"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:55 am

With introductory material by Leonard C. Lewin
by the Special Study Group
The Dial Press, Inc. 1967, New York



Librarian's Comment: Fact? Or damn compelling fiction? You be the judge. The Report From Iron Mountain was, for many years, believed to be an official government document, the existence of which was denied because good governments do not plan for endless war simply because it is politically expedient and economically practical. That is, until some right wingers, reasonably assuming the document to be in the public domain, published their own copies and started distributing them. Then, suddenly, many years after the first printing had come out, an "author" stands up to claim credit and block publication by the "infringing" right wingers. A bevy of insiders rise, like guilty prep school boys, to claim credit for "the prank," and the "author" goes to his grave wearing the laurels of a gifted satirist. Too convenient for your liking? Read the Report, and the commentary on it. One thing's for sure -- whoever wrote it was a prophet -- both endless war and its social cost are now the foundation of daily life.

Library of Congress Catalog card Number 67-27553 Printed in the U.S.

Table of Contents

• Foreword
• Background Information
• Statement by "John Doe"
• The Report of the Special Study Group
• Letter of Transmittal
• Introduction
• Section 1. Scope of the Study
• Section 2. Disarmament and the Economy
• Section 3. Disarmament Scenarios
• Section 4. War & Peace as Social Systems
• Section 5. The Functions of War
• Section 6. Substitutes for the Functions of War
• Section 7. Summary and Conclusions
• Section 8. Recommendations

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 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....

Yet it is obvious that any serious investigation of a problem, however "pure," must be informed by some normative standard. In this case it has been simply the survival of human society in general, of American society in particular, and, as a corollary to survival, the stability of this society....

Although war is "used" as an instrument of national and social policy, the fact that a society is organized for any degree of readiness for war supersedes its political and economic structure. War itself is the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire....

It must be emphasized that the precedence of a society's war-making potential over its other characteristics is not the result of the "threat" presumed to exist at any one time from other societies. This is the reverse of the basic situation; "threats" against the "national interest" are usually created or accelerated to meet the changing needs of the war system. Only in comparatively recent times has it been considered politically expedient to euphemize war budgets as "defense" requirements. The necessity for governments to distinguish between "aggression" (bad) and "defense" (good) has been a by-product of rising literacy and rapid communication. The distinction is tactical only, a concession to the growing inadequacy of ancient war-organizing political rationales....

The arbitrary nature of war expenditures and of other military activities make them ideally suited to control these essential class relationships. Obviously, if the war system were to be discarded, new political machinery would be needed at once to serve this vital subfunction....

The most obvious of these functions is the time-honored use of military institutions to provide antisocial elements with an acceptable role in the social structure. The disintegrative, unstable social movements loosely described as "fascist" have traditionally taken root in societies that have lacked adequate military or paramilitary outlets to meet the needs of these elements. This function has been critical in periods of rapid change....

Nor can it be considered a coincidence that overt military activity, and thus the level of draft calls, tend to follow the major fluctuations in the unemployment rate in the lower age groups....

Today, at least one small Northern European country, plagued with uncontrollable unrest among its "alienated youth," is considering the expansion of its armed forces, despite the problem of making credible the expansion of a non-existent external threat....

... incentives of individual human behavior. The most important of these, for social purposes, is the individual psychological rationale for allegiance to a society and its values. Allegiance requires a cause; a cause requires an enemy. This much is obvious; the critical point is that the enemy that defines the cause must seem genuinely formidable. Roughly speaking, the presumed power of the "enemy" sufficient to warrant an individual sense of allegiance to a society must be proportionate to the size and complexity of the society. Today, of course, that power must be one of unprecedented magnitude and frightfulness....

The existence of an accepted external menace, then, is essential to social cohesiveness as well as to the acceptance of political authority. The menace must be believable, it must be of a magnitude consistent with the complexity of the society threatened, and it must appear, at least, to affect the entire society....

Men, like all other animals, is subject to the continuing process of adapting to the limitations of his environment. But the principal mechanism he has utilized for this purpose is unique among living creatures. To forestall the inevitable historical cycles of inadequate food supply, post-Neolithic man destroys surplus members of his own species by organized warfare....

The second relevant factor is the efficiency of modern methods of mass destruction. Even if their use is not required to meet a world population crisis, they offer, perhaps paradoxically, the first opportunity in the history of man to halt the regressive genetic effects of natural selection by war. Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate. Their application would bring to an end the disproportionate destruction of the physically stronger members of the species (the "warriors") in periods of war. Whether this prospect of genetic gain would offset the unfavorable mutations anticipated from post-nuclear radioactivity we have not yet determined. What gives the question a bearing on our study is the possibility that the determination may yet have to be made....

The Department has also begun to stockpile birds, for example, against the expected proliferation of radiation-resistant insects, etc....

War as a generational stabilizer. This psychological function, served by other behavior patterns in other animals, enables the physically deteriorating older generation to maintain its control of the younger, destroying it if necessary....

HEALTH. Drastic expansion of medical research, education, and training facilities; hospital and clinic construction; the general objective of complete government-guaranteed health care for all, at a level consistent with current developments in medical technology.

EDUCATION. The equivalent of the foregoing in teacher training; schools and libraries; the drastic upgrading of standards, with the general objective of making available for all an attainable educational goal equivalent to what is now considered a professional degree.

HOUSING. Clean, comfortable, safe, and spacious living space for all, at the level now enjoyed by about 15 percent of the population in this country (less in most others).

TRANSPORTATION. The establishment of a system of mass public transportation making it possible for all to travel to and from areas of work and recreation quickly, comfortably, and conveniently, and to travel privately for pleasure rather than necessity.

PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT. The development and protection of water supplies, forests, parks, and other natural resources; the elimination of chemical and bacterial contaminants from air, water, and soil.

POVERTY. The genuine elimination of poverty, defined by a standard consistent with current economic productivity, by means of a guaranteed annual income or whatever system of distribution will best assure its achievement.

This is only a sampler of the more obvious domestic social welfare items, and we have listed it in a deliberately broad, perhaps extravagant, manner. In the past, such a vague and ambitious-sounding "program" would have been dismissed out of hand, without serious consideration; it would clearly have been, prima facie, far too costly, quite apart from its political implications. Our objection to it, on the other hand, could hardly be more contradictory. As an economic substitute for war, it is inadequate because it would be far too cheap....

The war system makes the stable government of societies possible. It does this essentially by providing an external necessity for a society to accept political rule. In so doing, it establishes the basis for nationhood and the authority of government to control its constituents....

Credibility, in fact, lies at the heart of the problem of developing a political substitute for war. This is where the space-race proposals, in many ways so well suited as economic substitutes for war, fall short. The most ambitious and unrealistic space project cannot of itself generate a believable external menace. It has been hotly argued that such a menace would offer the "last, best hope of peace," etc., by uniting mankind against the danger of destruction by "creatures" from other planets or from outer space. Experiments have been proposed to test the credibility of an out-of-our-world invasion threat; it is possible that a few of the more difficult-to-explain "flying saucer" incidents of recent years were in fact early experiments of this kind....

Nevertheless, an effective political substitute for war would require "alternate enemies," some of which might seem equally farfetched in the context of the current war system. It may be, for instance, that gross pollution of the environment can eventually replace the possibility of mass destruction by nuclear weapons as the principal apparent threat to the survival of the species. Poisoning of the air, and of the principal sources of food and water supply, is already well advanced, and at first glance would seem promising in this respect; it constitutes a threat that can be dealt with only through social organization and political power. But from present indications it will be a generation to a generation and a half before environmental pollution, however severe, will be sufficiently menacing, on a global scale, to offer a possible basis for a solution....

But the fantasies projected in Brave New World and 1984 have seemed less and less implausible over the years since their publication. The traditional association of slavery with ancient preindustrial cultures should not blind us to its adaptability to advanced forms of social organization, nor should its equally traditional incompatibility with Western moral and economic values. It is entirely possible that the development of a sophisticated form of slavery may be an absolute prerequisite for social control in a world at peace. As a practical matter, conversion of the code of military discipline to a euphemized form of enslavement would entail surprisingly little revision; the logical first step would be the adoption of some form of "universal" military service....

One exception might be the environmental-pollution model, if the danger to society it posed was genuinely imminent. The fictive models would have to carry the weight of extraordinary conviction, underscored with a not inconsiderable actual sacrifice of life; the construction of an up-to-date mythological or religious structure for this purpose would present difficulties in our era, but must certainly be considered....

It is also possible that the two functions considered under this heading may be jointly served, in the sense of establishing the antisocial, for whom a control institution is needed, as the "alternate enemy" needed to hold society together. The relentless and irreversible advance of unemployability at all levels of society, and the similar extension of generalized alienation from accepted values may make some such program necessary even as an adjunct to the war system. As before, we will not speculate on the specific forms this kind of program might take, except to note that there is again ample precedent, in the treatment meted out to disfavored, allegedly menacing, ethnic groups in certain societies during certain historical periods....

Current trends in warfare -- the increased strategic bombing of civilians and the greater military importance now attached to the destruction of sources of supply (as opposed to purely "military" bases and personnel) -- strongly suggest that a truly qualitative improvement is in the making....

The indicated intermediate step -- total control of conception with a variant of the ubiquitous "pill," via water supplies or certain essential foodstuffs, offset by a controlled "antidote" -- is already under development....


The visible, military function of war requires no elucidation; it is not only obvious but also irrelevant to a transition to the condition of peace, in which it will by definition be superfluous. It is also subsidiary in social significance to the implied, nonmilitary functions of war; those critical to transition can be summarized in five principal groupings.

ECONOMIC. War has provided both ancient and modern societies with a dependable system for stabilizing and controlling national economies. No alternate method of control has yet been tested in a complex modern economy that has shown itself remotely comparable in scope or effectiveness.

POLITICAL. The permanent possibility of war is the foundation for stable government; it supplies the basis for general acceptance of political authority. It has enabled societies to maintain necessary class distinctions, and it has ensured the subordination of the citizen to the state, by virtue of the residual war powers inherent in the concept of nationhood. No modern political ruling group has successfully controlled its constituency after failing to sustain the continuing credibility of an external threat of war.

SOCIOLOGICAL. War, through the medium of military institutions, has uniquely served societies, throughout the course of known history, as an indispensable controller of dangerous social dissidence and destructive antisocial tendencies. As the most formidable of threats to life itself, and as the only one susceptible to mitigation by social organization alone, it has played another equally fundamental role: the war system has provided the machinery through which the motivational forces governing human behavior have been translated into binding social allegiance. It has thus ensured the degree of social cohesion necessary to the viability of nations. No other institution, or groups of institutions, in modern societies, has successfully served these functions.

ECOLOGICAL. War has been the principal evolutionary device for maintaining a satisfactory ecological balance between gross human population and supplies available for its survival. It is unique to the human species.

CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC. War-orientation has determined the basic standards of value in the creative arts, and has provided the fundamental motivational source of scientific and technological progress. The concepts that the arts express values independent of their own forms and that the successful pursuit of knowledge has intrinsic social value have long been accepted in modern societies; the development of the arts and sciences during this period has been corollary to the parallel development of weaponry....

SUBSTITUTES FOR THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR: CRITERIA ... Such a substitute system of apparent "waste" must be of a nature that will permit it to remain independent of the normal supply-demand economy; it must be subject to arbitrary political control....A viable political substitute for war must posit a generalized external menace to each society of a nature and degree sufficient to require the organization and acceptance of political institutions must be developed that will effectively control the socially destructive segments of societies. Second, for purposes of adapting the physical and psychological dynamics of human behavior to the needs of social organization, a credible substitute for war must generate an omnipresent and readily understood fear of personal destruction. This fear must be of a nature and degree sufficient to ensure adherence to societal values to the full extent that they are acknowledged to transcend the value of individual human life.... A surrogate for the function of war as the determinant of cultural values must establish a basis of sociomoral conflict of equally compelling force and scope....Slavery, in a technologically modern and conceptually euphemized form, may prove a more efficient and flexible institution in this area....An institution combining this function with the preceding one, based on, but not necessarily imitative of, the precedent of organized ethnic repression, warrants careful consideration....

When asked how best to prepare for the advent of peace, we must first reply, as strongly as we can, that the war system cannot responsibly be allowed to disappear until 1) we know exactly what it is we plan to put in its place, and 2) we are certain, beyond reasonable doubt, that these substitute institutions will serve their purposes in terms of the survival and stability of society. ...

The war system, for all its subjective repugnance to important sections of "public opinion" has demonstrated its effectiveness since the beginning of recorded history; it has provided the basis for the development of many impressively durable civilizations, including that which is dominant today. It has consistently provided unambiguous social priorities. It is, on the whole, a known quantity. A viable system of peace, assuming that the great and complex questions of substitute institutions raised in this Report are both solvable and solved, would still constitute a venture into the unknown, with the inevitable risks attendant on the unforeseen, however small and however well hedged....

The ultimate object of this phase of War Research is to rationalize the heretofore informal operations of the war system. It should provide practical working procedures through which responsible governmental authority may resolve the following war-function problems, among others, under any given circumstances:

how to determine the optimum quantity, nature, and timing of military expenditures to ensure a desired degree of economic control;

how to organize the recruitment, deployment, and ostensible use of military personnel to ensure a desired degree of acceptance of authorized social values;

how to compute on a short-term basis, the nature and extent of the LOSS OF LIFE and other resources which SHOULD BE SUFFERED and/or INFLICTED DURING any single outbreak of hostilities to achieve a desired degree of internal political authority and social allegiance;

how to project, over extended periods, the nature and quality of overt warfare which must be planned and budgeted to achieve a desired degree of contextual stability for the same purpose; factors to be determined must include frequency of occurrence, length of phase, INTENSITY OF PHYSICAL DESTRUCTION, extensiveness of geographical involvement, and OPTIMUM MEAN LOSS OF LIFE;

how to extrapolate accurately from the foregoing, for ecological purposes, the continuing effect of the war system, over such extended cycles, on population pressures, and to adjust the planning of casualty rates accordingly....

[C]areful preparation for the possibility of peace should be extended, not because we take the position that the end of war would necessarily be desirable, if it is in fact possible, but because it may be thrust upon us in some form whether we are ready for it or not. Planning for rationalizing and quantifying the war system, on the other hand, to ensure the effectiveness of its major stabilizing functions, is not only more promising in respect to anticipated results, but is essential ...

We propose the establishment, under executive order of the President, of a permanent WAR/PEACE Research Agency, empowered and mandated to execute the programs described in (2) and (3) below. This agency (a) will be provided with nonaccountable funds sufficient to implement its responsibilities and decisions at its own discretion, and (b) will have authority to preempt and utilize, without restriction, any and all facilities of the executive branch of the government in pursuit of its objectives. It will be organized along the lines of the National Security Council, except that none of its governing, executive, or operating personnel will hold other public office or governmental responsibility. Its directorate will be drawn from the broadest practicable spectrum of scientific disciplines, humanistic studies, applied creative arts, operating technologies, and otherwise unclassified professional occupations. It will be responsible solely to the President, or to other officers of government temporarily deputized by him. Its operations will be governed entirely by its own rules of procedure. Its authority will expressly include the unlimited right to withhold information on its activities and its decisions, from anyone except the President, whenever it deems such secrecy to be in the public interest....

Since Both Programs of the WAR/PEACE RESEARCH Agency will share the same purpose -- to maintain governmental freedom of choice in respect to war and peace until the direction of social survival is no longer in doubt -- it is of the essence of this proposal that the agency be constituted without limitation of time.

-- Report From Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace, by The Special Study Group, with introductory material by Leonard C. Lewin
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:56 am


"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 highest 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 of "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 these problems.

Considering that the caller did not precisely identify either himself or his agency, his persuasiveness must have been a truly remarkable order. Doe entertained no serious doubts of the bona fides of the project, however, chiefly because of his previous experience with the 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 work 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 an 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 includes 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 formally 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 postures 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 homes 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 reestablishment 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 formal recommendations, that suggest that the long-range planning--and "budgeting" -- of the "optimum" number of 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 as 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 Group 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 1962. (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 was 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 concerns about an issue and to deflect the energy of those pressing for action on it. (The example used, because some of the Group had participated in it, was a "White House Conference" on intended cooperation, disarmament, etc., which had been staged late in 1965 to offset complaints about escalation of 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-serve 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 Group in their Report from Iron Mountain.

L.C.L. New York June 1967
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:56 am


[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.]


...The general idea for it, for this kind of study dates back at least to 1961. 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 1961] was superficial. There was insufficient appreciation of the scope of the problem. The main reason for this, of course, was that the idea of a real peace in the world, general disarmament and so on, was looked on as utopian. Or even crack-pot. 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......


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.


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 the State or Defense of 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 reconversion, 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.


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 Committee, 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 of thinking. It was a matter of approach. Herman Kahn calls it "Byzantine"--no agonizing over cultural and religious values. No moral posturing. It's the kind of thinking that Rand and the Hudson Institute and I.D.A. (Institute for Defense Analysis.) brought into war planning...What they asked up to do, and I think we did it, was to give the same kind of treatment to the 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....

[Han Swyter, formerly with the DOD, addressing the NAS assembly with the "Political Considerations and Analysis of Military Requirements for Chemical and Biological Weapons"] Chemical and biological war is grisly business. I am going to approach it unemotionally, much as an economist analyzes the need for mythical widgets, rather than like a Dr. Strangelove, gleefully plotting the destruction of millions by plague or anthrax. My general approach - that is, identifying objectives, breaking the problem into smaller manageable parts, and examine each part in terms of objectives - is being used at the Pentagon. Secretary Laird has a group, known as his Systems Analysis Office, which examines the need for each kind of military capability much as I will examine for you the need for chemical and biological capability. Unemotional analysis of the need for war -- fighting capability goes on every day.

"The first kind of capability I will analyze is lethal biologicals. . . . These are population-killing weapons. In situations in which our national objective would be to kill other countries' populations, lethal biologicals could be used."

"If we want to kill population, we can now do that with our strategic nuclear weapons -- our B-52's, Minutemen, and Polaris. We keep the nuclear capability whether or not we have a lethal biological capability. A lethal biological capability would be in addition to our nuclear capability rather than a substitute for it."

(National Academy of Sciences. Symposium on chemical and biological warfare. Proc. N.A.S. 1970;65:250-279)

--Emerging Viruses: AIDS & Ebola: Nature, Accident or Intentional?, by Leonard G. Horowitz, DMD, MA, MPH

Kahn's books, 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 "counterforce 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 or morality.......

The revolutionaries' first task was to recruit proselytes throughout the government and national security community. Initially the revolutionaries, who called their new strategic concept "Dynamic Defense," were opposed by isolationists who felt that new technology should be used simply to build an impenetrable electronic and physical barrier around the United States. Eventually the revolutionaries convinced the president-elect following the campaign of 2000 that Dynamic Defense was both feasible and effective--a task made easier by his background as a pioneering entrepreneur in the computer-generated and controlled "perception-molding" systems developed by the advertising industry. The President was thus amenable to the use of the sort of psycho-technology which formed the core of the RMA in conflict short of war.

The first step in implementing Dynamic Defense was reshaping the national security organization and its underlying attitudes and values. Technology provided opportunity; only intellectual change could consolidate it. With the full and active support of the President, the revolutionaries reorganized the American national security system to make maximum use of emerging technology and new ideas. This loosely reflected the earlier revolution in the world of business, and sought to make the U.S. national security organization more flexible and quicker to react to shifts in the global security environment. The old Cold War structures--the Department of Defense, Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Council, and others--were replaced by two organizations. One controlled all U.S. actions designed to prevent conflict, including economic assistance programs and peacetime diplomacy. The second was responsible for containing conflict by orchestrating sanctions, quarantines, embargoes, the building of multinational coalitions, and conflict short of war. This integrated the military, civilian law enforcement, the diplomatic corps, and organizations responsible for gathering and analyzing intelligence. Since so many of the conflicts faced by the United States were "gray area" threats falling somewhere in between traditional military problems and traditional law enforcement problems, the organizational division between the two was abolished. Moreover, many aspects of national security were civilianized or sub-contracted to save costs.42

One of the most difficult dimensions of the reorganization was altering the dominant ethos of the armed forces. As technology changed the way force was applied, things such as personal courage, face-to-face leadership, and the "warfighter" mentality became irrelevant. Technological proficiency became the prime criterion for advancement within the military while the officer corps came to consider research universities such as Cal Tech and MIT its breeding ground rather than increasingly archaic institutions like West Point and Annapolis. For the military, the most common career track alternated assignments in national security with ones in business and science. Since physical endurance was not particularly important, military careers no longer ended after 20 or 30 years. In fact, soldiers and officers were given few responsibilities until the twentieth year of their careers. As proposed by Carl Builder, the Army was organized into highly specialized units permanently associated with a territorial franchise.43 Careers were within one of these units, thus allowing all soldiers and officers to develop the sort of language and cultural abilities previously limited to Special Forces and Foreign Area Officers.

One of the turning points of the revolution came when its leaders convinced the President and key members of Congress that traditional American ethics were a major hindrance to the RMA. This was crucial: the revolutionaries and their allies then crafted the appropriate attitudinal vessel for the RMA. Through persistent efforts and very sophisticated domestic "consciousness-raising," old-fashioned notions of personal privacy and national sovereignty changed. This was relatively easy since frustration with domestic crime had already begun to alter attitudes and values. In fact, the RMA in conflict short of war was, in many ways, a spin-off of the domestic "war on drugs and crime" of the late 1990s when the military, as predicted by William Mendel in 1994, became heavily involved in support to domestic law enforcement.44 The changes in American values that accompanied that struggle were easily translated to the national security arena. Once the norms concerning personal privacy changed, law soon followed.

-- The Revolution in Military Affairs and Conflict Short of War, by Steven Metz and James Kievit

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...


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 Hudson 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 are supposed to be unofficial, but are really as official as can be. Also with the C.I.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........


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 included judging each other's 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 reputations 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 Group'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.

"Arthur 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.

"John Doe."

"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, who 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 with an 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 undertaken many special government assignments.]


We met on the average of once a month. Usually it was on weekends, and usually for two days. We had a 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 at 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 business 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 thing 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 six-figure range. But the big item must have been computer time, and I have no idea how high this ran......


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.


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 gone 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 I 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 a 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.


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...


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.]


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 forecasting 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 of 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 it works.


You don't "play" peace games, like chess or Monopoly, any more than you play war games with toy soldiers. You use computers. It's a programming system. A computer "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 in 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 and 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 (the Advanced Research Projects Agency, of the Department of Defense DoD.) 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 leaned how to formulate the problems accurately. It goes back to the old saw. You can always find the answer if you know the right question.....


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.
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:56 am


Contrary to the decision of the Special Study Group, 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 in my view my responsibility to the society for which I 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 gladly abandon my own anonymity if it were possible to do so without at the same time comprising 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.
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:56 am



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 nontechnical 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.


[signature withheld for publication]

30 SEPTEMBER, 1966
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:57 am


The Report which follows summarizes the results of a two-and-a-half-year study of the broad problems to be anticipated in the event of 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 that 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 detente 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 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 if peace comes? What should we 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 the 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 we believe to be a practical and necessary course of action.
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:57 am


When The Special Study Group was established in August, 1963, 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 unofficial 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 the 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. 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.'" 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." Surely it would 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 popularly believed, but that, in Whitehead's words, " ignores all judgments of value; for instance, all aesthetic and moral judgments." Yet it is obvious that any serious investigation of a problem, however "pure," must be informed by some normative standard. In this case it has been simply the survival of human society in general, of American society in particular, and, as a corollary to survival, the stability of this society.

It is interesting, we believe, to note that the most dispassionate 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 preserve the fabric of our societies if war should occur." 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 as exists. Our present purpose must be to continue the process of learning how to live with them." 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 with 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 economics 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 factors, 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.
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:57 am


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 Report.

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, the 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 to its military establishment than any other major free world nation. This was true even before our increased expenditures in Southeast Asia." Plans for economic conversion 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 II, nor did the question of free-market consumer demand for "conventional" items of consumption -- those good and services consumers had already been 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 the 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 disarmament, which would require such basic changes, lends itself to no valid smaller-scale analogy.

Even more questionable are the models proposed for the retaining 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 a few obsolete military and naval installations in 1964 sound like a whisper.

In general, discussions of the problem 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 common 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" problems of transition, a general attitude of confidence prevails 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 of 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, where 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 contemplate 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 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:

No proposed program for economic conversion to disarmament sufficiently takes into account the unique magnitude of the required adjustments it would entail.

Proposals to transform arms production into a beneficent scheme of public works are more the products of wishful thinking than of realistic understanding of the limits of our existing economic system.

Fiscal and monetary measures are inadequate as controls for the process of transition to an arms-free economy.

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.

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.
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:57 am


SCENARIOS, as they have come to be called, are hypothetical constructions of future events. Inevitably, they are composed of varying proportions of established fact, reasonable inference, and more or less inspired guesswork. Those which have been suggested as model procedures for effectuating international arms control and eventual disarmament are necessarily imaginative, although 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 redeployment 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 failsafe 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:

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.

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.

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.
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Postby admin » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:58 am


We have dealt only sketchily with proposed disarmament scenarios and economic analyses, but the reason for our seemingly casual dismissal of so much serious and sophisticated work lies in no disrespect for its competence. It is rather a question of relevance. To put it plainly, all these programs, however detailed and well developed, are abstractions. The most carefully reasoned disarmament sequence inevitably reads more like the rules of a game or a classroom exercise in logic than like a prognosis of real events in the real world. This is as true of today's complex proposals as it was of the Abbé de St. Pierre's "Plan for Perpetual Peace in Europe" 250 years ago.

Some essential element has clearly been lacking in all these schemes. One of our first tasks was to try to bring this missing quality into definable focus, and we believe we have succeeded in doing so. We find that at the heart of every peace study we have examined -- from the modest technological proposal (e.g., to convert a poison gas plant to the production of "socially useful" equivalents) to the most elaborate scenario for universal peace in our time -- lies one common fundamental misconception. It is the source of the miasma of unreality surrounding such plans. It is the incorrect assumption that war, as an institution, is subordinate to the social systems it is believed to serve.

This misconception, although profound and far-reaching, is entirely comprehensible. Few social clichés are so unquestioningly accepted as the notion that war is an extension of diplomacy (or of politics, or of the pursuit of economic objectives). If this were true, it would be wholly appropriate for economists and political theorists to look on the problems of transition to peace as essentially mechanical or procedural -- as indeed they do, treating them as logistic corollaries of the settlement of national conflicts of interest. If this were true, there would be no real substance to the difficulties of transition. For it is evident that even in today's world there exist no conceivable conflict of interest, real or imaginary, between nations or between social forces within nations, that cannot be resolved without recourse to war -- if such resolution were assigned a priority of social value. And if this were true, the economic analyses and disarmament proposals we have referred to, plausible and well conceived as they may be, would not inspire, as they do, an inescapable sense of indirection.

The point is that the cliché is not true, and the problems of transition are indeed substantive rather than merely procedural. Although war is "used" as an instrument of national and social policy, the fact that a society is organized for any degree of readiness for war supersedes its political and economic structure. War itself is the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire. It is the system which has governed most human societies of record, as it is today.

Once this is correctly understood, the true magnitude of the problems entailed in a transition to peace -- itself a social system, but without precedent except in a few simple preindustrial societies -- becomes apparent. At the same time, some of the puzzling superficial contradictions of modern societies can then be readily rationalized. The "unnecessary" size and power of the world war industry; the preeminence of the military establishment in every society, whether open or concealed; the exemption of military or paramilitary institutions from the accepted social and legal standards of behavior required elsewhere in the society; the successful operation of the armed forces and the armaments producers entirely outside the framework of each nation's economic ground rules: these and other ambiguities closely associated with the relationship of war to society are easily clarified, once the priority of war-making potential as the principal structuring force in society is accepted. Economic systems, political philosophies, and corpora jures serve and extend the war system, not vice versa.

It must be emphasized that the precedence of a society's war-making potential over its other characteristics is not the result of the "threat" presumed to exist at any one time from other societies. This is the reverse of the basic situation; "threats" against the "national interest" are usually created or accelerated to meet the changing needs of the war system. Only in comparatively recent times has it been considered politically expedient to euphemize war budgets as "defense" requirements. The necessity for governments to distinguish between "aggression" (bad) and "defense" (good) has been a by-product of rising literacy and rapid communication. The distinction is tactical only, a concession to the growing inadequacy of ancient war-organizing political rationales.

Wars are not "caused" by international conflicts of interest. Proper logical sequence would make it more often accurate to say that war-making societies require -- and thus bring about -- such conflicts. The capacity of a nation to make war expresses the greatest social power it can exercise; war-making, active or contemplated, is a matter of life and death on the greatest scale subject to social control. It should therefore hardly be surprising that the military institutions in each society claim its highest priorities.

We find further that most of the confusion surrounding the myth that war-making is a tool of state policy stems from a general misapprehension of the functions of war. In general, these are conceived as: to defend a nation from military attack by another, or to deter such an attack; to defend or advance a "national interest" -- economic, political, ideological; to maintain or increase a nation's military power for its own sake. These are the visible, or ostensible, functions of war. If there were no others, the importance of the war establishment in each society might in fact decline to the subordinate level it is believed to occupy. And the elimination of war would indeed be the procedural matter that the disarmament scenarios suggest.

But there are other, broader, more profoundly felt functions of war in modern societies. It is these invisible, or implied, functions that maintain war-readiness as the dominant force in our societies. And it is the unwillingness or inability of the writers of disarmament scenarios and reconversion plans to take them into account that has so reduced the usefulness of their work, and that has made it seem unrelated to the world we know.
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