When putting together a disaster plan, it’s important to prioritize human needs in the way that you prepare. To put together a solid short-term survival plan, you need only to address the most basic of human necessities: water, shelter, food, and security, but as short-term survival transitions into “well I guess this is what’s left of the world now,” it’s important to have a plan in place that can help you get by a bit longer than just the first few days after a disaster.
While ensuring you have adequate food and water will prevent death from hunger or dehydration, it’s important to remember that those are often the very easiest forms of death to avoid. We worry about supply lines drying up after the collapse of our infrastructure for good reason, but humans have been surviving without grocery stores and running faucets for millennia… what tends to kill us in such situations often isn’t a lack of food, but rather a lack of hygiene.
Enter my favorite survival item: hydrogen peroxide. Most of us are familiar with the brown bottle of bubbling goodness from our childhoods, when our mothers would pour a bit of the elixir onto our scraped knees to disinfect it before armoring the wound with a Batman band-aid and providing an emergency booboo-kiss for pain relief. While wound care is certainly one of the things hydrogen peroxide is good to have around for, it’s far from the only thing.
In order to discuss some of the other important uses for the magic brown bottle, I’m going to have to delve into some of the health issues that may impact a person in an extended survival scenario; some of which are likely to sound gross, but it’s important to plan for potential health hazards other than gunshot wounds and zombie bites, because dying of an infection all by yourself will leave you just as dead as the sexier alternatives we see on TV.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Mouth Care
I’m not normally one to close my eyes during a rough scene in a movie – but watching Tom Hanks remove an infected tooth with an ice skate in “Cast Away” was tough for me. I don’t like going to the dentist, let alone the idea of serving as my own using bits of trash I found on a beach, but I have to credit the movie for including an element of survival that is often ignored in movies and television: dental hygiene.
An infected tooth is a serious issue. If left unchecked, and infection can spread throughout your body, possibly even killing you without antibiotic treatment. Beyond that, an infected tooth can make eating an excruciating endeavor and can serve as a serious distraction when you need to keep your wits about you. If at all possible, one should avoid having to do their own oral surgery, and hydrogen peroxide can help.
That same brown bottle you use on cuts and scrapes is also a FDA approved mouth wash. Pouring a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water into your mouth and swishing it around once in a while may not give you the same fresh breath you’d get from a tooth-brush and a new tube of Crest Whitening, but it could keep the bacteria in your mouth from going rogue and rotting you from the inside out. Keeping your teeth intact will keep you eating, and hydrogen peroxide can help stave off infections and even cavities.
Hydrogen Peroxide to Fight Fungus
Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections of the hands and feet can be serious trouble for the long-term survivor. The reduction in available means of hygiene that may come after a disaster could leave you more vulnerable to this sort of ailment, and yet again, hydrogen peroxide can help kill the fungus causing itching and burning on your extremities.
Perhaps more important though, is hydrogen peroxide’s ability to combat yeast infections. While we tend to think of such things as a uniquely female issue, and in today’s world, we even see it as more of an inconvenience than a matter of life and death, developing a yeast infection in a survival setting is bad news and must be addressed.
Hydrogen Peroxide is safe to be used as a douche for women suffering from a yeast infection after the stores have long stopped stocking Monistat, and can be used externally for men suffering from the same ailment. Didn’t know men could get yeast infections? They absolutely can – and the resulting itching, burning and open sores could lead to any number of further infections, or simply leave you too distracted to handle your day-to-day survival needs with the level of focus they require. Hydrogen peroxide will not work as well as traditional anti-fungal medications, but as a multi-use tool, it’s good to know that you can keep the swamp-rot off your fingers and toes as well as out of your underoos with the same bottle you keep around for wound care and oral hygiene. I’d just recommend cleaning the spout before switching between uses (just kidding, do not put the spout inside any part of you, use a different means of application).
Hydrogen Peroxide for Cleaning (everything)
If you wear contact lenses, hydrogen peroxide and water can be used to clean them between uses – extending the life of your contacts and possibly your ability to see if you don’t have access to your glasses. It can also be used to clean food containers and utensils, water carriers, or even cooking surfaces to kill things like salmonella.
You can also use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water to clean and disinfect your clothes. A clean pair of undies may not sound like the most important thing after the end of the world, but remember, we haven’t evolved to prefer the smell and touch of clean things for no reason. Cleaning your clothes will help prevent skin irritations and even infections. In fact, using hydrogen peroxide to clean your underwear could prevent you from having to using hydrogen peroxide to treat a yeast infection in the first place.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Farming
In a long-term survival situation, cultivating your own food may be a necessity, but if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb, you’ll likely need all the help you can get in order to turn your little garden into something that’ll feed your family. Believe it or not, hydrogen peroxide can also help you start to grow your own food.
Adding a small bit of hydrogen peroxide to the water you pour on your plants can help fertilize the soil, prevent mold and mildew from developing, and even help an ailing plant regain its health. Soaking seeds in water that contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide will even make them germinate faster. It’s important to use the correct amount of hydrogen peroxide however, otherwise it could kill your plants before they have a chance to grow. Check out this chart to help you determine how much peroxide you should mix with water for various agricultural needs.
These handy uses for the old brown bottle in your medicine cabinet are far from all of the ways hydrogen peroxide can benefit a disaster victim attempting to transition from short-term to long-term survival. I highly recommend doing some research and attempting to use hydrogen peroxide for things like oral hygiene once or twice before the world comes crashing down on you.
And maybe grab an extra bottle or two of the stuff the next time you go shopping. Just in case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Hollings served as an active duty Marine for six and a half years before being medically retired from service. As an athlete, Hollings has raced exotic cars, played Marine Corps football and college rugby, fought in cages, and even wrestled alligators. As a scholar, he has earned a master’s degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as undergraduate degrees in Corporate and Organizational Communications and Business Management.
We know there are all kinds of great lists out there, especially pertaining to emergency preparedness. We love this one by blogger, Mike Smith, and wanted to share …
Get them done immediately!
- Get prescriptions refilled now, especially if your doctor must approve the refill.
- If you have a relative at home that requires electricity for life-assistance purposes, you will want to move he or she outside of the higher wind zone.
- If you can get an electrician to install a generator, get it done. Do not try to install a generator yourself.
- If you don’t have a generator, get a power inverter or two. Radio Shack and similar stores sell them. They are a “poor man’s generator” and will keep your cell phone, laptop, and similar items charged. Tell the person in the store what you want to run off it so you get one of the right size. Do not try to run the inverter for hours at a time as that is tough on your car’s battery. Charge the cell phone (for example) and let the charge run all the way down, then use the inverter to recharge.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full.
- If you live in a 250-year flood plain (you can check at city hall or your library) or on the coast figure out your evacuation strategy now. Make your list of things you will take with you. Be prepared to leave at short notice.
- Bring in outdoor furniture and other items that could become airborne.
- Fill a few gas cans (the type you would use for your mower) to have extra in the event of power failures.
- Purchase extra food staples. Without power, stores will be closed. Things that require less preparation are better. Bottled water is especially important. Get a Coleman stove.
- Purchase extra batteries for your cell phone and other essential equipment.
- If you need insulin or other medicine that must be kept chilled make plans now.
- Consider what you would do if you were without electricity for a two weeks. If you have an invalid living with you that requires electricity, there will be areas that will be without for weeks. Be proactive.
- If you live in a heavily wooded area, does someone in your vicinity have a gasoline-powered chain saw? Does it have fuel and a reasonably good chain/blade? Test it, now.
- Get to an ATM. Without power, credit card readers and ATMs will not be working. In a disaster, cash is king.
- If you are in the high wind or flood area, thoroughly photograph your home and possessions now. You will need it for insurance purposes. This includes trees, shrubs, etc. Then, if using a digital camera, upload to internet so it will be there after the storm in case the worse happens. Be nice to insurance adjusters!
Whether you evacuate or not, stockpile some good books, magazines, board games and keep a good attitude. Look at this as one of life’s adventures.
There is nothing wrong with a few prayers!
(found on http://www.mikesmithenterprisesblog.com/ )
Before you head out of town or to visit relatives, you may want to take some security precautions to keep your home safe – even if you have a security system. Many home intrusions are considered crimes of convenience. If a criminal thinks your home looks like an easy target, you might get a rude awakening when you return. Enjoy peace of mind with these tips to make your home look occupied while you’re away:
- Ask a neighbor to help. If you have a neighbor you can trust, work out a buddy system when one household is away. Ask your neighbor to check your mail, water your plants, and check locks. Criminals often look at mailboxes to determine whether a homeowner has been by the house recently.
- Turn on the radio. You may use satellite radio, your phone, or your television when you’re home, but a simple old-fashioned radio will do the trick when you’re gone. Turn on a talk radio station loud enough that voices can be heard from outside the home.
- Keep a light on. Invest in some motion sensor lights outside and/or some timed interior lights that are scheduled to come on for a few hours at night. Intruders prefer dark, empty-looking homes to target and can’t tell the difference between you turning on a light and a strategically placed timer.
- Check the phones. If you still receive calls through a landline, consider diverting calls to your cellphone or setting the ring on the lowest volume possible. Phones ringing off the hook are a pretty good indicator that nobody is home.
- Reorganize your household schedule. You may think about your home’s cleaning service or landscaping schedule before you leave. Do not leave a message on the front door. Arrange for services beforehand or keep important numbers in your cell for a quick call on-the-go.
- Avoid posting on social media. Wait until you are home from vacation to post those great beach pictures or to detail the highlights of your adventures. Unfortunately, many potential intruders could be people in your own network, and giving them updates about your whereabouts could be a go-ahead to ransack your home for valuables.
- Be wary of notifying the police. At one time, many experts recommended telling your local police department if you are away. Today, it’s far too easy for the information you pass along to be stolen or hacked. Only talk to police if you trust that your information will be secure.
- Invest in a modern alarm system. Today, home security systems are designed to keep up with the latest trends in home intrusion. With some, you can even keep an eye on your home while you’re away through a secure, mobile portal.
(Original article found on allsecured.net)
(The following was originally printed in the Journal of Civil Defense: June 1978)
Excerpts of a statement given by Eugene V. Rostow of the Committee on the Present Danger to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget (March 1, 1978)
Nothing could be more useful to the nation now than a serious public discussion about the nature of Soviet policy and the problems it poses for us . . .
We believe that prudent and resolute action by this session of the Congress, substantially increasing the Administration’s Defense Budget, could mark one of the finest hours in its long and glorious history. . .
But Secretary Brown seems to suggest that we have to do no more now than keep the situation from getting any worse than it is. We emphatically disagree . . .
There is no harmony between the words and the music of the Administration’s budget. The Administration’s proposals do not meet the implacable arithmetic of the problem. The budget does not meet the Secretary’s stated goal of maintaining the status quo. It therefore fails both as a diplomatic signal and as a security measure. It simply isn’t enough to restore our deterrent strength, both strategic and conventional. Moreover, it fails the most important test of a Defense Budget: to give us full confidence in our ability to protect our national interests in peace. The Administration’s budget proposals would leave the Soviet Union’s military effort still growing more rapidly than ours, thus further increasing their lead -in many important categories of military strength . . .
The government is in a strange mood, a mood which reminds me of the ‘thirties,’ when we and the British hesitated between action and inaction until it was too late to prevent World War 11 . . .
This time we must not wait for a new Pearl Harbor to arouse us. The risks of such a course are too grave to be contemplated. In this situation of incipient crisis, we should follow one of-Parkinson’s most perceptive laws-his observation that the success of a policy is measured by catastrophes which do not happen. The budget proposed by the Administration does not meet Parkinson’s standard . . .
If the Secretary of Defense is wrong in his assessment of the present situation, we may well face the prospect that the Committee on the Present Danger identified in its 1976 statement: “Our alliances will weaken; our promising rapprochement with China could be reversed. Then we could find ourselves isolated in a hostile world, facing the unremitting pressures of Soviet policy backed by an overwhelming preponderance of power. Our national survival itself would be in peril, and we should face, one after another, bitter choices between war and acquiescence under pressure.” . . .
Four fundamental and adverse developments have taken shape since 1972, when the SALT Agreement was signed. The Soviets have made extremely rapid progress in MIRVing their missiles. Since their missiles have more throw weight than ours, this raises the first problem-how many warheads are they deploying per missile? What is the destructive power of each warhead? And what is the accuracy of these warheads, and what will it be in the future?
The second great change since 1972 is that the Soviets have made some of their ICBMs mobile, despite what the Senate was told on that subject when SALT I was ratified. The President has said that the Soviet Union is already deploying mobile ICBMs. The experts agree that it is in a position to deploy them on a large scale and quickly.
Third, recent reports of Soviet progress in antisatellite satellites-killer satellites-threaten our chief means of intelligence, communications and control. There is no need to underscore the importance of this development.
Fourth, we must note the significance of the Soviet civil defense programs. Even if imperfect, these programs reduce the effectiveness of our deterrents.
These four developments alone-and there are others-transform the problem of strategic deterrence . . .
No President of the United States should ever be put into the position of having to choose between holocaust and the surrender of vital American interests.
About: Eugene V. Rostow, executive committee chairman of the Committee on The Present Danger, is Professor of Law at the Yale University Law School. He was formerly under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Green Beret’s Guide to Surviving the Unthinkable: What to do in a Terrorist Attack
By SOFREP 06.05.2017
The recent events that have unfolded in London, Manchester and other places have people scrambling for answers as to what to do in a terrorist incident. We as a people must maintain our way of life and go about our daily business. Otherwise, the terrorists win. Because they ultimately want to disrupt your lives and if they can fill people with enough fears as to keep them from going to large public events then, they’ve won.
We’re not going to get into a long philosophical discussion on terrorism, the mentally unhinged or the common criminal. While the number of these incidents are rising, they’re still pretty rare. But regardless of how you feel about any particular group or activity, you can still get caught up in one of these types of incidents… so what are you to do? One is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Hotel/Airports: Try to alleviate any potential situations, when staying at a hotel, try to get a room between the 3rd and 5th floors. You don’t want the bottom two floors because those are too easily attained by terrorists when attacking. Above the fifth floor isn’t ideal as that will take the authorities too long to clear and leaves you vulnerable to continued assault by the bad guys.
A good rule of thumb is to try to get a room centrally located between the elevators and stairwells. It gives you better options to egress from danger.
Avoid the long lines at the airport ticket counters. If you must, get there early to avoid the long lines. Our airport security is lax until you go to the gates. Anyone can enter around the ticket counters and there is little to stop a catastrophe from occurring during peak times or at the Holidays.
No one’s bags are scanned or checked and no one goes thru a metal detector in the US until AFTER the ticket counter. Passing thru Israel many times, you have to go thru multiple checks as well as metal detectors before reaching the ticket counters. Our airport terminals are ripe for a disaster. But having tried to bring this to someone’s attention has fallen on deaf ears.
Situational Awareness: Most trained members of the military and law enforcement have an excellent situational awareness that the average person isn’t trained in nor pays much attention to. But once they become ingrained into your being, those traits never leave you.
Today, whenever my family and I go to large public gatherings, my instincts tend to go into a higher level of alert. Kind of a relaxed alert where your senses are heightened but you aren’t facing imminent danger. We all think that “this will never happen here” but I’m sure if you asked the people of London or Manchester that prior to those incidents, they’d say much the same thing. So, make yourself and your family into a hard target. How do we do that, if we aren’t all Special Operations trained, steely-eyed commandos?
Above all, always trust your gut instincts. In the vast majority of problems, you’ll encounter, the people making the fuss will stand out prior to the incident. Suspicious people and objects are a dead giveaway. And what makes them suspicious? Sometimes their dress or choice of apparel doesn’t fit the surroundings. Three guys enter a building wearing heavy jackets on a summer day? Easy to spot and maybe they’ve got something under those to start a problem. If their mid-sections seem unnaturally rigid, that could be evidence of a suicide bomb or vest.
Their body language and mannerisms are often a dead giveaway. Despite the trying to blend, most people aren’t trained well enough to mask their heightened anxiety and will appear nervous, sweating, or jumpy before an incident.
Report any individual taking pictures of security measures, cameras, and such. And some are even so bold as to draw diagrams, blueprints, or maps in the open.
See someone timing the traffic lights or the response times of a police call to at or near a specific area? You may be witnessing a “dry run” where terrorists or criminals go thru a practice run before the real thing.
But for the average person out there who may not recognize these, use your peripheral vision and scan your surroundings. And the first thing one should always be aware of are the exits. How many are there and where are they located? And never forget that sometimes, the nearest and most easily accessible exit is behind you. In stores and restaurants, the “employee only” signs don’t count during a terrorist incident. And usually, there is a rear exit that can be used. We’ve become conditioned to never go there, but these aren’t normal times.
Are there natural or man-made barriers that will stop or slow your family from exiting? Will those turn into choke points where panic could ensue and create even more problems and carnage?
OK, you’ve taken all the precautions but what happens if you still find yourself in an active terrorist incident… what the heck do you do now?
First thing is, don’t panic. While that sounds overly simplistic it may mean the difference between living and dying. Always keep your wits about you and you’ll have a better chance of getting out of this alive.
Run, Shelter in Place, Resist: These are the steps that experts agree on. Even if you’re carrying a concealed weapon, the last thing you want to do, [unless forced to] is to get into a shootout with your wife and kids in tow.
Run: If it all possible get out of the immediate danger area quickly and safely. Remember, the quickest, safest way out may be behind you or thru an employee only area. Try to get people to follow. If they don’t, leave them. The majority of people’s first instinct won’t be to run but to hide. You’re the professional, the sheepdog, lead them out but don’t dawdle.
If there are wounded people present that aren’t ambulatory, you have to leave them. I know that sounds like some really cold-blooded stuff but there it is. The first wave of police and/or Counter-terrorist [CT] types in will do the same.
This goes against our inbred compassion and as Americans, we never want to leave anyone behind but turning one casualty into two or three isn’t the answer. Move quickly out of the danger area to a safe location and call 911. While moving out of the shooting zone, keep your hands visible so that police on-scene don’t mistake you for one of the bad guys.
Leave any items that you’re carrying and get the hell out of Dodge. You can replace shopping items, laptops, etc. but you can’t replace the life of your family members or yourself. Travel light and sleep at home that night. Use any cover to get out and do so quickly.
Shelter in Place: What if you’re stuck in the middle of a shit-storm and there’s no way to safely exit? Then hiding in a safe location comes into play. You want as much cover and concealment as possible. In an office building or school, find an interior room that has a lockable door. Barricade the door to prevent anyone from pushing thru the doorway easily using tables, chairs, or wood that is available. They’re looking for easy targets and by presenting a barricade will buy you valuable time.
Close the blinds, shut off the lights and if possible the air conditioning. Place cell phones on silent not vibrate, be as quiet as possible. Use other desks, chairs, etc. as cover inside the room. Try to call 911 and let an operator know what is going on. If the shooter/shooters are too close, leave the line open so that the 911 operators can hear what is on-going at the site.
Under no circumstances open the door for anyone that you can’t positively identify as either the police or a Hostage Rescue Team [HRT]. I’ve heard that the terrorists in Mumbai used the ruse to yell for help or falsely identify themselves as police in an attempt to get people to show themselves. Don’t make their job easier.
If all else fails and if you can’t hide in a covered and a concealed area, that’s when we get to the least preferred method of handling an active terrorist incident and that is also the most dangerous and that is to fight.
Resist: So, you can’t run, shelter in place and the terrorists are moving in your direction. You are left with basically two choices, be shot out of hand execution-style or fight. But once again, it is the people who keep their wits about them that have a better chance at survival.
Even if you have a concealed weapon, odds are you’re going to be out-gunned. So, you have to be creative and quickly task organize. Gather anything that can be used as a weapon. Is the area dark or close to it? A mini-Maglite can temporarily blind someone just long enough for others to jump a gunman.
Chair legs, any sharp instruments, such as knives, box cutters, and scissors, or a fire extinguisher are usually readily available. Surprise will be your advantage. Most terrorists or criminals don’t expect and aren’t prepared for their victims to fight back. So you’ll have to strike and strike quickly.
Get mad-dog mean. Don’t be like the victims in every teen horror flick, attack the gunman from as many different angles as possible and take him out. The Marquis de Queensberry Rules don’t apply here. Survival, your survival is at stake here. Don’t stop until he’s completely incapacitated or dead.
Get the gunman’s weapon out of his hands and be prepared for follow-on attacks in the case he has other gunmen who come looking for him. The more people involved in attacking a terrorist, the better odds of taking him down and surviving to live another day.
These incidents are happening with increasing frequency today and there is no substitute for preparedness. There will be times that some people will die because there was no way to foresee, prevent or survive some terror attacks. But to survive an on-going one will require a cool head and clear thinking. Because if you lose your composure and the will to resist, you’ll neither win nor live.
(We’re sharing this article found here : https://sofrep.com/82921/green-berets-guide-to-surviving-the-unthinkable-what-to-do-in-a-terrorist-attack/ )
March 1, 1955. (House of Commons)
This was the last great speech made by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons. It was listened to with deep respect and almost total silence in a packed Chamber. It contains the last of the remembered Churchill phrases “… safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation”. The two final sentences may be regarded as Churchill’s farewell to the House of Commons and to the British people.
I beg to move, ‘That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1955, Command Paper No. 9391.’
This Motion stands in my name, and it is supported by my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Minister of Defence.
We live in a period, happily unique in human history, when the whole world is divided intellectually and to a large extent geographically between the creeds of Communist discipline and individual freedom, and when, at the same time, this mental and psychological division is accompanied by the possession by both sides of the obliterating weapons of the nuclear age.
We have antagonisms now as deep as those of the Reformation and its reactions which led to the Thirty Years’ War. But now they are spread over the whole world instead of only over a small part of Europe. We have, to some extent, the geographical division of the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century, only more ruthless and more thorough. We have force and science, hitherto the servants of man, now threatening to become his master.
I am not pretending to have a solution for a permanent peace between the nations which could be unfolded this afternoon. We pray for it. Nor shall I try to discuss the cold war which we all detest, but have to endure. I shall only venture to offer to the House some observations mainly of a general character on which I have pondered long and which, I hope, may be tolerantly received, as they are intended by me. And here may I venture to make a personal digression? I do not pretend to be an expert or to have technical knowledge of this prodigious sphere of science. But in my long friendship with Lord Cherwell I have tried to follow and even predict the evolution of events. I hope that the House will not reprove me for vanity or conceit if I repeat what I wrote a quarter of a century ago:
We know enough [I said] to be sure that the scientific achievements of the next fifty years will be far greater, more rapid and more surprising than those we have already experienced . . . High authorities tell us that new sources of power, vastly more important than any we yet know, will surely be discovered. Nuclear energy is incomparably greater than the molecular energy which we use to-day. The coal a man can get in a day can easily do 500 times as much work as the man himself. Nuclear energy is at least one million times more powerful still. If the hydrogen atoms in a pound of water could be prevailed upon to combine together and form helium, they would suffice to drive a 1,000 horse-power engine for a whole year. If the electrons those tiny planets of the atomic systems were induced to combine with the nuclei in the hydrogen, the horse-power liberated would be 120 times greater still. There is no question among scientists that this gigantic source of energy exists. What is lacking is the match to set the bonfire alight, or it may be the detonator to cause the dynamite to explode.
This is no doubt not quite an accurate description of what has been discovered, but as it was published in the Strand Magazine of December, 1931- twenty-four years ago-I hope that my plea to have long taken an interest in the subject may be indulgently accepted by the House.
What is the present position? Only three countries possess, in varying degrees, the knowledge and the power to make nuclear weapons. Of these, the United States is overwhelmingly the chief. Owing to the breakdown in the exchange of information between us and the United States since 1946 we have had to start again independently on our own. Fortunately, executive action was taken promptly by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to reduce as far as possible the delay in our nuclear development and production. By his initiative we have made our own atomic bombs.
Confronted with the hydrogen bomb, I have tried to live up to the right hon. Gentleman’s standard. We have started to make that one, too. It is this grave decision which forms the core of the Defence Paper which we are discussing this afternoon.
Although the Soviet stockpile of atomic bombs may be greater than that of Britain, British discoveries may well place us above them in fundamental science.
May I say that for the sake of simplicity and to avoid verbal confusion I use the expression ‘atomic bombs’ and also ‘hydrogen bombs’ instead of ‘thermo-nuclear’ and I keep ‘nuclear’ for the whole lot. There is an immense gulf between the atomic and the hydrogen bomb. The atomic bomb, with all its terrors, did not carry us outside the scope of human control or manageable events in thought or action, in peace or war. But when Mr. Sterling Cole, the Chairman of the United States Congressional Committee, gave out a year ago – 17 February 1954 – the first comprehensive review of the hydrogen bomb, the entire foundation of human affairs was revolutionized, and mankind placed in a situation both measureless and laden with doom.
It is now the fact that a quantity of plutonium, probably less than would fill the Box on the Table-it is quite a safe thing to store-would suffice to produce weapons which would give indisputable world domination to any great Power which was the only one to have it. There is no absolute defence against the hydrogen bomb, nor is any method in sight by which any nation, or any country, can be completely guaranteed against the devastating injury which even a score of them might inflict on wide regions.
What ought we to do? Which way shall we turn to save our lives and the future of the world? It does not matter so much to old people; they are going soon anyway; but I find it poignant to look at youth in all its activity and ardour and, most of all, to watch little children playing their merry games, and wonder what would lie before them if God wearied of mankind.
The best defence would of course be bona fide disarmament all round. This is in all our hearts. But sentiment must not cloud our vision. It is often said that ‘facts are stubborn things.’ A renewed session of a sub-committee of the Disarmament Commission is now sitting in London and is rightly attempting to conduct its debates in private. We must not conceal from ourselves the gulf between the Soviet Government and the N.A.T.O. Powers, which has hitherto, for so long, prevented an agreement. The long history and tradition of Russia makes it repugnant to the Soviet Government to accept any practical system of international inspection.
A second difficulty lies in the circumstance that, just as the United States, on the one hand, has, we believe, the overwhelming mastery in nuclear weapons, so the Soviets and their Communist satellites have immense superiority in what are called ‘conventional’ forces-the sort of arms and forces with which we fought the last war, but much improved. The problem is, therefore, to devise a balanced and phased system of disarmament which at no period enables any one of the participants to enjoy an advantage which might endanger the security of the others. A scheme on these lines was submitted last year by Her Majesty’s Government and the French Government and was accepted by the late Mr. Vyshinsky as a basis of discussion. It is now being examined in London.
If the Soviet Government have not at any time since the war shown much nervousness about the American possession of nuclear superiority, that is because they are quite sure that it will not be used against them aggressively, even in spite of many forms of provocation. On the other hand, the N.A.T.O. Powers have been combined together by the continued aggression and advance of Communism in Asia and in Europe. That this should have eclipsed in a few years, and largely effaced, the fearful antagonism and memories that Hitlerism created for the German people is an event without parallel. But it has, to a large extent, happened. There is widespread belief throughout the free world that, but for American nuclear superiority, Europe would already have been reduced to satellite status and the Iron Curtain would have reached the Atlantic and the Channel.
Unless a trustworthy and universal agreement upon disarmament, conventional and nuclear alike, can be reached and an effective system of inspection is established and is actually working, there is only one sane policy for the free world in the next few years. That is what we call defence through deterrents. This we have already adopted and proclaimed. These deterrents may at any time become the parents of disarmament, provided that they deter. To make our contribution to the deterrent we must ourselves possess the most up-to-date nuclear weapons, and the means of delivering them.
That is the position which the Government occupy. We are to discuss this not only as a matter of principle; there are many practical reasons which should be given. Should war come, which God forbid, there are a large number of targets that we and the Americans must be able to strike at once. There are scores of airfields from which the Soviets could launch attacks with hydrogen bombs as soon as they have the bombers to carry them. It is essential to our deterrent policy and to our survival to have, with our American allies, the strength and numbers to be able to paralyse these potential Communist assaults in the first few hours of the war, should it come.
The House will perhaps note that I avoid using the word ‘Russia’ as much as possible in this discussion. I have a strong admiration for the Russian people -for their bravery, their many gifts, and their kindly nature. It is the Communist dictatorship and the declared ambition of the Communist Party and their proselytizing activities that we are bound to resist, and that is what makes this great world cleavage which I mentioned when I opened my remarks.
There are also big administrative and industrial targets behind the Iron Curtain, and any effective deterrent policy must have the power to paralyse them all at the outset, or shortly after. There are also the Soviet submarine bases and other naval targets which will need early attention. Unless we make a contribution of our own-that is the point which I am pressing-we cannot be sure that in an emergency the resources of other Powers would be planned exactly as we would wish, or that the targets which would threaten us most would be given what we consider the necessary priority, or the deserved priority, in the first few hours.
These targets might be of such cardinal importance that it would really be a matter of life and death for us. All this, I think, must be borne in mind in deciding our policy about the conventional forces, to which I will come later, the existing Services.
Meanwhile, the United States has many times the nuclear power of Soviet Russia – I avoid any attempt to give exact figures and they have, of course, far more effective means of delivery. Our moral and military support of the United States and our possession of nuclear weapons of the highest quality and on an appreciable scale, together with their means of delivery, will greatly reinforce the deterrent power of the free world, and will strengthen our influence within the free world. That, at any rate, is the policy we have decided to pursue. That is what we are now doing, and I am thankful that it is endorsed by a mass of responsible opinion on both sides of the House, and, I believe, by the great majority of the nation.
A vast quantity of information, some true, some exaggerated much out of proportion, has been published about the hydrogen bomb. The truth has inevitably been mingled with fiction, and I am glad to say that panic has not occurred. Panic would not necessarily make for peace. That is one reason why I have been most anxious that responsible discussions on this matter should not take place on the B.B.C. or upon the television, and I thought that I was justified in submitting that view of Her Majesty’s Government to the authorities, which they at once accepted-very willingly accepted.
Panic would not necessarily make for peace even in this country. There are many countries where a certain wave of opinion may arise and swing so furiously into action that decisive steps may be taken from which there is no recall. As it is, the world population goes on its daily journey despite its sombre impression and earnest longing for relief. That is the way we are going on now.
I shall content myself with saying about the power of this weapon, the hydrogen bomb, that apart from all the statements about blast and heat effects over increasingly wide areas there are now to be considered the consequences of “fall out” as it is called, of wind-borne radio-active particles. There is both an immediate direct el feet on human beings who are in the path of such a cloud and an indirect effect through animals, grass, and vegetables, which pass on these contagions to human beings through food.
This would confront many who escaped the direct effects of the explosion with poisoning, or starvation, or both. Imagination stands appalled. There are, of course, the palliatives and precautions of a courageous Civil Defence, and about that the Home Secretary will be speaking later on to-night. But our best protection lies, as I am sure the House will be convinced, in successful deterrents operating from a foundation of sober, calm, and tireless vigilance.
Moreover, a curious paradox has emerged. Let me put it simply. After a certain point has been passed it may be said. “The worse things get, the better”.
The broad effect of the latest developments is to spread almost indefinitely and at least to a vast extent the area of mortal danger. This should certainly increase the deterrent upon Soviet Russia by putting her enormous spaces and scattered population on an equality or near-equality of vulnerability with our small densely populated island and with Western Europe.
I cannot regard this development as adding to our dangers. We have reached the maximum already. On the contrary, to this form of attack continents are vulnerable as well as islands. Hitherto, crowded countries, as I have said, like the United Kingdom and Western Europe, have had this outstanding vulnerability to carry. But the hydrogen bomb, with its vast range of destruction and the even wider area of contamination, would be effective also against nations whose population, hitherto, has been so widely dispersed over large land areas as to make them feel that they were not in any danger at all.
They, too, become highly vulnerable: not yet equally perhaps, but, still, highly and increasingly vulnerable. Here again we see the value of deterrents, immune against surprise and well understood by all persons on both sides I repeat “on both sides” who have the power to control events. That is why I have hoped for a long time for a top level conference where these matters could be put plainly and bluntly from one friendly visitor to the conference to another.
Then it may well be that we shall by a process of sublime irony have reached a stage in this story where safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation. Although the Americans have developed weapons capable of producing all the effects I have mentioned, we believe that the Soviets so far have tested by explosion only a type of bomb of intermediate power.
There is no reason why, however, they should not develop some time within the next four, three, or even two years more advanced weapons and full means to deliver them on North American targets. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that within that period they will. In trying to look ahead like this we must be careful ourselves to avoid the error of comparing the present state of our preparations with the stage which the Soviets may reach in three or four years’ time. It is a major error of thought to contrast the Soviet position three or four years hence with our own position to-day. It is a mistake to do this, either in the comparatively precise details of aircraft development or in the measureless sphere of nuclear weapons.
The threat of hydrogen attack on these islands lies in the future. It is not with us now. According to the information that I have been able to obtain I have taken every opportunity to consult all the highest authorities at our disposal-the only country which is able to deliver to-day a full-scale nuclear attack with hydrogen bombs at a few hours’ notice is the United States. That surely is an important fact, and from some points of view and to some of us it is not entirely without comfort.
It is conceivable that Soviet Russia, fearing a nuclear attack before she has caught up with the United States and created deterrents of her own, as she might argue that they are, might attempt to bridge the gulf by a surprise attack with such nuclear weapons as she has already. American superiority in nuclear weapons, reinforced by Britain, must, therefore, be so organized as to make it clear that no such surprise attack would prevent immediate retaliation on a far larger scale. This is an essential of the deterrent policy.
For this purpose, not only must the nuclear superiority of the Western Powers be stimulated in every possible way, but their means of delivery of bombs must be expanded, improved, and varied. It is even probable, though we have not been told about it outside the N.A.T.O. sphere, that a great deal of this has been already done by the United States. We should aid them in every possible way. I will not attempt to go into details, but it is known that bases have been and are being established in as many parts of the world as possible and that over all the rest the United States Strategic Air Force, which is in itself a deterrent of the highest order, is in ceaseless readiness.
The Soviet Government probably knows, in general terms, of the policy that is being pursued, and of the present United States strength and our own growing addition to it. Thus, they should be convinced that a surprise attack could not exclude immediate retaliation. As one might say to them, ‘Although you might kill millions of our peoples, and cause widespread havoc by a surprise attack, we could, within a few hours of this outrage, certainly deliver several, indeed many times the weight of nuclear material which you have used, and continue retaliation on that same scale.’
‘We have,’ we could say, ‘already hundreds of bases for attack from all angles and have made an intricate study of suitable targets.’ Thus, it seems to me with some experience of wartime talks, you might go to dinner and have a friendly evening. I should not be afraid to talk things over as far as they can be. This, and the hard facts, would make the deterrent effective.
I must make one admission, and any admission is formidable. The deterrent does not cover the case of lunatics or dictators in the mood of Hitler when he found himself in his final dug-out. That is a blank. Happily, we may find methods of protecting ourselves, if we were all agreed, against that.
All these considerations lead me to believe that, on a broad view, the Soviets would be ill-advised to embark on major aggression within the next three or four years.
One must always consider the interests of other people when you are facing a particular situation. Their interests may be the only guide that is available. We may calculate, therefore, that world war will not break out within that time. If, at the end of that time, there should be a supreme conflict, the weapons which I have described this afternoon would be available to both sides, and it would be folly to suppose that they would not be used. Our precautionary dispositions and preparations must, therefore, be based on the assumption that, if war should come, these weapons would be used.
I repeat, therefore, that during the next three or four years the free world should, and will, retain an overwhelming superiority in hydrogen weapons. During that period it is most unlikely that the Russians would deliberately embark on major war or attempt a surprise attack, either of which would bring down upon them at once a crushing weight of nuclear retaliation. In three or four years’ time, it may be even less, the scene will be changed. The Soviets will probably stand possessed of hydrogen bombs and the means of delivering them not only on the United Kingdom but also on North American targets. They may then have reached a stage, not indeed of parity with the United States and Britain but of what is called ‘saturation.’
I must explain this term of art. ‘Saturation’ in this connection means the point where, although one Power is stronger than the other, perhaps much stronger, both are capable of inflicting crippling or quasi-mortal injury on the other with what they have got. It does not follow, however, that the risk of war will then be greater. Indeed, it is arguable that it will be less, for both sides will then realize that global war would result in mutual annihilation.
Major war of the future will differ, therefore, from anything we have known in the past in this one significant respect; that each side, at the outset, will suffer what it dreads the most, the loss of everything that it has ever known of. The deterrents will grow continually in value. In the past, an aggressor has been tempted by the hope of snatching an early advantage. In future, he may be deterred by the knowledge that the other side has the certain power to inflict swift, inescapable, and crushing retaliation. Of course, we should all agree that a world-wide international agreement on disarmament is the goal at which we should aim. The Western democracies disarmed themselves at the end of the war. The Soviet Government did not disarm, and the Western nations were forced to rearm, though only partially, after the Soviets and Communists had dominated all China and half Europe. That is the present position. It is easy, of course, for the Communists to say now, ‘Let us ban all nuclear weapons.’ Communist ascendancy in conventional weapons would then become overwhelming. That might bring peace, but only peace in the form of the subjugation of the Free World to the Communist system.
I shall not detain the House very much longer, and I am sorry to be so long. The topic is very intricate. I am anxious to repeat and to emphasize the one word which is the theme of my remarks, namely, ‘Deterrent.’ That is the main theme.
The hydrogen bomb has made an astounding incursion into the structure of our lives and thoughts. Its impact is prodigious and profound, but I do not agree with those who say, ‘Let us sweep away forthwith all our existing defence services and concentrate our energy and resources on nuclear weapons and their immediate ancillaries.’ The policy of the deterrent cannot rest on nuclear weapons alone. We must, together with our N.A.T.O. allies, maintain the defensive shield in Western Europe.
Unless the N.A.T.O. powers had effective forces there on the ground and could make a front, there would be nothing to prevent piecemeal advance and encroachment by the Communists in this time of so-called peace. By successive infiltrations, the Communists could progressively undermine the security of Europe. Unless we were prepared to unleash a full-scale nuclear war as soon as some local incident occurs in some distant country, we must have conventional forces in readiness to deal with such situations as they arise.
We must, therefore, honour our undertaking to maintain our contribution to the N.A.T.O. forces in Europe in time of peace. In war, this defensive shield would be of vital importance, for we must do our utmost to hold the Soviet and satellite forces at arms’ length in order to prevent short-range air and rocket attack on these islands. Thus, substantial strength in conventional forces has still a vital part to play in the policy of the deterrent. It is perhaps of even greater importance in the cold war.
Though world war may be prevented by the deterrent power of nuclear weapons, the Communists may well resort to military action in furtherance of their policy of infiltration and encroachment in many parts of the world. There may well be limited wars on the Korean model, with limited objectives. We must be able to play our part in these, if called upon by the United Nations organization. In the conditions of to-day, this is also an aspect of our Commonwealth responsibility. We shall need substantial strength in conventional forces to fulfil our world-wide obligations in these days of uneasy peace and extreme bad temper.
To sum up this part of the argument, of course, the development of nuclear weapons will affect the shape and organization of the Armed Forces and also of Civil Defence. We have entered a period of transition in which the past and the future will overlap. But it is an error to suppose that, because of these changes our traditional forces can be cast away or superseded. The tasks of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in this transition period are set forth with clarity in the Defence White Paper. The means by which these duties will be met are explained in more detail in the Departmental Papers which have been laid before the House by the three Service Ministers.
No doubt, nothing is perfect; certainly, nothing is complete, but, considering that these arrangements have been made in the first year after the apparition of the hydrogen bomb, the far-seeing and progressive adaptability which is being displayed by all three Services is remarkable. [Hon. Members: ‘Oh.’] I understand that there is to be a Motion of censure. Well, certainly, nothing could be more worthy of censure than to try to use the inevitable administrative difficulties of the transitional stage as a utensil of party politics and would-be electioneering. I am not saying that anyone is doing it; we shall see when it comes to the vote.
The future shape of Civil Defence is also indicated in broad outline in the Defence White Paper. This outline will be filled in as the preparation of the new plans proceeds, but the need for an effective system of Civil Defence is surely beyond dispute. It presents itself to-day in its noblest aspect, namely, the Christian duty of helping fellow-mortals in distress. Rescue, salvage, and ambulance work have always been the core of Civil Defence, and no city, no family nor any honourable man or woman can repudiate this duty and accept from others help which they are not prepared to fit themselves to render in return. If war comes, great numbers may be relieved of their duty by death, but none must deny it as long as they live. If they do, they might perhaps be put in what is called ‘Coventry.’ [Laughter.] I am speaking of the tradition, and not of any particular locality.
The argument which I have been endeavouring to unfold and consolidate gives us in this island an interlude. Let us not waste it. Let us hope we shall use it to augment or at least to prolong our security and that of mankind. But how? There are those who believe, or at any rate say, ‘If we have the protection of the overwhelmingly powerful United States, we need not make the hydrogen bomb for ourselves or build a fleet of bombers for its delivery. We can leave that to our friends across the ocean. Our contribution should be criticism of any unwise policy into which they may drift or plunge. We should throw our hearts and consciences into that.’
Personally, I cannot feel that we should have much influence over their policy or actions, wise or unwise, while we are largely dependent, as we are to-day, upon their protection. We, too, must possess substantial deterrent power of our own. We must also never allow, above all, I hold, the growing sense of unity and brotherhood between the United Kingdom and the United States and throughout the English-speaking world to be injured or retarded. Its maintenance, its stimulation, and its fortifying is one of the first duties of every person who wishes to see peace in the world and wishes to see the survival of this country.
To conclude: mercifully, there is time and hope if we combine patience and courage. All deterrents will improve and gain authority during the next ten years. By that time, the deterrent may well reach its acme and reap its final reward. The day may dawn when fair play, love for one’s fellow-men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.