probably took the guy 2-3 years to write it.. only to have his whole idea trashed by real events

Ralph Peters had the same problem with his subsequent novel The War in 2020. Published in 1991, it depicted a near-future where Japan has become a superpower, the United States and the Soviet Union are both shadows of their former selves (the former ravaged by economic collapse and a pandemic, the latter going through civil war and stagnation), and an alliance of Islamic nations - supported by Japan and apartheid South Africa - is trying to take over Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Within one year of the book's publishing, Japan's economy had sunk due to the collapse of the asset price bubble, and the Soviet Union had collapsed. Within three years apartheid in South Africa would end.

A lot of techno-thrillers published in the 1989-1991 period had their plots rendered obsolete by the geopolitical paradigm shift. At least with alternate history you usually don't have to worry about changes in the real-life present because you can alter the past to your liking.
 
gawd I might have to read that one. Japan a superpower deciding to go bat nuts again aligned with Islamic nations. that has to be a great departure point ;)
 

James G

Gone Fishin'
gawd I might have to read that one. Japan a superpower deciding to go bat nuts again aligned with Islamic nations. that has to be a great departure point ;)

Red Army is an excellent book and inspired one of my TLs; The War in 2020 is terrible, truly bad. Reading the latter was a real strain and I wouldn't recommend it.
 
Red Army is an excellent book and inspired one of my TLs; The War in 2020 is terrible, truly bad. Reading the latter was a real strain and I wouldn't recommend it.
duly noted .. actually a great book and good read is swan song.. little on the fantasy side, but that book gave me chills as you could literally smell and feel the world in it. ( I hate auto correct )
 
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As such, your challenge is to come up with a plausible, non ASB ATL in which NATO and the USA end up on the losing end, and the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union emerge 'victorious' (i.e, survive, and get NATO and the USA to unconditionally surrender), in a third world war which involves a large-scale nuclear exchange. What do you think?
I don't think it's possible even with a bolt from the blue first strike. I just don't see there being a functioning Soviet Union following a "large-scale nuclear exchange". The cities, road and rail networks will be gone, and the croplands poisoned with fallout (on both sides). Victory or defeat are irrelevant in those circumstances, just surviving is a major challenge.
 
How about a Soviet first strike? This is very contrived, but remember all those incidents in which the American nuclear football was lost? Suppose the USSR happens to have a spy at the right (or worse!) place at the right time and learns that. They launch a first strike with everything they have, France and the UK fire back but the USA doesn't.

Or do they enter a suitcase nuke as diplomatic luggage into their embassy in Washington and during the State of the Union address they learn that the designated survivor is within Washington DC. They blow up Washington and, with the USA effectively beheaded, they only receive "limited" damaged.

Other than that, you need the USA to really lag behind the USSR in ICBMs, and that's hard to see. Maybe a combination of the USA not investing in rockets between WWI and WWII plus the Nazis not developing the V2? Plus maybe Project Manhattan ends after the end of WWII? The USA doesn't emphasize rockets, nuclear weapons are developed but aren't used in combat (Huh, so we may also need to butterfly the Korean war. Maybe no nukes mean the invasion of Japan goes ahead and the USSR takes all of Korea while the USA is invading Japan?) so no strategic doctrine about their use is agreed through the 1950s? That way, by the time the USA gets serious about developing ICBMs, the USSR already enjoys a tangible and real missile gap. Before the USA can finish developing reliable ICBMs (let alone sub launched missiles), the USSR launches a preemptive nuclear strike. The USSR still gets hit, both by bombers and by MRBM but they manage to survive as a nation while the same can't be said about NATO.
 

James G

Gone Fishin'
How about a Soviet first strike? This is very contrived, but remember all those incidents in which the American nuclear football was lost? Suppose the USSR happens to have a spy at the right (or worse!) place at the right time and learns that. They launch a first strike with everything they have, France and the UK fire back but the USA doesn't.

Or do they enter a suitcase nuke as diplomatic luggage into their embassy in Washington and during the State of the Union address they learn that the designated survivor is within Washington DC. They blow up Washington and, with the USA effectively beheaded, they only receive "limited" damaged.

So very much can go wrong with that plan that it would be too risky to try. One little mistake and all the missiles fly.
 
1969 or 1970. Have the USSR use data and technology from the USS Pueblo to interfere with Western command and control systems. Get the West to do as you like for the opening salvos and clean up afterwards.
 
So very much can go wrong with that plan that it would be too risky to try. One little mistake and all the missiles fly.
Yes. Also it was my understanding that the U.S. Cold War "Looking Glass" program made provisions for ensuring that some one would be in charge in the event Washington DC (and other fixed locations) were destroyed without warning.
 
The political and military collapse of NATO seems implausible now but less so in the 1970s.

Well, actually there was a similar book to Hackett's written last year for similar reasons (War with Russia 2017 by General Sir Richard Sherreff) in which Russia aims to break up NATO through an invasion of the Baltics (now NATO members). The basic reasoning was the same: would rich, Western powers be willing to risk nuclear war over some tiny, peripheral states, and if not how can a collective security organisation survive if it's unable/unwilling to guarantee that security for all members? It was also interesting for touching on the unfamiliar-to-me Russian concept of "nuclear de-esculation", i.e. threaten use of nuclear weapons to undermine support for a conventional military response. Based on that scenario, the collapse of NATO seems not at all improbable - I found the most unlikely aspect of the book to be how the West ends up winning.
 
duly noted .. actually a great book and good read is swan song.. little on the fantasy side, but that book gave me chills as you could literally smell and feel the world in it. ( I hate auto correct )
Meh, I thought it was just a rip-off of Stephen King's The Stand with nuclear war instead of a pandemic.
 
Probably best chances are on 1940's and even then it is probably ratherly stalemante than total victory.
I disagree with the date and would go for 1979 as the Soviet's best shot....

This was before the West gained an overwhelming technological advantage, and before the Reagan build up of the U.S. military. Though I don't know the details regarding the politics of Italy, Spain, Greece at the time, it is possible that some of these nations had socialist governments whose contributions to NATO commitments would have been on the token side of the scale. Of course, the Soviets would also have needed to deal with less than fully enthusiastic allies, but they had a safety margin built into their plans.
 
I don't know why but I didn't care much for "The Stand", maybe because I read Swan Song first. just enjoyed the book and it was pretty good.

I have a hard time getting the visions of the war out of my head, especially the movie theater scene. The airforce one scene is also good
 
I think the biggest issue people have to remember is that after about 64 its all in, use it or loose it mentality. the minute something isn't battlefield, everything goes to hell quickly.

there would be no such thing as conventional. Nato doctrine was to use battlefield nukes to stop any westward push by the soviets. actually the west was more reliant on nuclear weapons than the soviets.

granted the soviets had a better civil defense system, but it wouldn't matter, you die in the metro or the bunkers, or you die in the blast. yippe yippe.

Americans are so anti socialist we still have a red scare going on. want to kill a bill? forget about .. oh its for the children, just label it socialist or communist. This was oligarch on oligarch level stupidity, the west didn't want the east playing in their pool and both sides seemed willing to kill each other over it.
 
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While not too related, it's times like these where we ought to make a glossary for just about every WW3 thread here similar to how there's one for Sealion (the operation) stuff, though implausible that is (or at least near-one).
 
I'm currently reading this after picking it up at a book fair:

https://books.google.co.nz/books/about/The_button.html?id=k9O4AAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

If the US and NATO CCC were as fragile and problematic as the book suggests, then a successful Soviet first strike becomes plausible (regardless of how likely), depending on whatever the USN equivalent of the UK's "Letter of Last Resort" for SSBN captains entails.

It's also interesting that the author makes use of a visit to NORAD in October 1983, only a few days before the Soviets actually started wondering if a first strike was on the cards for real thanks to Able Archer.

Paralysis of indecision among NATO states regarding use of tactical nuclear weapons is also a consideration.
 

James G

Gone Fishin'
Tom Clancy discusses in Cardinal of the Kremlin how a soviet first strike could go and how the USSR could get away without a retaliation. His fictional view is from a Soviet POV. Whether that would work we'll never know but it was rather interesting.
 
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