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The Philosophy of Defense

Atomic Bombing.

Atomic Bombing.

"Total war," defined as the unmitigated attack on both military and civilian populations through use of all available weapons and tactics, has historically proven highly destructive. It often leads to significant numbers of noncombatant casualties and severe damage to basic civil amenities such as food and water stores, medical units and non-military production centers. Total war, waged with conventional weapons, could destroy the infrastructure of a country; when fought with atomic bombs, the threat is almost incalculable.

With the realization that the United States could not maintain its monopoly on nuclear armaments indefinitely, some civilian and military groups began to prepare for a potential nuclear strike on American soil. The Soviet Union's successful test of Joe I in August 1949 clarified the need for a strong civil defense. Effective preparation could mean the difference between the life and death of the American superpower.

It was evident to U.S. government officials that very few options existed for an effective defense against a nuclear strike. With radar in its infancy and comprehensive satellite tracking still decades away, there was little chance of actually preventing a nuclear attack. It was suggested that anti-aircraft guns be used to prevent enemy aircraft from entering U.S. airspace, but this was an expensive and ineffective proposition. Instead, strategists began discussing the possibility of fortifying the country, allowing it to absorb an atomic attack rather than repel it.