From the “Journal Archives” ….. Journal of Civil Defense, Jan-Feb 1978
Reports and repercussions of the 1977 American “Civil Defense Debate” are appearing in foreign publications. In Great Britain, The Journal of the Institute of Civil Defense digs into Congressional hearings and says: One Republican, Congressman William Whitehurst, also argued that it would be criminal to give up hope of defending against a nuclear attack when civil shelters could reduce casualties “down to 20 million.” But the new director of the Pentagon’s Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, Mr. Bardyl Tirana, said there was no question of building blast shelters for the civil population, which would cost far more than the sums being voted. “Frankly, we do not seek an increase,” he said. “All we would do with the funds is accelerate our program. We’re not going to build shelters or do any industrial hardening, as some people have suggested.”
Russians carefully monitored the hearings, and General of the Army A. I. Radziyevskiy in an interview with V. Aleksandrov printed in the Canadian Emergency Planning Digest for September-October 1977 has praise for “sober minded” Americans who play down civil defense. In answer to a question about claims of a stepped-up Russian civil defense made by the American press, American generals and Boeing Aerospace Company Radziyevskiy says:
“They are totally baseless. Soviet civil defense has never threatened anyone and has always pursued humane aims.
“As in the past, the main tasks of civil defense are: to protect the population during war; to increase the stability of the functioning of the national economy in wartime and to eliminate the consequences of an aggressor’s attack on peaceful cities and villages . . .
“Naturally, the civil defense organization and its methods of protecting the population and national economy from an aggressor’s air attacks and natural catastrophes are constantly being improved. However, this fact, which was recognized during the conclusion of the ABM Treaty, was no obstacle to its signing and alarmed no one until 1976, when the struggle over the US military budget for the next few years broke out.
“Seeking an increase in the military budget, American ‘hawks’ are now trying to belittle US civil defense potential as much as possible. Yet in the past, when the military-industrial complex had to convince American public opinion that the vast sums being spent at the taxpayer’s expense to implement extensive civil defense programs were being used most effectively, they enthusiastically praised the achievements of US civil defense . . .
“While knowing of the United States’ extensive civil defense programs, the Soviet Union has never called these measures a threat to the peace and security of other peoples, and has never tried to depict them as an obstacle to ending the arms race or to general disarmament. Indeed, it is not hard to understand that with the ending of the arms race and the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, the need for civil defense measures will also recede of its own accord. Therefore, the attempt to present civil defense measures as an insurmountable obstacle to further progress at the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks is just as ridiculous as an attempt to lead a jackass backwards along a road . . .
Closer to home, Soviet Scientist M. A. Markov writes a persuasive article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November 1977) which is meant to refute Richard Pipes’ statement in the July 1977 Commentary. Pipes said:
“Since the mid-1960s, the proposition that thermonuclear war would be suicidal for both parties has been used by the Russians largely as a commodity for export. Its chief proponents include staff members of the Moscow Institute of the USA and Canada, and Soviet participants at Pugwash, Dartmouth and similar international conferences, who are assigned the task of strengthening the hand of anti-military intellectual circles in the West.”
Markov tackles his mission pretty well and he tries to reemphasize the title of his article, which is “Have We Learned to Think in a New Way?” He quotes the Pugwash Manifesto in saying that “There can be no winners in a third world war.” A familiar goblin, and he points out:
“With the appearance of the nuclear weapon, and with the threat of global destruction of life on earth, arose the realization that the use of this weapon was tantamount to self-destruction . . .
“The duty of scientists is to warn the world about this god of war donning the mask of a pacifist, and to warn about the military strategists’ temptation to unleash a preventive war for ‘humanistic’ ends. . .
“The genie has been released from the bottle, and it only remains for us to search for different forms of limiting its spread and preventing its aggressiveness. The danger is that an accumulation of plutonium can take place in reactors designed for generating nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
” . . . The disappearance of an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and fear in favor of an atmosphere of security will lead to a new economic order and to the peaceful cooperation among people in solving tasks common to all mankind.”
Prominent among those whom the Soviets would like to discredit is Major General George Keegan, who retired a year ago as Chief of Air Force Intelligence . Following are excerpts of an interview published in Human Events of September 24, 1977:
“ . . . The Soviets have taken extraordinary steps to harden, protect and shelter their military, leadership, industrial and population resources from nuclear attack . While Soviet cities would be destroyed, they would probably suffer no more than four or five million fatalities to our 160 million.
“ . . . Future catastrophe can be averted – just as World War II could have been prevented.
“All the United States has to do is continue making a prudent, objective assessment of what the Soviet Union is doing and assuring that we don’t let it happen. Prudent and adequate investment in security and defense is basically what is required. In my opinion, we are not doing that today . . .
“Altunin [Soviet Chief of Civil Defense] has over 200 general officers on active duty from the several services, serving directly on his staff, or in command of civil defense in all the major cities of the Soviet Union. He is known to have many dozens of regiments of civil defense troops that are assigned principally to supervising city defense throughout the Soviet Union. His organization includes several large military academies like the Air Force Academy or West Point exclusively devoted to training civil defense officers.
“After four years of the most intensive training in civil defense, they graduate with the equivalent of a college degree, are commissioned second lieutenants, and spend their entire 35- to 50-year career in civil defense. Ultimately, these young officers become the commanders of civil defense detachments throughout the cities of the Soviet Union.
“ . . . There is no longer any mystery about the matter of Soviet civil defense . The difficulty is that you cannot get senior officials of the U. S. government to believe, because to believe would simply be to put detente, SALT and the ABM treaty of 1972 in an extremely adverse light.”