The Case for War: The Iron Mountain Report

In his 1966 book, How the World Really Works, Alan B. Jones included a chapter on the “Report from Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace,” later published in 1967 by The Dial Press. It became a bestseller, then disappeared. Now few copies are available, but when circulating in the 1960s, it was reported that concerned Johnson administration officials ordered global US embassies to downplay it, saying it had nothing to do with policy. Later accounts doubted the material’s authenticity, suggesting it was a hoax. True or false, its findings are reviewed below because they accurately reflect longstanding US policy.

Prepared by an unnamed 15-man Special Study Group (SSG), they were commissioned “by some governmental entity which wished to remain unknown” because of the sensitive nature of its assignment, completed after two-and-a-half  years work, from August 1963-March 1966, at a secret Iron Mountain, New York “underground nuclear hideout.”

First surfacing in 1961, the idea originated during the Kennedy administration. Senior officials Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, and others, knowing there was no serious plan for peace at a time the president wanted to end the Cold War. An SSG member only identified as “John Doe” revealed it.

Secrecy wasn’t mandated, but all members except Doe wanted no public disclosure or discussion of its:

  • Letter of Transmittal (saying Report conclusions and recommendations were unanimous)
  • Introduction
  • Scope of the Study
  • Disarmament and the Economy
  • War & Peace as Social Systems
  • The Functions of War
  • Substitutes for the Functions of War
  • Summary and Conclusions (and)
  • Recommendations

Writer Leonard C. Lewin wrote a forward, referring to a SSG midwest social science professor, identified only as “John Doe” for reasons his task would clarify: “to determine, accurately and realistically, the nature of the problems that would confront the United States if and when a condition of ‘permanent peace’ should arrive, and to draft a program for dealing with this contingency.”

The Report was suppressed, “both by the Special Study Group itself and by the government INTERAGENCY committee to which it had been submitted. After months of agonizing, Doe” decided to go public.

Group members were carefully chosen for their physical and social sciences expertise, as well as their years of academic, government and/or business experience, qualifying them for their assignment.

In releasing the material, “Doe” said his:

responsibility to the society for which I am part supersedes any self-assumed obligation on the part of the fifteen individual men…. What is needed now, and needed badly, is widespread public discussion and debate about the elements of war and the problems of peace.

Issues addressed included:

  • the notion that the “basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers;”
  • world peace would cause “unparalleled and revolutionary” social structure changes;
  • disarmament’s economic impact;
  • far-reaching “political, sociological, cultural, and ecological changes,” and two broad questions pertaining to:
  •       — expectations if peace comes; and
          — policies to follow if it does.

Other issues included:

  • the “real functions of war in modern societies” beyond defending the national interest;
  • without war, “what other institutions exist or might be devised to fulfill these functions”;
  • the possibility of abolishing war;
  • the desirability and repercussions of doing it; and
  • possible social system improvements from war-readiness.

Doe hoped for public discussions about “the elements of war and the problems for peace.” None followed. Wars persist, and so do Report notions like:

Wars are an economic, political and ecological necessity, important to continue indefinitely. Peace “would almost certainly not be in the best interest of (a) stable society” and might be “catastrophic.”

General disarmament would require “scrapping… a critical proportion of the most highly developed occupational specialties in the economy.”

Diverting an arms budget to a “non-military system (is) remote (in a) market economy.” Replacing it with public works is “wishful thinking (and) unrealistic.”

War is “the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire. (It’s) the system (that’s) governed most human societies of record, as it (does) today.”

No other control mechanism has been devised even close to it in effectiveness.

War-making potential doesn’t result from threats. In fact, “threats against the national interest are usually created or accelerated to meet the changing needs of the war system.”

Significant non-military functions and benefits of wars were claimed to exist, including economic protections against depression, and stimulus contributing to the rise of gross national product and individual productivity. Nothing else devised “can remotely compare to it in effectiveness.” It’s the “essential economic stabilizer.”

War’s political importance is crucial. It defines and enforces relations with other nations. National sovereignty and the traditional nation-state depend on it. The war system is essential to internal political stability. “Without it, no government has ever been able to obtain acquiescence (to) its legitimacy, or right to rule its society.”

A nation’s authority over its people “resides in its war powers,” including local police to deal with “internal enemies in a military manner.”

Military service has a patriotic purpose “that must be maintained for its own sake.”

Wars also serve an ecological purpose: “to reduce the consuming population to a level consistent with the survival of the species,” but mass destruction is inefficient, and nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, removing physically stronger members important to save.

Because of medical and scientific advances, pestilence no longer can control populations effectively, balancing them with agriculture’s potential. As a result, other measures are needed to control “undesirable genetic traits.”

An effective political substitute for war requires “alternate enemies… of credible quality and magnitude, if a transition to peace is ever to come about without social disintegration.” Most likely, “such a threat will have to be invented.”

Other extreme ideas included:

— Poverty is necessary and desirable, the same Orwellian social stability 1884 idea, about “keeping the Low’s in poverty and the High’s in power, forever.”
— A modern, sophisticated form of slavery serves the same social control purpose.
— Government must optimize the number of warfare deaths, never letting a good opportunity go to waste.
— “Intensified environment pollution,” including air and water is acceptable, and, without war, a comprehensive eugenics program and “universal test-tube procreation might have to substitute.”

SSG members rejected individual freedom, opting for subservience to a ruling elite, the system that governs world nations and America since inception, instituted by the Founders so the country’s owners could run it, and wage wars to solidify control.

The Report concluded that: The permanent possibility of war is the foundation for stable government. It supplies the basis for general acceptance of political authority.” It lets societies maintain class distinctions, and ensures the subordination of citizens to the state, run by elites with “residual war powers.”

As for policy measures in a world at peace, SSG members stated “as strongly as we can, that the war system cannot responsibly be allowed to disappear,” absent a credible alternative to ensure social stability and societal control. Only then should transitional measures be considered.


Such solutions, if indeed they exist, will not be arrived at without a revolutionary revision of the modes of thought heretofore considered appropriate. Some observers….believe” the obstacles can’t be overcome “in our time, that the price of peace is, simply, too high…. It is uncertain… whether peace will ever be possible. It is far more questionable… that it would be desirable even if it were demonstrably attainable.”

Though repugnant to many, “The war system… has demonstrated its effectiveness since the beginning of recorded history.” A viable peace alternative would constitute a giant leap “into the unknown” with its inevitable risks. Genuine peace will be destabilizing until proved otherwise.

SSG recommendations included establishing a “permanent WAR/PEACE Research Agency” with unlimited funds to be used at its own discretion.

It would be organized like the National Security Council “responsible solely to the President” or officials he designates, then operate secretly for two purposes. First, to determine, from what’s known and can be learned, the statistical probability for an eventual peace. Second, to conduct “War Research” to ensure “the continuing viability of the war system” as long as it’s believed necessary and/or desirable for society’s stability and survival.

The Iron Mountain Report “has already created our present. It is now shaping our future,” one single-mindedly for war to the detriment of all but imperial interests and profiteers that benefit handsomely.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

6 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. mary said on July 7th, 2010 at 8:40am #

    A precursor to the PNAC?

    Very few people of my acquaintance seem to know anything about it.

  2. Gary S. Corseri said on July 7th, 2010 at 10:32am #

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Mr. Lendman. It is grievous to understand how War as Policy has come to define the raison d’etre of the State. Mary is right on both counts: that very few of the aware/thinking public know much about this report; and that it probably was a precursor to PNAC.

    I believe it is crucial for the various factions that oppose our current noxious System to be able to identify their common enemy. Too often, we’ve been misled, misdirected into labrynthine games of personality, or have focussed on immediate, spectacular causes celebre. The idea that an Ideology of War, subsuming all the other elements in a viable society, is the true Minotaur of our nightmares, the great obsession to be opposed, is clarifying and unifying.

  3. MichaelKenny said on July 7th, 2010 at 11:06am #

    This is yet another piece of nonsense from Mr Lendman, to go with the aircraft spraying swine flu virus over Kiev and the earthquake bomb destined for Iran which set off the Hatian earthquake! “True or false, its findings … accurately reflect longstanding US policy.” But, of course, as a matter of elementary logic, if something is false, it cannot “accurately reflect” anything! Nor can it shape anybody’s present or future! The argument presented is, on the face of it, so manifestly absurd that it cannot be accepted without plenty of hard evidence in support. That, needless to say, is not forthcoming. Equally, the US economy is in such a mess that it will not be able to wage any more wars. In other words, all this is the classic American Empire propaganda line: “America the omnipotent, invincible and eternal ruler of the world”. And, of course, don’t be fooled by appearences to the contrary. It’s all a big secret!

  4. mary said on July 8th, 2010 at 1:25am #

    Unlike some here, Gary Corseri always elevates the comments on Dissident Voice articles to higher planes of understanding and literacy.

    For general information this is the latest news from

    Newsletter No.1163
    07 July 2010


    However David Cameron and army chiefs try to say otherwise, the
    retreat of the British army from Sangin province is yet more
    proof that the strategy for “winning” the war in Afghanistan is

    Soldier Joe Glenton, who was court martialled and imprisoned for
    refusing to fight in Afghanistan, will be released from military
    jail in Colchester on Monday 12 July and Stop the War supporters
    will be there to welcome him.

    Over 100 people were arrested last year after demonstrating
    against the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Seventy-eight were charged
    with violent disorder, and many were given deterrent sentences of
    up to two and a half years for as little as throwing a plastic
    bottle. Almost all of those charged are very young and from
    Muslim backgrounds.

    Congratulations to the EDO decommissioners who have been found
    not guilty of sabotaging a factory supplying arms to Israel, the
    jury accepting their justification that they were preventing war
    crimes in Gaza.

  5. teafoe2 said on July 8th, 2010 at 4:15pm #

    To me the most interesting thing about this report of the existence of a report is that it suggests that War is not necessarily launched for economic reasons. Which contradicts the classic Marxist and/or Marxist-Leninist explanation.

    I wish Dr Lendman had taken the trouble to document the provenance of the document(s) on which his article is based. True, the report as described may accurately reflect discussions that took place in ruling class circles, among high level retainers etc, during the period mentioned, while actually being a work of fiction authored by some creative individual. I’m reminded of the case of the so-called “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, long ago proven to have been plagiarized from an earlier published work of fiction — yet eerily reflective of aspects of reality which have come to the surface only recently.
    So I’d like to know whatever is known about how this “report” came to be, and how it came to Dr L’s attention, how a copy came into his hands, etc. If an actual historical link could be found to the PNAC document, or to any of the other “New World Order”, “Muscular Dominance”, “Full Spectrum Dominance” writings of people like Russell Mead et al, it would make some interesting reading. ??

  6. teafoe2 said on July 8th, 2010 at 4:56pm #

    Ooops: turns out this Alan B. Jones who wrote the book where Lendman found the info re the “Iron Mtn Report” (sic) is quite a character. Here, copied from Jones’ blog, is his own precis of the final chapter of the book where Lendman found the Iron Mtn thing:

    >12. Let’s Fix America, by Alan B. Jones, 1994. This is our own book, written just before How The World Really Works. In the present Chapter 12 of How The World Really Works, we reviewed the LFA proposals, kept many of them as they stood, but strengthened or added a few more, where the need had become obvious. For example, much stronger action was found necessary in the area of defeating the drug scourge, and in our trade and other foreign policy matters which severely impact our economic and societal well-being. As a revised set of actions, we propose to:

    Abolish the Fed and return to an honest gold standard.
    Force the federal budget into balance, and thereby stop inflation.
    Force the permanent reduction of the tax load to a tolerable level.
    Replace the IRS, the income tax, and the 16th Amendment with a sales tax on sold goods and services.
    Phase the federal government out of the pension business (Social Security).
    Phase the federal government out of the medical insurance business (Medicare).
    Phase the federal government out of the welfare business (AFDC, food stamps, etc.).
    Attack drug trafficking in earnest. To take the profit out of the trade, allow states to sell low-cost, pure drugs to medically certified addicts (only), and then jail the directors of banks caught laundering drug money.
    Empower parents to choose what schools their own kids will attend.
    Reduce crime via the welfare, drug, and education reforms described above.
    Reform liability litigation to force judgments to match valuatable losses.
    Remove the abortion issue from the (unconstitutionally assumed) jurisdiction of the federal courts.
    Permit states to help identify and hold illegal immigrants for deportation, and expedite that latter action.
    Remove our country from elite-controlled international agencies (UN, IMF, World Bank, etc.), reclaim Senate jurisdiction over the details of trade agreements, and discourage overseas investment of the kind or in amounts which detract from the adequate maintenance of our own country and society.
    Force Congress to adhere to the intent and the words of our Tenth Amendment.
    Get our own government to acknowledge to our citizenry that our American society is under attack, and has been for many years, and that the government and the citizenry are going to henceforth cooperate to repel that attack.<
    Jones himself is careful to say that the Iron Mtn thing is ALLEGED to be a government-commissioned report.
    His blog is an interesting mix of stuff like McCoy's Politics of Heroin & Orwell's "1984", blurbs for plausible-looking expose's of the Bilderburgers etc, and rightwing crackpottery like the above shopping list.

    Don't think Lendman has provided evidence of anything this time. The notion that those in charge are motivated more by War for War's sake than by a search for profits & cheap resources is still in my opinion worth pursuing, but you can't rely on anything offered by Jones. Maybe for some there could be some hermeneutic benefit from what the "report" suggests.

    Conclusion: words don't have to be literally true & factual, if they stimulate some original thought followed up by real research. Take the Nitzan-Bichler adjustment.