Thursday, May 29, 2008


The cover of a 1970 issue of Ordnance magazine, again salvaged from garage sales in Pennsyltucky and Maryland, shows an ICBM lifting out of Vandenberg in California. You could call the publication the Better Homes and Missiles of its time. (The photo was so beloved it was used regularly. In a 1969 issue of the magazine, it showed up rendered in an advertisement for Minuteman.)

As DD has said before, the editors of Ordnance could not have imagined their country as one where a popular show on cable, "Futureweapons," exists only to show promotional videos of cluster bombs, computerized mines and fanatics getting erections over the US Air Force's skill at carpet bombing.

Perhaps the editors would think you were joking if you could send a letter back in time, one telling them there is no longer any serious mainstream opposition to anything the military does at the behest of the government.

On page 259, in an article on the worth of the C-5 Galaxy military transport plane, a contributor plaintively asks: "Does something cost too much when not having it costs more?"

Possessing the largest military infrastructure in world history, one which exceeds in spending what all other countries in the world COMBINED invest, the thoughts of the directors and contributors of Ordnance look old and utterly out of it.

In 2008 there is no real debate on the appropriateness of the size of defense and security force structure fielded by the United States. The mainstream media actively cheerleads for war, allows itself to be a frictionless conduit for whatever fuglemen from the administration and Pentagon have to say.

The vast majority of Americans have no stake, influence or say in the wars their leadership chooses to wage. In no longer having to serve, as they did when this 1970 issue of Ordnance was published, they abandoned responsibility, mostly to have the unimpeded freedom to buy on credit whatever lavish things they wish to buy whenever they wish to buy them. And while there were always articles in Ordnance warning that the country would not give the US military a total blank check, thirty eight years later there are almost no weapons too nonsensical or pointless to fund.

But in November-December of 1970, Ordnance was concerned with the Soviet Union.

"While the United States has been basing its strategic planning on the theory that if we limit our first-strike capability, the Soviets will do likewise, the Reds have continued their build-up," wrote Mark Schneider in "Red Missiles and SALT."

"According to [Defense Secretary Melvin] Laird, the 12,000 - 15,000-pound payload of the SS-9 Scarp could carry three 5-megaton warheads ... The SS-9 is a problem in the SALT talks because it is so powerful and so clearly a first-strike weapon."

Schneider worried that the US had no way of inducing or persuading the Soviet Union to limit its first strike missile force without engaging in an acceleration of the arms race, which is precisely what happened.

In 2008, Islamic terrorists are not in possession of a force of SS-9 Scarps. And they do not possess civilization-ending multi-megaton thermonuclear weapons. Yet the American government tortures its prisoners, just in case they know something. As a country, we have lost all perspective.

In 1970, Richard Nixon ordered American troops in Cambodia, sparking riots. And William Calley was put on trial for the massacre at My Lai.

Riots and civil unrest made Ordnance magazine uneasy, too. In the magazine's book review section, "The Riot Makers: The Technology of Social Demolition" by Eugene H. Methvin, is recommended.

"The riot era has come home to America," wrote Ken Kent. "Riot makers are not amateurs, and our modern riots are not the result of spontaneous events."

"Modern riots are on the ascendancy with no indication that they will fade away," asserted Kent. "Each of us should learn more about riot-making and about what action must be taken, by whom, to keep riots from happening. This book covers its timely subject in a most constructive way. Read it for a better understanding of one of today's most serious problems."

Hanson Baldwin's "Strategy for Tomorrow" is reviewed by W. K. Ghormley.

"There are political and military voices in the land today that will agree with the author enthusiastically, and there are many others who will be violently opposed to his reasoning and conclusions," wrote Ghormley.

"Most of the time his viewpoint is on a collision course with that of the popular news media, the growing vocal minorities who advocate 'peace at any price,' and with positions being taken by many important leaders in Congress ... The author's specific advice can be summarized: We must keep our powder dry if the United States is to survive the dangerous last third of the twentieth century without ecoming 'Red or dead.'"

"This book was written under the auspices of the Center for Strategic and International Studies ..." notes the reviewer.

Some things, however, appear to have not changed at all.

Heavy machine gun ad, circa 1970. Recommended for use against Communists and, maybe, anti-war students riot-makers.


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