The Guardian of London has a treasure of information today on the former Soviet Union’s plans for a nuclear counter-attack on Western Europe.
Poland’s new government has just opened its archives on the dark era during which it was part of the Soviet Union’s “evil empire.” Among the papers are formerly secret documents detailing the 1968 Soviet invasion that crushed Czechoslovakia’s democratic movement, and papers on the 1970 Communist massacre of 44 striking Polish workers in Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Elblag.
But attracting the most attention are maps from 1979 detailing how the Soviet Warsaw Pact would respond if attacked by forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO.
France and England to be spared. The Guardian tells us what is on those maps:
A series of red mushroom clouds over western Europe show that Soviet nuclear weapons strikes would have been launched at Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium if Nato had struck first. Red clouds are drawn over the then German capital, Bonn, and other key German cities such as the financial centre of Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich and the strategically important northern port of Hamburg. Brussels, the political headquarters of Nato, is also targeted….
France would have escaped attack, possibly because it is not a member of Nato’s integrated structure. Britain, which has always been at the heart of Nato, would also have been spared, suggesting Moscow wanted to stop at the Rhine to avoid overstretching its forces. The exercise, entitled Seven Days to the River Rhine, indicated Warsaw Pact forces aimed to reach the Franco-German border within a week of a Nato attack.
Sikorski rightwing? But then The Guardian goes out of its way to say that Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish defense minister who released the old Soviet papers, is on the “rightwing,” presumably because he once worked for the American Enterprise Institute and opposed the Soviet Union’s subjugation of Eastern Europe.
Those affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute do tend to be economic conservatives. But “rightwinger” also implies someone who trusts government authority enough to compromise political liberties. Obviously, when you’re talking about the Soviet Union, the rightwing-leftwing balance is altered.
What could be more rightwing than the Soviet Union’s totalitarian absence of political freedom? In spite of its high-sounding socialist ideals, the secrecy and unaccountability of the Soviet system gave its oppressed peoples little more than breadlines, gulags, hopeless ideology and death.
Soviet ultra-right. Today, as The Guardian notes, Russian President Vladimir Putin pines for the power Russia once wielded at the core of the Soviet Union. But Putin’s nostalgia is not rooted in the leftist yearning for freedom, social justice and peace. As Poland’s archives show, the Soviet dream is an ultra-rightwing vision of expanded repression through aggression, and coerced prestige through heavily armed terror.
On this subject, Sikorski is far to the left.