War Plans and Alliances in the Cold War: Threat Perceptions in the East and West

War Plans and Alliances in the Cold War: Threat Perceptions in the East and West

War Plans and Alliances in the Cold War: Threat Perceptions in the East and West

War Plans and Alliances in the Cold War: Threat Perceptions in the East and West

Synopsis

This essential new volume reviews the threat perceptions, military doctrines, and war plans of both the NATO alliance and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War, as well as the position of the neutrals, from the post-Cold War perspective.

Based on previously unknown archival evidence from both East and West, the twelve essays in the book focus on the potential European battlefield rather than the strategic competition between the superpowers. They present conclusions about the nature of the Soviet threat that could previously only be speculated about and analyze the interaction between military matters and politics in the alliance management on both sides, with implications for the present crisis of the Western alliance.

This new book will be of much interest for students of the Cold War, strategic history and international relations history, as well as all military colleges.

Excerpt

Vojtech Mastny

This is a book about a history made fresh by the decay of the Western alliance aggravated by disputes about the Iraq War. The history is that of the alliance and its former rival – the Warsaw Pact – during the Cold War, and the freshness is in what the story tells us about two important topics addressed in the book in a historical perspective. The first is military threats and their perceptions as well as misperceptions, along with the war plans that were drawn as a result. The second is the management of the alliances that were formed to cope with those real or imaginary threats – the Western alliance that has survived, albeit with clouded future, and the Soviet one that has disintegrated.

The twelve studies that comprise the book have not been written to draw lessons but are well suited the make the reader draw them. The research was originally undertaken for a conference intended to review the threat perceptions, military doctrines, and war plans during the Cold War from the post-Cold War perspective. The conference was organized by the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies as a partner in the Parallel History Project (PHP) on NATO and the Warsaw Pact – an international scholarly network dedicated to the study of the Cold War’s military aspects and their political implications. It met in June 2003 – three months after the Iraq war started – in Longyearbyen on Norway’s Spitzbergen islands.

A committee, consisting of the three editors of the present volume, has selected the twelve essays from among the twenty-six prepared for the conference. The original texts were first reviewed, then rewritten, and finally edited in several stages according to the editors’ guidelines, to emphasize what is new and important in the larger picture. It is for this reason that the resulting presentations, now printed here, illuminate some of the main issues that darken the AmericanEuropean alliance relationship fifteen years after the Cold War had been won. Three fourths of the presentations are by Europeans.

Not intended to be comprehensive, the book is distinct in focusing on topics bearing not only on military but also on other aspects of security – or insecurity and in so doing inviting comparisons between NATO and the Warsaw Pact by using new evidence. The evidence presented tends to downgrade the role of nuclear weapons, suggesting that their importance for both waging war and keeping peace has been overrated, and upgrade the significance of conventional forces, whose indispensability has been vindicated since the end of the Cold War . . .

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