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A war that did not happen

The Japan Times has made an interesting find in the UK archives: an intelligence briefing note the Americans sent to us arguing that the USSR, and the 'People's Republics' of North Korea and China were intent on invading Japan in 1951, right at the point of their high tide in South Korea.

The reaction at the time was one of doubt, with a contemporary expert also unconvinced. Intriguing though.

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Anonymous nick drew said... 9:43 am

I have often pondered - what was the high-water mark of Russia's ability to invade Europe with best chance of success? (p < 100%, of course)

My thinking is: probably some time in the very late 1970's / early 1980's, before IMF but after Ogarkov's thinking had been implemented in the USSR.

Any other ideas?  



Blogger Croydonian said... 9:51 am

I would think during the Carter administration, or possibly during the Vietnam war, as while militarily the Red Wheel could have been resisted, I doubt that there was a sufficiency of will to do so.

I rather enjoyed Hackett's 'Third World War' when I read that many years back.  



Blogger CityUnslicker said... 10:06 am

I liked Hackett's too. Quite compelling and the image of Birmingham being nuked is still a little haunting.

I think by the 80's the technological gap was beginning to tell for the USSR. Amercia had stealth squadrons and missiles that the Russian's would have been dazzled by. So I agree the it would have to be before this date.

My feeling though is the sheer numbers in the Red Army would have over-run Western Europe any time from 1944 onwards.

Also I can't believe we would not have resorted to nukes or chemical weapons in short order. I always thought Nato's mission was to hold a line for 48 hours to give the diplomats a chance and then the button would be pressed.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 10:25 am

Going a bit further back, a book called 'Icebreaker: Who started the second world war?' by Viktor Suvorov argues that Stalin was intent on an invasion of Europe in 1941, evidended by it having such odd things as tanks designed to operate on motorways (the USSR did not have any..), the massing of military forces on the border with the Reich (post Molotov-Ribbentrop) rather than defending in depth, and sundry other anecdotal evidence. Food for thought if not entirely convincing.

I've mentioned it before, but the DDR minted the Blucher Ordnung medal for the 'liberation' of Europe. More here.  



Blogger Newmania said... 12:00 pm

CU OPINED_My feeling though is the sheer numbers in the Red Army would have over-run Western Europe any time from 1944 onwards.


That was certianly the assumption at the time CU and the next phase was assumed to be Nuclear war. It amazing if you look at Books written at about that time how the possibility of Apocalypse was viewed quite calmly really. There is a collection of martin Amis short stories set "after the bomb" that catches the atmosphere

I remember there being a piece on it, on Nationwide ,complete with diagrams of loads and loads of Soviet tanks .

This sort of thing scared the bejesus out of me and combined with the Socilaists turning the lights off made me into a Conservative. The miners strike was also crucial as C often points out  



Anonymous hg said... 1:41 pm

If the Red Army were in a position to overrun western Europe any time from 1944 onwards nuclear weapons wouldn't have entered into it. The first atomic device was exploded over Hiroshima in August 1945, and a different kind over Nagasaki some days later. By then the Soviet Union would have taken the whole of Europe more than a year earlier. And there were no ICBMs.

The standard history, that the USSR was at the end of its tether and its armies at the limits of their supply lines when they halted at Berlin and Vienna seems more likely.  



Blogger CityUnslicker said... 2:58 pm

HG,

They were no doubt at the end of their supply lines; however they had no need to invade Western Europe at this time.

My point was re the relative strengths of the Western versus Soviet Armies. Not only did Russia have more by a factor of 3 but they were technologically more advanced and more battle-hardend.  



Anonymous nick drew said... 4:20 pm

Some other inputs:

- A rather obvious point: the Russians were already trying quite hard in 1944!!

- The conventional airpower mustered by US / UK in 1944-45 would have been sufficient to give Russia pause for thought (it is sometimes said Dresden was carried out to leave them something to marvel at on their way through. Also, Stalin expressed great admiration for the Normandy operations.)

- Absent opposing airpower, the Russians went through the Japs like a hot knife through butter in '45, one of the most impressive set-piece campaigns in all of military history

- In later years it is likely the West would have gone (tactical) nuclear a lot sooner than 48 hours, & it may not have helped very much: the Sovs had thought that through and built it into their plans.

All in all, Putin's recent comment seems rather apt:

"this was certainly a fragile peace and a frightening one, but seen from today it was reliable enough"  



Anonymous hg said... 9:18 am

CU is right, I simply forgot; the Red Army didn't stop at Berlin, of course, so they weren't running out of steam. It only stopped heading westwards when it met the Allied armies coming east; as they were allies they couldn't start in on each other straight away I suppose. Putin's quote as to the fragility of that peace is truthy.  



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