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The “cold” War: The World Gone Mad

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Marshall Coe

Government 2302

Mrs. Judie

April 27, 2006

The “Cold” War:

The World Gone MAD

The last half of the 20th Century was defined by the struggle between Capitalism and Communism. While direct conflict between the world’s two Superpowers was narrowly avoided, the Cold War was actively fought in many ways on several different levels and all over the world. World War 3 was the name given by many to the inevitable end of the world they saw coming. World War 3 has come to be known as the great war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact that never happened, but why didn’t it? This turbulent period was filled with communist revolutions and pro-democracy revolts, wars involving one side and/or a client state of theirs and the other side being backed by the opponent.

The two countries and their client states hated each other and went to great lengths to go out of their way to hurt the other and supported anyone as long as they would hurt the enemy. These were the days when we aided Osama Bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein against Iran (we also supported Iran against Saddam). In short, the two sides tried to find every conceivable why of conflict other than open war. Why you might ask, would they not just ‘go at it’? The answer maybe one of the great stabilizers of our time. No, I am not talking about the UN, instead I propose that MAD has probably kept the world from sliding into another major World War and thereby has saved millions of lives. Given the great animosity and polarization between the two ideologies they would have slid into (and almost did anyway) massive open conflicts and with new and far better killing tools it would have caused unimaginable destruction.

MAD stands for Mutually Assured Destruction. It’s a defense strategy that if one side tries to obliterate the other the aggressor will face retaliation in kind by a “second strike force” even if the opening volley by the aggressor annihilates the target nation. This is done by deploying nuclear forces in such a manner that it would be impossible to strike them all simultaneously and so that a sufficient amount will survive long enough to repay the attacker in kind and decimate them.

For example, say there was a coup in the USSR and some hard-liner Soviet Generals took control of the government. On taking power they order a full nuclear strike on the US. and all overseas installations and allies. In the case of the lunches being detected the most probable course of action for the President and other senior leaders is to immediately fire back to obliterate the USSR. Certainly, facing the guarantee that your country will be wiped out as well is a strong deterrent for anyone in his or her right mind. However, the beauty of the MAD system we came up with in the Cold War comes in the case of the launches not being detected and the first indication of the launches is when they start impacting. This is the first strike capability planers on both sides could only dreame of. However, this is where MAD comes in. The United States relied on three delivery systems for Nuclear weapons. These multiple delivery types, known as the nuclear triad, spread the weapons all over the world, high in the sky, under the ground and underwater.

One was bombers flying just off the USSR’s northern border, there were planes flying within quick striking distance of their targets 24/7. Next was ground based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’s) buried in deep bunkers throughout the United States where, as well as their launch personnel, they were safe from all excect a direct hit. However, the most elusive were submarines with nuclear missiles. With an unknown position and ability to launch long range nuclear missiles they are all but impossible to counter. While aircraft may be picked up on radar and shot down by air defense systems and underground ICBM bunkers are fix and thus maybe found and possibly destroyed submarines are another matter completely. Submarines sail deep under the sea and most of the time not even naval command

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