Key point: There is no winning in a nuclear confrontation, only avoiding catastrophe by not having one in the first place.
“Bomb them back into the Stone Age,” ex-Air Force general Curtis LeMay is reported to have once urged as a way to defeat North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
But it turns out that had global nuclear war erupted during the early 1960s, it would have been the Russians and Chinese who would have reverted to living like the Flintstones.
U.S. nuclear war plans called for the destruction of the Soviet Union and China as “viable societies,” according to documents revealed by the non-profit National Security Archive.
The document in question pertains to the Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP, which governs the numerous war plans and their associated options that govern how America would fight a nuclear war. In June 1964, senior military leaders (including Air Force Chief of Staff LeMay) were sent a staff review of the current SIOP.
The report included questions and answers regarding the various nuclear targeting options. These ranged from attacks on enemy nuclear and conventional forces while minimizing collateral damage to enemy cities, to attacking cities as well as military forces on purpose. This latter option would have been "in order to destroy the will and ability of the Sino-Soviet Bloc to wage war, remove the enemy from the category of a major industrial power, and assure a post-war balance of power favorable to the United States."
“Should these options give more stress to population as the main target?” asked one question.
The answer was that Pentagon war plans already included the destruction of cities as a way to destroy the urban and industrial backbone. “This should result in greater population casualties in that a larger portion of the urban population may be placed at risk.”