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HIS344Y1 Lecture Notes - Nikita Khrushchev, Security Dilemma, Nuclear Winter

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Ebba Kurt

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HIS344 – Conflict and Cooperation in the International System Since 1945
Lecture 6 – Challenges of Nuclear Warfare
no strategy to follow for nuclear warfare – fight their way forward blindly without knowing
what to do with the nuclear weapons
by early 50s both sides recognized that they must develop coherent nuclear strategy and align
strategy with FP
even of nuclear technology changed the nature of the war – limited nuclear war or full scale
nuclear war
entertained idea of limited nuclear war – world will be saved by attacking each others'
military forces and nuclear capabilities but not states, civilians or economy
by so doing they hoped that nuclear war could be survived and victorious war can be
attained without tragic consequences
tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield
successful nuclear war would never work in reality because it means that many more
limited nuclear wars would follow – precedent is set, one side managed to win
if you repeat this process the final result will be the same as fighting a full-scale nuclear
war – annihilation at a slower scale
even if this did not happen, if one side felt that they were clearly losing a limited nuclear
war, they would undoubtedly launch all of their nuclear missiles to reverse the current
therefore, outcome will always be the same – mutually assured destruction
full-scale nuclear war – annihilate your opponent, economy, civilian, infrastructure
such a war would ensure the annihilation of the whole world – even if the world wasn't
destroyed immediately by nuclear detonations, the nuclear winter that would be brought
about could last up to a hundred years, destruction of the world as well
if these were the only two options to fight nuclear war
US – from 1945-6, identified some aspects that could be a coherent strategy
since air power has developed so well, surprise air attack – build up deterrent factor, if they
launch surprise attack the consequence would be so powerful as to destroy their own state
not first-strike capability but second-strike capability
main purpose is not to win a war, but to prevent one – use nuclear weapons for that
purpose, build so many bombs that no state would ever dream of attacking
both American strategy of deterrence and potential of retaliation didn't work because Stalin
never saw nuclear weapon as tool to build up strategy – is political tool to blackmail USSR
Soviet Union throughout 1950s challenged the US, for 4 years they operated under
American nuclear monopoly but never shrank from challenging US
best example is Korean war
all American military branches would work together for one goal – destruction of their
opponent (USSR)
air force, navy and army could never work together due to jealousy of resources between all
three branches of the military
in 1950s first time where all three arms cooperated and strike against Soviet Union – British
incorporated as well (had a few bombs, would be asset for US)
massive retaliation theory – wipe out USSR from the map (since deterrence didn't work
regardless of the fact that they didn't have a bomb)
one more challenge and their entire nation would be wiped out

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US identified no less than 8 000 targets – civilian, political, economic and military
centres – launching 8 000 bombs would have meant the destruction of most of Asia
entire Eastern Bloc would have been targeted (including Communist China)
such a plan would never work – annihilate all Communist states, no politician would
ever allow this to happen
massive retaliation theory was untenable because
lack of flexibility – small border skirmish could launch the destruction of the world
loss of credibility – the minute you didn't use massive retaliation, your credibility would be
gone, no state would pay attention to you
in political and military terms, this invites preemptive strike – even if they had 10 000
nuclear bombs and USSR only had 10, the only solution for USSR would be to kill the
Americans as they sleep
only feasible nuclear strategy – flexible response
Stalin would never allow army to develop nuclear weapons – didn't see it as feasible tool for
military purposes
once he died, by 1955 they had a solution
the only solution for USSR, given fact that they are disadvantaged in terms of number of
missiles and bombs, is preemptive strike – holds right for self-defence, would justify everything
when they're in a tight spot to launch surprise attack
this invites further isolation and military alliances against you
by early 60s Khrushchev changes his policy, USSR needs to have a flexible response as well
much better to avoid nuclear war than to invite one
going back to deterrence rather than preemptive strike and work out differences with US
both sides had a viable nuclear strategy, but how do you implement this strategy and how do
you deliver the nuclear bombs
bombers have to have proper design to make sure plane is capable of flying, reaching target
and still come back (neither side wanted to launch kamikaze attack)
US and USSR are separated by two oceans, 10 000 km or 7000/8000 km
when you make a plane capable of flying 10 000 km it has to have proper speed and room
enough for a bomb
has to make plane that can launch thousands of bombs (if not nuclear at least
conventional shells)
missiles need to have fuel, volatility, slightest shake could blow a missile up
proper guidance and accuracy – only useful if it can accurately reach the intended target
intercontinental ballistic missiles have precision of 300 m – quite accurate
missile has to be capable of flying 10 000 km but, again, no room for bomb
nuclear arm of the US – building bombers of traversing the distance and dropping bomb on
Soviet targets
brand new bombers - “the peacemaker”
8 engine bomber that would be able to drop an atomic or hydrogen bomb
B-47 (2500) and B-52 (successful design – BUFF = Big Ugly Fat Fucker)
built enough of a bomber force to threaten USSR
USSR kept pace for a while – M4 (the “Bison”, Russians called it the “Hammer”)
military, political scandal – USSR only had 7 planes but kept flying in circles over Moscow,
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