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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

Strategy for Survival

Strategy for Survival

(p.189) 5 Strategy for Survival
Armageddon Insurance

Edward M. Geist

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the evolution of the superpowers’ civil defense programs from the mid-1970s until the end of the Cold War. In the mid-1970s, the contrast between the USSR’s extensive civil defense effort and its moribund U.S. counterpart led to considerable anxiety that the Kremlin might see civil defense as a usable source of strategic advantage. Rebuffed in their efforts to convince the USSR to negotiate limits on its civil defense program, the Carter administration decided to revive U.S. civil defense on the basis of a strategic evacuation concept dubbed “Crisis Relocation Planning,” which the Reagan administration also pursued. Simultaneously, civil defense for nuclear war and peacetime emergency management were combined into a single agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Ironically, not only did Soviet leaders not perceive their civil defense program as a useable source of advantage, they grew increasingly sceptical of its utility throughout this period. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster accelerated this process and led to the reinvention of Soviet civil defense as a peacetime emergency management organization.

Keywords:   civil defense, nuclear strategy, strategic evacuation, Crisis Relocation Planning, Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)

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