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Old 06-11-2020, 04:32 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
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I'm not sure of the degree to which American nuclear technology stolen by the Soviets' Fuchs-Greenglass-Rosenberg spy ring spurred the development of the Soviet program, but let's assume for now that espionage shortened the Soviets' diasadvantage by five years.

It is now the summer of 1954; The Fuchs ring was exposed and liquidated in 1946, Stalin has been dead for a little over a year. The Iron Curtain is in place, supported by large Soviet occupying forces in Eastern Europe. Lavrentiy Beria has been deposed by a coup within the Kremlin, but no strongman has clearly emerged as yet. The Soviets have announced the development of their first simple (fission-based) atomic bomb. The Americans, meanwhile, have developed thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs, and an ICBM-based delivery system is "on the horizon".

As an American President, would you have ordered the Soviets to "stand down", on penalty of nuclear-aided military action by a clearly-superior (at least in terms of technology) American force? How? and why? (or why not)?

Last edited by 2nd trick op; 06-11-2020 at 04:48 PM..
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Old 06-11-2020, 05:15 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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What does "stand down" mean in your scenario?
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Old 06-11-2020, 05:26 PM
 
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I am not sure of the historical consequences, but if we had been able to preserve the basic secrets of both bomb designs, it may have been a decade or more before even the Soviets caught up.

The atomic bomb was invented only once, by one of the most phenomenal science and engineering teams ever assembled, and at stratospheric cost. Every other nation that acquired the technology stole or was given nearly all of the essential design information and had only to work out some details of exact critical mass, timing systems, etc. None had to do fundamental research or development.

So the OP scenario is plausible, had it not been for four Soviet spies. (Primarily Fuchs and Seborer, with support from Greenglass and Julius Rosenberg, as well as Hall.)
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Old 06-11-2020, 05:54 PM
 
Location: The North Star State
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
I'm not sure of the degree to which American nuclear technology stolen by the Soviets' Fuchs-Greenglass-Rosenberg spy ring spurred the development of the Soviet program, but let's assume for now that espionage shortened the Soviets' diasadvantage by five years.

It is now the summer of 1954; The Fuchs ring was exposed and liquidated in 1946, Stalin has been dead for a little over a year. The Iron Curtain is in place, supported by large Soviet occupying forces in Eastern Europe. Lavrentiy Beria has been deposed by a coup within the Kremlin, but no strongman has clearly emerged as yet. The Soviets have announced the development of their first simple (fission-based) atomic bomb. The Americans, meanwhile, have developed thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs, and an ICBM-based delivery system is "on the horizon".
Meanwhile, the first British test shot took place in Australia in 1952, so pushing off the Soviet bomb until 1954 doesn't preserve the U.S. monopoly more than three years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
As an American President, would you have ordered the Soviets to "stand down", on penalty of nuclear-aided military action by a clearly-superior (at least in terms of technology) American force? How? and why? (or why not)?
There's no way either Congress or the American public would support such a stance. The implicit threat of starting a war of aggression entailing inflicting massive civilian casualties (it's not like Soviet nuclear facilities could be reliably targeted - in the pre-satellite era and before the U-2 had even had its first test flight, the information just wasn't there) would also have exactly the opposite effect of sending the bomb programs of both allies and foes alike into overdrive, out of fear of a clearly unhinged U.S. President. Expect the Chinese and French to get the bomb well before when they actually got it (1964 and 1960, respectively). Expect a Canadian bomb program (most non-Canadians are ignorant of the fact that Canada participated in the Manhattan Project). An earlier Indian bomb is a likely result (as much from the accelerated Chinese program) and early Swedish and Swiss flirtings with the bomb become more likely to come to fruition.

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Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
What does "stand down" mean in your scenario?
Presumably, something along the lines of "Stop working on nukes, and let us roam your vast country poking wherever we like so we can be certain you are". This 'offer' would obviously be declined. The U.S. is then in the position of choosing one of two disastrous options: folding and looking laughably weak, or launching the sort of war of aggression that it had just helped convict/execute a bunch of Germans and Japanese of launching less than a decade earlier.
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Old 06-11-2020, 06:02 PM
 
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There are two scenarios here: the real one in which bomb technology was acquired almost in realtime by the Soviets and the British, and diffused from there very quickly, or one in which the 'secret' was kept much more strictly and no second nation was likely to recreate the engineering feats necessary.

I'm not sure any vague third possibility of the information leaking out (and by the way, liquidating the ring in 1946 would have been very much locking the door after the horse had become dog food and glue) but not resulting in competition by the early 1950s is plausible.

Heinlein wrote a number of short stories and what-if articles on nuclear proliferation in that interim, proposing several different possibilities including a nuclear UN. Might be worth reading that material if you're really interested in what someone bright, observant and fairly well informed thought before reality caught up.
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Old 06-12-2020, 05:43 AM
 
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It wouldn't have mattered in Eastern Europe, but it might have mattered a great deal in Korea, particularly when the Chinese got involved.
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Old 06-12-2020, 02:42 PM
 
13,481 posts, read 19,587,989 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
I'm not sure of the degree to which American nuclear technology stolen by the Soviets' Fuchs-Greenglass-Rosenberg spy ring spurred the development of the Soviet program, but let's assume for now that espionage shortened the Soviets' diasadvantage by five years.

It is now the summer of 1954; The Fuchs ring was exposed and liquidated in 1946, Stalin has been dead for a little over a year. The Iron Curtain is in place, supported by large Soviet occupying forces in Eastern Europe. Lavrentiy Beria has been deposed by a coup within the Kremlin, but no strongman has clearly emerged as yet. The Soviets have announced the development of their first simple (fission-based) atomic bomb. The Americans, meanwhile, have developed thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs, and an ICBM-based delivery system is "on the horizon".

As an American President, would you have ordered the Soviets to "stand down", on penalty of nuclear-aided military action by a clearly-superior (at least in terms of technology) American force? How? and why? (or why not)?
I don't understand your scenario, what exactly does the American President need to order the Soviet's to "stand down" from? Development of nuclear weapons? The soviets would have simply developed it in secret.
There is no "why" or "why not". The real reason for nuclear weapons after WW2 was as a deterrent - specifically for Soviet invasion into western Europe or (after the Soviet's stole the technology) a "mutually assured destruction" component to dissuade from a soviet nuclear first strike. I don't see that scenario here.
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
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But what if the American (and by association, British) lead in nuclear technology were much stronger, and the tested democracies had agreed to prevent that technology from falling into the hands of known enemies?

I'm thinking specifically of a one-time, (possibly limited nuclear) raid against Soviet nuclear research facilities -- absolutely no action against civilian targets, if such a thing could exist in the Soviet state -- and a clear warning that this would be repeated as often as necessary.

And yes, I believe the same policy should be pursued against Iran, North Korea, and any other rogue state.

Last edited by 2nd trick op; 06-14-2020 at 11:34 AM..
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Old 06-14-2020, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
13,505 posts, read 8,323,232 times
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https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl...MygBegUIARC3AQ"

It just might be time for a "big stick" policy against terrorists -- domestic as well as foreign.
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Old 06-17-2020, 08:39 AM
 
2,991 posts, read 4,061,841 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
I'm not sure of the degree to which American nuclear technology stolen by the Soviets' Fuchs-Greenglass-Rosenberg spy ring spurred the development of the Soviet program, but let's assume for now that espionage shortened the Soviets' diasadvantage by five years.

It is now the summer of 1954; The Fuchs ring was exposed and liquidated in 1946, Stalin has been dead for a little over a year. The Iron Curtain is in place, supported by large Soviet occupying forces in Eastern Europe. Lavrentiy Beria has been deposed by a coup within the Kremlin, but no strongman has clearly emerged as yet. The Soviets have announced the development of their first simple (fission-based) atomic bomb. The Americans, meanwhile, have developed thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs, and an ICBM-based delivery system is "on the horizon".

As an American President, would you have ordered the Soviets to "stand down", on penalty of nuclear-aided military action by a clearly-superior (at least in terms of technology) American force? How? and why? (or why not)?
Here is the problem in 1954 the only way to bomb the USSR would be by air. The soviets had radar and air fighters. The bombers would have been mauled. The USSR in reality had the H bomb 6 months after the Untied states and had the first operational ICBM before the USA. This would be folly. I also doubt they were five years behind, in terms of the A bomb. Most countries tried to make it before and during WWII but WWII focused limited resources on more pressing matters. With a few years of peace they could do develop it much faster.
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