Even if 100 metropolitan areas are destroyed, there would be more wealth in this country than there is in all of Russia today and more skills than were available to that country in the forties.”Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War [i]
Herman Kahn was controversial. He said things that made his countrymen feel uncomfortable. Kahn, along with rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, allegedly inspired the character “Dr. Strangelove” in the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name. What progressive opinion disliked the most was that Kahn believed in preparing for nuclear war. He argued that even small-cost preparations would produce life-saving results leading to a more rapid post-war recovery. Those whose doctrine was Mutual Assured Destruction did not like the sound of this.
Discomfort over the idea of surviving a nuclear calamity didn’t stop with Kahn. When President Ronald Reagan pushed Congress for minor civil defense preparations in the early 1980s, costing a mere $4.2 billion, the left engaged in a merciless campaign of ridicule. Time Magazine mocked Reagan with the headline, “Dig a Hole: Reagan Administration Civil Defense.”[ii] According to Time Reagan’s ideas were “starkly irrational.” Inexpensive life-saving measures, such as digging a hole from which to escape fallout, was derided by the mainstream media until Congress dropped the whole thing. The main objection to civil defense was that such measures would increase the danger of war.
Meanwhile, Russia and China expended vast sums on civil defense preparations, with underground blast and fallout shelters in Russia’s cities – including underground cities in the Ural Mountains. It is curious that Americans never thought of making similar preparations. In fact, America has taken no defensive measures in the event deterrence fails. We have not even prepared for an Electromagnetic Pulse attack. Once again, consumer society is not concerned with surviving a future calamity or war. We are only concerned with living well in the present.
It follows from past attacks against those who advocated civil defense in the public sphere, that anyone promoting civil defense in the private sector would also suffer vilification. Such has been the fate of Barrett Moore, a Midwestern businessman who has long worked toward building private civil defense facilities. Last year Moore was savaged by hack journalist Sam Biddle, writing in The Intercept (owned by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar). Biddle is widely hated for sloppy hit-pieces. New York Mag writer Laura Bennett said of Biddle, “His style is proudly resistant to nuance and largely absent of reporting, save the occasional gossipy tidbit….” But these are the milder criticisms of Biddle (readers are encouraged to check the footnotes). [iii]
Biddle’s piece against Moore was so one-sidedly malicious, so unbelievably long, only a political leftist would have bothered to write it. Recently I consulted court records and other documents referred to in The Intercept article and found that Biddle left out anything and everything that might have put Moore in a more favorable light. Biddle never attempted to tell Moore’s side of the story. Here we have a hit-piece in which a falling out between two friends, likened in one legal document to a “nasty divorce,” is misused by a jumped-up leftist troll who thinks prepping is for rightwing crazies. Biddle unfairly maligns Moore as a grifter only interested in saving “rich people” while leaving poor people to die.
In fact, Moore’s theory was to sell survival insurance to the wealthy so he could create the high-cost infrastructure that would eventually make civil defense privately affordable for everyone. Such is the stuff of entrepreneurial dreams. Nothing is built without risk, and without criticism. Furthermore, we may sometimes measure the value of a proposal by the miserable nature of those who attack it.
I had a chance to interview Barrett Moore last month. Our discussion ranged over his background in private security, his work during last summer’s Afghanistan evacuation, and his unrivaled knowledge of survival preparedness.
Notes and Links
[i] Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), p. 91.
[iii] Sam Biddle – Wikipedia. Lawyer Mike Cernovich challenged Biddle to a boxing match in 2014, promising to give $10,000 to an anti-bullying charity if Biddle accepted. Biddle refused. (Nerd/bodybuilder Mike Cernovich challenges Gawker writer Sam Biddle to a boxing match, promising to give $10,000 to an anti-bullying charity if he accepts. : KotakuInAction (reddit.com)). As one observer noted, “Same Biddle declined [to fight Cernovich], proving he is only interested in harming those he perceives to be vulnerable.” Crime & Federalism: Does Sam Biddle, a Bully from Gawker Media, Abuse Animals? (crimeandfederalism.com). Cernovich has also alleged that women have reported Biddle for “inappropriate communication, harassment, inappropriate digital contact, sexual assault, [and that he] followed someone into a bathroom and tried to masturbate in front of them.” (See Sam Biddle: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know | Heavy.com.) Biddle has publicly advocated bullying gaming “nerds.” It is always worth remembering: What comes around, goes around.
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