Albert Wohlstetter Quotes

Albert James Wohlstetter (December 19, 1913 – January 10, 1997) was an influential and controversial nuclear strategist during the Cold War. He was of German ancestry. He and his wife Roberta Wohlstetter, an accomplished historian and intelligence expert, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan on November 7, 1985. He was one of the inspirations for the film Dr. Strangelove

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Albert Wohlstetter


We must contemplate some extremely unpleasant possibilities, just because we want to avoid them and achieve something better. Nobody, however, likes to think about anything unpleasant, even to avoid it. And so the crucial problem of thermonuclear war is frequently dispatched with the label 'War is unthinkable' -- which, translated freely, means we don't want to think about it.

Albert Wohlstetter


Almost everyone seems concerned with the need to relax tension. However, relaxation of tension, which everyone thinks is good, is not easily distinguished from relaxing ones guard, which almost everyone thinks is bad. Relaxation, like Miltown, is not an end in itself. Not all danger comes from tension. The reverse relation, to be tense where there is danger, is only rational.

Albert Wohlstetter