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Massive Retaliation: A History By Daniel Milward
A Policy Is Born In the 1950’s, we started to realize that the Soviets were becoming too powerful for us to be able to contain them with conventional forces.The US realized that in order to make sure that the USSR did not attack one of our allies, they needed a drastic deterrence strategy.
Collective Security The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was drawn up to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.The United States was, and still is, NATO’s most important and powerful member.
Problems… Unfortunately for Europe, but fortunately for the US in times of war, we are separated from the European powers by the vast Atlantic Ocean. This means that fighting a conventionalground war against the Soviets would be a logistical nightmare.
Problem Solved! To avoid this problem, we began to come up with a plan that would guarantee the security of our allies.The security of our allies would lie in the threat of nuclear retaliation against an aggressor.
The Speech On January 12, 1954, my Secretary of State, John F. Dulles, gave a speech which would change US foreign policy for the rest of the Cold War. In this speech, Mr. Dulles introduced adoctrine called Massive Retaliation, where ifan aggressor attacked the US or its allies, the US would respond with an all-out nuclear retaliatory strike.
In the 1950’s after the Korean War, the UN did not want to fight another conventional war. The United States had a vast amount ofnuclear weapons during this time, and a large bomber fleet with which to deliver them.
The chief fear in the US military establishment was that the Soviets would launch a ground attack west into Europe with their vastly superior numbers.If this were to occur, the West would be forced to try to even the odds with a nuclear attack on the advancing Soviet armies, sparking a nuclear exchange.
In order to circumvent that possibility, it was imperative that the Soviets believe that we would retaliate against such an attack with overwhelming force.Thus the idea of an attack against the West would ultimately be a suicidal act.
Success Ultimately the idea of Massive Retaliation was a huge factor in keeping the Cold War from becoming World War Three. Brilliant!Thank you.
Bibliography• Hill, Fiji. (2006). Dulles Announces Policy of Massive Retaliation. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f- news/1556858/posts• Krieger, D., Wayman, R. (2011) Massive Retaliation. http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/about-us/contact- us.htm• B-52 photo retrieved from http://www.psywarrior.com• Ike photo retrieved from http://gal.darkervision.com• Wikipedia photo retrieved from http://www.ischool.berkeley.edu