the closest the world has come to nuclear war since 1962

On September 10, 2014, President Obama addressed the nation and the world concerning his concerns with the insurrections and terrorist activities of Muslim groups in the Middle East. His announcement opened with “My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. 

The saber rattling and threats of undeclared war on ISIL and related terrorists continued:

“Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy. First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists.

Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.

Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

AbleArcher_Cartoon

I posted a notice from MoveOn.org about the President’s announcement on my Facebook page that included, “The White House has indicated that this strategy could take upward of three years to execute.”

I followed that with a flip remark: “Gee, one president handing off a new war to the next. Then that president will have to carry that war on while taking no responsibility because the former president caused it. How novel . . .”

This led to several comments from others and a brief discussion of the meaning of the word “war” as an operative, meaningful term (militarily, politically, culturally, etc.).

A high school mate suggested that we “Listen to the WSWS.org podcast today to learn of the global march to war from the west against Russia.”

Which caused me to inquire, “Do you remember the brouhaha that the Reagan people put on having a new first strike plan against the USSR to match the one they had on us?”

The answer that I sought concerned the closest the world has come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis . . .


ReaganThatcher

“The American intelligence community did not initially perceive the risk of nuclear miscalculation that Able Archer 83 involved. Only in response to British concerns were intelligence reports drafted on the War Scare, the most ominous of which—from CIA Director William Casey to President Ronald Reagan and other cabinet officials—warned of a dimension of genuineness and high military costs to the Soviet actions.” (Able Archer 83 Sourcebook)


Operation Ryan (or RYaN) was a Soviet military intelligence program devised to counteract the possibility of a first-strike nuclear attack by the Reagan Administration. “During the early 1980s, they believed the US was planning for an imminent attack. The purpose of the operation was to collect intelligence on potential contingency plans of the Reagan administration to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union.

Crazy Americans then simulated nuclear attack on USSR!

RYaN took on a new significance after the announcement of US plans to deploy Pershing II nuclear-capable missiles to West Germany. These missiles were designed to be launched from road-mobile vehicles, making the launch sites very hard to find. The flight time from West Germany to Moscow was 6-8 minutes, giving the Soviets little or no warning.

On March 23, 1983, Reagan publicly announced development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The Soviet government felt that the use of SDI technology was to render the US invulnerable to Soviet attack, thereby allowing the US to launch missiles against the USSR without fear of retaliation.

The level of concern reached its peak after the Soviets shot down KAL 007 on September 1, 1983, and during the NATO exercise Able Archer 83. The Soviet Union believed that a United States first strike on the Soviet Union was imminent.”  (adapted from Wikipedia)

“Able Archer 83 was a ten-day NATO command post exercise starting on November 2, 1983,that spanned Western Europe. Able Archer simulated a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a simulated DEFCON 1 coordinated nuclear attack.

Crazy Americans then simulated nuclear attack on USSR!

The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise led some members of the Soviet Politburo and military to believe that it was a ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike. In response, the Soviets readied their nuclear forces and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert.

The “1983 war scare” is considered by many historians to be the closest the world has come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.The threat of nuclear war ended with the conclusion of the exercise on November 11, 1983.” (adapted from Wikipedia)


Able ArcherMap

A map for the Able Archer war game exercise. The operation was “a NATO exercise that utilized new nuclear weapons release procedures to simulate the transition from conventional to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Although US officials saw Able Archer 83 as a routine exercise, it resulted in an unprecedented Soviet reaction which US intelligence eventually inferred was an expression of a genuine belief on the part of Soviet leaders that US was planning a nuclear first strike.” (Able Archer 83 Sourcebook)


This was not hush-hush. If I am remembering correctly, front-page articles detailed the operation and how the “exercise” would provoke an inevitable Soviet response and WWIII would commence and we would win. American casualties were projected at 75,000,000, an acceptable number to assure defeat and the end of the threat of a Russian first strike and the overriding Communist Threat.

Of course, now that the USSR is history and we have millions of pages of their documents and have debriefed Grommett only knows how many military, political, KGB, etc. members we know that there never was a Soviet first strike plan. As usual, they were afraid of American belligerence.

So, those of us forced to question just about everything may be wondering: Did American “intelligence” know all along that there NEVER was a first strike threat posed by the Soviet Union; that we were just endlessly f*cking with them while lying to the American people (and raising several generations where non-focused “background” paranoia was a normal, if not downright healthy, response to the world)?

Or were military intelligence and the CIA and the FBI (etc.) completely ignorant of the fact that our nation’s greatest fear was self-created?

The latter is truly frightening: it poses the basis for an argument against the necessity of any “intelligence” agencies if they can’t uncover or divine this sort of ultimate information 

Of course, the former is even more horrifying . . .


 

Comments, suggestions, additions, and arguments welcome!