"That does it! Release 'Quick Strike' and proceed to target. Launch all available missiles!"
It's believed to be the only U.S. government film depicting the catastrophic atrocities of nuclear war, and for the first-time ever it's available to the masses.
The Power of Decision was produced in 1957 at the request of the U.S. Air Force and ostensibly designed for educational purposes within the military. On Friday the National Security Archives posted the movie onto the Internet.
The film plays out deep inside the underground bunker of the military's Strategic Air Command and begins with reports of a Soviet missile strike on Europe and reports of enemy aircraft approaching the United States.
In the just-the-facts manner of the popular TV-show of the era, Dragnet, the narrator of The Power of Decision walks the viewer though the chain of command as actors portraying the U.S. president and joints chiefs of staff order a retaliatory attack, dubbed "Operation Quick Strike."
The hour-long film ends with the military officials admitting that they've failed in their key task: deterring a nuclear war. However, they have achieved "success" in destroying much of the Soviet Union and getting Moscow to surrender. Along the way, 60 million Americans are dead with industrial cities of the day (New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Pittsburgh) completely destroyed. St. Louis, according to the narrator, is one of a handful of other targets experiencing "high casualties."
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