Introduction to Iron Mountain and Welcome

There are probably "Iron Mountains" in many mountainous places. The Iron Mountain we are thinking of is in New York state. It is purported to be the final meeting place of a top secret committee during the 1960's the charge to which was to challenge all assumptions and consider what the implications of the military-industrial complex might be for the United States, especially its democracy. You will recall that in 1960, as he was about to leave office, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation in a speech about the Military--Industrial Complex.

In a nut shell the Report From Iron Mountain, "leaked" by Richard Lewin, decided that to maintain a government for an industrialized country like the United States it was absolutely essential that a significant percentage of the economy be dedicated to "waste," meaning that physical products and human labor needed to be irrecoverable and essentially programmed to not feed forward into the rest of the economy. This would insure that the necessary demand for the productive forces of industry would continue to exist.

In the Report war was seen as the fundamental, maybe quintessential, form of waste, and so the Report argues that a continuous or nearly continuous state of warfare become the flywheel of the American economy. And so far the United States has been engaged in warfare almost continuously since the Report. Afghanistan was our longest war ever! Now in 2023 we are staring down into the abyss of a nuclear war perpetrated by President Putin of Russia over his discomfort about the Europeanization of the neighboring sovereign country of Ukraine.

My use of the Iron Mountain concept is completely ironical, of course. The Report was written at a time when American confidence in its military and industrial prowess was high, when the Soviet Union was showing only the first signs of stress and wear. The U.S. was not yet "post-industrial"—whatever that means beyond shipping our factories to countries with cheap, exploitable labor costs. The U.S. was not yet "post-modern" in the intellectual sense that significant sectors of the literati and cognocenti had not yet decided that "Progress" (with a capital P) was illusory and maybe counter-productive.

Since the last quarter of the 20th century, though, the Soviet Union has given way to a "new" form of authoritarian Russia, the illusion that we are safe behind our oceans has been crushed by the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, and the world's economies are still not recovered fully from the huge financial collapse of 2008, the full extent of which has still not yet been understood. There is fear and skepticism abroad in American politics. The Covid-19 world-wide pandemic has altered most frames of reference, while military and political analysts struggle to understand the public mood.

If there is such a thing, the world mood is anger at and disappointment in democracy, which seems always to side with the wealthy and leave the polloi to "work it out for themselves." Politicians nakedly seek power, rather than reconstruction and cooperation.

I think it is obvious that protracted and continuous war is our inheritance from the 20th century. So, I do recommend that if you have not read the Report, that you do, if only because the leaders of your country probably have.

Let me emphasize that we are definitely not in favor of the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex and, quite the reverse, would like to see a way free of it as soon as possible. I will be going well beyond Iron Mountain thinking in my analyses, concentrating on the very things that Iron Mountain submerged: rule of law, individual freedom, social progress, ethics, and a rational compassion for humanity.

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Rev. 19 January 2023