Oval Office, Washington DC
July 02 1978
“Sir they are in the Brezhnev Stagnation as we like to call it in Langley. The economy is growing at less than 2%. Unrest is bubbling up across Eastern European bloc countries.
Basic commodities are near impossible to come by and we think our activities in Africa are causing them real heart burn and distraction. The Fed believes our economy will grow 4-5% this year, despite 6% unemployment and stubborn inflation.
Our assessment is that while military research costs are ballooning here, our ability to fund them from the growing tax base will allow us to catch up to the Soviets.” The Deputy Chief of the CIA paused to allow President Carter to ask questions.
“Now, I don’t want to cause a war, we have had too much of that, and lost too many good men; but. We need to be thinking about keeping the fear of the Soviet menace high in the public’s mind. It is the best way for me to win re election in four years. So what can we do to put pressure on them?” The President’s voice rolled out in a slow purring Georgia drawl, his smart but baleful eyes scanned each participant looking for ….rejection or was it resentment?
Well Mr President, we don’t think they can afford a war, nor would they start one. Our efforts to destabilize Poland and Czechoslovakia have had good results. With potential in Poland of a full general uprising coming from Union workers of all things. Said the Director. A shrinking or low growth economy will not sustain their military spending. Soon enough our technology and spending edge will mitigate their raw size. He continued.
Jones interjected with his customary directness, “Bullshit, the F-15,F-16 and the new A-10 will help but will not compensate for their current edge in numbers and massive SAM umbrella Mr President. New fighter training, new tactics and new weapons cannot compensate for a 5:1 disadvantage. Wienberger give the President the summary of a likely Soviet attack” Said the Chairman of JCS, David Charles Jones.
“Yes, Casper please do, and David you know I abhor swearing please don’t do it”
“Yes Sir” said Jones. His spine if possible stiffened and straightened even more than its usual ram rod rightness.
After the grim briefing, Carter was visibly shaken. 60 days and they would be across the Rhine? He muttered. Well we must continue the pressure, raise the bar, but offer a olive branch. What can we give on SALT II?
“Wait…no! We should stop this nonsense in Poland and elsewhere and play hard ball with SALT II Mr President. Without more nukes than them we lose.” Interjected Jones. If you push them on their frontiers you will be seen as threatening their borders and ultimately their security. We have our strategy backwards.
Carter raised a hand slowly ” Stop David. I have heard it before. I wont go to war, and I wont expand nuclear capabilities, such as your Neutron bomb, you were not at Chalk River David… I was.. I will however invest in technology that enables our brave men and women to win a war if we are pushed into to it, I maybe ex Navy but I understand air power…” Jones interjected, “Mr President, sir with all due respect. the USA does not let it self be pushed into a war. We cannot….”
This time the hand was raised sharply. “Quiet, David…quiet…”Carters voice while still softly Southern now had a menacing edge to it. “The President does not brook interjection without invitation. Now as I was saying if we can keep the people of the United States focused on our perceived enemies, may be we can grow out of this economic mess before we all lose our jobs.”