January 12, 2016

World War III: Walter Winchell in Moscow

Walter Winchell in the 1950s during a radio broadcast for the Mutual Broadcasting System (Louis Nemeth) (source)
In 1951, Collier's magazine published an issue chronicling a hypothetical World War III. It begins in 1952 and ends with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1955 and a UN occupation of Russia. A number of notable figures contributed fictional articles about the war and its history.

This fictional column by Walter Winchell is set in a postwar 1960. It addresses the Russian people after their "liberation" from Soviet rule.

From Collier's magazine, October 27, 1951, p. 39:

By Walter Winchell

Moscow, 1960

Mr. and Mrs. Russia:

This is my first column to you—the Russian people. And perhaps there is no more fitting start than to recapitulate here the lessons of the last 15 years—lessons which, we may now believe, have finally set a pattern for the future of mankind.

In April, 1945, at the San Francisco conference to write the UN charter—while World War II was still raging—the seeds of World War III were sown. The reason was painfully obvious: no major power was willing to yield its sovereign power—to make war—to a single world authority strong enough to keep the peace. From the very start, Stalin, the Red Czar, deprived the United Nations of its virility by hamstringing every noble move to achieve a great and lasting world peace.

Stalin's idea of peace was to avoid full-scale war while grabbing off one nation after the other in a mad orgy of Communist imperialism. All this the Soviets did in your name, in an attempt to make the world believe that they represented the masses of the great Russian people. But the West was never misled; the free nations did not believe that you, the Russian people, wanted to follow a policy of aggression. Neither did the West believe that war was inevitable. Stalin's policy, as it was implemented by the cynical madmen in his rubber-stamp Politburo, forced the free world to rearm. We carried a gun because you did.

Thereafter, we were both ruled by the fear of who would shoot first. The analogy was as simple and as terrible as this: if two mortal enemies each know that the other is armed with a pistol, both will reach for their guns at the slightest provocation. The West again and again offered the hand of friendship, arguing that coexistence was possible. But Stalin kept the Iron Curtain sealed and ultimately—deliberately—fired the first shot.

Who knows the result better than you? Today, in 1960, even after five years of peace, the world is just beginning to emerge from the searing crucible of World War III. The suffering is not yet ended. But Stalin and the Politburo are no more; Russia is no longer a vast concentration camp of 212,000,000 victims. Russia is free. You, the Russian people, are equal partners with all the nations of the world in the unending responsibility to keep the peace.

And this is the world's last chance.

We have made fleets and armies as obsolete as the weapon-carrying individuals of long ago. But remember this: even then, no decent citizen wanted to carry death at his hip; he was forced to—to defend himself. Man had to become fully civilized to abandon reliance on force within his own community; this world of ours, we must hope and pray, has learned the same lesson.

Here is an example of what can be done: When the United States consisted of 13 separate units banded together under the Articles of Confederation, the founders of my country realized the arrangement would not last. By a miracle of compromise, they secured the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, by which all states agreed to be governed by powers delegated to the federal government.

This did not make a Virginian less a Virginian, or a Pennsylvanian less a Pennsylvanian. It did make them both Americans. When the great test of that theory came 74 years later, it was resolved in favor of the Union. And the Union was not saved by force, at Gettysburg; it was saved by the general acceptance of the concept born at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, by the decision that the same law—the Constitution—would continue to govern victor and vanquished alike. Permanent peace was won within the U.S. because it was clearly established that the federal government was the supreme power.

In this world of 1960 we have an exact parallel: it is the United Nations, which has the supreme power; and it is through that body that you, the Russian people, and we, the people of the Western World, must work to keep the peace. If we join together to better the lot of mankind, lasting peace—a great golden age, not war—is inevitable.