JF Ptak Science Books
This paper is one a small archive of background and draft papers and proposals by the Vannevar Bush group working on the question of the control of atomic weapons and the formalization of the American position regarding the use and control of atomic weapons, October 1945-February 1946. This archive consists of 38 documents relating to the development of U.S. atomic policy, with contributions by President Harry Truman, Secretary of State James Byrnes, Dr. Vannevar Bush, (future AEC director) Carroll Wilson, Alger Hiss, I.I. Rabi, William Shockley, Frederick Dunn, Joseph E. Johnson, Leo Pasvolsky, Philip Morrison, Col. Nichols, William McRae, Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, George L. Harrison, and others.
I have written elsewhere on this site about Vannevar Bush and the coming atomic/nuclear arms problem--as perhaps one of the pre-eminent scientific minds in the Roosevelt/Truman administrations, Bush and others foresaw the development of the atomic arms race in 1943, and by 1945 Bush became a fundamental thinker and advocate on the problem. The items in this archive are low-formal background papers, drafts of proposals, informal studies, as well as mature statements of thought that would become implemented in the core of U.S. policy regarding the spread and control of atomic weapons. They are generally carbon typescripts and necessarily of extremely limited distribution, generally have no letterheads, occasionally carry the authors’ full names (although sometimes only initials are used).
A note on William Shockley. The brilliant Shockley’s story is difficult and problematic: from the way in which he misused his interaction with the rest of his team at Bell Labs in the discovery of the junction transistor to his sinful racial and eugenic (and dysgenic) public persona later in life--it is a hard and long one to tell, and I’ll not try to do it here. Suffice to say that I’m very aware of the very long shadows, and I think that other people should at least be aware of them as well, regardless of the staggering importance of “his” (with the wonderful Walter Brattain and John Bardeen) monumental discovery.
The William Shockley paper was written towards the end of 1945 and is on five pages and runs about 1500 words. He begins the paper with a logical statement of the issue of the economics of conventional and atomic bombing, ending with the sentence “For atomic bombing destruction is still more cheap”. What Shockley is getting to is the overall cost of the amount of destruction caused per square mile, and the conclusion that he draws over these five pages is the destruction caused by the atomic bomb is 1/100th the cost of conventional bombing per square mile destroyed (“atomic bombing is probably 10 to 100 times cheaper than ordinary bombing”).
Shockley also recognizes that the problem in the near future will be the increasing cheapness of producing atomic (and greater) weapons, and their developing accessibility to small nations. “This cheapness is a new factor and indicates that an unparalleled loss of human resources will accompany future wars. The ability of small nations to do great damage is also a consequence of the cheapness.” He writes further that taking this thinking to its “logical conclusion”, that at some point in the future a single individual will be able to use this new technology to destroy the world. The main point though that he was making in this line of thinking was the dispersion and proliferation of the new technology--that an arms race would occur, and that it would be dangerous, and that it could be very very bad. Shockley has of course nothing to say about any of that or the implications of his finds as that was not his charge.
After figuring that the cost of destruction by the atomic bomb was about $600,000 per square mile (compared to $6,500,000 per square mile for conventional bombing), Shockley concludes that “since the atomic bomb art is in its infancy, we may well expect future economies of a factor of 10 in cost per square mile destroyed…”
Shockley on the likelihood of casualties during the final invasion of Japan.
(The following three paragraphs are taken entirely from CASUALTY PROJECTIONS FOR THE U.S. INVASIONS OF JAPAN, 1945-1946: PLANNING AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS by D. M. Giangreco in the Journal of Military History, 61 (July 1997): 521-82
“As for Dr. Shockley's initial report to Dr. Bowles, it was not submitted until after Stimson had left for Potsdam. He proposed that a study be initiated "to determine to what extent the behavior of a nation in war can be predicted from the behavior of her troops in individual battles." Shockley utilized the analyses of Dr. DeBakey and Dr. Beebe, and discussed the matter in depth with Professor Quincy Wright from the University of Chicago, author of the highly-respected A Study of War; and Colonel James McCormack, Jr., a Military Intelligence officer and former Rhodes Scholar who served ! in the OPD's small but influential Strategic Policy Section with another former Rhodes Scholar, Colonel Dean Rusk. Shockley said:
"If the study shows that the behavior of nations in all historical cases comparable to Japan's has in fact been invariably consistent with the behavior of the troops in battle, then it means that the Japanese dead and ineffectives at the time of the defeat will exceed the corresponding number for the Germans. In other words, we shall probably have to kill at least 5 to 10 million Japanese. This might cost us between 1.7 and 4 million casualties including [between] 400,000 and 800,000 killed."--W. B. Shockley to Edward L. Bowles, 21 July 1945, "Proposal for Increasing the Scope of Casualties Studies," Edward L. Bowles Papers, box 34, Library of Congress. ... No accurate total of German military and civilian deaths was available at the time he prepared his report, but the number was eventually set at roughly 11,000,000. was not invaded and finished the war with just over 7,000,000 casualties, most of them from its armed services on the Asian mainland in fighting from September 1931 to September 1945.
The cointinuation of the Shockley paper, pp 2-5.
Click on any image to enlarge it.
Fermi, Enrico. Original photographic portrait associating Fermi with the atomic bomb, 10 Aug 1945. (Military?), 1945.
Photographic portrait with an attached mimeographed description (of about 400 words) and short bio of Fermi identifying him with the atomic bomb on August 10, 1945--just four days following the first use of the weapon at Hiroshima.
The photograph is definitely original and at the very least an issue of either a news photo service agency or the U.S. Government. Given how quickly the image was released with its association to the atomic bomb (just four days after Hiroshima) I'm guessing that this is a federal source. Our experience with governmental press releases and the atomic bomb leads me to believe that this was indeed issued on 10 August--the government no doubt had prepared documents like this for pre-release (as we have seen with the initial Trinity tests and documents associated with that), but I feel confident that this photo and description are in fact in the first wave of "publicity" following the use of the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
+++ The typed annotations at the bottom of the mimeographed sheet read "Serviced by New York to List A/Not for use in Western Hemisphere/Approved by appropriate U.S. Authority/". $350
JF Ptak Science Books
I've found this article by physicist Louis A. Turner to be very helpful over the years. He was an I-was-there guy (and actually an I-am-here guy) who wrote a stuccato article on the history of nuclear fission which was top heavy in references, and did so in 1940, just before the clamp came down on publication on the topic. Certainly there are other more modern efforts in this area that are far more detailed, but few have managed to do so good a job in as limited space as Turner.
Louis Turner. "Nuclear Fission." Lancaster: American Physical Society, 1940. An article in the Reviews of Modern Physics, vol 12/1, January 1940, pp 1-30 of an issue of 85pp Original orange wrappers. Fine condition. Also contains articles by Seaborg and Zwicky. $100.00
His references list is quite useful:
Social and Behavioral Factors in the Implementation of Local Survival and Recovery Activities (written by William Chenault, Richard Engler and Peter G. Nordhie in August 1967. Published by Human Sciences Research, Inc., of McLean,Virginia. 11x8 87pp+xiipp+3pp. Fine condition. WorldCat/OCLC locate 5 copies $350
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1430
In the entirety of the text of Social and Behavioral Factors in the Implementation of Local Survival and Recovery Activities (written by William Chenault, Richard Engler and Peter G. Nordhie in August 1967) there is little evidence that its authors fought to rid themselves of their Thesaurus of Obfuscation. A dissected version of their effort would've made for good, clean fun, adding their bits to a Menckenian database of extraordinarily-written governmentese, but since all of this involved surviving thermonuclear war, the "fun" part is obliterated. What, exactly, was it that the authors were trying to accomplish? Perhaps in all of it they weren't constructing anything devious at all--perhaps their incredible assault on meaning was simply written in a language understood by their audience. That, or they really didn't intend to have heard what they were trying to say,, if there was anything that was being said at all. (This report is available from our blog bookstore.)
The baseline to this pamphlet is this: that in a post-thermonuclear war United States there will be survivors; the survivors will have "hardships", but the hardships will be overcome; the key issue is to get survivors to work together to put the country back on its feet militarily and economically; survivors will need "incentives" to work together; the strong will survive, and others will have to be thrown under the bus. There will be worries about compensation for destroyed property, shipping schedules, trust in money, and a certain amount of debt forgiveness. There will be tax--sales tax.
There is no mention of the amount of death or the continuation of the dying in the year or two post-attack, but there is a graph, and the graphs not pretty. It doesn't get very much mention.
“...communities of [nuclear] disaster struck individuals need to define their needs and activities in the immediate context of the community”. pg. 5.
“The tendency of nuclear disaster is to isolate communities..” pg 6
I've written often on this blog1 about spectacularly bad thinking in planning for post-Apocalypse thermonuclear war America, mostly on government/agency reports that write about the impossible being done by survivors in impossible ways, painting the specter of impossibility and liquid death in turgid, unprovable prose.
This study reports of the ways in which American society can survive and rebuild following a devastating nuclear/thermonuclear war. The authors list five consequences of “severe attack”:
#1. Tremendous destruction of property...
#2. Disruption of transportation and shortage of fuel for motive power together with an associated disruption of regional specialization and significant breaks in geographical continuity.
#3. Drastic reorientation of effective economic demand”
#4 . General disruptions of normal interindustry flows
#5. Shortages of technical and professional manpower in some fields.
I particularly like #3. Also the use of words like “shortages” and “disruption”. And why they stopped there I really don't know.
Much of the report is an examination of how to get the surviving elements of society back on its feet via carrot-and-stick methods, coaxing people into working together, with the eventual goal of restructuring the country, building America back again, observing capitalism, the tax codes, exchanging labor exchange units for goods and services.
“Personal and group motivations would continue to be related to economic organization and production as they are in the preattack society” (pg 1)
“It follows that the nature and direction of many recovery activities will be determined by national, not local, requirements” (pg 3)
“Individuals must be motivated to implement policies and perform activities dictated by national economic interests”. (pg 4)
It is assumed that the character of the post-attack country would be pretty much the same as it was before thermonuclear war, and that we all want to return there. The report states that one of the most important elements of that society is the military and its capacity to protect people and industry. Therefore the survivors of nuclear war must be induced to work on a national scale to maintain the military and thus the stability of whatever was left of society, in spite of the fact that “in the heaviest attack, the loss of familiar landmarks, relationships and dependencies would be unsettling to survivors”. (I'm not sure what “dependencies” relates to, whether they are child or the need for pharmaceuticals or the need to watch the news on television. This is unclear.)
Generally, there are a host of activities suggested to compel compliance, depending on where a community is in a 9-part destruction grid. There are incentives like food and water, medical treatment, and of course loan forgiveness. These inducements must be considered because enforcing compliance militarily is not an option, as the report states:
“It is doubtful whether a very widespread employment of a force to secure participation in recovery activities is feasible” (pg 7)
Meaning I guess that the U.S. Armed Forces will no the enforcing mandatory compliance schedules for recovery—or at least they weren't writing about it “pre-attack”.
But the authors clearly assume that there will be something approximately pre-attack life in the post-attack world. Amidst the horror and chaos, we read that
“Businessmen, in particular, but others as well, would experience disturbing and subtle changes in familiar institutions and in such bases of mutual trust as methods of establishing or verifying credit...or estimating delivery dates”--pg 11.
“Disturbing and subtle” changes to delivery, indeed.
We further read of “widespread readjustments of status, status symbols, and values” (page 11) which no doubt would come if all of your possessions were burned up, or lost or destroyed in some way, along with the owner. It is definitely difficult to maintain status relationships in the evidence of no status and no relationships. Of course this whole deal is complicated by the issue that status symbols are also relationships and associations, much of which could also be gone in the same fire cloud.
If your valuables and house and such weren't destroyed, then you were expected to go out and work for the community, and not spend your time inside your house protecting it from people who didn't have anything. This issue is sort of addressed here:
"Measures for the control of displaced persons, obviating the necessity of individuals devoting their time to the protection of their homes, represent one form of indirect influence on the motivation of potential workers to abandon maintenance activities." (pg 50).
Which means, I think, that there will be some sort of control or protection so that people don't need to spend their time securing their possessions.
But the thing that will make people work for the greater good, the compliance with the orders of rebuilding the country, will be "economic incentives...or a penalty for nonparticipation)". Payment would be made with money or food. The next incentive: housing, or "more desirable dwelling places for those participating in recovery activities". It remained to be seen though in this report what it was specifically that represented "recovery activities" or how the compensation per work bit was handed out.
One way to raise the necessary capital to fund this post-attack world was through taxes, "a structure of indirect taxes could be developed, with higher rates applied to non-essential goods". (pg 53). On the other hand, just a few paragraphs later, the authors discuss getting rid of an income tax in favor of direct taxes, which means that taxes survive the atomic nightmare.
This continues on and on, a cascade of some wincing ideas tumbling over themselves, settling into a confusing mist of wording and logic that is difficult to translate. Perhaps that was the intention. Perhaps not. There's not much left in the bottom of a smoking, radioactive hole, except for smoke and radiation.
Lastly, I wonder why “post-attack” is hyphenated in these reports and “pre-attack” isn't?
1. See for example Bad Grandeur, Predicting Post-Nuke USA (1966) and the Loss of 76% of all Authors
The Nonsense of Strategically Meaningful Phrases, Finding Pillows in the Post-Nuclear Attack World, 1968
Ueber-Spectacular Understatement Department, the Happy Post-Apocalyptic America and the "Awkwardness of Nuclear Holocaust, and others.)
ITEM: Military Medicine , a full issue devoted to "Mass Casualties, Principles Involved in Management", which were papers delivered at the 62nd annual convention of the Association of Military Surgeons, 1956.9x6 inches, Pp 247-435. Original printed wrappers. Very good condition. $100 Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1428 Part of a long series on Atomic and Nuclear Weapons History
How can a person--how can I--write about Nuclear Holocaust as being mundane? When it comes to reading how some people mundanely responded to planning for surviving it.
It is a very deep Disturbia into which people fall when writing about the millions of details in accounting for the unaccountable, writing about the medical/physical/psychical consequences of surviving a bomb when dozens might well be detonated at the same time, the millions of details overtaken by billions of other details not mentioned and perhaps not imagined.
I've collected some wide non sequiturs dealing with the matters of the nuclear apocalypse from a publication called Military Medicine in an article entitled "Mass Casualties, Principles Involved in Management", which were papers delivered at the 62nd annual convention of the Association of Military Surgeons, 1956. Sometimes the chapter heading says it all, giving wide pause; and sometimes you have to wade in a little, but you don't need to go very far, or very deep. Overall the issue of the absolutely overwhelming devastation and the impossibility of dealing with the human consequences of nuclear war do absolutely get written about, but it occurs somewhere inside each contribution, which is front-loaded with pop-iconic understatement and then followed up with vast simplification.
Then of course there is the official-speak in quietly stating screamingly bad things: "a wide disparity will in all probability exist between patient load and medical resources". There's so much like that in this publication that it is hard to keep up, like differentiating sands on a beach.
[I resisted including the section on the use of dentists in the post apocalypse--it was too painful, and I ran out of steam.]
ITEM: Terence G. Jackson, jr. German Wartime Industrial Controls: an Analogy to Recovery from Nuclear Attack. Office of Civil Defense, Department of the Army, Stanford Research Institute, 1967. 10x8 inches. 137pp. $200.00
ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1371
"Understanding, n. A cerebral secretion that enables one having it to know a house from a horse by the roof on the house. Its nature and laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke, who rode a house, and Kant, who lived in a horse." Amrbose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
"The German experience in reordering an industrial economy for total war in the midst of conflict offers insights into planning for postattack conditions"--Stanford Research Institute, 1967
If such is the case for understanding, then I think that those responsible for the pamphlet German Wartime Industrial Controls: an Analogy to Recovery from Nuclear Attack intended to ride their house in the Kentucky Derby and upgrade the kitchen in their horse. After all, ideas are just connections among words, though it seems that here it might be just between words, or suggestions between letters, although the words might all be privately defined.
This pamphlet is another one of those monuments of living proof showing the impossibility of defining where the "bottom" might be in the well of bad ideas--even when you strangle this Nazi business into its own, narrowly-defined category, trying to extricate the logic of its titanically bad idea, the pamphlet instantly ignites when removed from its ether-y vacuum of under- and over-think and exposed to oxygen.
It was the Stanford Research Institute (Menlo Park, California) that produced this thing, carved whole and with precision from a quivering block of fat and federal dollars. If the title doesn't stop time, the first page will. There we are introduced to Albert Speer (1905-1981), Minister of Armaments and War Production and architectural joyboy for Adolph Hitler. We are told about the basis for his exceptional achievement in reordering the German economy to all-out war production thus:
"...a vast armament production would have to be obtained through scrupulous attention to increased production efficiencies and the most effective use of fixed supplies and essential materials and skilled labor. Speer developed a unique variant of conventional economic planning for a controlled economy and applied it successfully..." (from page 1.)
Speer, a high-ranking Nazi party member since 1931 and intimate of Hitler, was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, and sentenced to 20 years at Spandau prison, not the least of which was for his broad and acknowledged use of slave labor. The "P" in the square standing on its edge at the top of this post is the symbol worn by a Polish slave laborer--there were some 12 million people abducted/arrested/stolen by the Nazis to work on various parts of German society.
Perhaps this was part of the "scrupulous" detail and the "effective use" of fixed supplies that the author of the Stanford paper was writing about? Surely anyone studying Speer's methods would have known this--that the author would chose to ignore this sets every moral compass everywhere into free spin.
But such is the realm of the coin in the ugly, a bubbling bulk of post-attack scenario scripting done at the taxpayers' vast expense in waging the Cold War is littered with vocabulary meant to redirect the attention, essentially to change the meaning of words in discussing the outcomes of vast nuclear war. For example, we find the phrases "period of fractionation", "the break in traditional economic time series" and "production degradation" in certain documents (which I discuss in an earlier post here) used to describe the breakdown of the American social and industrial base following a nuclear war.. These are just three of thousands of such examples, not the least of which is nuclear "exchange", which is a conceit suggesting something less than the U.S. and the Soviet Union blasting away at one another with spectacularly deadly weapons. (Perhaps the thinking is that such a situation wouldn't necessarily be a "war", and so it is something less than that, like the Korean War really wasn't one but a U.N. policing action.)
But enough of this, were not even a full page into the report, which I remind you tells us we can find useful lessons in Hitler's monstrosity, particularly about war production--that is producing materials post-attack so that we can either defend ourselves or attack again, all by taking a look at Germany, and particularly "the improvisation by gifted industrialists driven to the limits of their power and imagination" (page 12 of the report). It is difficult to want to read this report because everywhere I look there are Orwellian Ghosts--half-referenced facts wrapped in Newspeak, available at random. For example, on page 31, in discussing oil and rubber production, I find:"The output of the new synthetic Buna-s rubber was increased to 22,000 tons in 1939 and to 69,000 tons ion 1942 by accelerated production of new plant." The "new plant" is the think tank version of "new plants" (the plural is left off of many things for unknown reasons but I guess mostly for a form that seems to have more economo-cache than the simple English expedient), which is a very simplistic way of telling of the enormous production battles in Germany to come up with their own, home-brewed (and not foreign-dependent) rubber (the super-necessity of all things military).1 The other part not mentioned here in what seems to be a disingenuous appraisal of Nazi rubber production is the increase in 1943/1944, particularly from the "new plant" at Monowitz, which was also known as the Buna Works, and better known yet at Auschwitz III, where slave laborers were put into work-or-die situations producing Buna-s as part of the overall Auschwitz complex of forty camps and subsidiaries.
Here's another example, tying Hiter and (Fritz) Todt and Speer together--Todt was "one of Hitler's most important administrators", who would be replaced by Speer "who had been an assistant to Todt"--though not mentioning that Todt had used millions of slave laborers (Zwangsarbeiter) in doing his "administrating". Speer would do the same.
ANd so on and on this paper crawls until it reaches its end, which is published on detachable sheets on pages one through three, pullaways for the executive summary so that the text and subsequent documentation and analysis could be discarded. It seems to have been a waste of detachable paper when the whole thing could be thrown away at once. The author makes a case for studying the Nazi situation because it was the closest thing in modern times to use as an analogy to the possible scenario in America after nuclear war, and then launches into an analysis of Nazi "competitiveness". The author never comes close to making a compelling argument for the closeness of fit for its major assumption, though, and as far as I can tell the logic of it just doesn't work,which makes the rest of what follows unnecessary. I guess they could've kept their federal grant by identifying ideas that wouldn't work as America post-attack analogies--which is also useful--and could've easily used what they had here for that purpose. But at that point I'm not sure what is the more ridiculously-titled idea--I couldn't imagine someone reading the report on why Nazi industrial controls weren't a good analogy, because it seems tautological and unnecessary; and yet the opposite is what gets thought about and published, in all of its error and omission, swimming in its own turgid muck. This is what people were thinking about in 1967 when, evidently, houses didn't have roofs.
1. Germans were forbidden to import chemicals and food from 1933-1937, forcing Germany industry to come up with their own versions of things like rubber, meaning that there were many new places in which Buna-s (BUtdiane & NAtrium) was produced. That rubber production increased so much was a function also of not being able to import the stuff.
ITEM: Carbon-paper copy of Organization and Staffing Damage Assessment Division Production Area. August, 1956. 8x10. 25pp. Printed on thin, onion-skin like paper. Contents Very Fine; original manila folder wrappers in Fine condition. $1250
Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1358
I've written many times on the technical and political end of the creation and deployment of the atomic bomb, along with some posts on the use and manipulation of language in controlling the sense impressions of nuclear war and survivability. What I have found so extraordinary about this second part is the creation of ordinariness, or mechanization, or acceptance, of the aftermath of nuclear warfare--and what we're talking about here is the
"exchange" of not just a few 20 kiloton Hiroshima-type weapons, but thousands of megatons of explosives and massive amounts of radiation.
[The image above, a U.S. government position description of the job described below, is clickable to 200%.]
Yes. Well. All things being equal, such things as an Afterlife in the United States needed to be contemplated because that is what we do--we make the situation possible for end-of-the-world stuff to happen, and so we have to plan for building things up again with radioactive detritus once all of the keys get turned and buttons pushed, as it is just a natural course of that historical river. That the bomb would be built was a given; that the Soviets would develop the a bomb and delivery capacities was just a matter of time, and that they would be our sworn death-enemies was also a fait accompli. To develop a way to somehow survive a nuclear war may have been a major deterrent to not launching an attack, especially when linked with a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) arms build up (where everyone and everything would be obliterated if there was a nuclear war, or at least so by 1965 (and probably earlier than that). All this insane stuff may have worked, and somehow we managed not to ignite the world, because (to paraphrase Frank Zappa) there would be no real estate left.
On the other hand, building all of these weapon systems and planning for attack and the post attack world could have pushed us into a final confrontation, making all of this sound "winable", "doable" somehow, that once the bombs had all exploded and nothing worked anymore, that there would be enough to pull together of our civilization to declare that we had indeed "won'".
And the only way to declare a winner was to have something to stand on besides pieces of green glass and Earth, and so plans for communications and a military, police force, fire brigades, medical care, food distribution, banking, and all the rest--the pieces of a recognizable backbone of American society--would have to be undertaken. All of this could very well accomplish the creation of an illusion in the mind of the adversary that you are capable of surviving a nuclear war, and so there would be no great gain in attacking; or it could send the message that by doing this preparation that you were preparing a first strike scenario, and so the adversary would attack while the odds were still not horribly out of balance. And on and--it all looks like a lose-lose endgame to me, which is hardly a "game" at all when all players are losers.
But still there was a need to staff the thousands of positions that went into the theoretical end of figuring out the non-weapon-end world after nuclear war, and the above "position description" is an example of that, a necessarily pro forma form, just another job in a ea of jobs. This one's job descriptions read like any other, except of course that the content was much different. Form the same, setence structure the same, vocabulary basically invariable.
This position description was for "Chief, Damage Assessment Division", was was the part of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (which operated under the auspices of the Executive Office of the President, and then under the Office of Defense Mobilization (ODM), and then under the Production Area, and then, finally, the Damage Assessment Division DMA). The job of the DMA was to identify what would happen to the essential production facilities that would keep the country going--industrial, technical, medical, biological, and so on--how they would be targeted, and how they might survive an attack. This also applied to the people who would be required to be in charge of all of this. Damage assessment.
It was also the job of this person to coordinate the estimation of damage and assessment business post-attack.
So, one "perk" of this job was that they would be expected to survive a nuclear attack, which means that the added benefits to this employment would be a special trip to a safe place to wait out the destruction of the world. I assume that this person would have a leverage like the one I wrote about in my Get-Out-of-Hell-Free Card post (pictured just here, and clickable to 250%).
The position description clearly makes distinctions between pre- and post-attack responsibilities of the Chief of the Damage Assessment Division: under "Nature of Purpose of Work", part 1, section A (1) it reads "a pre-attack capability for translating likely patterns of attacks into losses of manpower, industrial capacity, and weapon systems output'. In Section A (2) we see"a post-attack capability for assessing actual losses, for alternating alternate levels of output consistent with surviving resources and for testing feasibility of proposed new mobilization programs". Or in other words, sifting the rubble to see who and what was left and to see where they could be actually plugged into whatever scenarios had already been planned, and alter as necessary. And also on page two, part (3) "development and maintenance of capabilities for both rapid and deliberate damage assessments in event of actual attack..."
Continuing on page two, the Damage Assessment Division would create damage estimates, "disseminate ...estimates of indirect effects including effects...on government, financial and credit systems, and production..." which of course is, well, everything. Except overall assessments of total numbers of people killed, which isn't a necessary statistic for most of the stuff we're talking about here.
There was much else in this job description, which is five pages long. It is quite fascinating, seeing all of this spelled out so clearly, written on the endpages of our national book of life.
On the other hand, I'm not exactly sure what else everybody else could've done, all other things being equal.
1. Related posts and a long series (75+ posts) on the history of atomic and nuclear weapons, Armageddon, and fat thinking about survivability, a good example of which is Ueber-Spectacular Understatement Dept.: the Happy Post-Apocalyptic America and the "Awkwardness" of Holocaust, 1962 )
The rest of the document:
ITEM: Kahn, Herman. "War Gaming", a RAND Publication, P-1167, 30 July 1957. 11x8 inches, 14 leaves, mimeographed advance sheets. This is section#10 of Kahn's Military Planning in an Uncertain World, which was published at least in five separate parts before being published as a unified whole. RARE. $250.00
Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1312
Earlier in this blog, about two years ago, I wrote a piece on David Byrne's beautiful Knee Plays, which included a song "In the Future". The post was about Byrne's vision of the future which was bounced off the belly of "futurist" Herman Kahn, a man who was widely influential and whose thinking (I do believe) was widely incorrect. He was also a proponent of possible first-strike (that is, American-initiated) nuclear warfare, deeming the scenarios "winable"., a broad thinker on Thinking-the-Unthinkable, and coiner of the word "megadeath" when used in conjunction with his nuclear end-game games. A main component of the template for Dr. Strangelove in Kubrick's movie by that name, Kahn and the think tank he helped found (the Hudson Institute) had the ear of the Reagan administration, among others, and it shows.
Here's the revised post, expanded some.
David Byrne, former Talking Heads member, produced a series of twelve short pieces to be used in the Philip Glass (and Robert Wilson*) Opera CIVIL warS in 1985. (“Opera” may not be the right word for this piece, as I think it was one only in so far as the composition needed an opera house to be performed in.) The Byrne pieces, called ”Knee Plays”, were meant to fill in the spaces, the spaces in-between, place holders, between the sections of the day-long multimedia production.. Glass had used this idea of inter-pieces to the whole earlier in 1976 in his at-the-edge Einstein on the Beach, in which the connective elements were meant to not only join the pieces of the production together, but were also meant to stand alone, as a cohesive unit, if removed from the opera. (Glass said they were “short connecting pieces which appear throughout the work much as prelude, interludes and post-ludes. Taken together they form a play in themselves”)
One of the Knee Plays, “In the Future” (Knee Play Number 12) is a slippery, stacatto brass section accompanying Byrne’s 51 sophisms about life in the future. About thirty years earlier, “futurist” and think-tank-filler (or maybe it was “Think Tub”?) Herman Kahn (1922-1983), occupying a lot of space at the RAND and Hudson Institutes (he was also known in many circles as the “Fat Man”), diligently recorded his myopic views of the future. He is generally regarded as a systems theory and military strategy guy, and is most remembered for (as he claims, perhaps) introducing the term “Vietnamization” which described the ultra-failed de-escalation (?) process and withdrawal for the United States from Vietnam (attention Obama administration). Superluminarily speaking though his contribution to thought on constructing and implementing thought regarding nuclear weapons exchange (pointless to refer to this as “war”) in several books, including On Thermonuclear War (1960), Thinking About the Unthinkable (1962) and, On Escalation (1965), where he famously put The Bomb on the table of use possibilities. In addition to these books—which he is busily trying to forget out there in his afterlife, somewhere, maybe in a penitential place where you are forced to think endlessly about paths-to-bad-decisions) is that 1967 peek into the future, The Year 2000. Petroleum and oil are not issues. Computers are of minor societal importance. And then other things of no importance happen.
When you take Byrne's Knee Play 12 and place it next to Kahn and other mis-spent prognosticators, the musician looks positively brilliant. Some of the stuff has come to pass, some hasn't; some will, and some won't. Some are open to a little interpretation, and some, a lot. Overall, though, if you think through these little future bullets a little carefully, David Bryne looks very good. Byrne's lyrics/list is below.
Kahn's writing is necessarily less elegant than Byrne's, and probably less elegant than most other people in general including those who don't write, though it does lower itself to some height of governmental semi-speak. For example, from his July 1957 RAND paper "War Gaming" we find this nugget:
I have no doubt that Kahn looks like a warrior to many people--he no doubt was something of one, so long as that warrior could wear a white button-down shirt and not get dirty. Simply because a person is thought of as a "warrior" doesn't make them a 'good" one, either, and I think that I would nominate Herman Kahn as an example of one: in my own approximation of Kahn-speak, he would "generate the apparent non-non appearance in definable though undefined parameters as a non-good non-warrior in circumstances that defined or not define him/them in this semi-stable manner".
I think it is important to look at documents like this--documents that helped establish military policy--to see how their authors were able to convince people in government that they could divide by zero.
*Robert Wilson is a phenomenal conceptualist and theatrical designer. On the liner notes to CIVIL warS is found the interesting note on Wilson and Byrne: "At first, Robert Wilson asked David to compose pieces for several sections of The CIVIL warS, but on account of David's limited time, he composed only The Knee Plays part. The CIVIL warS was supposed to be played in its complete form at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but if one plays every part, it takes at least eight hours. There was also a financial problem for playing every part. So only some parts of it were staged there. David himself was very interested in composing for such a play and dance and this time again he enjoyed this work very much. Last time, for The Catherine Wheel, he used recorded tape, but this time he made musicians play on the stage."
IN THE FUTURE (KNEE PLAY 12)
In the future everyone will have the same haircut and the same clothes
In the future everyone will be very fat from the starchy diet
In the future everyone will be very thin from not having enough to eat
In the future it will be next to impossible to tell girls from boys, even in bed
ITEM: Project Rand, Next Generation Weapon After the IBM. RAND Copr, 1957. 11x8 inches, 12pp. Mimeo or offset. RARE. $150
The RAND Corporation (Research And Development) is a think tank originally formed in 1946 by the US Army Air Force as part of a contract to the Douglas Aircraft Company. After 1948 RAND Corp was funded by a number of different sources, private and governmental, and left the sphere of being a direct arm of the U.S. military. (Maybe.) It still did enormous amounts of work on behalf of the military, and seems to have been their chief theoreticians during this period. It was also the time that the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was formulated at , partially under the direction of we’ll-see-him-again-down-the-road Robert McNamara. And of course much else.
This publication is an internal RAND document, not meant for the eyes of the outside world, at least in 1957. I own a number of these reports, and I must say that this one is odd—it is rather flippant, sometimes oddly and darkly (dare I say it?) funny. It is also short (four pages) and gets to the very meaty part of the issue immediately. The author(s) assume that the US and the USSR will have achieved a point of stasis such that it would make absolutely no sense for either actor to actually employ their arsenal (and excluding “the possibility of the button pusher ‘flipping his lid’ “. The paper attempts then (“let’s jump right in and assume we find ourselves in this stalemated period”) to envision the next kind of war in which the ICBM would not be an active factor. “We therefore postulate here that the kind of war we will be engaged in…in the period of nuclear stalemate of the non-violent war, the opening phase of which has been called the cold war.”