Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 41: Euromissile Crisis – Last Battle Of The Cold War

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Adam Smith, Hank Oslo, Nick Mason, and Hans Lander

Notes:

In the game of nuclear brinksmanship, in the words of the oft-cited 1983 film ‘Wargames’, sometimes “the best move is not to play.” But in the real world, when one side chooses to play, and various factions of third parties insist on one move or another, deciding on ones next move is extremely difficult, and the path chosen may have irreversible consequences. The Cold War was rife with these types of situations, and no less during the 1980s, when the Soviet nuclear arsenal had reached an all time high, and its deployment of mobile SS-20 intermediate range ballistic missile launchers were posing strategic complications to the detente reached during the 1970s. Germany sat firmly in the crosshairs, and as the US was pressured to counter the Soviet deployment while simultaneously receiving protest from peace activists for doing just that, the Cold War began to heat up.

Timeline:

1945 – End of World War II and the unofficial beginning of the Cold War between the West and Soviet Empire.
1949 – Soviet Uninon successfully tests their first atomic weapon
1957 – United States begins deploying nuclear weapons in Western Europe.
1957 – Sputnik is successfully deployed by the Soviet Union.
1961 – Jupiter Missiles are deployed in Turkey by the United States.
1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis transpires when the United States attempts to prevent the Sovet Union from deploying nuclear armaments inside of Cuba.
1972 – Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is signed by the USSR and USA, regulating ABM complexes.
1976 – The Soviet Union deploys the SS-20 Sabre missiles and fields necessary field testing for launches into continental Europe, should nuclear war break out.
1979 – SALT II Treaty is signed by never fully ratified by the United States or the Soviet Union.
1979 – Carter decides to promote “double track decision” – negotiations to remove all intermediate-range forces in Europe (bear in mind the US at this time has none), and if that fails, in 4 years, moving its own intermediate range forces (cruise missiles and Pershing ballistic missiles) into Europe.
1983 – Pershing II missiles are deployed in Europe at the behest of the NATO allies, fearing a Soviet buildup.
1984 – POTUS Reagan officialy unveils the Strategic Defense Initiative, otherwise known as ‘Star Wars defense’, designed to eliminate Soviet ICBM’s using laser weapons and space-based anti-balistic missile systems.
1987 – The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is signed and ratified by the United States and Soviet Union, eliminating short-range and intermediate-range nuclear missiles and launch equipment.

References: 

– Hundreds of Thousands Protest Missiles in Europe : Urge U.S. to Match Soviet Halt, LA Times (1985) – http://articles.latimes.com/1985-04-08/news/mn-18506_1_cruise-missiles
– The Last Battle of the Cold War, Glitman (2006)
– The Euromissiles Crisis and the End of the Cold War 1977-1987, Wilson Center (2009) – https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/Euromissiles_Reader_PartI_SectionA.pdf)
– The 1983 Euro-Missile Crisis, Bay (2013) – https://www.strategypage.com/on_point/20131105222327.aspx
– War by Other Means, Harris and Blackwill (2016)
– Russian Active Measures in Germany and the United States, Daniels (2017) – https://warontherocks.com/2017/09/russian-active-measures-in-germany-and-the-united-states-analog-lessons-from-the-cold-war/
– Yuri Bezmenov: Deception Was My Job – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3qkf3bajd4
– Anatomy of a Reticence – http://www.vaclavhavel.cz/showtrans.php?cat=eseje&val=4_aj_eseje.html&typ=HTML
– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSD-10_Pioneer
– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pershing_II
– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BGM-109G_Ground_Launched_Cruise_Missile

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4 Comments

  1. Germany was the Cold War flashpoint due to it’s long border with the Warsaw Pact bloc of countries, Berlin and the use of the German pieces by both sides as propaganda development opportunities. It makes sense Germany was the protest ground zero as the Americans did the best they could to destroy old Germany and replace it with US progressive Germany. The 20 year olds protesting in the 80s are the childless 40 and 50 year olds of today that warmly welcome refugees to finish the job on their nation.

    Reply

  2. Great podcast. If you think about it the Western response was a creditable effort – Sun Tzu would have approved of Able Archer. Winning the war without fighting a battle.

    But the end of the Cold War did have some unexpected consequences. There was NATO with all of this great hardware and battle ready personnel… tailor made to fight a Soviet style foe and nothing to do… until Sadam Hussein decided to invade Kuwait with his Soviet equipped army…. It was a showcase moment for NATO and you can’t blame them for taking advantage of it. But the subsequent hubris would breed the neocon belligerence.

    Thanks guys!

    Reply

  3. Ever seen Deutschland ’83? The plot revolved around the euromissile crisis. As I recall the homosexual professor peace campaigner character was also shown to be a DDR agent

    Reply

  4. Adam needs to turn the gain on his mic *way* down.

    Reply

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