The Peace Movement in America ... 1961
WHY is it that the peace movement in America has never been able to attract the kind of mass support which has gathered around the peace movement in England? The danger of nuclear war is the greatest political issue of our time. And it is an issue whose main outlines are by no means difficult to grasp. The weapons, we are told again and again, can easily wipe out the populations of even the biggest countries many times over. This is so far from being an alarmist or unduly pessimistic estimate that nowadays we call someone an optimist who believes that enough people may survive a nuclear war to rebuild civilization within ten or twenty years. We get more and more evidence all the time that the weapons can travel to any place on earth from any other place in a matter of minutes, making ridiculous all ideas of evacuation. The major defense measure so far proposed-and it is only a proposal, before whose scale and implications most people fall silent-is to abandon the surface of the earth itself and move everything (Dr. Teller most recently includes supermarkets) into enormous caverns dug deep below the ground. One wonders whether even these caverns would survive the holocausts which the larger nuclear weapons are capable of producing. And in these circumstances national defense policy consists of constructing ever more powerful, better protected, more certain, and undeflectable missiles. Does anyone recall that only twenty-five years ago it was considered criminal to assault civilian populations from the air (Guernica)?
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