The Movement and the Madman

PBS ‘American Experience’ documentary film in 2023 brings into light how the 1969 Vietnam Moratorium peace movement acted to prevent the President Nixon – Henry Kissinger plan to use nuclear weapons



Watch scenes from the PBS 2023 documentary — The Movement and the ‘Madman’




The Movement and the ‘Madman’


The documentary film tells of a dramatic showdown between a protest movement and a president …

Citizen action, as is now revealed, prevented the use of nuclear weapons




Reviews on Release:


Strategic Demands:

In the “Movement and the Madman” 2023 documentary, PBS reveals the how close the U.S. came to using nuclear weapons to force Vietnam to end the war the U.S. had escalated on the election of President Richard Nixon. 

Daniel Ellsberg, a nuclear war planner, as his Doomsday Machine ‘confessions’ chronicled, recalls the Vietnam Moratorium Peace demonstrations of October-November 1969 in the book and film — and with National Security Council senior staff now, decades later, retells how close we came to nuclear war.

Strategic Demands editor at that time was a student and a coordinator of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, adds to revealing these moments of history here:


Strategic Demands’ editor, approached by the documentary’s production company with an original proposal, added  input to the current PBS film. Roger Morris, Strategic Demands associate, and a senior staffer of the Nixon-Kissinger National Security Council, became a key person interviewed for the film, as was Mort Halperin and Tony Lake.

Dan Ellseberg, who long knew Strategic Demands editor, added much to the film.

The close call the film reveals is another warning in a series of critically impactful warnings of the need, the necessity, to control nuclear weapons before the sands of time wear down and the humanity’s time to act expires.

— Steve Schmidt, Strategic Demands Editor




Doomsday Machine


Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg | Published 2017







Daniel Ellsberg: Nixon Almost Took Vietnam War Nuclear In November 1969

Revelations: the Vietnam Moratorium prevented use of nuclear weapons

1969 – “Nuclear targets were picked.”

Ellsberg speculated that the plans would have gone ahead in November 1969.
Instead, a huge demonstration on Oct. 15, 1969, the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, combined a general strike with nationwide protests and teach-ins.


 From Dan to Steven (StratDem editor): ‘We need the Moratorium again !’




References: via the National Security Archive

Among US documents retrieved in Freedom of Information request
A report from September 1969 on prospective military operations against North Vietnam (referred to unofficially within the White House as DUCK HOOK) included two options to use tactical nuclear weapons: one for “the clean nuclear interdiction of three NVN-Laos passes”-the use of small yield, low fall-out weapons to disrupt traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail. The other was for the “nuclear interdiction of two NVN-CPR [Chinese People’s Republic] railroads”—presumably using nuclear weapons to destroy railroad tracks linking North Vietnam and China.
A Kissinger telephone conversation transcript, in which Nixon worried that with the 1 November deadline approaching and major anti-Vietnam war demonstrations scheduled for 15 October and 15 November, escalating the war might produce “horrible results” by the buildup of “a massive adverse reaction” among demonstrators.


In Memory,_1969,_Vietnam_Moratorium_Day_in_memory.jpg



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