REPORT FROM IRON MOUNTAIN: ON THE
POSSIBILITY AND DESIRABILITY OF PEACE
With introductory material by Leonard C. Lewin
The Dial Press, Inc. 1967
Library of Congress Catalog card Number 67-27553 Printed in the U.S.
• Forward — vii
• Background Information — xvii
• Statement by “John Doe” — xxxi
• The Report of the Special Study Group
oLetter of Transmittal — 3
ointroduction — 1
on 1. Scope of the Study — 1 1
on 2. Disarmament and the Economy — 17
oSection 3. Disarmament Scenarios — 23
o Section 4. War & Peace as Social Systems — 27
oSection 5. The Functions of War — 33
oSection 6. Substitutes for the Functions of War — 57
oSection 7. Summary and Conclusions — 79
oSection 8. Recommendations — 95
“John Doe,” as I will call him in this book for reasons that will be made clear, is a
professor at a large university in the Middle West. His field is one of the social
sciences, but I will not identify him beyond this. He telephoned me one evening last
winter, quite unexpectedly; we had not been in touch for several years. He was in New
York for a few days, he said, and there was something important he wanted to discuss
with me. He wouldn’t say what it was. We met for lunch the next day at a midtown
He was obviously disturbed. He made small talk for half an hour, which was quite out
of character, and I didn’t press him. Then, apropos of nothing, he mentioned a dispute
between a writer and a prominent political family that had been in the headlines. What,
he wanted to know, were my views on “freedom of information”? How would I qualify
them? And so on. My answers were not memorable, but they seemed to satisfy him.
Then, quite abruptly, he began to tell me the following story:
Early in August of 1963, he said, he found a message on his desk that a “Mrs. Potts”
had called him from Washington. When he returned the call, a MAN answered
immediately, and told Doe, among other things, that he had been selected to serve on a
commission “of the highest importance.” Its objective was to determine, accurately and
realistically, the nature of the problems that would confront the United States if and
when a condition of “permanent peace” should arrive, and to draft a program for
dealing with this contingency. The man described the unique procedures that were to
govern the commission’s work and that were expected to extend its scope far beyond
that of any previous examination of these problems.
Considering that the caller did not precisely identify either himself or his agency, his
persuasiveness must have been a truly remarkable order. Doe entertained no serious
doubts of the bona fides of the project, however, chiefly because of his previous
experience with the excessive secrecy that often surrounds quasi-governmental
activities. In addition, the man at the other end of the line demonstrated an
impressively complete and surprisingly detailed knowledge of Doe’s work and personal
life. He also mentioned the names of others who were to serve with the group; most of
them were known to Doe by reputation. Doe agreed to take the assignment — he felt
he had no real choice in the matter — and to appear the second Saturday following at
Iron Mountain, New York. An airline ticket arrived in his mail the next morning.
The cloak-and-daggar tone of this convocation was further enhanced by the meeting
place itself. Iron Mountain, located near the town of Hudson, is like something out of
Ian Fleming or E.Phillips Oppenheim. It is an underground nuclear hideout for
hundreds of large American corporations. Most of them use it as an emergency storage
vault for important documents. But a number of them maintain substitute corporate
headquarters as well, where essential personnel could presumably survive and continue
to work after an attack. This latter group includes such firms as Standard Oil of New
Jersey, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, and Shell.
I will leave most of the story of the operations of the Special Study Group, as the
commission was formally called, for Doe to tell in his own words (“Background
Information”). At this point it is necessary to say only that it met and worked regularly
for over two and a half years, after which it produced a Report. It was this document,
and what to do about it, that Doe wanted to talk to me about.
The Report, he said, had been suppressed — both by the Special Study Group itself
and by the government INTERAGENCY committee to which it had been submitted.
After months of agonizing. Doe had decided that he would no longer be party to
keeping it secret. What he wanted from me was advice and assistance in having it
published. He gave me his copy to read, with the express understanding that if for any
reason I were unwilling to become involved, I would say nothing about it to anyone
I read the Report that same night. I will pass over my own reactions to it, except to say
that the unwillingness of Doe’s associates to publicize their findings became readily
understandable. What had happened was that they had been so tenacious in their
determination to deal comprehensively with the many problems of transition to peace
that the original questions asked of them were never quite answered. Instead, this is
what they concluded:
Lasting peace, while no theoretically impossible, is probably unattainable; even if it
could be achieved it would almost certainly not be in the best interestes of a stable
society to achieve it.
That is the gist of what they say. Behind their qualified academic language runs this
general argument: War fills certain functions essential to the stability of our society;
until other ways of filling them are developed, the war system must be maintained —
and improved in effectiveness.
It is not surprising that the Group, in its Letter of Transmittal, did not choose to justify
its work to “the lay reader, unexposed to the exigencies of higher political or military
responsibility.” Its Report was addressed, deliberately, to unnamed government
administrators of high rank; it assumed – considerable politicial sophistication from this
select audience. To the general reader, therefore, the substance of the document may be
even more unsettling than its conclusions. He may not be prepared for some of its
assumptions — for instance, that most medical advances are viewed more as problems
than as progress; or that poverty is necessary and desirable, public postures by
politicians to the contrary notwithstanding; or that standing armies are, among other
things social-welfare institutions in exactly the same sense as are old-people’s homes
and mental hospitals. It may strike him as odd to find the probably explanation of
“flying saucer” incidents disposed of en passant in less than a sentence. He may be less
surprised to find that the space program and the “controversial antimissile missile and
fallout shelter programs are understood to have the spending of vast sums of money,
not the advancement of science or national defense, as their principal goals, and to
learn that “military” draft policies are only remotely concerned with defense.
He may be offended to find the organized repression of minority groups, and even the
reestablishment of slavery, seriously (and on the whole favorably discussed as possible
aspects of a world at peace. He is not likely to take kindly to the notion of the
deliberate intensification of air and water pollution (as part of a program leading to
peace), even when the reason for considering it is made clear. That a world without
war will have to turn sooner rather than later to universal test-tube procreation will be
less disturbing, if no more appealing. But few readers will not be taken aback, at least,
by a few lines in th Report’s conclusions, repeated in its formal recommendations, that
suggest that the long-range planning— and “budgeting” — of the “optimum” number of
lives to be destroyed annually in overt warfare is high on the Group’s list of priorities
for government action.
I cite these few examples primarily to warn the general reader what he can expect. The
statesmen and strategists for whose eyes the Report was intended obviously need no
such protective admonition.
This book, of course, is evidence of my response to Doe’s request. After carefully
considering the problems that might confront the publisher of the Report, we took it to
The Dial Press. There, its significance was immediately recognized, and, more
important, we were given firm assurances that no outside pressures of any sort would
be permitted to interfere with its publication.
It should be made clear that Doe does not disagree with the substance of the Report,
which represents as genuine consensus in all important respects. He constituted a
minority of one — but only on the issue of disclosing it to the general public. A look at
how the Group dealt with this question will be illuminating
The debate took place at the Group’s last full meeting before the Report was written,
late in March, 1966, and again at Iron Mountain. Two facts must be kept in mind, by
way of background. The first is that the Special Study Group had never been explicitly
charged with or sworn to secrecy, either when it was convened or at any time
thereafter. The second is that the Group had neverthe-less operated as if it had been.
This was assumed from the circumstances of its inception and from the tone of its
instructions. (The Group’s acknowledgment of help from “the many persons. …who
contributed so greatly to our work” is somewhat equivocal; these persons were not told
the nature of the project for which their special resources of information were
Those who argued the case for keeping the Report secret were admittedly motivated by
fear of the explosive political effects that could be expected from publicity. For
evidence, they pointed to the suppression of the far less controversial report of then-
Senator Hubert Humphrey’s subcommittee on disarmament in 1962. (Subcommittee
members had reportedly feared that it might be used by Communist propagandists, as
Senator Stuart Symington put it, to “back up the Marxian theory that was production
was the reason for the success of capitalism.”) Similar political precautions had been
taken with the better-known Gaither Report in 1957, and even with the so-called
Moynihan Report in 1965.
Furthermore, they insisted, a distinction must be made between serious studies, which
are normally classified unless and until policy makers decide to release them, and
conventional “showcase” projects, organized to demonstrate a political leadership’s
concerns about an issue and to deflect the energy of those pressing for action on it.
(The example used, because some of the Group had participated in it, was a “While
House Conference” on intended cooperation, disarmament, etc., which had been staged
late in 1965 to offset complaints about escalation of Vietnam War.)
Doe acknowledges this distinction, as well as the strong possibility of public
misunderstanding. But he feels that if the sponsoring agency had wanted to mandate
secrecy it could have done so at the outset. It could also have assigned the project to
one of the government’s established “think tanks,” which normally work on a classified
basis. He scoffed at fear of public reaction, which could have no lasting effect on long-
range measures that might be taken to implement the Group’s proposals, and derided
the Group’s abdication of responsibility for its opinions and conslusions. So far as he
was concerned, there was such a thing as a public right to know what was being done
on its behalf; the burden of proof was on those who would abridge it.
If my account seems to give Doe the better of the argument, despite his failure to
convince his colleagues, so be it. My participation in this book testifies that I am not
neutral. In my opinion, the decision of the Special Study Group to censor its own
findings was not merely timid but presumptuos. But the refusal, as of this writing, of
the agencies for which the Report was prepared to release it themselves raises broader
questions of public policy. Such questions center on the continuing use of self-serve
definitions of “security” to avoid possible political embarrassment. It is ironic how
oftern this practice backfires.
I should state, for the record, that I do not share the attitudes toward war and peace, life
and death, and survival of the species manifested in the Report. Few readers will. In
human terms, it is an outrageous document. But it does represent a serious and
challenging effort to define an enormous problem. And it explains, or certainly appears
to explain, aspects of American policy otherwise incomprehensible by the ordinary
standards of common sense. What we may think of these explanations is something
else, but it seems to me that we are entitled to know not only what they are but whose
By “whose” I don’t mean merely the names of the authors of the Report. Much more
important, we have a right to know to what extent their assumptions of social necessity
are shared by the decision-makers in our government. Which do they accept and which
do they reject? However disturbing the answers, only full and frank discussion offers
any conceivable hope of solving the problems raised by the Special Study Group in
their Report from Iron Mountain.
L.C.L. New York June 1967
[The following account of the workings of the Special Study Group is taken verbatim
from a series of tape recorded interviews I had with “John Doe.” The transcript has
been edited to minimize the intrusion of my questions and comments, as well as for
length, and the sequence has been revised in the interest of continuity. L.C.L.]
HOW WAS THE GROUP FORMED?
…The general idea for it, for this kind of study dates back at least to 1961. It started
with some of the new people who came in with the Kennedy administration, mostly, I
think, with McNamara, Bundy, and Rusk. They were impatient about many
things. …One of them was that no really serious work had been done about planning for
peace— a long-range peace, that is, with long- rang planning.
Everything that had been written on the subject [before 1961] was super- ficial. There
was insufficient appreciation of the scope of the problem. The main reason for this, of
course, was that the idea of a real peace in the world, general disarmament and so on,
was looked on as Utopian. Or even crack- pot. This is still true, and it’s easy enough to
understand when you look at what’s going on in the world today…. It was reflected in
the studies that had been made up to that time. They were not realistic…
The idea of the Special Study, the exact form it would take, was worked out early in
’63. ..The settlement of the Cuban missile affair had something to do with it, but what
helped most to get it moving were the big changes in military spending that were being
planned Plants being closed, relocations, and so forth. Most of it wasn’t made public
until much later….
[I understand] it took a long time to select the people for the Group. The calls didn’t go
out until the summer
WHO MADE THE SELECTION?
That’s something I can’t tell you. I wasn’t involved with the preliminary planning. The
first I knew of it was when I was called myself. But three of the people had been in on
it, and what the rest of us know we learned from them, about what went on earlier. I do
know that it started very informally. I don’t know what particular government agency
approved the project.
WOULD YOU CARE TO MAKE A GUESS?
All right— I think it was an ad hoc committee, at the cabinet level, or near it. It had to
be. I suppose they gave the organizational job— making arrangements, paying the bills,
and so on— to somebody from the State or Defense of the National Security Council.
Only one of us was in touch with Washington, and I wasn’t the one. But I can tell you
that very, very few people knew about us…. For instance, there was the Ackley
Committee. It was set up after we were. If you read their report— the same old tune-
economic reconversino, turning sword plants into plowshare factories… I think you’ll
wonder if even the President knew about our Group. The Ackley Committee certainly
IS THAT POSSIBLE, REALLY? I MEAN THAT NOT EVEN THE
PRESIDENT KNEW OF YOUR COMMISSION?
Well, I don’t think there’s anything odd about the government attacking a problem at
two different levels. Or even about two or three [government] agencies working at
cross-purposes. It happens all the time. Perhaps the President did know. And I don’t
mean to denigrate the Ackley Committee, but it was exactly that narrowness of
approach that we were supposed to get away from.
You have to remember — you’ve read the Report— that what they wanted from us was a
different kind of thinking. It was a matter of approach. Herman Kahn calls is
“Byzantine”— no agonizing over cultural and religious values. No moral posturing. It’s
the kind of thinking that Rand and the Hudson Institure and I.D.A. (Institute for
Defense Analysis.) brought into war planning… What they asked up to do, and I think
we did it, was to give the same kind of treat- ment to the hypothetical nuclear war.. .We
may have gone further than they expected, but once you establish your premises and
your logic you can’t turn back….
Kahn’s books, for example, are misunderstood, at least by laymen. They shock people.
But you see, what’s improtant about them is not his conclusions, or his opinions. It’s the
method. He has done more than anyone else I can think of to get the general public
accustomed to the style of modern military thinking. Today it’s possible for a
columnist to write about “counterforce strategy” and “minimum deterrance” and
“credible firststrike capability” with- out having to explain every other word. He can
write about war and strategy without getting bogged down in questions or morality.
The other big difference about or work is breadth. The Report speaks for itself. I can’t
say that we took every relevant aspect of life and society into account, but I don’t think
we missed anything essential…
WHY WAS THE PROJECT GIVEN TO AN OUTSIDE COMMISSION? WHY
COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN HANDLED BY AN APPROPRIATE
I think that’s obvious, or should be. The kind of thinking wanted from our Group just
isn’t to be had in a formal government operation. Too many cont- straints. Too many
inhibitions. This isn’t a new problem. Why else would outfits like Rand and Hudson
stay in business? Any assignment that’s at all sophisticated is almost always given to an
outside group. This is true even in the State Department, in the “gray” operations, those
that are supposed to be unofficial, but are really as official as can be. Also with the
For our study, even the private research centers were too institutional… A lot of
thought went into making sure that our thinking would be unrestricted. All kinds of
little things. The way we were called into the Group, the places we met, all kinds of
subtle devices to remind us. For instance, even our name, the Special Study Group.
You know government names. Wouldn’t you think we’d have been called “Operation
Olive Branch,” or “Project Pacifica,” or something like that? Nothing like that for us—
too allusive, too suggestive. And no minutes of our meetings— too inhibiting…. About
who might be reading them. Of course, we took notes for our own use. And among
ourselves, we usually called ourselves “The Iron Mountain Boys,” or “Our Thing,” or
whatever came to mind.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE MEMBERS OF THE GROUP?
I’ll have to stick to generalities…. There were fifteen of us. The important thing was that
we represented a very wide range of disciplines. And not all academic. People from the
natural sciences, the social sciences, even the humanities. We had a lawyer and a
businessman. Also, a professional war planner. Also, you should know that everyone in
the Group had done work of distinction in at least two different fields. The
interdisciplinary element was built in.
It’s true that there were no women in the Group, but I don’t think that was
significant We were all American citizens, of course. And all, I can say, in very
good health, at least when we began…. You see, the first order of business, at the first
meeting, was the reading of dossiers. They were very detailed, and not just
professional, but also personal. They included medical histories. I remember one very
curious thing, for whatever it’s worth. Most of us, and that includes me, had a record of
abnormally high uric acid con- centrations in the blood None of us had ever had
this experience, of a public inspection of credentials, or medical reports. It was very
But it was deliberate. The reason for it was to emphasize that we were supposed to
make ALL our own decisions on procedure, without outside rules. This included
judging each other’s qualifications and making allowances for possible bias. I don’t
think it affected our work directly, but it made the point it was supposed to make
That we should ignore absolutely nothing that might conceivably affect our objectivity.
[At this point I persuaded Doe that a brief occupational description of
the individual members of the Group would serve a useful purpose for
readers of the Report. The list which follows was worked out on paper.
(It might be more accurate to say it was negotiated)/. The problem was
to give as much relevant information as possible without violating Doe’s
commitment to protect his colleagues’ anonymity. It turned out to be
very difficult, especially in the cases of those members who are very
well known. For this reason, secondary areas of achievement or repu-
tations are usually not shown.
The simple alphabetical “names” were assigned by Doe for convenient
reference; they bear no intended relation to actual names. “Able” was
the Group’s Washington contact. It was he who brought and read the
dossiers, and who most often acted as chairman. He, “Baker,” and
“Cox” were the three who had been involved in the preliminary
planning. There is no other significance to the order of listing.
“Arthus Able” is an historian and political theorist, who has served in
“Bernard Baker: is a professor of international law and a consultant on
“Charles Cox” is an economist, social critic, and biographer.
“Edward Ellis” is a sociologist often involved in public affairs.
“Frank Fox” is a cultural anthropologist.
“George Green” is a psychologist, educator, and developer of personnel
“Harold Hill” is a psychiatrist, who has conducted extensive studies of
the relationship between individual and group behavior.
“John Jones” is a scholar and literary critic.
“Martin Miller” is a physical chemist, whose work has received inter-
national recognition at the highest level.
“Paul Peters” is a biochemist, who has made important discoveries
bearing on reproductive processes.
“Richard Roe” is a mathematician affiliated with an independent West
Coast research institution.
“Samuel Smith” is an astronomer, physicist, and communications
“Thomas Taylor” is a systems analyst and war planner, who has written
extensively on war, peace, and international relations.
“William White” is an industrialist, who has undertaken many special
HOW DID THE GROUP OPERATE? I MEAN, WHERE AND WHEN DID
YOU MEET, AND SO FORTH?
We met on the average of once a month. Usually it was on weekends, and usually for
two days. We had a few longer sessions, and one that lasted only four hours. We
met all over the country, always at a different place, except for the first and last times,
which were at Iron Mountain. It was like a traveling seminar.. ..Sometimes at hotels,
sometimes at universities. Twice we met at summer camps, and once at a private
estate, in Virginia. We used a business place in Pittsburgh, and another in
Poughkeepsie, [New York]…. We never met in Washington, or on government property
anywhere…. Able would announce the times and places two meetings ahead. They were
We didn’t divide into subcommittees, or anything else that formal. But we all took
individual assignments between meetings. A lot of it involved getting information from
other people…. Among the fifteen of us, I don’t thing there was anybody in the
academic or professional world we couldn’t call on if we wanted to, and we took
advantage of it We were paid a very modest per diem. All of it was called
“expenses” on the vouchers. We were told not to report it on our tax returns…. The
checks were drawn on a special account of Abie’s at a New York bank. He signed
them…. I don’t know what the study cost. So far as our time and travel were concerned,
it couldn’t have come to more than the low six-figure range. But the big item must have
been computer time, and I have no idea how high this ran
YOU SAY THAT YOU DON’T THINK YOUR WORK WAS AFFECTED BY
PROFESSIONAL BIAS. WHAT ABOUT POLITICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL
BIAS? IS IT POSSIBLE TO DEAL WITH QUESTIONS OF WAR AND PEACE
WITHOUT REFLECTING PERSONAL VALUES?
Yes, it is. I can understand your skepticism. But if you had been at any of our meetings
you’d have had a very hard time figuring out who were the liberals and who were the
conservatives, or who were hawks and who were doves. There IS such a thing as
objectivity, and I think we had it… I don’t say no one had any emotional reaction to
what we were doing. We all did, to some extent. As a matter of fact, two members had
heart attacks after we were finished, and I’ll be the first to admit it probably wasn’t a
YOU SAID YOU MADE UP YOUR OWN GROUND RULES. WHAT WERE
THESE GROUND RULES?
The most important were informality and unanimity . By informality I mean that our
discussions were open-ended. We went as far afield as any one of us thought we had
to. For instance, we spent a lot of time on the relationship between military recruitment
policies and industrial employment. Before we were finished with it, we’d gone
through the history of western penal codes and any number of comparative psychiatric
studies [of draftees and volunteers]. We looked over the organization of the Inca
empire. We determined the effects of automation on underdeveloped societies…. It was
By unanimity, I don’t mean that we kept taking votes, like a iury. I mean that we stayed
with every issue until we had what the Quakers call a “sense of the meeting.” It was
time-consuming. But in the long run it saved time. Eventually we all got on the same
wavelength, so to speak
Of course we had differences, and big ones, especially in the beginning… For instance,
in Section I you might think we were merely clarifying our instructions. Not so; it took
a long time before we all agreed to a strict interpretation…. Roe and Taylor deserve
most of the credit for this… There are many things in the Report that look obvious now,
but didn’t seem so obvious then. For instance, on the relationship of war to social
systems. The original premise was conventional, from Clausewitz That war was an
“instrument” of broader political values. Able was the only one who challenged this, at
first. Fox called his position “perverse.” Yet it was Fox who furnished most of the data
that led us all to agree with Able eventually. I mention this be- cause I think it’s a good
example of the way we worked. A triumph of method over cliche I certainly don’t
intend to go into details about who took what side about what, and when. But I will
say, to give credit where due, that only Roe, Able, Hill and Taylor were able to see, at
the beginning, where our method was taking us.
BUT YOU ALWAYS REACHED AGREEMENT, EVENTUALLY?
Yes. It’s a unanimous report… I don’t mean that our sessions were always harmonious.
Some of them were rough. The last six months there was a lot of quibbling about small
points… We’d been under pressure for a long time, we’d been working together too
long. It was natural that we got on each other’s nerves. For a while Able and Taylor
weren’t speaking to each other. Miller threatened to quit. But this all passed. There
were no important differences…
HOW WAS THE REPORT ACTUALLY WRITTEN? WHO DID THE
We all had a hand in the first draft. Jones and Able put it together, and then mailed it
around for review before working out a final version… The only problems were the
form it should take and whom we were writing it for. And, of course, the question of
disclosure…. [Doe’s comments on this point are summarized in the introduction.]
YOU MENTIONED A “PEACE GAMES” MANUAL. WHAT ARE PEACE
I wanted to say something about that. The Report barely mentions it. “Peace games” is
a method we developed during the course of the study. It’s a forecasting technique, an
information system. I’m very excited about it. Even if nothing is done about our
recommendations— which is conceivable— this is something that can’t be ignored. It will
revolutionize the study of social problems. It’s a by-product of the study. We needed a
fast, dependable procedure to approximate the effects of disparate social phenomena on
other social phenomena. We got it. It’s in a primitive phase, but it works.
HOW ARE PEACE GAMES PLAYED? ARE THEY LIKE RAND’S WAR
You don’t “play” peace games, like chess or Monopoly, any more than you play war
games with toy soldiers. You use computers. It’s a programming system. A computer
“language,” like Fortran, or Algol, or Jovial…. Its advantage is its superior capacity to
interrelate data with no apparent common points of reference…. A simple analogy is
likely to be misleading. But I can give you some examples. For instance, supposing I
asked you to figure out what effect a moon landing by U.S. astronauts would have on
an election in, say, Sweden. Or what effect a change in the draft law— a specific
change— would have on the value of real estate in downtown Manhattan? Or a certain
change in college entrance requirements in the United States on the British shipping
You would probably say, first, that there would be no effect to speak of, and second,
that there would be no way of telling. But you’d be wrong on both counts. In each case
there would be an effect, and the peace games method could tell you what it would be,
quantitatively. I didn’t take these examples out of the air. We used them in working out
the method. …Essentially, it’s an elaborate high-speed trial-and-error system for
determining working algorithms. Like most sophisticated types of computer problem-
A lot of the “games” of this kind you read about are just glorified and conversational
exercises. They really are games, and nothing more. I just saw one reported in the
Canadian Computer Society Bulletin, called a “Vietnam Peace Game.” They use
simulation techniques, but the programming hypotheses are speculative….
The idea of a problem-solving system like this is not original with us. ARPA (the
Advanced Research Projects Agency, of the Department of Defense DoD.) has been
working on something like it. So has General Electric, in California. There are
others We were successful not because we know more than they do about
programming, which we don’t, but because we leaned how to formulate the problems
accurately. It goes back to the old saw. You can always find the answer if you know
the right question
SUPPOSING YOU HADN’T DEVELOPED THIS METHOD. WOULD YOU
HAVE COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS IN THE REPORT?
Certainly. But it would have taken many times longer. .But please don’t misunderstand
my enthusiasm [about the peace games method]. With all due respect to the effects of
computer technology on modern thinking, basic judgments must still be made by
human beings. The peace games technique isn’t responsible for our Report. We are.
STATEMENT BY ‘JOHN DOE ”
Contrary to the decision of the Special Study Group, of which I was a member, I have
arranged for the general release of our Report. I am grateful to Mr. Leonard C. Lewin
for his invaluable assistance in making this possible, and to The Dial Press for
accepting the challenge of publication. Responsibility for taking this step, however, is
mine and mine alone.
I am well aware that my action may be taken as a breach of faith by some of my former
colleagues. But in my view my responsibility to the society for which I am a part
supersedes any self-assumed obligation on the part of fifteen individual men. Since our
Report can be considered on its merits, it is not necessary for me to disclose their
identity to accomplish my purpose. Yet I gladly abandon my own anonymity it is were
possible to do so without at the same time comprising theirs, to defend our work
publicly if and when they release me from this personal bond.
But this is secondary. What is needed now, and needed badly, is widespread public
discussion and debate about the elements of war and the problems of peace. I hope that
publication of this Report will serve to initiate it.
THE REPORT OF THE SPECIAL STUDY GROUP
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
To the convener of this Group:
Attached is the Report of the Special Study Group established by you in August, 1963,
1) to consider the problems involved in the contigency of a transition to a general
condition of peace, and 2) to recommend procedures for dealing with this contingency.
For the covenience of nontechnical readers we have elected to submit our statistical
supporting data, totaling 604 exhibits, separately, as well as a preliminary manual of
the “peace games” method devised during the course of our study.
We have compelted our assignment to the best of our ability, subject to the limitations
of time and resources available to us. Our conclusions of fact and our
recommendations are unanimous; those of use who differ in certain secondary respects
from the findings set forth herein do not consider these differences sufficient to warrant
the filing of a minority report. It is our earnest hope that the fruits of our deliberations
will be of value to our government in its efforts to provide leadership to the nation in
solving the complex and far-reaching problems we have examined, and that our
recommendations for subsequent Presidential action in this area will be adopted.
Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the establishment of this Group, and
in view of the nature of its findings, we do not recommend that this Report be released
for publication. It is our affirmative judgment that such action would not be in the
public interest. The uncertain advantages of public discussion of our conclusions and
recommendations are, in our opinion, greatly outweighed by the clear and predictable
danger of a crisis in public confidence which untimely publication of this Report might
be expected to provoke. The likelihood that a lay reader, unexposed to the exigencies
of higher political or military responsibility, will misconstrue the purpose of this
project, and the intent of its participants, seems obvious. We urge that circulation of
this Report be closely restricted to those whose responsibilities require that they be
apprised of its contents.
We deeply regret that the necessity of anonymity, a prerequisite to our Group’s
unhindered pursuit of its objectives, precludes proper acknowledgment of our gratitude
to the many persons in and out of government who contributed so greatly to our work.
FOR THE SPECIAL STUDY GROUP
[signature withheld for publication]
30 SEPTEMBER, 1966
The Report which follows summarizes the results of a two-and-a-half-year study of the
broad problems to be anticipated in the event of general trans- formation of American
society to a condition lacking its most critical current characteristics: its capability and
readiness to make war when doing so is judged necessary or desirable by its political
Our work has been predicated on the belief that some kind of general peace may soon
be negotiable. The de facto admission of Communist China into the United Nations
now appears to be only a few years away at most. It has become increasinly manifest
that conflicts of American national interest with those of China and the Soviet Union
are susceptible of political solution, despite the superficial contraindictions of the
current Vietnam war, of the threats of an attack on China, and of the necessarily hostile
tenor of day-to-day foreign policy statements. It is also obvious that differences
involving other nations can be readily resolved by the three great powers whenever
they arrive at a stable peace among themselves. It is not necessary, for the purposes of
our study, to assume that a general detente of this sort will come about— and we make
no such argument— but only that it may.
It is surely no exaggeration to say that a condition of general world peace would lead to
changes in the social structures of the nations of the world of unparalleled and
revolutionary magnitude. The economic impact of general disarmament, to name only
the most obvious consequence of peace, would revise the production and distribution
patterns of the globe to a degree that would make changes of the past fifty years seem
insignificant. Political, sociological, cultural, and ecological changes would be equally
far-reaching. What has motivated our study of these contingencies has been the
growing sense of thoughtful men in and out of government that the world is totally
unprepared to meet the demands of such a situation.
We had originally planned, when our study was initiated, to address ourselves to these
two broad questions and their components: What can be expected if peace comes?
What should we be prepared to do about it? But as our investigation proceeded, it
became apparent that certain other questions had to be faced. What, for instance, are
the real functions of war in modern societies, beyond the ostensible ones of defending
and advancing the “national interests” of nations? In the absence of war, what other
institutions exist or might be devised to fulfill these functions? Granting that a
“peaceful” settlement of disputes is within the range of current international
relationships, is the abolition of war, in the broad sense, really possible? If so, is it
necessarily desirable, in terms of social stability? If not, what can be done to improve
the operation of our social system in respect to its war-readiness?
The word peace, as we have used it in the following pages, describes a permanent, or
quasi-permanent, condition entirely free from the national exercise, or contemplation,
of any form of the organized social violence, or threat of violence, generally known as
war. It implies total and general disarmament. It is not used to describe the more
familiar condition of “cold war,” “armed peace,” or other mere respite, long or short,
from armed conflict. Nor is it used simply as a synonym for the political settlement of
international differences. The magnitude of modern means of mass destruction and the
speed of modern communications require the unqualified working definition given
above; only a generation ago such an absolute description would have seemd Utopian
rather than pragmatic. Today, any modification of this definition would render it
almost worthless for our purpose. By the same standard, we have used the work war to
apply interchangeably to conventional (“hot”) war, to the general condition of war
preparation or war readiness, and to the general “war system.” The sense intended is
made clear in context.
The first section of our Report deals with its scope and with the assumptions on which
our study was based. The second considers the effects of disarmament on the economy,
the subject of most peace research to date. The third takes up so-called “disarmament
scenarios” which have been proposed. The fourth, fifth, and sixth examine the
nonmilitary functions of war and the problems they raise for a viable transition to
peace; here will be found some indications of the true dimensions of the problem, not
previously coordinated in any other study. In the seventh section we summarize our
findings, and in the eight we set forth our recommendations for what we believe to be a
practical and necessary course of action.
SECTION 1 – SCOPE OF THE STUDY
When The Special Study Group was established in August, 1963, its members were
instructed to govern their deliberations in accordance with three principal criteria.
Briefly stated, they were these: 1) military-style objectivity; 2) avoidance of
preconceived value assumptions; 3) inclusion of all revelant areas of theory and data.
These guideposts are by no means as obvious as they may appear at first glance, and
we believe it necessary to indicate clearly how they were to inform our work. For they
express succinctly the limitations of previous “peace studies,” and imply the nature of
both government and unofficial dissatisfaction with these earlier efforts. It is not our
intention here to minimize the significance of the work of our predecessors, or to
belittle the quality of their contributions. What we have tried to do, and believe we
have done, is extend their scope. We hope that our conclusions may serve in turn as a
starting point for still broader and more detailed examinations of every aspect of the
problems of transition to peace and of the questions which must be answer- ed before
such a transition can be allowed to get under way.
It is a truism that objectivity is more often an intention expressed than an attitude
achieved, but the intention— conscious, unambiguous, and constantly self-critical — is
a precondition to its achievement. We believe it no accident that we were charged to
use a “military contingency” model for our study, and we owe a considerable debt to
the civilian war planning agencies for their pioneering work in the objective
examination of the contingencies of nuclear war. There is no such precedent in the
peace studies. Much of the usefulness of even the most elaborate and carefully
reasoned programs for economic conversion to peace, for example, has been vitiated
by a wishful eagerness to demonstrate that peace is not only possible, but even cheap
or easy. One official report is replete with references to the critical role of “dynamic
optimism” on economic developments, and goes on to submit, as evidence, that it
“would be hard to imagine that the American people would not respond very positively
to an agreed and safeguarded program to substitute an internatinal rule of law and
order,” etc. Anothe line of argument frequently taken is that disarmament would entail
comparatively little disruption of the economy, since it need only be partial; we will
deal with this approach later. Yet genuine objectivity in war studies is often critized as
inhuman. As Herman Kahn, the writer on strategic studies best known to the general
public, put it: “Critics frequently object to the icy rationality of the Hudson Institute,
the Rand Corporation, and other such organizations. I’m always tempted to ask in
reply, ‘Would you prefer a warm, human error? Do you feel better with a nice
emotional mistake.'” And, as Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara has pointed
out, in reference to facing up to the possibility of nuclear war, “Some people are afraid
even to look over the edge. But in a thermonuclear war we cannot afford any political
acrophobia.” Surely it would be self-evident that this applies equally to the opposite
prospect, but so far no one has taken more than a timid glance over the brink of peace.
An intention to avoid preconceived value judgments is if anything even more
productive of self-delusion. We claim no immunity, as individuals, from this type of
bias, but we have made a continuously self-conscious effort to deal with the problems
of peace without, for exampel, considering that a condition of peace is per se “good” or
“bad.” This has not been easy, but it has been obligatory; to our knowledge, it has not
been done before. Previous studies have taken the desirability of peace, the importance
of human life, the superiority of democratic institutions, the greatest “good” for the
greatest number, the “dignity” of the individual, the desirability of maximum health
and longevity, and other such wishful premises as axiomatic values necessary for the
justification of a study of peace issues. We have not found them so. We have attempted
to apply the standards of physical science to our thinking, the principal characteristic of
which is not quantification, as is popularly believd, but that, in Whitehead’s words,
“…it ignores all judgments of value; for instance, all esthetic and moral judgments.”
Yet it is obvious that any serious investigation of a problem, however “pure,” must be
informed by some normative standard. In this case it has been simply the survival of
human society in general, of Amerian society in particular, and, as a corollary to
survival, the stability of this society.
It is interesting, we believe, to note that the most dispassionate planners of nuclear
strategy also recognize that the stability of society is the one bedrock value that cannot
be avoided. Secretary McNamara has defended the need for American nuclear
superiority on the grounds that it “makes possible a strategy designed to preserve the
fabric of our societies if war should occur.” A former member ofthe Department of
State policy planning staff goes further. “A more precise word for peace, in terms of
the practical world, is stability. … Today the great nuclear panoplies are essential
elements in such stability as exists. Our present purpose must be to continue the
process of learning how to live with them.” We, of course, do not equate stability with
peace, but we accept it as the one common assumed objective of both peace and war.
The third criterion-breadth-has taken us still farther afield from peace studies made to
date. It is obvious to any layman that the economic patterns of a warless world will be
drastically different from those we live with today, and it is equally obvious that the
political relationships of nations will not be those we have learned to take for granted,
sometimes described as a global version ofthe adversary system of our common law.
But the social implications of peace extend far beyond its putative effects on national
economics and international relations. As we shall show, the relevance of peace and
war to the internal political organization of societies, to the sociological relationships
of their members, to psychological motivations, to ecological processes, and to cultural
values is equally profound. More important, it is equally critical in assaying the
consequences of a transition to peace, and in deter- mining the feasibility of any
transition at all.
It is not surprising that these less obvious factors have been generally ignored in peace
research. They have not lent themselves to systematic analysis. They have been
difficult, perhaps impossible, to measure with any degree of assurance that estimates of
their effects could be depended on. They are “intangibles,” but only in the sense that
abstract concepts in mathematics are intangible compared to those which can be
quantified. Economic factors, on the other hand, can be measured, at least superficialy;
and international relationships can be verbalized, like law, into logical sequences.
We do not claim that we have discovered an infallible way of measuring these other
factors, or of assigning them precise weights in the equation of transition. But we
believe we have taken their relative importance into account to this extent: we have
removed them from the category ofthe “intangible,” hence scientifically suspect and
therefore somehow of secondary importance, and brought them out into the realm of
the objective. The result, we believe, provides a context of realism for the discussion of
the issues relating to the possible transition to peace which up to now has been missing.
This is not to say that we presume to have found the answers we were seeking. But we
believe that our emphasis on breadth of scope has made it at least possible to begin to
understand the questions.
SECTION 2 – DISARMAMENT AND THE ECONOMY
In this section we shall briefly examine some of the common features of the studies
that have been published dealing with one or another aspect of the expected impact of
disarmament on the American economy. Whether disarmament is considered as a by-
product of peace or as its precondition, its effect on the national economy will in either
case be the most immediately felt of its consequences. The quasi-mensurable quality of
economic manifestations has given rise to more detailed speculation in this area than in
General agreement prevails in respect to the more important economic problems that
general disarmament would raise. A short survey of these problems, rather than a
detailed critique of their comparative significance, is sufficient for our purposes in this
The first factor is that of size. The “world war industry,” as one writer has aptly caled
it, accounts for approximately a tenth of the output of the world’s total economy.
Although this figure is subject to fluctuation, the causes of which are themselves
subject to regional variation, it tends to hold fairly steady. The United States, as the
world’s richest nation, not only accounts for the largest single share of this expense,
currently upward of $60 billion a year, but also “…has devoted a higher proportion
[emphasis added] of its gross national product to its military establishment than any
other major free world nation. This was true even before our increased expenditures in
Southeast Asia.” Plans for economic conversion that minimize the economic
magnitude of the problem do so only by rationalizing, however persuasively, the
maintenance of a substantial residual military budget under some euphemized
Conversion of military expenditures to other purposes entails a number of difficulties.
The most serious stems from the degree of rigid specialization that characterizes
modern war production, best exemplified in nuclear and missile technology. This
constituted no fundamental problem after World War II, nor did the question of free-
market consumer demand for “conventinal” items of consumption— those good and
services consumers had already been conditioned to require. Today’s situation is
qualitatively different in both respects.
This inflexibility is geographical and occupational, as well as industrial, a fact which
has led most analysts of the economic impact of disarmament to focus their attention
on phased plans for the relocation of war industry personnel and capital installations as
much as on proposals for developing new patterns of consumption. One serious flaw
common to such plans is the kind called in the natural sciences the “macroscopic
error.” An implicit presumption is made that a total national plan for conversion differs
from a community program to cope with the shutting down of a “defense facility” only
in degree. We find no reason to believe that this is the case, nor that a general
enlargement of such local programs, however well thought out in terms of housing,
occupational retraining, and the like, can be applied on a national scale. A national
economy can absorb amost any number of subsidiary reorganizations within its total
limits, providing there is no basic change in its own structure. General disarmament,
which would require such basic changes, lends itself to no valid smaller-scale analogy.
Even more questionable are the models proposed for the retaining labor for
nonarmaments occupations. Putting aside for the moment the unsolved questions
dealing with the nature of new distribution patterns— retraining for what?– the
increasingly specialized job skills associated with war industry production are further
depreciated by the accelerating inroads of the industrial techniques loosely described as
“automation.” It is not too much to say that general disarmament would require the
scrapping of a critical proportion of the most highly developed occupational specialites
in the economy. The political difficulties inherent in such an “adjustment” would make
the outcries resulting from the closing of a few obsolete military and naval installatins
in 1964 sound like a whisper.
In general, discussions of the problem of conversion have been characterized by an
unwillingness to recognize its special quality. This is best ecemplified by the 1965
report of the Ackley Committee. One critic has tellingly pointed out that it blindly
assumes that “…nothing in the arms economy— neither its size, nor its geographical
concentration, nor its highly specialized nature, nor the peculiarties of its market, nor
the special nature of much of its labor force— endows it with any uniqueness when the
necessary time of adjustment comes.”
Let us assume, however, despite the lack of evidence that a viable program for
conversion can be developed in the framework of the existing economy, that the
problems noted above can be solved. What proposals have been offered for utilizing
the productive capabilities that disarmament would presumably release?
The most common held theory is simply that general economic reinvestment would
absorb the greater part of these capabilities. Even though it is now largely taken for
granted (and even by today’s equivalent of traditional laissez-faire economists) taht
unprecedented government assistance (and con- comitant government control) will be
needed to solve the “structural” problems of transition, a general attitude of confidence
prevails that new consumption patterns will take up the slack. What is less clear is the
nature of these patterns.
One school of economists has it that these patterns will develop on their own. It
envisages the equivalent of the arms budget being returned, under careful control, to
the consumer, in the form of tax cuts. Another, recognizing the undeniable need for
increased “consumption” in what is generally considered the public sector of the
economy, stresses vastly increased government spending in such areas of national
concern as health, education, mass transportation, low-cost housing, water supply,
control of the physical environment, and, stated generally, “poverty.”
The mechanisms proposed for controlling the transition to an arms-free economy are
also traditional— changes in both sides of the federal budget, manipulation of interest
rates, etc. We acknowledge the undeniable value of fiscal tools in a normal cyclical
economy, where they provide leverage to accelerate or brake an existing trend. Their
more committed proponents, however, tend to lose sight of the fact that there is a limit
to the power of these devices to influence fundamental economic forces. They can
provide new incentives in the economy, but they cannot in themselves transform the
production of a billion dollars’ worth of missiles a year to the equivalent in food,
clothing, prefabricated houses, or television sets. At bottom, they reflect the economy;
they do not motivate it.
More sophisticated, and less sanguine, analysts contemplate the diversion of the arms
budget to a non-military system equally remote from the market economy. What the
“pyramid-builders” frequently suggest is the expansion of space-research programs to
the dollar level of current expenditures. This approach has the superficial merit of
reducing the size of the problem of transferability of resources, but introduces other
difficulties, which we will take up in section 6.
Without singling out any one of the several major studies of the expected impact of
disarmament on the economy for special criticism, we can summarize our objections to
them in general terms as follows:
1 . No proposed program for economic conversion to disarmament sufficiently
takes into account the unique magnitude of the required adjustments it would
2. Proposals to transform arms production into a beneficent scheme of public
works are more the products of wishful thinking than of realistic understanding
of the limits of our existing economic system.
3. Fiscal and monetary measures are inadequate as controls for the process of
transition to an arms-free economy.
4. Insufficient attention has been paid to the political acceptability of the
objectives of the proposed conversion models, as well as of the political means
to be employed in effectuating a transition.
5. No serious consideration has been given, in any proposed conversion plan, to
the fundamental nonmilitary function of war and armaments in modern society,
nor has any explicit attempt been made to devise a viable substitute for it. This
criticism will be developed in sections 5 and 6.
SECTION 3 – DISARMAMENT SCENARIOS
SCENARIOS, as they have come to be called, are hypothetical constructions of future
events. Inevitably, they are composed of varying proportions of established fact,
reasonable inference, and more or less inspired guesswork. Those which have been
suggested as model procedures for effectuating international arms control and eventual
disarmament are necessarily imaginative, although closely reasoned; in this respect
they resemble the “war games” analyses of the Rand Corporation, with which they
share a common conceptual origin.
All such scenarios that have been seriously put forth imply a dependence on bilateral or
multilateral agreement between the great powers. In general, they call for a progressive
phasing out of gross armaments, military forces, weapons, and weapons technology,
coordinated with elaborate matching procedures of verification, inspection, and
machinery for the settlement of international disputes. It should be noted that even
proponents of unilateral disarmament qualify their proposals with an implied
requirement of reciprocity, very much in the manner of a scenario of graduated
response in nuclear war. The advantage of unilateral initiative lies in its political value
as an expression of good faith, as well as in its diplomatic function as a catalyst for
formal disarmament negotiations.
The READ model for disarmament (developed by the Research Program on Economic
Adjustments to Disarmament) is typical of these scenarios. It is a twelve-year program,
divided into three-year stages. Each stage includes a separate phase of: reduction of
armed forces; cutbacks of weapons production, inventories, and foreign military bases;
development of international inspection procedures and control conventiona; and the
building up of a sovereign international disarmament organization. It anticipates a net
matching decline in U.S. defense expenditures of only somewhat more than half the
1965 level, but a necessary redeployment of some five-sixths of the defense-dependent
The economic implications assigned by their authors to various disarmament scenarios
diverge widely. The more conservative models, like that cited above, emphasize
economic as well as military prudence in postulating elaborate fail-safe disarmament
agencies, which themselves require expenditures substantially substituting for those of
the displaced war industries. Such programs stress the advantages of the smaller
economic adjustment entailed. Others emphasize, on the contrary, the magnitude (and
the opposite advantages) of the savings to be achieved from disarmament. One widely
read analysis estimates the annual cost of the inspection function of general
disarmament throughout the world as only between two and three percent of current
military expenditures. Both types of plan tend to deal with the anticipated problem of
economic reinvestment only in the aggregate. We have seen no proposed disarmament
sequence that correlates the phasing out of specific kinds of military spending with
specific new forms of substitute spending.
Without examining disarmament scenarios in greater detail, we may characterize them
with these general comments:
1. Given genuine agreement of intent among the great powers, the scheduling of
arms control and elimination presents no inherently insurmountable procedural
problems. Any of several proposed sequences might serve as the basis for
multilateral agreement or for the first step in unilateral arms reduction.
2. No major power can proceed with such a program, however, until it has
developed an economic conversion plan fully integrated with each phase of
disarmament. No such plan has yet been developed in the United States.
3. Furthermore, disarmament scenarios, like proposals for economic conversion,
make no allowance for the non-military functions of war in modern societies,
and offer no surrogate for these necessary functions. One partial exception is a
proposal for the “unarmed forces of the United States,” which we will consider
in section 6.
SECTION 4 – WAR AND PEACE AS SOCIAL SYSTEMS
We have dealt only sketchily with proposed disarmament scenarios and economic
analyses, but the reason for our seemingly casual dismissal of so much serious and
sophisticated work lies in no disrespect for its competence. It is rather a question of
relevance. To put it plainly, all these programs, however detailed and well developed,
are abstractions. The most carefully reasoned disarmament sequence inevitably reads
more like the rules of a game or a classroom exercise in logic than like a prognosis of
real events in the real world. This is as true of today’s complex proposals as it was of
the Abbe de St. Pierre’s “Plan for Perpetual Peace in Europe” 250 years ago.
Some essential element has clearly been lacking in all these schemes. One of our first
tasks was to try to bring this missing quality into definable focus, and we believe we
have succeeded in doing so. We find that at the heart of every peace study we have
examined— from the modest technoligical proposal (e.g., to convert a poison gas plant
to the production of “socially useful” equivalents) to the most eleborate scenario for
universal peace in out time— lies one common fundamental misconception. It is the
source of the miasma of unreality surrounding such plans. It is the incorrect assumption
that war, as an institution, is subordinate to the social systems it is believed to serve.
This misconceptino, although profound and far-reaching, is entirely comprehensible.
Few social cliches are so unquestioningly accepted as the notion that war is an
extension of diplomacy (or of politics, or of the pursuit of economic objectives). If this
were true, it would be wholly appropriate for economists and political theorists to look
on the problems of transition to peace as essentially mechanical or procedural— as
indeed they do, treating them as logistic corollaries of the settlement of national
conflicts of interest. If this were true, there would be no real substance to the
difficulties of transition. For it is evident that even in today’s world there exist no
conceivable conflict of interest, real or imaginary, between nations or between social
forces within nations, that cannot be resolved without recourse to war— if such
resolution were assigned a priority of social value. And if this were true, the economic
analyses and disarmament proposals we have referred to, plausible and well conceived
as they may be, would not inspire, as they do, an inescapable sense of indirection.
The point is that the cliche is not true, and the problems of transition are indeed
substantive rather than merely procedural. Although was is “used” as an instrument of
national and social policy, the fact that a society is organized for any degree of
readiness for war supersedes its political and economic structure. War itself is the basic
social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or
conspire. It is the system which has governed most human societies of record, as it is
Once this is correctly understood, the true magnitude of the problems entailed in a
transition to peace— itself a social system, but without precedent except in a few
simple preindustrial societies— becomes apparent. At the same time, some of the
puzzling superficial contradictions of modern societies can then be readily rationalized.
The “unnecessary” size and power of the world war industry; the preeminence of the
military establishment in every society, whether open or concealed; the exemption of
military or paramilitary institutions from the accepted social and legal standards of
behavior required elsewhere in the society; the successful operation of the armed forces
and the armaments producers entirely outside the framework of each nation’s economic
ground rules: these and other ambiquities closely associated with the relationship of
war to society are easily clarified, once the priority of war-making potential as the
principal structuring force in society is accepted. Economic systems, political
philosophies, and corpora jures serve and extend the war system, not vice versa.
It must be emphasized that the precedence of a society’s war-making potential over its
other characteristics is not the result of the “threat” presumed to exist at any one time
from other societies. This is the reverse of the basic situation; “threath” against the
“national interest” are usually created or accelerated to meet the changing needs of the
war system. Only in comparatively recent times has it been considered politically
expedient to euphemize war budgets as “defense” requirements. The necessity for
governments to dis- tinguish between “aggression” (bad) and “defense” (good) has
been a by-product of rising literacy and rapid communication. The distinction is
tactical only, a concession to the growing inadequacy of ancient war-organizing
Wars are not “caused” by international conflicts of interest. Proper logical sequence
would make it more often accurate to say that war-making societies require— and thus
bring about— such conflicts. The capacity of a nation to make war expresses the
greatest social power it can exercise; war-making, active or contemplated, is a matter
of life and death on the greatest scale subject to social control. It should therefore
hardly be surprising that the military institutions in each society claim its highest
We find further that most of the confusion surrounding the myth that war-making is a
tool of state policy stems from a general misapprehension of the functions of war. In
general, these are conceived as : to defend a nation from military attack by another, or
to deter such an attack; to defend or advance a “national interest”— economic, political,
idealogical; to maintain or in- crease a nation’s military power for its own sake. These
are the visible, or ostensible, functions of war. If there were no others, the importance
of the war establishment in each society might in fact decline to the subordinate level it
is believed to occupy. And the elimination of war would indeed be the procedural
matter that the disarmament scenarios suggest.
But there are other, broader, more profoundly felt functions of war in modern societies.
It is these invisivle, or implied, functions that maintain war-readiness as the dominant
force in our societies. And it is the unwillingness or inability of the writers of
disarmament scenarios and reconversion plans to take them into account that has so
reduced the usefulness of their work, and that has made it seem unrelated to the world
SECTION 5 – THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR
As we have indicated, the preeminence of the concept of war as the principal
organizing force in most societies has been insufficiently appreciated. This is also true
of its extensive effects throughout the many nonmilitary activities of society. These
effects are less apparent in complex industrial socie- ties like our own than in primitive
cultures, the activities of which can be more easily and fully comprehended.
We propose in this section to examine these nonmilitary, implied, and usually invisible
functions of war, to the extent that they bear on the problems of transition to peace for
our society. The military, or ostensible, function of the war system requires no
elaboration; it serves simply to defend or advance the “national interest” by means of
organized violence. It is often necessary for a national military establishment to create
a need for its unique powers— to maintain the franchise, so to speak. And a healthy
military apparatus requires “exercise,” by whatever rationale seems expedient, to
prevent its atrophy.
The nonmilitary functions of the war system are more basic. They exist not merely to
justify themselves but to serve broader social purposes. If and when war is eliminated,
the military functions it has served will end with it. But its nonmilitary functions will
not. It is essential, therefore, that we understand their significance before we can
reasonably expect to evaluate whatever institutions may be proposed to replace them.
The production of weapons of mass destruction has always been associated with
economic “waste.” The term is pejorative, since it implies a failure of function. But no
human activity can properly be considered wasteful if it achieves its contextual
objective. The phrase “wasteful but necessary,” applied not only to war expenditures
but to most of the “unproductive” commercial activities of our society, is a
contradiction in terms. “…The attacks that have since the time of Samuel’s criticism of
King Saul been leveled against military expenditures as waste may well have
concealed or misunderstood the point that some kinds of waste may have a larger
In the case of military “waste,” there is indeed a larger social utility. It derives from the
fact that the “wastefulness” of war production is exercised entirely outside the
framework of the economy of supply and demand. As such, it provides the only
critically large segment of the total economy that is subject to complete and arbitrary
central control. If modern industrial societies can be defined as those which have
developed the capacity to produce more than is required for their economic survival
(regardless of the equities of distribution of goods within them), military spending can
be said to furnish the only balance wheel with sufficient inertia to stabilize the advance
of their economies. The fact that war is “wasteful” is what enables it to serve this
function. And the faster the economy advances, the heavier this balance wheel must be.
This function is often viewed, overs imply, as a device for the control of surpluses. One
writer on the subject puts it this way: “Why is war so wonderful? Because it creates
artificial demand. ..the only kind of artificial demand, moreover, that does not raise any
political issues: war, and only war, solves the problem of inventory.” The reference
here is to shooting war, but it applies equally to the general war economy as well. “It is
generally agreed,” concludes, more cautiously, the report of a panel set up by the U.S.
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, “that the greatly expanded public sector since
World War II, resulting from heavy defense expenditures, has provided additional
protection against depressions, since this sector is not responsive to con- traction in the
private sector and has provided a sort of buffer or balance wheel in the economy.”
The principal economic function of war, in our view, is that it provides just such a
flywheel. It is not to be confused in function with the various forms of fiscal control,
none of which directly engages vast numbers of control, none of which directly
engages vast numbers of men and units of production. It is not to be confused with
massive government expenditures in social welfare programs; once initiated, such
programs normally become integral parts of the general economy and are no longer
subject to arbitrary control.
But even in the context of the general civilian economy war cannot be considered
wholly “wasteful.” Without a long-established war economy, and without its frequent
eruption into large-scale shooting war, most of the major industrial advances known to
history, beginning with the development of iron, could never have taken place.
Weapons technology structures the economy. According to the writer cited above,
“Nothing is more ironic or revealing about our society than the fact that hugely
destructive war is a very progressive force in it. … War production is progressive
because it is production that would not otherwise have taken place. (It is not so widely
appreciated, for example, that the civilian standard of living rose during World War
II.)” This is not “ironic or revealing,” but essentially a simple statement of fact.
It should also be noted that the war production has a dependably stimulating effect
outside itself. Far from constituting a “wasteful” drain on the economy, war spending,
considered pragmatically, has been a consistently positive factor in the rise of gross
national product and of individual productivity. A former Secretary of the Army has
carefully phrased it for public consumption thus: “If there is, as I suspect there is, a
direct relation between the stimulus of large defense spending and a substantially
increased rate of growth of gross national product, it quite simply follows that defense
spending per se might be countenanced on economic grounds alone [emphasis added]
as a stimulator of the national metabolism.” Actually, the fundamental nonmilitary
utility of war in the economy is far more widely acknowledged than the scarcity of
such affirmations as tha quoted above would suggest.
But negatively phrased public recognitions of the importance of war to the general
economy abound. The most familiar example is the effect of “peace threats” on the
stock market, e.g., “Wall Street was shaken yesterday by news of an apparent peace
feeler from North Vietnam, but swiftly recovered its com- posure after about an hour
of sometimes indiscriminate selling.” Savings banks solicit deposits with similar
cautionary slogans, e.g., “If peace breaks out, will you be ready for it?” A more subtle
case in point was the recent refusal of the Department of Defense to permit the West
German government to substitute nonmilitary goods for unwanted armaments in its
purchase commitments from the United States; the decisive consideration was that the
German purchases should not affect the general (nonmilitary) economy. Other
incidental examples are to be found in the pressures broght to bear on the Department
when it announces plans to close down an obsolete facility (as a “wasteful” form of
“waste”), and in the usual coordination of stepped-up mililtary activities (as in Vietnam
in 1965) with dangerously rising unemployment rates.
Although we do not imply that a substitute for war in the economy cannot be devised,
no combination of techniques for controlling employment, production, and
consumption has yet been tested that can remotely compare to it in effectiveness. It is,
and has been, the essential economic stabilizer of modern societies.
The political functions of war have been up to now even more critical to social
stability. It is not surprising, nevertheless, that discussions of economic conversion for
peace tend to fall silent on the matter of political implementation, and that disarmament
scenarios, often sophisticated in their weighing of international political factors, tend to
disregard the political functions of the war system withing individual societies.
These functions are essentially organizational. First of all, the existence of a society as
a political “nation” requires as part of its definition an attitude of relationship toward
other “nations.” This is what we usually call a foreign policy. But a nation’s foreign
policy can have no substance if it lacks the means of enforcing its attitude toward other
nations. It can do this in a credible manner only if it implies the threat of maximum
political organization for this purpose— which is to say that it is organized to some
degree for war. War, then, as we have defined it to include all national activities that
recognize the possibility of armed conflict, is itself the defining ele- ment of any
nation’s existence vis-a-vis any other nation. Since it is historically axiomatic that the
existence of any form of weaponry insures its use, we have used the work “peace” as
virtually synonymous with disarmament. By the same token, “war” is virtually
synonymous with nationhood. The elimination of war implies the inevitable
elimination of national sovereignty and the traditional nation-state.
The war system not only has been essential to the existence of nations as independent
political entities, but has been equally indispensable to their stable internal political
structure. Without it, no government has ever been able to obtain acquiescence in its
“legitimacy,” or right to rule its society. The possibility of war provides the sense of
external necessity without which nor government can long remain in power. The
historical record reveals one instance after another where the failure of a regime to
maintain the credibility of a war threat led to its dissolution, by the forces of private
interest, or reactions to social injustice, or of other disintegrative elements. The
organization of a society for the possibility of war is its principal political stabilizer. It
is ironic that this primary function of war has been generally recognized by historians
only where it has been expressly acknowledged— in the pirate societies of the great
The basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers. (There
is, in fact, good reason to believe that codified law had its origins in the rules of
conduct established by military victors for dealing with the defeated enemy, which
were later adapted to apply to all subject populations.) On a day-to-day basis, it is
represented by the institution of police, armed organizations charged expressly with
dealing with “internal enemies” in a military manner. Like the conventional “external”
military, the police are also substantially exempt from many civilian legal restraints on
their social behavior. In some countries, the artificial distinction between police and
other military forces does not exist. On the long-term basis, a government’s emergency
war powers — inherent in the structure of even the most libertarian of nations — define
the most significant aspect of the relation between state and citizen.
In advanced modern democratic societies, the war system has provided political leaders
with another political-economic function of increasing importance: it has served as the
last great safeguard against the elimination of necessary social classes. As economic
productivity increases to a level further and further above that of minimum subsistence,
it becomes more and more difficult for a society to maintain distribution patterns
insuring the existence of “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. The further progress
of auto- mation can be expected to differentiate still more sharply between “superior”
workers and what Ricardo called “menials,” while simultaneously aggravating the
problem of maintaining an unskilled labor supply.
The arbitrary nature of war expenditures and of other military activities make them
ideally suited to control these essential class relationships. Obviously, if the war system
were to be discarded, new political machinery would be needed at once to serve this
vital subfunction. Until it is developed, the continuance of the war system must be
assured, if for no other reason, among others, than to preserve whatever quality and
degree of poverty a society requires as an incentive, as well as to maintain the stability
of its internal organization of power.
Under this heading, we will examine a nexus of functions served by the war system
that affect human behavior in society. In general, they are broader in application and
less susceptible to direct observation than the economic and political factors previously
The most obvious of these functions is the time-honored use of military institutions to
provide antisocial elements with an acceptable role in the social structure. The
disintegrative, unstable social movements loosely described as “fascist” have
traditionally taken root in societies that have lacked adequate military or paramilitary
outlets to meet the needs of these elements. This function has been critical in periods of
rapid change. The danger signals are easy to recognize, even though the stigmata bear
different names at different times. The current euphemistic cliches— “juvenile
delinquency” and “alienation” — have had their counterparts in every age. In earlier
days these conditions were dealt with directly by the military without the complications
of due process, usually through press gangs or outright enslavement. But it is not hard
to visualize, for example, the degree of social disruption that might have taken place in
the United States during the last two decades if the problem of the socially disaffected
of the post-World War II period had been foreseen and effectively met. The younger,
and more dangerous, of these hostile social groupings have been kept under control by
the Selective Service System.
This system and its analogues elsewhere furnish remarkably clear examples of
disguised military utility. Informed persons in this country have never accepted the
official rationale for a peacetime draft— military necessity, preparedness, etc. —as
worthy of serious consideration. But what has gained credence among thoughtful men
is the rarely voiced, less easily refuted, proposition that the institution of military
service has a “patriotic” priority in our society that must be maintained for its own
sake. Ironically, the simplistic official justification for selective service comes closer to
the mark, once the non-military functions of military institutions are understood. As a
control device over the hostile, nihilistic, and potentially unsettling elements of a
society in transition, the draft can again be defended, and quite convincingly, as a
Nor can it be considered a coincidence that overt military activity, and thus the level of
draft calls, tend to follow the major fluctuations in the unemployment rate in the lower
age groups. This rate, in turn, is a timetested herald of social discontent. It must be
noted also that the armed forces in every civilization have provided the principal state-
supported haven for what we now call the “unemployable.” The typical European
standing army (of fifty years ago) consisted of “…troops unfit for employment in
commerce, industry, or agriculture, led by officers unfit to practice any legitimate
profession or to conduct a business enterprise.” This is still largely true, if less
apparent. In a sense, this function of the military as the custodian of the economically
or cuturally deprived was the forerunner of most contemporary civilian social-welfare
programs, from the W.P.A. to various forms of “socialized” medicine and social
security. It is interesting that liberal sociologists currently proposing to use the
Selective Service System as a medium of cultural upgrading of the poor consider this a
novel application of military practice.
Although it cannot be said absolutely that such critical measures of social control as the
draft require a military rationale, no modern society has yet been willing to risk
experimentation with any other kind. Even during such periods of comparatively
simple social crisis as the so-called Great Depression of the 1930s, it was deemed
prudent by the government to invest minor make-work projects, like the “Civilian”
Conservation Corps, with a military character, and to place the more ambitious
National Recovery Administration under the direction of a professional army officer at
its inception. Today, at least one small Northern European country, plagued with
uncontrollable unrest among its “alienated youth,” is considering the expansion of its
armed forces, despite the problem of making credible the expansion of a non-existent
Sporadic efforts have been made to promote general recognition of broad national
values free of military connotation, but they have been ineffective. For example, to
enlist public support of even such modest programs of social adjustment as “fighting
inflation” or “maintaining physical fitness” it has been necessary for the government to
utilize a patriotic (i.e. military) incentive. It sells “defense” bonds and it equates health
with military preparedness. This is not surprising; since the concept of “nationhood”
implies readiness for war, a “national” program must do likewise.
In general, the war system provides the basic motivation for primary social
organization. In so doing, it reflects on the societal level the incentives of individual
human behavior. The most important of these, for social purposes, is the individual
psychological rationale for allegiance to a society and its values. Allegiance requires a
cause; a cause requires an enemy. This much is obvious; the critical point is that the
enemy that defines the cause must seem genuinely formidable. Roughly speaking, the
presumed power of the “enemy” sufficient to warrant an individual sense of allegiance
to a society must be proportionate to the size and complexity of the society. Today, of
course, that power must be one of unprecedented magnitude and frightfulness.
It follows, from the patterns of human behavior, that the credibility of a social “enemy”
demands similarly a readiness of response in proportion to its menace. In a broad social
context, “an eye for an eye” still characterizes the only acceptable attitude toward a
presumed threat of aggression, despite con- trary religious and moral precepts
governing personal conduct. The remoteness of personal decision from social
consequence in a modern society makes it easy for its members to maintain this
attitude without being aware of it. A recent example is the war in Vietnam; a less
recent one was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In each case, the extent and
gratuitousness of the slaughter were abstracted into political formulae by most
Americans, once the proposition that the victims were “enemies” was established. The
war system makes such an abstracted response possible in nonmilitary contexts as well.
A conventional example of this mechanism is the inability of most people to connect,
let us say, the starvation of millions in India with their own past conscious political
decision-making. Yet the sequential logic linking a decision to res- trict grain
production in America with an eventual famine in Asia is obvious, unambiguous, and
What gives the war system its preeminent role in social organization, as elsewhere, is
its unmatched authority over life and death. It must be emphasized again that the war
system is not a mere social extension of the presumed need for individual human
violence, but itself in turn serves to rationalize most nonmilitary killing. It also
provides the precedent for the collective willingness of members of a society to pay a
blood price for institutions far less central to social organization that war. To take a
handy example. ..”rather than accept speed limits of twenty miles an hour we prefer to
let automobiles kill forty thousand people a year.” A Rand analyst puts it in more
general terms and less rhetorically: “I am sure that there is, in effect, a desirable level
of automobile accidents— desirable, that is, from a broad point of view; in the sense
that it is a necessary concomitant of things of greater value to society.” The point may
seem too obvious for iteration, but it is essential to an understanding of the important
motivational function of war as a model for collective sacrifice.
A brief look at some defunct premodern societies is instructive. One of the most
noteworthy features common to the larger, more complex, and more successful of
ancient civilizations was their widespread use of the blood sacrifice. If one were to
limit consideratin to those cultures whose regional hegemony was so complete that the
prospect of “war” had become virtually inconceivable —as was the case with several of
the great pre-Columbian societies of the Western Hemisphere— it would be found that
some form of ritual killing occupied a position of paramount social importance in each.
Invariably, the ritual was invested with mythic or religious significance; as will all
religious and totemic practice, however, the ritual masked a broader and more
important social function.
In these societies, the blood sacrifice served the purpose of maintaining a vestigial
“earnest” of the society’s capability and willingness to make war— i.e., kill and be
killed— in the event that some mystical— i.e., unforeseen —circumstance were to give
rise to the possibility. That the “earnest” was not an adequate substitute for genuine
military organization when the unthinkable enemy, such as the Spanish conquistadores,
actually appeared on the scene in no way negates the function of the ritual. It was
primarily, if not exclusively, a symbolic reminder that war had once been the central
organizing force of the society, and that this condition might recur.
It does not follow that a transition to total peace in modern societies would require the
use of this model, even in less “barbaric” guise. But the historical analogy serves as a
reminder that a viable substitute for war as a social system cannot be a mere symbolic
charade. It must involve risk of real personal destruction, and on a scale consistent with
the size and complexity of modern social systems. Credibility is the key. Whether the
substitute is ritual in nature or functionally substantive, unless it provides a believable
life- and-death threat it will not serve the socially organizing function of war.
The existence of an accepted external menace, then, is essential to social cohesiveness
as well as to the acceptance of political authority. The menace must be believable, it
must be of a magnitude consistent with the complexity of the society threatened, and it
must appear, at least, to affect the entire society.
Men, like all other animals, is subject to the continuing process of adapting to the
limitations of his environment. But the principal mechanism he has utilized for this
purpose is unique among living creatures. To forestall the inevitable historical cycles
of inadequate food supply, post-Neolithic man destroys surplus members of his own
species by organized warfare.
Ethologists have often observed that the organized slaughter of members of their own
species is virtually unknown among other animals. Man’s special propensity to kill his
own kind (shared to a limited degree with rats) may be attributed to his inability to
adapt anachronistic patterns of survival (like primitive hunting) to his development of
“civilizations” in which these patterns cannot be effectively sublimated. It may be
attributed to other causes that have been suggested, such as a maladapted “territorial
instinct,” etc. Nevertheless, it exists and its social expression in war constitutes a
biological control of his relationship to his natural environment that is peculiar to man
War has served to help assure the survival of the human species. But as an evolutionary
device to improve it, war is almost unbelievably inefficient. With few exceptions, the
selective processes of other living creatures promote both specific survival and genetic
improvement. When a conventionally adaptive animal faces one of its periodic crises
of insufficiency, it is the “inferior” members of the species that normally disappear. An
animal’s social response to such a crisis may take the form of a mass migration, during
which the weak fall by the wayside. Or it may follow the dramatic and more efficient
pattern of lemming societies, in which the weaker members voluntarily disperse,
leaving available food supplies for the stronger. In either case, the strong survive and
the weak fall. In human societies, those who fight and die in wars for survival are in
general its biologically stronger members. This is natural selection in reverse.
The regressive genetic effort of war has been often noted and equally often deplored,
even when it confuses biological and cultural factors. The disproportionate loss of the
biologically stronger remains inherent in traditional warfare. It serves to underscore the
fact that survival of the species, rather than its improvement, is the fundamental
purpose of natural selection, if it can be said to have a purpose, just as it is the basic
premise of this study.
But as the polemologist Gaston Bouthoul has pointed out, other institutions that were
developed to serve this ecological function have proved even less satisfactory. (They
include such established forms as these: infanticide, practiced chiefly in ancient and
primitive societies; sexual mutilation; monasticism; forced emigration; extensive
capital punishment, as in old China and eighteenth-century England; and other similar,
usually localized, practices.)
Man’s ability to increase his productivity of the essentials of physical life suggests that
the need for protection against cyclical famine may be nearly obsolete. It has thus
tended to reduce the apparent importance of the basic ecological function of war,
which is generally disregarded by peace theorists. Two aspects of its remain especially
relevant, however. The first is obvious: current rates of population growth,
compounded by environmental threat to chemical and other contaminants, may well
bring about a new crisis of insufficiency. If so, it is likely to be one of unprecedented
global magnitude, not merely regional or temporary. Conventional methods of warfare
would almost surely prove inadequate, in this event, to reduce the consuming
population to a level consistent with survival of the species.
The second relevant factor is the efficiency of modern methods of mass destruction.
Even if their use is not required to meet a world population crisis, they offer, perhaps
paradoxically, the first opportunity in the history of man to halt the regressive genetic
effects of natural selection by war. Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate. Their
application would bring to an end the disproportionate destruction of the physically
stronger members of the species (the “warriors”) in periods of war. Whether this
prospect of genetic gain would offset the unfavorable mutations anticipated from
postnuclear radioactivity we have not yet determined. What gives the question a
bearing on our study is the possibility that the determination may yet have to be made.
Another secondary ecological trend bearing on projected population growth is the
regressive effect of certain medical advances. Pestilence, for example, is no longer an
important factor in population control. The problem of increased life expectancy has
been aggravated. These advances also pose a potentially more sinister problem, in that
undesirable genetic traits that were formerly self-liquidating are now medically
maintained. Many diseases that were once fatal at preprocreational ags are now cured;
the effect of this development is to perpetuate undesirable susceptibilities and
mutations. It seems clear that a new quasi-eugenic function of war is now in process of
formation that will have to be taken into account in any transition plan. For the time
being, the Department of Defense appears to have recognized such factors, as has been
demonstrated by the planning under way by the Rand Corporation to cope with the
breakdown in the ecological balance anticipated after a thermonuclear war. The
Department has also begun to stockpile birds, for example, against the expected
proliferation of radiation-resistant insects, etc.
CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC
The declared order of values in modern societies gives a high place to the so-called
“creative” activities, and an even higher one to those associated with the advance of
scientific knowledge. Widely held social values can be translated into political
equivalents, which in turn may bear on the nature of a transition to peace. The attitudes
of those who hold these values must be taken into account in the planning of the
transition. The dependence, therefore, of cultural and scientific achievement on the war
system would be an important consideration in a transition plan even is such
achievement had no inherently necessary social function.
Of all the countless dichotomies invented by scholars to account for the major
differences in art styles and cycles, only one has been consistently unambiguous in its
application to a variety of forms and cultures. However it may be verbalized, the basic
distinction is this: Is the work war-oriented or is it not? Among primitive peoples, the
war dance is the most important art form. Elsewhere, literature, music, painting,
sculpture, and architecture that has won lasting acceptance has invariably dealt with a
theme of war, expressly or implicitly, and has expressed the centricity of war to
society. The war in question may be national conflict, as in Shakespeare plays,
Beethoven’s music, or Goya’s paintings, or it may be reflected in the form of religious,
social, or moral struggle, as in the work of Dante, Rembrandt, and Bach. Art that
cannot be classified as war-oriented is usually described as “sterile,” “decadent,” and so
on. Application of the “war standard” to works of art may often leave room for debate
in individual cases, but there is no question of its role as the fundamental determinant
of cultural values. Aesthetic and moral standards have a common anthropological
origin, in the exaltation of bravery, the willingness to kill and risk death in tribal
It is also instructive to note that the character of a society’s culture has borne a close
relationship to its war-making potential, in the context of its times. It is no accident that
the current “cultural explosion” in the United States is taking place during an era
marked by an unusually rapid advance in weaponry. This relationship is more
generally recognized than the literature on the subject would suggest. For example,
many artists and writers are now beginning to express concern over the limited creative
options they envisage in the warless world they think, or hope, may be soon upon us.
They are currently preparing for this possibility by unprecedented experimentation
with meaningless forms; their interest in recent years has been increasingly engaged by
the abstract pattern, the gratuitous emotin, the random happening, and the unrelated
The relationshp of war to scientific research and discovery is more explicit. War is the
principal motivational force for the development of science at every level, from the
abstractly conceptual to the narrowly technological. Modern society places a high
value on “pure” science, but it is historically inescapable that all the significant
discoveries that have been made about the natural world have been inspired by the real
or imaginary military necessities of their epochs. The consequences of the discoveries
have indeed gone far afield, but war has always provided the basic incentive.
Beginning with the development of iron and steel, and proceeding through the
discoveries of the laws of motion and thermodynamics to the age of the atomic
particle, the synthetic polymer, and the space capsure, no important scientific advance
has not been at least indirectly initiated by an implicit requirement of weaponry. More
prosaic examples include the transistor radio (an outgrowth of military
communications requirements), the assembly line (from Civil War firearms needs), the
steel-frame building (from the steel battleship), the canal lock, and so on. A typical
adaptation can be seen in a device as modest as the common lawnmower; it developed
from the revolving scythe devised by Leonardo da Vinci to precede a horse-powered
vehicle into enemy ranks.
The most direct relationship can be found in medical technology. For example, a giant
“walking machine,” and amplifier of body motions invented for military use in difficult
terrain, is now making it possible for many previously con- fined to wheelchairs to
walk. The Vietnam war alone has led to spectacular improvements in amputation
procedures, blood-handling techniques, and surgical logistics. It has stimulated new
large-scale research on malaria and other typical parasite diseases; it is hard to estimate
how long this t? Amoould otherwise have been delayed, despite its enormous
nonmilitary importance to nearly half the world’s population.
We have elected to omit from our discussion of the nonmilitary functions of war those
we do not consider critical to a transition program. This is not to say they are
unimportant, however, but only that they appear to present no special problems for the
organization of a peace-oriented social system. They include the following:
• War as a general social release. This is a psychosocial function, serving the same
purpose for a society as do the holiday, the celebration, and the orgy for the
individual— the release and redistribution of undifferentiated tensions. War
provides for the periodic necessary readjustment of standards of social behavior
(the “moral climate”) and for the dissipation of general boredom, one of the
most consistently undervalued and unrecognized of social phenomena.
• War as a generational stabilizer. This psychological function, served by other
behavior patterns in other animals, enables the physically deteriorating older
generation to maintain its control of the younger, destroying it if necessary.
• War as an idealogical clarifier. The dualism that characterized the traditional
dialectic of all branches of philosophy and of stable political relationships
stems from war as the prototype of conflict. Except for secondary
considerations, there cannot be, to put it as simply as possible, more than two
sides to a question because there cannot be more than two sides to a war.
• War as the basis for the international understanding. Before the development of
modern communications, the strategic requirements of war provided the only
substantial incentive for the enrichment of one national culture with the
achievements of another. Altough this is still the case in many international
relationships, the function is obsolescent.
We have also forgone extended characterization of those functions we assume to be
widely and explicitly recognized. An obvious example is the rold of war as controller
of the quality and degree of unemployment. This is more than an economic and
political subfunction; its sociological, cultural, and ecological aspects are also
important, although often teleonomic. But none affect the general problem of
substitution. The same is true of certain other functions; those we have included are
sufficient to define the scope of the problem.
SECTION 6 – SUBSTITUTES FOR THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR
By now it should be clear that the most detailed and comprehensive master plan for a
transition to world peace will remain academic if it fails to deal forthrightly with the
problem of the critical nonmilitary functions of war. The social needs they serve are
essential; if the war system no longer exists to meet them, substitute institutions will
have to be established for the purpose. These surrogates must be “realistic,” which is to
say of a scope and nature that can be conceived and implemented in the context of
present-day social capabilities. This is not the truism it may appear to be; the
requirements of radical social change often reveal the distinction between a most
conservative projection and a wildly Utopian scheme to be fine indeed.
In this section we will consider some possible substitutes for these functions. Only in
rare instances have they been put forth for the purposes which concern us here, but we
see no reason to limit ourselves to proposals that address themselves explicitly to the
problem as we have outlined it. We will disregard the ostensible, or military, functions
of war; it is a premise of this study that the transition to peace implies absolutely that
they will no longer exist in any relevant sense. We will also disregard the noncritical
functions exemplified at the end of the preceding section.
Economic surrogates for war must meet two principal criteria. They must be
“wasteful,” in the common sense of the word, and they must operate outside the normal
supply-demand system. A corollary that should be obvious is that the magnitude of the
waste must be sufficient to meet the needs of a particular society. An economy as
advanced and complex as our own requires the planned average annual destructoin of
not less than 10 percent of gross national product if it is effectively to fulfill its
stabilizing function. When the mass of a balance wheel is inadequate to the power it is
intended to control, its effect can be self-defeating, as with a runaway locomotive. The
analogy, though crude, is especially apt for the American economy, as our record of
cyclical depressions shows. All have taken place during periods of grossly inadequate
Those few economic conversion programs which by implication acknowledge the
nonmilitary economic function of war (at least to some extent) tend to assume that so-
called social-welfare expenditures will fill the vacuum created by the disappearance of
military spending. When one considers the backlog of un- finished business— proposed
but still unexecuted— in this field, the assumption seems plausible. Let us examine
briefly the following list, which is more or less typical of general social welfare
• HEALTH. Drastic expansion of medical research, education, and training
facilities; hospital and clinic construction; the general objective of complete
government-guaranteed health care for all, at a level consistent with current
developments in medical technology.
• EDUCATION. The equivalent of the foregoing in teacher training; schools and
libraries; the drastic upgrading of standards, with the general objective of
making available for all an attainable educational goal equivalent to what is
now considered a professional degree.
• HOUSING. Clean, comfortable, safe, and spacious living space for all, at the level
now enjoyed by about 15 percent of the population in this country (less in most
• TRANSPORTATION. The establishment of a system of mass public transportation
making it possible for all to travel to and from areas of work and recreation
quickly, comfortably, and conveniently, and to travel privately for pleasure
rather than necessity.
• PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT. The development and protection of water supplies,
forests, parks, and other natural resources; the elimination of chemical and
bacterial contaminants from air, water, and soil.
• POVERTY. The genuine elimination of poverty, defined by a standard consistent
with current economic productivity, by means of a guaranteed annual income or
whatever system of distribution will best assure its achievement.
This is only a sampler of the more obvious domestic social welfare items, and we have
listed it in a deliberately broad, perhaps extravagant, manner. In the past, such a vague
and ambitious-sounding “program” would have been dismissed out of hand, without
serious consideration; it would clearly have been, prima facie, far too costly, quite
apart from its political implications. Our objective to it, on the other hand, could hardly
be more contradictory. As an economic substitute for war, it is inadequate because it
would be far too cheap.
If this seems paradoxical, it must be remembered that up to now all proposed social-
welfare expenditures have had to be measured within the war economy, not as a
replacement for it. The old slogan about a battleship or an ICBM costing as much as x
hospitals or y schools or z homes takes on a very different meaning if there are to be
more battleships or ICBM’s.
Since the list is general, we have elected to forestall the tangential controversy that
surrounds arbitraty cost projections by offering no individual cost estimates. But the
maximum program that could be physically effected along the lines indicated could
approach the established level of military spending only for a limited time— in our
opinion, subject to a detailed cost-and-feasibility analysis, less than ten years. In this
short period, at this rate, the major goals of the program would have been achieved. Its
capital-investment phase would have been completed, and it would have established a
permanent comparatively modest level of annual operating cost— within the framework
of the general economy.
Here is the basic weakness of the sociel-welfare surrogate. On the short-term basis, a
maximum program of this sort could replace a normal military spending program,
provided it was designed, like the military model, to be subject to arbitrary control.
Public housing starts, for example, or the development of modern medical centers
might be accelerated or halted from time to time, as the requirements of a stable
economy might dictate. But on the long-term basis, social-welfare spending, no matter
how often redefined, would necessarily become an integral, accepted part of the
economy, of no more value as a stabilizer than the automobile industry or old age and
survivors’ insurance. Apart from whatever merit social-welfare programs are deemed to
have for their own sake, their function as a substitute for war in the economy would
thus be self-liquidating. They might serve, however, as expedients pending the
development of more durable substitute measures.
Another economic surrogate that has been proposed is a series of giant “space
research” programs. These have already demonstrated their utility in more modest scale
within the military economy. What has been implied, although not yet expressly put
forth, is the development of a long-range sequence of space-research projects with
largely unattainable goals. This kind of program offers several advantages lacking in
the social welfare model. First, it is unlikely to phase itself out, regardless of the
predictable “surprises” science has in store for us: the universe is too big. In the event
some individual project unexpectedly succeeds there would be no dearth of substitute
problems. For example, if colonization of the moon proceeds on schedule, it could then
become “necessary” to establish a beachhead on Mars or Jupiter, and so on. Second, it
need be no more dependent on the general supply-demand economy than its military
prototype. Third, it lends itself extraordinarily well to arbitrary control.
Space research can be viewed as the nearest modern equivalent yet devised to the
pyramid-building, and similar ritualistic enterprises, of ancient societies. It is true that
the scientific value of the space program, even of what has already been accomplished,
is substantial on its own terms. But current programs are absurdly obviously
disproportionate, in the relationship of the knowledge sought to the expenditures
committed. All but a small fraction of the space budget, measured by the standards of
comparable scientific objectives, must be charged de facto to the military economy.
Future space research, projected as a war surrogate, would further research, projected
as a war surrogate, would further reduce the “scientific” rationale of its budget to a
minuscule percentage indeed. As a purely economic substitute for war, therefore,
extension of the space program warrants serious consideraton.
In Section 3 we pointed out that certain disarmament models, which we called
conservative, postulated extremely expensive and elaborate inspection systems. Would
it be possible to extend and institutionalize such systems to the point where they might
serve as economic surrogates for war spending? The organization of failsafe inspection
machinery could well be ritualized in a manner similar to that of established military
processes. “Inspection teams” might be very like weapons. Inflating the inspection
budget to military scale presents no difficulty. The appeal of this kind of scheme lies in
the comparative ease of transition between two parallel systems.
The “elaborate inspection” surrogate is fundamentally fallacious, however. Although it
might be economically useful, as well as politically necessary, during the disarmament
transition, it would fail as a substitute for the economic function of war for one simple
reason. Peace-keeping inspection is part of a war system, not of a peace system. It
implies the possibility of weapons maintenance or manufacture, which could not exist
in a world at peace as here defined. Massive inspection also implies sanctions, and thus
The same fallacy is more obvious in plans to create a patently useless “defense
conversion” apparatus. The long-discredited proposal to build “total” civil defense
facilities is one example; another is the plan to establish a giant antimissile missile
complex (Nike-X, et al.). These programs, of course, are economic rather than
strategic. Nevertheless, they are not substitutes for military spending but merely
different forms of it.
A more sophisticated variant is the proposal to establish the “Unarmed Forces” of the
United States. This would conveniently maintain the entire institutional military
structure, redirecting it essentially toward social-welfare activities on a global scale. It
would be, in effect, a giant military Peace Corps. There is nothing inherently
unworkable about this plan, and using the existing military system to effectuate its own
demise is both ingenious and convenient. But even on a greatly magnified world basis,
social-welfare expenditures must sooner or later reenter the atmosphere of the normal
economy. The practical transitional virtues of such a scheme would thus be eventually
negated by its inadequacy as a permanent economic stabilizer.
The war system makes the stable government of societies possible. It does this
essentially by providing an external necessity for a society to accept political rule. In so
doing, it establishes the basis for nationhood and the authority of government to control
its constituents. What other institution or combination of programs might serve these
functions in its place?
We have already pointed out that the end of the war means the end of national
sovereignty, and thus the end of nationhood as we know it today. But this does not
necessarily mean the end of nations in the administrative sense, and internal political
power will remain essential to a stable society. The emerging “nations” of the peace
epoch must continue to draw political authority from some source.
A number of proposals have been made governing the relations between nations after
total disarmament; all are basically juridical in nature. They contemplate institutions
more or less like a World Court, or a United Nations, but vested with real authority.
They may or may not serve their ostansible post-military purpose of settling
internatinal disputes, but we need not discuss that here. None would offer effective
external pressure on a peace-world nation to organize itself politically.
It might be argued that a well-armed international police force, operating under the
authority of such a supranational “court,” could well serve the function of external
enemy. This, however, would constitute a military operation, like the inspection
schemes mentioned, and, like them, would be inconsistent with the premise of an end
to the war system. It is possible that a variant of the “Unarmed Forces” idea might be
developed in such a way that its “constructive” (i.e., social welfare) activities could be
combined with an economic “threat” of sufficient size and credibility to warrant
political organization. Would this kind of threat also be contradictory to our basic
premise?— that is, would it be inevitably military? Not necessarily, in our view, but we
are skeptical of its capacity to evoke credibility. Also, the obvious destabilizing effect
of any global social welfare surrogate on politically necessary class relationships
would create an entirely new set of transition problems at least equal in magnitude.
Credibility, in fact, lies at the heart of the problem of developing a political substitute
for war. This is where the space-race proposals, in many ways so well suited as
economic substitutes for war, fall short. The most ambitious and unrealistic space
project cannot of itself generate a believable external menace. It has been hotly argued
that such a menace would offer the “last, best hope of peace,” etc., by uniting mankind
against the danger of destruction by “creatures” from other planets or from outer space.
Experiments have been proposed to test the credibility of an out-of-our-world invasion
threat; it is possible that a few of the more difficult-to-explain “flying saucer” indicents
of recent years were in fact early experiments of this kind. If so, they could hardly have
been judged encouraging. We anticipate no difficulties in making a “need” for a giant
super space program credible for economic purposes, even were there not ample
precedent; extending it, for political purposes, to include features unfortunately
associated with science fiction would obviously be a more dubious undertaking.
Nevertheless, an effective political substitute for war would require “alternate
enemies,” some of which might seem equally farfetched in the context of the current
war system. It may be, for instance, that gross pollution of the environment can
eventually replace the possibility of mass destruction by nuclear weapons as the
principal apparent threat to the survival of the species. Poisoning of the air, and of the
principal sources of food and water supply, is already well advanced, and at first glance
would seem promising in this respect; it constitutes a threat that can be dealt with only
through social organization and political power. But from present indications it will be
a generation to a generation and a half before environmental pollution, however severe,
will be sufficiently menacing, on a global scale, to offer a possible basis for a solution.
It is true that the rate of pollution could be increased selectively for this purpose; in
fact, the mere modifying of existing programs for the deterrence of pollution could
speed up the process enough to make the threat credible much sooner. But the pollution
problem has been so widely publicized in recent years that it seems highly improbably
that a program of deliberate environ- mental poisoning could be implemented in a
politically acceptable manner.
However unlikely some of the possible alternate enemies we have mentioned may
seem, we must emphasize that one must be found, of credible quality and magnitude, if
a transition to peace is ever to come about without social disintegration. It is more
probably, in our judgement, that such a threat will have to be invented, rather than
developed from unknown conditions. For this reason, we believe further speculation
about its putative nature ill-advised in this context. Since there is considerable doubt, in
our minds, that any viable political surrogate can be devised, we are reluctant to
compromise, by premature discussion, any possible option that may eventually lie open
to our government.
Of the many functions of war we have found convenient to group together in this
classification, two are critical. In a world of peace, the continuing stability of society
will require: 1) an effective substitute for military institutions that can neutralize
destabilizing social elements and 2) a credible motivational surrogate for war that can
insure social cohesiveness. The first is an essential element of social control; the
second is the basic mechanism for adapting individual human drives to the needs of
Most proposals that address themselves, explicitly or otherwise, to the postwar
problem of controlling the socially alienated turn to some variant of the Peace Corps or
the so-called Job Corps for a solution. The socially disaffected, the economically
unprepared, the psychologically unconformable, the hard-core “delinquents,” the
incorrigible “subversives,” and the rest of the unemployable are seen as somehow
transformed by the disciplines of a service modeled on military precedent into more or
less dedicated social service workers. This presumption also informs the otherwise
hardheaded ratiocination of the “Unarmed Forces” plan.
The problem has been addressed, in the language of popular sociology, by Secretary
McNamara. “Even in our abundant societies, we have reason enough to worry over the
tensions that coil and tighten among underprivileged young people, and finally flail out
in delinquency and crime. What are we to expect., where mounting frustrations are
likely to fester into eruptions of violence and extremism?” In a seemingly unrelated
passage, he continues: “It seems to me that we could move toward remedying that
inequity [of the Selective Service System] by asking every young person in the United
States to give two years of service to his country— whether in one of the military
services, in the Peace Corps, or in some other volunteer developmental w? Amat home
or abroad. We could encourage other countries to do the same.” Here, as elsewhere
throughout this significant speech, Mr.McNamara has focused, indirectly but
unmistakably, on one of the key issues bearing on a possible transition to peace, and
has later indicated, also indirectly, a rough approach to its resolution, again phrased in
the language of the current war system.
It seems cleara that Mr.McNamara and other proponents of the peace-corps surrogate
for this tar function lean heavily on the success of the paramilitary Depression
programs mentioned in the last section. We find the precedent wholly inadequate in
degree. Neither the lack of relevant precedent, however, nor the dubious social welfare
sentimentality characterizing this approach warrant its rejection without careful study.
It may be viable — provided, first, that the military origin of the Corps format be
effectively rendered out of its operational activity, and second, that the transition from
paramilitary activities to “developmental w? A” can be effected without regard to the
attitudes of the Corps personnel or to the “value” of the work it is expected to perform.
Another possible surrogate for the control of potential enemies of society is the
reintroduction, in some form consistent with modern technology and political
processes, of slavery. Up to now, this has been suggested only in fiction, notably in the
works of Wells, Huxley, Orwell, and others engaged in the imaginative anticipation of
the sociology of the future. But the fantasies projected in Brave New World and 1984
have seemed less and less implausible over the years since their publication. The
traditional association of slavery with ancient preindustrial cultures should not blind us
to its adaptability to advanced forms of social organization, nor should its equally
traditional incompatibility with Western moral and economic values. It is entirely
possible that the development of a sophisticated form of slavery may be an absolute
prerequisite for social control in a world at peace. As a practical matter, conversion of
the code of military discipline to a euphemized form of enslavement would entail
surprisingly little revision; the logical first stepmoould be the adoption of some form of
“universal” military service.
When it comes to postulating a credible substitute for war capable of directing human
behavior patterns in behalf of social organization, few options suggest themselves.
Like its political function, the motivational function of war requires the existence of a
genuinely menacing social enemy. The principal difference is that for purposes of
motivating basic allegiance, as distinct from accepting political authority, the “alternate
enemy” must imply a more immediate, tangible, and directly felt threat of destruction.
It must justify the need for taking and paying a “blood price” in wide areas of human
In this respect, the possible enemies noted earlier would be insufficient. One exception
might be the environmental-pollution model, if the danger to society it posed was
genuinely imminent. The fictive models would have to carry the weight of
extraordinary conviction, underscored with a not inconsiderable actual sacrifice of life;
the construction of an up-to-date mythological or religious structure for this purpose
would present difficulties in our era, but must certainly be considered.
Games theorists have suggested, in other contexts, the development of “blood games”
for the effective control of individual aggressive impulses. It is an ironic commentary
on the current state of war and peace studies that it was left not to scientists but to the
makers of a commercial film to develop a model for this notion, on the implausible
level of popular melodrama, as a ritualized manhunt. More realistically, such a ritual
might be socialized, in the manner of the Spanish Inquisition and the less formal witch
trials of other periods, for purposes of “social purification,” “state security,” or other
rationale both acceptable and credible to postwar societies. The feasibility of such an
updated version of still another ancient institution, though doubtful, is considerably
less fanciful than the wishful notion of many peace planners that a lasting condition of
peace can be brought about without the most painstaking examination of every possible
surrogate for the essential functions of war. What is involved here, in a sense, is the
quest for William Jame’s “moral equivalent of war.”
It is also possible that the two functions considered under this heading may be jointly
served, in the sense of establishing the antisocial, for whom a control institution is
needed, as the “alternate enemy” needed to hold society together. The relentless and
irreversible advance of unemployability at all levels of society, and the similar
extension of generalized alienation from accepted values may make some such
program necessary even as an adjunct to the war system. As before, we will not
speculate on the specific forms this kind of program might take, except to note that
there is again ample precedent, in the treatment meted out to disfavored, allegedly
menacing, ethnic groups in certain societies during certain historical periods.
Considering the shortcomings of war as a mechanism of selective population control, it
might appear that devising substitutes for this function should be comparatively simple.
Schematically this is so, but the problem of timing the transition to a new ecological
balancing device makes the feasibility of substitution less certain.
It must be remembered that the limitation of war in this function is entirely eugenic.
War has not been genetically progressive. But as a system of gross population control
to preserve the species it cannot fairly be faulted. And, as has been pointed out, the
nature of war is itself in transition. Current trends in warfare— the increased strategic
bombing of civilians and the greater mililtary importance now attached to the
destruction of sources of supply (as opposed to purely “military” bases and personnel)-
— strongly suggest that a truly quantitative improvement is in the making. Assuming
the war system is to continue, it is more than probably that the regressively selective
quality of war will have been reversed, as its victims become more genetically
representative of their societies.
There is no question but that a universal requirement that procreation be limited to the
products of artificial inseminatin would provide a fully adequate substitute control for
population levels. Such a reproductive system would, of course, have the added
advantage of being susceptible of direct eugenic management. Its predictable further
development— conception and embryonic growth taking place wholly under laboratory
conditions— would extend these controls to their logical conclusion. The ecological
function of war under these circumstances would not only be superseded but surpassed
The indicated intermediate step—total control of conception with a variant of the
ubiquitous “pill,” via water supplies or certain essential foodstuffs, offset by a
controlled “antidote”— is already under development. There oould appear to be no
foreseeable need to revert to any of the outmoded practices referred to in the previous
section (infanticide, etc.) as there might have been if the possibility of transition to
peace had arisen two generations ago.
The real question here, therefore, does not concern the viability of this war substitute,
but the political problems involved in bringing it about. It cannot be established while
the war system is still in effect. The reason for this is simple: excess population is tar
material. As long as any society must comtemplate even a remote possibility ofwar, it
must maintain a maximum supportable population, even when so doing critically
aggravates an economic liability. This is paradoxical, in view of war’s role in reducing
excess population, but it is readily understood. War controls the general population
level, but the ecological interest of any single society lies in maintaining its hegemony
vis-a-vis other societies. The obvious analogy can be seen in any free-enterprise
economy. Practices damaging to the society as a whole— both competitive and
monopolistic— are abetted by the conflicting economic motives of individual capital
interests. The obvious precedent can be found in the seemingly irrational political
difficulties which have blacked universal adoption of simple birth-control methods.
Nations desperately in need of increasing unfavorable production-consumption ratios
are nevertheless unwilling to gamble their possible military requirements of twenty
years hence for this purpose. Unilateral population control, as practiced in ancient
Japan and in other isolated societies, is out of the question in today’s world.
Since the eugenic solution cannot be achieved until the transition to the peace system
takes place, why not wait? One must qualify the inclination to agree. As we noted
earlier, a real possibility of an unprecedented global crisis of insufficiency exists today,
which the war system may not be able to forestall. If this should come to pass before an
agreed-upon transition to peace were completed, the result might be irrevocably
disastrous. There is clearly no solution to this dilemma; it is a risk which must be
taken. But it tends to support the view that if a decision is made to elminate the war
system, it were better done sooner than later.
CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC
Strictly speaking, the function of war as the determinant of cultural values and as the
prime mover of scientific progress may not be critical in a world without war. Our
criterion for the basic nonmilitary functions ofwar has been: Are they necessary to the
survival and stability of society? The absolute need for substitute cultural value-
determinants and for the continued advance of scientific knowledge is not established.
We believe it important, however, in behalf of those for whom these functions hold
subjective significance, that it be known what they can reasonably expect in culture
and science after a transition to peace.
So far as the creative arts are concerned, there is no reason to believe they would
disappear, but only that they would change in charactermand relative social
importance. The elimination of war would in due course deprive them of their principal
conative force, but it would necessarily take some time for the transition, and perhaps
for a generation thereafter, themes of sociomoral conflict inspired by the war system
would be increasingly transferred to the idiom of purely personal sensibility. At the
same time, a new aesthetic oould have to develop. Whatever its name, form, or
rationale, its function would be to express, in language appropriate to the new period,
the once discredited philosophy that art exists for its own sake. This aesthetic oould
reject unequivocally the classic requirement of paramilitary conflict as the substantive
content of great art. The eventual effect of the peace-world philosophy of art would be
deomcratizing in the extreme, in the sense that a generally acknowledged subjectivity
of artistic standards would equalize their new, content-free “values.”
What may be expected to happen is that art would be reassigned the role it once played
in a few primitive peace-oriented social systems. This was the functin of pure
decoration, entertainment, or play, entirely free of the burden of expressing the
sociomoral values and conflicts of a war-oriented society. It is interesting that the
groundwork for such a value-free aesthetic is already being laid today, in growing
experimentation in art without content, perhaps in anticipation of a world without
conflict. A cult has developed around a new kind of cultural determinism, which
proposes that the technological form of a cultural expression determines its values
rather than does its ostensibly meaningful content. Its clear implication is that there is
no “good” or “bad” art, only that which is appropriate to its (technological) times and
that which is not. Its cultural effect has been to promote circumstantial constructions
and unplanned expressions; it denies to art the relevance of sequential logic. Its
significance in this context is that it provides a working model of one kind of value-
free culture we might reasonably anticipate in a world at peace.
So far as science is concerned, it might appear at first glance that a giant space-research
program, the most promising among the proposed economic surrogates for war, might
also serve as the basic stimulator of scientific research. The lack of fundamental
organized social conflict inherent in space work, however, would rule it out as an
adeguate motivational substitute for war when applied to “pure” science. But it could
no doubt sustain the broad range of technological activity that a space budget of
military dimensions oould require. A similarly scaled social-welfare program could
provide a comparable inpetus to low-keyed technological advances, especially in
medicine, rationalized construction methods, educational psychology, etc. The eugenic
substitute for the ecological function of war oould also require continuing research in
certain areas of the life sciences.
Apart from these partial substitutes for war, it must be kept in mind that the momentum
given to scientific progress by the great wars of the past century, and even more by the
anticipation of World War III, is intellectually and materially enormous. It is our
finding that if the war system were to end tomorrow this momentum is so great that the
pursuit of scientific knowledge could reasonably be expected to go forward without
noticeable diminution for perhaps two decades. It would then continue, at a
progressively decreasing tempo, for at least another two decades before the “bank
account” of today’s unresolved problems would become exhausted. By the standards of
the questions we have learned to ask today, there would no longer be anything worth
knowing still unknown; we cannot conceive, by definition, of the scientific questions to
ask once those we can now comprehend are answered.
This leads unavoidably to another matter: the intrinsic value of the unlimited search for
knowledge. We of course offer no independent value judgments here, but it is germane
to point out that a substantial minority of scientific opinion feels that search to be
circumscribed in any case. This opinion is itself a factor in considering the need for a
substitute for the scientific function of war. For the record, we must also take note of
the precedent that during long periods of human history, often covering thousands of
years, in which no intrinsic social value was assigned to scientific progress, stable
societies did survive and flourish. Although this could not have been possible in the
modern industrial world, we cannot be certain it may not again be true in a future
world at peace.
SECTION 7 – SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
THE NATURE OF WAR
War is not, as is widely assumed, primarily an instrument of polcy utilized by nations
to extend or defend their expressed political values or their economic interests. On the
contrary, it is itself the principal basis of organization on which all modern societies are
constructed. The common proximate cause of war is the apparent interference of one
nation with the aspirations of another. But at the root of all ostensible differences of
national interest lie the dynamic requirements of the war system itself for periodic
armed conflict. Readiness for war characterizes contemporary social systems more
broadly than their economic and political structures, which it subsumes.
Economic analyses of the anticipated problems of transition to peace have not
recognized the broad preminence of war in the definition of social systems. The same
is true, with rare and only partial exceptions, of model disarmament “scenarios.” For
this reason, the value of this previous work is limited to the mechanical aspects of
transition. Certain features of these models may perhaps be applicable to a real
situation of conversion to peace; this till depend on their compatibility with a
substantive, rather than a procedural, peace plan. Such a plan can be developed only
from the premise of full understanding of the nature of the war system it proposes to
abolish, which in turn presupposes detailed comprehension of the functions the war
system performs for society. It will require the construction of a detailed and feasible
system of substitutes for those functions that are necessary to the stability and survival
of human societies.
THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR
The visible, military function of war requires no elucidation; it is not only obvious but
also irrelevant to a transition to the condition of peace, in which it will by definition be
superfluous. It is also subsidiary in social significance to the implied, nonmilitary
functions of war; those critical to transition can be summarized in five principal
1 . ECONOMIC. War has provided both ancient and modern societies with a
dependable system for stabilizing and controlling national economies. No
alternate method of control has yet been tested in a complex modern economy
that has shown itself remotely comparable in scope or effectiveness.
2. POLITICAL. The permanent possibility of war is the foundation for stable
government; it supplies the basis for general acceptance of political authority. It
has enabled societies to maintain necessary class distinctions, and it has ensured
the subordination of the citizen to the state, by virtue of the residual war powers
inherent in the concept of nationhood. No modern political ruling group has
successfully controlled its constituency after failing to sustain the continuing
credibility of an external threat of war.
3. SOCIOLOGICAL. War, through the medium of military institutions, has
uniquely served societies, throughout the course of known history, as an
indispensible controller of dangerous social dissidence and destructive
antisocial tendencies. As the most formidable of threats to life itself, and as the
only one susceptible to mitigation by social organization alone, it has played
another equally fundamental role: the war system has provided the machinery
through which the motivational forces governing human behavior have been
translated into binding social allegiance. It has thus ensured the degree of social
cohesion necessary to the viability of nations. No other institution, or groups of
institutions, in modern societies, has successfully served these functions.
4. ECOLOGICAL. War has been the principal evolutionary device for maintaining
a satisfactory ecological balance between gross human population and supplies
available for its survival. It is unique to the human species.
5. CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC. War-orientation has determined the basic
standards of value in the creative arts, and has provided the fundamental
motivational source of scientific and technological progress. The concepts that
the arts express values independent of their own forms and that the successful
pursuit of knowledge has intrinsic social value have long been accepted in
modern societies; the development of the arts and sciences during this period
has been corollary to the parallel development of weaponry.
SUBSTITUTES FOR THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR: CRITERIA
The foregoing functions of war are essential to the survival of the social systems we
know today. With two possible exceptions they are also essential to any kind of stable
social organization that might survive in a warless world. Discussion of the ways and
means of transition to such a world are meaningless unless a)substitute institutions can
be devised to fill these functions, or b) it can reasonably be hypothecated that the loss
or partial loss of any one function need not destroy the viability of future societies.
Such substitute institutions and hypotheses must meet varying criteria. In general, they
must be technically feasible, politically acceptable, and potentially credible to the
members of the societies that adopt them. Specifically, they must be characterized as
1 . ECONOMIC. An acceptable economic surrogate for the war system will
require the expenditure of resources for completely nonproductive purposes at a
level comparable to that of the military expenditures otherwise demanded by
the size and complexity of each society. Such a substitute system of apparent
“waste” must be of a nature that will permit it to remain independent of the
normal supply-demand economy; it must be subject to arbitrary political
2. POLITICAL. A viable political substitute fir war must posit a generalized
external menace to each society of a nature and degree sufficient to require the
organization and acceptance of political authority.
3. SOCIOLOGICAL. First, in the permanent absence of war, new institutions must
be developed that will effectively control the socially destructive seg- ments of
societies. Second, for purposes of adapting the physical and psychological
dynamics of human behavior to the needs of social organization, a credible
substitute for war must generate an omnipresent and readily understood fear of
personal destruction. This fear must be of a nature and degree sufficient to
ensure adherence to societal values to the full extent that they are
acknowledged to transcend the value of individual human life.
4. ECOLOGICAL. A substitute for war in its function as the uniquely human
system of population control must ensure the survival, if not necessarily the
improvement, of the species, in terms of its relations to environmental supply.
5. CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC. A surrogate for the function of war as the
determinant of cultural values must establish a basis of sociomoral conflict of
equally compelling force and scope. A substitute motivational basis for the
quest for scientific knowledge must be similarly informed by a comparable
sense of internal necessity.
SUBSTITUTES FOR THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR: MODELS
The following substitute institutions, among others, have been proposed for
consideration as replacements for the nonmilitary functions of war. That they may not
have been originally set forth for that purpose does not preclude or invalidate their
possible application here.
1 . ECONOMIC, a) A comprehensive social-welfare program, directed toward
maximum improvement of general conditions of human life, b) A giant open-
end space research program, aimed at unreachable targets, c) A permanent,
ritualized, ultra-elaborate disarmament inspection system, and variants of such
2. POLITICAL a) An omnipresent, virtually omnipotent international police force,
b) An established and recognized extraterrestrial menace, c) Massive global
environmental pollution, d) Fictitious alternate enemies.
3. SOCIOLOGICAL: CONTROL FUNCTION, a) Programs generally derived
from the Peace Corps model, b) A modern, sophisticated form of slavery.
MOTIVATIONAL FUNCTION, a) Intensified environmental pollution, b) New
religions or other mythologies, c) Socially oriented blood games, d)
4. ECOLOGICAL. A comprehensive program of applied eugenics.
5. CULTURAL. No replacement institution offered. SCIENTIFIC. The secondary
requirements of the space research, social welfare, and / or eugenics programs.
SUBSTITUTES FOR THE FUNCTIONS OF WAR: EVALUATION
The models listed above reflect only the beginning of the quest for substitute
institutions for the functions of war, rather than a recapitulation of alternatives. It
would be both premature and inappropriate, therefore, to offer final judgments on their
applicability to a transition to peace and after. Furthermore, since the necessary but
complex project of correlating the compatibility of proposed surrogates for different
functions could be treated only in exemplary fashion at this time, we have elected to
withhold such hypothetical correlations as were tested as statistically inadequate.
Nevertheless, some tentative and cursory comments on these proposed function-al
“solutions” will indicate the scope of the difficulties involved in this area of peace
• ECONOMIC. The social-welfare model cannot be expected to remain outside the
normal economy after the conclusion of its predominantly capital-investment
phase; its value in this function can therefore be only temporary. The space-
research substitute appears to meet both major criteria, and should be examined
in greater detail, especially in respect to its probable effects on other war
functions. “Elaborate inspection” schemes, although superficially attractive, are
inconsistent with the basic premise of a transition to peace. The “unarmed
forces” variant, logistically similar, is subject to the same functional criticism as
the general social-welfare model.
• POLITICAL. Like the inspection-scheme surrogates, proposals for plenipoteniary
international police are inherently incompatible with the ending of the war
system. The “unarmed forces” variant, amended to include unlimited powers of
economic sanction, might conceivably be expanded to constitute a credible
external menace. Development of an acceptable threat from “outer space,”
presumably in conjunction with a space-research surrogate for economic
control, appears unpromising in terms of credibility. The environmental-
pollution model does not seem sufficiently responsive to immediate social
control, except through arbitrary acceleration of current polution trends; this in
turn raises questions of political acceptability. New, less regressive, approaches
to the creation of fictitious global “enemies” invite further investigation.
• SOCIOLOGICAL: CONTROL FUNCTION. Although the various substitutes
proposed for this function that are modeled roughly on the Peace Corps appear
grossly inadequate in potential scope, they should not be ruled out without
further study. Slavery, in a technologically modern and conceptually
euphemized form, may prove a more efficient and flexible institution in this
area. MOTIVATIONAL FUNCTION. ALthough none of the proposed
substitutes for war as the guarantor of social allegiance can be dismissed out of
hand, each presents serious and special difficulties. Intensified environmental
threats may raise ecological dangers; mythmaking dissociated from tar may no
longer be politically feasible; purposeful blood games and rituals can far more
readily be devised than implemented. An institution combining this function
with the preceding one, based on, but not necessarily imitative of, the precedent
of organized ethnic repression, tarrants careful consideration.
• ECOLOGICAL. The only apparent problem in the application of an adequate
eugenic substitute for war is that of timing; it cannot be effectuated until the
transition to peace has been completed, which involved a serious temporary risk
of ecological failure.
• CULTURAL. No plausible substitute for this function of war has yet been
proposed. It may be, however, that a basic cultural value-determinant is not
necessary to the survival of a stable society. SCIENTIFIC. The same might be
said for the function of war as the prime mover of the search for knowledge.
However, adoption of either a giant space-research program, a comprehensive
social-welfare program, or a master program of eugenic control would provide
motivation for limited technologies.
It is apparent, from the foregoing, that no program or combination of programs yet
proposed for a transition to peace has remotely approached meeting the comprehensive
functional requirements of a world without war. Although one projected system for
filling the economic function of war seems promising, similar optimism cannot be
expressed in the equally essential political and sociological areas. The other major
nonmilitary functions of war— ecological, cultural, scientific— raise very different
problems, but it is least possible that detailed programming of substitutes in these areas
is not prerequisite to transition. More important, it is not enough to develop adequate
but separate surrogates for the major war functions; they must be fully compatible and
in no degree self-canceling.
Until such a unified program is developed, at least hypothetically, it is impossible for
this or any other group to furnish meaningful answers to the questions originally
presented to us. When asked how best to prepare for the advent of peace, we must first
reply, as strongly as we can, that the war system cannot responsibly be allowed to
disappear until 1) we know exactly what it is we plan to put in its place, and 2) we are
certain, beyond reasonable doubt, that these substitute institutions will serve their
purposes in terms of the survival and stability of society. It will then be time enough to
develop methods for effectuating the transition; procedural programming must follow,
not precede, substantive solutions.
Such solitions, if indeed they exist, will not be arrived at without a revolutionary
revision of the modes of thought heretofore considered appropriate to peace research.
That we have examined the fundamental questions involved from a dispassionate,
value-free point of view should not imply that we do not appreciate the intellectual and
emotional difficulties that must be overcome on all decision-making levels before these
questions are generally acknowledged by others for what they are. They reflect, on an
intellectual level, traditional emotional resistance to new (more lethal and thus more
“shocking”) forms of weaponry. The understated comment of then-Senator Hubert
Humphrey on the pub- lication of ON THERMONUCLEAR WAR is still very mcuh to
the point: “New Thoughts, particularly those which appear to contradict current
assumptions, are always painful for the mind to contemplate.”
Nor, simple because we have not discussed them, do we minimize the massive
reconciliation of conflicting interests with domestic as well as international agreement
on proceeding toward genuine peace presupposes. This factor was excluded from the
purview of our assignment, but we would be remiss if we failed to take it into account.
Although no insuperable obstacle lies in the path of reaching such general agreements,
formidable short-term private-group and general-class interest in maintaining the war
system is well established and widely recognized. The resistance to peace stemming
from such interest is only tangential, in the long run, to the basic functions of war, but
it will not be easily overcome, in this country or elsewhere. Some observers, in fact,
believe that it cannot be overcome at all in our time, that the price of peace is, simply,
too high. This bears on our overall conclusions to the extent that timing in the
transference to substitute institutions may often be the critical factor in their political
It is uncertain, at this time, whether peace will ever be possible. It is far more
questionable, by the objective standard of continued social survival rather than that of
emotional pacifism, that it would be desirable even if it were demonstrably attainable.
The war system, for all its subjective repugnance to important sections of “public
opinion” has demonstrated its effectiveness since the beginning of recorded history; it
has provided the basis for the development of many impressively durable civilizations,
including that which is dominant today. It has consistently provided unambiguous
social priorities. It is, on the whole, a known quantity. A viable system of peace,
assuming that the great and complex questions of substitute institutions raised in this
Report are both soluble and solved, would still constitute a venture into the unknown,
with the inevitable risks attendant on the unforeseen, however small and however well
Government decision-makers tend to choose peace over war whenever a real option
exists, because it usually appears to be the “safer” choice. Under most immediate
circumstances they are likely to be right. But in terms of long-range social stability, the
opposite is true. At our present state of knowledge and reasonable inference, it is the
war system that must be identified with stability, the peace system that must be
identified with social speculation, however justifiable the speculation may appear, in
terms of subjective moral or emotional values. A nuclear physicist once remarked, in
respect to a possible disarmament agreement: “If we could change the world into a
world in which no weapons could be made, that would be stabilizing. But agreements
we can expect with the Soviets would be destabilizing.” The qualification and the bias
are equally irrelevant; any condition of genuine total peace, however achieved, would
be destabilizing until proved otherwise.
If it were necessary at this moment to opt irrevocably for the retention or for the
dissolution of the war system, common prudence would dictate the former course. But
it is not yet necessary, late as the hour appears. And more factors must eventually enter
the war-peace equation than even the most determined search for alternative
institutions for the functions of war can be expected to reveal. One group of such
factors has been given only passing mention in this Report; it centers around the
possible obsolescence of the war system itself. We have noted, for instance, the
limitations of the war system in filling its ecological function and the declining
importance of this aspect of war. It by no means stretches the imagination to visualize
comparable developments which may compromise the efficacy of war as, for example,
an economic controller or as an organizer of social allegiance. This kind of possibility,
however remote, serves as a reminder that all calculations of contingency not only
involve the weighing of one group of risks against another, but require a respectful
allowance for error on both sides of the scale.
More expedient reason for pursuing the investigation of alternate ways and means to
serve the current functions of war is narrowly political. It is possible that one or more
major sovereign nations may arrive, through ambiguous leadership, at a position in
which a ruling administrative class may lose control of basic public opinion or of its
ability to rationalize a desired war. It is not hard to imagine, in such circumstances, a
situation in which such governments may feel forced to initiate serious full-scale
disarmament proceed- ings (perhaps provoked by “accidental” nuclear explosions), and
that such nego- tiations may lead to the actual disestablishment of military institutions.
As our Report has made clear, this could be catastrophic. It seems evident that, in the
event an important part of the world is suddenly plunged without suffi- cient warning
into an inadvertent peace, even partial and inadequate prepara- tion for the possibility
may be better than none. The difference could even be critical. The models considered
in the preceding chapter, both those that seem promising and those that do not, have
one positive feature in common— an inher- ent flexibility of phasing. And despite our
strictures against knowingly pro- ceeding into peace-transition procedures without
thorough substantive prepara- tion, our government must nevertheless be ready to
move in this direction with whatever limited resources of planning are on hand at the
time— if circum- stances so require>. An arbitrary all-or-nothing approach is no more
realistic in the development of contingency peace programming than it is anywhere
But the principal cause for concern over the continuing effectiveness of the war
system, and the more important reason for hedging with peace planning, lies in the
backwardness of current war-system programming. Its controls have not kept pace with
the technological advances it has made possible. Despite its unarguable success to date,
even in this era of unprecedented potential in mass destruction, it continues to operate
largely on a laissez-faire basis. To the best of our knowledge, no serious quantified
studies have even been conducted to determine, for example:
• —optimum levels of armament production, for purposes of economic control, at
any given relationship between civilian production and consumption patterns:
• —correlation factors between draft recruitment policies and mensurable social
• —minimum levels of population destruction necessary to maintain war-threat
credibility under varying political conditions;
• —optimum cyclical frequency of “shooting” wars under varying circumstances of
These and other war-function factors are fully susceptible to analysis by today’s
computer-based systems, but they have not been so treated; modern ana- lytical
techniques have up to now been relegated to such aspects of the osten- sible functions
of war as procurement, personnel deployment, weapons analysis, and the like. We do
not disparage these types of application, but only deplore their lack of utilization to
greater capacity in attacking problems of broader scope. Our concern for efficiency in
this context is not aesthetic, economic, or humanistic. It stems from the axiom that no
system can long survive at either input or output levels that consistently or
substantially deviate from an optimum range. As their data grow increasingly
sophisticated, the war system and its functions are increasingly endangered by such
Our final conclusion, therefore, is that it will be necessary for our govern- ment to plan
in depth for two general contingencies. The first, and lesser, is the possibility of a
viable general peace; the second is the successful contin- uation of the war system. In
our view, careful preparation for the possibility of peace should be extended, not
because we take the position that the end of war would necessarily be desirable, if it is
in fact possible, but because it may be thrust upon us in some form whether we are
ready for it or not. Planning for rationalizing and quantifying the war system, on the
other hand, to ensure the effectiveness of its major stabilizing functions, is not only
more promis- ing in respect to anticipated results, but is essential; we can no longer
take for granted that it will continue to serve our purposes well merely because it
always has. The objective of government policy in regard to war and peace, in this
perios of uncertainty, must be to preserve maximum options. The recomendations
which follow are directed to this end.
1 . We propose the establishment, under executive order of the President, of a
permanent WAR/PEACE Research Agency, empowered and mandated to
execute the programs described in (2) and (3) below. This agency (a) will be
provided with nonaccountable funds sufficient to implement its responsibilities
and decisions at its own discretion, and (b) will have authority to preempt and
utilize, without restriction, any and all facilities of the executive branch of the
government in pursuit of its objectives. It will be organized along the lines of
the National Security Council, except that none of its governing, executive, or
operating personnel will hold other public office or governmental
responsibility. Its directorate will be drawn from the broadest practicable
spectrum of scientific disciplines, humanistic studies, applied creative arts,
operating technologies, and otherwise unclassified professional occupations. It
will be responsible solely to the President, or to other officers of government
temporarily deputized by him. Its operations will be governed entirely by its
own rules of procedure. Its authority will expressly include the unlimited right
to withhold information on its activities and its decisions, from anyone except
the President, whenever it deems such secrecy to be in the public interest.
2. The first of the War/Peace Research Agency’s two principal responsibilities will
be to determine all that can be known, including what can reasonably be
inferred in terms of relevant statistical probabilities, that may bear on an
eventual transition to a general condition of peace. The findings in this Report
may be considered to constitute the beginning of this study and to indicate its
orientation; detailed records of the investigations and findings of the Special
Study Group on which this Report is based, will be furnished the agency, along
with whatever clarifying data the agency deems necessary. This aspect of the
agency’s work will hereinafter be referred to as “Peace Research.”
The Agency’s Peace Research activities will necessarily include, but not be
limited to, the following:
o(a) The creative development of possible substitute institutions for the
principal nonmilitary functions of war.
o(b) The careful matching of such institutions against the criteria
summarized in this Report, as refined, revised, and extended by the
o(c) The testing and evaluation of substitute institutions, for acceptability,
feasibility, and credibility, against hypothecated transitional and
postwar conditions; the testing and evaluation of the effects of the
anticipated atrophy of certain unsubstantiated functions.
o(d) The development and testing of the corelativity of multiple substitute
institutions, with the eventual objective of establishing a comprehensive
program of compatible war substitutes suitable for a planned transition
to peace, if and when this is found to be possible and subsequently
judged desirable by appropriate political authorities.
o(e) The preparatin of a wide-ranging schedule of partial, uncorrected,
crash programs of adjustment suitable for reducing the dangers of
unplanned transition to peace effected by force majeure.
Peace Research methods will include but not be limited to, the following:
o(a) The comprehensive interdisciplinary application of historical,
scientific, technological, and cultural data.
o(b) The full utilization of modern methods of mathematical modeling,
analo- gical analysis, and other, more sophisticated, quantitative
techniques in process of development that are compatible with computer
o(c) The heuristic “peace games” procedures developed during the course
of its assignment by the Special Study Group, and further extensions of
this basic approach to the testing of institutional functions.
The WAR/PEACE Research Agency’s other principal responsibility will be
“War Research.” Its fundamental objective will be to ensure the continuing
viability of the war system to fulfill its essential nonmilitary functions for as
long as the war system is judged necessary to or desirable for the survival of
society. To achieve this end, the War Research groups within the agency will
engage in the following activities:
o(a) Quantification of existing application of the non-military functions of
war. Specific determinations will include, but not be limited to:
1 . the gross amount and the net proportion of nonproductive
military expenditures since World War II assignable to the need
for war as an economic stabilizer;
2. the amount and proportion of military expenditures and
destructin of life, property, and natural resources during this
period assignable to the need for war as an instrument for
3. similar figures, to the extent that they can be separately arrived
at, assignable to the need for war to maintain social
4. levels of recruitment and expenditures on the draft and other
forms of personnel deployment attributable to the need for
military institutions to control social disaffectin;
5. the statistical relationship of war casualties to world food
6. the correlation of military actions and expenditures with cultural
activities and scientific advances (including necessarily the
development of mensurable standards in these areas).
o(b) Establishment of a priori modern criteria for the execution of the non-
military functions of war. These will include, but not be limited to:
1 . calculation of minimum and optimum ranges of military
expenditure required, under varying hypothetical conditions, to
fulfill these several functions, separately and collectively;
2. determination of minimum and optimum levels of destruction of
LIFE, PROPERTY, and NATURAL RESOURCES prerequisite to
the credibility of external threat essential to the political and
3. development of a negotiable formula governing the relationship
between military recruitment and training policies and the
exigencies of social control.
o(c) Reconciliation of these criteria with prevailing economic, political,
sociological, and ecological limitations. The ultimate object of this
phase of War Research is to rationalize the heretofore informal
operations of the war system. It shoud provide practical working
procedures through which responsible governmental authority may
resolve the following war-function problems, among others, under any
1. how to determine the optimum quantity, nature, and timing of
military expenditures to ensure a desired degree of economic
2. how to organize the recruitment, deployment, and ostensible use
of military personnel to ensure a desired degree of acceptance of
authorized social values;
3. how to compute on a short-term basis, the nature and extent of
the LOSS OF LIFE and other resources which SHOULD BE
SUFFERED and/or INFLICTED DURING any single outbreako
of hostilities to achieve a desired degree of internal political
authority and social allegiance;
4. how to project, over extended periods, the nature and quality of
overt warfare which must be planned and budgeted to achieve a
desired degree of contextual stability for the same purpose;
factors to be determined must include frequency of occurence,
length of phase, INTENSITY OF PHYSICAL DESTRUCTION,
extensiveness of geographical involvement, and OPTIMUM
MEAN LOSS OF LIFE;
5. how to extrapolate accurately from the foregoing, for ecological
purposes, the continuing effect of the war system, over such
extended cycles, on population pressures, and to adjust the
planning of casualty rates accordingly.
4. War Research procedures will necessarily include, but not be limited to, the
o(a) The collation of economic, military, and other relevant date into
uniform terms, permitting the reversible translation of heretofore
discrete categories of information.
o(b) The development and application of appropriate forms of cost-
effectiveness analysis suitable for adapting such new constructs to
computer terminology, programming, and projection.
o(c) Extension of the “war games” methods of systems testing to apply, as a
quasi- adversary proceeding, to the nonmilitary functions of war.
5. Since Both Programs of the WAR/PEACE RESEARCH Agency will share the
same purpose— to maintain governmental freedom of choice in respect to war
and peace until the direction of social survival is no longer in doubt — it is of
the essence of this proposal that the agency be constituted without limitation of
time. Its examination of existing and proposed institutions will be self-
liquidating when its own function shall have been superseded by the historical
developments it will have, at least in part, initiated.
1. The Economic and Social Consequences of Disarmament: U.S. Reply to the Inquiry
of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, June
1964), pp. 8-9.
2. Herman Kahn, Thinking About the Unthinkable (New York: Horizon, 1962), p. 35.
3. Robert S. McNamara, in an address before the American Society of News- paper
Editors, in Montreal, P.Q., Canada, 18 May 1966.
4. Alfred North Whitehead, in “The Anatomy of Some Scientific Ideas,” in- eluded in
The Aims of Education (New York: Macmillan, 1929).
5. At Ann Arbor, Michigan, 16 June 1962.
6. Louis J. Halle, “Peace in Our Time? Nuclear Weapons as a Stabilizer,” The New
Republic (28 December 1963).
1. Kenneth E. Boulding, “The World War Industry as an Economic Problem,” in Emile
Benoit and Kenneth E. Boulding (eds.). Disarmament and the Economy (New York:
Harper & Row, 1963).
2. McNamara, in ASNE Montreal address cited.
3. Report of the Committee on the Economic Impact of Defense and Disarmament
(Washington: USGPO, July 1965).
4. Sumner M. Rosen, “Disarmament and the Economy,” War/Peace Report (March
1. Vide William D. Grampp, “False Fears of Disarmament,” Harvard Business Review
(J an. -Feb. 1964) for a concise example of this reasoning.
2. Seymour Melman, “The Cost of Inspection for Disarmament,” in Benoit and
Boulding, op. cit.
1. Arthur I. Waskow, Toward the Unarmed Forces of the United States (Wash- ington:
Institute for Policy Studies, 1966), p. 9. (This is the unabridged edition of the text of a
report and proposal prepared for a seminar of strate- gists and Congressman in 1965; it
was later given limited distribution among other persons engaged in related projects.)
2. David T. Bazelon, “The Politics of the Paper Economy,” Commentary (November
3. The Economic Impact of Disarmament (Washington: USGPO, January 1962), p.409.
4. David T. Bazelon, “The Scarcity Makers,” Commentary (October 1962), p. 298.
5. Frank Pace, Jr., in an address before the American Banker’s Association, September
6. A random example, taken in this case from a story by David Deitch in the New York
Herald Tribune (9 February 1966).
7. Vide L. Gumplowicz, in Geschichte der Staatstheorien (Innsbruck: Wagner, 1905)
and earlier writings.
8. K.Fischer, Das Militar (Zurich: Steinmetz Verlag, 1932), pp.42-43.
9. The obverse of this phenomenon is responsible for the principal combat problem of
present-day infantry officers: the unwillingness of otherwise “trained” troops to fire at
an enemy close enough to be recognizable as an individual rather than simply as a
10. Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War (Princeton, N.J., Princeton University
Press, 1960), p. 42. 11. John D. Williams, “The Nonsense about Safe Driving,” Fortune
12. Vide most recently K.Lorenz, in Das Sogenannte Bose: zur Naturgeschichte der
Agression (Vienna: G. Borotha-Schoeler Verlag, 1964).
13. Beginning with Herbert Spencer and his contemporaries, but largely ignor- ed for
nearly a century.
14. As in recent draft-law controversy, in which the issue of selective deferment of the
culturally privileged is often carelessly equated with the preservation of the
15. G.Bouthol, in La Guerre (Paris: Presses universitairies de France, 1953) and many
other more detailed studies. The useful concept of “polemology,” for the study of war
as an independent discipline, is his, as is the notion of “demographic relaxation,” the
sudden temporary decline in the rate of popula- tion increase after major wars.
16. This seemingly premature statement is supported by one of our own test studies.
But it hypothecates both the stabilizing of world population growth and the institution
of fully adequate environmental controls. Under these two conditions, the probability
of the permanent elimination of involuntary global famine is 68 percent by 1976 and
95 percent by 1981.
1. This round figure is the median taken from our comuptations, which cover varying
contingencies, but it is sufficient for the purpose of general dis- cussion.
2. But less misleading than the more elegant traditional metaphor, in which war
expenditures are referred to as the “ballast” of the economy but which suggests
incorrect quantitative relationships.
3. Typical in generality, scope, and rhetoric. We have not used any pub- lished
program as a model; similarities are unavoidably coincidental rather than tendentious.
4. Vide the reception of a “Freedom Budget for all Americans,” proposed by A. Philip
Randolph et al; it is a ten-year plan, estimated by its sponsors to cost $185 billion.
5. Waskow, op.cit.
6. By several current theorists, most extensively and effectively by Robert R. Harris in
“The Real Enemy,” an unpublished doctoral dissertation made avail- able to this study.
7. In ASNE, Montreal address cited.
8. The Tenth Victim.
9. For an examination of some of its social implications, see Seymour Ruben- feld,
Family of Outcasts: A New Theory of Delinquency (New York: Free Press, 1965).
10. As in Nazi Germany; this type of “ideological” ethnic repression, directed to
specific sociological ends, should not be confused with traditional economic
exploitation, as of Negroes in the U.S., South Africe, etc.
1 1. By teams of experimental biologists in Massachusetts, Michigan, and California, as
well as in Mexico and the U.S.S.R. Preliminary test applications are scheduled in
Southeast Asia, in countries not yet announced.
12. Expressed in the writings of H. Marshall McLuban, in Understanding Media: The
Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964) and elsewhere.
13. This rather optimistic estimate was derived by plotting a three-dimensional
distribution of three arbitratily defined variables; the macro-structural, relating to the
extension of knowledge beyond the capacity of conscious experience; the organic,
dealing with the manifestations of terrestrial life as inherently comprehensible; and the
infra-particular, covering the subconceptual requirements of natural phenomena.
Values were assigned to the known and unknown in each parameter, tested against data
from earlier chronologies, and modified heuristically until predictable correlations
reached a useful level of accuracy. “Two decades” means, in this case, 20.6 years, with
a standard deviation of only 1.8 years. (An incidental finding, not pursued to the same
degree of accuracy, suggests a greatly accelerated resolution of issues in the biological
sciences after 1972.)
1 . Since they represent an examination of too small a percentage of the eventual
options, in terms of “multiple mating,” the subsystem we developed for this
application. But an example will indicate how one of the most frequently recurring
correlation problems— chronological phasing— was brought to light in this way. One of
the first combinations tested showed remarkably high coefficients of compatibility, on
a post hoc static basis, but no variations of timing, using a thirty-year transition
module, permitted even marginal synchronization. The combination was thus
disqualified. This would not rule out the possible adequacy of combinations using
modifications of the same factors, however, since minor variations in a proposed final
condition may have disproportionate effects on phasing.
2. Edward Teller, quoted in War/Peace Report (December 1964).
3. E.g., the highly publicized “Delphi Technique” and other, more sophisticated
procedures. A new system, especially suitable for institutional analysis, was developed
during the course of this study in order to hypothecate mensurable “peace games”; a
manual of this system is being prepared and will be submitted for general distribution
among appropriate agencies. For older, but still useful, techniques, see Norman C.
Dalkey’s Games and Simulations (Santa Monica, Calif.iRand, 1964).
1 . A primer-level example of the obvious and long overdue need for such translation is
furnished by Kahn (in Thinking About the Unthinkable,p.102). Under the heading
“Some Awkward Choices” he compares four hypothetical policies: a certain loss of
$3,000; a .1 chance of loss of $300,000; a.O1 chance of loss of $30,000,000; and a .001
chance of loss of $3,000,000,000. A government decision-maker would “very likely”
choose in that order. But what if “lives are at stake rather than dollars?” Kahn suggests
that the order of choice would be reversed, although current experience does not
support this opinion. Rational war research can and must make it possible to express,
without ambiguity, lives in terms of dollars and vice versa; the choices need not be,
and cannot be, “awkward.”
2. Again, an overdue extension of an obvious application of techniques up to now
limited such circumscribed purposes as improving kill-ammunition ratios determining
local choice between precision and saturation bombing, and other minor tactical, and
occasionally strategic, ends. The slowness of Rand, I.D.A., and other responsible
analytic organizations to extend cost-effectiveness and related concepts beyond early-
phase applications has already been widely remarked on and critized elsewhere.
3. The inclusion of institutional factors in war-game techniques has been given some
rudimentary consideration in the Hudson Institute’s Study for Hypothetical Narratives
for Use in Command and Control Systems Planning (by William Pfaff and Edmund
Stillman; Final report published in 1963). But here, as with other war and peace studies
to date, what has blocked the logical extension of new analytic techniques has been a
general failure to understand and properly evaluate the non-military functions of war.