Among the hundred or so publications I subscribe to is a small bimonthly called SURVIVE: THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CIVIL DEFENSE. Now in its eighth year of publication, this magazine has maintained a high level of original research and intellectual competence worthy of the eminent names that grace its masthead, including Nobel prize winner Dr. Eugene Wigner and nuclear physicist Dr. Edward Teller.
The current issue of this journal features reports on the ela borate civil defense shelter systems against nuclear attack which exist in four other countries: China, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland. These reports are eye-openers for those who still cherish the illusion that the United States leads the world in everything.
The Red Chinese have built the most extensive and modern network of shelters, miles and miles of brick and concrete underground tunnels, with entrances from every office building, department store, apartment, and residence. They are equipped with kitchens, running water, sanitary facilities, food storage, and medical facilities.
In the event of nuclear attack, Peking’s’seven million people can be safe inside the tunnels in seven minutes, and can walk through them 20 miles outside the city. Every major city in China has similar tunnels. It is estimated that 90 percent of the Chinese would survive a nuclear attack.
How could Red China afford such a massive investment in construction? Simple. Chairman Mao ordered hours of daily volunteer labor donated from the leisure time of every Chinese worker.
SURVIVE Magazine then describes the current Soviet shelter program that is similar to the Red Chinese and has been accelerated during the period of detente. Civil defense is a regular subject taught in Russian schools beginning in the second grade. The stu dents are taught how to enter and spend time in shelters, use gas masks and respirators.
Sweden already has five million shelter spaces for its eight million inhabitants, and is still building toward a goal of 12 million. Sweden has schools, garages, hangers, factories, power facilities, and berths for ships under granite shields of 50 feet or more. The goal is simple: to make Sweden “so tough to attack that no rational enemy will ever try.” The Swedes are well on the way toward achievement of that goal.
Switzerland base already built shelter spaces for two-thirds of its population. They have 600 emergency centers and 250 standby facilities. By a policy of being always prepared, the Swiss have avoided war for 150 years in the midst of warring nations on all sides. The Swiss approach civil defense realistically under the philosophy: “The best thing about a good shelter program is that nobody may ever need it.”
Does our government value human life so little that we cannot give our people the basic protections today enjoyed by the citizens of China, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland? It is time for Congress to address itself to the problem of assuring that our people survive in the nuclear age. An effective civil defense shelter program is the least expensive way to accomplish this; and, as a side benefit, it would be the shot in the arm needed to rescue the construction industry from its current deep depression.