This week, you are asked to consider the traits necessary to be a responsible and effective leader, both in the military and in civilian life beyond. To do so, you will watch the clips from the film Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bombin a designated order. Because the full film is not available for free, events between the clips are described in the steps below. When completed, you will evaluate its leaders using one suggested framework for responsible leadership.
To accomplish this, please follow the steps below, in order. Some numbered steps will point you to clips from the film; others will simply provide a summary of portions of the film. It is especially important that you both watch the clips and read the summaries in order to answer correctly.
- Read this very brief blog post: Doctor Strangelove: A classic satire (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. . It provides some background into the clips from the film you are about to watch. It is important to understand that Dr. Strangelove is a satire that makes use of comedy to make very serious points.
- Watch the Tiffany Vazquez intro—Dr. Strangelove (1964) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. introduction to the film, hosted by Turner Classic Movies, a cable TV channel.
- Watch this trailer (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for the film.
- The film begins at the Burpelson Air Force Base, home to the 843rd Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). The base is commanded by General Jack D. Ripper, who has cracked under the psychological strain of command during the Cold War. In his demented state, he orders his bomb wing to attack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. He wants to destroy the Soviets, and he believes that by ordering the planes under his command to attack them, his military commanders and the President will be forced to send all American nuclear weapons against the Soviets as part of a first-strike offensive. After all, the Soviets are certain to respond with nuclear weapons of their own should Ripper’s air wing complete its ordered strike.
- Watch the clip Dr. Strangelove (1964)—(Movie clip) are the Russians involved? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Here, General Ripper places his base on full alert and under tight security lock down. He is speaking with Lieutenant Lionel Mandrake, an officer on loan from the United Kingdom.
- Watch the clip Dr. Strangelove (1964)—(Movie clip) wing attack Plan R (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. . Here, the bombers under Ripper’s command, who had been holding at their usual positions just outside of Soviet air space, receive encrypted orders to carry out Wing Attack Plan R against designated targets inside the Soviet Union.
- Back in Washington, DC, President Merkin Muffley and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified of Ripper’s action. Watch this clip: Dr. Strangelove (1964)—(Movie clip) get Premier Kissoff (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. . Here, the President convenes his military advisors, including General Buck Turgidson, to discuss options. President Muffley asks the Soviet Ambassador to contact the leader of the USSR, Premier Kissoff, to explain what has happened.
- Meanwhile, back at Burpelson Air Base, Lionel Mandrake discovers that Ripper has had a mental breakdown and that the orders to attack the Soviet Union are illegitimate. Mandrake demands that General Ripper hand over the recall codes needed to get the planes turned around before they enter Russian radar cover. General Ripper refuses to do so. Watch this clip, Dr. Strangelove (1964)—(Movie clip) it is my clear duty (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. , to see this interaction. Eventually, General Ripper takes his own life, but Mandrake alertly identifies the recall code from a scratchpad the general used.
- In Washington, DC, President Muffley successfully gets Soviet Premier Kissov on the phone and explains the situation. The Russian Ambassador then reveals the existence of a Doomsday Machine—a weapon that can sense nuclear explosions anywhere in the world and, in response, detonate enough bombs to purposefully destroy the world. The ambassador explains in this important clip: Dr. Strangelove (1964)—(Movie clip) doomsday machine (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. .
- Fortunately, the recall codes are issued to the American bombers and they retreat from Russian airspace. Unfortunately, one bomber has lost its communications equipment and is able to evade Russian air defense and therefore deliver its payload. The film ends on a grim note with hydrogen bombs exploding in rapid sequence, signifying nuclear Armageddon.
- Watch the following clip of General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, addressing the characteristics required to be a good leader: The essence of leadership (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. .
- Now it’s time to write your response. In one paragraph, react to General Powell’s speech. Do you agree with his assessment of leadership? Do you disagree? Why?
- In one paragraph, pick any character from the film and consider whether General Powell would consider that character to be a good or bad leader. Explain why you believe General Powell would offer this assessment.
- In one paragraph, evaluate whether you think that character was a good or bad leader, and explain why.
Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from required material(s) and/or scholarly sources.
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