This is the 11th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future. The lecturer is Daniel Ellsberg, a true American hero.
This lecture series honors the memory of Frank Kelly, a founder and senior vice president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Frank had great optimism about the human future. He thought that we humans were “glorious beings” and that we all deserve a seat at humanity’s table.
Each year the Foundation invites a distinguished individual to deliver this lecture. Past lecturers have included Richard Falk, Robert J. Lifton, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Dame Anita Roddick, Jakob von Uexkull and Francis Moore Lappe.
Last year’s Kelly Lecturer was Commander Robert Green, who spoke on “Breaking Free from Nuclear Deterrence.” The booklet of his lecture led to him being invited to address the British Trident Commission, where he argued that the UK should lead the way toward zero nuclear weapons by being the first country to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.
Daniel Ellsberg is one of the greatest living Americans and citizens of the world. He is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. and Ph.D. in Economics. Between his undergraduate degree and his graduate studies, Dan spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a platoon leader, operations officer and rifle company commander.
In his early career, Dan worked at the highest levels of the American government. In 1959, he joined the RAND Corporation as a strategic analyst and consultant to the Defense Department and White House, focusing on problems of 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 of the three working groups reporting to the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOM) during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
In 1964, he joined the Defense Department as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. He worked on the escalation of the war in Vietnam. The following year he transferred to the State Department to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification in the field.
When Dan returned to the Rand Corporation in 1967, he went to work on the top secret McNamara study of US Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68. This later became known as the Pentagon Papers. Dan came to believe that this information was vital for the public to know and understand in evaluating the war in Vietnam. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1971, he gave the study to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other papers. For doing so, he was put on trial for 12 felony counts for which he faced a possible 115 years in prison. The charges against him were dismissed based upon US government misconduct.
Daniel Ellsberg is one of the brightest men I know and one of the most moral and courageous. He is the recipient of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award and also the Right Livelihood Award, which is presented in the Swedish Parliament and known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”
He is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. He is working on a new book based upon his experiences as a US strategic nuclear policy analyst and their application to current US nuclear policy. He serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.