In Case of
What of our CIVIL DEFENSES?
General C R. Huehncr, Director of New York State Civil Defense, who commanded our forces in Europe
al the end of World War II, lends authority to ■ discussion of whether our civil defenses are adequate on
tlie Facts Forum PanePs regular radio and television program. Commentator George Hamilton Combs,
former Democratic congressman from Missouri; Professor Charles Hodges, professor of international
history at New York University, and author William Huckley, Jr., are regular panelists. Hardy Rurt moderates.
BURT: General Huebner, do you think that
the American people are aware of the dangers of atomic attack on our cities and industrial areas?
Huebner: Mv answer to that would
be yes for the great majority of the
people, because much has been written
in the news media and broadcast on
the air to the people. However, 1 can't
say thai ihey have accepted the implications that are brought about in this
BURT: Well, do you think there is any
actual fear or concern or worry on the part
of the people in New York, from your position as head of the New York State civil
defense—that conceivably an H-bomb could
be dropped on them one night in a Pearl
Harbor type of surprise attack and they
could all be wiped out?
Huebner: Well. I'm sure that that is
lln- basis of this so-called apathy. It is
more a matter of fear and ihe operation
"f the subconscious mind rather than
of reason. And il can only be handled
through proper education.
BURT: Mr. Buckley, you travel a great deal
around the country and see a lot of the
people. Do you think the American people
are aware of the dangers of atomic attack
Bl i kley: Nothing I've run across
would contradict General Huebner's con-
clusions nn lhal question, But I do think
that llu- American people are less interested in jusl exactly what lhe atom
bomb vvill ile>. than whether it's going
In fall. On ihis point they eire wholly
confused for a number of reasons, one
of them being thai v\e have nn consistent
foreign policy. And the other one, of
course, being lhal all ibis talk of coexistence is at variance with the kind of
preparation lhat General Huebner, for
example, is urging them in make'.
I vvenilil say that ihey are roughly
PACTS FORUM NEWS, October, 1955
aware of what an atom homh. fur example, falling in the heeirt uf New ^ ork
or in the hearl nf Cleveland would do.
bul haven't got any sophisticated or
fully developed notions as In whether
it's going to fall.
Combs: Well, I doubt lhal lhe tortuosities of our foreign policy an- responsible for the lethargy uf our people.
But I would agree lhat we certainly as
a people have not reached anv inherent
idea aboul Ihe imminence or lhe probability of such an attack, and that we
have adopted an attitude, as someone'
described it. of almost Arab fatalism
about it. I thoughl thai General Huebner's comment was verv perceptive, thai
in part our apathy is fear, an unwillingness In grapple with the reality, the
horrible actuality of a bomb that is so
destructive. Bul it seems in me there are
Other reasons: one. a somewhat naive
belief Iii lhe invincibility of American
defense, lhat ours is an inviolable continent, that il will never in any way be
molested or raided. And, secondly, it
seems lo me lhat our people have lacked
direction from the federal governmenl
which would cause the program to be
presented wilh the real urgency which
tin- eleinger seems to require. It's a many-
BURT: Mr. Combs, not to deviate from the
subject, but as a former Democratic congress-
man, are you defending the foreign policy of
the Republican administration against Mr.
(aivms: To lhe extent that the . . .
Buckley: That it duplicates llu- Democratic policy . . .
Combs: . . . lhe Republican policy has
paralleled that laid down by the Democrats, it has been coherent and realis-
Buckley: And fatal.
Combs: . . . when it—deviates from
the Truman-Acheson policy it always
gets into trouble.
BUCKLEY: Mr. Combs' description for
a successful foreign policy is one in
which we consistently retreat. Is that
right, Mr. Combs?
COMBS: As a matter of fact, Mr. Truman did no retreating. It was Mr. Truman who blazed the whole trail of defense against communism.
BURT: If we had the time it would be a
fascinating thing to discuss American foreign
policy but we do have an even more urgent
topic, if that's conceivable. We need Professor Hodges' opinion as to whether or not
he believes the American people are aware
of the dangers of atomic attack. What do
you think. Professor?
Hodces: Well, I would like to emphasize two things. The first is that this
problem of coexistence and at the same
time keeping our defenses up is confusing. I think, to the American people,
because we have this instinctive, you
might say, desire to live in peace. When
the war is over it's like a football game.
Everybody goes home. And if they don't
go home Congress hears about it from
the "moms" of America and that is one
of the reasons we're in this very bad fix,
it seems to me.
BURT: Are the American people aware of
the dangers, though, of an atomic attack
being launched upon them?
Hodces: I don't think they can be
fully aware of the dangers because
they're confused by the trend toward
coexistence which is being adequately
developed, certainly, in Washington . . .
Buckley: Hear, hear!
Hodces: And. on the other hand, lhe
fact that we've got to keep up our guard.