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Soviet Union


The Marxist-Leninist theory of war provided a basis for Soviet military theory and practice. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first developed its principles, which were further elaborated by Vladimir I. Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union. The MarxistLeninist view of war rested on the principle that war is a continuation of politics and that the aim of war is to achieve military victory so as to hasten the political victory of socialism. Soon after the Soviet Union acquired nuclear weapons, a debate arose in Soviet leadership circles over whether a catastrophic nuclear war could be a continuation of politics. Theorists debated whether waging nuclear war was in the best interests of socialism, or whether Marxist-Leninist policy should exclude nuclear war.

Since the 1950s, two lines of argument concerning nuclear war as a tool of policy have existed in the Soviet Union. Some civilian and military leaders have maintained that because nuclear war is too destructive, one should never be fought. Conversely, the authors of a volume entitled Marxism-Leninism on War and the Army, which has appeared in six editions since 1957 and sets forth the Marxist-Leninist philosophy of war as well as the CPSU's official views on conducting war, have consistently upheld nuclear war as a legitimate continuation of politics and have endorsed the use of nuclear weapons.

Marxist-Leninist theory of war has not only established theoretical foundations for fighting and averting nuclear wars but also has provided practical guidelines for categorizing wars according to their "class essence" as just wars (see Glossary) and unjust (predatory) wars. It also has purportedly discovered objective "laws of war" (see fig. 26). These laws governed the conduct of war and promoted victory.

Data as of May 1989