From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning

From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning


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From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning by Dr. Paul H. Johnstone

This deathbed memoir by Dr. Paul H. Johnstone, former senior analyst in the Strategic Weapons Evaluation Group (WSEG) in the Pentagon and a co-author of The Pentagon Papers, provides an authoritative analysis of the implications of nuclear war that remain insurmountable today. Indeed, such research has been kept largely secret, with the intention "not to alarm the public" about what was being cooked up.

This is the story of how U.S. strategic planners in the 1950s and 1960s worked their way to the conclusion that nuclear war was unthinkable. It drives home these key understandings:

- That whichever way you look at it -- and this book shows the many ways analysts tried to skirt the problem -- nuclear war means mutual destruction

- That Pentagon planners could accept the possibility of totally destroying another nation, while taking massive destructive losses ourselves, and still conclude that "we would prevail".

- That the supposedly "scientific answers" provided to a wide range of unanswerable questions are of highly dubious standing.

- That official spheres neglect anything near a comparable effort to understand the "enemy" point of view, rather than to annihilate him, or to use such understanding to make peace.

Dr. Johnstone's memoirs of twenty years in the Pentagon tell that story succinctly, coolly and objectively. He largely lets the facts speak for themselves, while commenting on the influence of the Cold War spirit of the times and its influence on decision-makers. Johnstone writes: "Theorizing about nuclear war was a sort of virtuoso exercise in creating an imaginary world wherein all statements must be consistent with each other, but nothing need be consistent with reality because there was no reality to be checked against."

The alarming truth today is that these lessons seem to have been forgotten in Washington, just as United States policy has become as hostile to Russia as it was toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. U.S. foreign policy is pursuing hostile encirclement of two major nuclear powers, Russia and China. Without public debate, apparently without much of any public interest, the United States is preparing to allocate a trillion dollars over the next thirty years to modernize its entire nuclear arsenal. It is as if all that was once understood about the danger of nuclear war has been forgotten.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780997287097
Publisher: Clarity Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,248,520
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Dr. Paul H. Johnstone was a senior analyst in the Strategic Weapons Evaluation Group (WSEG) in the Pentagon. He was assistant director of three crucial studies on outcomes of nuclear war and the director of a fourth, on the impact on civilians. He also initiated a series of "critical incident" studies recounting decision-making problems, which led to the McNamara study of the errors of Vietnam war policy known as The Pentagon Papers and was one of its authors.

Diana Johnstone is a former European editor of In These Times and press officer of the Green group in the European Parliament from 1990 to 1996. She is the author of The Politics of Euromissiles, Fools' Crusade and Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton.. She lives in Paris.

Table of Contents

Foreword Paul Craig Roberts 6

The Dangerous Seduction of Absolute Power Diana Johnstone 15

The Spirit of the Times 15

The Fog of War Planning 21

Memoirs of a Humanist in the Pentagon Paul H. Johnstone

Foreword: From Behind the Scenes 32

Part I The World of Target Planning

Chapter 1 Air Targets Intelligence 36

Chapter 2 Air Targets Doctrine 46

Economic War Potential Doctrine Applied to Occupation Policies 55

Some Problems and Methods 62

Chapter 3 Playing Games with Nuclear War 78

The Cold War Atmosphere 79

Games and Bonuses 82

The Rise of Fear 85

Part II Imagining Doomsday

Chapter 1 The Fallout Study 99

Chapter 2 The "Humane Alternative" 130

Chapter 3 The Civilian Morale Project 134

Chapter 4 The Strategic Weapons Study 141

The Tenor of the Times 141

The Command and Control Dilemma 148

Exploring "Implications" 152

Part III The Critical Incident Studies

Chapter 1 The Laos Crisis: 1960-1961 159

Chapter 2 The Berlin Crisis of 1961 192

New Appraisals of the Soviet Missile Threat 205

Acheson's Berlin Paper 211

Rebuff of the Acheson Proposals 216

Emphasis on General Buildup as Keystone of Strategy 217

NSAM 59 218

EUCOM Objection to Acheson Probe Strategies 221

The Building of the Berlin Wall 228

Deepening Gloom 233

Non-Military Considerations Underlying the Choice of Military Strategy 240

Beginnings of a Slow Unwinding 242

Recovery of Confidence in Our Strategic Forces Strength 246

The Exhaustive Search For Countermeasures: An Exercise in Futility 252

Beginnings of the Tank Confrontation 255

Origins of NSAM 109: The Nitze-Kohler Formula 257

The New U.S. Policy: NSAM 109 264

The Allied Agreement: The Uses of Ambiguity and Sleight-of-Hand 268

Doomsday Postponed? Diana Johnstone 272

The Death of MAD 275

The Political Relationship of Forces 284

Endnotes 287

Glossary of Acronyms 292

Index 295

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