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After The Bomb: Civil Defence and Nuclear War in Cold War by M. Grant

By M. Grant

Civil defence used to be a vital part of Britain’s smooth background. in the course of the chilly battle it was once a imperative reaction of the British executive to the specter of conflict. This book is the 1st heritage of the arrangements to struggle a nuclear battle taken in Britain among the top of the second one global conflict and 1968.

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His two main themes, expressed to Ministerial colleagues, were that British defence policy would have to be overhauled and that in order to avoid a future war, international control of the new weapon needed to be secured. Hiroshima had ‘left much of our post-war planning out of date’: bomb proof shelters and basements, the retention of ARP and fire services, and plans for ‘a redistribution of industry planned on account of the experience of bombing attacks during the war’ was all ‘futile waste’ in the face of the atomic bomb.

Quite simply, the short-term economic costs always outweighed the apparent long-term strategic advantages; for dispersal, as for shelter policy (as we shall see), this basic fact was crucial. The unreality of planning for mass dispersal was not confined to civil servants, however. 67 Considering the difficulty the planners faced in influencing the location of power stations it is deeply ironic to read the lengthy discussions on the possibility of relocating industry across the globe. Although there were some genuine results from this concentration on dispersal, such as the ‘Port Emergency Scheme’ for lessening the reliance on Liverpool and London in wartime by activating importing capacity in lesser ports, the overall impact of the work on dispersal was largely negative.

The experience of dispersal, and Attlee’s words in October 1948, were pointers to the difficulties civil defence planners would have in securing funds for their projects in the face of competing claims. The formative years of cold war civil defence planning are instructive in other ways, for they demonstrate the importance of coherent government machinery when dealing with complex issues that cut across traditional boundaries. The lack of adequate co-ordination and higher direction, common across nuclear issues,117 severely impeded the formation of civil defence policy and could have had enormous consequences had the Berlin crisis turned into a hot war.

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