Several generations of Americans and Israelis have no recollection of the game of nuclear chicken played by Russia and China after World War II. In 1957, Mao Zedong said China could survive and prevail in a nuclear war.
Mega death for Mao was a shortcut to defeating capitalism and its imperial powers. He claimed he was not afraid of atomic warfare. China then had a population of 600 million extremely poor people.
Even if 200 million were killed by American atomic weapons, Mao concluded, 400 million would survive and China would still be a major power while the U.S. would lose its raison d’etre, or reason for existing.
Chinese hyperbole saw a new beautiful civilization growing on the ashes of imperialism.
During China’s “Great Leap Forward” (1958-60), 43 million died. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), one of Mao’s interpreters estimated 10 percent of a population of about 800 million had been killed. All told, 123 million were killed by order of the “Great Helmsman.”
Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, till his death in March 1953, Stalin repeatedly threatened the West with nuclear annihilation. Some analysts at the time said Stalin believed he could destroy America and inherit Europe intact.
For Stalin, 20 million people “purged” during his bloody dictatorship (1929-53) were just a statistic. Another 20 million were killed in World War II, including 11 million soldiers.
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Since threats of nuclear war by Stalin and Mao were just bluffs, doesn’t that imply current day threats of nuclear attack by Russia and China are bluffs as well?
Take a look at the American arsenal versus the Russian arsenal during the 1950s.
The US had overwhelming nuclear superiority over Russia and China in the 1950s. Also, America had a civil defense program in place to help protect its people in the event of nuclear war. The current American nuclear weapons program is going back to the 1950s in size, and so is Russia’s. But China’s is unknown and could potentially have 2,000 to 3,000 nuclear warheads. Finally, Americans have no fear of nuclear war – they have changed their thinking. America is totally unprepared for nuclear war in its thinking. One can read over and over from experts that the risk of nuclear war is near zero. It’s near zero at the same time Russia and China are threatening nuclear war over Iran and Syria.
The next problem is that the people alive during the 1950s directly experinced the horrors of World War II. This is going to heavily affect their thinking. The generations of leaders who did not directly experience World War II will have different thinking about another World War.
The risk of war is not constant from year to year. Historically, major crashes including war for America have occurred in 80 year cycles. The potential crash period lasts about 20 years. The last crash period started in 1925 and lasted until 1945. Counting from 1925, adding 80 years gives us 2005. The next crash period lasts from 2005 to 2025.
In the end, a bluff in 1952 is not the same as a bluff in 2012. The world has changed. Wouldn’t it be wise and prudent to take threats of nuclear attack seriously and prepare for them? Instead, everybody just assumes that current day Russia and China are bluffing about a nuclear attack concerning Iran and Syria. This is neither wise nor prudent.