campaigns, of the war include the Battle of the Atlantic, the whole of the Pacific Campaign, and the Italian Theater (taken as a slice of the North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Campaign, it was small in troop numbers, but it was the longest campaign the West fought on land, and is comparable to Vietnam in many ways).

      But, the Russian Front was epic in geographic scale (minus significant sea battle), and epic in human suffering. When the Germans lost to the Soviet Union, they were imprisoned and if you lived through years of being a war prisoner (which is fucking brutality at its worst) then you had survived enough hell to give the devil some attitude when you met him later.

      Think of the Russian Front as like a sea battle, with huge open steppes and large forested areas, interdicted by rivers and mountain ranges. Also, islands of urban areas.

      However, my criticism of the brave Russians (Soviet Communists) is that they utilized oriental and dumb, illiterate and almost mute, soldiery as massive human waves against German panzer forces. They slow-rolled their armor, if it can call it that, along very large fronts of contact and suffered for years in their efforts to beat the numerically inferior, militarily superior, Nazi military. Nobody suffered worse than the Soviet and Russian civilian populations. In number of deaths, I believe the deaths among non-combatants in the USSR were much higher than any army anywhere in the war. The Nazi Germans made a point of killing people in this campaign, and this particular evil is unfathomable.

      I respect the simplicity and effectiveness of the T-34 tank, the mass of the Soviet army in WWII, and the resilience of the Russian population. But I would not put their military up for the category of best armies in history. The way they employed artillery was so foreign to how the US did that they almost are two separate categories of warfare and technology. Same goes for tank forces.

      It is good that Russia was our ally against Germany, crooked and corrupt how they failed to support us against Japan, and ironic but unsurprising that the outcome of WWII was an immediate and visceral swing into a Cold War situation vis the USSR and the Western Allies.

      Nice looking troops in the parade. Too bad they suck at fighting wars.

      • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 7:59 AM

        I am not—and never have been—anti-war. I am a Christian, not a Quaker. I understand that in this fallen world that sometimes war is as necessary as surgery.

        “To everything there is a season,
        A time for every purpose under heaven…
        A time to love,
        And a time to hate;
        A time of war,
        And a time of peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3.

        I am just finishing up Ian Toll’s trilogy of our war in the Pacific. It shows yet again that there are some nations and some peoples that need a lesson that only total defeat in war can provide. The Japanese were such. Perhaps the Biden regime—all of it, root and branch—is likewise. I am open to suggestions about how America can rid herself of this gruesome pest.

        The Soviets “did not fail to support us in Japan.” They declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945—one day before Nagasaki. Stalin sent 1 million soldiers to make war against the 700,000 Japanese troops in Manchuria. This was one of the factors that led Japan to send a message of surrender on August 15.

        As for “the best army in history”: That would be the Macedonians under Alexander (336 – 323 BC). Alexander is the only great captain in all of History who was never defeated in battle.

        • ghostsniper May 9, 2022, 8:24 AM

          Mike sed: “I am open to suggestions about how America can rid herself of this gruesome pest.”
          Find out what sustains it and eliminate it.

        • Casey Klahn May 9, 2022, 2:04 PM

          Alexander has his chops. There is no doubt about it. I think one needs to consider so many other factors as to who is a great captain of history. For instance, Patton doesn’t qualify, I think because of the extent of his command being just a field army. However, I would argue that when he strode ashore in Morocco, he was the captain of all he surveyed, and his performance was superb.

          I notice Grant’s star is rising, and he had a great command. Of course, Napoleon. I believe someone once noted Shaka Zulu as in the group. Also, I’d place Heinz Guderian in there, with the same caveats I give Patton.

          Of course I know Japan was enjoined in war by the Soves after the US strode like gods across the Pacific and dropped the A Bomb. I don’t think you can argue that the USSR did not pull a fast one there. And, it is my estimate that what we did in the Pacific was Star Wars level greatness, and the Russians tremble at just the memory of our juggernaut in the Pacific.

          • Gordon Scott May 9, 2022, 3:21 PM

            The Soviets pulled about 78 fast ones over the course of the war. And the communists entrenched around FDR made it possible.

            The Brits finished paying their WWII debts to the US after 2000. The Soviets had their much greater debts written off to 2 cents on the dollar, and paid little of that.

            • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 4:35 PM

              Senator Joe McCarthy was right. He was destroyed by the same types that brought Biden to the White House. The Deep State has been around awhile.

          • ThisIsNotNutella May 9, 2022, 4:47 PM

            “the Russians tremble at just the memory of our juggernaut in the Pacific.”

            Not the Same Americans Now ™. I’ve read The Fleet at Flood Tide. It was an undertaking for the ages. Utterly mind-boggling. So were Roman Aqueducts to the ‘Romans’ of 800AD.

            • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 5:15 PM

              The US Navy had over 100 carriers and 1200 ships at the end of World War II. Today the US has 11 carriers and 280 ships. The US Navy today is larger than the next 8 largest navies combined. I don’t know what the next major war will look like but I can say it will not be a replay of World War II.

              Lots of Black Swans circling.

              Yep, the “Romans” of 800 AD were by that time a mongrel race with nothing “Roman” about them. Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Byzantine Greeks, North Africans , Gauls, Lombards—what a mess.

          • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 4:48 PM

            Historians have debated since Hannibal met Scipio about which captain stands above the others. In no particular order the usual suspects are those you already have guessed—with a few oddities tossed in:

            1. Alexander
            2. Napoleon
            3. Caesar
            4. Hannibal
            5. Scipio Major
            6. Genghis
            7. Subutai
            8. Belisarius
            9. Aurelian
            10. Thutmosis III
            11. Sulla
            12. Hamilcar

            I left out naval commanders to keep things based solely on infantry. I included tactics, strategy and logistics. To my mind Alexander takes the prize. He was also the youngest on the list. He commanded his first army at 16. He trained Bucephalus when he was 9.

            Your mileage may vary.

            • Casey Klahn May 9, 2022, 9:45 PM

              All fascinating and very worthy of study. Napoleon looks like the latest guy in your list, and he did achieve an actual RMA by ushering in modern maneuver warfare (3rd GEN war). But I find it incredible that none can be named after him. I understood it to be because the great captain would need to command an army on the national scale. Grant qualifies.

              Anyway, I can’t go with a list that cuts out all after Napoleon.

              • Mike Austin May 10, 2022, 1:34 AM

                I’m with you on Grant, but if we include him we must also include Sherman. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” is an American “Anabasis”.

                I forgot Cortez.

                Had Caesar lost at Pharsalus (48 BC) the list would have included Pompey.

                There are 3 cultures that continuously produced captains of world-class quality:
                Romans, Byzantines and Americans. Where Americans have failed it was not in the field but in Washington DC.

                • Mike Austin May 10, 2022, 5:02 AM

                  I should have mentioned that the Mongolian khans and the Spanish conquistadors provided Military History with exemplary captains, but that their dominance of the battlefield lasted less than that of the Romans, Byzantines and Americans: the conquistadors from 1519 – 1533, the khans from 1206 to the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260.

    • ThisIsNotNutella May 9, 2022, 7:05 AM

      The Z-Man has a good post on what May 9 means to Russians.


    • Georgiaboy61 May 9, 2022, 7:16 PM

      Our betters apparently do not have the wisdom to ask: When considering war against a nation such as Russia, might it not be a good idea to reflect on the fact that they lost twenty million dead and still managed to defeat their enemies?

      • Mike Austin May 10, 2022, 6:13 AM

        “Our betters” cannot distinguish men from women. They believe men can get pregnant. They think that giving puberty blockers to 3-year-olds is wholesome. I would not expect such degenerates to know anything about History. Nothing short of some sort of catastrophe on a national or international level can shake them from this madness. Reality must—and will—knock them on the head with a hammer. If that reality is named Russia, well then so be it.

        Looking for Wisdom from these beasts is like looking for Logic from a rabid animal.

  • wildman May 9, 2022, 7:04 AM

    Peter sellers was hilarious. who ever thought up the arm on its own doing the nazi salute was genius.

  • WDS May 9, 2022, 8:58 AM

    Dr. Strangelove is in my collection of favorite cold war era movies. I first saw it in the ninth grade (1969) as part of my English course. We had a “films as literature” segment and that was one of the movies. Some other favorites are 7 Days In May & Failsafe.

    • Mike Austin May 9, 2022, 9:09 AM

      “Failsafe” has my vote. Another is “The Bedford Incident”.


      • WDS May 10, 2022, 9:29 AM

        The Bedford Incident was excellent. We also watched and critiqued that in the Films As Literature segment of the course. I have that on DVD along with 7DIM & Dr. Strangelove.

  • James ONeil May 9, 2022, 9:05 AM

    I still remember seeing Dr. Stranghelove premier in NYC. Packed theater , loud and robust crowd going in. Exiting after the show; New Yorkers almost all silent, conversations almost whispered, folks and groups distancing from each other. For New York, and amazingly quiet, slow and ordered theater egress.

  • Dennis May 9, 2022, 2:19 PM

    Look out the window.

  • miforest May 9, 2022, 11:37 PM

    the genetic engineering that produced the covid vaccine and the mRNA’s unforeseen effects on human genetic are reckless beyond imagination .
    the human genome is a miracle of complexity and any change to it may destroy the very finally balanced function of it. the arrogance of the gates like ultrawealthy may have already done us in

    • Fletcher Christian May 10, 2022, 5:52 AM

      Vaccine mRNA doesn’t, and can’t, alter DNA. What it does do is hijack the cellular machinery that produces proteins (specifically, transfer RNA and ribosomes) to produce viral spike proteins, which then migrate to the cell surface. The immune system takes it from there.

      To alter DNA, one needs reverse transcriptase, which some viruses (notably HIV and hepatitis B) have but the vaccine doesn’t contain.

  • Dan May 10, 2022, 1:54 AM

    Interesting commentary. And it supports in many ways my contention that we are NOT an intelligent species. Merely a clever one….monkeys who learned to do cool things.

  • Anonymous May 10, 2022, 2:35 AM

    What I find totally baffling is that every last so-called “conservative” blog you can find, is filled to the gills with comments about how our own government in the United States of America is out to literally destroy the normal, hard working, upright and decent Americans. Yet when it comes to that very same government operating abroad (Ukraine) they are pure as snow and not only will we march in lockstep and fight the Russians until the last Ukrainian but by gum, we’ll even risk total nuclear annihilation to “defend democracy!” There’s plenty of mental illness to go around in other words.

    • Mike Austin May 10, 2022, 3:12 AM

      I have seen this as well. These “conservatives” bloviate without end about the Deep State, MAGA and guns, and then do a complete about face and ally themselves with the Biden regime concerning Ukraine. They then twist themselves into pretzels trying to explain their stance and how it lines up with their “conservative values”.

      They are forever compromised. They have allied themselves with those who wish to kill me and my nation, and march in lock step with Globohomo.

      • Anonymous May 10, 2022, 3:54 AM

        Amen, brother.

        Globohomo aka The Empire of Lies.

      • ghostsniper May 10, 2022, 4:45 AM

        It is becoming more and more obvious, and I am baffled by it. Seemingly normal people suddenly turn 180 degrees without warning. I keep my circle tight, as the last sane patriot. I’m in it for me, alone, if necessary.

        • Mike Austin May 10, 2022, 5:12 AM

          I’m with you. Whole former blog kingdoms have been compromised. It is not so much despicable as it is ridiculous.

    • Skyler the Weird May 10, 2022, 11:57 AM

      Let’s Not Go Brandon

  • jwm May 10, 2022, 5:03 AM

    I started the video, then got hooked, and watched the whole thing. Much deep stuff to reflect on. Dr. Strangelove has always been one of my all-time favorites. I love the way that Kubrick has us rooting for Slim Pickens and the B-52 crew as they evade every attempt to shoot them down.
    “GO YOU GUYS, GO!”
    But it’s the end of the world if they make it…


  • E M Johnson May 10, 2022, 9:19 AM

    it is depressing the film industry has forgotten the difference between teaching and programming. too many of our fellow citizens can’t think for themselves and must be told the “truth”

  • Dan Patterson May 10, 2022, 10:58 AM

    There is much that is good in the film, and much about the video as well. The video gets much better the further it gets from the film, and it is that part that seems resonant with adults who’ve been paying attention. And far from being a comedy, I find the film to be a tragedy and a caricature of personalities rather than a revealing, never mind comic, portrayal of them. An odd thing about gilded favorites of artist-class patrons is the smug laugh and knowing smiles used to signal they are among the few that got the joke. This movie is like that. (An excellent example is a performance given by Steve Martin in Hollywood I think, Appalachian banjo, and preparation for one song required an extended tuning session. Recorded by an audience member we hear first a few, then several break out in quiet then louder laughter as if Martin had included them in an inside joke. He was tuning.)

    The video begins with confusing statements, among them “For the building blocks of the world, to be the end of the world”. What? I can’t buy the premise. Is that supposed to be a philosophical knot we should nod our heads and smile to instead of understand? How is atomic fission a building block of the world, or does the narrator presume technology in general? And if so, that isn’t the building block either, carbon and sunlight are. “Objectively removed and angelically comedic”, well, no again; the movie is neither. Rather it is a product solely of its time and is enrobed by it not removed from it; the characters are molded into distortions meant to fit into a puzzle made from then-current events and do not stray from those jig-built curves. The narrator further confuses by stretching commonalities of circumstance into conspiratorial parallel, and it’s a stretch too far – for example the escape of the B-52 by hugging the topography only compares to LeMay’s tactics against Japan because both were a successful measure; one did not pattern itself after the other to make a cinematic point, although critics have made that connection.

    The idea of loving the bomb and stop worrying is, I guess, meant to be another brick in the absurd wall but those are bricks made without straw. The Air Force was correct to declare safeguards in place to prevent Airman Anybody from pushing The Button, but Kubrick was equally correct to shine the light on the characters and personalities involved, showing them with warts and failings instead of superhuman judgment.

    Human frailty, and the common qualities among us that divide hero from goat, are the likely sources for disaster whether atomic or earthen dam. The plank the movie is built on is personality quirks of authoritarian figures result in commands dooming the world to destruction but that demands strict adherence to protocol by everyone involved. Much more likely are the Broken Arrow sorts of events where small errors (the Human Factors category) lead to larger ones and before you know it, boom! you’ve lost an A-bomb.

    I want to like the movie, I really do. But like other things the koolkids expect me to like I just don’t, Stairway to Heaven and Bruce Springsteen for example. The movie is a one-joke that goes on far too long and leaves me tired of the framework and tedium, and it makes me wish it had gone for a series of laughs or had been a straight drama. Other films did that better, The Bedford Incident comes to mind (“He fires one, I’ll fire one. FIRE ONE!”), without the self-serving smuggery from Kubrick.
    The video does a spectacular job of showing how far we have strayed and been taught to be “unprepared and lacking the skills to cope” and how we are at the “brink of an ominous abyss”. Mostly a toss at technology and our reliance on it, and by relying on technology we have become obligated to listen to experts instead of using our judgement.

  • Anonymous May 10, 2022, 7:09 PM

    Oh look, it’s the annual Neocon convention!

    • ThisIsNotNutella May 10, 2022, 7:41 PM

      Physiognomy Tell FTW.