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