So There’s Been a Nuclear Attack, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Eric AdamsJohn Morgan
On Monday, New York City’s Emergency Management agency released a short video (linked below) intended to advise residents on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. The video rattled some, who questioned why it was being released now. While I think the reason for that is obvious, for me the video is more interesting in its utter ridiculousness, which I will detail here, as well as for what it says about how our rulers view themselves.
Nuclear war, a subject I’ve written about for Counter-Currents before, is a subject that has fascinated me since I was a kid in the early 1980s, when the threat of it was something very palpable and as much a part of the cultural fabric of the time as Michael Jackson or E. T. For this reason, even though I’m no expert on the subject, I feel I know enough about it to offer a few comments on the resurrection of this bogeyman we thought we’d banished decades ago.
While the danger from nuclear weapons receded after the Cold War ended, and most people forgot about it like an old nightmare, it never went away — no country that has attained the ultimate weapon is ever going to be inclined to give it up — and the nuclear genie has always been lurking in his bottle, waiting to be unleashed. But it’s only now, with America’s confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, that the prospect of nuclear conflict as an imminent possibility has reemerged in the public consciousness.
From the outset, however, I will say that the prospects for any use of nuclear weapons in the current conflict, let alone a full-scale nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia, are quite low — even if they are doubtless higher than at any time since the 1980s. Both governments are well aware that there is no possibility of either of them being able to use nuclear weapons on the other without suffering catastrophic death and destruction in return, and there really aren’t any political goals that are worth blowing up the world over.
The only way that Russia would use its nuclear weapons would be if they felt that their very existence was at stake — or if they believed the US was about to use its own nukes. (I wouldn’t rule it out entirely, however, simply because Russians don’t think like Westerners do, particularly when it comes to war. The closest analogy to how Russia views Ukraine in a strategic sense would be how the US saw Cuba when the Russians moved in in 1962 — which was the closest the two powers ever came to a hot war.)
The video, which is a minute and a half long, has the evocative title of Nuclear Preparedness PSA, which suggests to me that whoever made it simply pasted in the name of the item on his to-do list. It opens on a computer-generated, nondescript city street with some equally nondescript music on the soundtrack that seems more appropriate for an infomercial than for the apocalypse. Sirens can be heard in the distance. Everything looks more or less normal apart from some minor structural damage to a few of the buildings, what appears to be a bit of unidentifiable wreckage in the street, and some burned trees.
This is completely unrealistic if this is supposed to be anywhere in New York City following a nuclear attack of any sort, for many reasons, but to see why we have to know something about today’s nuclear arsenals.
Russia doesn’t publicize the number of its weapons or their characteristics, but in a recent study, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimated that Russia currently has approximately 4,500 nuclear warheads either deployed (1,600) or in storage, with a further 1,500 warheads waiting to be dismantled that could theoretically be reactivated in a crisis. Given that the US has always been Russia’s primary nuclear adversary, Russia has the capability of delivering most of these weapons to the United States either on submarine-launched or land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (SLBMs and ICBMs), or aboard long-range bombers. And since it is fashionable in the West these days to believe that Russia’s military is “incompetent,” even if we were to assume that half of these weapons would fail to operate, which is an extremely generous allowance, Russia would still have more than adequate firepower to send the US and its NATO allies to a radioactive medieval age.
The yield, meaning the explosive power, of these weapons is considerable. It is believed that Russia has in its arsenal strategic weapons ranging from 100 kilotons among its SLBMs, and of between 500 kilotons to one megaton among its ICBMs, with some weapons having a yield of even greater magnitude, up to several megatons. For comparison, the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima is estimated to have had a yield of approximately 15 kilotons. This means that the smallest weapons in Russia’s strategic arsenal are seven times more powerful than that, with many of them being many times greater still. A one-megaton warhead has roughly 70 times the destructive capacity of the Hiroshima bomb. Further, the US at present has very little deployed in terms of anti-ballistic missile capabilities for defending its homeland, so essentially, once a weapon is launched, there isn’t anything the US military can do to stop it.
To return to the video, let’s assume that Russia decides to exercise moderation and only fires a single, 100-kiloton warhead at the city, set to explode in the air (called an airburst in nuclear lingo) and targeted on lower Manhattan. Fortunately, there is a handy website called NUKEMAP, which was set up by a civilian expert on nuclear weapons. It allows you to simulate what a nuclear weapon of your choosing would do to a target anywhere on the Earth’s surface. It’s only a very rough estimate, of course, but it can give you some idea of what would happen. See below:
As you can see, all of Manhattan almost as far north as Central Park has been incinerated, as well as parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey, with extensive damage also being inflicted on the rest of Manhattan almost as far north as Harlem and on large portions of the other three areas. There are nearly 600,000 people dead and almost a million and a half injured. In this scenario, the cityscape shown in the video might be accurate for Harlem, Staten Island, the Bronx, and the outer areas of Brooklyn and Queens.
But a 100-kiloton warhead is quite small. Let’s assume the Russians instead hit the city with an ICBM carrying a one-megaton warhead:
Now, all of Manhattan, most of Brooklyn and Queens, a big chunk of New Jersey, and even a sliver of Staten Island has been vaporized. All of the rest of Brooklyn and Queens, nearly all of the Bronx, and half of Staten Island have sustained heavy damage. The computer estimates 1.75 million dead and well over three million injured. If this type of weapon were used, the video’s cityscape would make no sense whatsoever.
In the event that Russia’s leadership actually made a decision to destroy New York — which would certainly be their primary urban target in the US, with the possible exception of Washington, DC — it is extremely unlikely that they would only use one warhead to do so, however. They would almost certainly use many warheads, both to ensure the city’s destruction if one of the warheads were to malfunction as well as to guarantee that the entire city will be rendered useless. Russia’s new Bulava SLBM carries six warheads with yields of 100 kilotons each. Let’s see what would happen to New York if just one Bulava were fired at it, with its target spread designed to maximize destruction throughout the city:
Here, nearly all of the city has been either vaporized or heavily damaged, apart from a few small areas on the outer edges and between impact points, with the blast radii now even extending into western Long Island. And again, it should be emphasized that it is highly probable that New York would be hit with many more warheads than this, and very possibly with some of considerably more explosive power. So this should be seen as a conservative estimate.
Thus, there’s really no scenario where the scene depicted in the video could be considered in any way realistic.
Now, our narrator comes in to explain what’s going on. She’s a woman — or at least I patriarchially assume she’s a woman, since she doesn’t offer her pronouns — and of course, since we’re in Current Year America, she’s black, since only a black woman can be trusted to give us accurate information. If it were a white man, who knows what sort of white supremacist deceptions and distortions might be invisibly fed into it?
I watched the video several times to prepare for this article, and I can never help but laugh at her very first line: “So there’s been a nuclear attack.” Bummer, man! It reminds me of that bestselling book from a few years ago called So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. There’s nothing worse for a New Yorker’s day than a nuclear bomb going off! Have you ever tried catching a taxi in midtown during a firestorm?
Have no fear, however, as the Magical Negress is ready to walk us through this. She tells us that we need to get inside — “fast” — and stay away from the windows, and then remain there with all the doors and windows closed.
While this would of course be safer than being outside, it wouldn’t do much good if you are within the primary blast radius, as much of the city likely would be. You’ll simply be vaporized, crushed as the building collapses around you, or pulverized by the blast wave and flying debris. Being inside might help to protect you if you’re in an area that only sustains secondary damage, but then you will be presented with another problem, namely that one of the main effects of a nuclear blast is a thermal pulse. We’re talking millions of degrees Fahrenheit, which causes everything in range that hasn’t been vaporized to burst into flames. This produces what is called a firestorm, of the sort that we’ve seen before in places like Tokyo and Dresden. In short, most of the city in the blast radius that isn’t immediately destroyed will soon be on fire, and the flames will spread outwards from there (there likely won’t be much of the Fire Department left to stop it). So, while being inside a building might help to protect you from the blast, it’s not a good place to be during a firestorm.
And beyond that, even a single detonation of a nuclear weapon anywhere within the city would undoubtedly shatter most of the windows throughout it, and also blow holes in many walls and rooftops. This presents an additional pickle. A city is likely to be targeted with an airburst, since a weapon that is detonated high in the air above a target wreaks destruction over a much larger radius than a groundburst, which is typically only used to destroy hardened underground targets like bunkers and missile silos. While there is less radioactive fallout produced in an airburst, there is still some, and buildings with holes and broken windows would offer very little protection from it. So even if you were to escape the flames, what about the fallout? Perhaps, then, the best reason to stay inside after a nuclear attack is in the hope that you will burn to death quickly in the firestorm rather than die a long, lingering death from radiation poisoning.
Our friend and humble narrator then advises us that if we are caught outside during the blast, we need to take off our clothes and bag them in case they have been contaminated with radioactivity, and then we need to take a shower. The bit about clothes is probably true, but I’m not sure how one could be expected to take a shower in a city after a nuclear attack, when it is very likely that the city’s water mains and pumps will have all been broken by the explosion. Even if they somehow haven’t, the water will very possibly also have been contaminated with radioactivity.
Furthermore, if one were caught outside anywhere near a nuclear explosion, people for many miles around will suffer severe skin burns and can also be temporarily or permanently blinded by the flash if they happen to be looking in the direction of the blast when it occurs. Changing your clothes and taking a shower isn’t going to help that.
Her third instruction is to “stay tuned” by “following media,” and to sign up for Notify NYC for “official alerts and updates.” Notify NYC is an app, which means it only works on laptops and smartphones. During the Cold War, we were advised to keep a battery-operated radio around, with lots of batteries, for this scenario. While it’s probably reasonable to assume that many fewer people have battery-operated radios now than then, does the City of New York really think that the Internet, cell phone towers, and electricity will still be functioning in the city after The Big One?
Her last order is to “not go outside until officials say it’s safe.” She says this from inside a cozy-looking, undamaged loft that looks more like someone’s lazy Sunday afternoon than a survival shelter. Unless you have your own Geiger counter, I guess you would have to wait for those “officials” who have survived to tell you that it’s safe to go outside (after several weeks), however they manage to communicate that to you (smoke signals?), although that pretty much leaves you on your own in the meantime if the fires and fallout decide to intrude into your studio apartment. But we all learned during Covid that the key to safety is to “trust the science” and “stay the fuck home,” right? This is just the same, just with much better special effects!
This masterpiece’s crowning moment, however, is our heroine’s last lines: “All right? You’ve got this.” That’s right, just take a shower, stay inside, put on Netflix, and wait for Eric Adams to tell you that it’s okay for you to go out for your latte. You’ll need the caffeine to prep yourself for another Great Reset.
This video is so patently ridiculous that at first I couldn’t imagine why the city felt compelled to make it at all, until I remembered that in today’s bureaucracies what is really important isn’t the result, but simply the illusion that a problem has been addressed. Thus, it looks like they’ve done something about it, even if that something is utterly worthless. So I’m sure “producing video to save New York from a nuclear attack” is now going to feature prominently in a few city officials’ annual reports. Readers who are interested in an infinitely more accurate depiction of what a nuclear attack on a city would be like are urged to watch the 1984 British apocalyptic classic, Threads.
The fact that this video was released only a few months after the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine can’t be a coincidence, although for whatever reason Christina Farrell, who is the Deputy Commissioner of New York’s Emergency Management agency, told NBC New York that it isn’t “tied to any specific threats,” and that “[t]here’s no overarching reason why this is the time we sent this out. . . . It’s just one tool in the toolbox to be prepared in the 21st century.”
New York’s Mayor, Eric Adams, was more explicit. He told NPR that the video was part of “taking necessary steps after what happened in Ukraine,” and that it was ordered “right after the attacks in the Ukraine and [Emergency Management] took a very proactive step to say let’s be prepared.”
I myself suspect that the authorities don’t really believe a nuclear war is imminent. They have other motives for releasing this film. Besides their aforementioned bureaucratic desire to make it look like they’re doing something, they’ve also grown accustomed to presiding over a population in a perpetual state of fear for the past two and a half years. Now that few are buying the Covid hysteria anymore, perhaps they think it’s time to scaremonger over something else. Plus, the video perpetuates their drive to convince the masses to trust in their benevolent authority — which is more and more becoming the formula by which the new world of the technocrats is being built. You don’t have to bother yourself about nuclear war, or anything else, because The Plan is already in place; all you have to do is obey, and all will be well.
But what’s the most bizarre quality of this film for me is the fact that after 70 years, a branch of the US government is still incapable of producing a nuclear war survival film that isn’t patently retarded. The video begs comparison with those infamous “duck and cover” films of the 1950s that have been the butt of jokes ever since. But really, ducking and covering during a nuclear blast, as insufficient as that would be on its own, is likely to be much more useful than any of the ideas presented in this new film, because at least doing so might protect you from being burned by the flash or hit with flying debris. Indeed, ducking and covering is the only thing they don’t mention in the new video — probably because they knew it would invite mocking comparisons with its Cold War predecessors.
The 1951 classic Duck and Cover, which ironically features New York City schoolchildren.
To be fair, however, the idea that there could be a truly effective civil defense plan for dealing with nuclear war is an absurdity to begin with. There simply isn’t any surefire way to protect millions of people in urban areas from something as devastating as nuclear weapons. This is why the “duck and cover” films were made in the first place, since the authorities at the time had no better advice to give, but they were compelled to do something.
The Atomic Café, a 1982 documentary that chronicles the early years of the Cold War and America’s civil defense propaganda in particular.
In the 1950s and early ‘60s, the US contemplated various ambitious civil defense plans, including constructing massive complexes of bomb shelters under cities that could accommodate millions, but such plans were abandoned when their cost and doubtful effectiveness in the face of the ever-more powerful weapons that were being tested at the time became apparent. (There were also concerns that a massive civil defense program would be viewed by the Soviets as an indication that Washington was determined to start a war.) By the 1970s the US dropped nearly all civilian nuclear war preparation altogether, calculating that prevention of war was a better way of addressing the problem.
Possibly the only truthful nuclear war prep films ever produced were made by the British. During the 1970s, the British government produced a series of short films and accompanying pamphlets and advertisements that were intended to be released to the public only if a nuclear war was believed to be imminent, under the collective title of Protect and Survive. Word of the materials leaked, however, and ended up scaring the public so much — not least because of its creepy electronic soundtrack — that the authorities may have found themselves wishing they had never undertaken the project. (Some fellow nuclear obsessive has even remastered and compiled all of the videos in one place, if you’re curious.)
In light of this, maybe a black hipster in a loft telling you that “you’ve got this” is akin to the airline telling you that you can survive a plane crash by wearing an oxygen mask and putting your head between your legs, or being told that wearing a mask and washing your hands will protect you from contracting a disease: It’s mostly there to reassure you rather than to guarantee your safety. The truth about what is actually likely to happen is too terrifying. And in the end, fear of death is the factor which drives postmodern civilization’s decadence more than any other. Our ancestors believed that death is a constant companion who should be respected and understood rather than feared, but postmodern man, who doesn’t believe in anything higher than himself, wants to banish death forever, and the endless pursuit of safety through bureaucracy, which came to dominate the world with Covid, is part of that.
So, welcome to Cold War 2.0. It’s the same old drill, just hipper, woker, and blacker than the last one.
* * *
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Excellent Article John,
I was just a little too young to remember the Cuban missile crisis although I was alive, almost 7. But, I do remember my father and his friends discussing plans about building private bomb shelters beneath the basements of houses. But I am pretty sure that none of these people ever built one.
“So even if you were to escape the flames, what about the fallout?”
Indeed, this is what it’s like for the New Yorker; if it’s not the flames, it’s the fallout.
Why this short was made is indeed a puzzle. The most obvious reason — diversity — doesn’t apply, since the original D&C was narrated by an anthropomorphic turtle, and it doesn’t get more diverse than that. (Eric Adams does rather resemble a turtle, come to think of it).
Perhaps, as the Kali Yuga proceeds, the speed of time increases while creativity decreases. Thus the velocity of sequels, reboots and reduxes increases; we’ve had, what, 4 Spiderman trilogies, yet another Batman is proceeding, and Disney is repeatedly sodomizing both Star Wars and Star Trek. So why not Duck and Cover II: This Time It’s Putin?
Yockey wrote seventy years ago that in the event of a large-scale nuclear war, the USSR (i.e. Russia) would survive, but America would not. Because nuclear strikes against the United States, even when limited, would completely disable its infrastructure and cause such panic among the population that it would agree to capitulate and would press on the goverment ti surrender. Whereas nuclear strikes on Russia will not cause that country much harm, since it is large and empty, sparsely populated, without dense infrastructure centers, and the Russian government does not care about the loss of its population, so it will not give up even if hundreds of thousands of its fellow citizens die.
There’s some truth to that, depending on what one means by survival, but I wouldn’t say that nuclear attacks on Russia wouldn’t cause much harm. In an all-out nuclear exchange between them, there are parts of the US and Russia that would survive relatively unscathed. Russia would have more such areas, it’s true, but it would mostly be countryside and wilderness, so not much with which to build a modern nation-state on. Also, while Russians 70 years ago were quite tough, they’ve been Westernized quite a bit over the last 30 years, especially in the cities, so it’s questionable if they’re as ready to accept such devastation today as they might have been then. The consequences for both nations would be catastrophic, however, and certainly neither would be able to retain “great power” status in the aftermath. This is why nuclear weapons have never been used.
As for Russians not caring even if hundreds of thousands of their citizens die — well, in a nuclear war tens of millions on both sides would be killed, not hundreds of thousands. That’s a lot for any people to absorb, no matter how tough they are.
You are right at many points, but I remember, that the Soviets have killed millions of Qazaqs, Russians, Ukrainians, Uzbeks only with the “collectivization” and famine, has deported hunderts of thousands, inkl. whole population of some areas (Qirim Tatars, Northern Caucasian peoples, Baltians, and Ukrainian, Russian, Cossakian and other “kulaks”, wealthy farmers). And nobody cared, in the Soviet Union itself and in the West too. Moreover, the USA has established the diplomatic relations with the SU just 1933, in the year of famine mass murder. Millions of dead really did not and do not matter, when it is all about the POWER.
Our government would never give up it’s power, and is willing to sacrifice as much or more of the peasantry as the Russians.
It’s telling that there is almost no domestic preparations for surviving a nuclear war, but massive amounts have been spent on the ‘Continuity of Government’ plan to save the government.
Not to mention there’s a 2007 study (from wikipedia) that says if the world’s nuclear weapons were used in conflict, there would be immediate global cooling of 7-8 degrees celsius and after a decade it would still be 4 degrees cooler, (and the last ice age was only 5 degree coldeer) so any part of the world not destroyed would face starvation and possibly no human would survive. I really hope the russian and chinese and pakistani and indian and north korean and isreali and british and french authorities never push the button.
There are many effects of nuclear war, both certain and possible, that I didn’t mention here because the essay was already quite long as it was, so I chose to stick to the immediate effects of a nuclear attack on New York. In a situation where a full-scale war is fought, the devastating impact on both nations would be incalculable. Nuclear winter is one such possibility, although it remains a theory (fortunately). There would be many other problems, such as the fact that it is likely the Russians would detonate a bomb in space above the US in order to generate an electromagnetic pulse, which would fry the electronics and power grid across the entire continental US, even in areas that are otherwise unaffected by the war. That would mean the US being completely deindustrialized literally overnight, in addition to whatever blast damage and fallout there is from the other weapons used.
Well, the notion of the so-called Nuclear Winter is 40 years old. It was not sufficiently supported by the scientifical proofs (and some of presented “proofs” were wrong), but it was very actively promoted by the KGB as “Active Measure” (disinformation) as influence tool. It was revelated by former KGB officers/defectors. And the US-German author, Professor Thomas Rid has described this story in his (good) book Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare.
The subject of nuclear winter has been revisited by researchers many times since the 1980s. The results are still inconclusive, but evidence suggests that there would be some climactic changes, even if not as catastrophic as those postulated by the original theorists. Nevertheless, even if we were to discount nuclear winter entirely, the other effects of a full-scale nuclear exchange would be devastating enough without it.
I used to work in a BBC building that had a fallout shelter in the sub-basement. It housed back-up radio-transmission equipment to keep the desperate, starving populace informed of ‘developments’ – and a very impressive steel door to keep the buggers out.
Peter Watkins’s BBC pseudo-documentary The War Game depicted the aftermath of a nuclear strike. Intended to be shown in 1965, it was shelved as being too disturbing, but a book was released containing script excerpts and stills. The photo-book is actually more disturbing than the original film, as one’s imagination is given full play.
Yes, The War Game is very good. I haven’t seen the book, however.
First thing I think of when I see the video is “have some dumb black dyke tell me what to do”
The author makes the usual armchair wanna be strategist leap into the void. War is impossible, really? Did Britain go to war in 1914 because its survival was at stake, or the USA in 1917?
The use of force has been historically demonstrated over thousands of years and seldom is the sword drawn because survival is at stake. Many times war is provoked. The USA was shooting at Nazi subs in 1940. Clearly the Russians realized the Afghans would destroy the USSR unless a preemptive invasion was launched.
By the way this nonsense about nuclear war is the prattle of the uninformed. The politburo loaded up many warheads with all sorts of exotic goodies to make sure anyone surviving a nuclear strike would envy the dead, these warheads were a far greater threat than nuclear strikes.
And weakness encourages the psychotics of the world. Thugs do not attack Chuck Norris, they mug Joe Biden.
Don’t put words in my mouth. I never said nuclear war is impossible. If you read what I actually wrote, I most definitely said that it IS possible. I just regard it as very unlikely, since, as I also wrote if you bothered to read it, there isn’t any political goal that’s worth blowing up the world over, which would be inevitable if one side were to use nuclear weapons on the other. There’s a reason we made it through nearly half a century of the Cold War without it going hot. But the possibility is of course always there. It depends on how both leaderships see the situation as affecting their existential interests.
My first thought upon seeing this was, “Why only NYC? Can’t they hit Chicago, LA, and SanFran too?”
Which is precisely why I’d bet that the inevitable false flag will be in flyover country, to get the rubes mad enough to join the military and put up with even more tyranny.
If the Russians were to attack the US in an all-out war, of course every major city in the US would be hit simultaneously, not just New York. I focused on New York since that’s where the video was made. In the late 1970s and ’80s, the idea of “limited” nuclear war was floated, which means a war in which both sides only hit military targets. Many military commanders considered it untenable, however, since you’d have no guarantee that even if you strictly follow this rule that your opponent would. And a “limited” strike would be indistinguishable from a general one as you were watching the incoming hundreds of missiles on your screens, and both nations have a policy of not waiting until they are actually hit before they launch a retaliatory strike.
There is no circumstance under which Russia would only fire one nuclear weapon at the US. So if there is a nuclear explosion somewhere and it’s blamed on the Russians, that would be the surest sign that it’s a false flag.
“Potect and Survive” sounds like a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy entry, from the 80’s BBC series.
The Abandonment of a Civil defense Program, and the Failure to Develop ANY Defensive Systems for Missile Attacks was, and is, an Act of Treason against the Nation and People. Defense was portrayed by a certain, Anti-American (((political element))) as being both “Impossible” and “Destabilizing” (in their Sick, Inverted/Perverted ‘logic’) of War as a “Game”. The claim that since a Defense cannot be 100% Effective, it shouldn’t even be Tried, is the Root of this Treason.
Russia, even under bolshevik/soviet Occupation, took Extensive and Practical steps to Defend its Military, Industrial, and Population assets. The Russian Federation of Today continues to Build and Improve its Military and Civil Defense. A Third Generation of Defensive Missile Systems (S-500 ‘Prometheus’) is being put into Service today. A Nuclear-Powered Laser Anti-Aircraft system is being Tested in the Ukraine, today. Russian Military Journals have had articles about Testing of Strategic-Grade Laser Systems, with reference to “Terra-3” which was a Soviet-Era developmental project (that may or may not have been Operational, little info about it exists.
While it is true that a City that is Hit with even a Single Nuke will be mostly Destroyed, and many People Killed or Injured, one can either Whine and say “There’s Nothing we can Do”, or be Proactive and Create Defensive Systems and Programs that spread Practical Knowledge of Defensive measures that Individuals and Groups can use. That was most of the basis of the “Office of Civil Defense” Programs in the ’50s and ’60s.
Contrary to this author’s assertions, “Duck and Cover” is Nothing to make Fun of- it is the proven, Military Tactic, taught to every Soldier in both Nuclear and Conventional Warfare Training – whether facing a Hand Grenade or H-Bomb, getting behind Cover is the Correct, Effective response. Is it Possible that you are still “Too Close” to the Explosion to be ‘Safe’? Of Course. Should you just stand there and Do Nothing? that is what those who say “there is No Defense Possible” are advocating.
It seems that no one who is commenting actually read the essay. I never asserted that “duck and cover” is useless. This is what I wrote: “The video begs comparison with those infamous “duck and cover” films of the 1950s that have been the butt of jokes ever since. But really, ducking and covering during a nuclear blast, as insufficient as that would be on its own, is likely to be much more useful than any of the ideas presented in this new film, because at least doing so might protect you from being burned by the flash or hit with flying debris.”
As for civil defense, it is not the case that Soviet Russia had significantly more developed measures than the US did during the Cold War.
that Soviet Russia had significantly more developed measures than the US did during the Cold War.
That´s absolutely correct. The USSR has much talked about the civil defence, but it has not done too much, because it is simply impossible to save most of population in the case of a full nuclear strike, only with the limited attacks there is some hope. And not for just some Ivan, but for Politbüro-members or big brass of Military, or KGB-chiefs, or big military scientists. Tchernobyl-86, just a disaster on the nuclear power-plant, has shown, that the SU was not well prepared to such situations (as, I would add, nobody else was).
Yuri Bezmenov a.k.a. Tomas Schuman, wrote in one of his book that in APN, Soviet News Agency, where he worked in 60´s, only big bosses would be warned in the case of a nuclear strike and brought to shelters, but not all other journalists, officials, and workers. The very much propagated (and in the USA too) Soviet Civil Defense was not for Ivan, it was for big chiefs only.
With the exception of the dyke mulatto lecturing a presumed audience of street hipsters, I don’t see the problem with the public service announcement piece from the article.
If everybody does exactly this in the case of an unspecified nuclear event ─ “nevermind the Why or the How” ─ which was stated explicitly upfront in the spot, this will SAVE potentially millions of lives.
No, it will not save everyone in the event of a nuclear war, or any war. That would be a king-sized straw man.
Every private soldier, or at least those who wear the mask of command, knows that people (and a lot of them) are going to die in a war. Not all will survive. Your fault. My fault. Nobody’s fault.
So the Survival Manual is futile propaganda, right?
Well, if we are going to set the bar so low that if any crisis or catastrophe means “we all gon’ die, muhfugga” ─ then all further existence is futile.
It’s like the apocryphal family in 1938, after the famously realistic fictional Orson Welles radio broadcast about an invasion from Mars. The family runs out of gas fleeing town, and seeing some flashing lights on the horizon, the Dad takes out his .38 to finish off his family and himself because it must be the Martians coming instead of the Highway Patrol.
We saw this same mentality in the 1958 Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner movie On the Beach, where there has been a nuclear exchange in the Northern Hemisphere that (you must suspend all disbelief here) somehow killed all life, so the no-nukes-is-good-nukes Anglophones in the Antipodes that are still waiting for the deadly cloud to arrive in the Southern Hemisphere receive government-issue suicide shots (to the tunes of some kind of kitschy Christian salvation-themed brass band).
Yeah, suicide as the first resort after you hit a pothole in the road and your cell phone reception is tanked is guaranteed non-survival.
Nothing irritates me more than when Leftists mindlessly chant the notion that a nuke here and there ends all life. I guess we might as well let the barbarians through the gates.
Then there is the unjustified mockery of the “Duck and Cover” PSA. It is actually damn good advice, just like fire drills in schools.
Before the war the Germans placed great emphasis on Civil Defense preparedness. Some of it was more effective than others, but one of the most effective practices was getting stern elderly block wardens to herd everyone into government bomb shelters whether they “needed” to or not. Scores of thousands were saved. The same in England with the simple backyard Morrison and Anderson shelters.
Civil Defense education in the 1950s was not a joke either. In the event of something, it would have saved millions of lives. Even if you took out the scissors and removed the urban cesspits like New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and the Swamp from the map that, if the Popular Vote elected the President, would dictate the winners by numbers alone, the wounded heartland would somehow still survive.
Perhaps old school Civil Defense truly would be a joke in our day of globalization where any hiccup on the long supply chain causes life-threatening tissue paper shortages ─ let alone a World War scale event where those who could not wipe their butts would envy the dead.
People laugh that Latter-day Saints are told to maintain a year of food storage and other essentials at home in case of disaster or adversity. I remember in 1976 when the 305 foot tall newly-completed Teton Dam with a full reservoir of water behind it collapsed suddenly in Idaho, and how this played out. It was a war zone with Huey helicopters everywhere. My Dad and my cousins and I helped sandbag to save the powerplant in downstream Idaho Falls ─ but in upstream towns like Sugar City and Rexburg that were wiped out by a wall of water, the homeless had a hot meal and a cot by that evening, and even the Red Cross was impressed by the community spirit. It was about as different as the hellscape after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as you could possibly imagine.
Teton Dam collapse – Newdale, Idaho – June 5, 1976
Anyway, the truth is that Fallout is not dispersed uniformly, and we cannot fully predict what will be blown to oblivion and what won’t be in all scenarios. Maybe you get lucky and were the guy standing behind a plywood sign at Hiroshima and your friend who wasn’t got turned into a scorched shadow on the concrete wall.
But, regardless, we know that radioactive Fallout does decay rapidly.
If the radiation is 1000 Rads an hour after the event, it will be 100 Rads seven hours after the event. And after 48 hours it will be 10 Rads.
So getting your ass into some makeshift shelter within the hour or less, and hunkered down for the next 48 hours, is extremely important. If there are no new radiological events, normal operations within reason can resume after two or three weeks.
And everybody should own a dry cell battery-powered portable AM/FM radio (a quality short-wave receiver is even better) to listen to emergency broadcasts. These are from radio transmitting stations that are designated to run off of generators and are EMP (electromagnetic pulse) hardened. I used to be a broadcasting engineer thirty years ago and know all about this, although I don’t know if anybody takes the Emergency Broadcasting System concept seriously any longer.
What politicians or pundits would have thought ahead about the idea of emergency generators getting flooded in hospital basements in New Orleans when the levee broke in 2005, or at Fukushima in 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami hit, and whether this would affect anything other than their Internet access?
Nobody besides Ham Radio nerds like myself, I guess.
Soldiers are trained to take cover without hesitation. You see this often in media like the classic All Quiet on the Western Front where the sadistic Corporal Himmelstoß marches the troops through the mud and orders them to hit the deck not long before their unit inspection where everything must be spotless.
On the other hand, there is no guarantee that taking cover will save you from anything, let alone a direct hit, even if you do make it into the slit trench.
In World War I the artillery had timed fuses so that they hopefully detonated in the air just above the enemy trenches ─ and when done perfectly the splinters sliced though the enemy steel helmets like Death From Above on payday.
During World War II the Allies perfected miniature electronics to put a proximity fuse in an artillery or anti-aircraft shell, but they rarely used them at the front until near the end of the war because they were afraid that the Germans might reverse-engineer any duds from that deadly technology.
The hapless Doughboy in the Dalton Trumbo novel and film dropped into a fetal ball as the shell exploded directly overhead with him on his back staring into the sky. The explosion blew off his face and his jaw and all four limbs, leaving him only with his mind and his privy member.
Yeah, “Ducking and Cover” isn’t going to save everybody ─ but that is not an argument worthy of survivors.
When I was in the Army in the early 1980s, we were evaluated by how quickly we could execute drills like getting our gas mask on. Someone would flash a camera strobe at us and we would take immediate cover facing away from the blast. The odds are that you are not going to be at Ground Zero, so there are some seconds between flash and bang. I qualified as Expert with the hand grenade, and even if one lands close by, if you take immediate cover you have an excellent chance of survival.
If you are out in the field during a nuclear event and cannot take shelter even in a bombed building, try to get into a foxhole or road culvert within the hour. Cover the hole with your poncho or shelter-half or parachute to keep the radioactive dust away from your skin. Try to limit exposure to the “sky shine,” and don’t drink unfiltered water, especially until after 48 hours.
Some water sources are better than others, and there are easy ways to filter water with some sand and a tin can, etc., or to just dig a small hole next to a body of water that the water filters into that you can cover. Take your iodine pills if you have them. The radioactive iodine and cesium isotopes in Fallout dissolve in water, but most Fallout is just contaminated dust that can be easily filtered. Water in building water heaters and suspended in plumbing will be safe to drink as long as you are cognizant about any bacterial hazards. You can wash with water in the toilet tank. If you can’t do that, dust off with a clean dry rag.
Survival is a MINDSET. It is a mindset that our once-proud race has lost. I am old enough that I can still remember a time when people were taught how not to pee their pants the first time they heard a boom or when Sergeant Hartman yelled at them.
I’ll leave with a quote from the chapter on Radiological Fallout on page 559 of the (1985) Air Force Survival Manual, which is available Online ─
>> e. The primary criterion for locating and establishing a shelter site should be to obtain protection as rapidly as possible against the high intensity radiation levels of early gamma fallout. Five minutes to locate the shelter site is an excellent guide. Speed in obtaining shelter is essential. Without shelter, the dosage received in the
first few hours will exceed that received during the rest of the week in a contaminated area; the dosage received in this first week will exceed that accumulated during the rest of a lifetime spent in the same contaminated area. <<
Then watch the PSA with the annoying Dinduisha again. The shelter doesn’t have to be perfect.
The dangerous radioactivity decays rapidly. You aren’t going to have to live in a Strangelovian mineshaft with ten nagging brides for the next hundred years.
The idea that all one would need to do to survive a nuclear attack on a city is to go inside, stay inside, change clothes and take a shower, and wait for word from the authorities is a delusion bordering on psychosis for reasons I’ve clearly outlined.
Thank you, Mr. Morgan for your response.
>> The idea that all one would need to do to survive a nuclear attack on a city is to go inside, stay inside, change clothes and take a shower, and wait for word from the authorities is a delusion bordering on psychosis for reasons I’ve clearly outlined. <<
While I do not wish to dismiss the gravity of unmitigated catastrophe, “delusion” is exactly the problem that I have with this kind of Strawman, and the defeatist mindset that follows.
It is time we stopped thinking of anything Noocuulaar as teleological or supernatural and get back to hard and sober thinking, even when it comes to the grimmest of reality.
All this (admittedly annoying) hipster PSA does is ask people to remember:
THREE RULES for the NEXT 48 HOURS.
The original “Duck & Cover” short had FIVE RULES to follow, but we don’t want to confuse innumerate 21st century populations too much, so the first three will do fine ─
FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS.
We’ll have a short quiz on this later.
After the first 48 hours, you will next have to think seriously about your drinking water ─ if you haven’t already done so, because even healthy people do not last longer than four days without a drink of water. (Your brain will start irretrievably dying after more than four minutes without oxygen as well, but this isn’t a swimming lesson.)
Yes, we will need to follow up on other things too like food, and what to do about the ZoC (Zombies of Color) rampaging outside. (That is also beyond the present scope.)
And if you have to defend your larder, it’s too late now to buy that new Glock or AR-15 because, even if you can find a gun store still open once the balloon goes up, your state might have that dumb two-week waiting period. Womp. Womp.
My favorite nuclear war movie (other than the Dr. Strangelove dark comedy) is the minimalist 1962 Panic in Year Zero! with Ray Milland (who also directs).
In this one, Ray Milland and his family are in their car with their caravan on vacation to the Sierra Nevadas, and as they leave they discover that Los Angeles just got thermo-nuked.
They learned of the atomic attack early as they were leaving the big city, but Milland keeps quiet about the news and proceeds to act in complete self-interest on behalf of his family ─ passing bad checks to decent shopkeepers and stealing guns in order to get the supplies that they will need to extend their “family vacation” and hunker down in a cave to wait out the not-so-Holy Fallout.
Milland’s wife is concerned about her elderly Mother because she stayed in L.A. Well, the unsentimental Milland knows that even if Granny were still alive, she is beyond their help. Wife sadly must accept this.
Later the wife and daughter have to adopt a harder and more suspicious mentality so as not to be accosted and raped by (White) hoodlums. Mom tried but Dad did not hesitate to kill the offenders.
Milland runs into one of the outraged shopkeepers that he deceived. I guess he could have at least tried to warn the other guys rather than passing bad checks and stealing some guns. Milland takes pity on him and his family and belatedly helps them out.
Milland’s cinematic family has to find medical help for their boy, Frankie Avalon, who got shot in the leg fighting the hoodlums, and there are a few tense moments with the Army National Guard maintaining exclusion zones and enforcing their idea of law and order.
But the movie ends on a rather hopeful note. The enemy nation was crippled just as badly as were the Americans, and we shall have to see what the future may bring.
“There must be no end – only a new beginning.”
I found this to be one of the more realistic nuclear apocalypse movies. Ray Milland was the hard realist Dad who kept his cool and didn’t panic ─ but he learned some things too, that his own family is not an island, and that he can’t fix everything.
The point is that a SURVIVOR does what needs to be done NOW, and he does NOT fret about the next month or even the next week.
The long-range planning part can be worried about when the ACTUAL situation has been coolly evaluated, and one has had time to put his feet up and to do some hard thinking and some appropriate goal-setting.
Maybe things really are hopeless and that we won’t have a happy ending no matter what we do. Maybe survivors will “envy the dead.” But that should not be the DEFAULT mode.
So here we go again with the whys and the wherefores of the THREE RULES:
My Fault, Your Fault, Nobody’s Fault ─ there has been some kind of nuclear event. We don’t know the details of this and will have to worry about that later. It could be terrorism or something intended as Mutual Assured Destruction. We don’t know and nobody can predict everything.
Those things are not our concerns anyway if we are STILL ALIVE RIGHT NOW.
What we do know is that between five minutes and an hour from now there will be radiological Fallout coming. And we need to find some kind of shelter, FAST.
When the Fallout does arrive, it will be MAX radioactivity for the FIRST HOUR. We don’t want to get a radioactive exposure at this time. As the Pharaoh might have said, “let this be our TOP priority.”
After only SEVEN HOURS, the radioactive levels will be one-tenth of what they were at peak.
After 48 HOURS, the radioactive levels will be one-percent of what they were at peak.
Our NEXT deadline is drinking water. Most healthy people cannot live longer than four days without it.
In the coming weeks we can all but go on with the rest of our lives as far as the FALLOUT is concerned.
If there are some emergency broadcast transmissions, there should be more news and hopefully some useful advice forthcoming. Not everything is ZOG.
We have to trust and to learn quickly how to cooperate with other people who are worthy of our trust. Risk is always involved.
None of us are born with any GUARANTEES in life.
This is true, whether it is with nuclear war ─ or drawing from personal experience, not getting run over on one’s bicycle in the crosswalk at a busy University intersection when a junkie doesn’t see the Red light and then plows right into you at highway speed. This is really bad, but you don’t have to take my word for it to know that wearing the dumb bike helmet would have probably been a little better than otherwise.
It doesn’t matter that I was the one in the right or not. My Fault. Your Fault. Nobody’s Fault. I am the one in the hospital with the shattered bones in both arms and both legs and a concussion trying to get caught up on my von Clausewitz. (And at least my story wasn’t dire enough to be screenplayed by some Commie sympathizer in Hollywood.)
So I said earlier that there would be a “quiz” at the end.
No, but here is a recap of the THREE RULES :
1) GET INSIDE
2) STAY INSIDE
3) STAY TUNED
Just Do It
─ whether ya’ needs to or not.
Postscript. Here’s a disturbing picture from WWII published in The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (1945). I might be delusional because nobody gets any guarantees ─ but proper Civil Defense is no joke.
I think you’ve misunderstood the point of my essay. I don’t deny that the things you outline would help people who are far away from the target zones to stay alive in the aftermath of a nuclear war. However, my essay is in response to this specific video that was released in New York City last week, and which is directed at people *in* New York City for surviving a nuclear attack. I don’t deny that there are things survivors can do in other places that would help them to survive. But for those living in downtown New York City, as this video suggests, there is very little that can be done to ensure survival. Certainly going inside, locking all your doors and windows, changing clothes, taking a shower in your likely non-functioning bathroom, and waiting for instructions from the authorities on your undoubtedly non-functioning phone or laptop is not going to help people in the middle of a primary target area amidst a blast, firestorm, fallout, and any number of problems. Nothing you’ve written applies to that scenario.
Thank you, Mr. Morgan for penning the article, which I enjoyed, and for gracefully letting me comment, which I also enjoyed.
I agree with you that the Public Service Announcement with the hipster “urban” vibe is a bit asinine. I also question the timing for the PSA, but it is NOT wrong advice.
I also think it is a bit much to expect that your typical inner city dweller is going to actually read the links provided therein before the 99 Luft Balloons go up, and so will even plan to have a battery-powered transistor radio on hand for emergencies, plus a few days drinking water.
But to be fair, the assumption is that “you” were one of the ones who did NOT get incinerated in the blast, so this PSA does not even apply to “you” if that (unfortunately) were not the case.
Furthermore, this PSA is exactly the advice in the U.S. military survival manuals, so it has a good pedigree.
And if you can’t find any water in the back of a toilet tank or whatever to wash with after you have removed and changed your Fallout-contaminated clothes, you can still shake off the Fallout dust and at least remove it from your skin with a clean dry rag.
Here is a TED spot of only five minutes on YouTube, that is only a little bit woke ─ note the interracial Gay couple with the cat ─ but the information provided is perfectly sound.
One of the reasons nuke fear is a non-starter these days is that we were thoroughly fatigued by the No Nukes/Nuclear Freeze campaign of the 70s and 80s. Some of it was KGB-driven, but much of it was home-grown in the West by the sort of simpleminded fanatics who now scream about “climate change.” And so we got “Atomkraft? Nein Danke!” pinback buttons, Nena singing “Neun und neunzig Luftballons,” animated cartoons from England about post-nuclear-holocaust fallout, Jonathan Schell scribbling tediously in The New Yorker about nuclear winter, and kiddies of the David Hogg/Greta Thunberg stripe threatening to shut down their schools if they didn’t get a Nuclear Freeze immediately.
This is not to say that nuclear war is not a possibility (I’d say the odds are 50-50 for the next 20 years) but simply to say that anyone trying to gin up nuke-fear these days is pushing on a string. Nuclear war will not be taken seriously until a warhead hits home. It probably wouldn’t be in Manhattan, it would more likely be in Upstate, or possibly Maine or Ohio or even Kansas. Some place sufficiently inhabited to get a fair harvest of death and destruction, while leaving intact most communications infrastructure, and putting the fear of God into most of the population.
If people today won’t be so easily scared by the threat of nuclear war, good for them, but the idea that the Russians would carry out a small nuclear strike somewhere in rural America as a warning or whatever is a fantasy. If the Russians were to attack the US, it would be to win, and that means destroying all military and major urban targets, and New York would be #1 on the list of the latter. In nuclear strategy, war is all or nothing, since you have no guarantee that if you “only” launch a couple of nukes as a “warning” or whatever that the other side won’t just obliterate you in return. The only place where “warning shots” might be used is on the battlefield, hence why some have speculated about Putin using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but I see no reason why he’d do that when he’s achieving his goals with his conventional forces.
And so we got “Atomkraft? Nein Danke!” pinback buttons
It is maybe too much far-fetched to suggest, that the Soviet Union has deliberately caused the big nuclear incident at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, to provoke the Western Europe to abandon of its nuclear energy and to make them dependent of the Soviet/Russian oil and gas, but the Soviet Union surely has used that meltdown as propaganda/active measure for influencing the West.
American analytics in 1970´s have concluded: ““The USSR could absorb the loss of 30 million of its people and be no worse off, in terms of human casualties, than it had been at the conclusion of World War II.” The resilient Russians, he warned with a chilling fatuousness, would shrug off the human cost of the next war—a mere 30 million souls—as the price that had to be paid for world domination”.
(cited from The Spy Who Knew Too Much, by Howard Blum, 2022)
So we can suggest for today, that if the nuclear war starts, Russia will win. Yes, with big own losses, but that does not matter at all for them. The West, that became cowardish, weak and degenerated, will surrender, even it the Western losses would be much lesser than the Russian.
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