Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Case for War:
The Iron Mountain Report
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 12, 2010
In his 1966 book, "How the World Really Works," Alan B. Jones
included a chapter on the "Report from Iron Mountain: On the Possibility
and Desirability of Peace," later published in 1967 by The Dial Press. It
became a bestseller, then disappeared. Now few copies are available, but
when circulating in the 1960s, it was reported that concerned Johnson
administration officials ordered global US embassies to downplay it,
saying it had nothing to do with policy. Later accounts doubted the
material's authenticity, suggesting it was a hoax. True or false, its
findings are reviewed below because they accurately reflect longstanding
Prepared by unnamed 15-man "Special Study Group, (SSG)"
they were commissioned "by some governmental entity which wished to remain
unknown" because of the sensitive nature of its assignment, completed
after two and a half years work, from August 1963 - March 1966, at a
secret Iron Mountain, New York "underground nuclear hideout."
First surfacing in 1961, the idea originated during the Kennedy
administration, senior officials Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Dean
Rusk, and others, knowing there was no serious plan for peace at a time
the president wanted to end the Cold War. An SSG member only identified as
"John Doe" revealed it.
Secrecy wasn't mandated, but all members
except Doe wanted no public disclosure or discussion of its:
"Letter of Transmittal (saying Report conclusions and recommendations were
-- Scope of the Study
-- Disarmament and the Economy
-- War & Peace as Social Systems
-- The Functions of War
-- Substitutes for the Functions of
-- Summary and Conclusions (and)
Writer Leonard C. Lewin wrote a foreward, referring to a SSG midwest
social science professor, identified only as "John Doe" for reasons his
task would clarify:
"to determine, accurately and realistically,
the nature of the problems that would confront the United States if and
when a condition of 'permanent peace' should arrive, and to draft a
program for dealing with this contingency."
The Report was
suppressed, "both by the Special Study Group itself and by the government
INTERAGENCY committee to which it had been submitted. After months of
agonizing, Doe" decided to go public.
Group members were carefully
chosen for their physical and social sciences expertise, as well as their
years of academic, government and/or business experience, qualifying them
for their assignment.
In releasing the material, "Doe" said his:
"responsibility to the society for which I am part supersedes any
self-assumed obligation on the part of the fifteen individual men....What
is needed now, and needed badly, is widespread public discussion and
debate about the elements of war and the problems of peace."
Issues addressed included:
-- the notion that the "basic authority
of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers;"
world peace would cause "unparalleled and revolutionary" social structure
-- disarmament's economic impact;
"political, sociological, cultural, and ecological changes," and two broad
questions pertaining to:
-- expectations if peace comes; and
-- policies to follow if it does.
Other issues included:
-- the "real functions of war in modern societies" beyond defending the
-- without war, "what other institutions exist
or might be devised to fulfill these functions;"
possibility of abolishing war;
-- the desirability and
repercussions of doing it; and
-- possible social system
improvements from war-readiness.
Doe hoped for public discussions
about "the elements of war and the problems for peace." None followed.
Wars persist, and so do Report notions like:
Wars are an economic,
political and ecological necessity, important to continue indefinitely.
Peace "would almost certainly not be in the best interest of (a) stable
society" and might be "catastrophic."
General disarmament would
require "scrapping....a critical proportion of the most highly developed
occupational specialties in the economy."
Diverting an arms budget
to a "non-military system (is) remote (in a) market economy." Replacing it
with public works is "wishful thinking (and) unrealistic."
"the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social
organization conflict or conspire. (It's) the system (that's) governed
most human societies of record, as it (does) today."
control mechanism has been devised even close to it in effectiveness.
War-making potential doesn't result from threats. In fact, "threats
against the national interest are usually created or accelerated to meet
the changing needs of the war system."
functions and benefits of wars were claimed to exist, including economic
protections against depression, and stimulus contributing to the rise of
gross national product and individual productivity. Nothing else devised
"can remotely compare to it in effectiveness." It's the "essential
War's political importance is crucial. It
defines and enforces relations with other nations. National sovereignty
and the traditional nation-state depend on it. The war system is essential
to internal political stability. "Without it, no government has ever been
able to obtain acquiescence (to) its legitimacy, or right to rule its
A nation's authority over its people "resides in its war
powers," including local police to deal with "internal enemies in a
Military service has a patriotic purpose "that
must be maintained for its own sake."
Wars also serve an
ecological purpose - "to reduce the consuming population to a level
consistent with the survival of the species," but mass destruction is
inefficient, and nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, removing physically
stronger members important to save.
Because of medical and
scientific advances, pestilence no longer can control populations
effectively, balancing them with agriculture's potential. As a result,
other measures are needed to control "undesirable genetic traits."
An effective political substitute for war requires "alternate
enemies....of credible quality and magnitude, if a transition to peace is
ever to come about without social disintegration." Most likely, "such a
threat will have to be invented."
Other extreme ideas included:
Poverty is necessary and desirable, the same Orwellian social
stability 1884 idea, about "keeping the Low's in poverty and the High's in
A modern, sophisticated form of slavery serves
the same social control purpose.
Government must optimize the
number of warfare deaths, never letting a good opportunity go to waste.
"Intensified environment pollution," including air and water is
acceptable, and, without war, a comprehensive eugenics program and
"universal test-tube procreation might have to substitute."
members rejected individual freedom, opting for subservience to a ruling
elite, the system that governs world nations and America since inception,
instituted by the Founders so the country's owners could run it, and wage
wars to solidify control.
The Report concluded that:
permanent possibility of war is the foundation for stable government. It
supplies the basis for general acceptance of political authority." It lets
societies maintain class distinctions, and ensures the subordination of
citizens to the state, run by elites with "residual war powers."
As for policy measures in a world at peace, SSG members stated "as
strongly as we can, that the war system cannot responsibly be allowed to
disappear," absent a credible alternative to ensure social stability and
societal control. Only then should transitional measures be considered.
"Such solutions, if indeed they exist, will not be
arrived at without a revolutionary revision of the modes of thought
heretofore considered appropriate. Some observers....believe" the
obstacles can't be overcome "in our time, that the price of peace is,
simply, too high....It is uncertain....whether peace will ever be
possible. It is far more questionable....that it would be desirable even
if it were demonstrably attainable."
Though repugnant to many,
"The war system....has demonstrated its effectiveness since the beginning
of recorded history." A viable peace alternative would constitute a giant
leap "into the unknown" with its inevitable risks. Genuine peace will be
destabilizing until proved otherwise.
SSG recommendations included
establishing a "permanent WAR/PEACE Research Agency" with unlimited funds
to be used at its own discretion.
It would be organized like the
National Security Council "responsible solely to the President" or
officials he designates - then operate secretly for two purposes. First,
to determine, from what's known and can be learned, the statistical
probability for an eventual peace. Second, to conduct "War Research" to
ensure "the continuing viability of the war system" as long as it's
believed necessary and/or desirable for society's stability and survival.
The Iron Mountain Report "has already created our present. It is now
shaping our future," one single-mindedly for war to the detriment of all
but imperial interests and profiteers that benefit handsomely.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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