U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable

Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe.

The advice is based on recent scientific analyses showing that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the lethal radiation that follows a blast, a simple tactic seen as saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far.

But a problem for the Obama administration is how to spread the word without seeming alarmist about a subject that few politicians care to consider, let alone discuss. So officials are proceeding gingerly in a campaign to educate the public.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military

2 comments on “U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable

  1. RalphM says:

    Recalling how in the early ’50s, our elementary school held drills where kids got under their desks (I was a bit smaller then), surely an adult could handle the emotional trauma of a nuclear attack drill.

    Bomb shelters were the topic of discussion. I knew a couple (both nuclear physicists) who bought one of the streetcar bodies from the old Wash DC trolley system, had it buried in their back yard, capped with a slab of concrete and constructed a tunnel from their basement to the trolley car to be used as a bomb shelter. Escape plans were debated.

    This is no different from being prepared for any natural disaster.

  2. Jeff Thimsen says:

    This would work only given enough warning to seek shelter. In the 50’s the threat was Russian bombers coming over the pole. With ICBM’s the margin for warning is very thin.