Edited by The Nation
DANIEL ELLSBERG, who died on Friday at 92, will be remembered as one of the most consequential war resisters in American history. Had he not possessed an integrity vanishingly rare within the national-security circles that produced him, Ellsberg's life might have ended up like Henry Kissinger's.
Ellsberg was a Cold Warrior in the 1960s. The term "the best and the brightest" has lost much of its caustic irony over the years, but David Halberstam applied it to young, self-confident defense wonks like Ellsberg, who were out to rationalize and harness American military power in a struggle for the fate of the 20th century. Far smarter than most of his peers, Ellsberg came to see that career paths like his own—Defense Department official, Rand Corporation analyst—encouraged delusions that put America, and the world, at risk. Too much exposure to classified intelligence, he once warned Kissinger, will make you "something like a moron. You'll become incapable of learning from most people in the world," who lack access to it.