Many people have heard of how John von Neumann proposed a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union before they got any nukes themselves. It’s sometimes used to illustrate his weirdness, or to critique his extreme version of game-theory (sometimes linked with John Nash’s insanity). You probably weren’t aware that Bertrand Russell, famous pacifist (though of course he made an exception for Nazis) and anti-A-bomb crusader who gave us the “peace” symbol advocated the same thing. To be precise, he wanted to threaten the Soviets with nuclear assault in order to avoid an even worse war down the road, but he confirmed that he was willing to actually nuke them if necessary.

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