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Quotes for
Defense Secretary Swenson (Character)
from Fail-Safe (1964)

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Fail-Safe (1964)
Defense Secretary Swenson: General Stark, are there any papers or documents in New York which are absolutely essential to the running of the United States? General Stark?
Gen. Stark: No sir. There are important documents, but none of them absolutely essential.
Admiral Wilcox: Will there be any warning given? A lot of lives could be saved if people had a few minutes.
Defense Secretary Swenson: On this short notice, an alert to a big city would do more harm than good. It only produces panic.
Admiral Wilcox: What about this?
[Wilcox tosses a newspaper onto the table, showing the First Lady in NYC, prominently featured on the main page. Swenson sees it, then gives the paper to General Stark]
Gen. Stark: Maybe... maybe he doesn't know his wife is there.
Defense Secretary Swenson: [shaking his head] He knows.
[Groeteschele finishes writing something onto some paper]
Prof. Groeteschele: Gentlemen, we are wasting time.
Prof. Groeteschele: [walking to the podium] I've been making a few rough calculations based on the effect of two twenty megaton bombs dropped on New York City in the middle of a normal workday. I estimate the immediate dead at about three million. I include in that figure those buried beneath the collapsed buildings. It would make no difference, Admiral Wilcox, whether they reached a shelter or not. They would die just the same. Add another million or two who will die within about five weeks. Now our immediate problem will be the joint one of fire control and excavation. Excavation not of the dead, the effort would be wasted there. But even though there are no irreplaceable government documents in the city, many of our largest corporations keep their records there. It will be necessary to... rescue as many of those records as we can. Our economy depends on this.
Prof. Groeteschele: [walking disgustedly back to his seat before noisily opening and closing his briefcase] Our economy depends on this.
[after closing briefcase]
Prof. Groeteschele: And the Lord said, gentlemen, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."

Defense Secretary Swenson: The President says he may have to order our fighters to shoot down Group Six. He wants our opinion.
Prof. Groeteschele: I oppose it, sir, on the grounds that it's premature. Our planes have not yet reached Soviet territory, they're still hundreds of miles away.
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: We've got to do it, and fast! Right now before it's too late!
Gen. Stark: It might be too late anyway. Those fighters swung away from the bombers when they got the all-clear signal, they've been flying in opposite directions.

Prof. Groeteschele: In my opinion they will take no action at all.
Gen. Stark: They're not going to just sit there, Professor
Prof. Groeteschele: I think if our bombers get through the Russians will surrender.
Gen. Bogan: Who's this professor, Mr. Secretary? What's he doing there?
Defense Secretary Swenson: Professor Groeteschele is a civilian advisor to the Pentagon, General. Will you explain your statement, Professor?
Prof. Groeteschele: The Russian aim is to dominate the world. They think that Communism must succeed eventually if the Soviet Union is left reasonably intact. They know that a war would leave the Soviet Union utterly destroyed. Therefore, they would surrender.
Gen. Stark: But suppose they feel they can knock us off first?
Prof. Groeteschele: They know we might have a doomsday system, missiles that would go into action days, even weeks after a war is over and destroy an enemy even after that enemy has already destroyed us.
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: Maybe they'll think that even capitalists aren't that insane, to want to kill after they themselves have been killed.
Prof. Groeteschele: These are Marxist fanatics, not normal people. They do not reason they way you reason, General Black. They're not motivated by human emotions such as rage and pity. They are calculating machines. They will look at the balance sheet, and they will see they cannot win.
Defense Secretary Swenson: Then you suggest doing what?
Prof. Groeteschele: [leans forward] Nothing.
Defense Secretary Swenson: Nothing?
Prof. Groeteschele: The Russians will surrender, and the threat of Communism will be over, forever.
Gen. Bogan: That's a lot of hogwash. Don't kid yourself, there'll be Russian generals who will react just as I would - the best defense is a good offense. They see trouble coming up, take my word for it, they'll attack, and they won't give a damn what Marx said.
Prof. Groeteschele: Mr. Secretary, I am convinced that the moment the Russians know bombs will fall on Moscow, they will surrender. They know that whatever they do then, they cannot escape destruction. Don't you see, sir, this our chance. We never would have made the first move deliberately, but Group 6 has made it for us, by accident. We must take advantage of it - history demands it. We must advise the President not to recall those planes.


Fail Safe (2000) (TV)
Prof. Groeteschele: Excuse me, sir. Every minute we wait works against us. The President has to send in a full strike. He *has* to. There's nothing else that he can do, sir. Now! Now is the time, before the Russians are on full alert.
Defense Secretary Swenson: We don't go in for sneak attacks, Mr. Groteschele. That's what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor.
Prof. Groeteschele: The Japanese, sir, were right to do that. From their point of view, we were their mortal enemy. As long as we existed, we were a deadly threat to them. Do you not... does any one here not believe that communism is our mortal enemy? The enemy of capitalism? Sir, the only mistake the Japanese made... they failed to finish us off at the start. They paid for that mistake with Hiroshima. We're in the process of making the same mistake, gentlemen. You can't erase history, but you can learn from it.
Brig. Gen. Warren Black: You've learned so well, Groteschele, there's no difference between you, and what you want to kill. Destroy Russia? For what? To preserve what?
Prof. Groeteschele: Democracy, General! We have here a God-given opportunity.
Brig. Gen. Warren Black: To kill?
Prof. Groeteschele: Why are you in the military, if not to kill?