The year was 1961. Persons within the Administration of the newly-elected President John F. Kennedy had a novel idea: Why not have a think tank which considered various scenarios consequent to permanent peace? There were already think tanks dedicated to war scenarios. The new peace-oriented think tank would be different: it would engage in “peace games” instead of “war games.”
The United States, especially after World War II, had become a “permanent war economy.” War was the engine which drove industry, employment and consumerism. The departing President Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned America about an expanding “military-industrial complex.” But suppose a transition to a lasting peacetime economy were made? What would be the consequences of that? Nations such as Finland do not constantly embark upon military actions meant to save the world. Why not have Finland step up to the plate and go save the world? Why must it always be the United States?
“John Doe” (pseudonym), a professor of sociology at a university in the American Midwest, received a telephone call. He and 14 other knowledgeable persons were asked to participate in a special commission. Their job would be to ascertain what would happen to the U.S. economy if the nation switched from constantly escalating “defense” spending to an economy based on lasting peace. The commission first met in a small town called Iron Mountain, New York. That town is notable for having a secret underground bunker to which corporate leaders could be evacuated in case of emergency.
But some say the subsequent “Report From Iron Mountain” (1967) was all a satire and a hoax, written by one Leonard C. Lewin. In 1966 the New York Times had reported on a stumble in the stock market, blaming the fall on a “peace scare.” This “peace scare” and its negative impact on the stock market helped inspire Mr. Lewin to write a satire, “Report From Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace.” However others insist “Report From Iron Mountain” is no hoax but that Mr. Lewin’s 1972 “confession” of authorship was really part of a cover-up. In fact, U.S. News & World Report claimed in its November 20, 1967 issue to have confirmation of the reality of the report from an unnamed government official, who added that when President Lyndon Johnson read the report, he “hit the roof” and ordered it to be suppressed for all time. In that scenario, Mr. Lewin’s “confession” of authorship in 1972 would be part of the suppression ordered earlier by President Johnson.
President John F. Kennedy, if “Report From Iron Mountain” is to be believed, had been associated with the original forming of the commission in 1961. The situation depicted in Oliver Stone’s controversial movie “JFK” has the president quietly moving away from U.S. involvement in Vietnam. But then JFK is assassinated, and the new President Johnson convenes with top generals and assures them, “Gentlemen, you shall have your war.” Oliver Stone took much heat for his interpretation so he later released a book which offered evidence to substantiate his claim that JFK had been killed for opposing the war mongers.