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 is 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 and 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.


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.