To state the really obvious with candid clarity is usually considered bad form in the fashionable, politically correct world of today. The truth is that civil defense in the classic meaning of that term has not existed for the public at-large since the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Quite simply, the U.S. government decision-makers determined that it would pursue the policy of “continuity of government” as its priority. This meant that our military and political planners decided to protect the political elites of our nation and not worry about the survival of the civilian population in the event of thermonuclear war.
If you weren’t considered a V.I.P. in helping to keep the government functioning through a nuclear confrontation with the communist enemy state, then you were in effect classified as so-much collateral damage—expendable and unnecessary. Reports of large installations of underground bunkers and shelter systems restricted to government leaders and their myrmidons occasionally surface in the mainstream press confirming this contention of favored status for federal insiders only.
Are YOU a certified member of the nuclear survival club? It’s a pretty exclusive group!
Seriously. In the era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) it seemed suicidal for either owner of a nuclear arsenal to contemplate a first strike because massive retaliation would reduce the major cities to rubble, no matter who launched first. The U.S strategic defense posture of the time was at least re-assuring in that there was a large degree of trust (by the Soviets) that its counterpart would only use its nukes for defensive, retaliatory purposes –never for offensive, unprovoked warfare.
Back in the days of the Cold War, when reputed communist lust for world domination was public enemy #1 and a Soviet first strike was regarded as the biggest threat to U.S. homeland security, there remained a very small group of civil defense advocates who kept the movement in existence despite the government having officially abandoned all pretense of trying to protect its citizens from the ravages of a nuclear holocaust if prevention/deterrence failed.
You can read the history of TACDA (The American Civil Defense Association) and visit the site archives for more on this. Now the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event either caused by a high altitude burst of a nuclear weapon (HEMP) or a massive solar storm are the major concerns that civil defense experts are warning us about. And by the way, this strategic assessment is not officially endorsed by FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). Those particular federal agencies tasked with protecting the American public against so-called all-hazard disaster scenarios are not addressing EMP catastrophe just yet. (1.)
The 64 million dollar question that is not publicly discussed even by the most ardent and vocal authorities preaching today about a national program to harden the electrical grid against a possible EMP strike is…
Is it still possible or likely that any adversary* could combine an EMP terrorist attack with a full scale launch of thermonuclear warheads against the continental United States? Military analysts and strategists have been saying for years that any kind of nuclear weapons attack would always be preceded by an EMP burst to take out radar, electronic communications and satellite detection and telemetry capabilities—thus blinding/debilitating our vast array of defensive systems.
That was the conventional wisdom of the day when (nation) state actors were thought to be the only realistic nuclear threat to U.S. domestic national security. Then the events of 9/11 took place and the possible specter of a nuclear-armed, terrorist plot exclusive of state-sponsorship helped to propel the nation into what we have come to know as the “war on terror”.
Though there is excellent advice available here to take expedient measures for protecting yourself in the event of an imminent nuclear surprise attack, it still remains somewhat sketchy on how to precisely deal with an EMP impaired/crippled communications and transportation infrastructure while you’re trying to reach your safe bug-out/bug-in location. (Assuming you have one of those.)
Probably what is needed is the publication of an info-graphic that lays out an excellent flow-chart on the steps to take and indicators to look for if there ever is an actual HEMP attack that takes down the commercial grid. Despite all the precautions and preparations you have taken right up to that super-critical moment, it’s still going to be anybody’s guess if there are deadly, airborne nuclear-tipped ICBM’s incoming after any HEMP burst that could have just occurred.
In other words, you could still be asking yourself the 64 million dollar question right up to the crucial moment of an improbable yet impending nuclear holocaust:
Hmmm… I wonder if that was just a one-time, isolated rogue launch by a terrorist group that just caused our power blackout, or is this a prelude to something far worse that is already headed this way?”
Who is to say? The military would be the first to know and it’s not their official duty or mandate to inform the civilian public of anything. By the time the DHS found out about some general nuclear strike, it would be too late for any average citizen to do much about it. This is the area in which things really start getting dicey. How do we account for what nuclear armed leaders of adversarial nations will do when their very national survival may be perceived to be in favor of whoever strikes first?
Arguably, the U.S. has come closer to flirting with nuclear calamity presently than at any other time since the collapse of the Berlin Wall when Ronald Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev forged a pact that effectively ended the Cold War. Political commentators convincingly offer evidence that recent American foreign policy pursuits by the Obama administration have gutted the diplomatic trust that once existed between the U.S. and Russia. Continued annexations of former Soviet republics into NATO membership and the current hostilities and proxy war being conducted in Ukraine have — according to internet-based journalistic sources revived Cold War frictions between the two nuclear powers.
I have monitored fairly closely the extent to which US/EU economic sanctions made in response to the Ukraine crisis have led to extremely provocative moves by our government. It’s not inaccurate to say that economic warfare is being waged against Russia by U.S. and European Union (EU) sanctions and political initiatives. This is supposed to keep Russia from interfering or influencing events in Eastern Ukraine beyond boundaries updated in the latest ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk.
Now deliberations are under way to determine if arming Ukraine with lethal aid would rein-in Russia or help balance the political juggernaut of pro-West forces. Historian William K. Polk—whose excellent analysis I’ve included — thinks it would be regarded as an “offensive” move by the Russians that would only result in de-stabilizing the situation further. I think our policy makers should follow his advice.
Continuing the enforcement of existing NATO objectives and U.S. economic sanctions has not cowed Putin into appeasement with U.S/EU’s Ukraine Geo-political initiatives thus far. Additional sanctions are being considered should ceasefire violations continue amid claims made by commander of U.S. Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, that some 12,000 Russian troops are supporting the separatists in eastern Ukraine. (2.)
In this general discussion on the lack of a civil defense in this country why focus on what is currently happening in the Ukraine civil war? Because unlike all other areas of conflict in the world, U.S. relations with nuclear-armed Russia necessarily alludes to that individual nation which in fact possesses the single greatest ability to strike our shores/skies with nuclear weaponry that could utterly devastate our country.
Civil Defense VS. National Defense
There might have been a time when the defense of the civilian population of the United States was equated with the notion of “national defense”. It is referred to in the U.S. Constitution as the Common Defense. I belong to a growing chorus of critical thinkers who opine that the leadership of past and present administrations has implemented policies that have created a great division between these 2 concepts when applied in practical terms affecting public safety and security.
As outlined in Dr. Pry’s book “Electric Armageddon” the nation’s military authorities in the Department of Defense are in disagreement with the Department of Homeland Security on just whose responsibility it is to protect our critical commercial electric infrastructure against the threat of an EMP catastrophe.
While they wrangle over jurisdictional fine print, WE THE PEOPLE –dependent on the critical infrastructures, remain essentially unprotected against an EMP take-down of the grid.
Further, as a corollary, we can critically examine our own civilian defense front-line concerns and see that foreign policy decisions and priorities set by the military/security/industrial conglomerates that largely dictate government’s geopolitical agendas purposefully exclude the public’s input on security interests that affect us all. Indeed, do we have any voice at all to influence foreign policy matters?
Chris Martinson of peakprosperity.com wrote an excellent expose’ of the economic warfare being waged against Russia and rhetorically asks if the US/EU are provoking a more “kinetic” response from Russia than they bargained for.
One thing we can know for sure is that Vladimir Putin will act militarily in a manner that he and his political/military advisors feel is in the best interests of Russia and the region they call the Near Abroad. (Satellite countries in their sphere). Another thing that we can at least question—and even challenge — is whether the US is acting in the best interests of the bankers and corporatists who profit from war or on behalf of the American people.
I think we can all agree on one thing. If civil defense is to become a national priority, WE THE PEOPLE must be the ones to make it a fact of life here in the good ole’ U.S. of A. All else is mere lip service until proven otherwise.
* The un-named, universal adversary
(1.) Electric Armageddon by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
Included Article links below:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/25/the-cold-war-and-ukraine/ an article appearing on CounterPunch published Feb 25 by William K Polk historian specializing on the Middle East
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/26/the-rising-spectre-of-nuclear-war/ published on CounterPunch by Paul Craig Roberts