Theater of Cruelty

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

MILITARY / We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?


In October 2019 practiced USA with simulated attacks with a coronavirus which was to spread throughout the world.

Unlike army soldiers, air forces often have a more abstract and sometimes almost statistical relationship to homicide. Pilots do not see their victims, as became clear during the bombing of Tokyo on the night of March 10, 1945, killing more than 100, perhaps up to 000 people. The intention was to knock out factories and civilians. Major General Curtis lemay was in charge, while the operation was led by Brigadier Thomas Power. The subsequent atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also led to the killing of between 110 and 000 people. The plane bombing over Japan may have killed a total of perhaps 200 civilians. This annihilation of civilians in Japan was the prelude to the thinking of the US Strategic Air Command (SAC). The degree of annihilation can only be compared to the mass killings of epidemics with biological weapons – which can also kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of civilians. Key advisers to the president Donald Trump, as Colonel Robert Kadlec (also he from the Air Force), believes today that biological weapons may become the nuclear weapons of the 2000st century. They can kill as many as nuclear weapons, but they are more useful, says Kadlec. The advantage of biological weapons is that one does not know whose or om some are responsible – and Kadlec adds: They can also be used in peacetime.

To kill 285 million people in one night

Since the 50s, US strategists have made plans to exterminate the enemy. This responsibility then lay with the Air Force, first and foremost Strategic Air Command (SAC) under their General Curtis LeMay. Documents from the National Security Archive in Washington state that the SAC had 1955 nuclear weapons in 2400 – in 1959 there were 12, and in 000 as many as 1961 nuclear weapons. If the Soviets were to attack the West, the SAC's Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) would be implemented. The SAC was to "take out" the Soviet Union and China. 22 cities were to be destroyed. William Burr of the National Security Archive in Washington writes in his classic article for the National Security Archive from 229 that "SIOP-130" (2004) calculated with a US "pre-emptive strike", a "pre-emptive US attack" with a total of 62 1962 megatons, which in one night would kill 7 million people before the Soviets had managed to attack a single western country. The numbers of deaths if one considers radioactivity and hunger would be far higher. In Tokyo on the night of March 847, 285, only a few per mille were killed by the massacre that SIOP-10 calculated.

Fred Kaplan writes in his The Wizards of Armageddon (1984) and for the National Security Archive that the commander of the Marine Corps, General David Shoup, in 1962 asked the commander of the SAC, General Thomas Power, whether one could not exclude China from an attack if China was not involved in the war. Power replied, "It would really screw up the plan." There was then only one plan, which would be implemented if the United States, or another Western country, was or could be expected to be attacked. This could have serious consequences during the Cuba crisis of 1962, which has been documented by the National Security Archive (2002).

In October, the B-59, a Soviet Foxtrot submarine, was attacked by US aircraft carriers and destroyers. On the submarine, the situation was desperate. Captain Valentin Savisky ordered the preparation of a nuclear torpedo, but the requirement to deploy nuclear weapons was that all three top-ranking officers agreed, and the second submarine, Vasily Arkhipov, believed they could do without weapons. Had Arkhipov's decision been different, the United States would have responded with great certainty to the attack with nuclear weapons, and at that time there was only one plan: a total annihilation of the Soviet Union and China.

As a result of a "deal" between John F. Kennedy og Nikita Khrushchev During the Cuba crisis, the Soviet Union had to withdraw its medium-range missiles from Cuba, while the United States had to withdraw its from Turkey. The US military leadership had plans for a major air and naval attack on Cuba, and it was considered unlikely that hundreds of Soviet short-range missiles in Cuba could stop a US invasion. What was not known in the United States, however, was that these many hundreds of rockets had nuclear warheads, and that they would certainly have been deployed in a US attack. None of the US intelligence services had assumed that these missiles had nuclear warheads. Kennedy stopped the military leadership's plans, but if there had been another president and the attack had been launched, a nuclear war would in all probability have been a fact. Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China would have been removed from the map. It was pure coincidence that made us live in the world we now live in.

General Thomas S. Power and General Bernard A. Schriever in a 1962 Senate hearing (wikimedia)


In a US conflict with the Soviet Union, the SAC's plans in the mid – 50s assumed the annihilation of China's air bases and cities, including Beijing, regardless of the decisions made in China. After the Korean War (1950-53), Chinese authorities knew that all cities would be destroyed by a US attack. Production would be ruined. Hundreds of millions would starve to death. In 1957, Chinese leader Mao Zedong stated that they could lose 300 million in a nuclear attack, but that they would not surrender. From 1957, the conflict with the Soviet Union also played a role. China had no nuclear weapons and could not respond to an attack. One had to prepare for the fact that all cities would be knocked out. The only way to survive was a total decentralization, also of steel production. It was carried out from 1958 ("The Great Leap Forward"). The country was divided into 24 municipalities and half a million production brigades. Mao legitimized the measures as a socialist industrial and agricultural reform. It would have saved China from total annihilation by a nuclear attack, but had catastrophic consequences: A majority of professionals conclude that between 000 and 20 million people lost their lives in the famine that followed. It was probably the largest man-made famine disaster in history. These millions of dead Chinese were probably the most immediate consequence of the SAC's plans in the 30s.

The Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China would be removed from the map.

A document from the National Security Archive refers to a meeting on September 20, 1961 between President John F. Kennedy and the military leadership. SAC and Thomas Power had suggested a "first blow" to strike out  Soviet and China, since the Soviet Union built up its capacity and it was important to eliminate the Soviet Union and China before they could pose a threat to the United States. The Soviet Union and China were to be eliminated purely preventively. In reality, one had to reckon with far more than 300 million dead. Power was denied by Kennedy, but according to a document from the German intelligence BND from September 29, 1962 (private archive), high-ranking American aviation officers kept in touch with Adolf Hitler's trusted SS officer Otto Skorzeny in Madrid. These officers were probably SAC chief Thomas Power and the former SAC chief, now Air Force chief Curtis LeMay (who in 1968 was vice presidential candidate for the racist presidential candidate George Wallace). They complained that Kennedy was a "little boy" who did not recognize the "superiority of the West" and supported "Negro states".

Since the 50s, Skorzeny had worked for the CIA, killing "unruly" actors. The SAC chiefs were hardly in contact with Skorzeny for any other reason. Kennedy was no longer "possible to have" as US president. After the assassination in November 1963, French President Charles de Gaulle stated: "What happened to Kennedy was the same thing that almost happened to me." It was OAS (Organization armée secrète with Jean Souètre) and Otto Skorzeny's network, who had tried to kill me in 1962, who later killed Kennedy, de Gaulle said. The United States' "forces conspired with the extremists." The SAC chiefs wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, and Kennedy stood in the way.

SAC's plans for a nuclear attack took shape in the 50s and 60s and were continued throughout the 70s and 80s. The Soviets armed themselves as a result of the Cuba crisis and now became more of a threat to the United States. From the beginning of the 70's it was clear that a nuclear war could lead to American losses. During a meeting of the military leadership on September 10, 1971, the Chief of the Air Force, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the SAC, General John Ryan, said, "We could lose two hundred million people and still have more than we had at the time of the Civil War." No one at the meeting opposed Ryan's assessment (downgraded note 2017, National Security Archive).

With Mao's "The Great Leap Forward", China was divided into 24 municipalities and half a million production brigades – millions of people lost their lives in the famine.

In his book From the Shadows (1997) writes a former CIA director, later defense minister Robert M. Gates on the night of June 3, 1980. The SAC had later informed Lieutenant General William Odom (Assistant to National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski) that the Soviet Union had sent 220 strategic nuclear missiles to the United States. Odom woke Brzezinski, who was to call President Jimmy Carter, but Brzeziński knew that the president had between three and seven minutes to decide on an answer and demanded confirmation. Odom called back and said that it was not 220, but 2200 nuclear missiles. All of the Soviet missiles were on their way to the United States. Brzezinski reckoned that the United States would have to deploy all its strategic strength, but just before he was going to wake Carter, Odom called again. An exercise program in the computers had given false alarms. "Brzezinski did not wake his wife, because everyone would still die within half an hour."

"Plausible deniability"

When I gave a lecture at the US Center for Naval Analysis (US Navy) at Pentagon in 1989, said the then commander, an admiral, I believe that if the Russians "knew our plans for a nuclear war, they would have reason to be uneasy." U.S. strategists still assumed that hundreds of millions would be killed in a nuclear war. But from 1981, President Ronald Reagan's strategists believed that they should wage the "war" with the Soviet Union as a psychological war and as a local uprising, which did not risk escalating into a full-scale nuclear war. The risk that the Soviets responded with nuclear weapons made such an attack unattractive. Deputy Defense Minister Fred Iklé wrote that it was now a matter of using local insurgents and terror, which could not be linked directly to any party, so that the conflict was not escalated into nuclear war. The United States must have "plausible deniability", that is, reasons to be able to say that "we know nothing about this".

according to Zbigniew Brzezinsk # i The United States started a war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. The CIA used local insurgents as early as the summer of 1979 to trick the Soviets into intervening "to give the Soviets their own Vietnam" and forcing the Russians into a war they could not afford. This was also written by Robert Gates. Reagan's Secretary of the Navy John Lehman told me that the CIA was also involved with submarines in a psychological war in Sweden. Virtually everyone in the West believed that it was the Soviet Union that operated in Swedish waters from 1982, but it was the CIA chief William Casey who made the decision to use other countries' submarines for "plausible deniability", Lehman said. The idea was to force the Soviets to retreat without risking nuclear war. Lehman's superior, Minister of Defense Caspar Weinberger, confirmed the operations in Swedish waters. When I visited General Odom in Washington, I asked him about it, but Odom said only briefly that the case was still graded. From 1984, Casey ordered the support of radical Islamists inside the Soviet Union itself to force the Soviets to retreat.

The end of the Wolfowitz doctrine

It was not until after the Cold War, with the war in Iraq in 1991, that the United States was able to start waging war again under its own flag. US Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz stated that the real lesson from the war in Iraq was that the Soviet Union had not intervened. The United States was now the only superpower. We can wage war on land in the Middle East without risking nuclear war, Wolfowitz said. He now suggested that the Americans eliminate all regimes that did not support the United States. This led to the US entering the military in Afghanistan and Iraq after 2001, and in Libya and Syria from 2011, when the US supported Islamists against their incumbent governments. After the catastrophic war in Libya, Russia and China said that was enough. From 2015, Russia intervened in support of the regime in Syria. That was the end of the Wolfowitz doctrine, his window of opportunity.

The genetically different viruses in Wuhan falsify the hypothesis of a "Wuhan virus".

US strategists would then wage war without a sender. But arming radical Islamists proved difficult after what had happened in Syria. One could, however, use biological weapons – an idea that has recently been promoted by the US Assistant Secretary of Health, Colonel Robert Kadlec – he has a long career behind him in the air force. Kadlec has been central to the United States' thinking on biological weapons for 30 years, which adviser for US special forces from 1990 and for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the White House from 2001. Like bombings and other terrorist attacks, it is not known for sure who carried out an attack with a virus. One can not even say whether a virus is due to natural mutations or whether it has been laid out as a biological weapon. That is the genius of these weapons, says Colonel Kadlec.

dr. Robert Kadlec

Kadlec writes in the book Battlefield for the Future (1998) that biological weapons have several advantages. They are much cheaper than nuclear weapons. A sufficient stockpile of biological weapons costs only one twentieth of what it costs to develop a single nuclear weapon, while these weapons can kill as many as nuclear weapons. Biological weapons are more cost effective. But for Kadlec, their main advantage is that they have no sender. They do not escalate a conflict into a military conflict and into a nuclear war. Biological weapons can be deployed at all levels of conflict, because no one knows whose or om someone is responsible for a virus outbreak. This makes them more useful than nuclear weapons. The person who has been attacked cannot fight back, because no one knows for sure who is behind it. Of course, a virus outbreak can backfire on those who have spread this virus, but in a nuclear war, one also reckoned with own losses of 200 million.

I Battlefield for the Future wrote Robert Kadlec that the 2000st century would be a century of "economic warfare", and this is obviously the idea behind President Donald Trump's new strategy. The battle between the great powers has turned into an "economic war", and then biological weapons become the ideal weapons, since they can strike at the enemy's supply and economy. They can be directed not only at humans, but also at local cattle and crops and lead to famines such as the one we had during the "Great Leap Forward" in China. According to Kadlec, we can develop more deadly or contagious viruses and bacteria similar to those found locally, so that they appear as a "natural epidemic". The genius is that one can carry out such attacks in "peacetime" with the same force as an attack with nuclear weapons without the attacked country knowing that it has been attacked. Alternatively, a virus can be described as a leak from a foreign country's laboratory. Millions of people can be affected. It can force a regime change more effectively than all of Wolfowitz's wars. For Kadlec and perhaps for Trump, biological weapons are the nuclear weapons of the 2000st century, which can also provide "plausible deniability".

"What happened to Kennedy was the same thing that almost happened to me." De Gaulle

Kadlec's and the Trump administration's strategy from 2018 for a virus or a bacterial attack did not only lay plans for a terrorist attack, but first for a leak from a foreign laboratory. Today's adviser, Colonel David Franz, proposed the year before an exercise with a leak from the high-security laboratory in Wuhan, where such deadly viruses are being studied. From January to August 2019, Kadlec organized several exercises with federal authorities and some states that required the spread of a virus from China with half a million dead Americans ("Crimson Contagion"). On September 22, 2019, President Trump appointed a "China hawk" from the military intelligence, Matthew Pottinger, as the new deputy security adviser. He has experience with the outbreak of the SARS virus in China (2002–2003) and speaks fluent Mandarin. In October 2019 practicethe United States – including former deputy security adviser and deputy CIA chief Avril Haines – with simulated attacks with a coronavirus, which could spread around the world. After a second wave, the virus, according to the exercise, had killed 65 million people. The name of this pandemic exercise was «Event 201». Throughout 2019, the Trump administration focused on a virus epidemic from China. In a high-grade briefing as early as January 2020, Pottinger told Trump that he should not think in terms of SARS in 2003, but in terms of the Spanish flu in 1918, which killed up to 50 million people.

Oguz Gürel. Human Enemies. See Libex.Eu

The virus – "a little smart bomb"

While Kadlec throughout 2019 prepared US authorities for a virus outbreak from China, it is still unclear how the Wuhan outbreak in December 2019 began. What we do know is that studies of the virus and its genetic makeup have been published in The Lancet and in Nature. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was found both inside and outside the fish and meat market in Wuhan from mid-December. But it came in two forms – there were two genetically different viruses. Their common "ancestor" must have originated months earlier and hardly in Wuhan, since the hospitals would have known that there were previous cases. Chinese and British (Cambridge University) analyzes of the virus' family tree show that the original SARS-CoV-2 virus did not come from Wuhan, but either from the United States or from Guangdong in southern China. Scientific articles from Europe show that the virus was also present in Italy, France and probably in the United States from November to December, at the same time as or before the outbreak in Wuhan – and that they were not closely related to the Wuhan virus. We do not know today where this coronavirus came from, but we do know that it did not come from the market in Wuhan. The Lancet has shown that the first to be infected in Wuhan had nothing to do with the market. Garbage from the market was infected, but not the animals, and the genetically different viruses in Wuhan falsify the hypothesis of a "Wuhan virus". Already at the outbreak itself, Kadlec's later adviser, Michael Callahan, was in Wuhan. He told National Geographic that the virus is "like a little smart bomb". It finds a person and "eliminates it".

The Lancet has shown that the first to be infected in Wuhan had nothing to do with the market.

With bioweapons strategists like Kadlec, Callahan and Franz as the United States responsible for the pandemic, with China as the United States' new enemy, and with economic warfare as President Trump's preferred strategy, we must ask: Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war, as Kadlec writes ? Deploying biological weapons would have been the logical decision for the Trump administration if we look at Kadlec's analyzes. For 60s air force strategists like Thomas Power, the atomic bomb was the ultimate weapon. The extermination of three to four hundred million people in the Soviet Union and China was believed to be the result of the war Power itself sought to trigger. From the 70s, the US Air Force estimated its own losses of up to 200 million inhabitants. Accepting the annihilation and loss of hundreds of millions points to a statistical and purely strategic understanding of human life.

There is a strategic elite in the United States that is as foreign to us as any other such elite in history. For an air force colonel like Kadlec, one of the strategic thinkers of the 2000st century, biological weapons are a natural substitute for 1900th-century nuclear weapons. The losses themselves may not be as great as those described by General John Ryan in 1971, but they can be significant. It is difficult to see that this should be in the interest of the American people. But for this elite, the total annihilation of hundreds of millions of people is not a problem as long as it supports their national strategy.


Fred Kaplan The Wizards of Armageddon (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1983)

Peter Huchthausen, October Fury (New York: John Wiley, 2002).

Peter Huchthausen & Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix, Hide and Seek: The Untold Story of Cold War Naval Espionage (New York: John Wiley, 2009).

BND document ("Betr. SKORCZENI, Madrid") dated September 29, 1962 (private archive).

David Talbot, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America's Secret Government (New York, Harper Collins, 2015), p. 502, 566-67.

Robert Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How they Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 114-115.

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, The New Observer, 15-21 January 1998 (translated into English

Fred Iklé, “The Modern Context”, in Frank Barnett & Carnes Lord, eds, Political Warfare and Psychological Operations (National Defense University, 1988), p. 3-11.

Gates (1996), pp. 143-147.

Wesley Clark before the Commonwealth Club (California), October 13, 2007,;;

Alan Kuperman, “A Model Humanitarian Intervention? – Reasessing NATO's Libya Campaign ", International Security, Vol. 38, no. 1, Summer 2013, pages 108-109.

Robert Kadlec, "Twenty-First Century Germ Warfare", in Barry Schneider & Lawrence Grinter, Battlefield for the Future: 21st Century Warfare Issues (Air War College, 1998), p. 227-250.

Robert Kadlec, "Biological Weapons for Waging Economic Warfare", in Barry Schneider & Lawrence Grinter, Battlefield for the Future: 21st Century Warfare Issues (Air War College, 1998), pp. 251-266. http:/  ;   Robert Woodward, Rage (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020), pp. Xiii-xv; 232-233.

Ola Tunander
Ola Tunander
Tunander is Professor Emeritus of PRIO. See also wikipedia, at PRIO: , as well as a bibliography on Waterstone

Related articles