A new Pentagon Papers-era secret history book by Pentagon Papers writer Jonathan Allen reveals how the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans used a top-secret document called the “Plan for a Secret Defense Program” to propose a top secret “super weapon” to be used against North Korea in the 1980s.
The plan was drafted by a top official at the Pentagon under President Ronald Reagan, but it was never implemented.
Allen tells Newsweek the Pentagon Papers “show the true face of the U.S. government” in the ’80s, and he believes it will help shed light on the Reagan administration’s war on communism.
“The documents shed light not only on the government’s war against communism, but also on the policies that led to the Vietnam War, the Vietnam embargo, the Cold War and the Iran hostage crisis,” Allen writes.
“These documents show how U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold and others used a Pentagon document called ‘The Plan for a Special Defense Program’ to propose that America launch a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung, and why.”
The Plan for Secret Defense Programs was drafted in the spring of 1980, a year after President Ronald J. Reagan announced the creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative, the U-2 spy plane program and the Air Force’s new bomber program.
It was a top Secret document, meaning the Pentagon could not even make it into the Oval Office without permission from the president.
The proposal was to “prevent a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea.”
But Allen says the Pentagon was more concerned about creating an international crisis, rather than stopping one.
“In my opinion, this plan was just a political maneuver, a pretext for the U,N.
Security Council to go on the offensive against North Koreans.
It just wasn’t going to work,” he says.
“I think the UN. really, really needed to get involved.
And the Pentagon, I think, was the only way to do that.”
Allen’s book, published in paperback on Tuesday, also details how the plan was rejected by top Pentagon officials, including President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State William Rogers.
“If you’re a political figure, you can get a military response that way,” says Allen, who was a foreign service officer during the Reagan years.
“But if you’re not, you’re never going to get a response.”
According to the book, President George W. Bush’s top national security advisor, Donald Rumsfeld, and Defense Secretary William Cohen refused to sign off on the plan.
“That was the most significant disagreement of the entire time,” Allen says.
Rumsfield had already signed off on other proposals by the Reagan White House.
The book details how Cohen’s chief of staff, James Schlesinger, was so upset about the plan he suggested it be dropped.
“This wasn’t a plan that could work, because the Soviets would never take it seriously,” Allen recalls.
“Rumsfeld and Cohen just couldn’t understand that.”
The plan never came to fruition, but Allen says it showed that the Pentagon wasn’t afraid to act on its plans.
“It’s like when you start the world economy, you think, ‘Well, I’ll get some relief by creating a depression,'” he says, “but once you do that, the economy doesn’t function.”
Allen says he believes the Pentagon “didn’t think much of” the plan and simply wanted to show its critics that it was willing to “go after anyone who stood in the way of that.”
“It was a very, very bad idea, but I think the idea that you can use a document like that to justify a war is absolutely bizarre,” he adds.
“For all of us who knew that the Reagan Administration was not going to put their policies into effect, it was really bizarre to see that document, and to see it being rejected.”
Allen has been researching the Pentagon for decades.
He said that the paper’s release was the first time that he had published his findings publicly.
“To see the Pentagon really being forced to admit it was wrong, and actually having it act to correct it, it just speaks to the kind of leadership they had that year,” he said.
“When you see people being prosecuted for treason, that’s a good sign.”
The Pentagon Papers was published by HarperCollins on Tuesday.
The paperback comes at a time of heightened interest in the documents, which were first published in The Washington Post in 1974 and have been cited by historians and political figures across the world.
Allen says that his book is not about the military’s secret wars, but the “pernicious effects of the war itself.”
He also says he hopes that the public’s interest in these documents will help push Congress to pass the “Petroleum Liberation Act,” a bill that would force oil companies to return more of their profits to the U