U.S. govt’s official thinking about nuclear weapons: Utterly Bizarre and Bi-Partisan

Do you remember “With enough shovels …”?

President Reagan’s Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces was T.K. Jones.  He believed we could easily survive nuclear war.  Here is what he said we should do if a nuclear attack was coming:

“Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top….  It’s the dirt that does it … if there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.”

This is utterly preposterous on several grounds, including:

  • If you are in the little hole you dug and you have put “a couple of doors” on top, how can you pile dirt on top of that?
  • How many people won’t have access to soft dirt in their cities where they can dig holes?
  • Apart from not having “enough shovels,” how many millions of people in a city would be fighting over a finite number of doors?  How many would have the tools and skills to remove them?
  • How many months or years would you live in a little hole in the ground with no food, no water, no place to dispose of human wastes?


Plans for evacuating cities were utterly unrealistic:

In the 1980s, the official plan for evacuating Seattle was to load everybody from Seattle into Metro buses, drive across Snoqualmie Pass to Yakima, and empty the passengers. Then the Metro bus drivers would drive back to Seattle and fill the buses again, deliver them to Yakima, and keep making round trips until Seattle was empty.  Nobody would be left except for the burglars who want to break into our homes.

What would happen to people in nursing homes and hospitals?  Could Yakima accommodate thousands of terribly sick people?

I don’t know about the plans for the other millions of people in the rest of King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, and elsewhere.

If a nuclear attack were imminent we would have only a few minutes before we’d die.  Evacuating would not be realistic.

A friend who is an expert in nuclear weapons said that an emergency planning session conducted in Seattle last year (2017) estimated that evacuating King County’s 2 million people would take two weeks. We’d likely have only a few minutes of warning, but King County would need two weeks.

If we had a longer time, would you really want to shut down the entire state’s entire economy for several weeks? Perishable food in our kitchens and grocery stores and restaurants would rot.  Would the government reimburse us for our losses?

No evacuation or relocation plan is even remotely realistic!


President Obama caved in to Senate Republicans.  To get their support for a treaty reducing nuclear weapons, he agreed to COMPLETELY REBUILD THE ENTIRE NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARSENAL at an incredibly expensive cost.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize because in 1969 he publicly stated in Prague that he wanted to abolish nuclear weapons.  (More likely the Nobel committee was relieved to have George W. Bush out of office.)  Obama negotiated the “New START” treaty to reduce nuclear weapons in modest ways.  But even that modest approach was too reasonable for Senate Republican hawks, who demanded new nuclear weapons.  In an utterly bizarre violation of logic, Obama caved in to the Republican hawks and — in exchange for their support for a modest treaty — he agreed to COMPLETELY REBUILD THE ENTIRE NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARSENAL.  That means ALL NEW nuclear warheads, missiles, submarines, bombers, nuclear bomb-making plants, etc., etc., etc.  The cost for the next 30 years is expected to be $1.7 TRILLION.  (A trillion is a thousand billions, and a billion is a thousand millions, so this is 1.7 million TIMES $1 million.)

Now the Republicans — after slashing taxes for rich people and corporations — are demanding slashes in nearly all domestic spending:  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, low-income housing, food stamps, environmental protection, etc., etc., etc.


For more information about the utterly bizarre and recklessly dangerous nuclear weapons that threaten our lives, see the “Nuclear Weapons” part of this blog, www.parallaxperspectives.org







About GlenAnderson 1497 Articles
Since the late 1960s Glen Anderson has devoted his life to working as a volunteer for peace, nonviolence, social justice, and progressive political issues. He has worked through many existing organizations and started several. Over the years he has worked especially for such wide-ranging goals as making peace with Vietnam, eliminating nuclear weapons, converting from a military economy to a peacetime economy, abolishing the death penalty, promoting nonviolence at all levels throughout society, and helping people organize and strategize for grassroots movements to solve many kinds of problems. He writes, speaks, and conducts training workshops on a wide variety of topics. Since 1987 he has produced and hosted a one-hour cable TV interview program on many kinds of issues. Since 2017 he has blogged at https://parallaxperspectives.org He lives in Lacey near Olympia WA. You can reach him at (360) 491-9093 glen@parallaxperspectives.org