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Fwd: H-Diplo: National Security Archive: Winning a Nuclear War: 1950s

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  • David Krugler
    List members might be interested in the following announcement . . . National Security Archive Update, February 19, 2011 Nobody Wins a Nuclear War But
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2011
      List members might be interested in the following announcement . . .

      National Security Archive Update, February 19, 2011

      "Nobody Wins a Nuclear War" But "Success" is Possible

      Mixed Message of 1950s Air Force Film on a U.S.-Soviet Conflict

      For more information contact:
      William Burr - 202/994-7000


      Washington, DC, February 19, 2011 - "The Power of Decision" may be the
      first (and perhaps the only) U.S. government film depicting the Cold War
      nightmare of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict. The U.S. Air Force produced
      it during 1956-1957 at the request of the Strategic Air Command. Unseen
      for years and made public for the first time by the National Security
      Archive, the film depicts the U.S. Air Force's implementation of war plan
      "Quick Strike" in response to a Soviet surprise attack against the United
      States and European and East Asian allies. By the end of the film, after
      the Air Force launches a massive bomber-missile "double-punch," millions
      of Americans, Russians, Europeans, and Japanese are dead.

      Colonel Dodd, the narrator, asserts that "nobody wins a nuclear war
      because both sides are sure to suffer terrible damage." Despite the
      "catastrophic" damage described by a SAC briefer, one of the film's
      operating assumptions is that defeat is avoidable as long as the Soviet
      Union cannot impose its "will." The last few minutes of the film suggest
      that the United States will prevail because of its successful nuclear air
      offensive. One of the characters, General "Pete" Larson optimistically
      asserts that the Soviets "must quit; we have the air and the power and
      they know it." It is the Soviets, not the United States, who are sending
      out cease-fire pleas, picked up by the CIA.

      Little is known about the production or subsequent distribution of "The
      Power of Decision." It was probably used for internal training purposes so
      that officers and airmen could prepare for the worst active-duty situation
      that they could encounter. Perhaps the relatively unruffled style of the
      film's performers was to help serve as a model for SAC officers if they
      ever had to follow orders that could produce a nuclear holocaust.

      This film is from a DVD supplied by the U.S. National Archives' motion
      picture unit and is hosted by the Internet Archive's Moving Images

      View the complete film at http://www.nsarchive.org or watch a four-minute
      clip of the film on the Archive's YouTube channel.

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