Foreword & Prologue
When people consider the closest we’ve been to nuclear war, they often think of the Cuban Missile Crisis, or Able Archer, or even the Petrov Incident. But the real contender not many talk about is the almost-nuking of China in October, 1969. The Soviet Union was potentially only hours away from launching nuclear missiles at China, before President Richard Nixon intervened and threatened to nuke the USSR (ah, the glorious Cold War), who promptly backed down. While lots of far-fetched concepts are discussed in Alternate History (say, Axis victory, which is borderline ASB), we rarely talk about the things that likely would have happened. If you were to run October 1969 in a simulator one hundred times, most would likely result in a nuclear war. I’ve been on this website for a while now, and have read lots of Alternate History scenarios even before then. I’ve noticed a lack of content coming from this POD, as opposed to Able Archer and the Cuban Missile Crises. So, I have decided to write a timeline about it. Updates will come when I have time, which could be as few as 1-2 per month as I finish my final year of middle school. Please enjoy and know that comments (and criticisms) are always welcome.
-theflyingmongoose, February 19, 2021
‘History of the Sino-Soviet War’
By Dr. James R. Kobe (2062-)
Copyright 2127 by Scholastic Press, New York, NY, USA
Prologue: The Sino-Soviet Split and More Background, 1953-1969
The Sino-Soviet split was the worsening of diplomatic relations between the two major communist powers, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) during the time period known as the Cold War. During the mid-20th century, China and the Soviet Union were the two largest communist states in the world. Despite the opinion in the western world that all genres of communism were the same, the doctrinal divergence derived from Chinese and Soviet national interests, and from the governments’ different versions of Marxism-Leninism (the main theory of communism by the 1960s, named for Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin). Mao, the dictator of China, denounced Nikita Khrushchev’s (his soviet counterpart) emphasis on infrastructure and building development, believing it would make the people non-revolutionary and weak, while Khrushchev slammed Mao by stating that people would walk away from communism if it had nothing to offer them but revolution (which turned out to be true).
Around this time, an ideological debate between the communist parties of the USSR and China also pondered the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West. Mao, with his ‘Constant Revolution’ ideology, proposed a more hostile and aggressive stance, while Krushchev believed peaceful co-existence was possible. Mao, for example, criticized the Soviets for not giving a stronger response (read: military action) to the U-2 plane incident. This can partially be explained by Mao’s attitude toward human life, with such quotes like ‘Even if they kill 400 million Chinese, 400 million more will still fight on’. Khrushchev, to his credit, was far more calculated when it came to these matters, and nuclear war at the time was something the USSR would come out of far worse than the United States. By the time the late 60s came around, China-USSR relations were likely worse than American-Soviet ones, but this remained unknown to most of the world. Other issues that complicated China-USSR relations were Soviet support for Tibetan rebels in the late 50s and support for India during the 1962 War (between India and China). But none of this would matter, as the tension between the two countries would quickly escalate…
China and the USSR had previously gotten along quite well, at least during the reign of Khrushchev’s predecessor, Joseph Stalin (Mao and Stalin are two the the ‘Bad Three’, 20th-century dictators who are generally considered the worst of all time). Since 1956 (when Khrushchev began a ‘De-Stalinization’ campaign), the PRC and the USSR had vastly grown apart regarding various aspects of Marxist ideology, and, by the early 1960s, when the ideological differences proved unrepairable, the Communist Party of China (CPC) denounced the Soviet version of communism as a creation of “Anti-Revolutionary Revisionist Traitors.” Prior to this event, the west had mostly perceived communism as a monolithic ideology, when in reality it was quite diverse, and as we will get into this diversity could be quite deadly.