One of the great conflicts of history that never happened. I suspect that wiser Soviet leaders understood that time was not on their side. They realized that their economy was no match for the West, and the best they could hope for was to avoid a meltdown that would threaten their grasp on power. The obvious solution, at least for a time, was military conquest of Western Europe. However, the Soviet leadership had lived through World War II, and could never bring themselves to risk everything on the iron dice of war again. However, a showdown with Nato could easily have occurred as a result of Soviet miscalculation. When the Nato exercise Able Archer 83 occurred in 1983, the Soviets were alarmed and feared that the exercise presaged a Nato attack. The world was very lucky that the Cold War never became a very Hot War.