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Armageddon InsuranceCivil Defense in the United States and Soviet Union, 1945-1991$
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Edward M. Geist

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469645254

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469645254.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

The Window of Survivability

The Window of Survivability

(p.53) 2 The Window of Survivability
Armageddon Insurance

Edward M. Geist

University of North Carolina Press

Prior to the introduction of thermonuclear weapons in the mid-1950s, civil defense to protect civilian populations appeared relatively plausible. Despite these apparently favourable conditions, both U.S. and Soviet civil defense failed to actualize their ambitious institutional goals. This chapter examines the political and institutional reasons for this failure. Even after the death of Stalin enabled a reappraisal of the USSR’s stultifying strictures on permissible discussions of nuclear weapons, official ideology and obsessive secrecy still crippled civil defense. The insistence that the highest level of Party leadership approve assumptions about nuclear war made it impossible for the program to respond to rapid strategic and technological developments. In the United States, the opposition of a handful of well-placed opponents in Congress limited funding to a small fraction of that which civil defense officials sought.

Keywords:   civil defense, Cold War, Mestnaia protivovozdushnaia oborona (MPVO), Federal Civil Defense Administration

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