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 

He was obviously disturbed.  He made small talk for half an hour, 
which was quite out of character, and I didn't press him. Then, 
apropos of nothing, he mentioned a dispute between a writer and a 
prominent political family that had been in the headlines.  What, 
he wanted to know, were my views on "freedom of information."  How 
would I qualify them? And so on. My answers were not memorable, 
but they seemed to satisfy him. Then quite abruptly, he began to 
tell me the following story:

Early in August of 1963, he said, he found a message on his desk 
that a "Mrs. Potts" had called him from Washington. When he 
returned the call, a man answered immediately, and told Doe, among 
other things, that he had been selected to serve on a commission 
"of the high importance." Its objective was to determine, 
accurately and realistically, the nature of the problems that 
would confront the United States if and when a condition 
"permanent peace" should arrive, and to draft a program for 
dealing with this contingency. The man described the unique 
procedures that were to govern the commission's work and that were 
expected to extend its scope far beyond that of any previous 
examination of the problems.

Considering that the caller did not precisely identify either 
himself or his agency, his persuasiveness must have been of a 
truly remarkable order.  Doe entertained no serious doubts of the 
bona fides of the project, however, chiefly because of his 
previous experience with excessive secrecy that often surrounds 
quasi-governmental activities.  In addition, the man at the other 
end of the line demonstrated an impressively complete and 
surprisingly detailed knowledge of Doe's word and personal life.  
He also mentioned the names of others who were to serve with the 
group; most of them were known to Doe by reputation. Doe agreed to 
take the assignment --he felt he had no real choice in the matter-
-and to appear the second Saturday following at Iron Mountain, New 
York. An airline ticket arrived in his mail the next morning.

The cloak-and-dagger tone of this convocation was further enhanced 
by the meeting place itself. Iron Mountain, located near the town 
of Hudson, is like something out of Ian Fleming or E. Phillips 
Oppenheim. It is an underground nuclear hideout for hundreds of 
large American corporations. Most of them use it as am emergency 
storage vault for important documents. But a number of them 
maintain substitute corporate headquarters as well where essential 
personnel could presumably survive and continue to work after an 
attack. This latter group included such firms as Standard Oil of 
New Jersey, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, and Shell.

I will leave most of the story of the operations of the Special 
Study Group, as the commission was formerly called, for Doe to 
tell in his own words ("Background Information"). At this point it 
is necessary to say only that it met and worked regularly for over 
two and a half years, after which it produced a report. It was 
this document, and what to do about it, that Doe wanted to talk to 
me about.

The Report, he said, had been suppressed--both by the Special 
Study Group itself and by the government interagency committee to 
which it had been submitted. After months of agonizing, Doe had 
decided that he would no longer be party to keeping it secret. 
What he wanted from me was advice and assistance in having it 
published. He gave me his copy to read, with the express 
understanding that if for any reason I were unwilling to become 
involved, I would say nothing about it to anyone else.

I read the Report that same night. I will pass over my own 
reactions to it, except to say that the unwillingness of Doe's 
associates to publicize their findings became readily 
understandable. What had happened was that they had been so 
tenacious in their determination to deal comprehensively with the 
many problems of transition to peace that the original questions 
asked of them were never quite answered. Instead, this is what 
they concluded:

Lasting peace, while not theoretically impossible, is probably 
unattainable; even if it could be achieved it would almost 
certainly not be in the best interests of a stable society to 
achieve it.

That is the gist of what they say. Behind their qualified academic 
language runs this general argument: War fills certain functions 
essential to the stability of our society; until other ways of 
filling them are developed, the war system must be maintained--and 
improved in effectiveness.

It is not surprising that the Group, in its Letter of Transmittal, 
did not choose to justify its work to "the lay reader, unexposed 
to the exigencies of higher political or military responsibility." 
Its Report was addressed, deliberately, to unnamed government 
administrators of high rank; it assumed considerable political 
sophistication from this select audience. To the general reader, 
therefore, the substance of the document may be even more 
unsettling than its conclusions. He may not be prepared for some 
of its assumptions--for instance, that most medical advances are 
viewed more as problems than as progress; or that poverty is 
necessary and desirable, public posture by politicians to the 
contrary notwithstanding; or that standing armies are, among other 
things, social-welfare institutions in exactly the same sense as 
are old-people's bones and mental hospitals. It may strike him as 
odd to find the probable explanation of "flying saucer" incidents 
disposed of en passant in less than a sentence. He may be less 
surprised to find that the space program and the controversial 
antimissile missile and fallout shelter programs are understood to 
have the spending of vast sums of money, not the advancement of 
science or national defense, as their principal goals, and to 
learn that "military" draft policies are only remotely concerned 
with defense.

He may be offended to find the organized repression of minority 
groups, and even the re-establishment of slavery, seriously (and 
on the whole favorably) discussed as possible aspects of a world 
at peace. He is not likely to take kindly to the notion of the 
deliberate intensification of air and water pollution (as part of 
a program leading to peace), even when the reason for considering 
it is made clear. That a world without war will have to turn 
sooner rather than later to universal test-tube procreation will 
be less disturbing, if no more appealing.  But few readers will 
not be taken aback, at least, by a few lines in the Report's 
conclusions, repeated in its for recommendations, that suggest 
that the long-range planning--and "budgeting"--of the "optimum" 
number lives to be destroyed annually in overt warfare is high on 
the Group's list of priorities for government action.

I cite these few examples primarily to warn the general reader 
what he can expect. The statesmen and strategists for whose eyes 
the Report was intended obviously need no such protective 

This book of course, is evidence of my response to Doe's request. 
After carefully considering the problems that might confront the 
publisher of the Report, we took it to The Dial Press. There, its 
significance was immediately recognized, and, more important, we 
were given firm assurances that no outside pressures of any sort 
would be permitted to interfere with its publication.

It should be made clear that Doe does not disagree with the 
substance of the Report, which represents a genuine consensus in 
all important respects. He constituted a minority of one--but only 
on the issue of disclosing it to the general public. A look at how 
the Group dealt with this question will be illuminating.

The debate took place at the Group's last full meeting before the 
Report was written, late in March, 1966, and again at Iron 
Mountain. Two facts must be kept in mind, by way of background. 
The first is that the Special Study Croup had never been 
explicitly charged with or sworn to secrecy, either when it was 
convened or at any time thereafter. The second is that the Group 
had nevertheless operated as if it had been. This was assumed from 
the circumstances of its inception and from the tone of its 
instructions. (The Group's acknowledgment of help from "the many 
persons . . . who contributed so greatly to our work" is somewhat 
equivocal; these persons were not told the nature of the project 
for which their special resources of information were solicited. )

Those who argued the case for keeping the Report secret were 
admittedly motivated by fear of the explosive political effects 
that could be expected from publicity. For evidence, they pointed 
to the suppression of the far less controversial report of then-
Senator Hubert Humphrey's subcommittee on disarmament in l962. 
(Subcommittee members had reportedly feared that it might be used 
by Communist propagandists, as Senator Stuart Symington put it, to 
"back up the Marxian theory that war production was the reason for 
the success of capitalism.") Similar political precautions had 
been taken with the better-known Gaither Report in 1957, and even 
with the so-called Moynihan Report in 1965.

Furthermore, they insisted, a distinction must be made between 
serious studies, which are normally classified unless and until 
policy makers decide to release them, and conventional "showcase" 
projects, organized to demonstrate a political leadership's 
concern about an issue and to deflect the energy of those pressing 
for action on it. (The example used, because some of the Croup had 
participated in it, was a "White House Conference" on 
international cooperation, disarmament, etc., which had been 
staged late in 1965 to offset complaints about escalation of the 
Vietnam war.)

Doe acknowledges this distinction, as well as the strong 
possibility of public misunderstanding. But he feels that if the 
sponsoring agency had wanted to mandate secrecy it could have done 
so at the outset. It could also have assigned the project to one 
of the government's established "think tanks," which normally work 
on a classified basis. He scoffed at fear of public reaction, 
which could have no lasting effect on long-range measures that 
might be taken to implement the Group's proposals, and derided the 
Group's abdication of responsibility for its opinions and 
conclusions. So far as he was concerned, there was such a thing as 
a public right to know what was being done on its behalf; the 
burden of proof was on those who would abridge it.

If my account seems to give Doe the better of the argument, 
despite his failure to convince his colleagues, so be it. My 
participation in this book testifies that I am not neutral. In my 
opinion, the decision of the Special Study Group to censor its own 
findings was not merely timid but presumptuous. But the refusal, 
as of this writing, of the agencies for which the Report was 
prepared to release it themselves raises broader questions of 
public policy. Such questions center on the continuing use of 
self-serving definitions of "security" to avoid possible political 
embarrassment. It is ironic how often this practice backfires.

I should state, for the record, that I do not share the attitudes 
toward war and peace, life and death, and survival of the species 
manifested in the Report. Few readers will. In human terms, it is 
an outrageous document. But it does represent a serious and 
challenging effort to define an enormous problem. And it explains, 
or certainly appears to explain, aspects of American policy 
otherwise incomprehensible by the ordinary standards of common 
sense. What we may think of these explanations is something else, 
but it seems to me that we are entitled to know not only what they 
are but whose they are.

By "whose" I don't mean merely the names of the authors of the 
Report. Much more important, we have a right to know to what 
extent their assumptions of social necessity are shared by the 
decision-makers in our government. Which do they accept and which 
do they reject.  However disturbing the answers, only full and 
frank discussion offers any conceivable hope of solving the 
problems raised by the Special Study Croup in their Report from 
Iron Mountain.

 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.  

How was the Group formed?

.,, The general idea for it, for this kind of study, dates back at 
least to l96l. It started with some of the new people who came in 
with the Kennedy administration, mostly, I think, with McNamara, 
Bundy, and Rusk.  They were impatient about many things.... One of 
them was that no really serious work had been done about planning 
for peace--a long-range peace, that is, with long-
range planning.

Everything that had been written on the subject [before l96l] was 
superficial. There was insufficient appreciation of the scope of 
the problem. The main reason for this, of course, was that the 
idea a of a real peace in the world, general disarmament and so 
on, was looked on as utopian. Or even crackpot. This is still 
true, and it's easy enough to understand when you look at what's 
going on in the world today.... It was reflected in the studies 
that had been made up to that time. They were not realistic.. . .

The idea of the Special Study, the exact form it would take, was 
worked out early in '63.... The settlement of the Cuban missile 
affair had something to do with it, but what helped most to get it 
moving were the big changes in military spending that were being 
planned.... Plants being closed, relocations, and so forth. Most 
of it wasn't made public until much later....

[I understand] it took a long time to select the people for the 
Group. The calls didn't go out until the summer....

Who made the selection?

That's something I can't tell you. I wasn't involved with the 
preliminary planning. The first I knew of it was when I was called 
myself. But three of the people had been in on it, and what the 
rest of us know we learned from them, about what went on earlier. 
I do know that it started very informally. I don't know what 
particular government agency approved' the project.

Would you care to make a guess?

All right--I think it was an ad hoc committee, at the cabinet 
level, or near it. It had to be. I suppose they gave the 
organizational job--making arrangements, paying the bills, and so 
on--to somebody from State or Defense or the National Security 
Council. Only one of us was in touch with Washington, and I wasn't 
the one. But I can tell you that very, very few people knew about 
us. ., . For instance, there was the Ackley Committee. It was set 
up after we were. If you read their report-- the same old tune--
economic re conversion, turning sword plants into plowshare 
factories--I think you'll wonder if even the President knew about 
our Group. The Ackley Committee certainly didn't.

Is that possible, really?

I mean that not even the President knew of your commission?

Well, I don't think there's anything odd about the government 
attacking a problem at two different levels.

Or even about two or three government agencies working at cross-
purposes. It happens all the time. Perhaps the President did know. 
And I don't mean to denigrate the Ackley Committee1, but it was 
exactly that narrowness of approach that we were supposed to get 
away from. . You have to remember--
you've read the Report-- that what they wanted from us was a 
different kind thinking. It was a matter of approach. Herman Kal 
calls it "Byzantine"--no agonizing over cultural and I 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 kink 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 books3, 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 

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 

For our study, even the private research centers were too 
institutional.... A lot of thought went into making sure that our 
thinking would be unrestricted. All kinds of little things. The 
way we were called into the Group, the places we met, all kinds of 
subtle devices to remind us. For instance, even our name, the 
Special Study Group. You know government names. Wouldn't you think 
we'd have been called "Operation Olive Branch," or "Project 
Pacifica," or something like that? Nothing like that for us--too 
allusive, too suggestive. And no minutes of our--meetings--too 
inhibiting.... About who might be reading them. Of course, we took 
notes for our own use. And among ourselves, we usually called 
ourselves "The Iron Mountain Boys' or "Our Thing," or whatever 
came to mind....

What can you tell me about the members of the Group ?

I'll have to stick to generalities.... There were fifteen  of us. 
The important thing was that we represented a very wide range of 
disciplines. And not all academic. People from the natural 
sciences, the social sciences, even the humanities. We had a 
lawyer and a businessman. Also, a professional war planner. Also, 
you should know that everyone in the Group had done work of 
distinction in at least two different fields. The 
interdisciplinary element was built in....

It's true that there were no women in the Group, but I don't think 
that was significant.... We were all American citizens, of course. 
And all, I can say, in very good health, at least when we 
began.... You see, the first order of business, at the first 
meeting, was the reading of dossiers. They were very detailed, and 
not just professional, but also personal. They included medical 
histories.  I remember one very curious thing, for whatever it's 
worth. Most of us, and that includes me, had a record of 
abnormally high uric acid concentrations in the blood... None of 
us had ever had this experience, of a public inspection of 
credentials, or medical reports. It was very disturbing....

But it was deliberate. The reason for it was to emphasize that we 
were supposed to make all our own decisions on procedure, without 
outside rules. This include judging each others qualifications and 
making allowances for possible bias.  I don't think it affected 
our work directly, but it made the point it was supposed to 
make...That we should ignore absolutely nothing that might 
conceivably affect our objectivity.

[At this point I persuaded Doe that a brief occupational 
description of the individual members of the Group would serve a 
useful purpose for readers of the Report. The list which follows 
was worked out on paper. (It might be more accurate to say it was 
negotiated.) The problem was to give as much relevant information 
as possible without violating Doe's commitment to protect his 
colleagues' anonymity. It turned out to be very difficult, 
especially in the cases of those members who are very well known. 
For this reason, secondary areas of achievement or reputation are 
usually not shown,

The simple alphabetical "names" were assigned by Doe for 
convenient reference; they bear no intended relation to actual 
names. "Able" was the Camp's Washington contact. It was he who 
brought and read the dossiers, and who most often acted as 
chairman. He, "Baker" and "Cox" were the three who had been 
involved in the preliminary planning There is no other 
significance to the order of listing.

"Arthus Able" is an historian and political theorist, who has 
served in government.

"Bernard Baker" is a professor of international law and a 
consultant on government operations.

"Charles Cox" is an economist, social critic; and biographer.

"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, 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 with

an independent West Coast research institution.

"Samuel Smith" is an astronomer, physicist, and communications 

"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 
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 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 

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 

You said you made your own ground rules.  What were these ground 

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 

By unanimity, I don't mean that we kept taking votes; like a jury. 
I mean that we stayed with every issue until we had what the 
Quakers call a "sense of the meeting " It was time-consuming.  But 
in the long run it saved time.  Eventually we all got on the same 
wavelength, so to speak....

Of course we had differences, and big ones especially in the 
beginning.... For instance, in Section 1 you might think we were 
merely clarifying our instructions.  Not so;  it took a long time 
before we all agreed to a strict interpretation....Roe and Taylor 
deserve most of the credit for this.... There are many things in 
the Report that look obvious now, but didn't seem so obvious then. 
For instance, on the relationship of war to social systems. The 
original premise was conventional, from Clausewitz. . . That war 
was an "instrument" of broader political values. Able was the only 
one who challenged this, at first. Fox called his position 
"perverse." Yet it was Fox who furnished most of the data that led 
us all to agree with Able eventually. I mention this because I 
think it's good example of the way we worked. A triumph of method 
over cliché.... I certainly don't intend to go into details about 
who took what side about what, and when. But I will say, to give 
credit where due, that only Roe, Able, Hill, and Taylor were able 
to see, at the beginning, where our method was taking us.

But you always reached agreement, eventually.

Yes. It's a unanimous report.... I don't mean that our sessions 
were always harmonious. Some of them were rough. The last six 
months there was a lot of quibbling about small points.... We'd 
been under pressure for a long time, we'd been working together 
too long. It was natural . . . that we got on each other's nerves. 
For a while Able and Taylor weren't speaking to each other. Miller 
threatened to quit. But this all passed. There were no important 

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 

You mentioned a "peace games" manual. What are peace games?

I wanted to say something about that. The Report barely mentions 
it. "Peace games' is a method we developed during the course of 
the study. It's a forecast technique, an information system. I'm 
very excited about it. Even if nothing is done about our 
recommendations--which is conceivable--this is something that 
can't be ignored. It will revolutionize the study social problems. 
It's a by-product of the study. We needed a fast, dependable 
procedure to approximate the effects of disparate social phenomena 
on other social phenomena. We got it. It's in a primitive phase, 
but works.

How are peace games played? Are they like Rand's war games?

You don't "play" peace games, like chess or Monopoly any more than 
you play war games with toy soldiers. You use computers. Its a 
programming system. A compute "language," like FORTRAN, or ALGOL, 
or Jovial.... Its advantage is its superior capacity to 
interrelate data with no apparent common points of reference.... A 
simple analogy is likely to be misleading. But I can give you some 
examples. For instance, supposing I asked you to figure out what 
effect a moon landing by U.S. astronauts would have on an election 
in, say, Sweden. Or what effect a change in the draft law--a 
specific change-- I'd 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 

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 

The idea of a problem-solving system like this is not original 
with us. ARPA4 has been working on something like it.   So has 
General Electric, in California.  There are others.... We were 
successful not because we know more than they do about 
programming, which we don't but because we learned how to 
formulate the problem accurately. It goes back to the old saw. You 
can find the answer if you know the right question....

Supposing you hadn't developed this method.  Would you have come 
to the same conclusions in the Report?

Certainly. But it would have taken many times longer.... But 
please don't misunderstand my enthusiasm [about the peace games 
method]. With all due respect to the effects of computer 
technology on modern thinking, basic judgments must still be made 
by human beings. The peace games technique isn't responsible for 
our Report. We are....

1. This was a "Committee on the Economic Impact of Defense and 
Disarmament," headed by Gardner Ackley, of the Council of Economic 
Advisers.   It was established by Presidential order in December, 
1963, and issued a report in July, 1965.

2. The Institute for Defense Analysis

3. On Thermonuclear War, Thinking About the Unthinkable, On 

4. The Advanced Research Projects Agency, of the  Department of 


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 be adopted.

Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the establishment 
of this Group, and in view of the nature of its findings, we do 
not recommend that this Report be released for publication. It is 
our affirmative judgment that such action would not be in the 
public interest. The uncertain advantages of public discussion of 
our conclusions and recommendations are, in our opinion, greatly 
outweighed by the clear and predictable danger of a crisis in 
public confidence which untimely publication of this Report might 
be expected to provoke. The likelihood that a lay reader, 
unexposed to the exigencies of higher political or military 
responsibility, will misconstrue the purpose of this project, and 
the intent of its participants, seems obvious. We urge that 
circulation of this Report be closely restricted to those whose 
responsibilities require that they be apprised of its contents.

We deeply regret that the necessity of anonymity, a prerequisite 
to our Group's unhindered pursuit of its objectives, precludes 
proper acknowledgment of our gratitude to the many persons in and 
out of government who contributed so greatly to our work.

                 For the Special Study Group

                [signature withheld for publication]

30 September, 1966


THE REPORT which follows summarizes the results of a two-and--
half-year study of the broad problems to be anticipated in the 
event of a general transformation of American society to a 
condition lacking its most critical current characteristics: its 
capability and readiness to make war when doing so is judged 
necessary or desirable by its political leadership.

Our work has been predicated on the belief that some kind of 
general peace may soon be negotiable. The de facto admission of 
Communist China into the United Nations now appears to be only a 
few years away at most. It has become increasingly manifest that 
conflicts of American national interest with those of China and 
the Soviet Union are susceptible of political solution, despite 
the superficial contraindications of the current Vietnam war, of 
the threats of an attack on China, and of the necessarily hostile 
tenor of day-to-day foreign policy statements.  It is also obvious 
differences involving other nations can be readily resolved by the 
three great powers whenever they arrive at a stable peace among 
themselves. It is not necessary, for the purposes of our study, to 
assume that a general détente of this sort will come about--and we 
make no such argument--but only that it may.

It is surely no exaggeration to say that a condition of general 
world peace would lead to changes in the social structures of the 
nations of the world of unparalleled and revolutionary magnitude. 
The economic impact of general disarmament, to name only the most 
obvious consequence of peace, would revise the production and 
distribution patterns of the globe to a degree that would make the 
changes of the past fifty years seem insignificant. Political, 
sociological, cultural, and ecological changes would be equally 
far-reaching. What has motivated our study of these contingencies 
has been the growing sense of thoughtful men in and out of 
government that the world is totally unprepared to meet the 
demands of such a situation.

We had originally planned, when our study was initiated, to 
address ourselves to these two broad questions and their 
components: What can be expected of peace comes? What should me be 
prepared to do about it? But as our investigation proceeded it 
became apparent that certain other questions had to be faced.

What, for instance, are the real functions of war in modern 
societies, beyond the ostensible ones of defending and advancing 
the "national interests" of nations? In the absence of war, what 
other institutions exist or might be devised to fulfill these 
functions? Granting that a "peaceful" settlement of disputes is 
within the range of current international relationships, is the 
abolition of war, in the broad sense, really possible? If so, is 
it necessarily desirable, in terms of social stability? If not, 
what can be done to improve the operation of our social system in 
respect to its war-readiness?

The word peace, as we have used it in the following pages, 
describes a permanent, or quasi-permanent, condition entirely free 
from the national exercise, or contemplation, of any form of the 
organized social violence, or threat of violence, generally known 
as war. It implies total and general disarmament. It is not used 
to describe the more familiar condition of "cold war," "armed 
peace," or other mere respite, long or short, from armed conflict. 
Nor is it used simply as a synonym for the political settlement of 
international differences. The magnitude of modern means of mass 
destruction and the speed of modern communications require the 
unqualified working definition given above; only a generation ago 
such an absolute description would have seemed utopian rather than 
pragmatic. Today, any modification of this definition would render 
it almost worthless for our purpose. By the same standard, we have 
used the word war to apply interchangeably to conventional ("hot") 
war, to the general condition of war preparation or war readiness, 
and to the general "war system." The sense intended is made clear 
in context.

The first section of our Report deals with its scope and with the 
assumptions on which our study was based. The second considers the 
effects of disarmament on economy, the subject of most peace 
research to date.  The third takes up so-called "disarmament 
scenarios" which have been proposed. The fourth, fifth, and sixth 
examine the nonmilitary functions of war and the problems they 
raise for a viable transition to peace; here will be found some 
indications of the true dimensions of the problem not previously 
coordinated in any other study. In the seventh section we 
summarize our findings, and in the eighth we set forth our 
recommendations for what I believe to be a practical and necessary 
course of action.



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, " 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 



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 
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 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 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 

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 

S. No serious consideration has been given, in any proposed 
conversion plan, to the fundamental nonmilitary function of war 
and armaments in modern society, nor has any explicit attempt been 
made to devise a viable substitute for it. This criticism will be 
developed in sections 5 and 6.



SCENARIOS, as they have come to be called, are hypothetical 
constructions of future events. Inevitably, they re composed of 
varying proportions of established fact, reasonable inference, and 
more or less inspired guess-work. Those which have been suggested 
as model procedures for effectuating international arms control 
and eventual disarmament are necessarily imaginative, al-though 
closely reasoned; in this respect they resemble the "war games" 
analyses of the Rand Corporation, with which they share a common 
conceptual origin.

All such scenarios that have been seriously put forth imply a 
dependence on bilateral or multilateral agreement between the 
great powers. In general, they call for a progressive phasing out 
of gross armaments, military forces, weapons, and weapons 
technology, coordinated with elaborate matching procedures of 
verification, inspection, and machinery for the settlement of 
international disputes. It should be noted that even proponents of 
unilateral disarmament qualify their proposals with an implied 
requirement of reciprocity, very much in the manner of a scenario 
of graduated response in nuclear war. The advantage of unilateral 
initiative lies in its political value as an expression of good 
faith, as well as in its diplomatic function as a catalyst for 
formal disarmament negotiations.

The READ model for disarmament (developed by the Research Program 
on Economic Adjustments to Disarmament) is typical of these 
scenarios. It is a twelve-year-program, divided into three-year 
stages. Each stage includes a separate phase of: reduction of 
armed forces; cutbacks of weapons production, inventories, and 
foreign military bases; development of international inspection 
procedures and control conventions; and the building up of a 
sovereign international disarmament organization. It anticipates a 
net matching decline in U.S. defense expenditures of only somewhat 
more than half the 1965 level, but a necessary re deployment of 
some five-sixths of the defense-dependent labor force.

The economic implications assigned by their authors to various 
disarmament scenarios diverge widely, The more conservative 
models, like that cited above, emphasize economic as well as 
military prudence in postulating elaborate fail-safe disarmament 
agencies, which themselves require expenditures substantially 
substituting for those of the displaced war industries. Such 
programs stress the advantages of the smaller economic adjustment 
entailed Others emphasize, on the contrary, the magnitude (and the 
opposite advantages) of the savings to be achieved from 
disarmament. One widely read analysis' estimates the annual cost 
of the inspection function of general disarmament throughout the 
world as only between two and three percent of current military 
expenditures. Both types of plan tend to deal with the anticipated 
problem of economic reinvestment only in the aggregate. We have 
seen no proposed disarmament sequence that correlates the phasing 
out of specific kinds of military spending with specific new forms 
of substitute spending.

Without examining disarmament scenarios in greater detail, we may 
characterize them with these general comments:

1. Given genuine agreement of intent among the great powers, the 
scheduling of arms control and elimination presents no inherently 
insurmountable procedural problems. Any of several proposed 
sequences might serve as the basis for multilateral agreement or 
for the first step in unilateral arms reduction.

2. No major power can proceed with such a program, however, until 
it has developed an economic conversion plan fully integrated with 
each phase of disarmament. No such plan has yet been developed in 
the United States.

3. Furthermore, disarmament scenarios, like proposals for economic 
conversion, make no allowance for the non-military functions of 
war in modern societies, and offer no surrogate for these 
necessary functions. One partial exception is a proposal for the 
"unarmed forces of the United States," which we will consider in 
section 6.
Go To Part 2
Go To Part 3