Mark, you mentioned the Parallel History Project, and so did Ross Johnson, so I would like to share with you what came as the greatest surprise to me. When we were finally able to get into the military archives of some of the Warsaw Pact countries, it was the contrast between the Soviet planning for war in Europe under Stalin and under Khrushchev and his successors. Under Stalin, the planning was essentially defensive, and then there came a change sometime during the Berlin Crisis, and the planning became offensive. And it remained so until 1985. Now John Bird mentioned here the information that he received from Penkovsky, about the discussion that was going on at this time, between the Soviet military who in the possibility of fighting a nuclear war in Europe [inaudible] or not. My question to you is, did the CIA, or anyone else, draw the conclusion that there was a basic change in the Soviet military planning from Stalin’s time to the Khrushchev times, and then later on? Because that, in my opinion, is a very essential question. Because after all, it was under Stalin that the Soviet Union was regarded as a greater threat. Later on, it was less so. And yet, ironically, that was the time under Stalin that the planning was defensive. But it was later on, including the times of Detente, that it became offensive.
Well, that goes a little bit beyond our study, because there was no Warsaw Pact under Stalin. And in my opinion, he held all his allies in the greatest disdain. But he was conservative in his actions, using his own forces to accomplish things. He, on the other hand, used other communist forces quite liberally in a way that they were distinctly separated from the Soviet Union. Korea, Greece, all of these places had support, but they did not have Soviet forces, basically. Oh, yeah sure they had some Soviet pilots in Korea and they got shot down and we heard them on the chatter on the radio, et cetera, but it wasn’t the Soviet force per se. And we surmised that the massive retaliation strategy of Dulles and Eisenhower was what Stalin was actually afraid of even before it was part of our strategy. That is, he didn’t have nuclear weapons. He knew what the strength of nuclear weapons were, that in spite of the size of the forces he had, that ultimately he viewed he would lose the war with the United States because of the incredible imbalance in nuclear strike capabilities. And he died before that was really remedied.
Under Khrushchev, on the other hand, the Soviets did catch up, catch up to what they had to have, anyway. Parity is a different issue, but was it enough is always the question. And Khrushchev always seemed to be ahead of reality. If he could plan to have it in three years, he would talk about having it. And you could see that in many of the discussions that they had. And he now could see the possibility that the west would believe they couldn’t succeed simply with a massive retaliation since that might be massive suicide. And so he was probably the first chink in the armor of the massive retaliations strategy of Dulles and Eisenhower and that Army strategists like Maxwell Taylor could see all along that you can’t solve every problem by turning the opposing country into a glass parking lot, that there had to be something in between. And the first trial of that, in my opinion, was the Berlin Crisis in ’61, where Khrushchev, in spite of everything he had said, and in spite of all he had done to the Soviet military, reducing the capabilities of the conventional forces, was relying on them for the Berlin Crisis resolution.
So, you know, I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s how we could see it in what we had.
Just a very quick word on the Stalin period, because I very much agree with Vojtech’s characterization except, in Stalin’s final two years, you know, as Vojtech well knows, he was undertaking a crash military build-up that did have quite an offensive orientation to it. That doesn’t mean the planning changed, per se, but some of that ground work had already been laid. And what is odd, as John noted, is that Khrushchev was the one that cut back on that, especially at the end of the ‘50’s, when he very sharply cut Soviet forces. And even though the planning remained highly offensive, the capability to carry it out actually went down a lot.
Попутно, про секретную речь Жукова в Берлине в марте 1957 года: