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David Alan Rosenberg on: The Bureaucracy of Death
One, you got to remember, there are thousands of people involved in this at various levels, all of which have only a partial-- most of which have only a partial picture of what's going on, first. Second, those who have a big picture of what's happening, that also gets down into the details, will have some sense-- have a much better sense of what's occurring, but then will be restricted by virtue of their responsibility and the classification involved. And also the limits of the tools they have available, both in terms of the weapon systems on one hand and the formula and otherwise, to sort of make changes. And they've been tasked to put out something that--What is fascinating is, it's a routine function. It's something that has gone on as a function of American military responsibility since the late 1940's, and continues up to a certain point even today, out in Omaha, in the Strategic Command, which is still responsible for putting these plans together. They put them together under a systematic regimen that includes deadlines. And those deadlines require that these things be produced on time, and that if you don't get them done on time, you will in fact suffer professional consequences for doing them. And there's a military officer charged with this, who will turn these things out, first.

Second, as I said, most folks only have a partial picture of what this is. And those who have a fuller one also believe that, as we've talked about before, it relates to really national requirements for deterrence.

Third, these are plans. There are some people who can get very, very fond of these plans, who, looking at the intricacies, looking at the problems to be overcome-- I have known people who, in fact, have seen these as real monuments to late twentieth century, you know, computer calculations and weapon system capabilities to make this stuff come together. And I won't argue that these are folks who sort of sat around in the abstract, wondering what would happen and wishing that these things could get executed, but were proud of overcoming the difficulties by having gotten very, very much engrossed in the work, and accepting the requirements of deterrence, didn't necessarily face too much the moral or physical consequences of execution as completely as one on the outside might do. This is not an argument that, you know, these folks are [or were] running around saying, "I really want to see this happen because I've worked so hard at it." But it's one of the difficulties of finding oneself in a position like this, having dedicated one's life in some form or another to being a military man (or woman, as the case is these days) and having to then conduct this kind of dedicated planning that fits established national security requirements. So it's, I mean, it is a bureaucracy. It can be described with all sorts of, you know, critical terms--as a bureaucracy of death. But the fact is that this is something that tends to exist on both sides of the Iron Curtain during this period. Those who take it overwhelmingly seriously are not necessarily in large number. Those who have a good sense of humor about it tend to be folks who can walk out (out of the mole hole at SAC, or out of the Pentagon) and simply come out with a statement that I recall a high ranking official in a number of administrations, walking out of the Pentagon and saying some time in the late eighties or early nineties, "Well, any day you don't execute the SIOP is a good one."

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