Preface. This is the 6th part of my book review of: Graff, G.M. 2018. Raven Rock. The Story of the U.S. Governments Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die. Simon and Schuster.
These are some of the things presidents, generals, and other leaders said in the book that struck me.
Alice Friedemann www.energyskeptic.com author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report
Truman stopped one Oval Office debate over civilian versus military control of the bombs cold, saying, “You have got to understand that this isn’t a military weapon. It is used to wipe out women and children and unarmed people, and not for military uses. So we have got to treat this differently from rifles and cannons and ordinary things like that.
As Eisenhower said in one meeting, if war happened, the nation didn’t have “enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the street.” “The destruction,” Eisenhower told his cabinet at one point, “might be such that we might have ultimately to go back to bows and arrows.”
Eisenhower gave a speech where he told the public that “The jet plane that roars over your head costs three quarter of a million dollars. That is more money than a man earning ten thousand dollars every year is going to make in his lifetime. What world can afford this sort of thing for long? We are in an armaments race. Where will it lead us? At worst to atomic warfare. At best, to rob every people and nation on earth of the fruits of their own toil. Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” This speech became one of the best known of the Cold War.
Eisenhower, during an NSC meeting said that postwar planning was useless. None of the world’s nations would exist as we knew them, he argued, let alone be able to rise to the occasion of building a postwar peace. After a nuclear war, every single nation, including the United States would emerge with a dictatorship.”
Kennedy never forgot the impression the nuclear drill made, and called it “chilling.” We were a nation preparing for our own destruction.
The idea of community shelters clashed with Republican Nelson Rockefellers push for private home shelters. Rockefeller bordered on the obsessive about civil defense—he’d led a study panel in 1958 that pushed for shelters and had since adopted his own rhetoric. He had shelters built at the New York governor’s mansion and his own Fifth Avenue residence. He proselytized every chance he could. Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, after meeting the governor during a visit to New York, remarked: “Governor Rockefeller is a very strange man. All he wants to talk about is bomb shelters. Why does he think I am interested in bomb shelters?
When the Kennedy administration had pushed General Power to modify the existing “overkill” strategy to focus solely on military targets, Power had objected: “Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards.” His next conclusion had abruptly ended the discussion: “At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!”
As the noon hour passed on January 20, 1969, Johnson relaxed. “When Richard Nixon took the oath,” President Johnson said later, “the greatest burden lifted from me that I have ever carried in my life.” As he explained, “Never a day went by that I wasn’t frightened or scared that I might be the man that started World War III.
FEMA official William Chipman had optimistically pointed to the experience of Europeans during the Bubonic Plague, which had wiped out a third of the population during the Middle Ages. “It was horrifying at the time, and yet six or eight years later, not only had English society rebounded but, by God, those people went out on an expeditionary force to France,” he explained. What he called the “post-attack United States” would, with time, resemble the pre-attack United States and “eventually” even restore traditional institutions and a democratic government: “As I say, ants will eventually build another anthill.
Deputy undersecretary of Defense for Strategic and Nuclear Forces brushed off concerns about the threat of war with the Soviet Union. “Everybody’s going to make it if there are enough shovels to go around. Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors, and then throw three feet of dirt on top. It’s the dirt that does it. Jones believed nuclear war was not only survivable but that if we were prepared for it, destruction would be very limited. “With protection of people only, your recovery time to prewar GNP levels would probably be six or eight years. If we used the Russian methods for protecting both the people and the industrial means of production, recovery time could be two to four years.
Around the same time, an official in the Office of Civil Defense wrote, “A nuclear war could alleviate some of the factors leading to today’s ecological disturbances that are due to current high-population concentrations and heavy industrial populations.