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Russians Are Coming

P.R. Chari

By General Sir John Hackett  and Other Top-Ranking NATO Generals and Advisers 
Macmillan, London, 1979, pp. 368, $12.95


There are groups of men around the world whose sole occupation is to plan for offensive and defensive wars; these include nuclear conflicts. Buried in Oper­ations Directorates these contingency planners must foresee all possible threats to a country's national security, however remote; they must also draw up military plans for promoting a country's national interests, however fanciful. War gaming is played by them with the same earnestness as chess. One is reminded here of the apocry­phal story of the meeting our Chief of Army Staff had with his counterpart from a small neighbour. Our Chief remarked, in a lighter vein, that he had a contingency plan for our neighbour. Whereupon the visiting chief expostulated, ‘But General, we also have a contingency plan for India.’ Still, it may appear somewhat hypo­thetical and imaginary to laymen to visua­lize a global war starting in Europe, extending into Africa and the Gulf region, and including a nuclear dimension. In fact, the Helsinki Agreement of 1975 requires, amongst confidence-building measures, advance notification of any military man­oeuvres involving more than 25,000 men in delimited areas along the western­-eastern bloc borders. An exchange of observers at such manoeuvres is permitted. It is also apparent that inter-bloc tensions have lessened in Europe since the Helsinki Agreent formalized the post-war division of Europe. Most scholars believe that this reduction of tensions in Europe was followed by a displacement of East-West rivalries into developing countries. These beliefs have obviously not influ­enced the authors of The Third World War: August 1985, who are intimidating­ly described on the dust-jacket as ‘experts of the highest calibre’. Comprising six former members of the British armed forces, and one former member of the British Diplomatic Service, the authors have a genuine problem. A Third World War could arise in realistic terms from three possible causes. First, a conflict bet­ween the superpowers, leading to general nuclear war, might be triggered off by an accidental nuclear attack. Second, conflict might be started by intervention in Europe, which is perceived as cardinal to superpower national interests. Third, interference with Middle East oil supply, vital to the economies of the western bloc, could ignite a world war. These are possible scenarios that might predicate a global conflagration. It is assumed by the authors that except for the first, the other two possibilities could only arise from Soviet intransigence. It all starts with a ...

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