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Seven Days in May

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Seven Days in May
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Mon Mar 09, 2020 6:17 pm

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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by Michael Everett   » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:26 am

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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by Dilandu   » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:32 am

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TFLYTSNBN wrote:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_in_May

Your interpretation?


A quite common worry of 1950-1960s US politicians, that some overeager general would do something stupid. Not exactly completely unfounded, considering the usual attitude in SAC-controlled Air Force (all those old bomber generals, who dismissed any notion that next war USA to be involved in may be anything except the total nuclear Armageddon).
------------------------------

Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by Dilandu   » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:43 am

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In short, there was serious mistrust between USAAF and government in 1950s. The USAAF (who viewed themselves as the one and only defenders of America) were very afraid of Pearl Harbor-style scenario. The bulk of USAAF nuclear deterrent up to mid-1960s was bomber-based - thanks to constant attempts of LeMay to sabotage US missile programs! - and thus very vulnerable to pre-emptive strikes.

Airmen feared, that in case of war, the government would be indecisive and stall with the military decisions until it would be too late. So the (unspoken) policy of USAAF generals was, that if SOME kind of attack order would arrive, they would neither wait for confirmation, nor listen to any counter-orders.

Politicians of course took hints of that. And they were quite worried, that USAAF would done something monumentally stupid and drag America into World War 3 over something completely unimportant. Moreover, they have a quite nasty suspicion, that USAAF actually have very little ideas about how to actually fight & won the World War 3; the Korean War generally demonstrated, that Air Forces tend to be completely baffled when something goes not according to the plan (understandable, because the majority of USAAF command until Vietnam were ageing WW2 bomber generals).

So, both sides were very suspicious of each other. Government tried to establish stricter control over USAAF so airmen would not do something dumb, airmen tried to circumvent government control, so they would not be taken by surprise in case of sudden attack.

Essentially it was only when USN fielded the Polaris missile, and USAAF suddenly found themselves brutally kicked out from pedestal of "the backbone of USA nuclear deterrence", the crisis was resolved into USAAF submitting to strict government control.
------------------------------

Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by n7axw   » Tue Mar 10, 2020 9:36 am

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Dilandu wrote:In short, there was serious mistrust between USAAF and government in 1950s. The USAAF (who viewed themselves as the one and only defenders of America) were very afraid of Pearl Harbor-style scenario. The bulk of USAAF nuclear deterrent up to mid-1960s was bomber-based - thanks to constant attempts of LeMay to sabotage US missile programs! - and thus very vulnerable to pre-emptive strikes.

Airmen feared, that in case of war, the government would be indecisive and stall with the military decisions until it would be too late. So the (unspoken) policy of USAAF generals was, that if SOME kind of attack order would arrive, they would neither wait for confirmation, nor listen to any counter-orders.

Politicians of course took hints of that. And they were quite worried, that USAAF would done something monumentally stupid and drag America into World War 3 over something completely unimportant. Moreover, they have a quite nasty suspicion, that USAAF actually have very little ideas about how to actually fight & won the World War 3; the Korean War generally demonstrated, that Air Forces tend to be completely baffled when something goes not according to the plan (understandable, because the majority of USAAF command until Vietnam were ageing WW2 bomber generals).

So, both sides were very suspicious of each other. Government tried to establish stricter control over USAAF so airmen would not do something dumb, airmen tried to circumvent government control, so they would not be taken by surprise in case of sudden attack.

Essentially it was only when USN fielded the Polaris missile, and USAAF suddenly found themselves brutally kicked out from pedestal of "the backbone of USA nuclear deterrence", the crisis was resolved into USAAF submitting to strict government control.


I wonder if the sacking of MacArthur was a related incident in that same overall struggle. Not quite the same thing, I know, but the usage of nukes was the triggering issue there. Then too, there was this underlying theme of "gotta save the world from communism" floating around. The military was always in the middle of that. Those of us who were not quite convinced that the world needed saving were sometimes regarded as being less patriotic.

Don

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When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by Dilandu   » Tue Mar 10, 2020 10:29 am

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n7axw wrote:
I wonder if the sacking of MacArthur was a related incident in that same overall struggle. Not quite the same thing, I know, but the usage of nukes was the triggering issue there. Then too, there was this underlying theme of "gotta save the world from communism" floating around. The military was always in the middle of that. Those of us who were not quite convinced that the world needed saving were sometimes regarded as being less patriotic.

Don

-


There were many different angles in this whole matter. "Admiral revolt", for example - which, for first time in decades, made US government really worried about the possibility of military dominating the civilian government decisions. It should be noted also, that USA in late 1940s and 1950s were uneasy about their new role as world superpower; they weren't exactly prepared to suddenly being unable to just roll again into glorious self-isolation.

The military question mattered a lot also; for the first time in their history, the USA were forced to constantly have large standing military. Korean War quickly demonstrated, that it is utterly impossible to reduce military spending to the pre-WW2 proportion without critically endangering the US security. And the existence of large, constantly existing military, created fears about the dangers of military takeover. American leaders of 1940s weren't stupid (contrary to modern ones); they perfectly realized, that all those precious "armed citizens militia" did not stand snowball in hell chance against the US military, if generals decided that they have just enough.

On the other hand, the fears of "communist fifth column", of course. While they were partially unfounded, the Soviet intelligence really deeply penetrated the USA (especially considering how idiotically inept was Dulles-era CIA...). Of course, the actual Soviet efforts were centered around information-gathering, but nobody could rule out subversion also. There were pretty rational - far-fetched, but still rational - fears, that if USSR managed to subvert some high-ranking government officials, then in time of crisis, they would be able to stall US military response long enough to cause "nuclear Pearl Harbor", the preemptive destruction of US retaliation capabilities.

In short, there were rather sound reasons for US government to distrust military, and for US military to distrust government in 1950s.
------------------------------

Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
Top
Re: Seven Days in May
Post by n7axw   » Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:22 pm

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Dilandu wrote:
n7axw wrote:
I wonder if the sacking of MacArthur was a related incident in that same overall struggle. Not quite the same thing, I know, but the usage of nukes was the triggering issue there. Then too, there was this underlying theme of "gotta save the world from communism" floating around. The military was always in the middle of that. Those of us who were not quite convinced that the world needed saving were sometimes regarded as being less patriotic.

Don

-


There were many different angles in this whole matter. "Admiral revolt", for example - which, for first time in decades, made US government really worried about the possibility of military dominating the civilian government decisions. It should be noted also, that USA in late 1940s and 1950s were uneasy about their new role as world superpower; they weren't exactly prepared to suddenly being unable to just roll again into glorious self-isolation.

The military question mattered a lot also; for the first time in their history, the USA were forced to constantly have large standing military. Korean War quickly demonstrated, that it is utterly impossible to reduce military spending to the pre-WW2 proportion without critically endangering the US security. And the existence of large, constantly existing military, created fears about the dangers of military takeover. American leaders of 1940s weren't stupid (contrary to modern ones); they perfectly realized, that all those precious "armed citizens militia" did not stand snowball in hell chance against the US military, if generals decided that they have just enough.

On the other hand, the fears of "communist fifth column", of course. While they were partially unfounded, the Soviet intelligence really deeply penetrated the USA (especially considering how idiotically inept was Dulles-era CIA...). Of course, the actual Soviet efforts were centered around information-gathering, but nobody could rule out subversion also. There were pretty rational - far-fetched, but still rational - fears, that if USSR managed to subvert some high-ranking government officials, then in time of crisis, they would be able to stall US military response long enough to cause "nuclear Pearl Harbor", the preemptive destruction of US retaliation capabilities.

In short, there were rather sound reasons for US government to distrust military, and for US military to distrust government in 1950s.


You are providing a fresh perspective on a subject I have been over many times and I appreciate that.

What I was thinking about more was how fears of communism led to the Truman doctrine of containing Soviet expansion which led to Viet Nam. That was pretty understandable given what happened in Cuba in the late 50s, I suppose. But the failure to factor in nationalism, anticolonialism and corporate malfeasance into the equation has over time exacted a steep price.

It's like the question "who lost China?" when China wasn't ours to lose...

Don

-
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by Daryl   » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:53 am

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Harry Turtledove has written a short alternative history series on exactly this topic.
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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:17 am

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As usual, Dilandu is highly opinionated but only partially informed.

While the USAF was very jealous of its status as the sole nuclear deterrent, it adopted a force structure and procedures during the 1950s and 1960s that precluded a successful first strike. Alaska has numerous, very long airfields that enabled tactical dispersal to forward positions. SAC also maintained a high alert status with aircraft fully fueled and armed on the runway or even in the air. Because bombers take hours to reach their targets and can be recalled, a launch on warning policy was very feasible.

Ballistic missile were actually destabilizing because their flight time was less than half an hour. While bombers on alert status could escape destruction, command authority was vulnerable as were missiles. The Soviet's early ICBMs were not even deployed in hardened silos which made them very attractive targets. US missiles were far less vulnerable until the 1980s when the SS-18, SS-17, and SS-19 put them at risk.
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Re: Seven Days in May
Post by Dilandu   » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:54 pm

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TFLYTSNBN wrote:As usual, Dilandu is highly opinionated but only partially informed.


As usual, I'm better informed that you.
------------------------------

Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
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