The Parallax Brief loves counter-factual history — especially when it revolves around the what-ifs of a potential Warsaw Pact–NATO conflict. So much is he interested in NATO and Warsaw Pact military history that he was even willing to degrade himself by reading a Tom Clancy book, Red Storm Rising. (Never fear, it was a one off, and the Parallax Brief used protection). Imagine his glee, then, when via Matthew Yglesias’s mind-meltingly great blog, he found the pictured, October 1951 front cover of long deceased American Magazine, Collier’s.
Titled Preview of the War We Do Not Want, Collier’s devoted their whole 130 page October issue to how a war with the USSR might ignite and how the US – and its allies from the UN – would win that war. And it seems as if Collier’s took the whole thing very seriously, enlisting government help and even going so far as to tap Edward R Murrow, famous for his wartime broadcasts from London, to write an article titled A-Bomb Mission to Moscow, in which he is implanted into a B-36 bomber crew on a mission to nuke Moscow.
According to Strange Maps, Collier’s introduces the issue thus:
“To warn the evil masters of the Russian people that their conspiracy to enslave humanity is the dark, downhill road to World War III; to sound a powerful call for reason and understanding between the peoples of East and West — before it’s too late; to demonstrate that if the war we do not want is forced upon us, we will win.”
The cover clearly shows the US in Korean War UN mode, as on the MP’s helmet the US flag sits next to the UN flag. Meantime, UN flags are planted over Moscow and the Ukraine, to signal, one would guess, UN occupation.
Yglesias wonders how the UN could have supported the invasion, given the USSR’s position on the UN security council, but the Parallax Brief knows that the UN’s Uniting for Peace resolution allows for matters to be dealt with by the General Assembly where the Security Council fails to act.
Unfortunately, the Parallax Brief couldn’t find much detail beyond what he could deduce from the cover, let alone the full magazine in PDF or scanned format online, but after some Googling, he did manage to find on Conelrad the below summary of how the magazine saw the war unfolding. Enjoy!
PRINCIPAL EVENTS OF WORLD WAR III
Assassination attempt on Marshal Tito’s life, May 10th, precipitates Cominform-planned uprising in Yugoslavia. Troops from satellite nationsof Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, backed by the Red Army, cross borders. Truman terms agression “Kremlin inspired.”; Reds call it “an internal matter.”
Third World War begins when Moscow, still insisting that uprising is “the will of the Yugoslav people,” refuses to withdraw Red Army units. Stalin miscalculates risk: had believed U.S. would neither back Tito nor fight alone. U.S. is joined by principal UN nations in declaration of war.
Neutrals include Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, Eqypt, India and Pakistan.
Saturation A-bombing of U.S.S.R. begins. Avoiding completely population centers, West concentrates on legitimate targets only. Principal objectives: industrial installations; oil, steel and A-bomb plants.
Communists throughout West begin sabotage campaign. Trained saboteurs open attacks in U.S.
General Vassily Stalin, aviator son of Red dictator, becomes a UN prisoner of war.
Red Army, under vast air umbrella which outnumbers UN planes five to three, attacks across north Germany plane, in Baltic countries and through Middle East.
UN Troops, fighting for time, retreat on all fronts, suffering many losses.
North American continent invaded when Red Army, in combined air-sea operation, lands in Alaska, occupying Nome and Little Diomede Island.
Reds A-bomb London and UN bases overseas.
Far East “Dunkerque” takes place when, under unremitting air and submarine attacks, U.S. occupation forces evacuate from Korea and Japan.
U.S. A-bombed for first time when Red air force hits Detroit, New York and A-bomb plant at Hanford (Washington). Civil defense proves inadequate.
Turning point in war’s first phase reached with atomic artillery smashes enemy on Christmas Day in Europe.
U.S. A-bombed for second time. Bombers hit Chicago, New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Red submarines fire atomic-headed missiles into Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Norfolk (Virginia) and Bremerton (Washington). Casualties greatly lessened by improved civil defense procedures.
UN air forces finally achieve air superiority over battle fronts.
Psychological warfare begins to play an imporant role; propaganda emphasizes that UN is fighting war of liberation for Russian people; leaflet raids and broadcasts warn Russian people to evacuate area scheduled for attack.
Moscow A-bombed midnight, July 22nd, by flying B-36s in retaliation for Red A-bomb terror raid on Washington. Planes flying from U.S. bases destroy center of Moscow. Area of damage: 20 square miles.
Suicide task force lands behind U.S.S.R. borders, destroys Soviets’ last remaining A-bomb stockpile in underground chambers of Ural Mountains. Of 10,000 paratroopers and airborne units, 10 percent survive.
UN General Assembly issues momentous war-aims statement known as “Denver Declaration.”
Underground forces in satellite countries receive arms and materials in UN plane-drops; highly trained guerrilla fighters parachute into U.S.S.R. to aid resistance movements and destroy specific targets.
Severest rationing since beginning of war introduced in U.S.
Yugoslav guerrilla fighters begin to tie down large numbers of Red troops.
A captured Soviet general reports disappearance of Stalin, reveals that MVD (secret police) Chief Beria is new Red dictator.
Uprisings take place in U.S.S.R. and satellite nations. UN parachutes Russian emigres into Soviet Union to aid dissident groups.
UN offensive begins on all fronts as West at last gains initiative.
Red Army gradually retreats, then disintegrates under onslaught of UN air and ground forces.
Three Red generals desert to UN forces.
UN armored spearhead captures Warsaw, reaches Pripet Marshes in Poland. Another armored column crosses U.S.S.R. border into Ukraine.
UN forces clear Asiatic Turkey and cross border into Crimea.
Marines, in combined air-sea operation, capture and occupy Vladivostok.
Hostilites cease as U.S.S.R. degenerates into a state of chaos and internal revolt.
UN forces begin occupation duties in satellite nations and Ukraine.
UNITOC – United Nations Temporary Occupation Command – set up in Moscow.