Was it even possible?
Russia’s Old Plan for Crushing NATO in War Involved Lots of Nuclear Weapons (And Death)
Petr Lunak goes further in dismissing the plan as a “fairy tale.” Beyond being ambitious in its objectives, the plan is downright crazy because it envisions the Soviet and Warsaw Pact soldiers fighting in territory that had just been destroyed by massive nuclear attacks. These areas would have been highly radioactive. As Lunak points out, “They (the Soviets) really planned to send ground troops out in the field and have them fight for a few days until they died from radiation.”
World War II was the most destructive war in human history. Consider that, a conservative estimate of World War II fatalities is 60 million people, or roughly 3 percent of the world’s population at the time.
Yet, to an even greater extent than World War I, the outcome of World War II seemed to merely plant the seeds for another great power conflict. The battlelines were drawn when the Soviet Union created an Iron Curtain stretching across most of Central and Eastern Europe, while the United States led an alliance system throughout the western half of the continent.
For the next four and a half decades, military officers in the United States and the Soviet Union would create and tinker with plans to fight a NATO-Warsaw Pact war. For the United States, this meant seeking in vain to offset the Soviet Union’s numerical advantages without resorting to nuclear weapons early in a conflict.
Although successive U.S. administrations came into office vowing to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in America’s military doctrine, this proved impossible before the Reagan administration, when the revolution in precision-guided weaponry offered Washington a way to defeat the Soviet military juggernaut.
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Although the Soviet Union’s specific war plans, like America’s, remains classified, historians have been able to more or less ascertain how the Soviet army would have fought by using archives released by former Warsaw Pact member states like Poland and Czechoslovakia.
These reveal that, while Stalin was alive and through the 1950s, the Warsaw Pact maintained an almost entirely defensive posture aimed at protecting member states from a Western invasion. Likely reflecting America’s massive nuclear superiority at the time, these war plans did not envision the use of nuclear weapons in any…