There is little in the education, training or experience of most military officers to equip them with the balance of judgment necessary to put their own ultimate solutions . . . into proper perspective in the President's total strategy for the nuclear age.
SENATOR J. WILLIAM FULBRIGHT
Three days before Kennedy entered the White House, on January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation, issued a warning to the American people:
"Threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise . . . Our military establishment today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime . . . Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.(1)
"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economical, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State House, every office of the Federal government . . .
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist . . .
"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes . . ."
During Eisenhower's two terms in office, federal military expenditures reached a high of $350 billion, $182 billion more than defense expenditures under Truman, despite the fact that his term coincided with the end the Second World War and the Korean conflict.(2) If the cost of veterans' benefits and the portion of the national debt attributable to military expenses are added to this figure, it can be said that 77% of the United States budget in 1960 was devoted to paying for the wars of the past and preparing those of the future.
The Pentagon was not only the most important buyer of arms in the world, but also the world's largest corporation. In 1960, the Pentagon had assets totaling $60 billion.(3) It owned more than 32 million acres of land in the United States, and 2.5 million overseas. Its holdings were twice as large as those of General Motors, US Steel, AT and T, Metropolitan Life, and Standard Oil of New Jersey combined. Few states in the union -- and few countries in the world -- have a budget as large as that of the Defense Department, and one-third have a smaller population.(4)
In 1941, Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson had declared that the war economy should be a permanent institution, and not the result of an emergency situation. Defense industries, he said, should not have their activities restricted by political witch-hunts, nor sacrificed to the handful of isolationists who had dubbed them "dealers in death." With the return of peace in 1945, James W. Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy in 1944, founded the "Association of Industry for National Security."
The 1960 military budget included $21 billion for the purchase of goods. Three-fourths of this amount went to less than one hundred corporations. The Pentagon's largest contractors at that time were General Dynamics ($1.26 billion in 1960),(5) Lockheed and Boeing ($1 billion each), General Electric and North Aviation ($900 million each). Eighty-six percent of these defense contracts were not awarded on bids. The Boards of Directors of the most favored contractors included several high-ranking retired military officers. General Dynamics, the Army's top contractor, counted 187 retired military officers, including 27 Generals and Admirals, among its personnel.
The public relations activities of the arms manufacturers were particularly agreeable to the Pentagon. In 1959, the Public Relations Department of Martin Aviation of Baltimore offered a "long weekend of relaxation" with appropriate recreational activities (known as Operation 3B, for Bathing, Blondes and Bars) to 27 high-ranking officers, including General Nathan F. Twining, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1960, Martin Aviation was awarded $800 million worth of defense contracts. Companies like Hughes Aircraft, Sperry Gyroscope, and Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone employed similar techniques.
Since the end of the Korean War, the existence and the expansion of the arms industry in general and the aeronautical industry in particular had been closely connected with the continuation of the Cold War, which was vital to numerous industrial concerns.(6) Vice-President Nixon had declared: "Rather than allow the Communists to nibble us to death in little wars all over the world, in the future we shall rely on our power of massive and mobile retaliation "The Pentagon was prepared for all contingencies. It had even made a detailed study on "how to preserve a viable society after a nuclear conflict."
In the course of his electoral campaign, John Kennedy had promised an increase in military expenditures. The Democratic candidate declared after his election to the Presidency that he had been ill-informed at the time about the actual ratio of American and Soviet forces. He had believed the fanciful information put out by the Air Force and the Pentagon and reprinted in the newspapers that the Soviet Union possessed 500 to 1,000 intercontinental nuclear missiles (in actual fact, it had 50). Once he was in the White House and had access to the more accurate (but still inflated) estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency, he discovered that Soviet strength had been exaggerated, but that this exaggeration was part of the strategy of the Pentagon.
On March 28, 1961, Kennedy declared before Congress, "In January, while ordering certain immediately-needed changes, I instructed the Secretary of Defense to reappraise our entire defense strategy, capacity, commitments and needs in the light of present and future dangers. The Secretary of State and others have been consulted in this reappraisal, and I have myself carefully reviewed their reports and advice."
This new policy required the cooperation and control of the men responsible for carrying it out. Kennedy's new Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, had just completed a successful reorganization of the Ford Motor Company. "America produces few men of McNamara's caliber . . . A man of diamond-hard will and titanium physique," Time wrote about him. McNamara was 45, seldom socialized, took an interest in racial problems and urbanism, and enjoyed mountain climbing and poetry (Yates, Frost and Yevtochenko). He arrived at his office at 7:15 am and worked until after 8 in the evening. At the Pentagon he had "an almost Calvinist horror of emotion, an almost mystical reverence for reason. He was the first Secretary of Defense with the ability, experience, and just plain guts to bring the vast, sprawling, hideously bureaucratic US Defense establishment under effective civilian control."(7)
As early as January 21, 1961, the Joint Chiefs of Staff understood that henceforth they were to be ruled. In his first week at the Pentagon he asked 96 basic questions. He let it be clearly understood that from that time forward, basic strategy would be defined by the President and himself. He abolished 500 committees (out of 4,000) and coordinated the activities of those that he maintained. He overcame inertia and incompetence with the aid of computers, contingency planners, and coordinators. His aim was to relieve the military men of the need to be intelligent. He and his deputies would provide the intelligence, at the necessary times and places. "War is a simple art, and everything is in the execution," Napoleon had said. The military officers and even the high-ranking civilians in the Pentagon were obliged to learn a new three-dimensional language for which they were not at all prepared.
The new Defense Secretary substituted revolution for evolution. The concept and practice of systems analysis was introduced. The goal: scientific evaluation of major weapons developments and other expensive projects to determine as objectively as possible the return on a proposed investment, a compared with its alternative. McNamara wasn't interested in the opinions, the recommendations, or the conclusions of the officers in the Pentagon. He demanded written answers to specific questions. Concerning any administrative problem with political or financial repercussions, he asked only one thing: "What is the alternative? What are the choices?" He forbade the Generals to attend meetings in uniform (a two- star General is somewhat cowed before a three-star General, especially when he is wearing his stars). In 1961 he drew up a list of 131 urgent measures and presented it to his subordinates. By the end of the year, 112 of his suggestions had been carried out. Never before had the Generals been called upon to answer so many questions. The Pentagon stood behind the Air Force postulate, "The extermination of the Soviet system must be our primary national objective, our obligation to the free people of the world. We must begin the battle at once."
After the Bay of Pigs disaster, McNamara let it be known that the Pentagon would no longer play the role of passive accomplice of the CIA and the State Department. He had appointed Charles J. Hitch and Paul H. Nitze as his deputies. In 1960, Hitch had written a book entitled The Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age, which introduced a new concept of military strategy. He suggested that the army and defense requirements should be subordinated to the national economy on a long and short-term basis. Paul H. Nitze, former director of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State, felt that the President should consider his Secretary of State as the managing director of a foreign policy "where diplomatic, military, economic, and psychological aspects need to be pulled together under a basically political concept."
This theory became the basis of Kennedy's policy. He intended to replace John Foster Dulles' strategy of massive retaliation with a strategy of flexible response. He ordered a review of all existing plans and all the sacrosanct strategic concepts. Kennedy felt that the strategy of nuclear warfare should be based on something more than intuition. He told Congress:
"Our arms must be subject to ultimate civilian control and command at all times, in war as well as peace. The basic decisions on our participation in any conflict and our response to any threat -- indeed all decisions relating to the use of nuclear weapons, or the escalation of a small war into a large one -- will be made by the regularly constituted civilian authorities. This requires effective and protected organization, procedures, facilities and communications in the event of attack directed toward this objective, as well as defensive measures designed to insure thoughtful and selective decisions by the civilian authorities. This message and budget also reflect this basic principle . . .
"The primary purpose of our arms is peace, not war -- to make certain that they will never have to be used -- to deter all wars, general or limited, nuclear or conventional, large or small -to convince all potential aggressors that any attack would be futile -- to provide backing for diplomatic settlement of disputes -- to insure the adequacy of our bargaining power for an end to the arms race. The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution. Neither our strategy nor our psychology as a nation -- and certainly not our economy -- must become dependent upon the permanent maintenance of a large military establishment. Our military posture must be sufficiently flexible and under control to be consistent with our efforts to explore all possibilities and take every step to lessen tensions, to obtain peaceful solutions and to secure arms limitations. Diplomacy and defense are no longer distinct alternatives, one must be used where the other fails -- both must complement each other . . .
"Our arms will never be used to strike the first blow in any attack. This is not a confession of weakness but a statement of strength. It is our national tradition. We must offset whatever advantage this may appear to hand an aggressor by so increasing the capability of our forces to respond swiftly and effectively to any aggressive move as to convince any would-be aggressor that such a movement would be too futile and costly to undertake.
Kennedy proposed an increase of $650 million in military expenditures, but his new budget was tailored to eliminate "waste, duplication, and outmoded or unjustifiable expenditure items." The President justified his thinking in the following words:
"This is a long and arduous undertaking, resisted by special arguments and by interests from economic, military, technical and other special groups. There are hundreds of ways, most of them with some merit, for spending billions of dollars on defense, and it is understandable that every critic of this Budget will have a strong preference for economy on some expenditure other than those that affect his branch of the service, or his plant, or his community.
"But hard decisions must de made. Unneeded facilities or projects must be phased out. The defense establishment must be lean and fit, efficient and effective, always adjusting to new opportunities and advances, and planning for the future. The national interest must be weighed against special or local interests."(8)
Nevertheless, Kennedy asked Congress to approve the construction of ten more nuclear submarines, and he requested considerable expansion of the Polaris program, which he described as "a wise investment for the future." He also recommended the development of the Minuteman strategic missile, the continuation of the Skybolt airborne missile, an increase in the budget of the Strategic Air Command, the expansion of military research projects and aerial transportation to abolish obsolete equipment (the Titan, the B 47, the Snark), and he requested the cancellation of the projects for the B 70 intercontinental bomber and the Eagle naval missile. Both programs were already out-of-date, but their manufacturers as well as the Pentagon had reasons for wanting them continued.(9)
The Pentagon was in favor of the Nike-Zeus anti-missile missile program, which was to be carried out by Western Electric. The Eisenhower administration had already ordered a freeze on the funds voted by Congress, and when they were voted again the Kennedy administration did the same. He also froze the funds for the B 70 bomber.(10) But the Pentagon had already spent $1 billion on this project, and the most cautious estimates at the time placed the total cost at some- thing close to $10 billion.(11)
These Presidential policies, and the intelligence and efficiency with which McNamara and his team intended to carry them out, constituted a revolution at the Pentagon. "In establishing civilian control of the Pentagon as a fact of life as well as a theory, McNamara perhaps went too far in alienating service officers. He not only out-thought and outmaneuvered such potentates as General Curtis LeMay, but he sometimes humiliated them as well," wrote Time.
"With a computer's mind and a martinet's will power, McNamara remolded the US war machine from the spasmic rigidity of massive nuclear retaliation to the exquisite calibration of flexible response. He cut costs, knocked heads beneath brass hats, bullied allies into line, cowed Congressional satraps, made enemies nearly everywhere," added Newsweek.
The days and the months passed feverishly. Faced with imperious orders from the top, the Generals and the Admirals yielded at first, then revolted. A sort of guerrilla warfare broke out among the 7,000 offices, 18 miles of corridors and 150 staircases of the Pentagon. Anti-administration declarations by high-ranking officers multiplied in the spring of 1961. General Edwin Walker declared, "We must throw out the traitors, and if that is not possible, we must organize armed resistance to defeat the designs of the usurpers and contribute to the return of a constitutional government."(12) He was backed by General P. A. del Valle and Admiral Arthur Radford.
"Some of the advisers now surrounding the President have philosophies regarding foreign affairs which would chill the average American," declared Admiral Chester Ward (retired). "World War III has already begun and we are deeply engaged in it," stated Admiral Felix B. Stunny. Admiral Ward accused the White House advisers of giving priority "not to freedom, but to peace " and added, "I am not in favor of preventive warfare, but I am in favor of a preventive strike" (sic).
General White, chairman of the Air Force Chiefs of Staff, declared, "I am profoundly apprehensive of the pipe-smoking, tree-full-of-owls type of so-called professional defense intellectuals who have been brought into this Nation's capital. I don't believe a lot of these over-confident, sometimes arrogant young professors, mathematicians and other theorists have sufficient worldliness or motivation to stand up to the kind of enemy we face."
The New York Times(13) wrote, "The Pentagon is having its troubles with right-wingers in uniform. A number of officers of high and middle rank are indoctrinating their commands and the civilian population near their bases with political theories resembling those of the John Birch Society. They are also holding up to criticism and ridicule some official policies of the US Government. The most conspicuous example of some of these officers is Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker . . ."
Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri rose in the Senate to condemn the extra-curricular activities of certain military officers, and Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas declared that by proclaiming that the United States was engaged in a desperate struggle and that its sole objective in the Cold War should be not peaceful coexistence, but total victory, the military leaders were giving support to the most irresponsible elements of the Far Right. As a result of these denunciations, General Walker was relieved of his duties for extremism and propaganda in the Army.
McNamara was strong enough to resist the combined pressures of his military advisers and Congress. With Kennedy's approval, he opted for the expansion of the intercontinental ballistic missile program at the expense of the conventional bombers so dear to military and industrial circles.
The Pentagon had been its own master for twenty years -- in the aftermath of World War II, during the Korean Conflict, and finally under the sympathetic administration of General Ike. The warriors realized now that the good years were gone. Not only did they fear for their privileges, but they considered it their duty to try and "save the nation." During the Korean War, the Army had been shaken by the success of the brainwashing techniques applied to American prisoners of war. With Eisenhower's benediction, the National Security Council had set up a civilian education program to arouse the public to "the menace of the Cold War" and the necessity for nuclear survival. Feeling persecuted by the President and his Secretary of Defense, the warriors decided to avail themselves of this forum to inform the civilian public about the anti-American conspiracy of the men of the New Frontier. In the spring of 1961, the "public alerts," the "freedom forums," the "strategy for survival conferences" and the "fourth dimensional warfare seminars" proliferated. The stated aims of these programs were "to alert all in attendance to the specific objectives of international communism," "to reveal areas of Communist influence upon American youth," "to re-orient American thinking toward un-American ideas," and to "identify public officials and policies displaying a 'softness' toward communism." The featured addresses bore titles like "What You Can Do in the Fight Against Communism," and "No Wonder We Are Losing."
Admiral Ward was the featured speaker at a fourth dimensional warfare seminar held on April 15 in Pittsburgh. On April 14 and 15, "Strategy for Survival" conferences sponsored by Major General William C. Bullock, the area commander, were held in several cities in Arkansas. The invitations to an "Education for American Security" seminar in Illinois were sent out in officially franked envelopes. "Project Alert" in Pensacola, Florida was endorsed by local Navy headquarters, and out-of-town participants in "Project Action," held on April 28-29 in Minneapolis, were offered overnight accommodation at the Naval Air Station. A seminar organized by anti-Communist crusader Dr. Fred Schwarz was sponsored in New Orleans by Rear Admiral W. S. Schindler, and at Corpus Christi Admiral Louis J. Kirn, Chief of Naval Air Advanced Training, sat on the platform.
Senator Fulbright charged that "the content no doubt has varied from program to program, but running through all of them is a central theme that the primary, if not exclusive, danger to this country is internal Communist infiltration. The thesis of the nature of the Communist threat often is developed by equating social legislation with socialism, and the latter with communism. Much of the administration's domestic legislative program, including continuation of the graduated income tax, expansion of social security (particularly medical care under social security), Federal aid to education, etc., under this philosophy would be characterized as steps toward Communism.
"This view of the communist menace renders foreign aid, cultural exchanges, disarmament negotiations, and other international programs, as extremely wasteful, if not actually subversive . . . There are many indications that the philosophy of the programs is representative of a substantial element of military thought, and has great appeal to the military mind . . . There is little in the education, training, or experience of most military officers to equip them with the balance of judgment necessary to put their own ultimate solutions . . . into proper perspective in the President's total strategy for a nuclear age . . ." And he concluded with a warning:
"The radicalism of the right can be expected to have great mass appeal. It offers the simple solution, easily understood, scourging of the devils within the body politic, or, in the extreme, lashing out at the enemy.
"If the military is infected with this virus of right-wing radicalism, the danger is worthy of attention. If it believes the public is, the danger is enhanced. If, by the process of the military educating the public, the fevers of both groups arc raised, the danger is great indeed.
"Perhaps it is farfetched to call forth the revolt of the French Generals(14) as an example of the ultimate danger. Nevertheless, military officers, French or American, havoc some common characteristics arising from their profession and there are numerous military 'fingers on the trigger' throughout the world."
In July, a Defense Department order went out restricting the right of military officers to express their political opinions it public and participate in such information programs.(15) There was a violent reaction from the conservatives. Senator J. Strom Thurmond, a North Carolina Republican and General in the Army Reserve, attacked the move as an "infamous attempt to intimidate the leaders of the United States Armed Force: and prevent them from informing their troops about the exact nature of the communist menace."(16)
On July 8, Khrushchev announced that the government of the USSR was obliged to postpone the reduction of its armed forces. Kennedy was sufficiently concerned by the information he received from the CIA to make a televised address on July 25, 1961 asking the country to be prepared to defend freedom in Berlin and elsewhere. He announced a supplementary defense build-up that included doubling and tripling the draft calls and calling up reservists to active duty. Finally, he recommended the construction of atomic shelters. These pessimistic declarations raised the spirits of the military men, but frightened the American people. The federal government printed pamphlets describing how to build a family-sized atomic shelter. The newspapers and television discussed the consequences of a nuclear attack. Atomic scientist Dr. Edward Teller stated, "If we don't prepare, 100 million Americans could die in the first days of an all-out nuclear war. Thirty to 40 million more could die from starvation and disease. The United States would cease to exist . . ." A Jesuit priest, Father McHugh, declared for his part that shelter owners had the moral right to keep out their panicked neighbors. A brochure published by the Office of Civil Defense advised all boat owners to head for the open sea as soon as the alert was sounded.
Congress demanded an expanded arms program, the money for which was to come from the aberrant projects of the welfare state. Senators Jackson and Keating declared that Congress would grant the President and the armed forces all the money they requested, and in particular $500 million for the Hoeing B 70. The Pentagon was once again optimistic. The Generals and the Admirals multiplied their inflammatory statements. But on August 2, Senator Fulbright again spoke out:
"Military officers are not elected by the people and they have no responsibility for the formulation of policies other than military policies. Their function is to carry out policies formulated by officials who are responsible to the electorate. This tradition is rooted in the constitutional principle that the President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and that, therefore, military personnel are not to participate in activities which undermine his policies."
On November 16, 1961 in Seattle, President Kennedy declared, "We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient -- that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind -- that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity -- and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem."
For the first time in the history of the United States, a President had dared to attack the myth of the national infallibility. Three days later, at a Democratic Party banquet in Los Angeles, Kennedy continued, "Let us concentrate more on keeping enemy bombers and missiles away from our shores, and concentrate less on keeping neighbors away from our shelters. Let us devote more energy to organizing the free and friendly nations of the world . . . and devote less energy to organizing armed bands of civilian guerrillas that are more likely to supply local vigilantes than national vigilance."
This remark was aimed at the paramilitary organizations such as the John Birch Society, the Minutemen and the Ku Klux Klan.(17) At the time that Kennedy spoke, these extremist groups were made up largely of visionaries, profiteers, and fanatics. But General Walker and other high-ranking officers began training new leaders in 1962. The organizations gained strength, and by 1963 they and other groups such as the Friends of General Walker and the Patrick Henry Association had become forces to reckon with.
The Far Rightists dreamed of a world without communism, without foreign imbroglios, without the United Nations, without the federal government, without trade unions, and without Negroes. Their goal was an America with no Supreme Court which would invade or destroy Cuba, abolish the graduated income tax and stop importing Polish hams. For these people, even Eisenhower was an active agent of the Marxist conspiracy. When Kennedy moved into the White House, they were certain the Russians had landed. "God, I miss Ike. I even miss Harry," one man from Cincinnati told US News and World Report in 1962.
The rightist movements not only had the benefit of military leadership, but also of important private funds. Harding University in Arkansas(18) furnished most of the speakers for the extremist forums. Its President, Dr. George S. Benson,(19) had the financial backing of companies like Lockheed, Boeing, US Steel, Lone Star Cement, Olin Mathison Chemical, American Iron and Steel Institute, and Acme Steel. In 1961, these companies contributed more than $6 million to Harding. General Electric and the CIA were among its most important benefactors.
Nevertheless, the international situation continued to deteriorate. In August, the Berlin Wall was constructed, and in September, the Soviets first, and then the United States began nuclear testing again. On October 28, the very day the UN General Assembly requested it not to, the Soviet Union exploded a 50-megaton bomb. On October 31, Senator Jackson criticized Kennedy for taking risks in national defense by delaying construction of the Boeing H 70, rebaptized the RS 70 to enhance its image. That same month, the Army sponsored a "Project Alert" in San Francisco, and in December the Navy did the same.
Kennedy attempted to thaw the Cold War by diplomacy,(20) but the exaggerated statements of the warriors of the Pentagon were hardly calculated to help him. McNamara, who was now "constantly scrapping" and who was loathed by Congress, which found him "arrogant and even supercilious," continued to wield his authoritarian power, to demonstrate his aversion to favoritism,(21) and to construct a rational system of defense. He declared, "Technology has now circumscribed us all with a conceivable horizon of horror that could dwarf any catastrophe that has befallen man in his more than a million years on earth. Man has lived for more than 20 years in what we have come to call the atomic age. What we sometimes overlook is that every future age of man will be an atomic age. If, then, man is to have a future at all, it will have to be a future overshadowed with the permanent possibility of thermonuclear holocaust. About that fact, we are no longer free. Our freedom in this question consists rather in facing the matter rationally and realistically and discussing action to minimize the danger. No sane citizen; no sane political leader; no sane nation wants thermonuclear war. But merely not wanting it is not enough. We must understand the difference between actions which increase its risk, those which reduce it, and those which, while costly, have little influence one way or another. Nuclear strategy is exceptionally complex in its technical aspects. Unless these complexities are well understood, rational discussion and decision-making are simply not possible."
The Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 was the turning point in the Cold War. On October 22, Kennedy declared, "I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of world domination, and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and to transform the history of man . . .
"We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth -- but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced . . .
"The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are -- but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high -- but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.
"Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right -- not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved." The Soviets backed down.
By 1963 the detente had become a reality, and the Pentagon knew it had lost the game. That spring, the Navy Chief of Staff, Admiral George W. Anderson, handed in his resignation.(22) President Kennedy declared on March 1 that the Admiral would continue to serve the country in an important post.(23) On July 26, 1963, the President announced the imminent signature of the Treaty of Moscow: "This treaty is not the millennium. It will not resolve all conflicts, or cause the Communists to forego their ambitions, or eliminate the danger of war. It will not reduce our need for arms or allies or programs of assistance to others. But it is an important first step -- a step towards reason -- a step away from war."
Noting the public's satisfaction, the Pentagon switched its tactics. It employed retired Generals such as ex-Major General Johnson to express its point of view in new and softer terms. General Johnson foresaw no other issue than "retreat or defeat" until the leaders of the administration had "determined their goals."
He noted that the United States had treaty obligations to defend 45 nations(24) around the world, and that the country needed not only to continue the Cold War, but to "win the hot war" if it should occur. He expressed his regret that at no spot in the world was the nation taking the initiative, not even in Cuba, where every month that passed saw Castro more deeply entrenched in power. He remarked that the size of the army had decreased by more than a million men since the end of the Korean War. He estimated that an invasion of Cuba alone would require 22 divisions, more than there were stationed on US soil, and concluded that the United States was not prepared for either a very limited (such as Vietnam)(25) or a limited war (such as Cuba or Berlin). He acknowledged that the United States was relatively well "covered" for a total war, with stocks of 40,000 nuclear weapons of 30 different types which were very costly to maintain, but that as the "civilians in government continue to place their faith in talk," the utility of this atomic arsenal was yet to be proved. The ex-Major General frankly admitted that he was afraid the industrialists "would not be satisfied with the indefinite maintenance of this atomic stockpile."
To the latter, the Kennedy administration replied that disarmament would be limited and progressive, and that the reductions would be partially compensated by civilian uses for the atom and the space programs of NASA. It added that it planned to fight the consequences of too rapid a conversion of the economy by reinforcing unemployment insurance, increasing information about new employment opportunities, organizing vocational retraining programs, establishing new industries, and re-orienting research programs towards chemistry, space exploration, illness, urban transportation, construction, education, water purification, population control, tropical diseases and the exploitation of ocean resources.
But this program would be long in getting started, and it would not be enough. The critics of the administration predicted a recession: consumers were burdened by their credit obligations, international competition was becoming tougher, and the dollar remained weak. Peace brought with it the risk of serious perturbations, if not a reversal, of the economy.(26) Already in 1962, when Republic Aviation threatened to close its Long Island plant, putting 20,000 people out of work, the President had released $1.3 billion of the defense funds voted by Congress, although the Air Force and the House Armed Forces Committee had requested $10 billion.
On March 30, 1963, McNamara decided to close 52 military installations located in 25 different states, plus 21 bases overseas. This reorganization was to be spread over a three- year period. His announcement had important repercussions throughout the country. The merchants of Del Rio, Texas contributed $50 apiece to send a delegation to Washington to protest the closure of Laughlin Air Force Base. The delegates pointed out that the base was the only important industry in Del Rio (18,612 inhabitants), that the military and civilian salaries paid by the base totaled $10.5 million per year, and that 1,700 families from the base did their shopping in Del Rio.
At Benecia, California (6000 inhabitants), the town council learned that the military depot there was to be closed. It estimated that the town stood to lose more than $200 000 a year in sales taxes, gasoline and liquor sales, as well as the business of the 2,400 employees of the depot, while the sewage system had just been renovated at a cost of $1.6 million. Representative John Baldwin (Republican) protested to Washington, pointing out that the Benecia depot was the very type of military installation that the country needed if it was to have (as Kennedy had promised) a trained army capable of facing up to any situation.
At Tacoma, Washington, a shoe salesman had just sold a pair of shoes. The customer handed him a $20 bill and a leaflet that stated, "You have just made a sale to an employee of the Mount Rainier depot. How much money will you lose when the $14 million in salaries paid by the depot is transferred to Utah? Write to your Congressman, to your Senator, to your Governor." And America wrote.
In addition to the three and a half million people directly employed by the Defense Department,(27) seven and a half million others owed their jobs to defense contracts. The consequences of disarmament would affect the entire country. Studies made by the US Disarmament Control Commission revealed that national defense industries accounted for more than 10% of the total national product, and employed nearly 10% of all the workers in the country. An annual reduction of $5 billion in the military program might slow down the national economy by $10 or $12 billion a year.(28)
The President of Standard Oil of California, the company most directly concerned by the Korean War, had declared in 1953: "Two kinds of peace can be envisaged. One would enable the United States to continue its rearmament and to maintain important military forces in the Far East; it would have very little effect on industry, since the maintenance of a peace-time army requires almost as much oil as in time of war. But if there should be a great improvement in the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, and in particular a disarmament agreement, the blow to the oil industry and the rest of the economy would be terrific."
Neither the industrialists nor the military were prepared in 1963 to bow before political, or simple reasonable, decisions. The Generals realized that the test ban treaty constituted a step towards general disarmament. General Thomas D. White, former head of the Army chiefs of Staff, remarked, "True security lies in unlimited nuclear superiority." Admiral Lewis Strauss added, "I'm not sure it's necessarily a good thing to cut down on tensions." Admiral Radford, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared, "I join with all my former colleagues in expressing my anxiety concerning our future security." General Thomas Power, Commander of the Strategic Air Command, even attacked the test ban treaty before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
On April 4, 1962, General Walker testified before the committee. As he left the hearing room, journalist Tom Kelly of the Washington Daily News asked if he had any comment. The General's reply was a punch in the nose.
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1. In 1957, Fortune wrote: "We must obtain a reduction in the amount spent on highways, aid to the Negro community, and other non-military extravagances."
2. On July 1, 1944, the United States military budget totaled $81.3 billion. Three years later it had dropped $11.8 billion, but private industry was expanding rapidly to supply the needs of the civilian sector of the economy -- automobiles, home, household appliances, and all sorts of gadgets. The Korean War took up the slack, and in 1953 the military budget swelled to $50.4 billion. By 1954, this figure had dropped to $40.7 billion, but tax cuts provided another boom in 1955, which marked a record demand for new cars and a record high in buying. Since the beginning of the recession in 1960, the military budget had risen from $47.5 billion (1960-1961) to $51.1 (1961-1962) and $52.7 (1962-1963).
3. General Motors' assets in 1966 totaled $12.9 billion.
4. In December 1967, the Defense Department controlled a budget of $76 billion, and employed 4,500,000 people.
5. In the first nine months of 1967, General Dynamics did $1.57 billion worth of business, an increase of 24% over 1966. This rise is indicative of the boom in the aviation industry resulting from the Vietnamese War.
6. After the failure of the Kennedy-Khrushchev meeting in Vienna in the spring of 1961, the Los Angeles Mirror News ran a full-page advertisement that began, "The summit meeting has failed. What does that mean for you? A fantastic electronics boom. Billions of dollars, a healthy industry in Southern California employing 110,000 people."
7. Stewart Alsop.
8. March 29, 1961.
9. In 1967, 17 top military experts estimated that the nuclear forces of the United States and the Soviet Union would evolve in the following manner in the coming decade:
|United States||Soviet Union|
|1962: 25 to 50,000 megatons||1962: 6 to 12,000 megatons|
|1971: 6 to 15,000 megatons||1971: 30 to 50,000 megatons|
10. On February 25, 1962, the Air Force and the Boeing Corporation presented the B 70 bomber to the press once again, although Kennedy persisted in his refusal to release the blocked funds.
11. This system would be obsolete before it was operational, as has been the case up to now with all the anti-missile missile programs.
In 1967, identical arguments and industrial pressure led the Pentagon to reinstate a project for the construction of ABM antiballistic missiles. McNamara tried to reduce this program, knowing that the Russians themselves admitted that their Tallin system of Galosh and Griffon antiballistic missiles was already obsolete. Due to progress in electronics and the techniques of ultra-miniaturized microcircuits, the American system, which will not be operational until 1974, and which the Pentagon considers insufficient, is also already obsolete. The new LSI (for large-scale integrated circuits) technique makes possible an assemblage ten times more dense and multiplies the sensitivity (reaction speed) of missiles by five. Electronics writes that "the radars and computers that will guide our anti-missile missiles will be as old-fashioned as a Ford next to the latest Ferrari."
12. General Walker began his political career in the Arie Crown Theatre in Chicago on February 9, 1962 before a crowd of 5,000 people. He had spent three decades in uniform, and had been decorated as a hero of the Korean War. In 1959 he joined the John Birch Society. Walker liked to say, "In patriotism, loyalty and combat, there are no moderates." He advised his audience to "attack on all fronts" and to "man your weapons and speak boldly."
13. June 18, 1961.
14. A reference to the French Generals' putsch of April 1961 in Algiers.
15. McNamara was called before the Senate Armed Services Committee to explain his action. When he arrived at the Capitol, he was greeted by 70 housewives wearing John Birch Society buttons.
16. Senator Barry Goldwater wrote:
"There exists today a new literature of military strategy which is in no manner the work of career officers, but of nuclear philosophers, as they have recently begun to call themselves, and who expose their humanitarian dislike for the bomb in all their writings.
"Today's Generals and Admirals are not bloodthirsty pirates with black patches over their eyes and cutlasses between their teeth. They are intelligent, competent, well-educated men who are trying as hard as our diplomats to find peaceful solutions to international problems. Our Generals and our Admirals are strategists of peace as well as experts on military questions.
"I believe that something both new and old is happening in our country, and that the great traditions of American history will find their true place.
17. The John Birch Society, founded by Robert Henry Winborne Welch, Jr., born in 1899, an alumnus of the Annapolis Naval Academy and Harvard Law School, vice-president of a candy factory in Belmont, Mass., favors, among other things, the immediate liberation of Cuba, the abolition of foreign aid, and the reinstitution of generalized segregation. In 1961, the society claimed a membership of 100,000. It kept files on "Comsymps" (anyone whose ideas were considered too liberal) and attempted to infiltrate universities and the government. It had genuine influence in the army.
The society is named after Captain John Morrison Birch, a young missionary who was killed at the age of 27 by the Chinese Communists while on a mission in Northern China 10 days after the end of World War II. According to Welch, Birch was the first victim of World War III.
The Minutemen, a clandestine combat militia, is headed by Robert Bolivar DePugh, who runs a $400,000 a year pharmaceutical business. Its 25,000 members hold daily drills with everything from pistols to antitank guns to be ready to check a Communist invasion, and organize guerrilla warfare seminars throughout the country. Although it is loosely organized, several hundred of its groups are armed and dangerous and capable of doing anything in support of their ideology or the interests of their leaders. Their motto is "Action Now" and their program calls for the assassination of dangerous Communists.
The KKK, headed by Robert Shelton, a former air-conditioner salesman, accepts as members only "loyal citizens born in the United States, Christian, white, with high morals, of the Protestant faith, believing in Americanism and the supremacy of the white race." But behind this relatively moderate creed lies a plethora of folklore and a group of savage people.
18. Which received its first gift, $300,000 from General Motors, in 1949. The decision was made by Alfred P. Sloan, who was President of GMC at the time.
19. Dr. Benson once declared, "If you want to force Washington to do what needs to be done, you must first reach public opinion. My goal is to strike it deep down in the roots so as to orient it towards piety and patriotism."
He also proclaimed that "Any American who loves freedom and is willing to work, work, work to protect it can find intelligent direction and companionship in a John Birch Society group."
20. On November 25, Kennedy granted an interview to Aleksei Adzhubei, editor in-chief of Izvestia, who told him, "Your election brought great hope to the people of our country." On November 28, the nuclear test ban conference, which had been adjourned since September 9, re-opened in Geneva. On December 21, Kennedy met with MacMillan at Bermuda to examine Western relations with the USSR.
21. In October 1963, Secretary of the Navy Fred Korth was asked to resign by McNamara. He was accused of showing favoritism towards the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, of which he had been President prior to his appointment in 1961. (The Continental National Bank was one of 20 banks that had lent $200 million to General Dynamics to enable it to begin construction of the TFX, now the F 111.)
22. Mainly because McNamara had gone over his head to enter into direct communication with the commanders of US naval units during the Cuban crisis. In addition, the Admiral disapproved of the fact that the Defense Secretary had gone against the advice of the Navy and Air Force and awarded the TFX contract to General Dynamics rather than Hoeing. The Air Force was also highly displeased with the cancellation of the Skybolt project in May 1962. Eisenhower had signed an agreement to supply 100 Skybolt air-to-air missiles to Great Britain, but as a result of the NATO crisis, Kennedy decided to cancel this project, which he considered too costly and superfluous.
23. On July 30, Admiral Anderson was named Ambassador to Portugal, "a maritime country, a country of great importance in the year 1963 and the years to come," in the words of the President. Before he took up his post, the Admiral made the headlines again by declaring that things were going badly at the Pentagon and recommending that the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff be appointed for a period of 4 years rather than 2. Kennedy refused, and the Admiral departed for Lisbon, where Lyndon Johnson left him.
24. Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, West Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Haiti, Costa Rica; Dominican Republic, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Formosa, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Laos, South Vietnam, etc.
25. This, of course, was in 1962. At that time General Harkins was predicting that the Vietnam war would be won by the end of the following year and described the local opposition as made up of "neutralist intellectuals and a few members of the Vietcong."
26. Eight months earlier, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency had published its predictions of what would happen to the economy if the Cold War should end. It forecast an increase in military expenditures until 1965, followed by a progressive but important reduction until 1977:
(in billions of dollars per fiscal year)
In 17 years, the share of the budget devoted to airplane construction would drop from $6.9 to $0.5 billion. The amount spent for missiles would drop from $5.1 to $0.1 billion, the military space program would be reduced from $0.5 to $0.0 billion, naval construction would drop from $1.9 to $0.2 billion, and the amount spent on various other equipment would decrease from $3.6 to $0.7 billion (Economic Impact of Disarmament, 1962).
In February 1962, the magazine US News and World Report published a chart showing the percentage of military contracts in industrial sales. For aviation and aeronautical equipment, this percentage was 94% , for naval construction 61% , for radio and telecommunications equipment 38% , for electrical equipment 21%, for iron and steel 10%, and for oil 10%.
27. 4,600,000 in 1968.
28. California, Texas, Florida, Alaska, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Maryland, New York State, Ohio, New Jersey and Massachusetts would not be the only states to suffer. Defense manufacturing accounted for 30% of all factory jobs in Kansas, 28% in the District of Columbia, 24% in New Mexico, 23% in California, 21% in Connecticut and Arizona, 20% in Utah, 18% in Colorado, 14% in Florida, 12% in Maryland, and 10% in Missouri and Texas. Ten states accounted for two-thirds of all military contracts (for a total of $17 billion): California $5.8 billion, New York $2.5 billion, Ohio $1.3 billion, New Jersey $1.2 billion, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and Connecticut $1.1 billion each, Pennsylvania $0.9 billion, and Missouri $0.7 billion.
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