AHC: Yom Kippur War Goes Nuclear

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Gabe5525, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. Gabe5525 Member

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    There was a story that appeared on CNN about the recently declassified CIA briefings to President Nixon and Ford. One briefing concerned the Yom Kippur War when the fight between Egypt and Israel was at an all time high and there was speculation by the CIA that the Soviet Union was smuggling nuclear weapons to Egypt. The threat was considered serious enough for President Nixon to raise the threat level to DEFCON 3 on October 24 & 25, 1973. At this time, Nixon was mired in Watergate and fired the Special Prosecutor in charge of the investigation. I have heard stories that Nixon was drinking heavily and was becoming emotionally unstable as the scandal got worse for him. So, I wanted to ask what might have happened if Nixon had acted on the information from the CIA concerning the nuclear weapons. What if more evidence came out seemingly confirmed these early reports? What if this had turned into a Second Cuban Missile Crisis with a scandal-ridden, distracted President Nixon facing a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union in a heated war between Israel and Egypt?

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/26/opinions/secret-briefings-to-presidents-from-cia-naftali/index.html
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  2. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    By all accounts Nixon really shocked the hell out of the Kremlin when he jumped to DEFCON 3 (although that was just for the strategic forces). Brezhnev couldn't understand why he would go to the mattresses that quickly. Did the show mention that the Soviets had moved nuclear weapons via ship to Alexandria, and left them there until November?

    The Soviets were getting ready to intervene to enforce the cease-fire, they had put seven divisions of airborne troops on alert. The 6th Fleet was positioned to SHOOT THEM DOWN if the Soviets tried to reinforce.

    Things could have gotten really sideways, really fast.
     
  3. Cook Support iCAN Banned

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    I'm at a loss as to why Nixon felt the need, since he knew that Israel already had at least a limited nuclear stockpile of its own.
     
  4. wtw Well-Known Member

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    Their was a fear that the Israelis would lose this time.
     
  5. RLBH Well-Known Member

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    Nixon also wasn't averse to deliberately doing 'crazy' things to make the Soviets blink. I wouldn't be surprised if going to DEFCON 3 was a calculated measure aimed at telling Moscow that the US wouldn't tolerate interference with Israel.
     
  6. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    in 1967 the Israelis had deliverable weapons. They had the ability on one way missions to hit Soviet cities/facilities in the Caucasus and Crimea/southern Ukraine. They could also easily hit Damascus, Latakia (Soviet naval base) and if they wanted to be nasty Mecca and Medina. Thanks to the Aswan High Dam destroying Egypt would take just one bomb - destroy the dam and the wall of water released will take out Cairo and Alexandria completely, and remember a very high percentage of all Egyptian population and infrastructure was very close to the Nile and could be destroyed or damaged by the flood (think Katrina or the current flood in Louisiana but worse).

    IMHO the war going nuclear only happens under one of two conditions, the Israelis are losing badly and use them to save themselves, or something happens that spirals out of control ("accidental" war).
     
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  7. Tom Colton be great, don't denigrate Donor

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    Nixon would have to find a way of getting around the cabal (led by Kissinger, I think) who essentially convened to stop him doing anything stupid about Israel. Not impossible by any means, but any discussion would have to justify his ability to shape events.
     
  8. Cook Support iCAN Banned

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    No, the Soviet threat to reinforce Egypt with airborne troops (and presumably nuclear weapons) came on October 24th, following the second ceasefire resolution (#339) being passed by the Security Council, which Israel was ignoring. Both ceasefire resolutions only came about only after the Arab attacks had been defeated; the Soviets had blocked earlier attempts at a ceasefire resolution in the Security Council when their Arab clients were showing signs of success. The Soviets were looking to rush airborne troops to Egypt to defend Cairo; the Israeli's had already crossed the Suez canal south of Ismailia and had swept down the western shore of the canal, trapping Egypt 3rd Army in a pocket north of Suez; they were within 40 miles of Cairo, with nothing to stop them except for a single under-strength Egyptian armoured division. Likewise, in the Golan the front had stabilised just 10 miles from Damascus on October 14th.

    The Soviet action was to stop the total collapse of their two client states, it would have constituted a blocking force to prevent further Israeli advances and came after the US had agreed on a resolution demanding a halt to the fighting; it's peculiar that anyone in Washington saw the need for such a radical increase of the status of alert.
     
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  9. galveston bay Donor

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    my understanding is that the Israelis considered use only when the Syrians had broken the 2 brigades holding the Golan (they were both down to a mere shadow of their former strength) and there were no reserves yet in position to intervene. So we are talking October 9. However the Syrians hesitated, the Israelis managed to bring up reserves, and the situation stabilized and then turned to the Israeli favor

    The Soviet and US actions were not part of that, but could have gotten damned ugly too, particularly as there is reason to believe Nixon was getting a bit erratic
     
  10. Zireael Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. So Aswan dam is hit and Egypt is instantly relegated to post-apoc scenery status???
     
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  11. wtw Well-Known Member

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    90% of Egypt's population lives along the Nile and 90% of that is down stream of the Nile, also Alexandria is not in the Delta region so it and the cites along the Suez Canal are spared along with a few oasis towns. In order to destroy Egypt you need 4 nukes not one, although one will do 80% of the work you would need to do.
     
  12. Mad Bad Rabbit Well-Known Member

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    If, say, alt-President Agnew can't make Operation Nickelgrass happen and the Israelis don't get any resupply for the first six weeks of the war, what are the odds of them having to resort to tactical nuclear strikes on their own soil, to halt Egyptian or Syrian advances?

    Alternately: if things get bad enough for the Israelis, will France give in and let the US overfly? The French presumably knew Israel had nukes, since they sold them the raw materials and reactor parts...
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  13. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    The flood from the Aswan High Dam will certainly leave some bits of Egypt intact. The government is gone, the industry is almost all gone, the vast majority of the population is gone, and any military t the bases in the flood plain are gone. As a military force Egypt is neutered - the remaining forces are small in number, and cut off fir all resupply and reinforcement.
     
  14. Apollo 20 Well-Known Member

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    Against the backdrop of events in October, I think this is probably right. My own pet theory on this was that Nixon did it to send a clear message of "don't screw around with us now". Agnew resigned on October 10 and the Saturday Night Massacre happened on the 20th. In between the two was the beginning of the OPEC oil embargo. Watergate was in full fury with new stories appearing daily. With all this going on, the country truly seemed to be spinning out of control. If the Soviets wanted to meddle in the Middle East, it was an opportune time to do so as the US was in political crisis.