Leon Goure, 84; Cold War political scientist was expert on Soviet civil defense

Washington Post

Leon Goure, a political scientist, Sovietologist and expert on Soviet civil defense, died March 16 of congestive heart failure in Arlington, Va. He was 84.

Goure focused on civil defense at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were taking civil defense measures, even though the Cold War doctrine of "mutual assured destruction" required that both populations be vulnerable to nuclear annihilation. Convinced that the Soviets had concluded they could limit the damage and casualties resulting from nuclear war, Goure reported in 1961 that the Soviet Union was quietly engaged in a massive civil defense buildup.

Years later he told the Washington Post that Soviet civil defense was "extremely comprehensive" and that it included compulsory annual training for adults and children beginning in the second grade, as well as detailed evacuation, shelter and post-attack recovery plans. Civil defense, he said, was a key component of the Soviet Union's nuclear war doctrine.

"They intend, if there is such a war, to win it," he said.

Commenting on what he considered the relative lack of serious civil defense planning in the United States, he told The Times in 1986 that "the best you could do right now in case of nuclear attack would be to get away from the downtown area and hide in the basement of a supermarket." His reports prompted an expansion of U.S. civil defense efforts during the final years of the Cold War.

Goure was born in Moscow on Nov. 1, 1922. His father belonged to the Mensheviks, socialists allied with the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution until they were disbanded by Lenin. Most of the Mensheviks were Jewish.

The elder Goure took his family into exile in Berlin in 1923. A decade later the Goures fled Hitler and settled in Paris but left for the United States when the city fell to the Nazis in 1940.

Shortly after arriving in Hoboken, N.J., Goure enlisted in the Army. He returned to Germany as an infantryman and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He later served in counterintelligence, using his fluency in German, French and Russian to interview Nazis and collaborators who were being held after the war.

After his discharge, he received an undergraduate degree from New York University in 1947, a master's from Columbia University in 1949 and a doctorate from Georgetown University in 1961.

Goure became an analyst with the Rand Corp. in Washington, D.C., in 1954 and in 1959 transferred to Rand's Santa Monica branch, where he began to develop his ideas on civil defense. He also advised President Johnson's administration on military policy in Vietnam.

In 1969, he moved to the University of Miami's Center for Advanced International Studies as director of Soviet studies. In 1980, he joined Science Applications International Corp., a consulting firm in McLean, Va., and was director of Russian and Central Eurasian studies until his retirement in 2004.

He was the author or coauthor of more than a dozen books, including "The Siege of Leningrad" (1962) and "Civil Defense in the Soviet Union" (1962).

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Raymonde Rips Goure; two sons and four grandsons.

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