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News That Never Was: US Invades USSR

April 5, 2009

There are so many great reads on the internet that it is impossible to catch them all.  But one constant source of refreshing and engaging reading that I strongly encourage you to place in your favorites is Strange Maps.  The post about  Collier’s magazine 60,000 word article from 1951 about a possible U.S. occupation of the U.S.S.R. is nothing short of  grand.

On 27 October 1951, the US magazine Collier’s devoted an entire 130-page issue to the theme of “Russia’s Defeat and Occupation, 1952-1960; Preview of the War We Do Not Want.” The cover showed an American soldier in a helmet emblazoned with US and UN insignia, reading MP (Military Police) Occupation Forces.

Collier’s Magazine devoted 60,000 words to the hypothetical aftermath of a Third World War, which would start in 1952 and in which the US and UN would defeat the Soviet Union. The articles described, among others, an “A-Bomb Mission to Moscow” (the famous broadcaster Edward R. Murrow writing about a hypothetical B-36 raid destroying the Soviet capital from an ‘embedded’ perspective).

In the introduction, Collier’s proclaimed that it had chosen this theme: “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.”

According to Collier’s scenario, World War Three would start with an attempted assassination of Yugoslavia’s leader, Marshal Tito (a communist but also a maverick, for refusing to align his country with the Soviets). This would lead to an uprising in Yugoslavia and to its invasion by (Kremlin-loyal) Warsaw Pact armies. It is not clear from the magazine cover how the US/UN victory would work out on the ground.

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