JFK vs. the Military

‘Why are you so concerned with saving their lives?’ [an Air Force general] asked the lead author of a Rand study that counseled against attacking Soviet cities at the outset of a war. ‘The whole idea is to kill the bastards … At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win.’ ...

The strains between the generals and their commander in chief showed up in exasperating ways. When Bundy asked the Joint Chiefs’ staff director for a copy of the blueprint for nuclear war, the general at the other end of the line said, ‘We never release that.’ Bundy explained, ‘I don’t think you understand. I’m calling for the president and he wants to see [it].’ The chiefs’ reluctance was understandable: their Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan foresaw the use of 170 atomic and hydrogen bombs in Moscow alone; the destruction of every major Soviet, Chinese, and Eastern European city; and hundreds of millions of deaths. Sickened by a formal briefing on the plan, Kennedy turned to a senior administration official and said, ‘And we call ourselves the human race.’
— Robert Dallek (2013)