Report from Iron Mountain
Report From Iron Mountain,
[Editor's Note: The Report from Iron Mountain is a vehicle of disinformation. It was released to the public for the purpose of deception. Its stated conlcusion is that the mass of humanity is so weak and fragile that the world could not handle the revelation of an ET presence on Earth and therefore it's more desirable to withhold such information from the public. Its real goal was to set the stage for a looming alien 'threat' that would eventually herald an in-your-face alien appearance by an armada of UFOs that will be witnessed by just about everyone on the planet. The fake alien invasion scenario will likely be staged in the midst of other orchestrated calamities in order to stampede the public into believing we have to give up our national sovereignty and liberties in the interest of self preservation. ..Ken Adachi]
Go To Part 2
Go To Part 3
Introduction By Leonard C. Lewin
Report Dated March 1966
Article Dated June 1967
REPORT FROM IRON MOUNTAIN ON THE POSSIBILITY AND DESIRABILITY OF PEACE
WITH INTRODUCTORY MATERIAL BY LEONARD C. LEWIN
"A BOOK THAT SHOOK THE WHITE HOUSE."
--US. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT
Report from Iron Mountain unveils a hitherto top-secret report of a government commission that was requested to explore the consequences of lasting peace on American society. The shocking results of the study, as revealed in this report, led the government to conceal the existence of the commission--they had found that, among other things, peace may never be possible; that even if it were, it would probably be un-desirable, that "defending the national interest" is not the real purpose of war; that war is necessary; that war deaths should be planned and budgeted. REPORT FROM IRON MOUNTAIN tells the story of how the project was formed, how it operated, What happened to it. It includes the complete verbatim text of the commission's hitherto classified report.
". . . so elaborate and ingenious and so substantively original, acute, interesting and horrifying, that it will receive serious attention regardless of its origin."
--The New York Times
"The first major result of the transformation of the war game into the peace game."
--Irving Louis Horowitz,
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
"Should be the occasion for new public demand for a penetrating examination and evaluation of government reports on strategic planning for disarmament and peace."
--The Editors of Trans-action
Leonard C. Lewin is a critic and satirist whose work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines here and abroad. He is the editor of A Treasury of American Political Humor.
"John Doe," as I will call him in this book for reasons that will be made clear, is a professor at a large university in the Middle West. His field is one of the social sciences, but I will not identify him beyond this. He telephoned me one evening last winter, quite unexpectedly; we had not been in touch for several years. He was in New York for a few days, he said, and there was something important he wanted to discuss with me. He wouldn't say what it was. We met for lunch the next day at a midtown restaurant.
He was obviously disturbed. He made small talk for half an hour, which was quite out of character, and I didn't press him. Then, apropos of nothing, he mentioned a dispute between a writer and a prominent political family that had been in the headlines. What, he wanted to know, were my views on "freedom of information." How would I qualify them? And so on. My answers were not memorable, but they seemed to satisfy him. Then quite abruptly, he began to tell me the following story:
Early in August of 1963, he said, he found a message on his desk that a "Mrs. Potts" had called him from Washington. When he returned the call, a man answered immediately, and told Doe, among other things, that he had been selected to serve on a commission "of the high importance." Its objective was to determine, accurately and realistically, the nature of the problems that would confront the United States if and when a condition "permanent peace" should arrive, and to draft a program for dealing with this contingency. The man described the unique procedures that were to govern the commission's work and that were expected to extend its scope far beyond that of any previous examination of the problems.
Considering that the caller did not precisely identify either himself or his agency, his persuasiveness must have been of a truly remarkable order. Doe entertained no serious doubts of the bona fides of the project, however, chiefly because of his previous experience with excessive secrecy that often surrounds quasi-governmental activities. In addition, the man at the other end of the line demonstrated an impressively complete and surprisingly detailed knowledge of Doe's word and personal life. He also mentioned the names of others who were to serve with the group; most of them were known to Doe by reputation. Doe agreed to take the assignment --he felt he had no real choice in the matter- -and to appear the second Saturday following at Iron Mountain, New York. An airline ticket arrived in his mail the next morning.
The cloak-and-dagger tone of this convocation was further enhanced by the meeting place itself. Iron Mountain, located near the town of Hudson, is like something out of Ian Fleming or E. Phillips Oppenheim. It is an underground nuclear hideout for hundreds of large American corporations. Most of them use it as am emergency storage vault for important documents. But a number of them maintain substitute corporate headquarters as well where essential
personnel could presumably survive and continue to work after an attack. This latter group included such firms as Standard Oil of New Jersey, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, and Shell.
I will leave most of the story of the operations of the Special Study Group, as the commission was formerly called, for Doe to tell in his own words ("Background Information"). At this point it is necessary to say only that it met and worked regularly for over two and a half years, after which it produced a report. It was this document, and what to do about it, that Doe wanted to talk to me about.
The Report, he said, had been suppressed--both by the Special Study Group itself and by the government interagency committee to which it had been submitted. After months of agonizing, Doe had decided that he would no longer be party to keeping it secret. What he wanted from me was advice and assistance in having it published. He gave me his copy to read, with the express understanding that if for any reason I were unwilling to become involved, I would say nothing about it to anyone else.
I read the Report that same night. I will pass over my own reactions to it, except to say that the unwillingness of Doe's associates to publicize their findings became readily understandable. What had happened was that they had been so tenacious in their determination to deal comprehensively with the many problems of transition to peace that the original questions asked of them were never quite answered. Instead, this is what they concluded:
Lasting peace, while not theoretically impossible, is probably unattainable; even if it could be achieved it would almost certainly not be in the best interests of a stable society to achieve it.
That is the gist of what they say. Behind their qualified academic language runs this general argument: War fills certain functions essential to the stability of our society; until other ways of filling them are developed, the war system must be maintained--and improved in effectiveness.
It is not surprising that the Group, in its Letter of Transmittal, did not choose to justify its work to "the lay reader, unexposed to the exigencies of higher political or military responsibility." Its Report was addressed, deliberately, to unnamed government administrators of high rank; it assumed considerable political sophistication from this select audience. To the general reader, therefore, the substance of the document may be even more unsettling than its conclusions. He may not be prepared for some of its assumptions--for instance, that most medical advances are viewed more as problems than as progress; or that poverty is necessary and desirable, public posture by politicians to the contrary notwithstanding; or that standing armies are, among other things, social-welfare institutions in exactly the same sense as are old-people's bones and mental hospitals. It may strike him as odd to find the probable explanation of "flying saucer" incidents disposed of en passant in less than a sentence. He may be less surprised to find that the space program and the controversial antimissile missile and fallout shelter programs are understood to have the spending of vast sums of money, not the advancement of science or national defense, as their principal goals, and to learn that "military" draft policies are only remotely concerned with defense.
He may be offended to find the organized repression of minority groups, and even the re-establishment of slavery, seriously (and on the whole favorably) discussed as possible aspects of a world at peace. He is not likely to take kindly to the notion of the deliberate intensification of air and water pollution (as part of a program leading to peace), even when the reason for considering it is made clear. That a world without war will have to turn sooner rather than later to universal test-tube procreation will be less disturbing, if no more appealing. But few readers will not be taken aback, at least, by a few lines in the Report's conclusions, repeated in its for recommendations, that suggest that the long-range planning--and "budgeting"--of the "optimum" number lives to be destroyed annually in overt warfare is high on the Group's list of priorities for government action.
I cite these few examples primarily to warn the general reader what he can expect. The statesmen and strategists for whose eyes the Report was intended obviously need no such protective admonition.
This book of course, is evidence of my response to Doe's request. After carefully considering the problems that might confront the publisher of the Report, we took it to The Dial Press. There, its significance was immediately recognized, and, more important, we were given firm assurances that no outside pressures of any sort would be permitted to interfere with its publication.
It should be made clear that Doe does not disagree with the substance of the Report, which represents a genuine consensus in all important respects. He constituted a minority of one--but only on the issue of disclosing it to the general public. A look at how the Group dealt with this question will be illuminating.
The debate took place at the Group's last full meeting before the report was written, late in March, 1966, and again at Iron Mountain. Two facts must be kept in mind, by way of background. The first is that the Special Study Croup had never been explicitly charged with or sworn to secrecy, either when it was convened or at any time thereafter. The second is that the Group had nevertheless operated as if it had been. This was assumed from the circumstances of its inception and from the tone of its instructions. (The Group's acknowledgment of help from "the many persons . . . who contributed so greatly to our work" is somewhat equivocal; these persons were not told the nature of the project for which their special resources of information were solicited. )
Those who argued the case for keeping the Report secret were admittedly motivated by fear of the explosive political effects that could be expected from publicity. For evidence, they pointed to the suppression of the far less controversial report of then- Senator Hubert Humphrey's subcommittee on disarmament in l962. (Subcommittee members had reportedly feared that it might be used by Communist propagandists, as Senator Stuart Symington put it, to "back up the Marxian theory that war production was the reason for the success of capitalism.") Similar political precautions had been taken with the better-known Gaither Report in 1957, and even with the so-called Moynihan Report in 1965.
Furthermore, they insisted, a distinction must be made between serious studies, which are normally classified unless and until policy makers decide to release them, and conventional "showcase" projects, organized to demonstrate a political leadership's concern about an issue and to deflect the energy of those pressing for action on it. (The example used, because some of the Croup had participated in it, was a "White House Conference" on international cooperation, disarmament, etc., which had been staged late in 1965 to offset complaints about escalation of the Vietnam war.)
Doe acknowledges this distinction, as well as the strong possibility of public misunderstanding. But he feels that if the sponsoring agency had wanted to mandate secrecy it could have done so at the outset. It could also have assigned the project to one of the government's established "think tanks," which normally work on a classified basis. He scoffed at fear of public reaction, which could have no lasting effect on long-range measures that might be taken to implement the Group's proposals, and derided the Group's abdication of responsibility for its opinions and conclusions. So far as he was concerned, there was such a thing as a public right to know what was being done on its behalf; the burden of proof was on those who would abridge it.
If my account seems to give Doe the better of the argument, despite his failure to convince his colleagues, so be it. My participation in this book testifies that I am not neutral. In my opinion, the decision of the Special Study Group to censor its own findings was not merely timid but presumptuous. But the refusal, as of this writing, of the agencies for which the Report was prepared to release it themselves raises broader questions of public policy. Such questions center on the continuing use of self-serving definitions of "security" to avoid possible political embarrassment. It is ironic how often this practice backfires.
I should state, for the record, that I do not share the attitudes toward war and peace, life and death, and survival of the species manifested in the Report. Few readers will. In human terms, it is an outrageous document. But it does represent a serious and challenging effort to define an enormous problem. And it explains, or certainly appears to explain, aspects of American policy otherwise incomprehensible by the ordinary standards of common sense. What we may think of these explanations is something else, but it seems to me that we are entitled to know not only what they are but whose they are.
By "whose" I don't mean merely the names of the authors of the Report. Much more important, we have a right to know to what extent their assumptions of social necessity are shared by the decision-makers in our government. Which do they accept and which do they reject. However disturbing the answers, only full and frank discussion offers any conceivable hope of solving the problems raised by the Special Study Croup in their Report from
New York, June 1967
[The following account of the workings of the Special Study Group is taken verbatim from a series of tape-recorded interviews I had with "John Doe." The transcript has been edited to minimize the intrusion of my questions and comments, as well as for length, and the sequence has been revised in the interest of continuity. L.C.L]
How was the Group formed?
.,, The general idea for it, for this kind of study, dates back at least to l96l. It started with some of the new people who came in with the Kennedy administration, mostly, I think, with McNamara, Bundy, and Rusk. They were impatient about many things.... One of them was that no really serious work had been done about planning for peace--a long-range peace, that is, with long- range planning.
Everything that had been written on the subject [before l96l] was superficial. There was insufficient appreciation of the scope of the problem. The main reason for this, of course, was that the idea a of a real peace in the world, general disarmament and so on, was looked on as utopian. Or even crackpot. This is still true, and it's easy enough to understand when you look at what's going on in the world today.... It was reflected in the studies that had been made up to that time. They were not realistic.. . .
The idea of the Special Study, the exact form it would take, was worked out early in '63.... The settlement of the Cuban missile affair had something to do with it, but what helped most to get it moving were the big changes in military spending that were being planned.... Plants being closed, relocations, and so forth. Most of it wasn't made public until much later....
[I understand] it took a long time to select the people for the Group. The calls didn't go out until the summer....
Who made the selection?
That's something I can't tell you. I wasn't involved with the preliminary planning. The first I knew of it was when I was called myself. But three of the people had been in on it, and what the rest of us know we learned from them, about what went on earlier. I do know that it started very informally. I don't know what particular government agency approved' the project.
Would you care to make a guess?
All right--I think it was an ad hoc committee, at the cabinet level, or near it. It had to be. I suppose they gave the organizational job--making arrangements, paying the bills, and so on--to somebody from State or Defense or the National Security Council. Only one of us was in touch with Washington, and I wasn't the one. But I can tell you that very, very few people knew about us. ., . For instance, there was the Ackley Committee. It was set up after we were. If you read their report-- the same old tune-- economic re conversion, turning sword plants into plowshare factories--I think you'll wonder if even the President knew about our Group. The Ackley Committee certainly didn't.
Is that possible, really? I mean that not even the President knew of your commission?
Well, I don't think there's anything odd about the government attacking a problem at two different levels. Or even about two or three government agencies working at cross- purposes. It happens all the time. Perhaps the President did know. And I don't mean to denigrate the Ackley Committee1, but it was exactly that narrowness of approach that we were supposed to get away from. .
You have to remember-- you've read the Report-- that what they wanted from us was a different kind thinking. It was a matter of approach. Herman Kal calls it "Byzantine"--no agonizing over cultural and (1) religious values. No moral posturing. It's the kind of thinking that Rand and the Hudson Institute and I.D.A.(2) brought into war planning.... What they asked us to do, and I think; we did it, was to give the same kind of treatment to the hypothetical problems of peace as they give to a hypothetical nuclear war....We may have gone further than they expected, but once you establish your premises and your logic you can't turn back....
Kahn's books (3), for example, are misunderstood, at least by laymen. They shock people. But you see, what's important about them is not his conclusions, or his opinions. It's the method. He has done more than anyone else I can think of to get the general public accustomed to the style of modern military thinking....Today it's possible for a columnist to write about "counter force strategy" and "minimum deterrence" and "credible first-strike capability" without having to explain every other word. He can write about war and strategy without getting bogged down in questions of morality....
The other big difference about our work is breadth. The Report speaks for itself. I can't say that we took every relevant aspect of life and society into account, but I don't think we missed anything essential . . .
Why was the project given to an outside commission? Why couldn't it have been handled directly by an appropriate government agency?
I think that's obvious, or should be. The kind of thinking wanted from our Group just isn't to be had in a formal government operation. Too many constraints. Too many inhibitions. This isn't a new problem. Why else would outfits like Rand and Ingersol stay in business? Any assignment that's at all sophisticated is almost always given to an outside group. This is true even in the State Department, in the "gray" operations, those that arc supposed to
be unofficial, but are really as official as can be. Also with the C.l.A....
For our study, even the private research centers were too institutional.... A lot of thought went into making sure that our thinking would be unrestricted. All kinds of little things. The way we were called into the Group, the places we met, all kinds of subtle devices to remind us. For instance, even our name, the Special Study Group. You know government names. Wouldn't you think we'd have been called "Operation Olive Branch," or "Project Pacifica," or something like that? Nothing like that for us--too allusive, too suggestive. And no minutes of our--meetings--too inhibiting.... About who might be reading them. Of course, we took notes for our own use. And among ourselves, we usually called ourselves "The Iron Mountain Boys' or "Our Thing," or whatever came to mind....
What can you tell me about the members of the Group ?
I'll have to stick to generalities.... There were fifteen of us. The important thing was that we represented a very wide range of disciplines. And not all academic. People from the natural sciences, the social sciences, even the humanities. We had a lawyer and a businessman. Also, a professional war planner. Also, you should know that everyone in the Group had done work of distinction in at least two different fields. The interdisciplinary element was built in....
It's true that there were no women in the Group, but I don't think that was significant.... We were all American citizens, of course. And all, I can say, in very good health, at least when we began.... You see, the first order of business, at the first meeting, was the reading of dossiers. They were very detailed, and not just professional, but also personal. They included medical histories. I remember one very curious thing, for whatever it's worth. Most of us, and that includes me, had a record of abnormally high uric acid concentrations in the blood... None of us had ever had this experience, of a public inspection of credentials, or medical reports. It was very disturbing....
But it was deliberate. The reason for it was to emphasize that we were supposed to make all our own decisions on procedure, without outside rules. This include judging each others qualifications and making allowances for possible bias. I don't think it affected our work directly, but it made the point it was supposed to make...That we should ignore absolutely nothing that might conceivably affect our objectivity.
[At this point, I persuaded Doe that a brief occupational description of the individual members of the Group would serve a useful purpose for readers of the Report. The list which follows was worked out on paper. (It might be more accurate to say it was negotiated.) The problem was to give as much relevant information as possible without violating Doe's commitment to protect his colleagues' anonymity. It turned out to be very difficult, especially in the cases of those members who are very well known. For this reason, secondary areas of achievement or reputation are usually not shown,
The simple alphabetical "names" were assigned by Doe for convenient reference; they bear no intended relation to actual names. "Able" was the Camp's Washington contact. It was he who brought and read the dossiers, and who most often acted as chairman. He, "Baker" and "Cox" were the three who had been involved in the preliminary planning There is no other significance to the order of listing.
"Arthus Able" is an historian and political theorist, who has served in government.
"Bernard Baker" is a professor of international law and a consultant on government operations.
"Charles Cox" is an economist, social critic; and biographer.
"Edward Ellis" is a sociologist often involved in public affairs.
"Frank Fox" is a cultural anthropologist
"George Green" is a psychologist, educator, and developer of personnel testing systems.
"Harold Hill" is a psychiatrist, the has conducted extensive studies of the relationship between individual and group behavior.
"John Jones is a scholar and literary critic.
'Martin Miller" is a physical chemist, whose work has received international recognition at the highest level.
"Paul Peters" is a biochemist, who has made important discoveries bearing on reproductive processes.
"Richard Roe" is a mathematician affiliated withan independent West Coast research institution.
"Samuel Smith" is an astronomer, physicist, and communications theorist.
"Thomas Taylor" is a systems analyst and war planner, who has written extensively on war, peace, and international relations.
"William White" is an industrialist, who has under-taken many special government assignments.]
How did the Group operate? I mean, where and when did you meet, and so forth?
We met on the average of once a month. Usually was on weekends, and usually for two days. We had few longer sessions, and one that lasted only four hours . . . We met all over the country, always at a different place, except for the first and last times, which were a Iron Mountain. It was like a traveling seminar.... Sometimes at hotels, sometimes at universities. Twice we met at summer camps, and once at a private estate, in Virginia. We used a usiness place in Pittsburgh, and another in Poughkeepsie [New York].... We never met in Washington, or on government property anywhere....Able would announce the times and places two meetings ahead. They were never changed....
We didn't divide into subcommittees, or anything else that formal. But we all took individual assignments between meetings. A lot of it involved getting information from other people.... Among the fifteen of us, I don-t think there was anybody in the academic or professional world we couldn't call on if we wanted to, and we took advantage of it.... We were paid a very modest per diem. All of it was called "expenses" on the vouchers. We were told not to report it on our tax returns.... The checks were drawn on a special account of Able's at a New York bank. He signed them.... I don't know what the study cost. So far as our time and travel were concerned, it couldn't have come to more than the low tax-figure range. But the big item must have been computer time, and I have no idea how high this ran....
You say that you don't think your work was affected by professional bias. What about political and philosophical bias? Is it possible to deal with questions of war and peace without reflecting personal values?
Yes, it is. I can understand your skepticism. But if you had been at any of our meetings you'd have had a very hard time figuring out who were the liberals and who were the conservatives, or who were hawks and who were doves. There is such a thing as objectivity, and I think we had it.... I don't say no one had any emotional reaction to what we were doing. We all did, to some extent. As a matter of fact, two members had heart attacks after we were
finished, and I'll be the first to admit it probably wasn't a coincidence.
You said you made your own ground rules. What were these ground rules?
The most important were informality and unanimity. By informality I mean that our discussions were open ended. We went as far afield as any one of us thought we had to. For instance, we spent a lot of time on the relationship between military recruitment policies and industrial employment. Before we were finished with it, we'd one through the history of western penal codes and any number of comparative psychiatric studies [of draftees and volunteers]. We looked over the organization of the Inca empire. We determined the effects of automation on underdeveloped societies.... It was all relevant...
By unanimity, I don't mean that we kept taking votes; like a jury. I mean that we stayed with every issue until we had what the Quakers call a "sense of the meeting " It was time-consuming. But in the long run it saved time. Eventually we all got on the same wavelength, so to speak....
Of course we had differences, and big ones especially in the beginning.... For instance, in Section 1 you might think we were merely clarifying our instructions. Not so; it took a long time before we all agreed to a strict interpretation....Roe and Taylor deserve most of the credit for this.... There are many things in the Report that look obvious now, but didn't seem so obvious then. For instance, on the relationship of war to social systems. The original premise was conventional, from Clausewitz. . . That war was an "instrument" of broader political values. Able was the only one who challenged this, at first. Fox called his position "perverse." Yet it was Fox who furnished most of the data that led us all to agree with Able eventually. I mention this because I think it's good example of the way we worked. A triumph of method over cliché.... I certainly don't intend to go into details about who took what side about what, and when. But I will say, to give credit where due, that only Roe, Able, Hill, and Taylor were able to see, at the beginning, where our method was taking us.
But you always reached agreement, eventually.
Yes. It's a unanimous report.... I don't mean that our sessions were always harmonious. Some of them were rough. The last six months there was a lot of quibbling about small points.... We'd been under pressure for a long time, we'd been working together too long. It was natural . . . that we got on each other's nerves. For a while Able and Taylor weren't speaking to each other. Miller threatened to quit. But this all passed. There were no important differences....
How was the Report actually written? Who did the writing?
We all had a hand in the first draft. Jones and Able put it together, and then mailed it around for review before working out a final version.... The only problems were the form it should take and whom we were writing it for. And, of course, the question of disclosure....[Doe's comments on this point are summarized in the introduction.]
You mentioned a "peace games" manual. What are peace games?
I wanted to say something about that. The Report barely mentions it. "Peace games' is a method we developed during the course of the study. It's a forecast technique, an information system. I'm very excited about it. Even if nothing is done about our recommendations--which is conceivable--this is something that can't be ignored. It will revolutionize the study social problems. It's a by-product of the study. We needed a fast, dependable procedure to approximate the effects of disparate social phenomena on other social phenomena. We got it. It's in a primitive phase, but works.
How are peace games played? Are they like Rand's war games?
You don't "play" peace games, like chess or Monopoly any more than you play war games with toy soldiers. You use computers. Its a programming system. A compute "language," like FORTRAN, or ALGOL, or Jovial.... Its advantage is its superior capacity to interrelate data with no apparent common points of reference.... A simple analogy is likely to be misleading. But I can give you some examples. For instance, supposing I asked you to figure out what effect a moon landing by U.S. astronauts would have on an election in, say, Sweden. Or what effect a change in the draft law--a
specific change-- would have on the value of real estate in downtown Manhattan? Or a certain change in college entrance requirements in the United States on the British shipping industry?
You would probably say, first, that there would be no effect to speak of, and second, that there would be no way of telling. But you'd be wrong on both counts. In each case there would be an effect, and the peace games method could tell you what it would be, quantitatively. I didn't take these examples out of the air. We used them working out the method.... Essentially, it's an elaborate, high-speed trial-and-error system for determining working algorithms. Like most sophisticated types of computer problem-solving....
A lot of the "games" of this kind you read about are just glorified conversational exercises. They really are games, and nothing more. I just saw one reported in the Canadian Computer Society Bulletin, called a "Vietnam Peace Game." They use simulation techniques, but the programming hypotheses are speculative....
The idea of a problem-solving system like this is not original with us. ARPA (4) has been working on something like it. So has General Electric, in California. There are others.... We were successful not because we know more than they do about programming, which we don't but because we learned how to formulate the problem accurately. It goes back to the old saw. You can find the answer if you know the right question....
Supposing you hadn't developed this method. Would you have come to the same conclusions in the Report?
Certainly. But it would have taken many times longer.... But please don't misunderstand my enthusiasm [about the peace games method]. With all due respect to the effects of computer technology on modern thinking, basic judgments must still be made by human beings. The peace games technique isn't responsible for our Report. We are....
1. This was a "Committee on the Economic Impact of Defense and Disarmament," headed by Gardner Ackley, of the Council of Economic Advisers. It was established by Presidential order in December, 1963, and issued a report in July, 1965.
2. The Institute for Defense Analysis
3. On Thermonuclear War, Thinking About the Unthinkable, On Escalation
4. The Advanced Research Projects Agency, of the Department of Defense.
STATEMENT BY "JOHN DOE"
CONTRARY to the decision of the Special Study Croup, of which I was a member, I have arranged for the general release of our Report. I am grateful to Mr. Leonard C. Lewin for his invaluable assistance in making this possible, and to The Dial Press for accepting the challenge of publication. Responsibility for taking this step, however is mine and mine alone.
I am well aware that my action may be taken as a breach of faith by some of my former colleagues. But my view my responsibility to the society of which am a part supersedes any self-assumed obligation on the part of fifteen individual men. Since our Report can be considered on its merits, it is not necessary for me to disclose their identity to accomplish my purpose. Yet I would gladly abandon my own anonymity if it were possible to do so without at the same time compromising theirs, to defend our work publicly if and when they release me from this personal bond.
But this is secondary. What is needed now, and needed badly, is widespread public discussion and debate about the elements of war and the problems of peace. I hope that publication of this Report will serve to initiate it.
THE REPORT OF THE SPECIAL STUDY GROUP
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
TO THE CONVENER OF THIS GROUP:
Attached is the Report of the Special Study Group established by you in August, 1963, 1) to consider the problems involved in the contingency of a transition to a general condition of peace, and 2) to recommend procedures for dealing with this contingency. For the convenience of non technical readers we have elected to submit our statistical supporting data, totaling 604 exhibits, separately, as well as a preliminary manual of the "peace games" method devised during the course of our study.
We have completed our assignment to the best of our ability, subject to the limitations of time and resources available to us. Our conclusions of fact and our recommendations are unanimous; those of us who differ in certain secondary respects from the findings set forth herein do not consider these differences sufficient to warrant the filing of a minority report. It is our earnest hope that the fruits of our deliberations will be of value to our government in its efforts to provide leadership to the nation in solving the complex and far-reaching problems we have examined, and that our recommendations for subsequent Presidential action in this area will be adopted.
Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the establishment of this Group, and in view of the nature of its findings, we do not recommend that this Report be released for publication. It is our affirmative judgment that such action would not be in the public interest. The uncertain advantages of public discussion of our conclusions and recommendations are, in our opinion, greatly outweighed by the clear and predictable danger of a crisis in public confidence which untimely publication of this Report might be expected to provoke. The likelihood that a lay reader, unexposed to the exigencies of higher political or military responsibility, will misconstrue the purpose of this project, and the intent of its participants, seems obvious. We urge that circulation of this Report be closely restricted to those whose responsibilities require that they be apprised of its contents.
We deeply regret that the necessity of anonymity, a prerequisite to our Group's unhindered pursuit of its objectives, precludes proper acknowledgment of our gratitude to the many persons in and out of government who contributed so greatly to our work.
For the Special Study Group
[signature withheld for publication]
30 September, 1966
THE REPORT which follows summarizes the results of a two-and-- half-year study of the broad problems to be anticipated in the event of a general transformation of American society to a condition lacking its most critical current characteristics: its capability and readiness to make war when doing so is judged necessary or desirable by its political leadership.
Our work has been predicated on the belief that some kind of general peace may soon be negotiable. The de facto admission of Communist China into the United Nations now appears to be only a few years away at most. It has become increasingly manifest that conflicts of American national interest with those of China and the Soviet Union are susceptible of political solution, despite the superficial contraindications of the current Vietnam war, of the threats of an attack on China, and of the necessarily hostile tenor of day-to-day foreign policy statements. It is also obvious differences involving other nations can be readily resolved by the three great powers whenever they arrive at a stable peace among themselves. It is not necessary, for the purposes of our study, to assume that a general détente of this sort will come about--and we make no such argument--but only that it may.
It is surely no exaggeration to say that a condition of general world peace would lead to changes in the social structures of the nations of the world of unparalleled and revolutionary magnitude. The economic impact of general disarmament, to name only the most obvious consequence of peace, would revise the production and distribution patterns of the globe to a degree that would make the changes of the past fifty years seem insignificant. Political, sociological, cultural, and ecological changes would be equally far-reaching. What has motivated our study of these contingencies has been the growing sense of thoughtful men in and out of government that the world is totally unprepared to meet the demands of such a situation.
We had originally planned, when our study was initiated, to address ourselves to these two broad questions and their components: What can be expected of peace comes? What should me be prepared to do about it? But as our investigation proceeded it became apparent that certain other questions had to be faced.
What, for instance, are the real functions of war in modern societies, beyond the ostensible ones of defending and advancing the "national interests" of nations? In the absence of war, what other institutions exist or might be devised to fulfill these functions? Granting that a "peaceful" settlement of disputes is within the range of current international relationships, is the abolition of war, in the broad sense, really possible? If so, is it necessarily desirable, in terms of social stability? If not, what can be done to improve the operation of our social system in respect to its war-readiness?
The word peace, as we have used it in the following pages, describes a permanent, or quasi-permanent, condition entirely free from the national exercise, or contemplation, of any form of the organized social violence, or threat of violence, generally known as war. It implies total and general disarmament. It is not used to describe the more familiar condition of "cold war," "armed peace," or other mere respite, long or short, from armed conflict. Nor is it used simply as a synonym for the political settlement of international differences. The magnitude of modern means of mass destruction and the speed of modern communications require the unqualified working definition given above; only a generation ago such an absolute description would have seemed utopian rather than pragmatic. Today, any modification of this definition would render it almost worthless for our purpose. By the same standard, we have used the word war to apply interchangeably to conventional ("hot") war, to the general condition of war preparation or war readiness, and to the general "war system." The sense intended is made clear in context.
The first section of our Report deals with its scope and with the assumptions on which our study was based. The second considers the effects of disarmament on economy, the subject of most peace research to date. The third takes up so-called "disarmament scenarios" which have been proposed. The fourth, fifth, and sixth examine the nonmilitary functions of war and the problems they raise for a viable transition to peace; here will be found some indications of the true dimensions of the problem not previously coordinated in any other study. In the seventh section we summarize our findings, and in the eighth we set forth our recommendations for what I believe to be a practical and necessary course of action.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
WHEN THE SPECIAL STUDY GROUP was established in August, l963, its members were instructed to govern their deliberations in accordance with three principal criteria. Briefly stated, they were these: 1) military-style objectivity; 2) avoidance of preconceived value assumptions; 3) inclusion of all relevant areas of theory and data.
These guideposts are by no means as obvious as they may appear at first glance, and we believe it necessary to indicate clearly how they were to inform our work. For they express succinctly the limitations of previous "peace studies," and imply the nature of both government and official dissatisfaction with these earlier efforts. It is not our intention here to minimize the significance of the work of our predecessors, or to belittle the quality of their contributions. What we have tried to do, and believe we have done, is extend their scope. We hope that our conclusions may serve in turn as a starting point for still broader and more detailed examinations of every aspect of the problems of transition to peace and of the questions which must be answered before such a transition can be allowed to get under way.
It is a truism that objectivity is more often an intention expressed than an attitude achieved, but the intention--conscious, unambiguous, and constantly self-critical --is a precondition to its achievement. We believe it no accident that we were charged to use a "military contingency" model for our study, and we owe a considerable debt to the civilian war planning agencies for their pioneering work in the objective examination of the contingencies of nuclear war. There is no such precedent in peace studies. Much of the usefulness of even the most elaborate and carefully reasoned programs for economic conversion to peace, for example, has been vitiated by a wishful eagerness to demonstrate that peace is not only possible, but even cheap or easy. One official report is replete with references to the critical role of "dynamic optimism" on economic developments, and goes on to submit, as evidence, that it "would be hard to imagine that the American people would not respond very positively to an agreed and safeguarded program to substitute an international rule of law and order," etc.1 Another line of argument frequently taken is that disarmament would entail comparatively little disruption of the economy, since it need only be partial; we will deal with this approach later. Yet genuine objectivity in war studies is often criticized as inhuman. As Herman Kahn, the writer on strategic studies best known to the general public, put it: "Critics frequently object to the icy rationality of the Hudson Institute, the Rand Corporation, and other such organizations. I'm always tempted to ask in reply, 'Would you prefer a warm, human error? Do you feel better with a nice emotional mistake?" 2 And as Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara has pointed out, in reference to facing up to the possibility of nuclear war, "Some people are afraid even to look over the edge. But in a thermonuclear war we cannot afford any political acrophobia."3 Surely it should be self-evident that this applies equally to the opposite prospect, but so far no one has taken more than a timid glance over the brink of peace.
An intention to avoid preconceived value judgments is if anything even more productive of self-delusion. We claim no immunity, as individuals, from this type of bias, but we have made a continuously self-conscious effort to deal with the problems of peace without, for example, considering that a condition of peace is per se "good" or "bad." This has not been easy, but it has been obligatory; to our knowledge, it has not been done before. Previous studies have taken the desirability of peace, the importance of human life, the superiority of democratic institutions, the greatest "good" for the greatest number, the "dignity" of the individual, the desirability of maximum health and longevity, and other such wishful premises as axiomatic values necessary for the justification of a study of peace issues. We have not found them so. We have attempted to apply the standards of physical science to our thinking, the principal characteristic of which is not quantification, as is so popularly believed, but that, in Whitehead's words, "...it ignores all judgment value; for instance, all esthetic and moral judgments."4 Yet it is obvious that any serious investigation of a problem, however "pure," must be informed by some normal positive standard. In this case it has been simply the sum of human society in general, of American society in particular, and, as a corollary to survival, the stability of society.
It is interesting, we believe, to note that the most passionate planners of nuclear strategy also recognize that the stability of society is the one bedrock value that cannot be avoided. Secretary McNamara has defended the need for American nuclear superiority on the grounds that it "makes possible a strategy designed to press the fabric of our societies if war should occur."5 A former member of the Department of State policy planning staff goes further. "A more precise word for peace, in terms of the practical world, is stability.... Today the great nuclear panoplies are essential elements in such stability exists. Our present purpose must be to continue I process of learning how to live with them."6 We, of course do not equate stability with peace, but we accept it as the one common assumed objective of both peace and war.
The third criterion--breadth--has taken us still farther afield from peace studies made to date. It is obvious to any layman that the economic patterns of a warless world will be drastically different from those we live wish today, and it is equally obvious that the political relationships of nations will not be those we have learned to take for granted, sometimes described as a global version of the adversary system of our common law. But the social implications of peace extend far beyond its putative effects on national economies and international relations. As we shall show, the relevance of peace and war to the internal political organization of societies, to the sociological relationships of their members, to psychological motivations, to ecological processes, and to cultural values is equally profound. More important, it is equally critical in assaying the consequences of a transition to peace, and in determining the feasibility of any transition at all.
It is not surprising that these less obvious factors have been generally ignored in peace research. They have not lent themselves to systematic analysis. They have been difficult, perhaps impossible, to measure with any degree of assurance that estimates of their effects could be depended on. They are "intangibles," but only in the sense that abstract concepts in mathematics are intangible compared to those which can be quantified. Economic actors, on the other hand, can be measured, at least superficially; and international relationships can be verbalized, like law, into logical sequences.
We do not claim that we have discovered an infallible way of measuring these other factors, or of assigning them precise weights in the equation of transition. But we believe we have taken their relative importance into account to this extent: we have removed them from the category of the "intangible," hence scientifically suspect and therefore somehow of secondary importance, and brought them out into the realm of the objective. The result, we believe, provides a context of realism for the discussion of the issues relating to the possible transition to peace which up to now has been missing.
This is not to say that we presume to have found the answers we were seeking. But we believe that our emphasis on breadth of scope has made it at least possible to begin to understand the questions.
DISARMAMENT AND THE ECONOMY
IN THIS SECTION we shall briefly examine some of the common features of the studies that have been published dealing with one or another aspect of the expected impact of disarmament on the American economy. Whether disarmament is considered as a by- product of peace or as its precondition, its effect on the national economy will in either case be the most immediately felt of its consequences. The quasi-mensurable quality of economic manifestations has given rise to more detailed speculation in this area than in any other.
General agreement prevails in respect to the more important economic problems that general disarmament would raise. A short survey of these problems, rather than a detailed critique of their comparative significance, is sufficient for our purposes in this
The first factor is that of size. The "world war industry," as one writer' has aptly called it, accounts for approximately a tenth of the output of the world's total economy. Although this figure is subject to fluctuation, e causes of which are themselves subject to regional variation, it tends to hold fairly steady. The United States as the world's richest nation, not only accounts for the largest single share of this expense, currently upward of $60 billion a year, but also ". . . has devoted a higher proportion [emphasis added] of its gross national product A its military establishment than any other major free world nation. This was true even before our increased expenditures in Southeast Asia." Plans for economic con-version that minimize the economic magnitude of the problem do so only by rationalizing, however persuasively, the maintenance of a substantial residual military budget under some euphemized classification.
Conversion of military expenditures to other purposes entails a number of difficulties. The most serious stems from the degree of rigid specialization that characterizes modern war production, best exemplified in nuclear and missile technology. This constituted no fundamental problem after World War 11, nor did the question of free-market consumer demand for "conventional" items of consumption--those goods and services consumers had already bbeen conditioned to require. Today's situation is qualitatively different in both respects.
This inflexibility is geographical and occupational, as well as industrial, a fact which has led most analysts of economic impact of disarmament to focus their attention on phased plans for the relocation of war industry personnel and capital installations as much as on proposals for developing new patterns of consumption. One serious flaw common to such plans is the kind called in the natural sciences the "macroscopic error." An implicit presumption is made that a total national plan for conversion differs from a community program to cope with the shutting down of a "defense facility" only in degree. We find no reason to believe that this is the case, nor that a general enlargement of such local programs, however well thought out in terms of housing, occupational retraining, and the like, can be applied on a national scale. A national economy can absorb almost any number of subsidiary reorganizations within its total limits, providing there is no basic change in its own structure. General isarmament, which would require such basic changes, lends itself to no valid smaller-scale analogy.
Even more questionable are the models proposed for time retraining of labor for non armaments occupations. Putting aside for the moment the unsolved questions dealing with the nature of new distribution patterns-- retraining for what?--the increasingly specialized job skills associated with war industry production are further depreciated by the accelerating inroads of the industrial techniques loosely described as "automation." It is not too much to say that general disarmament would require the scrapping of a critical proportion of the most highly developed occupational specialties in the economy. The political difficulties inherent in such an "adjustment would make the outcries resulting from the closing of few obsolete military and naval installations in 1964 sound like a whisper.
In general, discussions of the problems of conversion have been characterized by an unwillingness to recognize its special quality. This is best exemplified by the 1965 report of the Ackley Committee. One critic has tellingly pointed out that it blindly assumes that " ....nothing in the arms economy-- neither its size, nor its geographical concentration, nor its highly specialized nature, nor the peculiarities of its market, nor the special nature of much of its labor force--endows it with any uniqueness when the necessary time of adjustment comes."'
Let us assume, however, despite the lack of evidence that a viable program for conversion can be developed in the framework of the existing economy, that the problems noted above can be solved. What proposals have been offered for utilizing the productive capabilities that disarmament would presumably release?
The most commonly held theory is simply that general economic reinvestment would absorb the greater part of these capabilities. Even though it is now largely taken for granted (and even by today's equivalent of traditional laissez-faire economists) that unprecedented government assistance (and concomitant government control) will be needed to solve the "structural" problem of transition, a general attitude of confidence prevail that new consumption patterns will take up the slack What is less clear is the nature of these patterns.
One school of economists has it that these patterns will develop on their own. It envisages the equivalent the arms budget being returned, under careful control, to the consumer, in the form of tax cuts. Another, recognizing the undeniable need for increased "consumption in what is generally considered the public sector of the economy, stresses vastly increased government spending in such areas of national concern as health, education, mass transportation, low- cost housing, water supply, control of the physical environment, and, stated generally poverty."
The mechanisms proposed for controlling the transition to an arms- free economy are also traditional-changes in both sides of the federal budget, manipulation of interest rates, etc. We acknowledge the undeniable value of fiscal tools in a normal cyclical economy, when they provide leverage to accelerate or brake an existing trend. Their more committed proponents, however, tend to lose sight of the fact that there is a limit to the power of these devices to influence fundamental economic forces. They can provide new incentives in the economy, but they cannot in themselves transform the production of a billion dollars' worth of missiles a year to the equivalent in food, clothing, prefabricated houses, or television sets. At bottom, they reflect the economy; they do not motivate it.
More sophisticated, and less sanguine, analysts COD-template the diversion of the arms budget to a non military system equally remote from the market economy, What the "pyramid-builders" frequently suggest is the expansion of space-research programs to the dollar level of current armaments expenditures. This approach has the superficial merit of reducing the size of the problem of transferability of resources, but introduces other difficulties,
which we will take up in section 6.
Without singling out any one of the several major studies of the expected impact of disarmament on the economy for special criticism, we can summarize our objections to them in general terms as follows:
1. No proposed program for economic conversion to disarmament sufficiently takes into account the unique magnitude of the required adjustments it would entail.
2. Proposals to transform arms production into a beneficent scheme of public works are more the product of wishful thinking than of realistic understanding of the limits of our existing economic system.
3. Fiscal and monetary measures are inadequate as controls for the process of transition to an arms-free economy,
4. Insufficient attention has been paid to the political acceptability of the objectives of the proposed conversion models, as well as of the political means to be employed in effectuating a transition.
S. No serious consideration has been given, in any proposed conversion plan, to the fundamental nonmilitary function of war and armaments in modern society, nor has any explicit attempt been made to devise a viable substitute for it. This criticism will be developed in sections 5 and 6.
SCENARIOS, as they have come to be called, are hypothetical constructions of future events. Inevitably, they re composed of varying proportions of established fact, reasonable inference, and more or less inspired guess-work. Those which have been suggested as model procedures for effectuating international arms control and eventual disarmament are necessarily imaginative, al-though closely reasoned; in this respect they resemble the "war games"
analyses of the Rand Corporation, with which they share a common conceptual origin.
All such scenarios that have been seriously put forth imply a dependence on bilateral or multilateral agreement between the great powers. In general, they call for a progressive phasing out of gross armaments, military forces, weapons, and weapons technology, coordinated with elaborate matching procedures of verification, inspection, and machinery for the settlement of international disputes. It should be noted that even proponents of unilateral disarmament qualify their proposals with an implied requirement of reciprocity, very much in the manner of a scenario of graduated response in nuclear war. The advantage of unilateral initiative lies in its political value as an expression of good faith, as well as in its diplomatic function as a catalyst for formal disarmament negotiations.
The READ model for disarmament (developed by the Research Program on Economic Adjustments to Disarmament) is typical of these scenarios. It is a twelve-year-program, divided into three-year stages. Each stage includes a separate phase of: reduction of armed forces; cutbacks of weapons production, inventories, and foreign military bases; development of international inspection procedures and control conventions; and the building up of a sovereign international disarmament organization. It anticipates a net matching decline in U.S. defense expenditures of only somewhat more than half the 1965 level, but a necessary re deployment of some five-sixths of the defense-dependent labor force.
The economic implications assigned by their authors to various disarmament scenarios diverge widely, The more conservative models, like that cited above, emphasize economic as well as military prudence in postulating elaborate fail-safe disarmament agencies, which themselves require expenditures substantially substituting for those of the displaced war industries. Such programs stress the advantages of the smaller economic adjustment entailed Others emphasize, on the contrary, the magnitude (and the opposite advantages) of the savings to be achieved from disarmament. One widely read analysis' estimates the annual cost of the inspection function of general disarmament throughout the world as only between two and three percent of current military expenditures. Both types of plan tend to deal with the anticipated problem of economic reinvestment only in the aggregate. We have seen no proposed disarmament sequence that correlates the phasing out of specific kinds of military spending with specific new forms of substitute spending.
Without examining disarmament scenarios in greater detail, we may characterize them with these general comments:
1. Given genuine agreement of intent among the great powers, the scheduling of arms control and elimination presents no inherently insurmountable procedural problems. Any of several proposed sequences might serve as the basis for multilateral agreement or for the first step in unilateral arms reduction.
2. No major power can proceed with such a program, however, until it has developed an economic conversion plan fully integrated with each phase of disarmament. No such plan has yet been developed in the United States.
3. Furthermore, disarmament scenarios, like proposals for economic conversion, make no allowance for the non-military functions of war in modern societies, and offer no surrogate for these necessary functions. One partial exception is a proposal for the "unarmed forces of the United States," which we will consider in section 6.
Web posted at: http://www.davidicke.net/tellthetruth/research/iron1.html
Go To Part 2
Go To Part 3
|All information posted on this web site is the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only. It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer of your choice for medical care and advice.|