Report from Iron Mountain - Anonymous

Section 3—Disarmament Scenarios

SCENARIOS, as they have come to be called, are hypothetical constructions of future events. Inevitably, they are composed of varying proportions of established fact, reasonable inference, and more or less inspired guesswork. Those which have been suggested as model procedures for effectuating international arms control and eventual disarmament are necessarily imaginative, although closely reasoned; in this respect they resemble the "war games" analyses of the Rand Corporation, with which they share a common conceptual origin.

All such scenarios that have been seriously put forth imply a dependence on bilateral or multilateral agreement between the great powers. In general, they call for a progressive phasing out of gross armaments, military forces, weapons, and weapons technology, coordinated with elaborate matching procedures of verification, inspection, and machinery for the settlement of international disputes. It should be noted that even proponents of unilateral disarmament qualify their proposals with an implied requirement of reciprocity, very much in the manner of a scenario of graduated response in nuclear war. The advantage of unilateral initiative lies in its political value as an expression of good faith, as well as in its diplomatic function as a catalyst for formal disarmament negotiations.

The READ model for disarmament (developed by the Research Program on Economic Adjustments to Disarmament) is typical of these scenarios. It is a twelve-year program, divided into three-year stages. Each stage includes a separate phase of: reduction of armed forces; cutbacks of weapons production, inventories, and foreign military bases; development of international inspection procedures and control conventions; and the building up of a sovereign international disarmament organization. It anticipates a net matching decline in U.S. defense expenditures of only somewhat more than half the 1965 level, but a necessary redeployment of some five-sixths of the defense-dependent labor force.

The economic implications assigned by their authors to various disarmament scenarios diverge widely. The more conservative models, like that cited above, emphasize economic as well as military prudence in postulating elaborate fail-safe disarmament agencies, which themselves require expenditures substantially substituting for those of the displaced war industries. Such programs stress the advantages of the smaller economic adjustment entailed. Others emphasize, on the contrary, the magnitude (and the opposite advantages) of the savings to be achieved from disarmament. One widely read analysis estimates the annual cost of the inspection function of general disarmament throughout the world as only between two and three percent of current military expenditures. Both types of plan tend to deal with the anticipated problem of economic reinvestment only in the aggregate. We have seen no proposed disarmament sequence that correlates the phasing out of specific kinds of military spending with specific new forms of substitute spending.

Without examining disarmament scenarios in greater detail, we may characterize them with these general comments:

  • Given genuine agreement of intent among the great powers, the scheduling of arms control and elimination presents no inherently insurmountable procedural problems. Any of several proposed sequences might serve as the basis for multilateral agreement or for the first step in unilateral arms reduction.
  • No major power can proceed with such a program, however, until it has developed an economic conversion plan fully integrated with each phase of disarmament. No such plan has yet been developed in the United States.
  • Furthermore, disarmament scenarios, like proposals for economic conversion, make no allowance for the non-military functions of war in modern societies, and offer no surrogate for these necessary functions. One partial exception is a proposal for the "unarmed forces of the United States," which we will consider in section 6.