Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to THE ADVOCATES, the PBS Fight of
the Week. Tonight's debate is coming to you from Boston's historic Faneuil Hall.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please.
Moderator Evan Semerjian has just called tonight's meeting to order.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to THE ADVOCATES. Tonight we debate
a change in U.S. nuclear strategy proposed by the Secretary of Defense, and our specific question is this:
Should we develop highly accurate missiles and emphasize military targets rather than cities? Advocate
Robert Ellsworth says, "Yes."
A strategy of targeting cities and innocent civilians is a strategy based on the
threat of genocide, an immoral policy. It's a dangerous bluff; it's a policy that must be rejected. To argue
for accurate missiles aimed at military targets, I have with me tonight Professor Harry Rowen, former
President of the RAND Corporation, and Professor Geoffrey Kemp of the Fletcher School of Law and
Thank you. Advocate Barry Carter says, "No."
We oppose this dangerous proposal because we do not want to see nuclear war made
more likely, because the last thing we need now is an escalation of the arms race with the Soviet Union.
With me tonight are Herbert Scoville, former Deputy Director of the CIA, and Morton Halperin, former member
of Dr. Henry Kissinger's staff.
We welcome tonight two new advocates. Robert Ellsworth was a Congressman from Kansas
from 1961 to 1967, a special assistant to President Nixon and United States Ambassador to NATO. Barry Carter
is a Washington attorney, who was formerly a member of Henry Kissinger's staff. We'll be back to these
gentlemen for their cases in a moment, but first a word of background on tonight's question. For the past
decade our strategic policy with respect to the Soviet Union has been one of deterrence through what is
known as assured retaliation, or mutual assured destruction, or MAD, as you will hear it referred to
tonight. The idea is that enough of our nuclear warheads are aimed at Soviet cities and enough of theirs at
our cities, to make a first strike by either country an act of suicide. An act of suicide because neither
side has the capacity to launch a first strike that will destroy the other side's ability to retaliate. The
destruction of both sides is therefore assured if either side attacks. Now, this policy of nuclear
deterrence is under review, and recently Defense Secretary Schlesinger has suggested a new strategy. He's
asked Congress for money for research on highly accurate missiles which could be used against such targets
as power dams, military bases and missile silos. And he has indicated that while the United States has
always targeted some Soviet military sites as well as cities, we have recently changed the emphasis toward
military targets and away from their cities. In explaining the need for this, Mr. Schlesinger has appealed
for an alternative to a policy providing suicide or surrender as its only options. In debating these
specific proposals for research on new weapons and a shift in targeting emphasis, we're taking up as well
some basic policy questions. Is our past policy of mutual destruction inadequate or obsolete as a deterrent
for nuclear war? Would this new strategy increase the deterrent or weaken it? And finally, what effect would
such a shift in our strategy have on the arms race and the future of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
(SALT) between the United States and the Soviet Union? And now to the cases, Mr. Ellsworth, why should we
develop highly accurate missiles and emphasize military targets rather than cities?
Our case tonight rests on three main points. First, a strategy of nuclear deterrence
which emphasizes the deliberate targeting of cities is a strategy which is based on the threat of genocide.
That strategy is immoral, and it is a continuing source of fear and hostility. It must be rejected. Second,
the strategy of deterrence which emphasizes military targets rather than cities is not only more effective
as a deterrent and less objectionable as a policy, it's also a strategy which fully preserves the stability
of the American-Soviet nuclear balance. And third, we will show that more accurate missiles will permit
fewer and smaller nuclear weapons on both sides and will therefore permit greater discrimination between
threats to innocent, blameless people on the one hand and military targets on the other hand. To testify to
the importance of more accurate missiles and an emphasis on military targets instead of cities, I call
Professor Henry S. Rowen.
Professor Rowen, welcome to THE ADVOCATES.
Mr. Rowen served in the Defense Department in the Kennedy and Johnson
administrations. He was President of the RAND Corporation, and he's now Professor of Public Management at
Stanford University. Professor Rowen, advocates of mutual assured destruction would have us respond to any
nuclear attack by killing several hundred million Soviets and by destroying Soviet society. What do you
think of that?
Well, it is a policy of genocide, there's no question about it. It's a policy that
follows from the sort of reasoning that says killing people is good, killing weapons is bad. But it really
means incinerating hundreds of millions of people in the United States or in the Soviet Union and Western
Europe. It's a policy that could result in ... it would be worse than a thousand Hiroshimas.
But if that kind of a policy preserves the peace, then what's wrong with it?
Well, it's a policy based on bluff. We would never want to do that. It's a policy
that assumes that the world is a rational place, but we know that the real world is not entirely rational,
that accidents occur, mischance occurs, and there are going to be many countries—there are five today—with
nuclear weapons. There will be others. In such a world we cannot have only a response, say to a nuclear
attack or an accident which is suicidal or genocidal.
Actually, though, has mutual assured destruction—that is, targeting cities only—been
official United States policy?
No, it hasn't been. We've long had an option to just attack military targets. While
it hasn't received a great deal of publicity, that is, in fact, the case. What is not new is the plan. What
is new is the technology, technology which permits much greater discrimination between attacking cities and
attacking military targets.
But wouldn't more accurate missiles on our part create a fear on the part of the
Soviet Union that we would be more likely to use them in case of a crisis and thereby make war more
Well, presumably that fear would be based on the assumption that the United States
could totally destroy the Russian strategic nuclear force. There's no real possibility of this happening.
Much of the Soviet force is at sea—950 Russian missiles can be at sea according to agreement—which are
untargetable even by the most accurate American missiles, so there is no real possibility of that. That's
not a fear which has ground in reality.
Aren't we talking about a new arms race?
Well, what do we mean by a new arms race? Let me show you some figures. There's an
arms race going on—a budgetary arms race. The United States isn't a runner. We must be in the stands
watching it. This chart shows what has happened to the United States budget for strategic forces, offensive
and defensive, since 1961 through 1974, both in current dollars and constant dollars—that is, corrected for
price changes. As you can see, this budget has gone down really very remarkably since 1961, down by 60
percent in constant dollars. There's a slight increase proposed by the administration for 1975. Yet this is
a period in which there have been revolutionary changes in weapons, many new types of weapons, ICBMs,
Polaris submarines and many others. We have managed—and this new technology has managed—to permit, has been
consistent with a reduction in our strategic budget, and I see no reason why the technology we're discussing
tonight of accuracy and small warheads is going to drive this curve upward. I believe that it will
But actually, even if lower yield warheads and more accurate warheads did cost more,
would they be desirable in themselves?
I believe that they would be. They would permit substituting small nuclear warheads
for large ones, and in some instances, non-nuclear warheads for nuclear ones. That means that we would
become—I believe we'll be less dependent on nuclear weapons, that we can raise the nuclear threshold, but
most importantly, the moral position is important, the moral aspect is crucial, and that is that we would
become—it would make it possible for us to make this discrimination between attacking people and attacking
All right, thank you, Mr. Ellsworth, Let's go to Mr. Carter, who is eager to ask you
some questions. Wait a minute. Professor Rowen. He's got some questions for you.
Mr. Rowen, it seems, then, that we all agree that the President now has a number of
targeting options available and could easily have more, including the tax on military targets, so he's not
faced with the option of genocide or surrender, is he?
The weapons that we have had have been largely very large warheads and have been
rather inaccurate so that many attacks on military targets would have spill-over effects from radioactive
fallout which could cause enormous civil damage.
You say that the missiles today are relatively inaccurate. Public sources indicate
that the Minuteman missile at least has an accuracy of approximately one quarter nautical mile or less,
where it will land within 1,500 feet of its target or less. Isn't that fairly close to the target?
Missile accuracy has been improving, and it's still true—and I believe that this is
widely accepted—that a major attack could produce very great civil damage. This seems to be a very
Let's try to clarify the issues, though. We agree, then, the President already has a
number of options, so the issues seem to be one, what should the U.S. say publicly about keeping the
devastation of nuclear war limited; and secondly, should the U.S. develop these highly accurate missiles?
Let's discuss limited war first. Do you believe we should only target military targets and not target cities
I think it is undesirable for us to target cities. I see no way for either side to
have the capability of causing enormous damage to cities eliminated, but I think that that—I cannot conceive
of the circumstances in which it would be to our interest, or for that matter, to the Russian interest, to
cause vast civil damage to the other.
But isn't it true that a lot of military targets are very close to cities the
Pentagon, the Kremlin, Air Force bases—and that, in fact, most military targets are very close to
I wouldn't say most, but there are obviously some important military targets that
are close to cities.
Would you target those targets?
I think this is a matter of detailed planning that would have to be looked at on a
case by case basis.
Well, let's not call it detailed planning. If you're going to target those, then
you're eventually going to also be targeting cities. It doesn't matter to a Soviet civilian whether you're
attacking the military command center in the Kremlin or whether you're attacking the civilian command center
in the Kremlin, does it?
I don't think the Kremlin is exactly the most interesting target to plan on
destroying. We ought to have somebody we can negotiate with in a crisis and in a conflict. The point is that
with greater accuracy it is possible to make this distinction which you regard as important, and that is
precisely because some important military targets, some military bases, including even some missile sites,
in some cases are near cities.
So you are going to be targeting these targets right close to cities. If we don't
want to attack the Pentagon or the Kremlin, what about Logan Airport which is right in the middle of
Boston's suburbs? Would you target Logan Airport, which B-52s can land at, F-4s can land at, and the
There are many, many types of targets, there are many, of course, in a battlefield,
there are many conceivably at sea. It seems to me that one would have to get down to rather specific cases
in order to identify ... I don't know the circumstances which Logan Airport might be a plausible
So you made a strong policy against attacking cities and avoiding civilian
fatalities, but you're not willing to say whether or not you're going to target military bases smack-dab in
the middle of cities, or whether you're going to not target them at all.
Oh, it's conceivable. It's conceivable under some circumstances if the technology,
if the technology would permit this without causing vast civilian damage in which that might make sense. I
would not reject that possibility.
Fine. Let's consider your table here for a second. Is it not true that there are
three things that this table seems to mislead us on. Number one, it doesn't include all strategic forces
cost—for instance, communication, support, intelligence and the rest. The Brookings would put the cost of
our strategic forces up in the $15 to $20 billion category. Number two, that it includes defensive forces
which we know were limited under SALT, so what this shows is the benefit of SALT agreements, not new
programs. And number three, that in fact we ought to show the line going up today because Secretary
Schlesinger just asked for a $700 million increase.
First, with respect to the SALT, for one thing, just to happen, was signed in 1972.
As you can see, most of the decrease took place before that.
And since SALT, is it not true that the budget appropriations for offensive forces,
which is what we're talking about tonight, has gone up, and Secretary Schlesinger wants to increase
I said that the budget for 1975 was a request for increase, a slight increase, in
the historic scale very minor.
There are various ways of measuring the size of the strategic budget, all of the
ways I'm aware of, including Brookings way, they would show a sizeable decrease. All of them.
In offensive forces?
The budget for offensive forces, absolutely.
All right, let's go back to Mr. Ellsworth.
Professor Rowen, what would be the effect of deploying highly accurate warheads, the
effect of doing that on the Strategic Arms Talks, which are now in session in Vienna between the United
States and the Soviet Union?
Well, I doubt very much that it would have a major effect on those discussions. But
I do think that it offers one possibility, and the possibility is this: that we say to the Russians that our
own missile force is becoming a more accurate one, and this renders obsolete—this will render obsolete—the
Russian fixed force in silos. It's just very clear that this would happen, that they should consider
retiring that force, that we have the same prospect, the same problem: we should consider retiring our
missile force and perhaps our land-based fixed missile force, that we should possibly do this by agreement.
This might be a positive development within SALT then.
All right, Mr. Carter, back to you.
Isn't the present accuracy of our missiles such that today we can attack cities,
power plants, dams, all the things that you mentioned except for large numbers of Soviet missile silos, and
isn't that what you're really planning to do, to develop accuracy to attack large numbers of Soviet missile
I think we should have a silo retirement program, not a silo attack program. The
fact is that there are many targets which, if attacked with the weapons that now exist, the civil damage
would really be quite sizeable, and that seems to me something that should be reduced and eliminated.
Mr. Rowen, I don't think that's responsive. Aren't the missiles that you're talking
about going to be very effective for attacking large numbers of Soviet silos?
They may be, in which case I believe that the Russians and we should sit down and
agree that we will do away with and retard these forces which are inevitably going to become vulnerable
forces. There's no way that that can be prevented.
But that's the only thing that they really can do that your other forces can't do,
the present forces can't do.
Oh, on the contrary, on the contrary, on the contrary. What these other forces,
these existing forces do, is to kill millions of innocent civilians if they were ever to be used.
All right. Professor Rowen, I want to thank you very much for being with us tonight.
The importance of our nuclear strategy from an international point of view is
something our next witness understands very well. He was a research associate at the International Institute
for Strategic Studies in London, Mr. Geoffrey Kemp.
Mr. Kemp, welcome to THE ADVOCATES.
Mr. Kemp is an Associate Professor now of International Politics at the Fletcher
School here in Boston and has been Executive Secretary of the Harvard-M.I.T. Arms Control Seminar. Professor
Kemp, how do most countries view the United States-Soviet nuclear relationship?
Well, I think they feel that the United States is beginning to fall behind.
They look at trends, not just trends in strategic budgets and weapon systems, but
overall trends in terms of military capabilities and political capabilities. In particular, they look at the
trends in Soviet defense expenditure, which have gone steadily up since 1965. They look at the trends in the
Soviet expenditure on strategic forces, which have been consistently higher than the United States
equivalent since 1965. They look at the whole array of weapon systems the Soviet Union will have the
capacity to deploy in the mid-1980s which will have a very effective capability against the land-based U.S.
forces. And I think it's important at this stage to stress and reverse a myth that's sometimes put about,
namely that the Soviet Union follows meekly behind the United States, responding to programs that the United
States has adopted. The Soviet Union has been the innovator in many of the advanced technologies we're
talking about. It was the Soviet Union that first developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, medium
range ballistic missiles, intermediate range ballistic missiles, anti-ballistic missile systems, and
fractional orbital bombardment systems. Similarly, I think if we look at the recent Middle East war, it's
perfectly clear that the Soviet Union has developed a very effective and very sophisticated array of
non-nuclear weapons that can be used in real conflict areas where real wars occur.
Professor Kemp, if the Soviet Union has and will continue to develop this powerful
and sophisticated strategic capability, what is the military doctrine, the Soviet military doctrine, that
might guide its use?
I think it's very important to stress that the Soviet strategic doctrine is seen as
part and parcel of an overall political strategy. They do not plan their strategic forces in a vacuum. These
forces, together with their non-nuclear forces, are designed to serve political, military, and economic
goals. They're very sensitive to the fact that they can use military power for political uses in areas of
vital interest to the West. Furthermore, if you go into the writings on Soviet military doctrine, and
particularly their strategic doctrine, they talk about the possibility that nuclear war could occur. This
doesn't mean to say that they want it or they'd like it, but they believe it could happen. After all,
they're sitting there faced by not just the United States but China and Britain and France, who they regard
as possible hostile adversaries. And in this set of circumstances they plan in their doctrine a war-waging
capability. This distinction, and the important point to make, is that part of the Soviet overall strategic
deterrence posture includes the capacity to engage in a war-waging fight.
If, as you say, our allies and neutral countries view the U.S. as falling behind,
what would be the political consequences of this?
Well, I think that if the United States does not adopt some of the programs that
Secretary Schlesinger has suggested and if it were to fix itself upon a counter-city strategy, then the
credibility in the United States overall political presence and its nuclear guarantee would continue to
diminish. This could have two very important implications which I think we should bear in mind. First, it
might encourage those countries, such as Japan, or countries in Western Europe, to, in the case of Europe,
beef up, or in the case of Japan, begin to develop a serious nuclear capability. Or second, and perhaps more
worrying from the United States perspective, it might force countries of vital interest to the United States
to reach individual accommodation with the Soviet Union, and this could only erode not only the United
States interest but the interests of those powers themselves.
All right, Mr. Ellsworth. Let's go to Mr. Carter for some questions.
Dr. Kemp, as I understand it, you're supporting the Schlesinger proposal for large
yield, high accuracy missiles.
I'm supporting the proposals that suggest increasing accuracy on United States
missile systems and the various back-up programs that go along with that, yes.
Those programs which, as defined by Richard Nixon in two different statements,
budget statements, include larger yield warheads. Now, I understand that there have been a lot of
inoperative statements out of the White House, but as of January of this year the talk by President Nixon
and in every budget statement by Secretary Schlesinger is for larger yield. That's what you're
I am supporting an overall strengthening in the United States strategic forces,
including the capability to more accurately target counter-force options.
Fine. The accuracy... We've heard a lot about fatalities this evening. The accuracy
of the Minuteman missile today is roughly 1,500 feet. The kind of accuracy we're talking about is about 600
feet, a savings of about 900 feet. If we talk about larger nuclear weapons, bombs at least eight to fifty
times the power of Hiroshima, how much safer do you, as a civilian, feel being 600 feet away from ground
zero of a bomb eight to fifty times the size of Hiroshima?
You know, you don't have to put these high yield warheads on these more accurate
Oh, you're not supporting the President's proposal.
I am supporting the proposal that the United States develop the technology to have
high yield warheads, yes.
But not on accurate missiles?
But how we'll actually deploy those missiles, in what particular programs, has yet
to be discussed.
Professor, let me ask you a question to see if I understand you. I take it that you
are in favor of developing accurate missiles so that our target concentration would be on Soviet military
targets rather than Soviet cities, is that right?
I, like Professor Rowen, would like to see more flexibility cranked into the United
States war plan.
Well, is it for the purpose that I've just stated?
That is certainly a purpose, yes.
Well, if the Soviet Union, then, knows that to be our purpose because we would
rather not destroy cities and would rather concentrate on targets, wouldn't the Soviet Union, then, have an
incentive to move its military targets closer to their cities?
Not necessarily. It seems to me that the most likely emphasis would be to move their
missile systems to sea, where they're much safer.
Go ahead, Mr. Carter.
Why, if we're talking of larger or even smaller yield warheads—we're not sure what,
it seems, on the other side—if we're talking about them, why doesn't the United States just aim at military
targets far away from cities? Aren't there missile silos a long way from a city? Aren't there Arctic air
bases? Why do we have to try to take out a Logan air base, say, in Minsk or some other Soviet city?
Well, I'm saying that there are a whole series of contingencies which you could plan
for if you had a large strategic inventory. I'm not here...
But can't you with our present forces with accuracies of 1,500 feet destroy every
kind of target except large numbers of Soviet missile silos? What else can't you destroy?
That's perfectly correct. I think you can. The point that I'm stressing is that the
ability to target some of these missile silos—I don't say all of them—is certainly an additional armor in
the hands of the Presidents, but the point that I'm trying to stress is that what we're trying to discuss is
Oh no, but let's... I'm always confused by philosophy until I know the details, and
the details that I understand is that first, if we're going to develop large bombs, they're fifty times the
power of Hiroshima and I hope they don't land anyplace near a Soviet city. Secondly is what you said the
only purpose of these weapons, except for saving lives somehow, is to destroy Soviet missile silos,
something we can't do today. How wise of a policy is it to want to destroy large numbers of Soviet missile
The capacity to threaten large numbers of Soviet missile silos certainly has
advantages, if you are not totally threatening their entire force structure which, as Professor Rowen
pointed out, we are not. We can't because they have so many missiles at sea.
According to the U.S. defense budget, we're spending $2.5 billion on anti-submarine
warfare, and the number is estimated to go up to $5 billion. If you were in the Pentagon, and you saw the
U.S. embarking on a program to take out your missile silos and spending $4 to $5 billion on anti-submarine
warfare, wouldn't you begin to wonder just what U.S. intentions were, that maybe we were seeking a first
strike, and as a result, that you would embark on your own programs to build up your forces?
I think the Soviet decision to embark on their own programs is not taken based on an
assessment of what's going on in the Pentagon. That's one factor I'd agree with you. There are many other
factors as well, and what we have to do this evening is put out on the table those other factors, these
Let's go back to Mr. Ellsworth.
Professor Kemp, if the Unites States actually deployed highly accurate missiles
aimed at military targets, would that strengthen or weaken the deterrence of war?
I think it would strengthen the deterrent factor because it would provide the United
States with a more credible capability from which to negotiate from a position of strength. This in turn
would enhance the credibility of the United States strategic guarantee to its allies, which has broad-based
political ramifications as well as very specific military ones.
All right, Mr. Carter, back to you.
I'm still confused. The threat to take out Soviet missile silos, along with an
active program to get their submarines, is somehow going to not scare the Soviets into entering into new
arms programs? It is not going to insist that they can accept limits in SALT because they need new programs
to feel safe.
I would hope it would make the Soviet Union very serious about negotiating a SALT II
Oh, but can you limit accuracy and yield in SALT? I've heard that there's no way to
limit them, so once we start down that road, it's something we can't limit, and therefore the Soviets need
matching or compensating programs.
I don't know that we can't limit it. It seems to me that's something that the
negotiators have currently been discussing and will continue to discuss. Of course it's complicated, I agree
with you, but to say that it can't be done is to my mind a very sort of pessimistic outlook to take.
How can we tell what the accuracy of Soviet missiles are if we're going to limit
them, when we're not sure what the targets are? If it lands in the middle of the ocean, do we know if
they're right on target, or if they're a hundred yards off?
Because if you restrict the numbers of launches on either side and make restrictions
on certain throw-weights, then by definition it follows that you can hold down the numbers of aiming points
that would be highly accurate.
So the way to stop this is by having limits on number of launches, which means that
we can't test our new missiles, they can't test any of their new missiles, we can't test our new warheads.
That's a proposal that's never been proposed in SALT, never gotten anywhere as far as I know, according to
Well, we already have a proposal to freeze launches in SALT I.
All right, thank you, Mr. Carter. Professor, I want to thank you very much for being
with us tonight.
Now, our witnesses have shown why it's desirable to develop accurate missiles—that
is, to reduce potential damage—and to he able to pose a believable threat which discriminates between
innocent, blameless people, on the one hand, and military targets on the other. And we have shown exactly
why strategic policy which emphasizes threats of the annihilation of millions and of innocent civilians is
immoral. It is a throwback to the dark ages. It must be rejected.
Thank you. For those of you who may have joined us late, Mr. Ellsworth and his
witnesses have just presented the case in favor of developing highly accurate missiles and emphasizing
military targets rather than cities. And now for the case against, Mr. Carter the floor is yours.
The whole idea of our strategic policy is to avoid nuclear war with its millions of
fatalities. The backbone of this deterrence is assured retaliation, the ability of either side to make a
major attack or to make the attack by the other an act of suicide. We can do that. Only five to ten percent
of our warheads can literally wipe out the Soviet Union today. We've heard it proposed tonight that the
United States should develop new, highly accurate missiles. Ironically enough, this proposal in the name of
humanity and flexibility would make nuclear holocaust much more likely. First, it puts our strategic policy
squarely behind the myth that nuclear war can be fought neatly and cleanly on a limited scale. Second, by
presenting the threat of destroying large numbers of Soviet missile silos, these missiles would feed the
paranoia of hard-liners in the Kremlin, increasing the chance that in a crisis the Soviets would decide that
the best course would be to launch a first strike against us as their way to survive. If increasing the
likelihood of nuclear war weren't enough, developing these missiles will also stimulate an arms race and
make it more difficult to negotiate further limits in SALT. In short, this proposal is not only unnecessary
but it's downright dangerous. With me tonight, as my first witness, is Dr. Herbert Scoville.
Dr. Scoville, welcome to THE ADVOCATES.
Dr. Scoville is a former Pentagon atomic scientist and Deputy Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency. Dr. Scoville, what should be the primary objective of our strategic
The overriding objective of our strategic policy should be to avoid nuclear war.
Even a limited nuclear war is so dangerous and can create such great damage, and it also has a risk of
escalating into a full-scale conflagration that we must avoid it at all cost. What we should be doing is not
learning how to fight nuclear wars better, but how to avoid them more surely.
We've heard a lot this evening about the inhumanity of attacking cities. Why do we
target cities at all?
Well, we target cities because the only way we know now to avoid nuclear war is to
deter its occurrence, and we need to have the capability to attack cities to deter an all-out aggression on
the part of the Soviet Union. We can't risk the situation that some irrational person—and in this I disagree
with Professor Rowen—we can't risk that an irrational person could think that he could get away with a
nuclear strike just by the fact that we might retaliate by firing a missile at one of his silos, which
probably would be empty anyway.
We're bombarded today by Pentagon press releases about a growing Soviet strategic
build-up. Just what is a strategic balance today?
Well, the strategic balance unfortunately is that we are very equal, but both sides
in the post-SALT atmosphere have continued to build up and add to their strategic forces as if there had
been no SALT agreement whatsoever. However, Mr. Kemp would lead us to believe that the Soviets were the only
ones that were doing this and that it was just?--and this is what the Pentagon puts out all the time in
order to increase their budget. The actual facts are that in 1972 when the SALT agreement was reached, we
had about 5,000 to 6,000 warheads which could be fired at the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union had about
2,200. Now, two years later, we have increased that number to 7,100, while the Soviets still have only
2,300. in 1977—and even by official Pentagon figures—we will have increased our number to about 10,000, and
the Soviets will still be less than 4,000. In other words, our lead is still increasing and will increase
About a rate of three a day we're deploying these warheads, it seems. Let's talk
about developing highly accurate missiles. What could they possibly do that we can't do now?
The only thing that a more accurate missile than what we have today can do is it can
threaten to be able to knock out a very large proportion of the Soviet ICBM force, and this is, of course, a
very dangerous thing.
Well, does it make any sense to want to attack large numbers of silos?
No, in fact, it is extremely dangerous to have this capability for two reasons. One,
it will look to the Soviet Union as if we were trying to get a capability for striking first at their force
and knocking it out before it can attack us. Furthermore, because our missiles will have this capability, it
provides us tremendous incentive for the Soviets to beat us to the gun and try to knock out our missiles
first, so by having this capability we are increasing the likelihood that the Soviets will attack us
Scary words. If we did deploy this program which is going to destabilize things and
all, somehow it was suggested that our budget was going to go down. What would be the cost of developing and
deploying such missiles like this?
Well, the cost would be astronomical if we really followed through on all of these
programs. The Minuteman III program, which is now nearing completion, involved a changing of 550 missiles,
about half the force. This cost about $6 billion. If we went through with these programs on the entire
Minuteman force, it would probably be a minimum of $10 or more billion, and if we started on the Poseidon as
well and the submarine missiles, which are incidentally now being proposed to do this by Secretary
Schlesinger, maybe another $10 billion, then we'll never know where it's going to end.
All right, thank you, Mr. Carter. Mr. Ellsworth, your witness.
Dr. Scoville, I have to agree with you that the horror of a nuclear exchange where
cities are involved is a very powerful deterrent. This deterrent is based on the proposition that rational
men do not lightly contemplate suicide, don't you agree?
Well, isn't it true...
Irrational ones too probably.
But isn't it true that there are powerful people in the world who are
And that some day there might be some of them in positions of actual power in the
Or that in some other way deterrence might fail.
That's absolutely right, but I have a feeling that if an irrational leader would be
more likely to launch an attack if he thought he could get away by having our retaliation limited to a
strike against his missile sites than if he thought his whole society might be destroyed.
Well, Dr. Scoville, let me ask you this question, see if I understand you. I take it
you're against the idea of our developing more accurate missiles. Is that right?
Now, what if you learned tonight that the Soviet Union was doing just that? Would
you change your mind?
No, I don't believe our getting more accurate missiles is the answer to the Soviets
achieving this capability. Both of us having this capability is far worse than one of us having it. By our
having accurate missiles we're not protecting our missiles. We're just making them a more attractive target
to the Soviets' accurate missiles.
Go ahead, Mr. Ellsworth.
Now, Dr. Scoville, if, for any reason, there should be, say, a one missile strike on
a minor target in the United States—and that's only for the purposes of discussion because of course I don't
concede that there is a minor target in the United states from that standpoint—but if, for any reason,
deterrence has failed and there should be, say, a one missile strike on a minor target in the United States,
what should the United States do? Should we retaliate massively by blasting their cities?
Of course not, and we don't have that requirement today. We have a capability to
retaliate in any number of a wide variety of forms. Frankly, I hope we wouldn't retaliate directly with a
nuclear strike. I would hope we try to avoid further nuclear weapons, but certainly we don't have to
retaliate by striking at all our cities, at all the Russian cities.
Welcome to our side. Beautiful. In light of what you have just said, what is the use
of talking about targeting cities?
The use of targeting cities is that the Soviet strike might not be such a limited
strike, and there might be—there is a real need to deter an all out strike against the U.S. If we had said
we would not target Soviet cities, what is there to prevent the Soviets from threatening to destroy our
cities? Certainly not aiming at another missile.
So that what you're saying is that in any case below an all-out attack by the Soviet
Union on American cities and on American societies, in any Soviet attack short of that, why, a
cities-targeting strategy on the part of the United States is simply a bluff. Is that correct? Do I
understand you correctly?
No, it's not a bluff, it's an attempt to deter them from initiating this action.
What we would do in any circumstances, I don't know, but the Soviets have to assume, if we have that
capability, that that's what might happen and therefore they would hesitate very strongly to take such
But in light of what you have said, that we wouldn't do that, then it is a bluff to
No, you've gone way beyond what I said. You mentioned one missile being fired at a
target in this country, and I said that I didn't think that was the kind of thing that the Soviets would
ever think we would retaliate by hitting all their cities.
Let me see if I understand you. I did say one missile, and at the other end of the
spectrum, you said an all-out Soviet attack on the United states. Where would you draw the line in between
those two at the point at which you would not retaliate with an all-out spasm attack against the Soviet
I have no idea at what point—under what circumstances—we would ever initiate such an
attack, but the threat that that attack could occur should deter the other side from ever contemplating such
An all-out attack.
But military targeting, under your doctrine that you've just spelled out under
cross-examination, is important.
I think we have sufficient ability today to target military targets, and I'm not for
throwing that capability away.
But you can see that it is important. But it is important for us to have.
To have some capability, yes, but we do not need the additional capability which
Secretary Schlesinger is seeking by getting more accurate missiles.
All right, that to one side for the moment.
All right, let's go back to Mr. Carter, you'll have, another chance at him, Mr.
Dr. Scoville, if we didn't keep as one of our options the ability to attack Soviet
cities, isn't there a danger that if we only said we're going to take out military targets, and ones not
near cities, that the Soviets might think certain measures were ones they might take? For instance, weren't
they willing to give up whole armies to attack Hitler? Weren't the United States willing to give up armies
and fleets to take on the Japanese and the Germans in World War II? Military targets are expendable, aren't
Yes, exactly, and I don't see how the threat that we might fire a missile at a
Soviet ICBM site is much of a deterrent. I don't see how that deters either a rational or an irrational
person. I think you have to have something much stronger than just attacking a missile site.
All right, back to you, Mr. Ellsworth, for one question.
Isn't the alleged Soviet fear that silo killers would constitute a capability to
knock out their nuclear force ridiculous in view of the fact that they have so many submarines which we
can't even target?
No, I don't think it's ridiculous. I grant you that I think that it's very unlikely
that one would ever visualize that kind of an attack. I find these scenarios very silly, but we are spending
billions of dollars, as has been mentioned, on anti-submarine warfare, and we worry about the Soviets doing
just this very thing to us. I don't see why the Soviets shouldn't worry about our doing it.
All right. Dr. Scoville, I want to thank you very much for being with us tonight.
Mr. Carter, your next witness, please.
My next witness is Morton Halperin.
Mr. Halperin, welcome to THE ADVOCATES.
Mr. Halperin was former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon under
Robert McNamara and former senior staff member and Assistant for Planning to Dr. Henry Kissinger's National
Security Council staff. Dr. Halperin, we've heard a lot tonight about the argument that highly accurate
missiles would save a lot of lives. Do you agree?
No, I don't. I think the only way to really save lives is to avoid a nuclear war. If
there is to be any kind of a limited nuclear exchange, then the key element in how many people are killed
will be whether targets near cities are hit. With the current warheads which we have and the current
accuracies, if both sides only target only targets far away from cities, there would be relatively little
damage. If both sides target military targets near cities, there would be very great damage. Increases in
the accuracies of our missiles would not change that fact. There would still be very large civilian damage
if we attacked targets near cities, and relatively little if we did not. And increasing warheads, which is
what the administration proposes to do, increasing the size of warheads, would of course increase civilian
casualties whatever targets we attacked.
Well, I can't help thinking that maybe the proponents' position tonight is somewhat
like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. Even if we could design a targeting strategy which
would keep Soviet fatalities low by staying away from cities, are we sure that the Soviets would also stay
away from cities?
Of course we cannot. The Soviet military doctrine talks about hitting cities as well
as hitting military targets, but I think we cannot be sure that our strategy would be that. We simply do not
know what the political leadership on either side would do, confronted with a major crisis or the beginning
of the use of nuclear weapons.
Do you feel that we need these high accuracy missiles to meet the alleged Soviet
build-up in their ability to take out our missiles?
No, I do not believe that we—either in terms of deterrence or for political
reasons—need to match that Soviet capability. We have the capability to deter a Soviet attack by threatening
the destruction of a wide range of different targets in the Soviet Union. We have more than enough
destructive capacity now, and I do not believe there is any reason why, even if the Soviets begin to move
towards an accurate missile capability, we need to do the same.
You know, speaking of the Soviets, if we deploy these highly accurate missiles, how
do you think the Soviets will react?
I think they would react the way the United States reacted in 1969 when we conjured
up the fact that the Soviets were moving in that direction. Secretary Laird, remember, said that the Soviets
were going for a first strike capability and there's no doubt about it. This despite the fact that the
Soviets showed no signs of being able to target our undersea missiles of which we had more than 650. It is,
I think, the case that political leaders on both sides tend to be excessively paranoid about what the other
side is doing, and I think it is very likely that the Soviets would react to our talking about developing
accurate missiles with the belief that we were after their land-based missile force and that they would have
to respond to that.
Okay, you've had extensive experience in the SALT negotiations. Based on your
experience, how do you think the SALT negotiations will be affected by this Soviet build-up, excuse me, by
U.S. build-up in high accuracy missiles?
Well, I think it's very unlikely that one can negotiate limitations on missile
accuracy. What I think is dangerous about the new doctrine in relation to the SALT talks is the philosophy
which says that the United States needs to have a flexible military capability for nuclear war and the
ability to take out Soviet missile silos, because I believe that if you make that the criteria for an arms
control agreement, then it will be impossible to get agreement in the American government on a sensible SALT
position and impossible to negotiate such an agreement with the Soviet Union. Only if both sides are
prepared to accept an agreement which simply assures the deterrent on each side do I think it is possible
that one can negotiate limits on offensive forces.
Make this a brief question and answer.
All right. What do you think is the result of emphasizing a limited war?
I think the result is to make nuclear war seem more plausible, more reasonable, more
humane, and hence to make it more likely.
All right, thank you, Mr. Carter. Mr. Ellsworth, your witness.
Mr. Halperin, if deterrence fails and war breaks out, isn't it desirable to be able
to respond on a limited level and negotiate for termination?
I would hope that we would try to negotiate before we responded, but I certainly
agree that we should have the capability for a wide range of different responses. I believe we have had that
capability since the early 1960s and we should continue to have it.
And you believe that it is desirable?
I believe that it is desirable. I do not believe it depends on increasing the
accuracy of our warheads, nor do I believe it depends on increasing the size of our warheads, both of which
are recommended by Secretary Schlesinger.
Correct, but you don't insist on our renouncing any capability of targeting any
target other than cities, is that correct?
On the contrary, I would insist that we should have such a capability...
You agree that we should emphasize military targets?
No, I believe that we should emphasize a full range of targets. We should emphasize
to the Soviet Union, for the purpose of deterrence, our ability to attack whatever targets in the Soviet
Union we would have to attack in the face of whatever attack...
But you don't object to our having other options, but you just object to our
spending money on accuracy, is that correct?
I don't object so much to the money, I object to the accuracy because I think it
stimulates the arms race, because it makes it harder to negotiate a SALT agreement, and because it makes
nuclear war seem limited, makes the possibility of limiting nuclear war seem more likely, and I think that
encourages military leaders on both sides to think about nuclear options.
But you said a moment ago that you found the range of options, including military
targeting options, to be highly desirable, did you not?
That's right, but that's very different from emphasizing the fact that we're
planning on fighting a limited nuclear war which very easily slips into saying that we believe that a
nuclear war can be limited.
Nobody is urging the fighting of a limited nuclear war, but you do agree with us
that it's appropriate and beneficial and desirable for the United States to have a range of targets
including military targets to a substantial degree.
But I don't think he agrees with you, Mr. Ellsworth, that the targeting of cities
should be abandoned. I think that's the difference.
I understand that, I understand that.
And I don't believe that we need either accurate warheads—more accurate warheads—or
large warheads, which is the essence of what Secretary of Defense Schlesinger...
And your objection to accurate warheads runs to the accurate warheads whether they
are linked with increased yield or with decreased yield. Is that correct?
If they were linked with decreased yield, which of course is not the proposal, they
would be less objectionable.
That's Professor Rowen's proposal.
That's right, and I think that...
That's what I'm asking you about.
I find that less objectionable than the other, but I find accuracy unnecessary for
this purpose because if we're going to attack military targets in a very limited strike, there are many
military targets far away from cities.
On the question of accuracy linked with decreased yield, you concede that one of the
classic aims of arms control is to limit damage in case war should break out, do you not?
And don't you think that increased accuracy with decreased yields is desirable from
that point of view?
But one has to weigh that against the danger that it stimulates the arms race and
increases the likelihood of nuclear war, and in balancing those I would argue that it is undesirable.
Well, Mr. Halperin, what if tomorrow Leonid Brezhnev said, "I believe in a more
humane Soviet policy, and from now on the Soviet Union will no longer target American cities. We will target
only military targets with accurate missiles." Would you change your mind about what our policy should
I would still say we should have the capacities the Soviets would continue to have
to not target cities, but I would be glad to respond to that by saying that we would not be the first to
launch large attacks at the other side's cities, which I believe should be our policy. I cannot imagine any
circumstances in which the United States should initiate military attacks on cities.
And then if you said that, Mr. Brezhnev would probably change his mind, right? Go
ahead, Mr. Ellsworth.
But of course I think the point is that neither side can count on these guarantees
sticking once nuclear weapons are used in a nuclear exchange.
Go ahead, Mr. Ellsworth.
But still you don't resist the idea of having the whole range of options
I resist the notion that accuracy and large warheads are a part of that, but I do
Didn't you write in 1963, "There is also a need for extremely accurate systems that
can arrive at pre-targeted locations and hunt out targets and destroy them"? Did you write that or
Your research is better than mine, I searched for that article and couldn't find
You did write that.
We have the kind of accuracy that I was talking about. When I wrote that article,
our accuracies were much worse than they now are. We now have the capacity to attack Soviet missile silos in
small numbers, we have the capacity to attack other Soviet targets, and I believe we have the kind of
flexibility that I was suggesting then.
Let me ask you the question that I asked Dr. Scoville. Isn't the alleged Soviet fear
that silo killers on our part would constitute a capability to knock out their nuclear force ridiculous in
view of the fact that they have so many submarines which we can't even target?
Make this very brief.
It is a ridiculous fear which both sides have exhibited in the past and I think are
likely to exhibit in the future.
All right, let's go to Mr. Carter.
Mr. Halperin, other than developing highly accurate missiles, do you have some
proposals for what we might do today in the present strategic situation?
Yes, my proposal would be the one that has already been put forward by Professor
Rowen: namely, I think the urgent task at SALT should be to try to negotiate very substantial reductions and
perhaps the total elimination of fixed land-based missiles on both sides.
And is that helped or hurt by developing highly accurate missiles?
I think it's hurt insofar as the proposal that the Secretary of Defense puts forward
encourages the military to believe that they can get what they would call war-fighting capability with those
missiles and hence, I think, would be less likely to be willing to give them up in a negotiation.
All right, back to you, Mr. Ellsworth.
If we pursue—if the United States, as a policy, leans in the direction which you
yourself have suggested and which our side strongly urges, that we veer away from the contemplation of
targeting cities, then doesn't that increase our credibility, for example, of our nuclear guarantees to our
allies, particularly Germany and Japan?
I don't believe that at all. I think that the basic credibility of our nuclear
guarantees to the Germans and the Japanese in particular has to do with the nature of our political
relationships with those countries, has to do with the presence of American military forces in Western
Europe and in or around Japan. I don't believe that anybody but more than a handful of people in any of
those countries pay attention to this kind of detail about nuclear weapons. I believe that, therefore, it is
our political relationship with them and the credible guarantee and the credible perception in the Kremlin
that we are concerned about their security which is what is the backbone of the deterrent.
So that our nuclear forces and our nuclear doctrine and our nuclear strategy and our
strategy of deterrence in your opinion have virtually no—or at least an insignificant—effect on German and
Japanese perceptions of our nuclear guarantee and therefore what it is on our part would have no effect on
their tendency to develop nuclear weapons on their own.
Very quick answer.
I think that's true within very wide limits. As long as we have forces roughly
comparable to the Soviet Union, I think the details just don't matter to them.
All right, Mr. Halperin, I want to thank you for appearing on THE ADVOCATES. Thank
you, gentlemen. That completes the cases, and now it's time for each of you to present your closing
arguments. Mr. Carter, could we have yours, please.
Our insurance policy against nuclear war is the fact that we have several times the
destructive power we could conceivably use, and the Soviets know it. We could destroy military targets or
population centers or both, and the Soviets know it. That's how deterrence works. We all agree we need to
negotiate mutual reductions in arsenals; the last thing we need is new, high accuracy missiles. They do
nothing for us except to allow us to threaten large numbers of Soviet missile silos. This is the one thing
which could tempt the Soviets to consider striking first in a crisis, which will spur a new, expensive arms
race and which will undermine the SALT negotiations. The proponents nave called our deterrent immoral. I can
think of nothing more immoral than something which makes nuclear war sound effective, which makes nuclear
war sound attractive, and that is what their proposal does. This country is not wealthy enough, nor are the
risks of nuclear war remote enough, that we can afford to develop these high accuracy missiles. Vote no on
Thank you. Mr. Ellsworth.
All of us tonight have a common goal: to deter nuclear war. We all agree that the
cost of war has to be so great as to prevent either side from embarking on it. This to Mr. Carter means it
must be the threatened destruction of Soviet cities, and I say that it not only a genocidal policy but an
unbelievable one. Both to the Soviets and to the rest of the world we contend that the risks of nuclear war
are so great that the Soviets would be equally deterred by our ability to retaliate on military targets at a
lesser, more humane level. More importantly, the two sides tonight differ on what to do if deterrence fails.
The horrible event of an accidental or irrational outbreak of war, be it by an insane dictator, accident, or
miscalculated escalation from conventional war, it is irresponsible for us not to do everything in our power
to prepare for that event and to try to limit and minimize its damage in every possible way. For that
purpose we advocate the targeting of military sites and the development of more accurate missiles.
Thank you, gentlemen. And now it's time for you in our audience to get involved.
What do you think on tonight's question? Should we develop highly accurate missiles and emphasize military
targets rather than cities? Send us your "yes" or "no" vote on a letter or postcard to THE ADVOCATES, Box
1974, Boston 02134. We'll tabulate your votes and make the results known to members of Congress and others
interested in this topic. As much as it affects this country's ability to avoid a nuclear holocaust, we can
say that no question THE ADVOCATES has debated is more important than this one. And for the same reason it's
important that you help make your views known to the government. Now, remember the address: THE ADVOCATES,
Box 1974, Boston 02134. Now, recently THE ADVOCATES debated the question, "Should the government institute
coupon rationing of gasoline now?" Of the more than 11,000 viewers who sent in their votes, only 12 percent
said yes, that rationing should be instituted now and that the price of gasoline should be controlled to
assure no increase in profits for the oil companies, and a tremendous 88 percent said no, that letting
prices rise freely is an equally effective and less complicated way of controlling demand than gas
rationing. And now let's take a look ahead to next week's program. (PROMOTIONAL MESSAGE) And now, with
thanks to our advocates and their very able and distinguished witnesses, we conclude tonight's debate.