American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Crimson Tide" (1995)


Captain Ramsey and Commander Hunter Debate Nuclear War

Audio AR-XE mp3 delivered by Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington


[Language Advisory: Contains Profanity]

Captain Ramsey: Think it was a mistake, Mr. Hunter?

  Commander Hunter: Sir?


Captain Ramsey:  Using the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Commander Hunter: Well, if I thought that, sir, I wouldn't be here.

Captain Ramsey:  Interesting way you put that.

Commander Hunter: How'd I put it, sir?

Captain Ramsey:  Very carefully.



Captain Ramsey: You do qualify your remarks. Somebody asked me if we should bomb Japan, a simple "Yes -- by all means sir, drop that f----r. Twice." I don't mean to suggest that you're indecisive, Mr. Hunter. Not at all. Just...complicated. 'Course, that's the way the Navy wants you. Me, they want it simple.

Commander Hunter: Well, you certainly fooled them, sir.


  Captain Ramsey: Be careful there, Mr. Hunter. It's all I've got to rely on, being a simple-minded son of a bitch. Rickover gave me my command, a checklist, a target, and a button to push. All I had to know was how to push it -- they'd tell me when. They seem to want you to know why.

Commander Hunter: I would hope they'd want us all to know why, sir.

Captain Ramsey: At the Naval War College it was metallurgy and nuclear reactors, not 19th-century philosophy. "War is a continuation of politics by other means." Von Clausewitz.


Commander Hunter: I think, sir, that what he was actually trying to say was a little more --

Captain Ramsey: Complicated?

Commander Hunter: Yes the purpose of war is -- is to serve a political end but the true nature of war is to serve itself.



Captain Ramsey: Ha! I'm very impressed. In other words, the sailor most likely to win the war is the one most willing to part company with the politicians -- ignore everything except the destruction of the enemy. You'd agree with that.

Commander Hunter: I'd agree that that's what Clausewitz was trying to say.

Captain Ramsey: But you wouldn't agree with it?

Commander Hunter: No, sir, I do not. No, I -- I just think that in the nuclear world the true enemy can't be destroyed.


Captain Ramsey: Attention on deck. Von Clausewitz will now tell us exactly who the real enemy is. Von?

Commander Hunter: In my humble opinion, in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.