**Russell assumes there are two hostile blocs, just as portrayed in the media. (Remember 15 years earlier they were allies). He simply has no idea of the position of Jews who had control over the USSR and de facto control of US policy
**Russell takes it for granted that there can be no rational interest in the situation - he simply doesn't ever consider the thing could be a set-up, with huge pay-outs for the controlling interests
**He describes Kahn as 'American', despite Kahn's believing himself to be a Jew. It's not clear whether Talenski was in fact Russian in a genuine sense
**Russell assumes throughout that the presentation of nuclear weapons is true. It never occurred to him the whole thing might be phoney, despite his prediction that might perfectly well develop interest groups which would be a bar to progress
**Russell doesn't read very carefully: the predictions made, both within Kahn's book (according to Russell; I haven't read the book), and by Talenski, differ incredibly; probably they were just designed to cover as much ground as possible without attempting an impossible consistency
**Russell assumes they are both 'experts' - but why should they be? Both parties might be misleading each other, or the public - in view of the issues supposedly under discussion, this would hardly be surprising. Russell always tended to defer to supposed authority figures in science and technology; his adulation of Einstein is a good example of this trait
**Kahn publicised the 'cobalt bomb' idea. [Also known as the 'Doomsday Bomb' - note added later.] (Cobalt has a radioactive isotope with a half-life of five years - the idea being this would wipe out all life). This must have been another fraud, since A bombs and H bombs never worked, and even if they had, radiation spread over the entire earth could not have exterminated everything. Like the 10 million defective children mentioned by Russell, the intention was to make readers flash creep, and not analyse any further.
Thermonuclear War: Battle of Experts. Bertrand Russell in New Republic 3 April 1961:-
Two armament experts, one American, the other Russian, have lately set forth statements of policy: in the case of the Russian, clearly official; in the case of the American, such as some authorities are recommending to the Kennedy Administration. While reading their pronouncements, I imagined myself a member of one of the newly emancipated nations and I was consistently disquieted by the thoughts which the two pronouncements were likely to generate in such a reader.
. . . The American is Herman Kahn, whose large book, On Thermonuclear War deserves study. I should like to say that there are things in his book with which I find myself in agreement. For example, he holds that neutrality on the part of the Western Powers is reasonable, since they add nothing to America’s strength and cannot be effectively protected by America. He also expresses approval of the British Labour Party's proposal of a non-nuclear club of which Britain should be a member, supplemented, as it was not in Mr. Gaitskell's proposal, by cessation of membership of NATO. But, when it comes to what America should do, I can find almost nothing that seems to me compatible with rationality. Mr. Kahn admits that there are objective reasons for thinking that a thermonuclear war may occur, and he does not, so far as I have been able to discover, favor any U.S. policy which would make such a war less probable. He points out that conflicts analogous to the present cold war conflict are hardly ever settled amicably and he states explicitly that there are not improbable circumstances in which a nuclear war would be "rational." He concedes that we cannot tell what would happen in such a war and that the world would perhaps never recover, but he makes somewhat unconvincing attempts to persuade the reader that war would not be as catastrophic as many of us think. He believes that the genetic effects will only produce 10 million defective children, and he believes that the number of deaths in a thermonuclear war can be immensely reduced by the provision of shelters in cities, on which he urges the U.S. government to spend $30 billion. Given this amount of expenditure, he offers us somewhat pallid consolation: he says that, if the U.S. can get through the first three months and adequately decontaminate the workers, there will be a reasonable chance of survival, but he is not at all confident that these conditions will be fulfilled. He attempts to arrive at arithmetical estimates of the degree of damage which the U.S. government ought to find, what he amusingly calls, "acceptable." His limits, however, are somewhat wide and vague. He says that 200 million deaths would be "acceptable," but not 2 billion. Now and again, he surprisingly lapses into sentimentality — for example, when he says it might be right for America to fight to the last man, but not to the last woman and child. He does not pretend that a hot war would be advocated as a defense of freedom. He says that during and immediately after a thermonuclear war, "all remaining sources would be commandeered and shared without owner-identity in collective misery (one might say 'disaster socialism')." He says that after such a war, "life is going to be stark, elemental, brutal, filthy and miserable."
. . . In one place, he suggests recovery in 10,000 years; in another, he suggests recovery in 10 years. He nowhere discusses what will happen if his more optimistic prophecies come true. It is surely obvious, though Mr. Kahn does not say so, that if America persists in the attitudes that will have produced the first thermonuclear war, recovery will only lead to preparations for another. If a second thermonuclear war is to be avoided, it will have to be by the adoption of policies which might just as well be adopted now. If, on the other hand, those who agree with Mr. Kahn remain in control, thermonuclear wars will succeed each other until there is nobody left to fight them. This is a bleak and a cheerless outlook, but it is the best that Mr. Kahn can offer us even by stretching optimism to the very limits of credibility. Nowhere in this long book does he consider the possibility which would prevent a thermonuclear war by the ending of the cold war. The more or less tacit assumption upon which his whole discussion is based is that Russia will launch a surprise attack upon the U.S. at any moment when it seems likely that such an attack might lead to victory. He does not produce any evidence pointing to such a conclusion, and, in fact, as I shall argue shortly, all the evidence is to the contrary.
. . . Major General Talenski, in an article called "The Character of Modern War" (first published in International Affairs, Moscow, 1960), expresses Soviet official policy in a way intended to appeal to Russian public opinion. He is quite astonishingly different from Mr. Kahn in his outlook and hopes. Fifteen thousand bombs, he estimates, would "destroy everything living and non-living in the territory of Europe, including mountains, forests and tundra." But, if mountains, forests and tundra are allowed to survive, and only the destruction of human life is aimed at, a much smaller number of bombs would suffice. He estimates that to wipe out the U.S. (excepting Alaska) from the face of the earth would require about 850 H-bombs. In more densely populated countries, a few tens of H-bombs would suffice. All these estimates are based upon statements either made by Western authorities or accepted by them. He points out that radioactive fallout will threaten not only belligerents, but all human beings; and he concludes, "not to see the danger of a nuclear rocket war is harmful, but to see and underestimate it is criminal." Assuming, as patriotism compels him to do, that the West would be more completely defeated than the East, he still holds that a war would not be justified. To justify it, he says, "would be a harmful and anti-humanitarian point of view."
. . . Major General Talenski does not seek ways of making such awful destruction "acceptable," but, rather, looks to disarmament agreements to remove from the world the threat of thermonuclear war. "War in the military-technical sense has outlived itself as a weapon of policy." We must, he concludes, "struggle even more stubbornly and consistently for the destruction of all armaments, for the exclusion of war from the life of human society, for peace in the whole world."
. . . I do not think that the candid reader can doubt General Talenski's sincerity or fail to see that his arguments aim at persuading Russians and Chinese. Further, I think we should all acknowledge that the West will be fortunate if the East accepts his advice, provided that the West, or rather those who have power in the West, are persuaded that peace is preferable to the results of thermonuclear war. The danger to mankind, while Russian policy remains what it is now, comes primarily not from Communist countries, but from the military authorities of the U.S. (This is perhaps a temporary Situation, since Khrushchev may fall.) For American policy is doing what it can to persuade Russians that Khrushchev's hopes for peaceful coexistence are vain. We must hope that these efforts will fail, but, as things are, the hope can not be a very confident one.
. . . To anybody not obsessed by either Communist or anti-Communist fanaticism, it must be obvious that the antagonism which has produced the cold war and the imminent danger of a hot war is not only insane and criminal, but quite simply, silly. The interests of both East and West can only be furthered by genuine and wholehearted acceptance of the principle of coexistence. Both East and West are spending vast sums on armaments, and the West, if not the East, is proposing to increase these sums indefinitely. The only "good" that either side can derive from these armaments is injury to the "enemy." Not the faintest benefit to itself is any degree possible, and with every advance in technique the disaster to be expected in a nuclear war is increased. Each side excuses itself by maintaining that the other side wants world domination by military conquest rather than by peaceful Propaganda.
. . . It is true that Russian and Chinese Communists often express the hope that, in time, the whole world will become convinced of the benefits of communism, not in the shape of Russian domination, but the ordinary process of internal politics. This hope is exactly analogous to the hope of Christian missionaries that their preaching will in time convert the whole world to Christianity. I cannot see that either of these hopes has any rational basis. There is, it is true, a fanatical opinion which is not uncommon in the West. This is the opinion that the end of Man would be a smaller evil than the universal acceptance of communism, and that, on this ground, methods of mass extermination are desirable. But if this view continues to govern U.S. policy the outlook for the world is black.
. . . So firmly is it believed by dominant opinion in the West that Communists intend to conquer the world and will succeed if not opposed by military force, that anyone who allows himself to suggest means by which the death before the end of the present Century of all members of Western countries can be avoided is regarded as a traitor. It seems that the Soviet government has become aware that Communist countries have more to fear from the hostility between East and West than from the peaceful survival of capitalist countries. There are those in the West who have realise the correlative truth that Western countries could be far happier if they lived in amity with the Communist world than they can ever be while the present hostility continues. But, unfortunately, the military authorities are able whenever they choose to cause a crisis which will prevent a relaxation of tension. They proved their power in the U-2 incident, and I fear they may give us many new proofs that they can prevent any whisper of sanity from influencing policy.
. . . But for the destructive character of modern armaments, there is nothing new in this situation. Christianity and Islam believed for a thousand years that peaceful coexistence was impossible. At the end of a millennium of war, both sides realized that it had been a millennium of folly. Unfortunately, modern weapons have made it impossible for the human race to survive a thousand years of war. We now have to learn more quickly, or perish. Russia is learning. Will the United States learn in time? Or will Mr. Kahn and his friends put an end to the human species? No one knows.