The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interlude: Lessons from Diplomacy, Short of War

This is the Second Installment of:
A “New” World War:
Politics of War and Peace in the 21st Century: United States Successes, Failures, & Solutions
[The full text will appear in an issue of The Cepia Club Strategy Review due out shortly. Part One is in the previous Clublog entry.)

Even an aggressive diplomacy in which a nation must back down can provide “lessons” to implement changes, at all levels of a unified strategy. In 1962, the Soviet Union found itself without the ability to challenge the US military in and around Cuba during the Missile Crisis. Russia possessed a small navy not capable of intervention in the Caribbean from bases in the Arctic Ocean, and the Baltic and Black seas. In addition, and known to President Kennedy’s advisors, the Soviets lacked a robust, long-range, strategic missile force to deter an American invasion of Cuba or, as was the case, a naval blockade of Cuba.
What few (70-90; still disputed) single warhead Inter-mediate Range and Medium Range Ballistic missiles-types the Soviet Union deployed on the island were useful more for “city busting” than tactical first strike weapons against American nuclear installations. In other words, the missiles would only be good for a holocaust second strike on the US. In that case, it meant the full and immediate obliteration of Soviet, nee Russian civilization–by the full brunt of the US nuclear arsenal. In 1962, Russia would have been hurt worse. Ideally (itself a cynical term), if there were a clear signal of war, as the “game theory” of nuclear combat was modeled, the Soviet Union would need a first strike capability. This is called a “counter-force,” meaning enough missiles or nuclear-armed bombers to knock out the US nuclear arsenals in their bases. In 1962 America, this meant largely B-52 and other bomber bases as there were only a few hundred intercontinental missiles in the US arsenal, and most based above ground. Silos used to protect a missile’s survivability had yet to come into widespread existence.
But by destroying an enemy’s offensive strategic missiles in a surprise, first-strike, counter-force attack, the attacked country could only retaliate against urban centers with whatever nuclear weapons survived, if any. In this game theory scenario, a country would invite the destruction by retaliation of its own cities, by the surviving weapons. In sum, preventing nuclear war via the “Mutually Assured Destruction” deterrence model, MAD, was the only “win-win” situation open to the nuclear-armed Superpowers. In nuclear combat of a strategic scale between the US and the Soviet Union, no side could rely on a 100% guaranteed destruction of enemy nuclear bases with the early generations of weapons possessed by either country. The inaccurate or unreliable missiles, or the vulnerable bombers, were the norm in the early age of nuclear combat doctrine.
Though the Soviets could launch a nuclear war in Europe in retaliation, it was doubtful that the primary diplomatic goal of the missile deployments to Cuba–threatening America with a second-strike threat against the population–could have been achieved without a thermonuclear war to keep the missiles in Cuba. The entire point of missiles in Cuba, therefore, was to deter the US from interfering in Russian diplomacy in Asia, Africa and Europe. The Soviet policy sought to avoid nuclear war via the same deterrence that the US imposed on the Soviets (like in the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Berlin Crisis of 1961, for example). With Russia unprepared and at a disadvantage to play heavy-duty “rocket diplomacy,” they were forced to back down after 13 days on the brink in October 1962.
As a result of losing his prestige when forced to submit over Cuba, Soviet Premier Khrushchev lost his power within a year by a silent Politiburo-military coup. But the humiliation of failure in its diplomatic roll of the dice forced the USSR to build a more capable navy and, more important, a massive intercontinental ballistic missile force–into advancing generations of accurate missiles carrying theoretically up to 100 megaton equivalents of TNT. (Hiroshima was only around 20,000 kilotons. Do the math). This “learning” from diplomatic defeat led to the re-invention of Soviet military economics (again, LOGISTICS IS STRATEGY in the unified strategy theory). They investment in the navy and strategic missiles. In addition, the Soviets made a political policy decision for the operational level of their military planning. They decided to incorporate nuclear weapons INTO their war-fighting doctrine as a common and usable weapon, rather like normal artillery, as a first-strike weapon at both the tactical and global levels. By the time the US armed forces completed their “re-invention” following Vietnam between 1980 and 1989, the Soviets challenged US security interests world-wide in the 1970s and 1980s. The immunity mutually ensured against a holocaust allowed the Soviets to reach the pinnacle of their power and influence between 1978 and the end of 1980, before the US “re-invention” was complete.
The most dangerous “saber-rattling” confrontation happened in the third week of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war as the Soviets threatened to send an expeditionary force to enforce a UN cease-fire on behalf of the Soviet Arab client-states, Egypt and Syria. All up and down Africa, in cooperation with satellite Cuban and East German mercenaries, the Soviet navy and missile forces developed from the mid-1960s onward pushed the limits to which the US could effectively resist, politically, economically or militarily, without the outbreak of World War III. Such a war could only be a holocaust due to Western conventional inferiority.
For instance, the US and allied responses to the coup d’etat in Poland and the Red Army’s invasion of Afghanistan were ineffective sanctions and boycotts (wheat and other trade embargoes and the 1980 Olympics) which hurt and upset the US and allies more than the Soviet Union itself. With Soviet ability to operate against the US world-wide, the United States had only the option of mutual-assured-destruction (MAD) from thermo-nuclear holocaust or cynical consent.
Even without actual “hot” wars, those humiliated in diplomacy short of war can learn for the future–at the level of political strategy, without having to suffer death and destruction. Whereas the Germans failed to understand the lessons of World War I’s strategic political failures, the Russians learned an important one in 1962: To back aggressive diplomacy with credible force. From today’s perspective, that lesson carried them to survive past any reasonable life-expectancy as a Superpower until the 1991 collapse (another story in itself).


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home