Berlin Blockade turns into WWIII

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by DMA, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    How could have the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 turned into WWIII? Bonus points for keeping it as a conventional war & leaving nukes out of it (if that's possible). How long could have it lasted? What are the effects for Europe, the Soviets, the Americans, & the world in general? Also, how would have it been fought?

    Discuss.
     
  2. carlton_bach Member

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    Assuming the conventional thinkers get their will and the US attempt to supply their forces in Berlin by land, not begin the airlift. There is plenty of conflict potential here, especially as the original plan called for escalation of provcation and extraction by force of any 'stuck' convoy. Starting a shooting war is easy, and if Stalin decides not to stop it (he might, but who could possibly predict him), it will escalate quickly.

    I don't think you can keep nuclear weapons out, though. They were an intregral part of US strategy in the event of war with the USSR from day 1, and the US troops doing better than expected would not stop that. After all, as of yet there is no sense of the overwhelming threat of mutual annihilation, just a vague horror of unleashing that much power. Especially absent a Soviet retaliation option, there would be absolutely no reason not to - this couldn't possible escalate further.

    As to the war, that would most probably go better for the western allies than they expected. First of all, their estimates of available Soviet manpower were hugely overblown. Secondly, the late forties and early fifties were a shaky time for Stalinism, with widespread disaffection and the instruments of repression not yet fully in place everywhere. Thirdly, the USA maintained irregular emigre forces that might well prove remarkably effective, and had a ready recruitment pool in Europe.

    On the other hand, the victory would most likely not be complete (who'd want to actually incvade the USSR?) and it would cause a lot of bad blood with the Eureopean allies. After all, the Soviets had gained a good deal of prestige as principal victors over Hitler, and their propagandists were milking it for all it was worth. The American propaganda offensive hadn't taken hold yet, and the later rhetorical question 'would you want to live like this' wouldn't work yet because material living conditions didn't differ much between France, Italy, Hungary and Poland in the late 40s yet. So the surprisingly hard fall the USSR takes would be seen as evidence that this was a premeditated attack by the US to further their imperialist goals by some.
     
  3. AMBOMB Member

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    They weren't the principal victors over Hitler.
     
  4. MerryPrankster Gone Fishin'

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    The Red Army destroyed 80% of the German army. Even though the US helped out a lot with trucks and other Lend-Lease supplies, the Soviets deserve a major load of credit.
     
  5. AMBOMB Member

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    Of course they do, but so do the Americans and British.
     
  6. Wendell Wendell

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    This is an interesting idea. Does the POD matter?
     
  7. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    Come up with a realistic one of your own choosing, although the OTL US plans, mentioned by carlton_bach, is probably the POD - that is the western Allies employ their original plan & force a road convoy through to Berlin instead of the OTL Airlift.

    But it could be something else... ;)
     
  8. Wendell Wendell

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    My thought was Dewey beating Truman...
     
  9. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    That could well be what is needed. So how does that effect things thereafter?
     
  10. Wendell Wendell

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    Actually, making Dewey President in a rather controversial manner would be interesting too...There might be very little difference at first...
     
  11. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    Well run with your ideas & see what you can come up with
     
  12. Wendell Wendell

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    Well, there are many possibilities...My divergence would be Thurmond doing better, therefore throwing the election to the Republican-run House of Representatives, who elects Dewey by state to the Presidency, and the Senate sticks him with Barkley for VP. Maybe civil rights will be on Dewey's agenda? But, first, we have an American public atleast temporarily weary of their own electoral sysyem, pushing the Berlin crisis of OTL into a war....
     
  13. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    So why would WWIII eventuate under Dewey & not Truman?
     
  14. Wendell Wendell

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    The Soviets see the lack of cohesion in the U.S. and act on it?
     
  15. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    Well they kind of did that by causing the Blockade in the first place. The way I see it is, it's not overly what the Soviets do, but the western Allied reaction. Now that could be regardless of who's in the White House (or maybe not).
     
  16. Wendell Wendell

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    Because of a political crisis at home that never existed under Truman, but might under Dewey...
     
  17. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    Well it could, but how does an America domestic spat cause WWIII?
     
  18. carlton_bach Member

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    It might. Stalin was convionced that the west was only licking its wounds waiting for the opportunity to pounce on him. At the same time, the actual superiority of the US-led alliance in just about every field scared him rigid. So he might be amenable to the kind of idea that was voiced in US military circles in the late 40s and early 50s; we must strike now, while we have a good chance of victory.

    It doesn't really fit his pattern, but if he gets it into his head, who's to stop him?
     
  19. Ward The sick old fart

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    Also the Soviets lost as many Lts in combat as the US Army lost in men in Combat in the ETO .