Why people assume US & SU would go MAD before conventional showdown?

Aug 2013
613
Pomerium
#1
What did the United States and Soviet Union spend astronomically on their conventional capabilities for?

Why would the American and Soviet establishments, mostly worldly power-hungry bons vivants, be eager to sacrifice their own lives or lifestyles by going MAD before any sign of collapse of their own conventional forces and any sign of their own downfall?
 
Jul 2010
1,374
N/A
#2
A nuclear bomb is the ultimate ultimatum. One of ours and one of yours, it means that in the worst possible case the doctrine of MAD comes in and its game over for both parties, and likely the world as we know it. It ensures that no conventional war will be fought between Russia and the United States due to the stark reality of total civilization collapse.

As to why you would spend a conventional army first, you wouldn't. A war between Russia and the United States which we are teetering on in Syria would be bloody and protracted and ultimately pointless. Lots of soldiers would die, and there would be likely no clear result. It would make the Vietnam war look like a peace rally by comparison.

Some might point and laugh at the state of Russian military hardware, its very much an assortment of new and very old, that's neither here nor there. Following the reforms launched in October 2008, and the modernisation program in 2011 valued at $670 billion, the Russian armed forces have become one of Russia’s most reliable instruments of national power. Russian soldiers are among the most elite in the entire world. They turned Ukraine inside out in the space of less than a week and had their way with the country.

There is no point in a conventional war with either of those two countries to begin with. With the disbandment of Russia's rather useless soviet-era mass-mobilization and the consolidation of what was worthwhile in terms of fighting forces, and the reconstitution of a much smaller, but more capable professional armed forces, playing propaganda nonsense with Russia's army would be folly to anyone who is even remotely knowledgeable in this area.

As to why armies spend money on conventional weapons, its mostly a defense doctrine. One of the first ports of call before anything else with military hardware is deterrence and failing that, nuclear deterrence. Having the capability to wage war better than your regional and internations threats generally means that your regional and international threats wont wage war with you.

If you have the capacity to wage a significant war with a particular country your nation is hostile with, and you have a significant advantage in terms of military power then its likely that country wont wage war with you. Despite the almost total economic collapse of Russia they still possess a military that would cause a significant headache for the United States if the two nations decided to fight a hot war.

This means we have nothing left between the United States and Russia except posturing and calling each others bluff. That is aside from the clowns with their Yakov Smirnoff "in Soviet Russia" jokes, which don't seem to want to go away despite being more than 20 years antiquated.
 
Last edited:

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,312
Dispargum
#3
I seem to recall one or two instances from the late 1970s or early 1980s when the US early warning system triggered a false alarm about a Soviet missile aimed at the US. As the US military began spinning up for a retaliatory strike, cooler heads prevailed by asking themselves 'Why now? There's nothing going on in the world that would make the Soviets want to launch at us.' In both instances the decision was made to ride out the supposed attack and when nothing happened, everyone took a deep sigh of relief.

But the story proves that people in the strategic defense community understood that a nuclear war would only happen under certain circumstances and would not come out of the blue as a seeming random event.

There were people who had a vested interest in making and keeping people afraid. The Defense Industrial Complex owes their livelihood to ever larger defense budgets. The more afraid people are, the more taxes they will pay for more and bigger nukes. At the other end of the spectrum was the peace faction. The more afraid people were about nuclear war, the more people would listen to the peace faction, attend no-nukes rallies, etc.
 
May 2013
395
Hays Kansas (ex Australian)
#5
What did the United States and Soviet Union spend astronomically on their conventional capabilities for?

Why would the American and Soviet establishments, mostly worldly power-hungry bons vivants, be eager to sacrifice their own lives or lifestyles by going MAD before any sign of collapse of their own conventional forces and any sign of their own downfall?
Both sides had a desperate fear the other side would fire first. So they built vast arsenals of weapons to make sure the other side went down with them.

Hence the use of the word "Mutual" in MAD

The fact that neither nuclear power did fire shows that they had a similar outlook to yourself regarding their survival and continued lifestyle