Planning for Preventive War, 1945-1950
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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A striking premise underpins war plans developed between 1945 and 1950. Planners and probably most other Americans believed that a conflict with the Soviet Union would be total. As the head of the Joint Strategic Plans Group, George Lincoln, observed It must be understood that another war will be the equivalent of an Armageddon and that we must count on the use of atomic weapons. This point is an essential basis for U.S. planning. It was accepted that the Nation would mount a strategic bombing campaign using atomic weapons against key targets. Destroying the means to make war was seen as leading to the collapse of enemy will. This approach was not new. During the interwar years strategists such as Guilio Douhet and Billy Mitchell outlined the optimum targets and objectives of strategic air campaigns. Although historians may debate the extent of their influence on planning during World War II, airpower was commonly seen as a distinct and perhaps decisive form of modern combat. In the aftermath of World War II planners did not see atomic weapons as revolutionary. They thought of strategic bombing, conventional and atomic, as a method of attack against enemy war-making capacity that could lead to the breakdown of enemy will. This concept helped shape military strategy in the late 1940s and was based on war-winning, not war-deterring.
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