The Doomsday Machine - Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

By Daniel Ellsberg

go to Reality Asserts Itself - Daniel Ellsberg


Excerpts (slideshow of excerpts - in deutsch) by Joachim Gruber

Links and "Key Concepts" table added by Joachim Gruber

See also "Key Points" in Daniel Ellsberg's September 24th, 2018 interview with Robert Wiblin and Keiran Harris (excerpts).


Key Concepts - Wesentliche Konzepte

English Original

  • 1 First-Strike
    • 1.1 Thousands of nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, aimed mainly at Russian military targets including command and control, many in or near cities. The declared official rationale for such a system has always been primarily the supposed need to deter -or if necessary respond to- an aggressive Russian nuclear first strike against the United States. That widely believed public rationale is a deliberate deception. Deterring a surprise Soviet nuclear attack -or responding to such an attack- has never been the only or even the primary purpose of our nuclear plans and preparations. The nature, scale, and posture of our strategic nuclear forces has always been shaped by the requirements of quite different purposes: to attempt to limit the damage to the United States from Soviet or Russian retaliation to a U.S. first strike against the USSR or Russia. This capability is, in particular, intended to strengthen the credibility of U.S. threats to initiate limited nuclear attacks, or escalate them - U.S. threats of "first use"- to prevail in regional, initially non-nuclear conflicts involving Soviet or Russian forces or their allies.
    • 1.2 The required U.S. strategic capabilities have always been for a first-strike force
    • 1.3 First-strike nuclear attacks by either side very much smaller than were planned in the 60s and 70s -and which are still prepared for instant execution in both Russia and America- would still via a nuclear winter kill nearly all the humans on earth
    • 1.4 Arguments made for the necessity or desirability of continued possession of some nuclear weapons by nuclear weapons states (NWS) do not remotely apply to maintaining doomsday arsenals on the massive scale of the superpowers Ð thousands of first-strike weapons each. That's true even when these pro-nuclear arguments do seem plausible to many as reasons for maintaining a small deterrent force.
    • 1.5 This implies moving in the opposite direction from the programs of Presidents Obama, Trump, and Putin to reconstruct their entire machines, with their first-strike characteristics, with ãmodernizedÒ replacement components. In reality, such a program seems nothing other, in either country, than a further subsidy to the military-industrial-legislative complexes that each of them have or are: a boon to profits, jobs, votes, campaign donations (kickbacks). Good, solid, tradtional political incentives, but very far from legitimate justifications for maintaining or rebuilding a Doomsday Machine.
    • 1.6 Contrary to public understanding, that strategy has not been a matter of deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States, but rather the illusionary one of improving first-strike capability. Specifically, this has involved the goal of ãdamage-limitingÒ to the United States in the event of a U.S. Preemptive strike against Soviet/Russian nuclear capability, triggered by a warning of impending attack, possibly in the context of escalation of a conventional or limited nuclear war.
    • 1.7 I well know that it is entirely unrealistic to hope that the present Congress (not to speak of the present president), dominated by the current Republican Party, or for that matter a Congress returned to the control of Democratic members mainly of the sort we have seen in the last generation, would respond to demands for any one of the measures I have proposed above:
      • a U.S. no-first-use policy
      • probing investigative hearings on our war plans in the light of nuclear winter
      • eliminating our ICBMs
      • forgoing delusions of preemptive damage-limiting by our first-strike forces
      • giving up the profits, jobs, and alliance hegemony based on maintaining that pretense
      • otherwise dismantling the American Doomsday Machine

      Both parties as currently constituted oppose every one of these measures. This mortal predicament did not begin with Donald J. Trump, and it will not end with his departure. The obstacles to achieving these necessary changes are posed not so much by the majority of the American public – though many in recent years have shown dismaying manipulability – but by officials and elites in both parties and by major institutions that consciously support militarism, American hegemony, and arms production and sales.

    • 1.8 The good news is that dismantling the Doomsday Machine in one country or both would be relatively simple in concept and in physical operation (though politically and bureaucratically incredibly difficult). It could be accomplished quickly, easily within a year. But it would mean Ð and here's where institutional resistance would be strong Ð giving up certain infeasible aims and illusory capabilities of our nuclear forces: in particular, the notion that it is possible to limit damage to the United States (or Russia) by means of a preemptive first strike, targeted on the adversary's land-based missiles, its command and control centers and communications, its leadership (ãdecapitationÒ), all other military targets and war-supporting resources, including urban-industrial centers, transportation and energy.

    Deutsche †bersetzung - mithilfe von DeepL-Translator

  • 1 Nuklearer Erstschlag
    • 1.1 Tausende von Atomwaffen befinden sich in Alarmbereitschaft und zielen vor allem auf russische militŠrische Ziele, Kommando- und Kontrollzentralen eingeschlossen, viele davon in oder in der NŠhe von StŠdten. Die erklŠrte offizielle BegrŸndung fŸr ein solches System war immer in erster Linie die angebliche Notwendigkeit, auf einen russischen nuklearen Erstschlag gegen die Vereinigten Staaten reagieren zu kšnnen. Diese weit verbreitete šffentliche BegrŸndung ist eine vorsŠtzliche TŠuschung. Einen Ÿberraschenden sowjetischen Nuklearangriff abzuschrecken - oder die Reaktion auf einen solchen Angriff - war niemals der einzige und noch nicht einmal der primŠre Zweck unserer Nuklearplanungen und Vorbereitungen. Die Art, der Umfang und die Aufstellung (posture) unserer strategischen NuklearstreitkrŠfte waren schon immer durch ganz andere Ziele geprŠgt: den Versuch, den Schaden zu begrenzen, welcher in den Vereinigten Staaten durch sowjetische oder russische Vergeltungsma§nahmen nach einem US-Erstschlag gegen die UdSSR oder Russland erzeugt wird. Diese FŠhigkeit soll insbesondere die GlaubwŸrdigkeit von US-Drohungen mit begrenzten atomaren Angriffen stŠrken oder sie - die US-Drohungen mit einem "First Use" - in regionalen, zunŠchst nicht-nuklearen Konflikten mit sowjetischen oder russischen StreitkrŠften oder deren Alliierten zu eskalieren.

    • 1.2 Die als erforderlich bezeichneten strategischen FŠhigkeiten waren immer Teil einer Erstschlag-Waffe: unter keinem PrŠsident war sie vorgesehen fŸr einen PrŠventivschlag, einen nicht provozierten oder einem Blitz aus heiterem Himmel, aber auch nicht unbedingt nur fŸr einen Vergeltungsschlag, wenn dieser durch einen PrŠventivschlag verhindert werden kann. Trotz anders lautender offizieller Verlautbarungen ist seit jeher das HerzstŸck unserer strategischen Planung der PrŠventivschlag ausgelšst durch eine Warnmeldung (preemptive launch on warning), entweder einer taktischen Warnung, dass ein Angriff gestartet wurde, oder einer strategischen Warnung, dass wahrscheinlich eine nukleare Eskalation bevorsteht.

    • 1.3 Nukleare ErstschlŠge, gleichgžltig von welcher Seite, die sehr viel kleiner wŠren als in den 60er und 70er Jahren geplant - und die in Russland und Amerika zur sofortigen AusfŸhrung vorbereitet werden-, wŸrden immer noch zu einem nuklearen Winter fŸhren und fast alle Menschen auf der Erde umbringen.

    • 1.4 Argumente fŸr die Notwendigkeit oder WŸnschbarkeit einiger weniger Atomwaffen durch Atomwaffenstaaten (NWS) gelten nicht im Entferntesten fŸr die Aufrechterhaltung der Weltuntergangsarsenale der SupermŠchte - jeweils Tausende von Erstschlagwaffen. Diese pro-nuklearen Argumente erscheinen zwar vielen pausibel als GrŸnde fŸr die Aufrechterhaltung einer kleinen Abschreckungskraft. Die Weltuntergangsarsenale der SupermŠchte kann man so aber nicht rechtfertigen.
    • 1.5 Daraus folgt, dass man sich im Vergleich zu den Programmen von Obama, Trump und Putin in die entgegengesetzte Richtung bewegen muss. Diese werden die gesamten Maschinerien grunderneuern, mit ihren "Erstschlag"-Charakteristiken, mit "modernisierten" Ersatzkomponenten. In Wirklichkeit erscheint solch ein Programm in beiden LŠndern als nichts anderes als eine weitere UnterstŸtzung der militŠrisch-industriellen-legislativen Komplexe, die jedes von diesen LŠndern hat oder ist: ein Segen in Form von Profiten, ArbeitsplŠtzen, Stimmen, Kampagnen-Geschenke (Nebeneinnahmen), also gute, massive, traditionelle politische Anreize, aber weit entfernt davon, den Erhalt oder die Erneuerung einer Weltuntergangsmaschine legitim zu rechtfertigen. 
    • 1.6 Im Gegensatz zum šffentlichen VerstŠndnis hat diese Strategie nicht zum Ziel, einen nuklearen Angriff auf die Vereinigten Staaten abzuschrecken, sondern die Illusion einer Verbesserung der ErstschlagfŠhigkeit. Konkret geht es dabei immer um das Ziel der "Schadensbegrenzung" in den USA im Falle eines US-PrŠventivschlags gegen das sowjetische / russische Nuklear-Arsenal, der durch eine Warnung vor einem drohenden Angriff ausgelšst wird, mšglicherweise im Rahmen einer Eskalation eines konventionellen oder begrenzter Atomkriegs.
    • 1.7 Ich wei§ wohl, dass es všllig unrealistisch ist zu hoffen, dass der gegenwŠrtige Kongress (vom gegenwŠrtigen PrŠsidenten ganz zu schweigen), dominiert von der gegenwŠrtigen republikanischen Partei, oder ein Kongress, der von Mitgliedern der demokratischen Partei dominiert ist, wie wir sie in der letzten Generation erlebt haben, auf folgende Forderungen eingehen wird:
      • eine US-Richtlinie, welche einen nuklearen Erstschlag verbietet,
      • tiefgreifende Hearings zu unseren KriegsplŠnen im Hinblick auf den nuklearen Winter,
      • Beseitigung unserer Interkontinentalraketen (ICBMs),
      • Verzicht auf den Irrglauben, dass wir mit unserem nuklearen Erstschlag den Schaden durch einen Vergeltungsschlag begrenzen kšnnen,
      • Verzicht auf die (finanziellen) Vorteile, Jobs und unsere Hegemonie im westlichen BŸndniss, die allesamt auf diesem Irrglauben beruhen,
      • oder ansonsten die Demontage der amerikanischen Weltuntergangsmaschine (Doomsday Machine).


      GegenwŠrtig sind beide Parteien gegen jede dieser Ma§nahmen. Dieses tšdliche Dilemma begann nicht mit Donald J. Trump, und es wird nicht mit seinem Weggang enden. Die Hindernisse fŸr diese notwendigen VerŠnderungen werden weniger von der Mehrheit der amerikanischen …ffentlichkeit getragen - obwohl viele in den letzten Jahren bestŸrzende Manipulierbarkeit gezeigt haben -, sondern von Beamten und Eliten in beiden Parteien und von gro§en Institutionen, die bewusst Militarismus, amerikanische Hegemonie und Waffenproduktion und -verkauf unterstŸtzen.

    • 1.8 Die gute Nachricht ist, dass die Demontage der Weltuntergangsmaschine in einem Land oder in beiden LŠndern relativ einfach im Konzept und in tatsŠchlicher Umsetzung wŠre (wenn auch politisch und bŸrokratisch unglaublich schwierig). Sie kšnnte schnell und einfach innerhalb eines Jahres durchgefŸhrt werden. Aber es wŸrde bedeuten - und hier wŠre der institutionelle Widerstand stark -, bestimmte undurchfŸhrbare Ziele und illusorische FŠhigkeiten unserer AtomstreitkrŠfte aufzugeben: insbesondere die Vorstellung, dass es mšglich sei, den Schaden fŸr die Vereinigten Staaten (oder Russland) durch einen prŠventiven Erstschlag zu begrenzen, der auf die landgestŸtzen Raketen des Gegners gezielt wŠre, auf seine Kommando- und Kontrollzentren und Kommunikationen, seine FŸhrung ("Enthauptung"), alle anderen militŠrischen Ziele und kriegsunterstŸtzenden Ressourcen, einschlie§lich stŠdtisch-industrieller Zentren, Transport und Energie.
  • 2 First-Use
    • 2.1 "first use" refers to any possible initiation of nuclear attacks other than first strike.
    • 2.2 This capability is, in particular, intended to strengthen the credibility of U.S. threats to initiate limited nuclear attacks, or escalate them - U.S. threats of "first use"- to prevail in regional, initially non-nuclear conflicts involving Soviet or Russian forces or their allies.
    • 2.3 Our "extended deterrence" over allies in Europe or Japan rests on our preparedness and our frequently reiterated readiness to carry out threats of first use (initiation of limited nuclear attacks with short-range tactical weapons) and/or, implicitely, to carry out a disarming first strike on the homeland of the USSR or Russia, mostly with long-range strategic weapons, in response to large non-nuclear attacks by its conventional forces or those of its allies.
    • 2.4 Posing as it does the threat of nuclear attack by the United States to every state that might potentially be in conflict with us (like North Korea), this persistent rejection by the United States of a no-first-use commitment has always precluded an effective nonproliferation campaign. So it does at this time under President Trump.
    • 2.5 We humans almost universally have a false self-image of our species. We think that monstrous, wicked policies must be, can only be, conceived and directed and carried out by monsters, wicked or evil people, or highly aberrant, clinically „disturbed“ people. People not like „us“. That is mistaken. Those who have created a continuing nuclear threat to the existence of humanity have been normal, ordinary politicians, analysts, and military strategists. To them and to their subordinates. Hannah Ahrendt's controversial proposition regarding the „banality of evil“ I believe applies, though it might better have been stated as the „banality of evildoing“, and of most evildoers.
    • After all, we Americans have seen in recent years human-caused catastrophes reflecting governmental or corporate recklessness far greater and more conscious and deliberate than our public can easily imagine or is allowed to discover in time. Above all, the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of Afghanistan, but also the failure to prepare for or respond to Hurrican Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, and financial disasters affecting millions: the savings-and-loan scandal, Internet and housing bubbles, criminal fraud, and the meltdown of the banking and investment system.

      Perhaps reflection on these political, social, and moral failures – preceding though amplified by current premonitions of disastrous decision-making during the tenure of Donald Trump – will lend credibility to my basic theme, otherwise hard to absorb: that the same type of heedless, shortsighted, and reckless decision-making and lying about it has characterized our government's nuclear planning, threats, and preparations, throughout the nuclear era, risking a catastrophe incomparably greater than all these others together.

  • 2 First Use: Die USA als erste setzen Nuklearwaffen ein
    • 2.1 "[nuklearer] Ersteinsatz" bezeichnet jeden mšglichen Beginn von nuklearen Angriffen, der nicht ein nuklearer Erstschlag ist.

    • 2.2 Die FŠhigkeit zum nuklearen Ersteinsatz soll insbesondere die GlaubwŸrdigkeit von US-Drohungen stŠrken, begrenzte Nuklearangriffe zu beginnen oder sie - die US-amerikanischen Drohungen von "first use" - in regionalen, vorerst nicht-nuklearen Konflikten mit sowjetischen oder russischen StreitkrŠften oder ihren VerbŸndeten zu eskalieren, um damit die Oberhand zu bewahren.

    • 2.3 Unsere "erweiterte Abschreckung" gegenŸber VerbŸndeten in Europa oder Japan beruht auf unserer Bereitschaft und unserer hŠufig wiederholten Bereitschaft, Drohungen des Ersteinsatzes (Initiierung begrenzter Nuklearangriffe mit taktischen Kurzstreckenwaffen) durchzufŸhren und / oder, das ist damit eingeschlossen, einen entwaffnenden Erstschlag auf das Heimatland der UdSSR oder Russland durchzufŸhren, meist mit strategischen Waffen langer Reichweite, als Antwort auf gro§e nicht-nukleare Angriffe durch seine [UdSSR/Russlands] konventionellen StreitkrŠfte oder die seiner VerbŸndeten.

    • 2.4 Angesichts eines drohenden atomaren Angriffs der Vereinigten Staaten auf jeden Staat, der mšglicherweise mit uns in Konflikt geraten kšnnte (wie Nordkorea) hat diese hartnŠckige US amerikanische Ablehnung des Ersteinsatzes immer eine wirksame nukleare Nichtverbreitungskampagne verhindert. So ist es auch zur Zeit unter PrŠsident Trump.

    • 2.5 Wir Menschen haben fast immer ein falsches Selbstbild unserer Spezies. Wir denken, dass monstršse, boshafte Politik nur von Monstern, schlechten oder bšsen Menschen oder hochgradig anomal, klinisch "gestšrten" Menschen gedacht, geplant und ausgefŸhrt werden kann. Leute nicht wie wir. Das ist falsch. Diejenigen, die eine fortdauernde nukleare Bedrohung fŸr die Existenz der Menschheit geschaffen haben, waren normale, gewšhnliche Politiker, Analytiker und MilitŠrstrategen. Zu ihnen und zu ihren Untergebenen. Hannah Ahrendts umstrittener Vorschlag bezŸglich der "BanalitŠt des Bšsen", wie ich glaube, trifft zu, obwohl es besser als die "BanalitŠt des †beltuns" und [BanalitŠt] der meisten †beltŠter bezeichnet werden kšnnte.

    • Schlie§lich haben wir Amerikaner in den letzten Jahren von Menschen verursachte Katastrophen gesehen, die die RŸcksichtslosigkeit von Regierungen oder Unternehmen widerspiegeln, die viel grš§er und bewusster sind, als unsere …ffentlichkeit es sich leicht vorstellen kann oder in der Zeit entdecken darf. Vor allem der Einmarsch in den Irak und die Besetzung Afghanistans, aber auch die UnfŠhigkeit, sich auf Hurrikan Katrina vorzubereiten oder darauf zu reagieren, die …lpest im Golf und Millionen von Finanzkatastrophen: der Sparkassenskandal, Internet- und Immobilienblasen, krimineller Betrug und der Zusammenbruch des Banken- und Investitionssystems.


      Vielleicht wird die Reflexion Ÿber diese politischen, sozialen und moralischen Misserfolge - die durch die gegenwŠrtigen Vorahnungen der desastršsen Entscheidungsfindung wŠhrend der Amtszeit von Donald Trump noch verstŠrkt werden - meinem Grundthema GlaubwŸrdigkeit verleihen, das sonst schwer zu absorbieren ist: dass die gleiche Art von Achtlosigkeit, kurzsichtige und rŸcksichtslose Entscheidungen und das LŸgen darŸber haben die nukleare Planung, die Drohungen und die Vorbereitungen unserer Regierung wŠhrend des Atomzeitalters gekennzeichnet und eine Katastrophe erkauft, die unvergleichlich grš§er ist als all diese anderen zusammen.

  • 3 Nuclear Winter (cache)
    • 3.1 Potentially catastrophic dangers such as these have been systematically concealed from the public. In 1961 I had learned as an insider that our secret nuclear decision-making, policy, plans, and practices for general nuclear war endangered, by the JCS [Joint Chiefs Of Staff] estimate, hundreds of millions of people, perhaps a third of the earth's population. What none of us knew at the time -not the Joint Chiefs, not the president or his science advisors, not anyone else for the next two decades, until 1983- were the phenomena of nuclear winter and nuclear famine, which meant that a large nuclear war of the kind we prepared for then or later would kill nearly every human on earth (along with most other large species) (see chapter 18). It is the smoke, after all (not the fallout, which would remain mostly limited to the northern hemisphere), that would do it worldwide: smoke and soot lofted by the fierce firestorms in hundreds of burning cities into the stratosphere, where it would not rain out and would remain for a decade or more (cache), enveloping the globe and blocking most sunlight, lowering annual global temperatures to the level of the last Ice Age, and killing all harvests worldwide, causing near-universal starvation within a year or two.
    • 3.2 The sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. The sole purpose can and should be accomplished with radically lowered numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons, almost entirely SLBMs [Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles], ICBMs [Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles] having been dismantled as they should have been generations ago. This shift would not totally eliminate the dangers of nuclear war, but it would abolish the threat of nuclear winter.
    • 3.3 Unfortunately, there continues to be little awareness of the recent scientific confirmation of the thirty-year-old nuclear winter ãhypothesisÒ and its implications for our existing strategic nuclear war plans. To be sure, these actual plans remain Top-Secret, but a great deal of testimony by officials, former insiders, and well-informed researchers makes clear that they have much the same character and the same opacity to civilian superiors even within the government as during the time when I had direct knowlege of them.
    • 3.4 It is the long-neglected duty of the U.S. Congress Ð preferably with the expert help and authority of the National Academy of Sciences, in part on a classified basis for details of actual weapons assignments against targets, yields, height of burst, numbers of detonations Ð to test the now-confirmed scientific finding regarding nuclear winter against the realities of our secret war plans. On that basis, Congress and the NAS can and must investigate the foreseeable human and environmental consequences of implementing the various ãoptionsÒ in those plans.
    • 3.5 The numbers of warheads on both sides have since [the early 1960s] declined greatly -by over 80%- from their highest levels in the 60s. Yet the most recent scientific calculations -confirming and even strengthening the initial warnings of more than 30 years ago- even a fraction of the existing smaller arsenals would be more than enough to cause nuclear winter today, on the basis of existing plans that target command and control centers and other objectives in or near cities. In other words, first-strike nuclear attacks by either side very much smaller than were planned in the 60s and 70s -and which are still prepared for instant execution in both Russia and America- would still kill by loss of sunlight and resulting starvation nearly all the humans on earth, now over seven billion.
  • 3 Nuklearer Winter (cache)
    • 3.1 Solche potenziell katastrophalen Gefahren sind der …ffentlichkeit systematisch verborgen geblieben. 1961 hatte ich als Insider erfahren, dass unsere geheime nukleare Entscheidungsfindung, Politik, PlŠne und Praktiken fŸr einen allgemeinen Atomkrieg durch die JCS (Joint Chiefs Of Staff) SchŠtzung Hunderte von Millionen Menschen, vielleicht ein Drittel der Weltbevšlkerung, gefŠhrdet sind. Was keiner von uns damals wusste - nicht die Joint Chiefs, nicht der PrŠsident oder seine wissenschaftlichen Berater, niemand sonst fŸr die nŠchsten zwei Jahrzehnte, bis 1983 - waren die PhŠnomene des nuklearen Winters und der nuklearen Hungersnot, was bedeutete, dass ein gro§er Atomkrieg, wie wir ihn damals oder spŠter vorbereitet hatten, fast jeden Menschen auf der Erde (zusammen mit den meisten anderen gro§en Arten) tšten wŸrde (siehe Kapitel 18). Es ist schlie§lich der Rauch (nicht der Fallout, der meist auf die nšrdliche HemisphŠre beschrŠnkt bleibt), der es weltweit tun wŸrde: Rauch und Ru§, der von den heftigen FeuerstŸrmen in Hunderten von brennenden StŠdten in die StratosphŠre getrieben wird, wo er nicht ausregnet und ein Jahrzehnt oder lŠnger bleibt, den Globus umhŸllt und das meiste Sonnenlicht blockiert, die jŠhrlichen globalen Temperaturen auf das Niveau der letzten Eiszeit senkt und alle Ernten weltweit tštet und innerhalb von ein oder zwei Jahren fast universellen Hunger verursacht.


      3.2 Der einzige Zweck von US-Nuklearwaffen sollte darin bestehen, einen nuklearen Angriff auf die Vereinigten Staaten und ihre VerbŸndeten zu verhindern. Der einzige Zweck kann und sollte erreicht werden, indem die Anzahl der US-Nuklearwaffen radikal gesenkt wird, wobei fast ausschlie§lich SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles) und ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) so abgebaut werden, wie sie vor Generationen hŠtten abgebaut werden sollen. Diese Umstellung wŸrde die Gefahren eines Atomkrieges nicht vollstŠndig beseitigen, aber die Gefahr eines nuklearen Winters abschaffen.


      3.3 Leider ist die jŸngste wissenschaftliche BestŠtigung der drei§ig Jahre alten "Hypothese" des nuklearen Winters und ihre Auswirkungen auf unsere bestehenden strategischen NuklearkriegsplŠne nach wie vor wenig bekannt. Sicher, diese PlŠne sind streng geheim, aber viele Aussagen von Beamten, ehemaligen Insidern und gut informierten Forschern machen deutlich, dass sie [die PlŠne] [auch heute noch] den gleichen Charakter und die gleiche Undurchsichtigkeit fŸr zivile Leitungspersonen sogar innerhalb der Regierung haben wie zu der Zeit, als ich sie noch aus erster Hand kannte.


      3.4 Es ist die seit langem vernachlŠssigte Aufgabe des US-Kongresses - vorzugsweise mit der fachkundigen Hilfe und AutoritŠt der National Academy of Sciences [NAS], zum Teil auf klassifizierter Basis fŸr Details Ÿber tatsŠchliche WaffeneinsŠtze gegen Ziele, SprengkrŠfte, Hšhe der Explosionen, Anzahl der Detonationen - den jetzt bestŠtigten wissenschaftlichen Befund zum nuklearen Winter gegen die RealitŠten unserer geheimen KriegsplŠne zu testen. Auf dieser Grundlage kšnnen und mŸssen der Kongress und die NAS die absehbaren Folgen (fŸr Mensch und Umwelt) der Umsetzung der verschiedenen "Optionen" in diesen PlŠnen untersuchen.


      3.5 Die Anzahl der Sprengkšpfe auf beiden Seiten ist seither [Anfang der 60er Jahre] gegenŸber dem Hšchststand in den 60er Jahren um Ÿber 80% zurŸckgegangen. Doch nach den neuesten wissenschaftlichen Berechnungen - die die ersten Warnungen von vor mehr als 30 Jahren bestŠtigen und sogar verstŠrken - wŸrden selbst ein Bruchteil der vorhandenen kleineren Arsenale mehr als ausreichen, um heute einen nuklearen Winter zu verursachen, auf der Grundlage bestehender PlŠne, die auf Kommando- und Kontrollzentren und andere Ziele in oder in der NŠhe von StŠdten abzielen. Mit anderen Worten, Erstschlag-Attacken von beiden Seiten sehr viel kleiner als in den 60er und 70er Jahren geplant - und die immer noch fŸr eine sofortige Umsetzung sowohl in Russland als auch in Amerika vorbereitet sind - wŸrden immer noch fast alle Menschen auf der Erde, jetzt Ÿber sieben Milliarden, durch den Verlust von Sonnenlicht und den daraus resultierenden Hunger tšten.

  • 4 Omnicide
    • 4.1 As it turned out, one of the questions I had drafted for Gilpatric got a different treatment. ... As recounted in the prologue (page 2), this question was the following: "If existing general war plans were carried out as planned, how many people would be killed in the Soviet Union and China alone?" ["General War was [defined] as an all-out attack on every city in the Soviet Union and China and attacks, in effect, in most of the Eastern Bloc because of air defenses and command and control. That kept for no reserves, created fallout that would kill perhaps a hundred million people in West Europe for our own weapons if the wind were in the right direction for that". Source: Ellsberg, National Public Radio, January 19, 2018]
    • The answer came in the form of a graph. The vertical axis showed the number of deaths in millions. The horizontal axis showed the amount of time, in months. The graph was a straight line, starting at time zero ... with the number of immediate deaths expected within hours of our attack [275 million], and then slanting upward [to 325 million] to a maximum of six months - an arbitrary cutoff for deaths that would accumulate over time from initial injuries and from fallout radiation. ... another hundred million deaths, roughly, were predicted [by the JCS] in Eastern Europe, from attacks on Warsaw Pact bases and air defenses and from fallout. There might be a hundred million more from fallout in Western Europe, depending on which way the wind blew (a matter, largely, of the season). But regardless of the season, another hundred million deaths, at least, were predicted from fallout in the mostly neutral countries adjacent to the Soviet bloc and China, including Finland, Sweden, Austria, Afghanistan, India, and Japan. Finland, for example, would be wiped out by fallout from U.S. ground-burst explosions [those -in contradistinction to air-burst explosions- producing maximum fallout] on the Soviet submarine pens in Leningrad.

      The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs, from a U.S. first strike aimed at the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact satellites, and China, would be roughly 600 million dead.

    • 4.2 The easiest and fastest way to reduce that risk Ð and indeed, the overall danger of nuclear war Ð is to dismantle entirely (not merely ãde-alertÒ) the Minuteman III missile force (currently scheduled for ãrefurbishmentÒ), the U.S. land-based leg of the nuclear ãtriadÒ Former secretary of defense William Perry has argued precisely that, as has James E. Cartwright, former commander of the Strategic Command and vice chairman of the JCS.
    • A second stage would be to reduce the Trident submarine-based ballistic missiles (SLBM) force to give up its capability to target and destroy the entire Russian land-based missile force (on which the Russians choose to rely far more than does the United States).

      Having first deprived the Russians of their high-priority, time-urgent targets for those forces by dismantling the U.S. Minuteman silos and their control centers, the remaining inventive for the Russians to launch their ICBMs [Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles] on warning Ð to avert their being destroyed by U.S. SLBMs [Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles]Ð would be eliminated. Launch on warning would no longer be susceptible of being rationalized strategically on either side.

      All of the above propositions apply with equal force to the current, vulnerable opposing offensive nuclear forces of India and Pakistan, with the potential global catastrophe of their mutual launch roughly half the scale of the full nuclear winter produced by a United States/Russian nuclear war. The world's interest in reducing these forces and avoiding their hair-trigger alert status Ð likewise for all currently expanding and ãmodernizingÒ nuclear arsenals Ð is wholly comparable and secondary only to the mutual confrontation of current superpower force

    • 4.3 Given such revelations and corresponding investigations by legislatures in this country and other nuclear weapons states, it seems to me reasonable to hope that new public awareness of the now-secret realities would make the prevailing establishment consensus on the need and legitimacy of threatening and preparing to bring about total omnicide unsustainable. It should be commonly recognized that no stake whatever, no cause, no principle, no consideration of honor or obligation or prestige or maintaining leadership in current alliances Ð still less, no concern for remaining in office, or maintaining a particular power structure, or sustaining jobs, profits, votes Ð can justify maintaining any risk whatever of causing the near extinction of human and other animal life on this planet.

      Omnicide Ð threatened, prepared, or carried out Ð is flatly illegitimate, unacceptable, as an instrument of national policy; indeed, it cannot be regarded as anything less than criminal, immoral, evil. In the light of recent scientific findings, of which the publics of the world and even their leaders are still almost entirely unaware, that risk is implicit in the nuclear planning, posture, readiness, and threats of the two superpowers. That is intolerable. It must be changed, and that change can't come too soon.

    • 4.4 Moreover, the warnings and demands of activists are almost entirely ignored in mainstream media and politics and academic discussion as being non-expert and emotional rather than rational, failing to give appropriate weight to the complexities, the competing moral considerations and priorities that must drive reasonable and responsible policy-making.
    • What is missing Ð what is foregone Ð in the typical discussion and analysis of historical or current nuclear policies is the recognition that what is being discussed is dizzyingly insane and immoral: in its almost-incalculable and inconceivable destructiveness and deliberate murderousness, its disproportionality of risked and planned destructiveness to either declared or unacknowledged objectives, the infeasibility of its secretely pursued aims (damage limitation to the United States and allies, ãvictoryÒ in two-sided nuclear war); its criminality (to a degree that explodes ordinary visions of law, justice, crime), its lack of wisdom or compassion, its sinfulness and evil.

      And yet part of what must be grasped Ð what makes it both understandable, once grasped, and at the same time mysterious and resistant to our ordinary understanding Ð is that the creation, maintenance, and political threat-use of these monstrous machines has been directed and accomplished by humans pretty much the way we think of them: more or less ordinary people, neither better nor worse than the rest of us, not monsters in either a clinical or mythic sense.

    • 4.5 After all, we Americans have seen in recent years human-caused catastrophes reflecting governmental or corporate recklessness far greater and more conscious and deliberate than our public can easily imagine or is allowed to discover in time. Above all, the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of Afghanistan, but also the failure to prepare for or respond to Hurrican Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, and financial disasters affecting millions: the savings-and-loan scandal, Internet and housing bubbles, criminal fraud, and the meltdown of the banking and investment system.
    • Perhaps reflection on these political, social, and moral failures Ð preceding though amplified by current premonitions of disastrous decision-making during the tenure of Donald Trump Ð will lend credibility to my basic theme, otherwise hard to absorb: that the same type of heedless, shortsighted, and reckless decision-making and lying about it has characterized our government's nuclear planning, threats, and preparations, throughout the nuclear era, risking a catastrophe incomparably greater than all these others together.

  • 4 Omnizid
    • 4.1 Wie sich herausstellte, wurde eine der Fragen, die ich fŸr Gilpatric formuliert hatte, anders behandelt. ... Wie im Prolog (Seite 2) beschrieben, war diese Frage die folgende: "Wenn die bestehenden PlŠne fŸr Allgemeinen Krieg wie geplant durchgefŸhrt wŸrden, wie viele Menschen wŸrden allein in der Sowjetunion und in China getštet werden?" ["Allgemeiner Krieg war [definiert als] ein "unbeschrŠnkter Angriff auf jede Stadt in der Sowjetunion und China und tatsŠchlich auch Angriffe auf die meisten Ostblockstaaten wegen ihrer Luftverteidigung und Kommando- und Kontrollzentralen. Er enthielt keine Reserven, verursachte Fallout, der mšglicherweise hundert Million Leute in Westeuropa durch unsere eigenen Waffen umbringen wŸrde, wenn der Wind in der richtigen Richtung blies". Quelle: Ellsberg, National Public Radio, 19. Januar 2018]
    • Die Antwort kam in Form einer Grafik. Die vertikale Achse zeigte die Zahl der TodesfŠlle in Millionen. Die horizontale Achse zeigte die Zeit in Monaten an. Das Diagramm war eine gerade Linie, beginnend beim Zeitpunkt Null ... mit der Anzahl der sofortigen TodesfŠlle, die innerhalb von Stunden nach unserem Angriff erwartet wurden [275 Millionen], und dann schrŠg nach oben [auf 325 Millionen] bis zu einem Maximum von sechs Monaten - ein willkŸrlicher Cutoff fŸr TodesfŠlle, die sich im Laufe der Zeit durch anfŠngliche Verletzungen und durch Fallout-Strahlung ansammeln wŸrden. ... weitere hundert Millionen TodesfŠlle wurden [von den Vereinten Stabschefs, den Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)] in Osteuropa vorhergesagt, durch Angriffe auf Basen des Warschauer Pakts und Luftverteidigung und durch Fallout. In Westeuropa kšnnten es weitere hundert Millionen sein, je nachdem, in welche Richtung der Wind wehte (eine Frage der Jahreszeit). Aber unabhŠngig von der Jahreszeit wŸrden mindestens weitere hundert Millionen TodesfŠlle in den zumeist neutralen NachbarlŠndern des Sowjetblocks und in China, darunter Finnland, Schweden, …sterreich, Afghanistan, Indien und Japan, vorhergesagt. Finnland, zum Beispiel, wŸrde durch den radioaktiven Niederschlag [Fallout] von US-Bodenexplosionen (die - im Gegensatz zu Luftburst-Explosionen - maximalen Fallout erzeugen) auf den sowjetischen U-Boot-KŠfigen in Leningrad ausgelšscht werden.

      Die Gesamtzahl der Todesopfer, wie sie von den Joint Chiefs bei einem Erstschlag der USA gegen die Sowjetunion, ihre Warschauer Pakt-Satelliten und China berechnet wurde, wŸrde etwa 600 Millionen Tote betragen.

    • 4.2 Der einfachste und schnellste Weg, dieses Risiko - und auch die allgemeine Gefahr eines Atomkrieges - zu verringern, ist die vollstŠndige Demontage (nicht nur "EntschŠrfung") der Minuteman-III-Raketengruppe (die derzeit fŸr "Renovierung" vorgesehen ist), des US-amerikanischen Landabschnitts der nuklearen "Triade". Der ehemalige Verteidigungsminister William Perry hat genau dieses Argument vorgebracht, ebenso wie James E. Cartwright, ehemaliger Kommandant des Strategic Command und stellvertretender Vorsitzender der JCS.

      Eine zweite Stufe wŠre die Reduzierung der Trident-U-Boot-basierten ballistischen Raketen (SLBM), und damit ihre FŠhigkeit aufzugeben, die gesamten russischen landbasierten Raketen (auf die sich die Russen viel mehr verlassen als die Vereinigten Staaten) ins Visier zu nehmen und zu zerstšren.

      Nachdem man den Russen durch Demontage der US-Minuteman-Silos und deren Kontrollzentren zunŠchst ihre hoch prioritŠren, zeitkritischen Ziele genommen hŠtte, wŠre der verbleibende Anreiz fŸr die Russen, ihre Interkontinentalen Ballistischen Raketen, ICBMs, [schon] auf Warnung hin zu starten, beseitigt. Sie mŸssten sie nicht mehr schon nach der Warnung eines mšglichen US-Angriffs starten, um ihre Zerstšrung durch amerikanische SLBMs [Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles, ballistische Raketen der USA auf Unterseebooten] abzuwenden. Der Start schon nach Warnung kšnnte auf keiner Seite mehr strategisch begrŸndet werden.

      Alle oben genannten VorschlŠge gelten ebenso fŸr die gegenwŠrtigen, verwundbaren, offensiven AtomstreitkrŠfte Indiens und Pakistans, wobei die potenzielle globale Katastrophe ihres beiderseitigen Starts etwa halb so gro§ ist wie der gesamte nukleare Winter, der durch einen Atomkrieg zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten und Russland verursacht wŸrde. Das Interesse der Welt, [speziell] diese Waffenarsenale zu reduzieren und ihren hair-trigger Alarmstatus zu vermeiden - was ebenso anwendbaar ist auf alle derzeit expandierenden und "zu modernisierenden" Atomwaffenarsenale - ist všllig vergleichbar und zweitrangig nur im Vergleich zur Konfrontation der gegenwŠrtigen SupermŠchte.

    • 4.3 Angesichts solcher EnthŸllungen und entsprechender Untersuchungen durch die Gesetzgebung in unserem Land und in anderen Nuklearstaaten erscheint die Hoffnung vernŸnftig, dass ein neues šffentliches Wissen um die bisher geheimen RealitŠten etwas unhaltbar machen wird: den vorherrschenden Konsens im Establishment, dass das Drohen mit und die Vorbereitung des totalen Omnizids legitim ist. Es sollte allgemein anerkannt werden, dass kein Einsatz, keine Ursache, kein Prinzip, keine BerŸcksichtigung von Ehre oder Verpflichtung oder Prestige oder die Aufrechterhaltung der FŸhrungsrolle in aktuellen Allianzen - noch weniger die Sorge um das eigene Amt oder eine bestimmte Machtstruktur oder ArbeitsplŠtze, Gewinne, Stimmen - die Aufrechterhaltung eines wie auch immer gearteten Risikos rechtfertigen kann, fast alles menschliche und tierische Leben auf diesem Planeten auszulšschen.

      Omnizid - angedroht, vorbereitet oder durchgefŸhrt - ist všllig unrechtmŠ§ig, inakzeptabel als Instrument nationaler Politik, ja, es kann als nichts anderes angesehen werden als kriminell, unmoralisch, bšse. In Anbetracht der jŸngsten wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse, von denen die …ffentlichkeit der Welt und sogar ihre FŸhrer noch fast nichts wissen, ist dieses Risiko in der nuklearen Planung, Haltung, Bereitschaft und Bedrohung der beiden SupermŠchte implizit enthalten. Das ist unertrŠglich. Das muss geŠndert werden, und diese €nderung kann nicht zu frŸh kommen.

    • 4.4 DarŸber hinaus werden die Warnungen und Forderungen von Aktivisten in den Mainstream-Medien und in der Politik und der akademischen Diskussion fast gŠnzlich ignoriert, sie gelten als nicht sachkundig und emotional statt rational. Sie gŠben den KomplexitŠten, den konkurrierenden moralischen †berlegungen und PrioritŠten kein angemessenes Gewicht, die eine vernŸnftige und verantwortungsvolle Politikgestaltung bewegen mŸssten.

      Was in der typischen Diskussion und Analyse historischer oder aktueller Nuklearpolitiken fehlt, ist die Erkenntnis, dass das, was diskutiert wird, schwindelerregend verrŸckt und unmoralisch ist: in ihrer fast unkalkulierbaren und unvorstellbaren Zerstšrungskraft und vorsŠtzlichen Mordhaftigkeit, ihrer UnverhŠltnismŠ§igkeit von einerseits riskierter und geplanter Zerstšrungskraft und andereseits erklŠrten oder uneingestandenen Zielen, der UndurchfŸhrbarkeit ihrer heimlich verfolgten Ziele (Schadensbegrenzung fŸr die Vereinigten Staaten und VerbŸndete, "Sieg" im zweiseitigen Atomkrieg), ihrer KriminalitŠt (in einem Ausma§, das jede gewšhnliche Visionen von Recht, Gerechtigkeit, Verbrechen Ÿberschreitet), ihrem Mangel an Weisheit oder MitgefŸhl, ihrer SŸndhaftigkeit und ihrem †bel.

      Und doch ist ein Teil dessen, was begriffen werden muss - was es sowohl verstŠndlich, einmal begriffen, als auch geheimnisvoll und resistent gegen unser gewšhnliches VerstŠndnis macht -, dass die Erschaffung dieser monstršsen Maschinen, ihre Aufrechterhaltung und Nutzung als politisches Drohmittel von Menschen gesteuert und durchgefŸhrt wird, die ziemlich so sind, wie wir Ÿber sie denken: mehr oder weniger gewšhnliche Menschen, weder besser noch schlechter als wir, keine Monster im klinischen oder mythischen Sinne.

    • 4.5 Schlie§lich haben wir Amerikaner in den letzten Jahren von Menschen verursachte Katastrophen gesehen, welche die RŸcksichtslosigkeit von Regierungen oder Unternehmen widerspiegeln, die weitaus grš§er und bewusster und vorsŠtzlicher ist, als es sich unsere …ffentlichkeit leicht vorstellen kann oder rechtzeitig entdecken darf. Vor allem sind da zu nennen: die Invasion des Irak und die Besetzung Afghanistans, aber auch das VersŠumnis, sich auf den Hurrikan Katrina vorzubereiten oder darauf zu reagieren, die …lpest am Golf und finanzielle Katastrophen, von denen Millionen betroffen sind, der Spar- und Kreditskandal, Internet- und Immobilienblasen, krimineller Betrug und der Zusammenbruch des Banken- und Investitionssystems.

      Vielleicht wird das Nachdenken Ÿber diese politischen, sozialen und moralischen Misserfolge - wenn auch verstŠrkt durch aktuelle Vorahnungen katastrophaler Entscheidungen wŠhrend der Amtszeit von Donald Trump - meinem Grundthema GlaubwŸrdigkeit verleihen, das ansonsten schwer zu absorbieren ist: dass die gleiche Art von achtlosen, kurzsichtigen und rŸcksichtslosen Entscheidungen und LŸgen die nukleare Planung, Drohungen und Vorbereitungen unserer Regierung wŠhrend des gesamten Nuklearzeitalters geprŠgt hat und eine Katastrophe riskiert, die unvergleichlich grš§er ist als all diese anderen zusammen.


    Introduction


    pages 11 - 18

    ... From the account that follows, backed up by recently declassified documents (many cited in the endnotes) and the notes and files that will be available on my website, it should become clear why it seemed unquestionably worth my freedom, worth risking life in prison, to expose these thruths almost half a century ago. I would certainly seize that risk today if I still had the same or comparable inside documentation that I had then. Lacking that, I have tried in many ways and venues (though not before in a narrative or a book of my own) to awaken audiences of Americans and others to the substance of what I then wanted to reveal: precisely because I do not believe it is just history. Tragically, I believe that nothing has fundamentally changed.



    So far as I can tell from continuous and close reading of the open literature -which is incomparably more detailed and revealing than that of the sixties and seventies, but not, of course, the last word- a well-informed briefing of the incoming presidential assistant for national security in 2017 would be closely equivalent to the one I delivered to President John Kennedy's assistant McGeorge Bundy in January 1961 (see chapter 7), plus what I would have added for Bundy just a few years later. (Findings in the following pages on nuclear winter, however, were revealed only decades after that, as were key aspects of the Cuban missile crisis and some false alarms.) In partial summary of this book, I would tell that assistant (or President Trump himself, if he would accept a briefing) what I had learned in the late fifties and early sixties




    Text between horizontal lines added by J. Gruber
    beginning of inserted text

    Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences

    Alan Robock, Luke Oman, and Georgiy L. Stenchikov
    Received 8 November 2006; revised 2 April 2007; accepted 27 April 2007; published 6 July 2007.

    (in cache)

    Abstract

    Twenty years ago, the results of climate model simulations of the response to smoke and dust from a massive nuclear exchange between the superpowers could be summarized as "nuclear winter", with rapid temperature, precipitation, and insolation drops at the surface that would threaten global agriculture for at least a year. The global nuclear arsenal has fallen by a factor of three since then, but there has been an expansion of the number of nuclear weapons states, with additional states trying to develop nuclear arsenals. We use a modern climate model to reexamine the climate response to a range of nuclear wars, producing 50 and 150 Tg of smoke, using moderate and large portions of the current global arsenal, and find that there would be significant climatic responses to all the scenarios. This is the first time that an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model has been used for such a simulation and the first time that 10-year simulations have been conducted. The response to the 150 Tg scenario can still be characterized as "nuclear winter", but both produce global catastrophic consequences. The changes are more long-lasting than previously thought, however, because the new model, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE, is able to represent the atmosphere up to 80 km, and simulates plume rise to the middle and upper stratosphere, producing a long aerosol lifetime. The indirect effects of nuclear weapons would have devastating consequences for the planet, and continued nuclear arsenal reductions will be needed before the threat of nuclear winter is removed from the Earth.

    Figure 2: Change of global average surface air temperature (red curves), precipitation (black curves), and net downward shortwave radiation when smoke (black carbon (BC)) is mobilized by small, moderate and large portions of the current (2007) global arsenal of nuclear weapons. Three cases are considered (1 Tg smoke = 106 t smoke = 1 Megaton smoke):

    1. upper curves (lines) - small portion of global nuclear arsenal: 5 106 t black carbon [Robock et al., 2007],
    2. middle curves (filled circles) - moderate portion of global nuclear arsenal: 50 106 t black carbon, and
    3. lower curves (empty circles) - large portion of global nuclear arsenal: 150 106 t black carbon.

    Also shown for comparison is the global average change in downward shortwave radiation for the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption [Oman et al., 2005], the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.
    The global average precipitation in the control case is 3.0 mm/day (1095 mm/year), so the changes in years 2Ð4 for the 150 106t case represent a 45% global average reduction in precipitation.

    Source: Fig. 2 of Alan Robock et al., "Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences"

    (see for comparison Owen B Toon (Univ Colorado Boulder), Charles Bardeen (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Alan Robock (Rutgers University), "Rapid Expansion of Nuclear Arsenals by Pakistan and India Threatens Regional and Global Catastrophes", American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Washington DC, 10 - 14 Dec. 2018, in cache)

    Figure 5: Surface air temperature (SAT) changes for the 150 106 t BC case averaged for June, July, and August in the year following the year of smoke injection. Effects are largest over land, but there is substantial cooling over oceans, too. The warming over Antarctica in year 0 is for a small area, is part of normal winter interannual variability, and is not significant.

    Considering that the global average cooling at the depth of the last ice age 18,000 years ago was about -5 C, this would be a climate change unprecedented in speed and amplitude in the history of the human race.

    Source: Fig. 5 of Alan Robock et al., "Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences"

    Figure 9: Northern Hemisphere average surface air temperature change from 5 Tg (red), 50 Tg (green), and 150 Tg (brown) cases in the context of the climate change of the past 1000 years. The "hockey stick" nature of the curve is barely discernible when plotted on this scale. Black curve is from Mann et al. [1999], and the blue curve is from the latest data from the Climatic Research Unit website.

    Mann, M. E., R. S. Bradley, and M. K. Hughes (1999), Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 759Ð762.

    end of inserted text


    It is the smoke, after all (not the fallout, which would remain mostly limited to the northern hemisphere), that would do it worldwide: smoke and soot lofted by the fierce firestorms in hundreds of burning cities into the stratosphere, where it would not rain out and would remain for a decade or more, enveloping the globe and blocking most sunlight, lowering annual global temperatures to the level of the last Ice Age, and killing all harvests worldwide, causing near-universal starvation within a year or two.


    U.S plans for thermonuclear war in the early sixities, if carried out in the Berlin or Cuban missile crises, would have killed many times more than the 600 million people predicted by the JCS. They would have caused nuclear winter that would have starved to death nearly everyone then living: at that time 3 billion [3000 million].


    The numbers of warheads on both sides have since declined greatly -by over 80%- from their highest levels in the 60s. Yet the most recent scientific calculations -confirming and even strengthening the initial warnings of more than 30 years ago- even a fraction of the existing smaller arsenals would be more than enough to cause nuclear winter today, on the basis of existing plans that target command and control centers and other objectives in or near cities.

    In other words, first-strike nuclear attacks by either side very much smaller than were planned in the 60s and 70s -and which are still prepared for instant execution in both Russia and America- would still kill by loss of sunlight and resulting starvation nearly all the humans on earth, now over seven billion.


    ... There is no sign that the findings of the latest scienctific peer-reviewed studies of climatic consequences of nuclear war over the past decade have penetrated the consciousness of U.S. officials or Russian officials or have influenced in any way their nuclear deployments or arms-control negotiations.


    There is good reason to doubt that either George W. Bush or Barack Obama -or, for that matter, George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton in the previous 20 years since the original studies- was ever, once, briefed on the scale of this result of the large "options" he was presented with in nuclear command exercises. (Gorbachev has reported that he was strongly influenced by Soviet studies of this phenomenon, which underlay his desire to seek massive reductions and even the elimination of nuclear weapons in the discussions with Reagan, who made a similar attribution.)


    Whether or not President Trump has been briefed on this (almost surely not), both he and several of his cabinet officials, along with leaders of the Republican majority in Congress, are famous deniers of the scientific authority of such findings, based as they are on the most advanced climate models.



    Chapter 2

    Command and Control - Managing Catastrophe

    pages 64 - 66

    [During my time at RAND] There was no Stop or Return code in the envelope or otherwise in the possession of the [American attacking air] plane crew. Once an authentical Execute order had been received, there was -by design, it turned out- no way to authenticate an order to reverse course from the president or anyone else. And no such unauthenticated order was to be obeyed.


    There was no officially authorized way for the president or the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] or anyone else to stop planes that had received an Execute order -whether they had just taken off or had passed beyond their positive control line- from proceeding to the target and dropping their bombs. From that point on, the planes, whether tactical or strategic, could no more be called back by the president or any subordinate from their attack project than a ballistic missile. This despite the fact that for many SAC [Strategic Air Command] planes launching from the United States, the remaining time before they reached their assigned targets after receiving an Execute order might be 12 hours or more: time enough for world history and the framework of civilization to have altered decisively since the initial order, whether by nuclear explosions, coups in the Sino-Soviet bloc, or convincing offers of Soviet surrender, not to mention the discovery of a terrible error.


    But that meant there would also be time enough after issuance of an Execute order -as several high-level staff officers told me their superiors worried about- for a presidential change of mind. Fear of that contingency was not the first explanation to be proposed by a control officer for the absence of a Stop or Return order from the authentication envelopes. ... The ... reason given to me in 1960 was that "the Soviets might discover the Stop code and misdirect the whole force back". This is precisely the explanation given to the president in Dr. Strangelove for his lack of ability to send a Stop order to the planes that have been lauched by the mad base commander General Jack D. Ripper.


    I was dumbstruck by the realism of this point, among others, when I first saw the movie in 1964 [Dr. Strangelove is basically a documentary, in cache)]. Harry Rowen and I had gone into D.C. from the Pentagon during the workday to see it "for professional reasons". We came out into the afternoon sunlight, dazed by the light and the film, both agreeing that what we had just seen was, essentially, a documentary. (We didn't yet know -nor did SAC - that existing strategic, operational plans, whether for first strike or retaliation, constituted a literal Doomsday Machine, as in the film.)


    How, I wondered, had the filmmakers picked up such an esothercic, highly secret (and totally incredible) detail as the lack of any physical restraint on the ability of a squadron commander, or even a bomber pilot, to execute an attack without presidential authorization? It turned out that Peter George, one of the screenwriters and the author of Red Alert, the novel on which the film was based, was a former Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command flight officer. That suggests the Bomber Command's Êcontrol system had the same peculiar characteristics as SAC's. And probably for the same underlying reasons.


    The real concern, I was told privately by more than one credible staff officer - amog others, by Lieutenant Colonel, later Major General, Bob Lukeman in the Air Force office for war plans - was that a civilian president or (if the president were unavailable or Washington was destroyed) some civilian deputy, on whatever basis, might have second thoughts about the attack under way after an Execute order had been sent, and try either to modify it midway or cancel it. At best, he would be passing up the opportunity for a coordinated surpride attack, and at worst, leaving our fores totally disorganized and vulnerable - along with the country - to an enemy attack either already under way or launched as soon as the enemy had detected and figured outÊwhat had just happened on our side.


    That's the exact argument of General Buck Turgidson, played by George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove, against the president's attempting to recall all the planes that General Ripper had launched toward Russia. It represented fairly the view to be expected in such a situation from any number of Air Force officers, high or low. As the major in Kunsan had put it to me, "If one goes, they might as well all go."


    Whether or not this distrust of high-level civilian readiness to initiare nuclear war -which I encountered over and over in my experience in the Pentagon- was a key motive for the absence of a card with a Stop code in the envelopes of the alert forces, it was a fact that the systems designed and operated by tne military assured the practical inability of the president or any civilian to reliably stop any bombers from carrying out attacks once they had received authenticated Execute orders (from whomever). Nor could the president then or now -by exclusive possession of the codes necessary to launch or detonate any nuclear weapons (no such exclusive codes have ever been held by any president)- physically or otherwise reliably prevent the JCS or any theater military commander (or, as I've described, command post duty officer) from issuing such authenticated orders. That is, of course, contrary to the impression given to the public by every president up to the present. The impression is false, as I was to discover.





    Chapter 6

    The War Plan - Reading the JSCP


    pages 90 ff

    In the course of my work in the Pacific, I had several discussions with Dr. Ruth M. Davis, who was in charge of computer development for CINCPAC. She was one of the highest-ranking civilians working directly for the military anywhere. When I described some of the puzzles and startling characteristics of the plans I was reading, she told me, in great confidence, of a plan she said I should see if I wanted to understand the nature of U.S. nuclear war planning. It was called the JSCAP (pronounced "J-SCAP"), for Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, and it was on this that the president did not know of the nature or even the existence of the JSCAP, nor did any other civilian authority. That was confirmed for me by an officer in the war plans division of the Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Bob Lukeman, who eventually lent me a copy to read in the Pentagon.


    To understand how there could be a top-level nuclear war plan of which the secretary of defense had no awareness, it's necessary to know something of the history of the relationship between the secretary of defense and the military. Prior to 1947, when the National Military Establishment, renamed in 1949 the Department of Defense, was created -combining the Department of War (Army) and Navy, with the Air Force emerging from the Army as an independent service- there was no secretary of defense. The responsibilities of the secretary of defense gradually evolved over the next decade. Before 1958, the secretary of defense and his assistant secretaries on the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSI) were seen as functioning essentially in nonoperational areas such as procurement, research and development, personnel, and budget, and not as having responsibilities or command powers in direct areas of combat operations or planning.


    Thus, a secretary of defense like Charles Wilson might or might not be in on high-level crisis discussions and decisions, such as the Quemoy crisis of 1954-55. The record of this early period shows that the secretaries of defense were sometimes present in crucial meetings and sometimes not. It depended on their personalities and their relationship with the president. During the whole early era of the institution of this office, the JCS had a basis for saying that the secretary and his subordinate staff had no "need to know" operational war plans, since he was not involved in the operational command.


    In 1958, however, the Reorganization Act put the secretary of defense directly in the chain of command, second to the president as a link to the unified and specified commanders and their subordinate commands. (A unified commander was, essentially, a theater commander who, as in the Pacific or Europe, had elements from different services under his command. A specified commander -there was only one, the Strategic Air Command- had units from just one service.) This act cut the JCS out from the chain of command. It was President Eisenhower's specific intent to do that. He had no respect for the JCS as a body, having dealt with them as Army chief of staff and later as the supreme commander in Europe. He was particularly disillusioned with their postwar performance and wanted to abolish them entirely. However, they were preserved mainly by Congress, which wrote into the Reorganization Act that, without being in the chain of command, the JCS should serve as the "principal military advisors" to the president.


    The secretary of defense at the time of the 1958 act was Neil McElroy, who had been CEO at Procter & Gamble. He was said to be a very intelligent man, but he had no background in military matters and he put in an unusually short workday beause he tended to his sick wife. Thus, as I was later told by Air Staff officers, it was relatively easy for the JCS to manipulate him. They got McElroy to sign a Department of Defense directive that reinterpreted the legislated act: "The chain-of-command is from the President as Commander-in-Chief, to the Secretary of Defense, to the Unified and Specific Commanders, through the Joint Chiefs of Staff" (emphasis added). This implied that the Joint Chiefs would be, in some sense, a channel for his directives. They further got him to agree, as a practical matter, to delegate all operational responsibilities to them. In effect, the act and President Eisenhower's intentions were circumvented. Although it was still on the books, it resulted in no real change of operating responsibilities in 1958 or 1959.


    Secretary Thomas Gates, who succeeded McElroy under Eisenhower, had much stronger instincts to exercise control. Yet, with respect to the Office of the Secretary of Defense -comprising the secretary and his staff but also all the deputy and assistant secretaries and their staffs- the JSCP was and remained what later secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld would have called an "unkown unkown": something they didn't know they didn't know about.


    In fact, I was to learn, the JCS had formally adopted, in writing, a set of practices designed to keep the secretary of defense from ever asking any questions directly about the general war plan. The first protective practice was to call the annual war plan the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, which did not betray to a layman that it had to do with current operations or, more specifically, with current nuclear war targeting. It was usually referred to by its initials JSCP, but the JCS had issued a directive in writing, which I read, that the words "Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, or the capital letters JSCP, should never appear in correspondence between the JCS and any agency of the Office of the Secretary of Defense".


    Any JCS staff papers to be referred to the secretary of defense or his office were to be retyped to eliminate any possible references to the JSCP. If there was an absolute need to refer to such plans in some oblique fashion, the directive continued, reference was to be made to "capabilities planning" (lowercase), which would, again, not suggest the existence of a specific plan or suggest that it was any kind of war plan at all.


    That phrase -no less than the official title, Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan- was a euphemism, a cover. It was meant to obscure from the secretary -and more important, from his deputy and assistant secretaries and their civilian staffers- that there existed a single highest-level annual operational plan for the conduct of general and limited war, the authoritative guidance for all lower-level operational war plans.


    page 93

    All this was intended to preempt the JCS nightmare: that the secretary or a civilian working for him might see this acronym in a document, might ask what it meant, and then ask to see the plan. This could open the possibility of civilians working for the president actually reviewing the plan and demanding changes. A vague reference to "issues arising in capabilities planning", which the JCS directive prescribed, gave such officials no handle to ask for a specific document, or a hint that there was an overriding piece of paper that would be worth their while to read.


    As a result, almost no civilian, including the secretary of defense, was aware that a piece of paper of the character of the JSCP existed. That, of course, extended to its critical "Annex C" -the SAC war plan, which laid out in some detail the nature of our general (nuclear) war operations. The JSCP stated, "In the event of general war, Annex C would be executed."


    Reading that statement by itself, knowing what Annex C was, one might naturally infer that that provision virtually defined "general war", in operational terms. It was when the president would direct that the SAC war plan, attached, should be executed against our principle adversary, the Soviet Union. But when might he do that?


    ...

    page 94

    In fact, an explicit definition of "general war" did appear in the JSCP. This was perhaps the most sensitive piece of information in the entire document, and the main reason for protecting it from the eyes of civilian authority. ... "General War is defined as armed conflict with the Soviet Union."


    To properly understand the hair-raising import of this proposition, one has to read it in the context of two other key assertions in the JSCP: "In general war, Annex C will be executed"; and "in general war, a war in which the armed forces of the USSR and of the U.S. are overtly engaged, the basic military objective of the U.S. Armed Forces is the defeat of the Sino-Soviet Bloc.


    The meaning of "armed conflict", in this case the key trigger to unleashing the full fury of the SAC war plan against both the Soviet bloc and China, was subject to some narrow controversy in military circles. ... It implied that any conflict pitting U.S. forces against any more than several battalions of Soviet troops anywhere in the world -Iran, Korea, the Middle East, Indochina- would lead to instant U.S. strategic attacks on every city and command center in the Soviet Union and China. It was hard to imagine that such a plan could actually be carried out. Yet according to what I had already come to discover in the Pacific, and what turned out to apply worldwide, no alternative plans existed for a war involving Soviet forces on a level beyond a division or two except for the general war plan. And that lack was by directive of President Eisenhower, who had decreed that there should be no plans for "limited war" with the Soviet Union, whether nuclear or conventional, under any circumstances, anywhere in the world.


    This reflected Eisenhower's military judgment that no war between any significant forces of the United States and the Soviet Union could remain limited more than momentarily. Therefore if such a conflict were pending, the United States should immediately go to an all-out nuclear first strike rather than allow the Soviets to do so.


    page 95

    But even if those military judgments were challenged -as they were, repeatedly, by Army Chief of Staff General Maxwell Taylor- Eisenhower believed that any alternative approach was unacceptable from a fiscal point of view. Under the influence of conservative economic advisors, he was convinced that preparation to fight even a limited number of Soviet divisions on the ground (as Taylor proposed), with or without the use of tactical nuclear weapons, would compel an increase in defense spending that would cause inflation, precipitating a depression and "national bankruptcy".


    ...


    Army leaders like Taylor, and initially those in the Navy as well, wanted to define "general war" as narrowly as possible, leaving a broad range of conflict situations to be planned for, budgeted for, and addressed if they arose, without necessarily involving an attack by SAC on the Soviet Union or China. They argued, with a good deal of plausibility, that since such an attack involved a high risk, if not a certainty, of devastating retaliation against the United States, it should be reserved for only the most extreme, exigent contingencies.


    ...


    page 96

    The Army and Navy didn't give up. though they continued to be overruled. In my notes of the Army and Navy view as of October 30, 1959, general war should be defined as "governmentally directed overt armed conflict between nations with the objective of complete subjugation or destruction of the national entity of the enemy", with other forms of armed conflict, including between U.S. and Soviet forces, characterized by "limitations on locale, weapons, forces, participants, or objectives".


    ...

    My friend Colonel Ernie Cragg in Air Plans was pointing out in dueling memos with the Army as late as January 21, 1961 (the day after Kennedy's inauguration):


    Adoption of the "view" that limited wars between the US and the USSR are possible is an "invitation" to attack. It also could open Pandora's box with respect to forces for limited war at the expense of general war forces. ... It would allow the Army and Navy to increase their "requirement" for forces for limited war to almost unlimited levels.



    page 97

    ... Since there was to be only one plan for fighting Russians anywhere in the world under any circumstances -including, along with SAC, Polaris submarines, and theater forces- Eisenhower endorsed in 1959 the coordination of a single strategic plan at SAC headquarters in Omaha. Annex C of JSCP came to be, by December 1960, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP).


    By 1960, the planners of the SIOP, the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff, had gathered all the general-war target lists of the various commands, including SAC, NATO, and PACOM, into one coordinated target list to allocate weapons more efficiently to targets all over the world. ...


    Again, there was an intense concern for minimizing the "interference" or "fratricide" of vehicles aimed at targets in close proximity. There was also a desire by Eisenhower to reduce "duplication" of efforts by different commands. In the actual planning, both concerns were totally frustrated; the latter because each command and service was determined to cover important targets by its own forces. By some counts, over 80 weapons were dedicated to Moscow; other counts put this at 180. Meanwhile, the prevention of "interference", as in the Pacific, remained a delusional objective.


    page 98

    As with the CINCPAC plan I had read earlier, the coordination involved in this higher-level plan was so complex that there was room for only one real strategy. The price of bringing all the theater and component service plans into harmony with each other, into one plan, was the total elimination of any flexibility in carrying it out. So much planning was involved in producing this one scenario that there was simply no staff or computer time available to produce an alternative. As with CINCPAC planners I met earlier, the SIOP planners themselves were appalled at the confusion and chaos that might ensue if any alternative was proposed.


    Following the guidance of the JSCP, the planners at SAC headquarters set out to weld all the warheads in the U.S. arsenal into one hydra-headed monster that would arrive on its targets as near simultaneously as possible, preferably before any Soviet warheads had launched.


    On strips like Kunsan or Kadena and on aircraft carriers surrounding the Sino-Soviet bloc (as it was still described in 1961, though China and the Soviets had actually split apart a couple of years before that), more than 1000 tactical fighter-bombers were armed with H-bombs in range of Russia and China. Each of them could devastate a city with one bomb. For a larger metropolitan area, it might take two. Yet until this time, SAC planners had regarded these tactical theater forces as so vulnerable, unreliable, and insignificant a factor in all-out nuclear war that they had not even bothered to include them in calculating the outcome of attacks in a general war.


    In 1961 there were about 1700 SAC bombers, including over 600 B-52s and 1000 B-47s. In the bomb bays of the SAC planes were thermonuclear bombs .... from 5 to 25 Mt in yield. Each 25 Mt bomb ... was the equivalent of over 12 times the total tonnage we dropped in World War II. Within the arsenal there were some 500 bombs with an explosive power of 25 Mt. Each of these warheads had more firepower than all the bombs and shells exploded in all the wars of human history. ...


    page 99

    The preplanned targets for the whole force included, along with military sites, every city in the Soviet Union and China. There was at least one warhead allocated for every city of 25000 people or more in the Soviet Union. The "military" targets (many of them in or near cities, and many only tendentiously described as military) were by far the great majority, since all the cities could be totally destroyed by a small fraction of the attacking vehicles.


    In 1960 - 61 it was in reality quite possible -though USAF and CIA "missile gap" estimates implied otherwise- that not a single nuclear warhead would land on U.S. territory after such an American first strike. Worldwide fallout in the stratosphere from our own strikes would certainly kill Americans, but over so long a time, with radioactivity decaying in the atmosphere on the way over and deaths from cancer long delayed, that the increase in mortality in any one year might not be statistically perceptible. But our Western European allies in NATO would be quickly annihilated twice over: first from the mobile Soviet medium-range missiles and tactical bombers targeted on them, which our first strike couldn't find and destroy reliably, and second from the close-in fallout from our own nuclear strikes on Soviet bloc territory.


    John H. Rubel's brief memoir provides a vivid account of the first high-level presentation on the completed SIOP-62 by one of the handful of civilians who was present on that historic occasion. I quote his description at length, because I don't know of anything else like it in print from an insider. Rubel is the only person exposed to the SIOP who has recorded, in his comments toward the end, the same emotional reaction to it that I experienced a few months later in the White House when I saw the JCS extimate of the death toll from our own attacks.


    page 102



    ... The briefing [on the Soviet Union] was soon concluded, to be followed by an identical one covering the attack on China given by a different speaker. Eventually, he too arrived at a chart showing deaths from fallout alone. "There are about 600 million Chinese in China." he said. His chart went up to half that number, 300 million, on the vertical axis. It showed that deaths from fallout as time passed after the attack leveled out at that number, 300 million, half the population of China.


    A voice out of the gloom from somewhere behind me interrupted, saying. "May I ask a question?" General Power turned again in his front-row seat, stared into the darkness and said, "Yeah, what is it?" in a tone not likely to encourage the timid. "What if this isn't China's war?" the voice asked. "What if this is just a war with the Soviets? Can you change the plan?"

    "Well, yeah", said General Power resignedly, "we can, but I hope nobody thinks of it, because it would really screw up the plan."


    ...


    page 103

    One person, alone, at the second session raised objections. It was the commandant of the Marine Corps, David M. Shoup, who had earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for commanding from the beach the Marines who landed at Tarawa. ...


    "All I can say is", [Shoup] said in a level voice, "any plan that murders 300 million Chinese when it might not even be their war is not a good plan. That is not the American way."


    It was, however, the American plan. Though President Eisenhower was distressed when his science advisor George Kistiakowsky reported to him the tremendous amount of "overkill" in the plan, Eisenhower endorsed the plan and passed it on without any modification to John F. Kennedy a month later. It was my passion to change it.





    Chapter 8

    "My" War Plan

    page 124

    ... My personal hope was that higher-level, civilian scrutiny of those plans could eliminate or at least greatly reduce the probability of the particular insanities that involved targeting China in all circumstances of war with the Soviet Union, and of automatically targeting cities en masse either in China or the USSR. By emphasizing the importance of witholding reserve forces (which meant mainly city-busting Polaris missiles) and withholding initial attacks on cities, I privately hoped to avert or minimize attacks on cities altogether, whether we struck preemptively or in return.


    Such an approach called for drastic changes in both plans and preparations from the posture that had developed since 1953, culminating in 1960. For that reason it seemed clear that the new [Basic National Security Policy] BNSP should be drafted in considerable concrete detail, rather than being the brief and vague document which the military had come to expect in the years when it simply reaffirmed the existing New Look doctrine, which emphasized reliance on nuclear weapons, both strategic and tactical, largely for long haul budgetary reasons. ...


    page 125

    ... to avoid the previous ambiguity of the meaning of "general war", Kaufmann and I agreed in our drafts to use the term "central war" (a RAND term), as distinguished from "local war" (instead of "limited war"). "Central war" was defined in my draft (later signed by McNamara) as "war involving deliberate nuclear attacks, instituted by government authority, upon the homelands of one or both of the two major powers, the United States and the Soviet Union". ... There was no longer in our guidance a concepts of "general war" defined simply as "armed conflict with the Soviet Union".


    Local war was defined in our drafts as "any other armed conflict". The previous JSCP concept of "limited war" -as distinct from war with the Soviet Union- was discarded because we proposed to aim at limiting if possible, even hostilities with the Soviet Union, even in central war. ...


    page 126

    To an uninformed reader -nearly everyone outside the actual nuclear planning process, including the secretary of defense and the president- these proposed policies would probably appear commonsensical. And so they were, except for the fact that almost every sentence constituted a radical challenge to and departure from some fundamental characteristic of the then-existing plans and preparations. For instance

    page 127

    All this was laid out in a memo for Harry Rowen, Paul Nitze, and Secretary of Defense McNamara, listing some of the limitations of the current plans that I intended to redress.


    A second memo listed some of the changes my draft guidance called for:

    page 128

    ...The final version, redrafted for Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric's signature, was sent to the JCS chairman on May 5, 1961, with the heading "Policy Guidance on Plans for Central War", along with my draft portion of the proposed BNSP. (For texts of all these memo and drafts, go to this address)


    "My" revised guidance became the basis for the operational war plans under Kennedy -reviewed by me for Deputy Secretary Gilpatric in 1962, 1963, and again in the Johnson administration in 1964. It has been reported by insiders and scholars to have been a critical influence on U.S. strategic war planning ever since.


    Years later, when I mentioned to a friend that I had finished my first draft of the Top Secret guidance to planning for general nuclear war on my thirtyieth birthday, his uncharitable reaction was, "That's frightening". I said, "True. But you should have seen the plan I was replacing." In years to come, the memory of this accomplishment did not bring me the same satisfaction it brought when I was thirty.


    Chapter 9

    Questions For The Joint Chiefs: How Many Will Die?


    pages 129 ff

    In the spring of 1961, Harry Rowen told me that after a briefing to McGeorge Bundy im January, Bundy had called the director of the Joint Staff of the JCS and asked him to "send over a copy of the JSCP".


    The director told him, "Oh, we can't release that."

    Bundy said, "The president wants to read it."

    The director said, "But we've never released that. I can't."

    Bundy told him, "You don't seem to be hearing me. It's the president who wants it."

    "We'll brief him on it."

    Bundy said, "The president is a great reader. He wants to read it."

    It was finally agreed, Harry told me, that the president would get the JSCP and a briefing by a member of the Joint Staff.


    Soon after I had finished drafting the basic national security policy, Rowen and I were talking to the Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric in his office in the Pentagon, and Gilpatric remarked to me, "By the way, we finally got the JSCP". He said that instead of sending it over to the White House, the Joint Staff had finally negotiated that they would give a briefing on it in Gilpatric's office. McNamara had attended, and McGeorge Bundy came over from the White House.


    I asked him if they had seen an actual copy of the plan after all. He said yes, the briefer had left the plan with him. I asked if I could see it. Gilpatric led us into his safe. Instead of a safe with drawers, he had a long closet that had been converted into a bank-like vault with a heavy steel door. It had a tall ceiling and reinforced walls lined with library shelves filled with documents stamped "Top Secret" and higher. He found a document lying on one of the shelved near the front and handed it to me.


    At a glance, it didn't look to me like the JSCP, because it was typed on regular 8x10 inch paper, not the heavier 11x14 inch legal-size pages of a finished JCS document. Well, I thought, they might have just retyped it on regular-size paper for the deputy secretary. I looked immediately for the key section that appeared nowhere else but in the JSCP, the part the JCS had taken such care to withhold from civilians, the definition of "general war".


    It wasn't there. There was no definition section, no definition of "general war" or "limited war". I looked to the first page and read the heading. It didn't say "Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan". It said "Briefing on the JSCP". Even that went beyond the terms of the earlier JCS directive I had seen, which told the Joint Staff that "neither the title Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan nor the initials JSCP are to be used in correspondence with the Office of Secretary of Defense". This heading broke that rule by using the forbidden initials "JSCP", apparently because Bundy's call to the director had revealed that that cat was out of the bag. Someone had leaked the acronym at least. But it wasn't yet clear to the Joint Staff that the White House or the Office of the Secretary of Defense knew more than the acronym -knew the contents of the plan and their implications- and the JCS hadn't yet given that up.


    I told Gilpatric, "This isn't the JSCP. is this all they gave you?"


    He looked taken aback, for once confused. He said, "Yes, it is. But I'm certain they told me it was the JSCP -they were leaving me a copy of the JSCP. Are you sure it isn't?"


    I showed him the title. "It's not the JSCP. It's a copy of the briefing they gave you." I remarked on the size of the paper and told him about the crucial part that was missing. Evidently, they had left that out of the briefing. There might be more they had omitted.


    Gilpatric seemed more embarrassed than angry. He said, "They told me they'd be glad to answer any questions we might have from the briefing and the paper. Would you take this and write out some questions for me to send to them?"


    page 131

    I took the briefing paper back to the room I was working in Rowen's suite of offices and put it in the safe. Then I walked down to an office in the Air Staff and asked Lieutenant Colonel Bob Lukeman, who had originally shown me the JSCP, if I could borrrow a copy again. I didn't tell him what it was for, and he gave it to me without any questions.


    Within minutes I was back in my office with the paper that Bundy -speaking for the president- and the secretary of defense had been unable to get. There were, as before, some advantages to being from RAND. The Air Staff thought of us as one of them. That was why I'd been shown the JSCP the year before. But by this time, in 1961, Lukeman knew that I was a consultant to the secretary of defense, which would normally have meant (and did mean for the Air Force chief of staff) that I was working for "the enemy", as formidable an adversary as the Navy or Congress.


    He had to have gotten in advance the approval of his immediate boss, Brigadier General Glenn Kent, for him to be showing me anything. I gathered that what was true for my friend the colonel must also be true for his boss. They disagreed with the policy embraced by the higher levels of the Air Force, wanted to see it changed, and were using me as a channel to the civilian authorities to make an end run around their own superiors.


    I put the JSCP on a table next to the copy of the briefing paper from Gilpatric and began to compare them line by line. I made a list of the discrepancies and then began to lay out issues to be put to the JCS. I have my rough notes on questions for them. It took me a week of long days to finish them.


    Some of these probed for the rationale of attacking cities and population en masse, immediately (or ever) and all -or for that matter, any- circumstances of war initiation. That was an aspect of the "optimum mix" concepts that was embodied in the SIOP. I asked:


    page 132

    Other questions pointed to the lack of flexibility in the planning, another aspect of the SIOP ("Annex C" of the JSCP, guidance for the operational plans of SAC and Polaris, not mentioned as such in the briefing):


    page 133

    Some of my questions couldn't possibly have occured to anyone simply from reading the briefing. I threw them in to warn the recipients that someone working for Gilpatric was already familiar with the problems of the operational planning:


    Since these questions were supposedly coming from Gilpatric, who hadn't been given the JSCP, I had to find a way to draft them so that they would purport to be based only on the briefing paper that the JCS had given to him. But anyone who knew the actual plans would know that the person writing those questions was not Gilpatric. It had to be someone who was intimately familiar with the JSCP itself and all the controversies that lay behind it, who probably had a copy of it sitting in front of him. In other words, the Joint Staff and their bosses, the JCS, would know immediately that a copy of the JSCP had finally found its way to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Moreover, they would know that someone who was either a military planner himself (a mole) or who had been very well educated by such planners was advising the deputy secretary.


    The questions were the message. They were intended to leak into the JCS the news that their processes, their conflicts, compromises, and maneuvers, had become transparent to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. I hoped they would figure the game was up; they had to come clean and give straight answers. They had to fear that any efforts to lie or evade would be quickly spotted by whoever wrote these questions. (He might actually know, through some direct channel, their inner discussions of how to deal with the problem of responding to Gilpatric.)


    Each question, still more the whole set, was designed to convey that someone working for Gilpatric knew, as military staffers used to say, "where all the bodies were buried". It would be clear not only that "he knows the JSCP, and he's got a copy", but also that he knew, somehow, why it was written the way it was, where the controversies were, how they had been papered over, and all the other things that it would be hard or impossible for the JCS to explain or justify.


    page 134

    I dont't have the final memo that I submitted to Gilpatric, in which the questions were more elegantly phrased than above. To keep up the pretense (however transparent to the recipients) that the questions were based on the briefing to Gilpatric rather than on the JSCP itself, most of my thirty or so queries started with reference to a statement in the briefing paper and then presented a list of sub-questions purporting to relate to it. I happen to recall verbatim the wording of the first question:


    You say, on page 1, that each operational plan is submitted for review and approval to the next higher level of command.

    1. Was the JSCP sumbmitted to Secretary of Defense Gates for his review and approval?
    2. When in the annual planning cycle, is it customary to submit the JSCP to the Secretary of Defense for his review and approval?

    True answers would have been (a) NO; and (b) Never. It was obvious that the drafter of the questions knew that. It was not obvious what a satisfactory explanation of those answers would be. Or those for the rest of the questions, which tended to get tougher from there.


    When I handed the list to Gilpatric, he glanced through it, nodded his head, and said appreciatively, "These are very ... penetrating questions". He read it over more carefully, shook his head several times, thanked me warmly, and sent it off to the Joint Staff with a cover letter and without any changes.


    There was no good way for the JCS or its staff to respond to these questions. If they lied or evaded, it was clear they would be found out. But if they answered truthfully, it would have seemed appropriate to send at the same time their letters of resignation. Bob Komer, McGeorge Bundy's deputy at the NSC, put that more strongly. After he read the draft I showed him in his office next door to the White House, he said to me, "If these were Japanese generals, they would have to commit suicide after reading these questions."


    The generals and admirals who got the questions were not Japanese. They did not commit suicide, but they did get the message. Within hours of the questions being sent, the director of the Joint Staff was on the phone to Harry Rowen. As Harry told me, he asked very intensely: "Do you know anything about a set of questions we just received from Gilpatric?"


    Harry said: "I might."


    There was a long pause. Then a court "Who wrote them?"


    Harry declined to say. End of conversation.


    page 135

    In a season when military staffs were working night and day to meet without fail or delay the secretary's short deadlines on numerous studies, this was the one set of questions that was simply never answered at all. ...


    "That's perfect", Gilpatric told me, "we'll just leave them hanging there. Then if they fight us on the new plans, we'll just say, 'Well, then, let's go back to a discussion of your old plans'. And we'll start with those questions again."


    Meanwhile, my revised quidelines on basic national security policy were signed by the secretary of defense, sent to the JCS as Secretary of Defense Guidance on War Planning, and eventually became the new policy. (President Kennedy had decided not to issue a new [Basic National Security Policy] BNSP in his own name.)


    As it turned out, one of the questions I had drafted for Gilpatric got a different treatment. ... As recounted in the prologue (page 2), this question was the following: "If existing general war plans were carried out as planned, how many people would be killed in the Soviet Union and China alone?"

    [Now, on pages 136 - 142, follows a detailed version of this paragraph of the prologue to the book]

    The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs, from a U.S. first strike aimed at the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact satellites, and China, would be roughly 600 million dead.

    in detail:

    page 137

    Fallout from our surface explosions in the

    would decimate the populations

    Given prevailing wind patterns, the Finns would be virtually exterminated by the fallout from surface bursts on Soviet submarine pens near their borders. These fatalities from U.S. attacks, up to another hundered million, would accur without a single U.S. warhead landing on territories of their countries outside the NATO and Warsaw Pact.

    Fallout fatalities inside our Western European NATO allies from U.S. attacks against the Warsaw Pact would depend on climate and wind conditions. As a general testifying before Congress put it, these could be up to a hundred million European allied deaths from our attacks, "depending on which way the wind blows".

    As I had intended, the JCS had clearly interpreted the phrase "if your plans were implemented as planned", to mean "if U.S. strategic forces struck first, and executed their planned missions without disruption from a Soviet preemptive strike". These figures clearly presumed that all or most U.S. forces had gotten off the ground with their weapons without having been attacked first. That is, it was implicit in these calculations -as in the greater part of our planning- that the United States would be initiating all-out nuclear war: either as escalation of a limited regional conflict that had come to involve Soviet troops or in preemption of a Soviet nuclear attack of which we had tactical warning. (The warning, it was understood, could be a false alarm. Or if it were not, the Soviet attack under way might be in response to a Soviet false alarm of a U.S. attack.)

    page 138

    The phrase "implemented as planned" referred to the assumption on which nearly all our planning was based: that in the whole range of circumstances in which nuclear war was likely to occur, we would "take the initiative". Before enemy warheads had arrifed or, perhaps, had been directed to launch, we would be striking first.

    Thus, the fatalities the JCS were reporting to the White House were the estimated results of a U.S. first strike. The total death count from our own attacks, in the estimates supplied by the Joint Staff, was in the neighborhood of 600 million dead, almost entirely civilians. The greater part inflicted in a day or two, the rest over 6 months.

    And these were solely the effects of U.S. warheads, not including any effects from Soviet retaliatory attacks on the United States or U.S. and Allied forces in Europe or elsewhere. The CIA intelligence estimate in June 1961 credited the Soviets with well over a hundred ICBMs at that time, of which they claimed to be able to locate, and thus to target, only a small fraction. Estimates of U.S. fatalities from Soviet retaliation consistent with those estimates would have added scores of millions of U.S. dead to the total, even after a very effective U.S. first strike.

    Army and Navy estimates of Soviet ICBMs threatening were "a few". But by all estimates, several hundred intermediate and medium-range missiles were aimed at Western Europe, Germany in particular, along with hundreds of medium-range bombers. Even after the most successful U.S. and NATO first strike, Soviet retaliation against Europe could have added a hundred million to the Western European death count from blast, fire, and immediate exposure to radiation even before the fallout from our own attacks had arrived from the east, borne on the wind.

    page 148

    In early July [1961], Alain Enthoven had arranged for me to have a brief luncheon with McNamara, to discuss my work on the guidance to the JCS on the war plan, which he had already approved and sent to the Chiefs. We ate at his desk, in his office. It was scheduled to last only half an hour, but it went on nearly an hour longer. I told him about the astonishing answers the JCS had given to the questions I had drafted in the name of the president, in particular about the effects they anticipated on our own European allies from their planned attacks on the Sino-Soviet bloc. I'd had no prior intention to bring up my own strongly heretical view on first use, but midway through our talk, he raised the issue himself.

    There was no such thing as limited nuclear war in Europe, he said. "It would be total war, total annihilation, for the Europeans!" He said this with great passion, belying his reputation as a cold, computer-like efficiency expert. Moreover, he thought it was absurd to suppose that a supposedly "limited use" would remain limited to Europe, that it would not quickly trigger general nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Union, to disastrous effect.

    I've never had a stronger sense in another person of a kindred awareness of this situation and intensity of his concern to change it. 30 years later, McNamara revealed in his memoir In Retrospect that he had secretly advised President Kennedy, and after him President Johnson, that under no circumstances whatever should they ever initiate nuclear war. He didn't tell me that, but it was implicit in everything he had said at this lunch. There is no doubt in my mind that he did give that advice, and that it was the right advice. Yet it directly contradicted the mad "assurances" on U.S. readiness for first use he felt compelled to give repeatedly to NATO officials (including speeches I drafted for him) throughout his years in office, as the very basis for our leadership in the alliance.

    McNamara's assistant, Adam Yarmolinsky, had joined us for the last part of the lunch, without saying anything. When we left McNamara's office Adam took me into his small, adjoining room and said that he had never seen McNamara prolong a lunch that way. He had talked more frankly with me than Yarmolinsky had ever heard him talk with anyone else. The point of Adam's telling me this, and of my repeating it now, was to give weight to what he said next. "You must tell no one outside of this suite what Secretary McNamara has told you."

    page 149

    I asked if he was referring to fears of the reaction from Congress and the JCS (I could have added, "NATO"). He said, "Exactly. This could lead to his impeachment." I told him that I understood. But he went on to make that more explicit. "By no one", he said, "I mean, not Harry Rowen, not anybody." Now, that I understood. Evidently he knew that Harry was my closest friend and confidant, a cleared colleague with whom I normally would have shared even such sensitive information -though I'd been told not to tell anyone- unless I was specifically told not to. I never did tell anyone, not even Harry, what McNamara had said, though he would have found it as heartening as I did. But I did ask Adam one question: "As far as you know, is President Kennedy's thinking on these subjects different from the secretary's?"

    Adam held up his thumb and forefinger pressed together, no space between them, and said, "Not an iota."

    I left the secretary's suite thinking that here, in Robert McNamara, was someone whose judgement was worthy of my greatest trust. He had, as I saw it, the right perspective on the greatest dangers in the world, and the power and determination to reduce them. And he and his assistant had the street-savy to know that if he wanted to achieve that, he had to keep his cards very close to his chest.


    ... Dwight Eisenhower had secretly endorsed the blueprints of this multi-genocide machine. He had furthermore demanded, largely for budgetary reasons, that there be no other plan for fighting the Russians. He had approved this single strategic operational plan despite reportedly being, for reasons I now understood, privately appalled by its implications. And when the Joint Chiefs responded so promptly to the new president's questions about the human impact of our attacks, they clearly assumed that Kennedy would not, in response, order them to resign or be dishonorably discharged, nor order the machine to be dismantled. (In that, it turned out, they were right.)


    Surely neither of these presidents actually desired ever to order the execution of these plans, nor would any likely successor. But they all must have been aware, or should have been, of the dangers of allowing such a system to exist. They should have reflected on, and trembled before, the array of contingencies

    that might release these pent-up forces beyond their control or that, in ways they had not forseen, could lead them personally to escalate or to initiate a preemptive attack.


    Eisenhower had chosen to accept these risks, to impose them on humanity and all other forms of life. Kennedy -and later, Johnson and Nixon to my direct knowledge- did likewise. There is much evidence that such catastrophic "major attack options" were among the choices offered to presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, i.e., until the end of the Cold War. There is little known publicly about the range of options since then, although four hundred Minuteman missiles remain on high alert, along with a comparable number of Trident sub-launched missiles, each alert force more than enough to cause nuclear winter.


    Moreover, I felt sure in 1961 that the existent potential for moral and physical catastrophe -our government's readiness to commit multi-genocidal extermination on a hemispheric scale by nuclear blast and fallout- was not only a product of aberrant Americans or a peculiarly American phenomenon. I was right. A few years later, after the humiliation of the Cuban missile crisis and the ouster of Khrushchev, the Russians set out to imitate our destructive capacity in every detail and surpass it where possible. By the end of the decade, they had succeeded. Ever since then, there have existed two Doomsday Machines, each on high alert and subject to possible false alarms and the temptation to preemption, a situation much more than twice as dangerous as existed in the early sixties.


    ... I personally knew many of the American planners, though apparently -from this fatality chart- not quite as well as I had thought. They were not evil, in any ordinary, or extraordinary sense. They were normal Americans, capable and patriotic. I was sure they were not different, surely not worse, than the people in Russia doing the same work, or the people who would sit at similar desks in later U.S. administrations or other nuclear weapons states.


    I liked most of the planners and analysts I knew: not only the physicists at RAND who designed bombs and the economists who speculated on strategy (like me), but also the colonels who worked on these very plans, whom I consulted with during the workday and drank beer with in the evening. What I was looking at was not simply an American problem or a superpower problem. With the age of warring nation-states persisting into the thermonuclear era, it was a species problem.


    A few years after leaving the White House, McGeorge Bundy wrote in Foreign Affairs, "In the real world of real political leaders -whether here or in the Soviet Union- a decision that would bring even one hydrogen bomb on one city of one's own country would be recognized as a catastrophic blunder; ten bombs on ten cities would be a disaster beyond human history; and a hundred bombs on a hundred cities are unthinkable."


    In the last year of the Cold War, Herbert York cited Bundy's statement in a talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (of which he had been the first director), where, along with Los Alamos, all U.S. nuclear weapons had been designed. York posed the question, how many nuclear weapons are needed to deter an adversary rational enough to be deterred? Concurring with Bundy's judgment -as who would not?- he answered his question, "somewhere in the range of 1, 10, or 100 ... closer to 1 than it is to 100."


    In 1986, the U.S. had 23317 nuclear warheads and Russia had 40519 for a total of 63836 weapons.


    Chapter 11

    A Tale of Two Speeches


    page 169 - 173

    In adding, as he [Gilpatric] did, nearly all my points, he totally changed the tone and bearing of his draft. Some of my language didn't get in, but this did:

    Our confidence in our ability to deter Communist action, or resist Communist blackmail, is based upon a sober appreciation of the relative military power of the two sides. We doubt that the Soviet leadership has, in fact, any less realistic views, although this may not always be apparent from their extravagant claims. While the Soviets use rigid security as a military weapon, their Iron Curtain is not so impenetrable as to force us to accept at face value the Kremlin's boasts.

    The fact is that this nation has a nuclear retaliatory force of such lethal power that an enemy move which brought it into play would be an act of self-destruction on his part.

    That was the key point. My intended message was, for informed ears in the Kremlin and NATO, "We've discovered they are bluffing!" And for the American and European public: "We're staying in Berlin. and there's going to be no war." I thought of it as calling Khrushchev's bluff. I even rammed it home.

    And with my new confidenvce that the U.S. patrols along the Berlin corridors would not be obstructed, I felt free to underline one committment in the final paragraph.

    The United States does not seek to resolve disputes by violence. But if forceful interference with our rights and obligations should lead to violent conflict -as it well might [though i no longer believed this]- the United States does not intend to be defeated.

    [Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell] Gilpatric gave the speech (in cache) [before the Business Council in The Homestead, Hot Springs, VA] on October 21, 1961, including these passages and others written by me, which were then quoted by the New York Times report of the speech.


    Chapter 15

    Burning Cities


    page 262 - 263

    LeMay himself was convinced that fire bombing had brought the Japanese to the point of surrender and that the atom bomb was in no way necessary. That last opinion was not at all confined to Air Force commanders, though Navy commanders, with reason, put more emphasis on the effects of the submarine blockade. The judgement that the bomb had not been necessary to victory -without invasion- was later expressed by 

    1. Generals Eisenhower, 
    2. MacArthur, and 
    3. Arnold, as well as 
    4. Admirals Leahy, 
    5. King, 
    6. Nimitz, and 
    7. Halsey. 


    (Eisenhower and Halsey also shared Leahy's view that its use was morally reprehensible.) In other words, 7 of the 8 officers of 5-star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1945 believed the bomb was not necessary to avert invasion (that is, all but General Marshall, chief of staff of the Army, who alone still believed in July that invasion might have been necessary). Likewise, the U.S. Strategic Bombng Survey for the Pacific War concluded in July 1946 (in a report primarily drafted by Paul Nitze):


    "Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bomb had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."


    Whether that was true or not, the U.S. Army Air Force came out of the war convinced it had won the war in the Pacific by burning masses of civilians to death. Certainly that was the conclusion of Curtis LeMay. In contrast, his civilian superiors, Truman and Stimson, denied to the end of their lives that the commanders and forces under their authority had ever violated the code of jus in bello by deliberately targeting noncombatants. In LeMay's eyes, that was something of a semantic question. In a lengthy interview with historian Michael Sherry, he said, "There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not rrying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn't bother me so much to be killing the innocent bystanders."


    Chapter 16

    Killing a Nation

    page 273

    This little-known story [of potential atmospheric ignition, chapter 17] reveals something about actual decision-making under uncertainty at high levels, especially under cover of secrecy, that we humans are understandably resistant to recogizing in our leaders. It reveals the original readiness to gamble with nuclear disaster - a willingness to undertake small and sometimes not-so-small risks of ultimate catastrophy - that leading officials in nuclear superpowers have been exhibiting ever since. It is not good news.


    Chapter 19

    The Strangelove Paradox

    pages 305 - 307

    The bottom line is that arrangements made in Russia and the United States have long made it highly likely, if not virtually certain, that a single Hiroshima-type fission weapon exploding on either Washington or Moscow -whether deliberate or the result of a mistaken attack (as in Fail Safe or Dr. Strangelove) or as a result of an independent terrorist action- would lead to the end of human civilization (and most species). That has been, and remains, the inevitable result of maintaining forces on both sides that are capable of causing nuclear winter, and at the same time are poised to attack each other's capital and control system, in response to fallible warnings, in the delusion that such an attack will limit damage to the homeland, compared with the consequences of waiting for actual explosions to occur on more than one target.

    Here, then, is the actual situation that has prevailed for more than half a century. Each side prepares and actually intends to attack the other's "military nervous system", command and control, especially its head and brain, the national command headquarters, in the first wave of a general war, however it originates. This has become the only hope of preempting and paralyzing the other's retaliatory capability in such a way as to avoid total devastation; it is what must above all be deterred by the opponent. But in fact it, too, is thoroughly suicidal unless the other side has failed to delegate authority well below the highest levels. Because each side does in fact delegate, hopes for decapitation are totally unfounded. But for the duration of the Cold War, for fear of frightening their own publics, their allies, and the world, neither side discouraged these hopes in the other by ackowledging its own delegation.

    The only change in this situation has been that in the first weeks of the Trump administration, Russian news reports have begun ackowledging that the Perimeter system persists. In a February 2, 2017, article, Pravda revealed that the commander of Strategic Missile Forces Lietenant-General Sergey Karakayev said five years ago in an interview in a Russian publication, "Yes, the 'Perimeter' system exists. The system is on alert. If there's a need for a retaliatory strike, the command for an attack may come from the system, not people". The Pravda report explained, "Nuclear-capable missile will thus be launched from silos, mobile launchers, strategic aircraft, submarines to strike pre-entered targets, unless there is no (sic) signal from the command center to cancel the attack. In general, ... one thing is known for sure: The doomsday machine is not a myth at all - it does exist".

    Ten days after President Trump's inauguration in 2017, Pravda quoted his statements that "the United States should strengthen and expand the nation's nuclear capacity" and "Let it be an arms race", and then reported that "Not so long ago, the Russian Federation conducted exercises to repel a nuclear attack on Moscow and strike a retaliatory thermonuclear attack on the enemy. In the course of the operations, Russia tested the Perimeter System, known as the 'doomsday weapon' or the 'dead hand'. The system assesses the situation in the country and gives a command to strike a retaliatory blow on the enemy automatically. Thus, the enemy will not be able to attack Russia and stay alive".


    [note added by J. Gruber:

    W. Putin, Waldai-Forum, Sotschi, 18. Oktober 2018


    "Ich erinnere Sie daran, worum es ging. Es ging darum, ob wir bereit sind und ich bereit bin, die uns zur VerfŸgung sthenden Waffen einschlie§lich der Massenvernichtungswaffen zu benutzen, um uns und unsere Interessen zu schŸtzen, und ich habe damit geantwortet "Ich erinnere Sie daran, was ich gesagt habe. Ich habe gesagt, dass in unserem Konzept des Einsatzes von Atomwaffen kein PrŠventivschlag stattfindet, und ich bitte alle hier und alle, die dann jedes Wort, das ich sage, analysieren und in eigenen Aussagen verwenden, folgendes im Hinterkopf zu behalten.

    Warum "gegen"? Weil der Aggressor auf uns zurŸck fliegt (sic) [vielleicht besser: Weil die Aggression auf ihn, den Aggressor, zurŸckschlŠgt.]. NatŸrlich ist dies eine globale Katastrophe, aber -ich wiederhole- wir kšnnen nicht die Initiatoren dieser Katastrophe sein ohne PrŠventivschlag. Nein, in dieser Situation warten wir auf den Einsatz von Nuklearwaffen gegen uns und tun selbst aber nichts. Aber dann muss der Aggressor wissen, dass Vergeltung unvermeidlich ist und er zerstšrt wird.


    Wir werden das Opfer der Aggression und wŸrden als mŠrtyrer in den Himmel kommen, und sie wŸrden einfach sterben ohne die Zeit, wenigstens Bu§e zu tun.


    (Die Rede wurde Ÿbersetzt nach dem Originalmanuskript des Kreml.]


    What has not changed is American preoccupation with threatening Russian command and control: as if all the above revelations, including those of Blair and Yarynich, had not occurred or were thoroughly disbelieved. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, passed with bipartisan support and signed by President Obama on December 23, 2016, included a provision which mandated a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Strategic command on "Russian and Chinese Political and Military Leadership Survivability, Command and Control, and Continuity of Governmental Programs and Activities". The provision of the law for the U.S. Strategic Command to "submit to the appropriate congressional committees the views of the Commander on the report ... including a detailed description of how the command, control, and communication systems" for the leadership of Russia and China, respectively, are factored into the U.S. nuclear war plan. The Pravda news stories quoted above, both apperaing in the second week of the Trump administration, were explicitly responding to these provisions of this law signed a few weeks earlier in their explanation of the continuing need for Perimeter.

    Such plans and capabilities for decapitation encourage -almost compel- not only the Perimeter system but Russian launch on (possibly false) warning: either by high command (in expectation of being hit themselves imminently, and in hopes of decapitating the enemy commanders before they have launched all their weapons) or by subordinates who are out of communication with high command and have been delegated launch authority.

    As General Holloway expressed it in 1980, he had confidence that with such a decapitating strategy, a U.S first strike would come out much better for the United States than a second strike, to the point of surviving and even prevailing. He was right about the hopelessness of the alternative forms of preemption. But in reality, the hope of successfully avoiding mutual annihilation by a decapitating attack has always been as ill-founded as any other. The realistic conclusion would be that a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviets was -and is- virtually certain to be an unmitigated catastrophe, not only for the two parties but for the world. But being unwilling to change the whole framework of our foreign and defense policy by abandoning reliance on the threat of nuclear first use or escalation, policy makers (probably on both sides) have chosen to act as if they believed (and perhaps do believe) that such a threat is not what it is: a readiness to trigger global omnicide.

    page 318

    "It has never been true that nuclear war is 'unthinkable', wrote British historian E.P. Thompson. "It has been thought and the thought has been put into effect." He was referring to President Harry Truman's use of atomic bombs to destroy the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. What needs further attention is that the president who ordered these attacks -along with the great majority of the American public- regarded these nuclear attacks as marvelously successful. Such thoughts get thought again, and acted on.

    Among military planners in the U.S. government, thinking about nuclear war has in fact been continuous over the last seventy-two years and not only, or even mainly, with respect to deterring or responding to a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States or its forces or allies. Preparations and committments to initiate nuclear war "if necessary" have been the basis of fundamental, langstanding U.S. policies and crisis declarations and actions not only in Europe but in Asia and the Middle East as well.

    page 319

    The notion common to nearly all Americans that "no nuclear weapons have been used since Nagasaki" is mistaken. It is not the case that U.S. nuclear weapons have simply piled up over the years, unused and unusable, save for the single function of deterring their use against us by the Soviets. Again and again, generally in secret from the American public, U.S. nuclear weapons have been used, for quite different purposes.

    As I noted earlier, they have been used in the precise way that a gun is used when you point it at someone's head in a direct confrontation, whether or not the rtigger is pulled. For a certain type of gun owner, getting their way in such situations without having to pull the trigger is the best use of the gun. It is why they have it, why they keep it loaded and ready to hand. All American presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have acted on that motive, at times, for owning nuclear weapons: the incentive to be able to threaten to initiate nuclear attacks if certain demands are not met.

    The long-secret history of this period, extending throughout the Cold War and beyond, reveals that the assumption of a legitimate and available presidential "option" of first use -American initiation of nuclear attacks as an escalation of conventional armed conflict- is far more than purely symbolic or rhetorical. In reality, every president from Truman to Clinton has felt compelled at some point in his time in office -usually in great secrecy- to threaten and/or discuss with the Joint Chiefs of Staff plans and preparations for possible imminent U.S. initiation of tactical or strategic nuclear warfare, in the midst of an ongoing non-nuclear conflict or crisis.

    This general proposition is, I know, unfamiliar, startling, on its face highly implausible. To make it less so, I list below mist of the actual nuclear cirises that can now be documented for the last half of the twentiesth century; this is followed by a discussion of more recent instances of nuclear threats from George W. Bush to Donald Trump.

    pages 319 - 322

    follows the list of 25 incidents

    page 322

    It follows from this listing (and more recent threats discussed below) that there has been no seventy-year moratorium on the active consideration and use of nuclear threats to support "atomic diplomacy". Whatever the inhibitions about pulling the trigger -and the record suggests that these have been strong, even in stalemated wars like Korea and Vietnam- there is no basis whatever for speaking of a "taboo" against nuclear weapons' use, whether in threats or actual attacks. Contrary to what has often been said about nuclear weapons, there is no "tradition of non-use". It is fair to say that, to our extreme good fortune, there has been a long tradition of no nuclear attacks.

    Chapter 21

    Dismantling the Doomsday Machine


    pages 335 - 350

    One way the RAND Corporation compensated the Air Force for the virtually complete freedom it had granted us to pursue our own self-generated research was for us to respond promptly whenever it occasionally asked us to evaluate some proposal from within the service. In 1960 my RAND secretary delivered a proposal from the Air Force for me to assess. It was, as usual, a photocopy of an original typed memo with, I believe, the title „Project Retro“ from an Air Force officer. It hat already gone through a number of Air Force offices. That was indicated by check marks and initials on a routing chart that was stamped on the first page, recording that it had been seen and in some way acted on by many of the agencies on the chart, Research and Development, Plans, Science and Technology, and so forth.

    There was also the usual routing chart within RAND. I seemed to be among the first in the building to see it, though it wasn't obviously in my line – at first glance, it appeared to be more in the province of engineering – but I was known to be among those who were preoccupied with problems of SAC vulnerability to a Soviet surprise attack an the abilitiy of our offensive forces to survive and retaliate.

    It was a classified proposal to deal with the possibility that a Soviet attack with ICBMs could eliminate our capability to retaliate with land-based missiles, primarily Minuteman ICBMs. This was in mid-1960, before the exposure of the missile-gap myth. I had been at RAND full-time for about a year, working on problems precisely like this.

    This scheme proposed in some detail to assemble a huge rectangular array of one thousand first-stage Atlas engines – our largest rocket propulsion engines, except for Titans, of which we had only a few – to be fastened securely to the earth in a horizontal position, facing in a direction opposite to the rotation of the earth.

    The officer originating this proposal envisioned that if our Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) radars detected and reported on the huge viewing screens at NORAD a large flight of missile warheads coming across the North Pole from the Soviet-Union – aimed at our missile fields in North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Missouri – the array of Atlas engines would be fired, as near simultaneously as possible, to stop the earth's rotation momentarily.

    The Soviet missiles, on their inertial path, would thus bypass of overfly their intended targets. Our land-based retaliatory force would be saved, to carry out – presumably, when things hat settled down and earth was again spinning normally – a retaliatory attack against the cities and soft military targets (their missiles having already left their hardened silos) in the Soviet-Union.

    You didn't have to be a geophysicist, which I wasn't, to see some defects with this scheme. An awful lot of stuff would be flying through the air. Everything, in fact, that wasn't nailed down, and most of what was as well, would be gone with the wind, which would itself be flying at super-hurricane force everywhere at one. Cities on the coasts and beyond would be wiped out by giant tsunamis as the oceans redeployed onto the continents.

    The Minuteman launch control officers, safe in their capsules deep underground, would have even less reason than in the foreseeable conditions of nuclear war either to launch their missiles or to come above-ground, sind there would be nothing left to destroy on the surface of the Soviet-Union, or the United States, or anywhere else on the planet. All structures would have collapsed, with the rubble along with all the people joining the wind and the water in their horizontal movement across the face of the earth, into space.

    All this was obvious enough. My first thought was, „Pretty funny.“ It was the only piece of paper I had seen from the Air Force bureaucracy that showed a sense of humor. Even better, it was done perfectly straight, with no hint that is was anything but an ordinary secret official document. It looked absolutely authentic. I gave whoever had originated it (a RAND jokester?) credit.

    Then I looked again at the routing slip from the Air Force. It really did appear to have gone through a number of relevant official agencies and been passed on. Half the boxes were unchecked – it hadn't gone to those divisions – but half acknowledged receipt. The signed initials were all different and looked real. No one had stopped it before it was sent to RAND, and I realized it was not a joke.

    I remember sitting at my desk, looking at that document, and asking myself, for the first time: „Could I be in the wrong line of work?“

    I did show it to a couple of RAND colleagues to see if they had the same reaction. They both were dismissive of the scheme. One engineer made some rough calculations on the back of an envelope (RAND engineers really did do this literally on occasion, though there was a blackboard in every room) and said after a few minutes, „One thousand Atlas engines wouldn't do it.“

    Another, a physicist, said, as I recall, „If you could actually muster enough power to stop the rotation for a second or so, it's more likely that the earth's surface would rupture from its core. The planet might break up.“ Yes, Project Retro could surely be filed under „Crazy“.

    But the truth, in retrospect, was that most of the documents I read in my national security work, including many of those I wrote myself, were only marginally, if at all, less unbalanced than Project Retro. „Unbalanced“ here being a euphemism for crazy, criminally insane.

    True, only Project Retro would have had the effect of wiping the surface of the earth clean of human structures, humanity, and all other terrestrial species, and dispersing the creatures of the lakes and ocean deeps to dry out, eventually, on what remained of the land.

    But, as I would soon discover, the Joint Chiefs' estimates of the effects of carrying out their first strike plans, under a variety of circumstances, foresaw killing more than half a billon humans with our own weapons in a matter of months, with most of them dead in a day or two.

    How to describe that, other than insanity? Should the Pentagon officials and their subordinates have been institutionalized? But that was precisely the problem: they already were. Their institutions not only promoted this insanity, they demanded it. And still do. As do comparable institutions in Russia.

    RAND analysts, of whom I was one, sought to bring about less insane planning for nuclear war. We failed. That was in part because the civilian officials we were advising found it hard to get the military to adopt our proposals. But, in retrospedt, our proposed strategies were totally unrealistic – as crazy as SIOP-62, SAC's own plan in 1961. Or almost as crazy. Simply improving on current SAC war plans – the secret goal that a generation of RAND analysts, from Bernard Brodie to Kaufmann to me set themselves – was far too low a bar, and still held us prisoners within the realm of madness. If RAND recommendations, including my own, had been implemented by SAC in an actual nuclear war – in the way that SAC proceeded to interpret them and execute them operationally – they would still have resulted in total global catastrophe.

    To be quite plain here, I am talking about the madness of the strategy and planning I had personally laid out in the spring of 1961: my draft adopted word for word by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as his official guidance to the JCS for their operational planning for general nuclear war. I didn't question the appropriateness and need for damage-limiting counterforce strikes against military targets. SAC planners never had any problem identifying enough „military“ targets – hundreds, actually – within or in the vicinity of Moscow and all other cities that a presidential decision at the onset of central war to „withhold“ attacks on command and control or on cities – in the interests of „intrawar deterrence“, „bargaining“, terminating the war, or simply limiting civilian casualties – would have been entirely vitiated. The results from either a preemptive or a retaliatory U.S. attack supposedly based on „my“ guidance for „coercive war“ would have been indistinguishable from those of SIOP-62.

    That was what Nixon and Kissinger found they had inherited from Johnson and McNamara, when they were introduced in 1969 to estimates of eighty to ninety million deaths from immediate effects of the „smallest“ attacks available to them. Obviously these estimates reflected attacks that burned all the major urban areas, even when population was not targeted „per se“. (No one knew then that these firestorms would cause global nuclear winter, as had actually been true not only in the sixties but ever since large numbers of atomic bombs had become available in the early fifties for use against cities.)

    Both were predicted results and the actual, unrecognized climatic effects remained at these same catastrophic levels when Nixon and Kissinger left office, and throughout the Cold War, despite efforts as delusional and abortive as mine and McNamara's, by defense secretaries and their aides unter Ford, Carter, and Reagan to compel SAC to provide operational plans for „limited nuclear options“ in war with the Soviet Union.

    Not that I or anyone elde would ever have been blamed for the omnicidal results if our plans were actually carried out, in the way and on the scale that SAC prepared to carry them out. No one would be left to hold anyone accountable, since the result would have been the near extinction of our species.

    Here is what we know now: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine. It is not the same relatively cheap system that Herman Kahn envisioned (or Stanley Kubrick portrayed), with their warheads buried deep and set to exploed in their own territories, producing deadly global fallout. But a counterpart nevertheless exists for each country: a very expensive system of men, machines, electronics, communications, institutions, plans, training, discipline, practices, and doctrine – which, under conditions of electronic warning, external conflict, or expectations of attack, would with unknowable but possibly high probability bring about the global destruction of civilization and of nearly all human life on earth.

    These two systems still risk doomsday: both are still on hair-trigger alert that makes their joint existence unstable. They are susceptible to being triggered on a false alarm, a terrorist action, unauthorized launch, or a desperate decision to escalate. They would kill billions of humans, perhaps ending complex life on earth. This is true even though the Cold War that rationalized their existence and hair-trigger status – and their supposed necessity to national security – ended thirty years ago.

    Does the United States still need a Doomsday Machine? Does Russia? Did they ever?

    Does the existence of such a capability serve any national or international interest whatsoever to a degree that could justify its obvious danger to human life?

    I ask the questions not merely rhetorically. They deserve sober, reflective consideration. The answers do seem obvious, but so far as I know they have never been addressed. There follows another question: Does any nation on earth have a right to possess such a capability? A right to threaten – by its simple possession of that capability – the continued existence of all other nations and their populations, their cities, and civilization as a whole?

    Robert F. Kennedy's „Thirteen Days“ based on his personal diaries and recollection, offered an account ot the Cuban missile crisis that he drafted in the summer and fall of 1967. RFK's murder in 1968 prevented him from rewriting and completing it prior to publication. At the end of the book, Theodore Sorensen, who edited the memoír, added this note:

    „It was Senator Kennedy's intention to add a discussion of the basic ethical question involved (in the crisis): what, if any, circumstance or justification gives this government or any government the moral right to bring its people and possibly all people under the shadow of nuclear destruction?“

    I know of no other occasion on which a former official, in or out of office, ever raised this particular question of moral right, whether in memos, internal discussions, or memoirs. But once posed in these terms, is it really so hard a question to answer?

    Arguments made for the necessity or desirability of continued possession of some nuclear weapons by nuclear weapons states (NWS) do not remotely apply to maintaining doomsday arsenals on the massive scale of the superpowers – thousands of first-strike weapons each. That's true even when these pro-nuclear arguments do seem plausible to many as reasons for maintaining a small deterrent force.

    Thus, for example: „You can't uninvent nuclear weapons.“ That has been a widespread and effective argument against a total unilateral abolition over the past seventy years. True, you can't eradicate the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons and delivery systems. But you can dismantle a Doomsday Machine. And that, at minimum, is what we must hasten to do. There is no need or justification for us to wait for the Russians to do it to theirs first or in step with us, though that global imperative applies just as well to them.

    This implies moving in the opposite direction from the programs of Presidents Obama, Trump, and Putin to reconstruct their entire machines, with their first-strike characteristics, with „modernized“ replacement components. In reality, such a program seems nothing other, in either country, than a further subsidy to the military-industrial-legislative complexes that each of them have or are: a boon to profits, jobs, votes, campaign donations (kickbacks). Good, solid, tradtional political incentives, but very far from legitimate justifications for maintaining or rebuilding a Doomsday Machine.

    No state ever set out intentionally to acquire a doomsday capability. Nor does the existence of one such machine compel or even create a tangible incentive for a rival or enemy to have one. In fact, having two on alert against each is far more dangerous for each and for the world than if only one existed. If the two existing machines were dismantled (in terms of their doomsday potential), there would never be any strategic rationale for anyone to reconstruct that capability, any more than there was a conscious intention in the first place.

    The good news is that dismantling the Doomsday Machine in one country or both would be relatively simple in concept and in physical operation (though politically and bureaucratically incredibly difficult). It could be accomplished quickly, easily within a year. But it would mean – and here's where institutional resistance would be strong – giving up certain infeasible aims and illusory capabilities of our nuclear forces: in particular, the notion that it is possible to limit damage to the United States (or Russia) by means of a preemptive first strike, targeted on the adversary's land-based missiles, its command and control centers and communications, its leadership („decapitation“), all other military targets and war-supporting resources, including urban-industrial centers, transportation and energy.

    In other words, it would mean totally discarding the present strategy and criteria for covering targets in our strategic nuclear war plans and discarding most of the forces deployed to carry out these aims and plans. This would mean dismantling all the land-based missile forces (Minuteman missiles), most or all strategic nuclear bombers, most of the current fourteen Trident submarines, and most of the warheads on remaining submarine-launched ballistic missiles in remaining Tridents.

    Actually, there were sound, almost equally compelling reasons to dismantle all the above items no later than half a century ago, when the feasibility of a „damage-limiting“ strike against a large Soviet force of hardened missile silos and sub-launched missiles became a delusion and hoax. That war true even before there was any awareness of the dire danger of triggering a nuclear winter.

    But that potentially widespread awareness today gives every person, institution, and nation in the world an unprecentendly compelling and urgent basis for demanding that such capabilities and planned „options“ be immediately dismantled.

    However low the probability might be of the United States or Russia carrying out its current strategic contingency plans agains the other with the effect of causing nuclear winter and near human extincetion, it never will be zero, so long as Doomsday Machines of the present type exist.

    Just how high does such a risk have to be to make the prospect of it intolerable? What risk of nuclear winter happening – whether by panicked reaction or unstable leadership or unauthorized action – is „acceptable“ as the price of maintaining our current strategic forces, and of any benefits that can suppossedly be claimed for that? Five percent over the next forty years? One percent? Three in a milion?

    Why is anything other then zero remotely acceptable? Fortunately, it can be zero. The major risks could even be eliminated by executive decision alone, in conventional principle: though in practise, politically, there would have to be considerable support for this in Congress and the public, and in the military-industrial complex, reluctant as the latter would be. Although Donald J. Trump seems more willing to use presidential power than his predecessor, even beyond constitutional limits, the likelihood has always been slim that he would use it in this direction, and now even less than before talk of impeachment commenced. The same appears to apply to Putin. Nevertheless, it is true for both superpowers: the current danger of Doomsday could be eliminated without the United States or Russia coming close to total nuclear disarmament, or the abandonment of nuclear deterrence, either unilaterally or mutually (desirable as the latter would be).

    Just for contrast, the risk that one city will be destroyed by a single (perhaps terrorist) nuclear weapon in the next year of the next decade cannot, unfortunately, be reduced to zero. But the danger of near-extinction of humanity – a continuous possibility for the past sixty-five years – can be reduced to zero by dismantlement of most existing weapons in both the United States and Russia (and smaller dismantlement in all the other NWS).

    This dismantlement of the Doomsday Machine is not intended as an adequate long-term substitute for more ambitious, necessary goals, including total universal abolition of nuclear weapons. We cannot accept the conclusion that abolition must be ruled out „for the foreseeable future“ or put off for generations. There will not bea truly long-run human future without it. In particular, it seems more naive than realistic to believe that large cities can coexist indefinitely with nuclear weapons. If human civilization in the form that emerged four thousand years ago (in Mesopotamia, Iraq) is to persist globally even another century or two, a way must be found to make the required transformations ultimately practical.

    Thus, it is urgent for the nuclear weapon states to acknowledge the reality that they have been denying, and the non-nuclear weapon states have been proclaiming, for almost fifty years: that in the long run, and that time has arrived, effective nonproliferation is inescapably linked to nuclear disarmament. Eventually, indeed fairly soon, either all nations forgo the right to possess nuclear weapons indefinitely and to threaten others with them under any circumstances, or every nation will claim that right, and actual possession and use will be very widespread.

    Abolition of nuclear weapons must come in stages, but if proliferation in the near future is to be averted, a real commitment to total abolition of nuclear weapons – banning and eliminating their use and possession – as the truly reigning international goal is no longer to be delayed or equivocated. We must begin now the effort to explore and to help bring about conditions that will make a world of zero nuclear weapons feasible. Thus, it is extremely deplorable that the nuclear weapons states and their allies, led by the United States, boycotted the recent negotiations at the United Nations toward a treaty banning nuclear weapons, even if none of them are yet ready to join the more than 120 nations that adopted the treaty on July 7, 2017.

    But what I am proposing is an effort to mobilize international suppport for a shorter-run program to avert as quickly as possible an imminent and continuous threat to human survival. The logic of this program is relatively simple to comprehend. What needs to be done to reduce the danger is easily specified in terms of concrete steps.

    The threat of full nuclear winter is posed by the possibility of all-out war between the United States and Russia. Since the end of the Cold War, probably the greatest remaining risk of this annihilating outcome is by a preemptive attack by on side or the other triggered by an electronic false alarm (which has repeatedly occurred on both sides) or an accidental detonation (which was a remote but real risk in a number of previous accidents). The risk is not negligible of such an attack being triggered by an apocalyptic terrorist group, with the capability of creating a nuclear explosion in Washington or Moscow.

    The danger that either false alarm or a terrorist attack on Washington or Moscow would lead to a preemptive attack derives almost entirely from the existence on both sides of land-based missile forces, each vulnerable to attack by the other: each, therefore, kept on a high state of alert, ready to launch within minutes of warning.

    The easiest and fastest way to reduce that risk – and indeed, the overall danger of nuclear war – is to dismantle entirely (not merely „de-alert“) the Minuteman III missile force (currently scheduled for „refurbishment“), the U.S. land-based leg of the nuclear „triad.“ Former secretary of defense William Perry has argued precisely that, as has James E. Cartwright, former commander of the Strategic Command and vice chairman of the JCS. A second stage would be to reduce the Trident submarine-based ballistic missiles (SLBM) force to give up its capability to target and destroy the entire Russian land-based missile force (on which the Russians choose to rely far more than does the United States). Having first deprived the Russians of their high-priority, time-urgent targets for those forces by dismantling the U.S. Minuteman silos and their control centers, the remaining inventive for the Russians to launch their ICBMs on warning – to avert their being destroyed by U.S. SLBMs – would be eliminated. Launch on warning would no longer be susceptible of being rationalized strategically on either side.

    All of the above propositions apply with equal force to the current, vulnerable opposing offensive nuclear forces of India and Pakistan, with the potential global catastrophe of their mutual launch roughly half the scale of the full nuclear winter produced by a United States/Russian nuclear war. The world's interest in reducing these forces and avoiding their hair-trigger alert status – likewise for all currently expanding and „modernizing“ nuclear arsenals – is wholly comparable and secondary only to the mutual confrontation of current superpower forces.

    To suggest that these are relatively simple steps for the superpowers and others neglects the challenge of fundamentally altering the doctrine and strategy that have shaped the buildup of our strategic forces over the past sixty-five years. Contrary to public understanding, that strategy has not been a matter of deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States, but rather the illusionary one of improving first-strike capability. Specifically, this has involved the goal of „damage-limiting“ to the United States in the event of a U.S. preemptive strike against Soviet/Russian nuclear capability, triggered by a warning of impending attack, possibly in the context of escalation of a conventional or limited nuclear war.

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    That strategy remains in force, although, as noted, the objective of limiting damage to the United States in large-scale nuclear war, or of keeping such a war with a nuclear state limited, has been essentially a hoax, infeasible to achieve for about fifty of those years – ever since the Soviets acquired SLBMs and a large force of hardened ICBMs. Even striking first, it has not been feasible to avoid the effective total destruction of U.S. society (even earlier, that was not feasible for Western Europe), by blast, heat, radiation, and fallout alone from Soviet/Russian retaliation.

    Now, in light the phenomenon of nuclear winter precipitated from cities burning from our U.S. attacks alone (aside from Soviet retaliation), there can no longer be any fig leaf of pretense that a „damage-limiting“ first strike by either side would be anything less than suicidal – as Alan Robock and Brian Toon have put it, „self-Assured Destruction“ (SAD) – or, in fact, omnicidal. The changes I am describing mean giving up the pretense, and the supposed political and alliance advantages of maintaining the pretense, that is is possible for either superpower to limit damage to anyone or to everyone by attacking the other with nuclear weapons, whether first or second or in any circumstances or manner whatever.

    The sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. The sole purpose can and should be accomplished with radically lowered numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons, almost entirely SLBMs [Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles], ICBMs [Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles] having been dismantled as they should have been generations ago. This shift would not totally eliminate the dangers of nuclear war, but it would abolish the threat of nuclear winter.

    Unfortunately, there continues to be little awareness of the recent scientific confirmation of the thirty-year-old nuclear winter „hypothesis“ and its implications for our existing strategic nuclear war plans. To be sure, these actual plans remain Top-Secret, but a great deal of testimony by officials, former insiders, and well-informed researchers makes clear that they have much the same character and the same opacity to civilian superiors even within the government as during the time when I had direct knowlege of them.

    But I can't expect enough others to find my judgement adequately credible to motivate a broad and urgent movement for change without more authoritataive confirmation. It is therefore a priority of mine – and, I hope, of readers of this book – to encourage pressure on Congress (and potential whistleblowers and other witnesses) and on other legislatures both in nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states to investigate the questions and issues I have raised, both in the United States and worldwide.

    After all, not one of these legislatures (starting with our own) has ever successfully demanded or been told the truth of nuclear targeting or of the prospective consequences of nuclear war, whether relatively limited and small or all-out.

    It is the long-neglected duty of the U.S. Congress – preferably with the expert help and authority of the National Academy of Sciences, in part on a classified basis for details of actual weapons assignments against targets, yields, height of burst, numbers of detonations – to test the now-confirmed scientific finding regarding nuclear winter against the realities of our secret war plans. On that basis, Congress and the NAS [National Academy of Sciences] can and must investigate the foreseeable human and environmental consequences of implementing the various „options“ in those plans.

    But past experience makes clear that Congress will not hold real investigative hearings, using committee subpoena powers, to penetrate the curtains of secrecy around these matters without a new level of pressure from American citizens. It is a major purpose of this book to help inspire that pressure, though it's obvious that will require a major change in public mood and priorities, and, if such pressure is to be effective, a still greater change in the composition of the present Congress.

    My own experience of the last half century tells me that such a change in public awareness and resulting pressure on Congress will not occur without revelations by patriotic and courageous whistleblowers. We have long needed and lacked the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers on the subject of nuclear policies and preparations, nuclear threats, and decision-making: above all in the United States and Russia but also in the other nuclear weapons states.

    I will always deeply regret that I did not make known to Congress, the American public, and the world the extensive documentation of persistent and still-unknown nuclear dangers that was available to me half a century ago. Those in nuclear weapons states who are now in a position to do more than I did then to alert their countries and the world to fatally reckless secret policies should take warning from the earlier silence by myself and others – and do better.

    I would say to them: Don't do what I did. Don't wait to tell the truth to the public and legislatures, with documents, until you've lost your access or (in my case) the documents themselves. Above all, to paraphrase an infamous statement by a former secretary of state, don't wait until the „smoking gun“ about your own country's reckless nuclear threats and policies is a mushroom cloud.

    Given such revelations and corresponding investigations by legislatures in this country and other nuclear weapons states, it seems to me reasonable to hope that new public awareness of the now-secret realities would make the prevailing establishment consensus on the need and legitimacy of threatening and preparing to bring about total omnicide unsustainable. It should be commonly recognized that no stake whatever, no cause, no principle, no consideration of honor or obligation or prestige or maintaining leadership in current alliances – still less, no concern for remaining in office, or maintaining a particular power structure, or sustaining jobs, profits, votes – can justify maintaining any risk whatever of causing the near extinction of human and other animal life on this planet.

    Omnicide – threatened, prepared, or carried out – is flatly illegitimate, unacceptable, as an instrument of national policy; indeed, it cannot be regarded as anything less than criminal, immoral, evil. In the light of recent scientific findings, of which the publics of the world and even their leaders are still almost entirely unaware, that risk is implicit in the nuclear planning, posture, readiness, and threats of the two superpowers. That is intolerable. It must be changed, and that change can't come too soon.

    The steps I have indicated are only a beginning toward the ultimate delegitimation of nuclear weapons and nuclear threats. But none of the necessary changes can occur without an informed public, suitably alarmed by a situation that properly evokes horror, fear, revulsion, and incredulity, accompanied, hopefully, by the determination of the highest order and urgency to eliminate it.

    Yet these reactions have been suppressed by a practice, when the reality is revealed and discussed at all, of maintaining a quasi-academic tone, an „objective“, dispassionate, non-evaluative discourse regarding what the planning and practice has been and the bureaucratic or political reasons behind it, without any appropriate evaluation of the nature or consequence of these decisions and actions. That has contributed to the lack of an adequate political response, even when some aspects of past realities are occasionally exposed.

    Moreover, the warnings and demands of activists are almost entirely ignored in mainstream media and politics and academic discussion as being non-expert and emotional rather than rational, failing to give appropriate weight to the complexities, the competing moral considerations and priorities that must drive reasonable and responsible policy-making.

    What is missing – what is foregone – in the typical discussion and analysis of historical or current nuclear policies is the recognition that what is being discussed is dizzyingly insane and immoral: in its almost-incalculable and inconceivable destructiveness and deliberate murderousness, its disproportionality of risked and planned destructiveness to either declared or unacknowledged objectives, the infeasibility of its secretely pursued aims (damage limitation to the United States and allies, „victory“ in two-sided nuclear war); its criminality (to a degree that explodes ordinary visions of law, justice, crime), its lack of wisdom or compassion, its sinfulness and evil.

    And yet part of what must be grasped – what makes it both understandable, once grasped, and at the same time mysterious and resistant to our ordinary understanding – is that the creation, maintenance, and political threat-use of these monstrous machines has been directed and accomplished by humans pretty much the way we think of them: more or less ordinary people, neither better nor worse than the rest of us, not monsters in either a clinical or mythic sense.

    This particular process, and what it has led to and the dangers it poses to all complex life on earth, shows that human species – when organized hierarchially in large, dense populations, i.e., civilization – at its absolute worst. Is it really possible that ordinary people, ordinary leaders, have created and accepted dangers of the sort I am describing? Every „normal“ impulse is to say „No! It can't be that bad!“ („And if it ever was, it can't have persisted. It can't be true now, in our own country.“)

    We humans almost universally have a false self-image of our species. We think that monstrous, wicked policies must be, can only be, conceived and directed and carried out by monsters, wicked or evil people, or highly aberrant, clinically „disturbed“ people. People not like „us“. That is mistaken. Those who have created a continuing nuclear threat to the existence of humanity have been normal, ordinary politicians, analysts, and military strategists. To them and to their subordinates. Hannah Ahrendt's controversial proposition regarding the „banality of evil“ I believe applies, though it might better have been stated as the „banality of evildoing“, and of most evildoers.

    After all, we Americans have seen in recent years human-caused catastrophes reflecting governmental or corporate recklessness far greater and more conscious and deliberate than our public can easily imagine or is allowed to discover in time. Above all, the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of Afghanistan, but also the failure to prepare for or respond to Hurrican Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, and financial disasters affecting millions: the savings-and-loan scandal, Internet and housing bubbles, criminal fraud, and the meltdown of the banking and investment system.

    Perhaps reflection on these political, social, and moral failures – preceding though amplified by current premonitions of disastrous decision-making during the tenure of Donald Trump – will lend credibility to my basic theme, otherwise hard to absorb: that the same type of heedless, shortsighted, and reckless decision-making and lying about it has characterized our government's nuclear planning, threats, and preparations, throughout the nuclear era, risking a catastrophe incomparably greater than all these others together.

    I well know that it is entirely unrealistic to hope that the present Congress (not to speak of the present president), dominated by the current Republican Party, or for that matter a Congress returned to the control of Democratic members mainly of the sort we have seen in the last generation, would respond to demands for any one of the measures I have proposed above:

    Both parties as currently constituted oppose every one of these measures. This mortal predicament did not begin with Donald J. Trump, and it will not end with his departure. The obstacles to achieving these necessary changes are posed not so much by the majority of the American public – though many in recent years have shown dismaying manipulability – but by officials and elites in both parties and by major institutions that consciously support militarism, American hegemony, and arms production and sales.

    Tragically, the news is equally bad when it comes to the prospects of reversing American energy policy in time and on a scale to avert catastropic climate change. Much the same institutions and elites tenaciously obstruct solution to this other existential challenge; they are, indeed, inordinately powerful. And yet, as demonstrated by the downfall of the Berlin Wall, the nonviolent dissolution of the Soviet empire, and the shift to majority rule in South Africa, all unimaginable just thirty years ago, such forces for sustaining an unjust and dangerous status quo are not all-powerful.

    Is it simply quixotic to hope to preserve human civilization from either the effects of burning fossil fuels or preparing for nuclear war? As Martin Luther King Jr. warned us, one year to the day before his death, „There is such a thing as being too late.“ In challenging us on April 4, 1967, to recognize „the fierce urgency of now“ he was speaking of the „madness of Vietnam,“ but he also alluded on that same occasion to nuclear weapons and to the even larger madness that has been the subject of this book: „We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coanniliation.

    He went on:

    We must move past indecision to action. … If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those, who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.


    Version: 5.3.2019

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