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What happens when a nation gets nukes? Sixty years of history suggests an answer.

10 January 2012

Summary:  The drive for war comes from hawks’ terrifying forecasts of what a nuke-armed Iran will do.  Similar warnings were made in the past about today’s nuclear powers.  What does history tell us?  Eight in a series; at the end are links to the other chapters.

“The US is almost certain to be the first superpower to need to launch strategic weapons (particularly if not exclusively, in response to some galloping disaster in Europe).”
— Colin S. Gray (strategy expert, Hudson Institute), letter to the New York Times, 11 October 1977

Contents

  1. They’ll use nukes!  (“they” = our enemy due jour)
  2. The history of nukes — risky but so far a stabilizing force
  3. Examples:  India/Pakistan, North Korea
  4. Other posts in this series
  5. For more information
  6. Other posts about Iran

(1)  They’ll use nukes!  (“they” = our enemy due jour)

A commonplace of the atomic era are warnings by hawks that our enemy due jour will attack first with nukes (ignoring that our behavior was often equally aggressive).  This simple if baseless technique kept hysteria high during the Cold War.  For an example of confident wild guessing of that period see “Why the Soviet Union thinks it could fight and win a nuclear war“, Richard Pipes (Prof Russian History at Harvard), Commentary, July 1977.

Similar warnings about Iran do the same today.  But the Soviet Union was a large power wielding terrifying weapons whose application nobody understood.  Now we repeat that history, but with a small and poor nations — whose conventional military power is inferior to Israel’s, and nothing compared to ours.

(2)  The history of nukes — risky, but so far a stabilizing force

(a)  Nuclear Weapons as a stabilizing element

Despite the hawks warnings, some geopolitical experts saw that nuclear weapons would limit war.  One of the first was Bernard Brodie in The Absolute Weapon (1946).  And so it has proven to be, as he explained in “The development of nuclear strategy“, International Strategy, Spring 1978:

The notion that in an extremely tense crisis, which may include an ongoing theater war, any useful purpose is likely to be served by firing off strategic nuclear weapons, however limited in number, seems vastly to underestimate both the risks to the nation and the burden upon the person who must make the decision.  Divorced from consideration of how human beings actually behave in a crisis, it fits Raymond Aron’s definition of “strategic fiction”, analogous to “science fiction.”

(b)  Fears that other nations (not us) will use nukes irrationally

The claims that Iran will irrationally use the bomb repeat similar fears concerning China, India, and Pakistan.  Martin van Creveld describes the actual history of nukes (so far) in the conclusion to Nuclear Proliferation and the Future of Conflict (1993):

Nevertheless there seems to be no factual basis for the claims that regional leaders do not understand the nature and implications of nuclear weapons; or that their attitudes to those weapons are governed by some peculiar cultural biases which make them incapable of rational thought; or that they are more adventurous and less responsible in handling them than anyone else.

… An even more critical reason why regional leaders tend to be at least as careful in handling nuclear weapons as those of the superpowers is the fact that many of these countries are quite small, adjacent to each other, and no separated by any clear natural borders; often they share the same local weather systems and draw their water fro the same river basin.

… Much of the literature on proliferation appears to be distorted, ethnocentric, and self-serving.  it operates on the principle of beati sunt possedentes (blessed are those who are in possession); like the treaties to which it has given rise, its real objective is to perpetuate the oligopoly of the “old” nuclear powers.  To this end regional powers and their leaders have been described as unstable, culturally biased, irresponsible, and what-not.  To this end weapons seen as stabilizing in the hands of the great powers were suddenly described as destabilizing when they spread to other countries.

In practice, the leaders of medium and small powers alike tend to be extremely cautious with regard to the nuclear weapons they possess — the proof being that, to date, in every region where these weapons have been introduced, large-scale interstate warfare has disappeared. … This has been true even when the weapons have been few in number; even when delivery vehicles and methods of command and control were comparatively primitive; even when very great asymmetries existed in the forces of both sides; and even when the entire process was covert rather than overt.

… the virtual disappearance of large-scale interstate warfare from the regions in question does not mean that they are going to be free of armed conflict … The rise in these regions of Low Intensity Conflict represents the sound tactician’s response to nuclear proliferation.  If one cannot bear one’s enemy in a straightforward contest, one can seek to undermine him.

(3)  Examples:  India/Pakistan, North Korea

(a)  Fears that India and Pakistan will nuke each other (14 years later no nukes used)

Nuclear Anxiety, the Rivalry: South Asian Arms Race: Reviving Dormant Fears of Nuclear War“, New York Times, 29 May 1998 — Excerpt:

In a matter of weeks, covert nuclear programs in India and Pakistan, rivals who have three times gone to war, have turned into an open nuclear arms race, raising alarms about what comes next — and where.  Diplomats and arms control experts see this arms race as particularly dangerous because Pakistan and India, unlike the United States and Russia during the cold war, have not held serious negotiations over outstanding problems for decades or concluded agreements that reduced the number of weapons aimed at each other.

These experts now fear that Pakistan and India could be drawn into a nuclear war over Kashmir, a territory that has been in dispute since the two countries gained independence in 1947.

… ”We are at perhaps the most dangerous period since the beginning of the nuclear age — with the exception of the Cuban missile crisis,” said Thomas Graham, a former negotiator for the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency who is now president of the independent Lawyers’ Alliance for World Security.

(b)  North Korea

Iran and the Nuclear Paradox“, Robert Farley, World Politics Review, 16 November 2011 — Excerpt:

Existing nuclear powers fear that new entrants will act unpredictably, destabilize regions and throw existing diplomatic arrangements into flux. These predictions almost invariably turn out wrong; nuclear weapons consistently fail to undo the existing power relationships of the international system.

The North Korean example is instructive. In spite of the dire warnings about the dangers of a North Korean nuclear weapon, the region has weathered Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation in altogether sound fashion. Though some might argue that nukes have “enabled” North Korea to engage in a variety of bad behaviors, that was already the case prior to its nuclear test. The crucial deterrent to U.S. or South Korean action continues to be North Korea’s conventional capabilities, as well as the incalculable costs of governing North Korea after a war. Moreover, despite the usual dire predictions of nonproliferation professionals, the North Korean nuclear program has yet to inspire Tokyo or Seoul to follow suit.

The DPRK’s program represents a tremendous waste of resources and human capital for a poor state, and it may prove a problem if North Korea endures a messy collapse. Thus far, however, the effects of the arsenal have been minimal.

(4)  Other posts in this series

  1. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)?, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran, including aid to terrorists
  2. Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 January 2009
  3. Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 2 January 2010 — Forecasts of an Iranian bomb really soon, going back to 1984
  4. About the escalating conflict with Iran (not *yet* open war), 4 January 2012
  5. Have Iran’s leaders vowed to destroy Israel?, 5 January 2012 — No, but it’s established as fact by repetition
  6. What do we know about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?, 6 January 2012 — US intelligence officials are clear:  not as much as the news media implies
  7. What does the IAEA know about Iran’s nuclear program?, 9 January 2012 — Their reports bear little resemblance to reports in the news media
  8. What happens when a nation gets nukes?  Sixty years of history suggests an answer., 10 January 2012
  9. What happens if Iran gets nukes? Not what we’ve been told., 11 January 2012
  10. Status report on the already-hot conflict with Iran – and the looming war, 12 January 2012
  11. Continuity and dysfunctionality in US foreign policy (lessons for our conflict with Iran), 13 January 2012 — Insights about today from Cold War strategist Colin Grey
  12. What the conflict with Iran teaches us about modern State-to-State war, 16 January 2012
  13. Has Iran won a round vs. the US-Israel?, 17 January 2012
  14. Is Killing Iranian Nuclear Scientists Terrorism?, 19 January 2012

(5)  For more information

  1. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better“, Kenneth Waltz, Adelphi Papers #171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981) — Events of the past 30 years have impressively validated his theory!
  2. Evaluating the Nuclear Peace Hypothesis – A Quantitative Approach“, Robert Rauchhaus (Prof of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara), Journal of Conflict Resolution, April 2009
  3. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons and International Conflict – Does Experience Matter?“, Michael Horowitz (Prof of Political Science, U Penn), Journal of Conflict Resolution, April 2009
  4. Recommended:  Debunking Myths About Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism“, Stratfor, 29 May 2009
  5. How do states act after they get nuclear weapons?“, James (Prof Political Science, Berkeley), The Monkey Cage, 29 January 2012

(6)  Other posts about Iran

For the full list see the FM Reference Page Iran – will the US or Israel attack Iran?

  1. Stratfor’s analysis of US reasons for invading and occupying Iraq , 4 March 2008
  2. More post-Fallon overheating: “6 signs the US may be headed for war in Iran” , 18 March 2008
  3. A militant America, ready for war with Iran , 6 May 2008
  4. ISIS: “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, 8 August 2008
  5. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)? Part 1, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran.
  6. Update on the prospects of war with Iran, from Stratfor, 6 September 2008
  7. “Iraq Endgame” by George Friedman, 22 August 2009
  8. Stratfor: “Two Leaks and the Deepening Iran Crisis”, 7 October 2009
  9. This is how a nation thoughtlessly slides into stupid wars, 25 July 2010
  10. America takes another step towards war with Iran, towards the dark side, 3 September 2010
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27 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 January 2012 12:40 am

    I’ve always been fascinated by the argument that “they are a bunch of fanatical religious nihilists who don’t fear death…” especially when it’s made by a bunch of fanatical right-wing religious nihilists in Washington, who know they are safe from harm.

    Like

    • 10 January 2012 12:50 am

      An astonishingly large fraction of geopoltical analysis is simple mirroring, projecting our own dark impulses onto our opponent. It makes for highly believable pictures of the enemy. It’s far more fun than, for example, believing that Iranians hate us because of our multi-generational opposition to their people’s best interests.

      Like

    • 10 January 2012 6:25 pm

      I studying language, (Finnish and Japanese) and what you find out pretty quickly once you get to the level where you can struggle through a newspaper, is that it’s so hard to get a real feel for what’s going on in a country — the mood of the place, the meaning of the politics. You can even be there, right in in the midst of things and have no clue what’s going on. What also seems to me, is that all the monolingual American pundits, who only speak English, but who rant on about what’s going on in places like Iran or Syria where they have never been, and don’t speak the language, for the most part they are all fools.

      I think the first step to understanding what’s going on between nations is having an understanding of the culture, and this takes some talent if the place is quite a different, like the Arab countries or Iran.

      Like

    • 11 January 2012 2:02 am

      Thanks for this great comment. The importance of cultural knowledge is soemthing widely misunderstood in America today (often delusionally so), as discussed in Why do we lose 4th generation wars? (about Kilcullen’s famous advice to company commanders: “Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency“, David Kilcullen, Military Review, May-June 2006).

      Kilcullen’s article #1: “Know the people, the topography, economy, history, religion and culture. Know every village, road, field, population group, tribal leader and ancient grievance. Your task is to become the world expert on your district.”

      My comment: “Unfortunately, in the Middle East everyone but us has this advantage. The world expert on “your” district already lives there and probably was born there. US company commanders on six to twelve month rotations cannot develop anything comparable to the locals’ knowledge about their home, especially in so foreign a culture. It might be difficult for some of them to do so quickly in Watts or Harlem.”

      Like

    • 11 January 2012 9:31 am

      For me this is the hope. That after 10 years or so of Iraq/Afghanistan war, 2012 America is not the same as 2002 America because there’s an entire army that has been to a Muslim country at war. All these people, maybe they support war with Iran, or maybe they don’t — but at least, they’re going to have a more reality-based opinion, and I believe the simplistic rhetoric is going to start ringing false as real experience filters its way through the culture.

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      11 January 2012 1:37 pm

      Cathryn, I’d love for you to be right but I can’t imagine it. The soldiers don’t speak the local language, mostly see the nasty side of the locals because of attacks, and are fed a steady stream of Fox News.

      If anything, I suspect that the soldiers are more likely to lose touch with America than they are to become wiser about the rest of the world. A lot of the interviews I’ve read with people who’ve recently left the military show that the ex-soldiers are terribly confused by all of the choices of American civilian life and wish that somebody would clarify things for them. Some even wish that somebody would tell them what to do. And these people are more likely to vote than the average American citizen.

      Like

  2. 10 January 2012 1:32 am

    Marcus, This is not a ” right-wing religious nihilists in Washington” issue. We are looking at two sides of the same coin with respect to D’s And R’s. Would be curious of your views of the drones or NDAA, 3066, SOPA, 1033 etc.

    Fabius, another great analysis of our geopoitical bullying of the world, and posted.

    Like

    • 10 January 2012 3:24 am

      I was unclear; to me Washington comes in 2 flavors: right wing and extreme right wing. I do agree it’s the same in terms of what’s on offer from the 2 party system.

      WRT the other topics you threw out; that’s a mixed bag with the only common thread through them that they all represent a series of successful power-grabs. The internet being the “wild west” that the government and large corporations didn’t understand (at all) until fairly recently, is being tamed by the government – which still doesn’t understand it, but is taking its lead from the media companies.

      Like

    • 11 January 2012 7:29 am

      These days I prefer the extremes to the mainstream. It’s the progressive leftist OWS type crowd and the right wing Ron Paul types that are against the increasing police state and the endless war. The problem is the moderates and mainstream media centrists who are mad with war fever. They’ll never see this, of course.

      Like

    • 11 January 2012 2:10 pm

      That’s an important point, IMO. The passivity and complicity of mainstream America with our moral and economic decay — and the shift of energy to the extremes — indicate the deep nature of our sickness, and susceptability of America to a horrific slide into collapse or evil.

      Like

  3. Robin permalink
    10 January 2012 3:11 am

    Wasn’t our national mentality influenced by the Rand Corporation, John Nash, and game theory? Nothing like mass schitzophrenic paranoia right?

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    • 10 January 2012 4:50 am

      Sounds interesting. Please elaborate?

      Like

    • Robin permalink
      10 January 2012 6:06 am

      Yes.  The influence of Game Theory can be found in Adam Curtis’ documentary “The Trap”.  The far reaching affect of this mathematical model influenced governments, social services, education, economics, and big Pharma as well as military strategy during the cold war and the nuclear standoff.  Problem is Fabius the mathematics proved merely that an individual view is not necessarily truth.  That is why game theory is a theory.  However it has also been a Nash-fulfilling prophecy.  

      From wiki The Trap:

      What was not known at the time was that Nash was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and, as a result, was deeply suspicious of everyone around him — including his colleagues — and was convinced that many were involved in conspiracies against him. It was this mistaken belief that led to his view of people as a whole that formed the basis for his theories. Footage of an older and wiser Nash was shown in which he acknowledges that his paranoid views of other people at the time were false.

      Bingo!  (couldn’t resist)
       

      Like

    • Matt D. permalink
      10 January 2012 6:50 am

      Thomas Schelling, an economist by training, author of the seminal book “Strategy of Conflict”, had a key role in developing “madman theory” (in order for nuclear deterrence to work, the enemy has to think you’re crazy enough to actually press the button). He spent time with RAND. He resigned and distanced himself from government-related work in protest of the US invasion of Cambodia.

      Schelling, interestingly, has come out in favor of Iranian possession of nuclear weapons. Maybe I’ll look up some links for this in the morning.

      Like

  4. 10 January 2012 4:23 am

    Agreed.” to me Washington comes in 2 flavors: right wing and extreme right wing” Unfortunately in todays state of politic the terms meant to define have been gutted by scoundrels and heretics of history. In order to form a basis for conversation definitions must be defined.

    Not trying to initiate confrontation just to establish a marker for my understanding. I agree 100% with your reply.

    Mozart

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  5. 10 January 2012 5:09 am

    In Japan, it seemed everyone was more freaked out by the North Korean missile that flew over the country. Part of it was the news coverage, where they satellite tracked this thing, step by step. I don’t remeber quite as much mania with the nuclear bomb test, maybe I missed that.. Still, I don’t think anyone seriously advocated seriously an invasion of North Korea because of the nuclear bomb best — and that country is really about as irrational as countries get.

    Like

  6. 10 January 2012 5:18 am

    Marcus

    Curious what are your thoughts on the founders of this country ie; in the political spectrum would they be considered far right, left, terrorists etc?

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    • 10 January 2012 5:33 pm

      I’d say the FF were pretty much in the center of the political spectrum. They had some ideas that were extremely progressive, yet they also made decisions that bespeak a certain cold-blooded political expediency. I doubt we’d have had a USA at all if there had been a serious attempt to resolve the question of slavery, for example.

      But – just to stick with that topic – is slavery “right wing” or, what? In the case of the a’borning USA maintenance of the slave state would have been politically conservative. But I think the simple division of left/right obscures more than it clarifies because if you actually try to use it as a clustering algorithm for ideas it doesn’t turn out to work very well.

      Back when I was in college my friends used to jokingly refer to me as an “extreme righto-leftist” and it was true – there are radicals in any political landscape that cherrypick ideas from the ends the spectrum, thereby invalidating the spectrum. Before the tea party got suborned by the establishment, I’d have characterized them as such.

      The shorter response to your question, then, would have been that I’d observe that real statesmen dealing with real problems (like constructing a republic from scratch) are going to tend to be centrists unless they have overwhelming military power within their coup, and can skip the part where they try to appeal to the mythical average guy on the street, and jump straight to the dictatorship as Stalin and Mao did. The US’ FF were in the situation where they had used individual liberty as one of the levers to move the people, and they were then presented with the obvious fact that they had an armed populace, trained by insurrection, and they had to now incorporate that ideology into a republic without it coming apart at the seams.

      It’s traditional in the US to venerate the FFs as great men, etc. and to laud Jefferson for being so brilliant. But I think he’s sad; he learned the language of idealism from Paine and Locke and Voltaire but he certainly was no Paine and for all his alleged smarts he couldn’t have held up his end of repartee with Voltaire (could anyone?) I see him as an epic hypocrite who fathered children on a woman he thought he owned, while writing about liberty. Of the whole crowd the only one that doesn’t come across to me as just another hypocritical power-hungry political hack is Franklin.

      Like

    • 11 January 2012 1:43 am

      Thanks for this interesting comment. A few thoughts.

      (1) As you note, what is a left (or right) position varies over time. Hubert Humphrey was a leftist, then a moderate-left. By the 1980s his positions were moderate right. Now his positions would be moderate-left or even left. Slavery was not really a left-right issue in 1800. Now affection for slavery is a far-right position.

      (2) I am inclined to judge the Founders more generously than you. Jefferson faced a horrific conflict, for which we judge him harshly.

      How will our descendents judge our complicity in torture and life imprisonment without charge or trial? Perhaps we should study the excuses Germans used after WWII, to use when our grandchildren ask about these events. I didn’t know! I was helpless before the overwhelming might of the government! I was cowardly scum!

      Like

  7. 10 January 2012 6:40 am

    From an essay about French decision to develop an independent nuclear weapon system.

    French Nuclear Policy After the Cold War: How to Combine Deterrence and Arms Control1“, Camille Grand, Associate Lecturer, Paris — Excerpt:

    The Weak to the Strong Nuclear Posture

    Once the decision to develop a nuclear arsenal had been made, French strategists faced the task of defining a realistic posture for a medium NWS [Nuclear Weapon State] vis-a-vis a superpower. Accordingly, the French nuclear arsenal and strategy were designed and developed to insure credibility vis-a-vis the Soviet Union in a “weak to the strong” posture. Behind this concept is an idea strongly advocated by General Gallois since the late 1950s: namely, that a medium power can deter a much stronger superpower by the threat of massive retaliation. As nuclear weapons can inflict destruction at an unacceptable level, a handful of these weapons suffices for a credible deterrent vis-a-vis any threat as long as three conditions are met: the arsenal needs to reach a certain level of credibility (i.e. a second strike capability), the vital interests of the “weak” have to be at stake, and the political decision-maker should be ready to use the weapons. Even though some authors use the idea of “proportional deterrence” to qualify this posture, it is not part of the official language used to describe this policy.

    Nuclear deterrence enters into play only if French “vital interests” are threatened. The definition of these “vital interests” (interets vitaux) is deliberately kept imprecise, but at least covers the national “sanctuary” (sanctuaire, the national territory and its surroundings). “Deterrence is designed to avoid war, not to win it.” This saying of President Mitterrand is the cornerstone of French strategic thinking and the basis for the French rejection of the so-called “nuclear battle.” In this framework, pre-strategic (i.e. tactical) nuclear weapons are not an extension or even a limitation of conventional warfare; they only exist in limited numbers to deliver a single “ultimate warning” (ultime avertissement), before the possible all-out strategic strike. To fulfil these roles, France only needs a limited nuclear capability, which follows the principle of “reasonable sufficiency” (suffisance raisonnable). Finally, the decision to use nuclear weapons belongs to the President de la Republique and to him only: in classical French nuclear thinking, there can be no form of decision-sharing, since the “autonomy of decision” is the guarantee of national independence and of French strategic sovereignty. Francois Mitterrand bluntly summarised this last principle by stating in 1983 that “La dissuasion, c’est moi.”

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  8. 10 January 2012 6:47 am

    Nice article . I have one argument with your theory. Every so often their comes a leader who is indeed irrational. Case in point Adolph Hitler. True he did not possess nukes but almost all the political establishment in that era’s superpower-England_ could not believe he would actually start a war with England. Indeed they felt so strongly that that same establishment threw Winston Churchill out of office for stating that Hitler would start a war. He was labeled a war monger.

    The president of Iran looks and sounds an awful lot like Hitler. Add to that that both he and the mullahs have a blind hatred of Israel I think their is good reason to be concerned that Iran would indeed use nukes!

    Like

    • 10 January 2012 12:56 pm

      In modern America it is difficult to gain an accurate understanding of events. Esp as our news media has degenerated on many subjects to consist of mostly propaganda. Let’s see if we can cut through this to see the reality beyond the spin.

      (1) “that same establishment threw Winston Churchill out of office for stating that Hitler would start a war”

      Churchill was not part of the Conservative party leadership after their defeat in the 1929 general election. His opposition to Indian Home Rule in the early 1930s, among other things, put him in the back benches in the early 1930s. His behavior during the 1936 Abdication crisis further diminished his influence. However neither these issues nor the issues of foreign policy during the late 1930s resulted in his being “thrown out of office.” Nor was the issue whether “Hitler would start a war”; that’s an over-simplification — even distortion — of the debate about how to balance accellerating rearmament and negotionation with Hitler.

      (2) “a leader who is indeed irrational. Case in point Adolph Hitler”

      I don’t know why you consider Hitler irrational, at least up to 1942. Evil, certainly. But irrational suggests someone not acting in synch with the real world, or acting illogically. Hitler’s large-scale successes from 1928-1942 contradict that theory. He was a monster due to his combination of evil values with rational calculation.

      (3) “president of Iran looks and sounds an awful lot like Hitler.”

      In what sense is the President of Iran acting irrationally? Or, alternatively, in an evil manner? Please read Have Iran’s leaders vowed to destroy Israel? before you reply.

      (4) “the mullahs have a blind hatred of Israel”

      The conflicts between ethnic groups in the Middle East go back millenia. There’s lots of hate on both sides. Israel’s actions in Palestine during the past decade or so give its opponents strong grounds to feed their hatred. It’s a region in which angels are difficult to find in either side.

      Like

    • 11 January 2012 9:09 am

      I’ll add a few words Fabius remarks.

      1) Hitler’s Germany was the second industrial world power. Iran is definitely NOT a great power, economically or militarily. Any political parallel between Hitler and Ahmadinejad should begin from a parallel between the States which they lead.

      2) Joachim Fest, author of the one of the best and most widely known Hitler’s biographies (a liberal conservative German writer and publisher, absolutely NOT a Nazi) wrote that if Hitler had died in 1938, or even in 1941, he would have been defined by historians the greatest German statesman ever.

      3) Hitler’s irrationality mainly lies, probably, or at least manifests itself, in his pathological hatred for the Jews and the Communists. Antisemitism and anticommunism, which waerefor the Nazis a useful political weapon in their struggle for political power in Germany, became a serious burden and damage for the conduct of the war. For example: if Hitler had been able to develop a German atomic bomb before the USA, he would have won WWII. One of the main reasons why he could not develop a nuclear program in Germany was his antisemitism, which forced the best nuclear scientists to run away from Germany and Italy (Enrico Fermi, the Italian father of the atomic bomb, left Italy because his wife was a Jew and Italy, to please her stronger German ally, in 1938 issued antisemitic laws; Albert Einstein, etc.).

      When the Wehrmacht conquered Ukraine, the majority of Ukrainians, who had horribly suffered under Stalin, greeted them as liberators, offering bread and salt to the German troops; but Hitler’s pathological hatred of Communism imposed so brutal and cruel an occupation, that Ukrainians turned against the Germans, actively contributing to the German military defeat. Etc. etc.

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    • 11 January 2012 2:08 pm

      This is interesting, if off-topic! A few comments.

      (1) That’s a great perspective, imagining if Hitler died in early 1941.

      (2) About the treatment of anti-Russian ethnic groups in the East

      That was a feature, not a bug, in the NAZI program. Extermination, not alliance, with the locals was not a mistake (in the usual sense of the word). The East was to be cleared of the Slavic Untermensch to allow repopulation by Aryans. The goal of the invasion, a key element of Hitler’s master plan, was to obtain Lebensraum.

      (3) Could Hitler have got an atomic bomb?

      I don’t believe obtaining an atomic bomb was possible for Germany, given their available industrial resources during WWII — no matter how many Jewish scientists he had.
      Like the invasion of the East, extermination of the Jews was part of the core plank of the NAZI platform. Embracing Jewish scientists is not a reasonable contrafactual.

      (4) Was Hitler crazy because he hated the Jews?

      There’s no way to answer such questions, as these things are a matter of perspective. I oppose the modern “you disagree with my values, and so must be crazy.” Hitler was evil, IMO. His rationality made him a dangerous monster.

      Like

  9. 10 January 2012 8:07 pm

    >It’s a region in which angels are difficult to find in either side.

    Present times aside, is the history of the middle-east really any more violent than any other part of the planet? Seems like most regions on the planet, if you just even do the wikipedia research you’ll find a lot of wars and conflicts between ethnic groups, going all the way back. And, conversly, there are plenty of centuries of these mid-eastern regions being sleepy backwaters.

    Like

  10. 11 January 2012 12:07 am

    Fabius: Touche you have made some very valid points. i would do better to compare the evil of Both Hitler and Irans president. However I still think that Churchill was run out. Consider this quote from Churchill…

    “The Government simply cannot make up their mind or they cannot get the prime minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful for impotency. And so we go on preparing more months more years precious perhaps vital for the greatness of Britain for the locusts to eat.”

    Churchill wanted England to prepare for war,and,I believe was shouted out of parliment because he was perceived as a “war hawk” (emphasis mine) Most of the members of the government at that time were skittish of war because of WWI.

    As history shows Chamberlain went to “negotiate” with Hitler and came back with his now infamous line about “Peace in our time”. Sure wasn’t long after that, that the Germans”raped Poland.

    It behooves us to mind history and keep a very wary eye on the little man in Iran indeed!

    Keep well my friend.

    Like

    • 11 January 2012 2:15 am

      This is a simple matter of historial fact. The only office Churchill held during the 1930s was member of Parliament. He continued to hold it, and was not “run out”.

      I don’t know what you mean by “shouted out of parliament.” Chuchill continued to hold office until becoming First Sea Lord in 1939.

      There was a policy difference between Churchill and the majority in Parliament, which you are not accurately representing. The debate concerned how to negotiate with Hitler while Britain rearmed, not if Britain should rearm. In 1932 Britain ended its “Ten Year Rule” policy (ie, planning assuming that a great war would not occur during the next ten years). Rearmament begain in 1934 and accellerated through the start of hostilities in 1939 (eg, the Illustrious-class carriers build by the 1936 Naval Programme).

      Like

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