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Oct 21st, 2021
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  1. From The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg, Bloomsbury (209), Note 288, p.426
  3. Serious White House and JCS consideration, in August 1980
  5. The August 1980 White House
  6. discussion was reported by Richard Halloran in “Washington Talk; How Leaders Think the
  7. Unthinkable,” New York Times, September 2, 1986, based on interviews and an account of the
  8. secretary of defense and JCS involvement by Benjamin F. Schemmer: “Was the U.S. Ready to Resort
  9. to Nuclear Weapons for the Persian Gulf in 1980?” Armed Forces Journal International (September
  10. 1986). This latter highly significant and authoritative account, including named sources, has been
  11. almost entirely ignored in the literature, except for Halloran’s story, likewise ignored. Schemmer
  12. quotes White House officials as describing this virtually unknown 1980 crisis as “the most serious
  13. nuclear crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Administration officials regarded the explicit threats to
  14. the Soviets as successful. See also, AP, Rocky Mountain News, August 27, 1986, citing NBC News,
  15. August 26: “NBC quoted intelligence sources as saying that that the Soviet Union was thought to be
  16. on the verge of attacking the oil-rich Persian Gulf in August 1980, while Iran was holding American
  17. hostages. NBC quoted General David Jones, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time, as
  18. saying ‘there was no way the United States had the conventional capability to stop the Soviets if they
  19. had wanted to make a major move into Iran … The case was then, as it is to a large extent now, that if
  20. the Soviets decided to move in a major offensive into that region [as the White House feared at that
  21. moment, eight months after the Carter doctrine had been announced] then you would probably have
  22. to consider the use of nuclear weapons to stop them, Jody Powell, Carter’s press secretary at the time,
  23. told NBC.’ ” Note that these accounts came out, to little notice, in 1986, six years after a reported
  24. nuclear crisis took place during the 1980 presidential campaign. It had been kept totally secret and
  25. unreported at the time and—as is typical of presidential memoirs except for Eisenhower’s—is not
  26. mentioned in President Carter’s subsequent memoirs.
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