At a press conference Friday, Sikorski unveiled a map showing hypothetical plans in the event of a NATO attack on Warsaw Pact nations which called for a Soviet counterattack that would have included the nuclear bombing of Munich, Brussels, Dutch ports and other targets. This in turn, according to Soviet military thinking, would precipitate NATO nuclear attacks on forces concentrated on the Vistula River, attacks that the Polish government now estimates would have killed two million Poles.It looks like the Soviets calculated that if they were to launch a nuclear strike, but not hit the two regional nuclear powers France or England, NATO would calibrate its nuclear retaliation by sparing the Russian homelands. A chilling read in the arithmetic of blood.
The map showed the widespread destruction of Western Europe, including mushroom clouds over key areas of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. Cities such as Brussels would have been destroyed as Soviet troops advanced to the Western shores of the Continent, although Britain and France would have been left unscathed.
It is of particular interest when balanced against today's Axis of Evil. The Soviet plans, while cataclysmic, had an element of self-survial built in. In public comments at least, portions of Iran's government have indicated they would expose their homeland to a nuclear retaliation by attacking Israel. I think there is a large element of bluster to those threats, and at any rate the response from Israel would be clear cut and devestating.
That aside, following the bomb non-nuclear countries model of the Soviets, a single nuclear weapon detonating in Holland or Rome becomes more problematical. The Warsaw Pact plans cited above are pretty clearly defensive plans. However, an attack on a Western City, with some measure of deniabilty attached, would be an offensive use of nuclear weapons while hoping for a calibrated response that would spare the Irani homeland.
The reason the Soviets reasonably thought they could limit an exchange need to be considered. In their scenario, both sides limiting their responses to spare each others homelands reflected the fact that both sides could cause massive damage to each others homelands. For Iran to expect similar restraint on the part of the West would require Iran to pose a credible existential threat to the US mainland. That situation simple doesn't exist. As such, Iran is either blustering about having the "moral strength" to survive a massive retaliatory attack, or they are seriously misreading the calculus of raw power.
I've said before that I fear a miscalculation more than anything. There are lines on both sides that if crossed would trigger a staggering escalation. The great problem is in where exactly do these lines lay? I believe on the Western side the use of a WMD is one such line. That the images of such an attack would so infuriate the Western public that the conflict would surely escalate.
What bothers me most about "the peace at any price', the "litigate war into being illegal", and the "atone for the sins of 18th century colonialism" crowd is that I fear it obscures the West's lines not to be crossed. I fear that the Mullahs are drawing mistaken conclusions in just how hard they can push before events slip out of the grasp of all of us.