Operation: Unthinkable


You gotta say this for Churchill, he had guts.

Why isn’t this in P&R?

I imagine that Patton would have been up for it, but would anyone else?

Also, I’ve yet to read the entire document, but I assume it predates the revelation of America’s atomic weapons program to the British?

The final report is dated 11 Jul 45, and Hiroshima was bombed on 6 Aug 45. Even with the bomb, the British report specifically mentions the Allied strategic bombers would not have significant targets due to the dispersed nature of the Soviet economy.

Ugly stuff overall- thanks for posting it

Not really a surprise. Given that Churchill was always concerned about the Soviets, and then factor in that by the time frame this document was put together it had become clear that the Soviets were not going to allow Poland to freely choose its future. The British and French declared war on Nazi Germany because of its invasion of Poland, so its always been a criticism of them that at the end of the war the western nations allowed the Soviets to determine the future of Poland. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Churchill would have been willing to consider using military forces to free Poland, as long as the US supported the idea. The US wasn’t willing to use force, so that was that.

Given that Britain declared war on Germany because its ally, Poland, was attacked, don’t you think they had a moral obligation to not let Poland be enslaved by the Soviets?

Some people would argue that not leaving millions of people in Poland, the rest of the Eastern bloc, the Ukraine, Baltic States, etc to decades of exploitation, tyranny, misery and death was worth fighting for.

(aside from the fact that failing to confront the Soviets in 1945 led to 40 years of the world being on the brink of nuclear annihilation - if Krushschev hadn’t backed down in 1962, if Kennedy had been swayed by his advisors urging an air strike on Cuba, or if any number of incidents over 40 years had escalated into war…would anyone actually think it was a good think Britain betrayed the Poles and failed to confront Russia in 1945?

No documentation at hand, but I think that Eisenhower also distrusted the Russians, and had prepared war plans vs. the USSR if necessary to prevent them from taking all of Germany. I think he was concerned they would just keep rolling west until they ran out of land.

I also think, again no references, that allied generals were under urgent orders to advance east as quickly as possible in the last days of the war, so as to meet the Russians at a suitable point.

Apparently the P&R toilet bowl is overflowing.

Some people would argue that not leaving millions of people in Poland, the rest of the Eastern bloc, the Ukraine, Baltic States, etc to decades of exploitation, tyranny, misery and death was worth fighting for.

On the other hand, given that they had just been through five years of the most terrible warfare in the history of mankind and that the Red Army had become an extremely potent force, I find it hard to be too harsh in passing judgment on anybody who would have just wanted the damn thing to be over.

It seems unlikely that Russia or Germany (as turncoat ally) would have had the capacity to fight for another four years - their ready manpower was nearly exhausted. The US had at that point the world’s largest military complex and a huge untapped reserve of manpower, including absolute dominance of the seas.

I’m sure a similar conversation went on in the Kremlin, and similar conclusions reached if from different perspectives; for example, war with Russia would mean the crushing of Maoist forces in China by Western and Western supported forces, and opening the Chinese border to airborne penetration of the industrial heart of Russia.

Some people would argue that a US-USSR war that would no doubt kill millions, based on no casus belli whatsoever, would have been a terrible idea. This is the kind of question only someone who wasn’t alive at the time, and hadn’t lived through a world war that killed millions (and possibly lived through the other world war, too) could possibly ask.

That’s even assuming we could take them out in the first place. The Soviet army at the end of the war was 10 to 13 million men, with more tanks and artillery than every other country combined, if wikipedia is to be believed. They wouldn’t need naval power to push us out of Europe.

I suppose theoretically we could have doubled down by drafting the entire rest of country and building an endless supply of nukes to crush the USSR in a 5 to 10 year war, killing god only knows how many of our and theirs in the process, but that’s pretty far afield from the amateur hour hawks bullshitting about how we’d have just taken them out if we had the will.

Conventional bombing might have had little effect on the Soviet economy, but a nuclear arsenal -even a primitive one- would give planners the option of structuring a campaign around goals of attrition and totally demoralizing the opposition. The USSR would not test its first A-bomb until '49, and I’m not sure if they had the ability to drop this from an airplane. Usable Soviet weapons also might have been further delayed if a Soviet-Allied war would’ve led to a crackdown on the communist nuclear spy ring. So you’re looking at a window of at least five years during which the Americans would have had total atomic superiority. They would also have had strategic air superiority, as it would be years until the Soviets could field an interceptor capable of flying high enough to shoot a B-29, let alone dealing with any P-51 or, er, Ta-152H escorts. I’m just not sure there’d be that many bombs to drop in '45 or '46, but let’s suppose…

So assuming the Russians don’t agree to leaving Poland, and the New Allies had begun an extensive nuclear bombing campaign while their ground forces attempted to hold the line, how many Hiroshima-size explosions would it take before the USSR surrendered? Would Stalin even consider giving up, as the Imperial Japanese did? Would his commanders go along with him if he didn’t? Would the Red Army be able to push westward fast enough to win before their country fell apart? Might A-bombs then be dropped on the massed divisions of T-34s as they rolled through France?

Lots of hypotheticals to consider, and we haven’t even looked at the possibility of an Allied mutiny or what the Japanese might be doing while this is going on. Ugly stuff, as you said, but fascinating. Now who wants to discuss War Plan Red and the gassing of Canada?

It’s literally unconceivable that the American and British public would have tolerated the nuclear bombing of a country that was their wartime ally a few weeks prior, much less a devastating war of attrition that would have made the invasion of Europe look like a sideshow.

(I’m pretty sure I linked this doc in P&R a year or 2 ago, btw.)

I don’t think so. I mean, this was the beginning of the Red Scare, in its very infantile stages. With enough propaganda, I"m sure the American Government could’ve had us believing anything during this time.

Literally weeks after the close of WW2? With no incident other than “Stalin didn’t allow free elections in Poland, NUKE MOSCOW?”

There was significant resistance and back and forth pro and con, publicly and privately, over the possibility of escalating the Korean war to an invasion of China using nuclear weapons in 1950. The decision was eventually taken not to. This was:

  • while the US still had - though not a nuclear monopoly, still clear dominance, as the Soviets had only developed a nuclear device the year prior and had doubtful means at best of delivering them,
  • after years of McCarthyite “Red Scare” politics and the collapse of Nationalist China,
  • during a shooting war where US troops were not only under attack, they were being defeated in detail by superior ground forces (the Chinese intervention),
  • the military leadership (led by General MacArthur, a war hero who was more popular than the President) was agitating for the expansion of the war.

The fact that the US did not use nuclear weapons in the Korean War Cold War state of 1950 makes it highly doubtful that they ever would have in the still-unclear atmosphere of mid-1945.

You act as though dropping the bomb involves the masses. No, it involves a green flag from the president.

Making a missile fire, or however we had them propelled back then (Past B-52’s, right?) didn’t involve the masses of American voters going to the local pollhouse and casting their vote.

I wish Ben wasn’t gently touched. He’d be here telling you that the Red Army would have been a pushover to take on in '46. Wish I could find the thread…

And how much plutonium was there to make these magical bombs with? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the production of plutonium very slow at that point? I though the three bombs created used up pretty much all the plutonium produced at that time.

Is it possible to make a magic bomb that will destroy all P&R posts in EE?

Again, their ally-- the reason they went to war – was being conquered by Russia. If it was reason enough to go to war in the first place, why is that insufficient casus belli whatsoever? It was completely immoral to abandon their ally to occupation and death.

You could argue that you had to abandon that goal, because the costs were higher than you were willing to pay after years of war, but that’s not a moral, principled position, and it sure as fuck isn’t because you had no Cassius Clay belli (which may be the most offensive thing you’ve ever said on this board, and that’s saying a lot). It’s because you don’t consider continuing war to be worth living up to your previous promise, and you don’t care about the citizens in allied states enough to be willing to risk more lives of your own citizens.