Civil Defense

June 4, 1982

Report Outline
Old Question in New Form
Appraising Soviet Civil Defense
Nightmare of Nuclear War

Old Question in New Form

Peace Groups' Opposition to Cd Plans

President reagan's emphasis on civil defense planning is adding a new element to the ongoing public debate over nuclear arms. Peace activists have seized on the coming United Nations second Special Session on Disarmament to dramatize their concern about the failure of the United States and Russia to agree on significant arms-control measures. The seekers of an international freeze on the production of nuclear weaponry are calling for a “mass demonstration” in New York on June 12, while the U.N. disarmament delegates are meeting. Many persons connected with the movement say they expect protests against a civil defense buildup to join the nuclear-freeze campaign as a major focus of anti-war activity during the year.

As part of his program to build up U.S. military forces to offset a perceived Soviet advantage, the president on March 30 outlined a seven-year, $4.2 billion plan to bolster this country's civil defenses against nuclear attack. The plan emphasizes the removal of residents from large urban centers in an attempt to enable 80 percent of the American people to survive a nuclear war—twice as many as would otherwise survive, according to the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency. Administration officials point out that Russian civil defense concentrates on evacuation of urban populations prior to an expected attack. A comparable U.S. program, they reason, would strengthen the American nuclear deterrent and provide the government more flexibility in its response to a nuclear crisis.

Critics of civil defense planning fear that the more flexibility the government has, the more likely it would seriously consider engaging in a nuclear war. They also see the civil defense program as an opportunity to mobilize public opposition to a further nuclear arms buildup since plans for the “crisis relocation” of city people to the countryside takes the idea of nuclear war out of the realm of abstraction and brings it down to earth.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jul. 29, 2016  Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal
Mar. 08, 2002  Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jan. 31, 1997  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Jun. 24, 1994  Nuclear Arms Cleanup
Jun. 05, 1992  Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 29, 1990  Obstacles to Bio-Chemical Disarmament
Apr. 22, 1988  The Military Build-Down in the 1990s
May 24, 1987  Euromissile Negotiations
Jul. 11, 1986  Chemical Weapons
Apr. 27, 1984  Reagan's Defense Buildup
Jun. 04, 1982  Civil Defense
Jul. 17, 1981  Controlling Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 05, 1981  MX Missile Decision
Aug. 15, 1980  The Neutron Bomb and European Defense
Sep. 07, 1979  Atomic Secrecy
Mar. 17, 1978  Nuclear Proliferation
May 27, 1977  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1977  Politics of Strategic Arms Negotiations
Nov. 15, 1974  Nuclear Safeguards
Jul. 01, 1970  Nuclear Balance of Terror: 25 Years After Alamogordo
Jun. 18, 1969  Chemical–Biological Weaponry
Jun. 30, 1965  Atomic Proliferation
Mar. 21, 1962  Nuclear Testing Dilemmas
Aug. 16, 1961  Shelters and Survival
Oct. 12, 1959  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1959  Nuclear Test Ban
Dec. 04, 1957  Scientific Cooperation and Atlantic Security
May 15, 1957  Changing Defense Concepts
Jul. 03, 1956  Civil Defense, 1956
Nov. 16, 1955  International Arms Deals
Oct. 04, 1954  Industrial Defense
Apr. 15, 1954  National Defense Strategy
Feb. 10, 1954  New Aproaches to Atomic Control
Oct. 10, 1953  Atomic Information
Apr. 11, 1952  Biological Warfare
Oct. 03, 1951  World Arms Race
Feb. 04, 1948  International Control of Atomic Energy
Dec. 06, 1946  International Inspection
Aug. 27, 1943  Gas Warfare
Jul. 24, 1937  The New Race in Armaments
May 05, 1932  Abolition of Aggressive Weapons
Arms Control and Disarmament
Nuclear Energy
U.S. at War: Cold War