On November 9–the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall–Mail Online reported on newly uncovered FBI files showing that two-time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill tried to persuade the US into launching a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union in 1947.
This was two years after the US ended World War II by dropping atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. At the time of Churchill’s entreaties, the Soviet Union possessed no nuclear weapons, so a counter strike of equal force was not even possible.
According to Mail Online, Churchill “urged right-wing Republican Senator Styles Bridges to persuade President Harry Truman to launch a nuclear attack” against the Soviets. He said that “if an atomic bomb could be dropped on the Kremlin, wiping it out, it would be a very easy problem to handle the balance of Russia, which would be without direction.”
In 1946, just one year after WWII had ended, Churchill warned that Josef Stalin was “[consolidating] his grip on the eastern half of the continent” and that such consolidation portended an “iron curtain” if nothing were done. Churchill saw the threat as so grave that the loss of “hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians in a nuclear strike” was an acceptable price to pay in exchange for future piece.
Churchill wholeheartedly believed the Soviets were trying to develop nuclear weapons so they could attack the US, so his pleas for a strike were framed with a warning that the Soviets would be able to strike the US in “two or three years.”
History.com shows that Churchill was correct as far as his timeline for Soviet development of nuclear weapons was concerned–the Soviets detonated their first atomic bomb on August 29, 1949. However, they did not attack the US directly. Rather, the nuclear era ushered in decades of M.A.D. (“Mutually Assured Destruction”) and a Cold War in which the US used diplomacy and traditional warfare to fight the encroachment of communism around the world.
A symbol of this war, the Berlin Wall, was constructed in 1961 and torn down November 9, 1989.
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