Blue Skies in Camelot (Continued): An Alternate 80s and Beyond

Well, IOTL, despite Reagan having a 49-state sweep, the end result was really nil in the Senate with a two-seat Dem gain. Here, with the inverse, I could actually see some seats being LOST rather than gained, depending on the candidate. J. James Exxon in Nebraska and Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia barely got in IOTL while Walter Dee Huddleston of Kentucky and Charles H. Percy of Illinois were narrowly booted. Here, barring some massive Keating Five scandal on a grand scale, the result may stay the same with, potentially, RFK willing to lose conservative Dems like Exxon and willing to keep moderate Republicans like Percy (whom was ousted by AIPAC for not being pro Israel enough). On the bright side, with a strong enough case to turn blue, you could get Jesse Helms to lose his seat a la The Long Wait for a Winner style and really damage the conservative movement and force a substantial change in strategy

The House saw sixteen seats go to the GOP, but that was really nil in terms of changing power. With a supermajority, your best bet is an as-is majority given that a lot of the contentious seats IOTL for 1984 are probably already won by the Dems in 1982 ITTL. Unless Bobby has that constitutional amendment to overturn the Taft-Hartley Act to some degree or a substantial transformation of government for his legacy, the best bet is that New England Republicans willing to buck the conservatives are going to take the gains in the Northeast and Midwest, leaving Bobby limited to legislation.

At the end of the day, the only "more Democratic" that Bobby can look towards is getting the state legislatures downballot. Make some inroads with a lasting legacy agenda to go forth in a second term
To summarize your prediction, the Senate might see minimal change, with conservative Democrats potentially losing their seats and moderate Republicans retaining their seats. In the House, the Democrats's supermajority might remain stable, with gains possibly occurring in the Northeast and Midwest. Overall, the prediction is that RFK's landslide victory may not translate to dramatically more Democratic control in Congress. Thus, both the RFK and the Democrats best chance for more influence lies in securing state legislatures and advancing a lasting legacy agenda in a second term.

Is this correct? I'am not sure i'am reading your prediction on the House correctly.
 
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To summarize your prediction, the Senate might see minimal change, with conservative Democrats potentially losing their seats and moderate Republicans retaining their seats. In the House, the Democrats's supermajority might remain stable, with gains possibly occurring in the Northeast and Midwest. Overall, the prediction is that RFK's landslide victory may not translate to dramatically more Democratic control in Congress. Thus, both the RFK and the Democrats best chance for more influence lies in securing state legislatures and advancing a lasting legacy agenda in a second term.

Is this correct? I'am not sure i'am reading your prediction on the House correctly.
Pretty spot on, but making the case that RFK would probably have a good chance of advancing that lasting legacy in 1983 as something to run on for 1984. Give that effort to, say, have Michigan retain a Democratic legislature, Indiana's State Senate retain a Democratic majority, and begin having the Southern legislatures with the Democratic majorities enjoy union backing to help them break the Dixiecratic mold while retaining their majorities.
 
Chapter 163 - Eye in the Sky: The Iran-UAR War Enters its Next Phase
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Above: Iranian Northrop F-5 aircraft during the war (left); UAR T-62 tank wreckage in Khuzestan Province, Iran (right).​

“I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don't need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (Looking at you)
I can read your mind (Looking at you)
I can read your mind (Looking at you)
I can read your mind”
- “Eye in the Sky” by the Alan Parsons Project

“The west needs someone to tell the man who walks around with the biggest stick in the world, that that stick can't bring down God's house.” - Saddam Hussein

“To achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East takes guts, not guns.” - Queen Raina of Jordan

The war between the Democratic Republic of Iran and the United Arab Republic, which began on September 22nd, 1980, entered its second year in late 1981. At that time, the conflict appeared to have settled into a stalemate.

Despite a strong initial showing by the Arabs, using their armored divisions to break through poorly organized Iranian defenses in Khuzestan Province, the annexation of which remained one of Baghdad’s principal war goals, Iranian air attacks, particularly on oil refineries and shipping, hobbled the UAR’s economy, and made resupplying their frontlines with food, fuel, and water difficult. Add to these conditions the harsh, mountainous terrain of Iran’s border marches, and an Iranian population hell bent on sending them packing, and Saddam Hussein’s army faced severe setbacks that prevented them from securing their gains in Khuzestan.

On November 29th, 1981, the Iranian army executed a sneak attack on the Arab-occupied town of Bostan. To catch the invaders unawares, the Iranians constructed a road 14 kilometers long through undefended desert sand dunes. This road allowed them to attack the Arab positions from the rear. Lack of supply led to low morale among UAR troops, which was compounded as renewed fighting broke out that seemed to have them surrounded by Iranians. Backed by artillery and air support (including repaired and refueled jet fighters thanks to aid from the United States’ Kennedy administration), the Iranian troops surgically encircled and choked out pockets of Arab resistance, eventually forcing what remained of the armored divisions to retreat. Bostan returned to Iranian hands on December 7th. The fall of Bostan exacerbated the Arabs’ logistical problems, forcing them to use a roundabout route from Ahvaz to the south to resupply their troops. Nearly four-thousand Iranians and over two-thousand, five-hundred Arabs were killed in the operation. Realizing that a wider Iranian counterattack was likely in the works, the UAR high command decided to preempt them with an operation of their own the following spring.

On March 19th, 1982, using a large number of tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets, they attacked a massing group of Iranian forces around the Roghabiyeh pass. Though Saddam and his generals assumed they had succeeded, in reality the Iranian forces remained almost fully intact. Iran counterattacked, driving Arab forces from Khuzestan Province, then massed troops on the border for their own potential counter-invasion of Iraq. As a result, the tide of the war turned against the UAR.

The fighting thus far had battered the UAR’s military. Its strength dwindled from over 300,000 troops to just over half that number by May 1982. Over 40,000 Arab soldiers had already been killed and another 50,000 captured. Over 150 tanks and armored personnel carriers were lost to the Iranians during the retreat to the border as Saddam withdrew from Khuzestan and ordered his men to dig trenches and defend the border. Despite these setbacks, however, not all of the news was grim. The UAR still boasted over 3,000 operable tanks, while Iran could muster only half of that number, though their supplies were increasing thanks to western aid. The Arabs’ air forces were also more or less intact, still capable of bombing raids over Iranian cities. UAR helicopters were also capable of providing transport and air support, especially on defense. Clearly, if Iran was serious about a counter-invasion, they were going to have as many problems taking Arab territory as the Arabs had taking theirs.

On the Homefront, Saddam realized that he needed to secure his internal coalition if he was going to hold onto power. To do this, he employed a number of methods. At first, Saddam attempted to ensure that the UAR’s population suffered from the war as little as possible. There was rationing, but civilian projects that had begun before the war continued. At the same time, the already extensive cult of personality around Saddam's person reached new heights while the regime tightened its control over the military.

In Syria, an Islamist uprising, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, which had begun before unification, reached new heights and spread across the former border into Iraq. While the Sunni middle class opposed the uprising and supported the Baathist Party, many in the working classes supported the Islamists. The Islamists conducted terrorist campaigns in major cities, particularly Damascus, and attempted to disrupt the flow of oil to Syrian ports on the Mediterranean, which would have strangled the Republic’s economy, which was more reliant than ever on oil sales to fund its war effort. These pipelines (to the Syrian ports and north, to Turkey) were the only means of exporting UAR oil besides the port of Basra on the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. Given that Basra was under more or less constant air attacks by Iran, the pipelines took primacy. Saddam Hussein used these Islamist attacks as justification to dispatch his Republican Guard to brutally “pacify” Syria and Northern Iraq. Fighting between the UAR government and Brotherhood-backed militias continued thereafter throughout the war.

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Above: Seal of the Muslim Brotherhood (left); President Saddam Hussein and Vice President Hafez al-Assad of the United Arab Republic (right).​

Saddam blamed the uprising on his vice president, Hafez al-Assad (an Alawite Shia), who became increasingly isolated and sidelined from government affairs as Saddam’s cult of personality grew. Saddam allied with Sunni members of the Syrian wing of the Baathist Party to undermine Assad’s authority within the movement, and to ensure the Syrians’ ultimate loyalty to Saddam. This was accomplished by the giving of lavish gifts and the granting of what essentially amounted to “corruption privileges” that is, the government in Baghdad turning a blind eye to blatant graft and warlordism, as well as talking up Assad’s faults to the many enemies he had made over the years in his own rise to power. To the Syrian Sunni Baathists, Saddam represented an opportunity to turn the page on Assad’s failed leadership, which had seen an unsuccessful intervention in the Lebanese Civil War. Assad had also failed to retrieve the Golan Heights from Israel, who continued to occupy the territory in violation of international law. Though Saddam was, ultimately, disinterested in the Arab-Israeli conflict beyond paying lip service to the Palestinian cause and using them as a bargaining chip in his own personal empire building, he knew how to play up his supposed anti-Israeli, anti-western credentials in order to win allies in Syria.

By the time that Assad suffered a heart attack complicated by phlebitis in November of 1983 and subsequently died, his authority (both moral and practical) within the country had all but vanished. Assad’s death assured Saddam’s ascendency, however, by removing his only significant political rival in the Republic. Assad’s family, including his brother and young son, fled the country into exile, so as not to be targeted by Saddam’s paranoid wrath.

In the summer of 1982, Saddam began the second phase of his efforts to secure the Homefront: a campaign of terror. More than 300 UAR Army officers were executed for their failures on the battlefield. The following year, a major crackdown was launched on the leadership of the Shia community. Ninety members of the al-Hakim family, an influential family of Shia clerics whose leading members were the émigrés Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, were arrested, and 6 were hanged.

To secure the loyalty of the remaining Shia population, Saddam allowed more Shias into the Ba'ath Party and the government, and improved Shia living standards, which had been lower than those of the Sunnis. Saddam had the state pay for restoring Imam Ali's tomb with white marble imported from Italy. The Baathists also increased their policies of repression against the Shia. The most infamous event was the massacre of 148 civilians of the Shia town of Dujail. Despite the costs of the war, Saddam's regime made generous contributions to Shia waqf (religious endowments) as part of the price of buying Shia support. The importance of winning that support was so great that welfare services in Shia areas were actually expanded at a time in which Saddam’s regime pursued austerity in all other non-military fields.

In response to this "carrot or stick" campaign, Iran forged alliances with groups within the UAR who were still opposed to Saddam’s regime. These included: Kurdish militias in the north of Iraq, who sought independence and their own state; Shia Arabs tired of their oppression under the Sunni Saddam; and Syrian nationalists who opposed continued unity with Baghdad. Iran funneled money, training, and logistical support to these groups in the hopes that they would orchestrate uprisings that might topple Saddam’s regime or, at the very least, force him to pull troops off the front lines to put them down. For his part, Saddam responded by funding groups within Iran that were opposed to Yazdi’s government, or constitutional republicanism in general, especially among the socialist and communist left-wing, who were frustrated by Yazdi’s continued reluctance to give them positions in the wartime government. Shia Islamists in Iran were also frustrated by their lack of influence within Yazdi’s coalition, as well as by Yazdi’s insistence on closer ties with the United States of America. Mostafa Khomeini, the son of the late Ayatollah and unofficial leader of the Islamist opposition, also condemned Yazdi’s “reluctance to remove the murderous Saddam from power”.

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Above: Seal of the “Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas” (OIPFG), an underground Marxist-Leninist militia in Iran, opposed to the Yazdi government (left); Ebrahim Yazdi, wartime Prime Minister of Iran (right).

By May, Iran had recaptured most, if not quite all, of its sovereign territory.

On June 20th, Saddam sued for peace, proposing an immediate ceasefire and complete withdrawal from Iranian territory in exchange for Iran’s recognition of UAR ownership of the Shatt al-Arab. Saddam even offered to renounce his claims on Khuzestan province. The more nationalist and islamist elements within his country (who wanted to see Saddam removed from power and his government replaced with one more friendly to Tehran), refused to consider this, however.

If Tehran yielded on the very issue that had started the war in the first place (the Shatt al-Arab), they claimed, then the new republic would be seen as weak and overly deferential to Saddam and the Arabs. Many in Tehran felt that Saddam needed to be “taught a lesson” for beginning the war in the first place. This was not to say that elements of the Yazdi government did not support peace. The prime minister himself was actually disposed toward accepting the ceasefire on Saddam’s terms. Most of the Iranian military high command felt that invading Iraq was a fool’s errand for logistical reasons. But Yazdi lacked the political capital necessary to oppose the forces favoring invasion, which included his defense minister, his interior minister, and the country’s President, the popular cleric Hussein-Ali Montazeri, who had already lost one son in the fighting. Another of his sons had lost an eye defending Khuzestan Province. Thus, preparations for an invasion continued.

The offer of a ceasefire represented a rare thing indeed for Saddam: a somewhat shrewd geopolitical play.

Though Grigori Romanov had not yet committed the blunder of entering his own undeclared war with Sweden, Saddam still doubted the Soviets’ commitment to financially backing his own war effort long-term. He understood that if he was going to survive the potential onslaught of sustained Iranian counterattacks, he needed to court new allies (or at least financial backers), preferably ones a little closer to home.

Prior to the war, the UAR’s relations with the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, etc.) were notoriously awful. The Ba’athist ideology, explicitly secular, socialist, and Arab nationalist, seemed to threaten the foundation of the Gulf States’ monarchies. The Iranian Revolution changed the geopolitical calculus for these states, however. The Iranian constitution, also (largely) secular, declared monarchy to be an “illegitimate form of government”, in reference to the Shah. There was growing fear in Riyadh and the other Gulf State capitals that if Iran successfully invaded Iraq and/or Syria and overthrew Saddam, that Tehran’s influence across the Middle East would pose an even greater threat to the Gulf States' continued stability than Baghdad. The people of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States might turn to Iran as a possible revolutionary example to emulate. This could not be allowed. Just as Saddam’s military withdrew to the UAR’s borders and dug trenches in the spring of 1982, Saddam traveled to Riyadh to meet with King Faisal and hash out their differences.

On a personal level, Faisal loathed Saddam. The King saw much of his brother, Saud, whom he had removed from power nearly twenty years earlier in him. Saddam was a bully, a brute, who understood only violence. But, Faisal reasoned, he could be necessary as a counterweight, a bulwark against Iranian influence in the region, a “useful idiot”, if you will. Faisal was also troubled by American aloofness to himself and his Kingdom under the administration of President Robert Kennedy. Though Faisal had managed to soothe Kennedy’s human rights concerns with promises of continued reform, and had supplemented the Kingdom’s arsenal with modernized weapon systems from France, the Americans’ refusal to sell AWACs to Riyadh had shaken their confidence in Washington as an ironclad security guarantor. London and Paris would serve well enough in the role, Faisal thought, but would they have the resources and ability to project power into the Middle East on land, as well as by air and by sea in the event of Iranian invasion? Furthermore, if the US decided that the Democratic Republic of Iran was to be the “Natural hegemon” of the Persian Gulf, that could only stand to hurt Saudi interests.

In Riyadh, Saddam was on his best behavior. He charmed Faisal’s court and promised to be a “protector of peace” in the Middle East, if victorious over the Iranians. Attempting to appeal to Faisal’s staunch support of the Palestinian people, Saddam promised that after his war with Iran had concluded, he would turn the UAR’s attention westward (toward Israel), where his “true interests” lay. Saddam pitched a vision of the Middle East with the UAR and Saudi Arabia as the “two pillars” of an anticolonial coalition.

For the time being, however, Faisal kept his distance from such an overarching scheme.

His vision for his Kingdom required the continued presence of foreign, and especially, French workers to expand and maintain the Saudi oil fields. He did, however, agree to float Saddam’s government a number of loans necessary for the continued prosecution of the war. Those loans, combined with the UAR’s existing oil wealth, shipped via pipeline to Aleppo or north into Turkey, would buy everything from ammunition to uniforms. The Saudis were also interested in pivoting away from Egypt under President Anwar al-Sadat, whom they viewed as a “traitor to the Arab cause” for recognizing Israel and making a strategic shift toward the United States, placing Egyptian interests above those of Arab unity. While Faisal trusted Saddam even less than he did Sadat, he worked closely with his heir apparent and half-brother, Fahd, to keep the Kingdom’s options open when it came to protecting the Kingdom’s interests. Saddam, despite all odds, had made a friend, even if only temporarily.

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Above: King Faisal (left) and his half-brother and successor, King Fahd (right). The House of Saud became one of Saddam Hussein’s chief backers in the United Arab Republic’s war against Iran.

The Saudis weren’t the only ones nervous at the prospect of an Iranian invasion and the potential collapse of Saddam’s regime.

The Republic of Turkey, led by President Kenan Evren since the military coup that brought him to power two years earlier, viewed Saddam’s potential ouster as a “near apocalyptic-level threat”. Why? Simple: the Kurds. An Iranic ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Kurdistan in Western Asia, which spans southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria, the Kurds had long represented a sizeable ethnic minority in Turkey, and indeed, were considered in Ankara to be among the republic’s most notable security risks. The Kurds were, as of 1982, the world’s largest ethnic group without a nation-state of their own. Suppressed by both Saddam in the UAR and Evren’s regime in Turkey, the Kurds desperately wanted a state of their own to secure a future for their people. They hoped to create one out of the northern regions of the UAR, which used to be Iraq. No doubt, the Kurds would demand this as a precondition for assisting the Iranians in overthrowing Saddam’s regime.

Such a turn of events would put this hypothetical Kurdish state, if founded, directly on the border with Turkey, however. The Turks feared that if a Kurdish state were thus founded, Turkish Kurds might rise up in rebellion or attempt to break their home regions away to join this upstart country. Many of Turkey’s river systems that comprised the country’s fresh water supply were to be found in regions of Anatolia occupied by the Kurds. Given the ethnic ties between the Kurds and the Iranians, the Turks also feared that this new Kurdish state would become little more than a client-state for Tehran, extending Turkish influence, theoretically not only to Turkey’s doorstep, but through control of its fresh water supply, directly into the heart of its civilization. This was deemed totally unacceptable in Ankara. They would do whatever was in their power to prevent the Kurds from obtaining a homeland, even if it meant doing business with an “unsavory” dictator like Saddam Hussein. Hence, Turkey sent food, financial support, and even surplus small arms and ammunition to the UAR.

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Above: Flags of Turkey (left) and the proposed nation of Kurdistan (right); fears of the creation of a Kurdish homeland led Turkey to support the United Arab Republic in its war with Iran.

Even among Iran’s erstwhile allies - western nations like the United States and United Kingdom - the decision not to accept Saddam’s ceasefire offer was greeted with surprise and not a small amount of suspicion.

US Secretary of State Ed Muskie paid a visit to Tehran over the summer of 1982 to “remind” Prime Minister Yazdi and his government that US aid to Iran was predicated on the idea that the republic was defending itself from invasion by a Soviet-backed aggressor. “My fellow Americans are not interested in cutting you a blank check to do anything else.” Muskie told Yazdi coldly during a meeting in early July, 1982.

While the US certainly stood by Iran’s right to defend itself from attack, it did not want to see Iran do anything to destabilize the overall balance of power in the Middle East. Saddam might be a madman, but removing him from power would create a gigantic power vacuum. One need only look to Lebanon, with its myriad competing factions and bloody streets to see what might rush in to fill the void. Within the Kennedy National Security Council, headed by Zbiginew Brzezinski, concern was growing that the war could spread beyond the boundaries of the two belligerents. A National Security Planning Group meeting was called, chaired by President Kennedy, to review U.S. options. It was determined that there was a high likelihood that the conflict would spread into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, but that the United States had little capability to defend the region. “Zbig” summed up the feelings of many within the administration that, when it came to the Iran-UAR war, “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.” It was determined that a prolonged war in the region would induce much higher oil prices and threaten the fragile world recovery which was just beginning to gain momentum. This would threaten not only President Kennedy’s chances at reelection come 1984, but also overall world stability, right at a time when tensions between the superpowers were at their highest.

Back in Tehran, Muskie implied that if Iran went through with the invasion and attempted to topple Saddam’s regime, the US might recall the $5 billion in low-interest loans that Washington had floated the Iranians as part of the aid package passed by Congress the year before. Yazdi countered that if he accepted a ceasefire on Saddam’s terms, it would inevitably mean the collapse of his government. Iran, he argued, was winning the war. With Washington’s help (he was quick to credit the efficacy of US aid), they had driven the invaders from their soil and defended their national sovereignty. Accepting that the Shatt al-Arab belonged exclusively to the UAR would be seen as tantamount to surrender. Iranian national honor would not stand for it. The national unity coalition Yazdi headed was shaky at best. Even members of his own coalition, particularly the conservatives and nationalists, were leery of Yazdi pursuing overly close relations with Washington. If he accepted Saddam’s terms at the behest of his “American handlers” he would be promptly ridiculed as a puppet of Washington and removed by a vote of no-confidence. Instead, he offered a compromise: he would delay the proposed invasion for as long as he could and attempt to get Saddam to the negotiating table to drop his remaining demands and offer concessions which might prove acceptable to the more jingoistic elements in Yazdi’s government.

Muskie relayed this offer to President Kennedy, who reluctantly agreed. It was time for some more containment. The war would continue throughout the rest of 1982, but its character changed dramatically.

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Above: US Secretary of State Ed Muskie (left); USS Ranger, the nuclear-powered carrier which served as the flagship of the US fleet sent to protect Iranian shipping in the Persian Gulf during the war.

Following Muskie’s trip, a US Navy carrier strike group, based around the USS Ranger (a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier) was dispatched by President Kennedy to the Persian Gulf. Its primary mission was to protect shipments of oil on Iranian tankers bound for Europe and East Asia from Arab missile attacks. The United States Navy also offered to provide protection to foreign tankers sailing to Iran reflagged and flying the U.S. flag starting March 7th, 1983, in Operation Argonaut. Neutral tankers shipping to the UAR were not protected by Argonaut, resulting in reduced foreign tanker traffic to Basra, since they risked attacks by Iranian aircraft. Saddam bitterly accused the US of aiding Iran through this, but Muskie explained the decision by saying that “the UAR were the aggressors in this war. It can end the minute they drop their unreasonable territorial demands”.

In a rare case of cooperation between the Cold War superpowers, the Soviet Union also agreed to charter tankers, though they likewise favored Baghdad, their ally in the proxy war. This increased security around the Persian Gulf prevented oil prices from skyrocketing, secured the global insurance market (which saw its costs shoot up over covering vessels near the Gulf), and protected the fragile economic recovery in the West. Another foreign policy victory for President Kennedy.

Meanwhile, the respective militaries involved began to rethink their plans. With an invasion of the UAR delayed indefinitely, the Iranian military shifted its strategy to sabotage and domestic subversion of Saddam’s regime. Tehran increased shipments of arms and supplies to Kurdish and Islamist militants, who promised to begin armed rebellions in the northern and southern regions of Iraq, respectively. The Iranian air force continued to target centers of economic activity with bombing raids and missile strikes, most notably oil fields and refineries in Iraq and mines in eastern Syria.

In Baghdad, Saddam ordered his troops to build fortifications along the border with Iran and continued to develop his war chest and the surveillance apparatus of his burgeoning police state. In the northeast of his country, in the Zagros Mountains near the border with Iran, the Feyli Kurds rose up in armed rebellion against Saddam’s regime in the fall of 1982. Largely, this was in response to Saddam’s policy of forced “Arabization”, in which he ordered the army to abduct Kurdish men and boys from the region (as many as 8,000 by one estimate) and use them as hostages to blackmail their fellow Kurds into abandoning their homes in the region. The Feyli Kurds, armed by the Iranian military, began shooting at the UAR troops who arrived to abduct their brothers, fathers, and sons, and refused to recognize Saddam’s authority over them. Over the next several years, Saddam would routinely divert troops from the front to “deal with” the Kurds, whom he believed were being used as a proxy by the Iranians. Most infamously, this rebellion was put down with a series of chemical weapons attacks in the mid to late 1980s. In Iran, Saddam supported left-wing groups like the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK), as well as Shia Islamist groups, both of whom opposed the secular, constitutional government in Tehran.

On both sides, stockpiles of weapons were expanded, including the chemical precursors to mustard gas and other chemical weapons, sold to Baghdad by the French, who feared that an outright Iranian victory in the war might jeopardize their own developing relationship with the Saudis. West Germany meanwhile provided technical support to the Iranians, whom they felt more comfortable doing business with than Saddam. The Chinese, who were by this time beginning to emerge as a developing industrial power, sold material, including weapons, freely to both sides. The Soviet Union and North Korea sold artillery shells and, in the case of the Soviets, new jet fighters to Baghdad.

Even as a strategic stalemate set in, it was clear that the Iran-UAR War was, tragically, far from over.

Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: 1982 in Pop Culture
The Saudis absolutely need Saddam Hussein as a useful idiot of sorts.
The global center of Shia Islam has become secular, with winds blowing in a similar direction in the state that controls the Holy Cities.
The Wahhabi clerics ought to be sweating bullets, if not supporting covert Islamist movements to counter the Saudis, with Faisal trying to remove their influence from the Royal Family's legitimacy.
It'll be interesting to see a 1979-style Islamist revolution in Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud is vulnerable without the backing of the US. France can only go so far and China isn't the economic juggernaut it could become ITTL.
Even the issue of Israel and Zionism might not unite them, because things seem more severe than in OTL.
 
The Saudis absolutely need Saddam Hussein as a useful idiot of sorts.
The global center of Shia Islam has become secular, with winds blowing in a similar direction in the state that controls the Holy Cities.
The Wahhabi clerics ought to be sweating bullets, if not supporting covert Islamist movements to counter the Saudis, with Faisal trying to remove their influence from the Royal Family's legitimacy.
It'll be interesting to see a 1979-style Islamist revolution in Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud is vulnerable without the backing of the US. France can only go so far and China isn't the economic juggernaut it could become ITTL.
Even the issue of Israel and Zionism might not unite them, because things seem more severe than in OTL.
If only we could be so lucky. A Democratic republic Saudi Arabia, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing.
 
If only we could be so lucky. A Democratic republic Saudi Arabia, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing.
I meant an Islamic Republic like OTL Iran, with a Trotskyist-style message of spreading Wahhabism around the world.
A very interesting grimdark route at this point ITTL.
 
I meant an Islamic Republic like OTL Iran, with a Trotskyist-style message of spreading Wahhabism around the world.
A very interesting grimdark route at this point ITTL.
Oh never mind. I'm not sure that'd be an improvement over Arabia's current government.
 
Well, firstly, while I think RFK is very likely to be re-elected, whether it would be a landslide or not is still up to debate. It all depends on who the GOP nominates.

Having said that, my most pessimistic prediction for RFK in '84 is that he would carry 27 states and win roughly around 50% or more of the popular vote. My most optimistic prediction would be that RFK would replicate Richard Nixon's OTL 1972 election results, carrying 49 states and winning 60% of the popular vote, effectively one of the largest landslide election victories in American history.

As for Congress, I couldn't say for certain the appropriate numbers; it's too hard to say, but given the national trend, even my most pessimistic prediction for the Democrats is that they would at the very least maintain their control of both houses of Congress, albeit with smaller majorities.
To summarize your prediction, the Senate might see minimal change, with conservative Democrats potentially losing their seats and moderate Republicans retaining their seats. In the House, the Democrats's supermajority might remain stable, with gains possibly occurring in the Northeast and Midwest. Overall, the prediction is that RFK's landslide victory may not translate to dramatically more Democratic control in Congress. Thus, both the RFK and the Democrats best chance for more influence lies in securing state legislatures and advancing a lasting legacy agenda in a second term.

Is this correct? I'am not sure i'am reading your prediction on the House correctly.
Pretty spot on, but making the case that RFK would probably have a good chance of advancing that lasting legacy in 1983 as something to run on for 1984. Give that effort to, say, have Michigan retain a Democratic legislature, Indiana's State Senate retain a Democratic majority, and begin having the Southern legislatures with the Democratic majorities enjoy union backing to help them break the Dixiecratic mold while retaining their majorities.
While I understand the thinking behind this. I think there's a chance that with RFK's popularity and the trend that most likely started in 1982, I think there's a chance the democrats could expand their majority even further. While I'm not getting my hopes up I think that if RFK wins in 1984 in a landslide (And with the way his presidency is going I think it's likely at this point.) He could help democratic candidates in the house and in the senate and just imagine what RFK would be able to do with an even bigger supermajority and a Senate with 60 democratic senators. Maybe it's not realistic but just imagine it.
 
The Saudis absolutely need Saddam Hussein as a useful idiot of sorts.
The global center of Shia Islam has become secular, with winds blowing in a similar direction in the state that controls the Holy Cities.
The Wahhabi clerics ought to be sweating bullets, if not supporting covert Islamist movements to counter the Saudis, with Faisal trying to remove their influence from the Royal Family's legitimacy.
It'll be interesting to see a 1979-style Islamist revolution in Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud is vulnerable without the backing of the US. France can only go so far and China isn't the economic juggernaut it could become ITTL.
Even the issue of Israel and Zionism might not unite them, because things seem more severe than in OTL.

I meant an Islamic Republic like OTL Iran, with a Trotskyist-style message of spreading Wahhabism around the world.
A very interesting grimdark route at this point ITTL.
While I very much dislike the House of Saud, the crazy Islamists who are rated most likely to take over are much worse. In the event of the worst-case scenario, where Saudi Arabia collapsed rather spectacularly following a Wahhabist revolution, it would be prudent for the international community to take action.

I envisioned a scenario where a UN-authorized joint military task force from a coalition of moderate Islamic-majority states such as Indonesia, Morocco, Jordan, etc. secured the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina, turning it into a UN Mandate or International Zone where only troops from Islamic-majority states could be stationed there. Meanwhile, either an Anglo-American-led NATO task force or a joint American-Soviet task force occupied the vital Saudi oil fields to secure international interests and maintain global stability.

The Wahhabists, those reactionary loons that besmirch Islam in the eyes of many and led to many moderate or even liberal Muslims (like some of my close friends) experiencing one or two incidents of discrimination (luckily none of those incidents were physical), could rot in the desert for all I care.
 
While I very much dislike the House of Saud, the crazy Islamists who are rated most likely to take over are much worse. In the event of the worst-case scenario, where Saudi Arabia collapsed rather spectacularly following a Wahhabist revolution, it would be prudent for the international community to take action.

I envisioned a scenario where a UN-authorized joint military task force from a coalition of moderate Islamic-majority states such as Indonesia, Morocco, Jordan, etc. secured the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina, turning it into a UN Mandate or International Zone where only troops from Islamic-majority states could be stationed there. Meanwhile, either an Anglo-American-led NATO task force or a joint American-Soviet task force occupied the vital Saudi oil fields to secure international interests and maintain global stability.

The Wahhabists, those reactionary loons that besmirch Islam in the eyes of many and led to many moderate or even liberal Muslims (like some of my close friends) experiencing one or two incidents of discrimination (luckily none of those incidents were physical), could rot in the desert for all I care.
Oh definitely, I agree with your sentiment wholeheartedly.
Elders in my family tell me that as early as 20 years ago you couldn't tell if someone was a Hindu or a Muslim based on appearance alone, and that it was only their name that made them different from Hindus.
The petrodollar has ruined all that.
I had this idea in mind for my timeline because Operation Ajax failed and Iran became a secular social democratic republic, and I needed some form of regional big bad.
 
While I understand the thinking behind this. I think there's a chance that with RFK's popularity and the trend that most likely started in 1982, I think there's a chance the democrats could expand their majority even further.
Respectfully, there's a chance, and there's a wank. Even in the most ideal of situations IOTL, Reagan could only make a small dent in the Democratic numbers as part of his mandate. Bobby may pull off some voters, but even the moderates within the GOP can make the best inroads and, in this instance, will. To pull up a moment from West Wing, this notion of the Democrats expanding their majorities even further in the same level as 1982 ITTL is about as sensical as Bartlet wanting to campaign in New Hampshire when the best case he had was an "as is" majority in New Hampshire.
 
Respectfully, there's a chance, and there's a wank. Even in the most ideal of situations IOTL, Reagan could only make a small dent in the Democratic numbers as part of his mandate. Bobby may pull off some voters, but even the moderates within the GOP can make the best inroads and, in this instance, will. To pull up a moment from West Wing, this notion of the Democrats expanding their majorities even further in the same level as 1982 ITTL is about as sensical as Bartlet wanting to campaign in New Hampshire when the best case he had was an "as is" majority in New Hampshire.
Agreed. I think the strategy that the Democrats needed to adopt is how to preserve their overall majorities in both houses of Congress and work more closely with Romney Republicans, who only mildly dislike big government and leftist economic interventionism that are championed by the Democrats and thus more agreeable, unlike the Reaganites and Buckleyites, who saw such policies as the road to Communism.
 
Respectfully, there's a chance, and there's a wank. Even in the most ideal of situations IOTL, Reagan could only make a small dent in the Democratic numbers as part of his mandate. Bobby may pull off some voters, but even the moderates within the GOP can make the best inroads and, in this instance, will. To pull up a moment from West Wing, this notion of the Democrats expanding their majorities even further in the same level as 1982 ITTL is about as sensical as Bartlet wanting to campaign in New Hampshire when the best case he had was an "as is" majority in New Hampshire.
Otl majorities come from Watergate era gop weakness, here it would be a toss up, just like 1994
 
With the Iran-Iraq waring a stalemate which side does India support here due to the ATL? In our world, India trained atleast 140 pilots and provided assistance for the Iraqi airforce so what happened here?

Does it support Iran but India gets majority of their oil from Iraq.
 
With the Iran-Iraq waring a stalemate which side does India support here due to the ATL? In our world, India trained atleast 140 pilots and provided assistance for the Iraqi airforce so what happened here?

Does it support Iran but India gets majority of their oil from Iraq.
You'd never know, Indira Gandhi was pretty close to the Shah, and even if the Desai government of OTL condemned the Islamic Revolution they were pretty friendly.
With no Islamic Revolution, you'd expect India to support Iran, if they even get involved in it.
 
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With the Iran-Iraq waring a stalemate which side does India support here due to the ATL? In our world, India trained atleast 140 pilots and provided assistance for the Iraqi airforce so what happened here?

Does it support Iran but India gets majority of their oil from Iraq.
Also, a major drawer for India towards Iraq was because both were secular and socialistic. This timeline's India liberalized in the '70s, leaving little common ground for any solidarity.
And I personally think we'd support an actual democracy over a dictatorship.
 
Otl majorities come from Watergate era gop weakness, here it would be a toss up, just like 1994
Fair analysis here, and from the other commenters as well. Realistically, I believe that RFK's term (potentially first term, should he win reelection come 1984) will be seen as the "high water mark" for liberalism in the United States, and for the New Deal/New Frontier/New Hope Coalition. As others have pointed out, I don't see how the pendulum couldn't swing back after several decades of liberal dominance of national politics. If we zoom out and look at TTL's "big picture", here are the Presidents TTL:

35. John F. Kennedy - Liberal Democrat who, while being a Cold Warrior at heart, created Medicare/Medicaid, signed civil rights and voting rights legislation, and introduced a number of other reforms (creating the "Assistance for Families Plan", etc.)

36. George Romney - Moderate (Rockefeller-esque) Republican. Opponent of both big business and organized labor, Romney launched TTL's version of the War on Drugs and conducted an unpopular war in Southeast Asia, but was generally centrist on domestic and economic matters. Did not seriously question the New Frontier, just argued he could run it more efficiently (ala Eisenhower).

37. George Bush - Moderate Republican. Foreign policy-focused, largely disinterested in domestic affairs. Definitely not going to crusade against "big government".

38. Mo Udall - Progressive, Liberal Democrat. Expanded Medicare as a public option for all Americans and brought the fossil fuel companies to court, forcing them to break up. If that doesn't scream "big government overreach" to any red-blooded conservative, I don't know what does.

39. Robert F. Kennedy - Again, Liberal Democrat and Cold Warrior. RFK is more openly progressive than his brother was in office, and though has made some moves to govern from the center (especially 1982's Comprehensive Crime Control Act), there's no denying that many in America see Kennedy and his party as "liberalism run amok".

Once conservatives can get their act together, find a charismatic champion and an issue (or several) to rail against, the pendulum will begin to swing back the other way. The only questions in my mind are how long does it take for this to happen, and does Bobby Kennedy manage to leave enough guardrails in place to secure the legacy of his administration, his policies, and those of his liberal predecessors?

With the Iran-Iraq waring a stalemate which side does India support here due to the ATL? In our world, India trained atleast 140 pilots and provided assistance for the Iraqi airforce so what happened here?

Does it support Iran but India gets majority of their oil from Iraq.
India largely supports Iran here, and has shifted their purchases of oil away from the UAR toward Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf States.
 
1982 Pop Culture
Pop Culture in 1982 - E.T. Phone Home…
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Above: Poster design for E.T. & Me - the highest-grossing film of 1982 and one of the most iconic and celebrated of all time.​

Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1982 (Top Ten):
  1. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
  2. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
  3. “I Love Rock N Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  4. “Ebony & Ivory” by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
  5. “Centerfold” by The J. Geils Band
  6. “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League
  7. “Jack & Diane” by John Cougar
  8. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
  9. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago Transit Authority
  10. “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson

News in Music

January 20th - Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a live bat thrown at him during a performance in Des Moines, Iowa. He thought it was rubber. Less than a month later, he will be arrested in San Antonio, Texas for urinating on the Alamo.

February 20th - Pat Benatar married her guitarist, Neil Giraldo, on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

February 24th - The 24th Annual Grammy Awards are presented in Los Angeles, hosted by Quincy Jones (who wins a total of five awards). Billy Joel’s Nylon Curtain (powered by the hit single “Levittown”) wins Album of the Year, while Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" wins both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Sheena Easton wins Best New Artist.

March 5th - Comedian and Blues Brother John Belushi is found passed out in the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. He is rushed to the hospital, where doctors manage to save his life.

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March 19th - Ozzy Osbourne’s lead guitarist, Randy Rhodes, is nearly killed when a plane he is riding in buzzes Osbourne’s tour bus and nearly collides with a house. Thankfully, no one on board is harmed. 1982 will come to be known as the “tour from Hell” by Osbourne and his band.

March 22nd - Iron Maiden release The Number of the Beast, the critically acclaimed yet controversial album often hailed as Iron Maiden's greatest. This was Iron Maiden's first album to feature singer Brian Johnson and their first to hit number one in the UK charts.

April 15th - Billy Joel is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in Long Island, New York. Joel spends over a month in the hospital undergoing physical therapy for his hand.

April 17th - Johnny Cash hosts Saturday Night Live with Cash and Elton John and his classic band as the musical guests. Cash sings “I Walk The Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down”. John sings “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and "Ball and Chain.” The latter would not appear on the NBC show again until 2011.

May 21st - Following discord over the recording of Hot Space, slated to be the band’s tenth studio album, Queen decides to take “an indefinite hiatus”. The album, which would have been a departure from the band’s traditional rock sound in favor of disco, funk, and R&B, was heavily influenced by Freddie Mercury and John Deacon. Brian May and Roger Taylor were disappointed with it. The band would not reunite for three years.

May 26th - The Rolling Stones open their European tour in Aberdeen, Scotland.

May 29th - Duran Duran's album Rio peaks at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart in its second week on the chart and will remain on the chart for almost two years.

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July 4th - Ozzy Osbourne marries his manager Sharon Arden in Maui, Hawaii.

August 17th - In Langenhagen near Hanover, Germany began the first mass production of the compact disc (CD).

August 18th - Four streets in Liverpool, England, UK are named after each of The Beatles.

September 3rd - 5th - The first US Festival is held over Labor Day Weekend near Devore, California. The Police, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Talking Heads and The B-52's are among the many performers.

October 1st - The first compact discs appear in music stores in Japan.

October 6th - Madonna Ciccone’s first single, “Everybody” is released on Sire Records.

October 7th - The musical Cats begins its 18-year run on Broadway.

November 1st - The breakup of the band Blondie is announced publicly.

November 6th - Tears for Fears first hit single "Mad World" peaks at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart during its 17-week chart run.

November 25th - 27th - The Jamaica World Music Festival is held in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Acts over the three-day festival include Bob Marley & The Wailers, Peter Tosh, Rick James, The Clash, Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin and, in their final show before disbanding, Squeeze.

November 30th - Michael Jackson releases his sixth studio album Thriller, which would go on to be the greatest selling album of all time at 75 million units sold worldwide.
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December 31st - The eleventh annual New Year's Rockin' Eve special airs on ABC, with appearances by The Go-Go's, Hall & Oates, Ronnie Milsap, Barry Manilow and Jermaine Jackson.

1982 in Film - The Year’s Biggest & Most Memorable

E.T. & Me - Science Fiction. Columbia Pictures. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison. It tells the story of Elliott (Henry Thomas), a boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed “E.T” (voiced by Steven Spielberg), who is left behind on Earth. Along with his friends and family, Elliott must find a way to help E.T. find his way home. The film also stars Dee Wallace as Elliott’s single mother, Mary, Ralph Maccio as Elliott’s brother, Michael, Drew Barrymore as their sister, Gertie, and Tom Selleck as Keys, a government agent bent on capturing E.T..

The film, though fantastical in concept, was actually a very personal project for its director.

After his parents’ divorce in 1960, Spielberg filled the void in his heart with an imaginary alien companion that he later recalled as “a friend who could be the brother [he] never had and a father that [he] didn't feel [he] had anymore”.

Filming Raiders of the Lost Ark in Tunisia caused a sense of loneliness in Spielberg, far from his family and friends, and made memories of his childhood creation resurface. Working with screenwriter Melissa Mathison, Spielberg poured those feelings from his childhood into a sort of “spiritual autobiography”. References to Spielberg's childhood occur throughout: Elliott fakes illness by holding a thermometer to the bulb in his lamp while covering his face with a heating pad, a trick frequently employed by the young Spielberg. Michael picking on Elliott echoes Spielberg's teasing of his younger sisters, and Michael's evolution from tormentor to protector reflects how Spielberg had to take care of his sisters after their father left.

Some critics see the film as a sort of “modern fairy tale”. Others saw it as a sort of pseudo-religious allegory. Whatever the case, audiences and critics alike were mesmerized. Roger Ebert famously gave the film four stars out of four, declaring, “It’s a winner from opening to credits. And when the lights come down, there’s not a dry eye in the house.” He later added E.T. & Me to his list of “all-time greatest films”. Ebert’s feelings were almost universally shared. This was a film for the ages.

At the box office, the film would eventually rake in just shy of $800 million on a budget of just $10.5 million, becoming, for a time at least, the highest-grossing motion picture of all time. E.T. & Me wasn’t just beloved, it was a cultural phenomenon. Merchandising and product tie-ins galore. President and First Lady Kennedy screened the film at the White House alongside their children and grandchildren. Famously, RFK declared that he “loved the film.” And promised “that if E.T. were real, we [the government] would not try to capture or keep him from ‘phoning home’.”


Tootsie - Satirical romantic comedy. Columbia Pictures. Directed by Sydney Pollack from a screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal and a story by Gelbart and Don McGuire. It stars Michael Caine, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, and Charles Durning. In the film, Michael Dorsey (Caine), a talented actor with a reputation for being professionally difficult, runs into romantic trouble after adopting a female persona to land a job.

Tootsie was partly inspired from a play written by McGuire in the early 1970s, and was first made into a screenplay by Dick Richards, Bob Kaufman, and Robert Evans, in 1979. Principal photography took place across New York and in New Jersey beginning in November 1981, with filming locations including Manhattan, Hurley, and Fort Lee. The film's theme song, "It Might Be You", performed by Stephen Bishop, peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tootsie was theatrically released in the United States on December 17, 1982, by Columbia Pictures. The film grossed $241 million worldwide, becoming the third-highest grossing film of 1982, and received critical acclaim for its humor, Caine and Lange's performances, dialogue, and social commentary. It was nominated for ten awards at the 55th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Supporting Actress for Lange.


An Officer and a Gentleman - Romantic drama. Paramount Pictures. Directed by Taylor Hackford from a screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart, and starring John Denver, Sigourney Weaver, and R. Lee Ermey. It tells the story of Zack Mayo (Denver), a United States Navy Aviation Officer Candidate who is beginning his training at Aviation Officer Candidate School. While Zack meets his first true girlfriend during his training, a young "townie" named Paula (Weaver), he also comes into conflict with the hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Ermey) training his class.

An enormous box-office success, the film went on to be the third-highest grossing of 1982, after E.T. & Me and Tootsie. By the end of its theatrical run, An Officer and a Gentleman raked in nearly $130 million on a budget of just $7 million. While reviews of Denver’s performance were mixed (with some accusing him of “melodrama at points”), critics largely praised the film overall. In particular, Sigourney Weaver’s performance was lauded as a “high point for an actress already on the rise”. Weaver’s turn as Paula would net her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and prove that she could do high-profile “serious” dramatic roles just as well as she could “genre films” like Alien.


Rocky III - Sports drama. United Artists. Written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. The film is the sequel to Rocky II (1979) and the third installment in the Rocky film series. It also stars Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, and Burgess Meredith. In the film, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) faces stiff competition from Clubber Lang (Mr. T), a powerful new contender, and turns to his old adversary Apollo Creed (Weathers) to help him train.

While critical reception for the film was mixed (Gene Siskel famously called it “the dictionary definition of ‘the law of diminishing returns’”), it was beloved by fans of the franchise and scored big at the box office - $270 million against a budget of just $17 million. Over time, Rocky III gained a cult following and became famous for launching the stardom of Mr. T and of professional wrestler Terry Bollea AKA “Hulk Hogan”, an AWA star who appeared in the film as “Thunderlips”, a pro-wrestler whom Rocky faces off with in a charity bout.


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Science fiction. Warner Bros. Directed by David Lynch. Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick.

Following the successful partnership between Lynch and Warner Bros. on The Shining, the studio was eager to hire Lynch to direct another picture for them. Lynch once again brought up his passion project - the endlessly surreal Ronnie Rocket. But Warner Bros. declined to greenlight the “bizarre” film about the “little Rock N Roll man with electric powers”. Lynch was understandably frustrated, but perked up when he learned that the studio was also looking for someone to helm an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s seminal Sci-Fi classic. Lynch was a great fan of the novel and of Dick’s work in general, and agreed to direct Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? He believed that if he could deliver a bonafide hit to Warner Bros. then they would finally give him the financial backing he needed to make Ronnie Rocket. With his usual team of collaborators, Lynch set out to enact his vision.

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Above: David Lynch, circa 1982.​

The setting of the novel and thus, the film, were what initially drew Lynch toward the novel in the first place.

Following a devastating global war in what was then the near future (2019), the Earth's radioactively polluted atmosphere leads the United Nations to encourage mass emigrations to off-world colonies to preserve humanity's genetic integrity. Moving away from Earth comes with the incentive of free personal androids: robot servants identical to humans. The Rosen Association (renamed the “Blue Rose Corporation” in the film) manufactures the androids on a colony on Mars, but some androids rebel and escape to Earth, where they hope to remain undetected. American and Soviet police departments remain vigilant and keep android bounty-hunting officers (nicknamed “blade runners”) on duty.

On Earth, owning real live animals has become a fashionable status symbol, both because mass extinctions have made authentic animals rare and because of the accompanying cultural push for greater empathy. Poor people can only afford realistic-looking robot imitations of live animals. Rick Deckard, the novel's protagonist, for example, owns an electric sheep. The trend of increased empathy has coincidentally motivated a new technology-based religion called Mercerism, which uses "empathy boxes" to link users simultaneously to a virtual reality of collective suffering, centered on a martyr-like character, Wilbur Mercer, who eternally climbs up a hill while being hit with stones. Acquiring high-status animal pets and linking in to empathy boxes appear to be the only two ways characters in the story strive for existential fulfillment.

Hoping to evoke the neo-noir tone of the novel, Lynch opted to shoot most of the film in black and white (as he had The Elephant Man and Eraserhead). Lynch would later say in interviews, “I wanted to capture that feeling - the ‘hard-boiled’ detective dealing with a world full of corruption and stupidity. He’s looking for warmth in a cold, dead world.”

As Warner Bros. had with The Shining, studio executives continued to butt heads with Lynch. The director, being an auteur, expected complete creative control over the project. The studio, meanwhile, wanted a number of changes from Lynch’s pre-production vision. They wanted the script to be re-written and simplified, taking away much of the “strangeness” of the original novel. They wanted to cast an A-list actor as Deckard, the male lead. They felt someone like Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, or even Harrison Ford (also a fan of the novel) would do the character justice. As he had with his previous project, Lynch had his heart set on someone else: the relatively unknown Harry Dean Stanton. Stanton was one of Lynch’s favorite actors, having previously worked with the director as Stuart Ullman, the Overlook Hotel’s manager in The Shining.

Though Lynch clashed with the studio a great deal, they ultimately relented when Lynch promised that he could complete the film for “less than $20 million”. He would achieve this through casting his desired troupe of relatively unknown actors (with one or two exceptions) and by completing much of the film’s art design personally. The result was a film whose visual aesthetic owed a great deal to the classic noir films of the 1940s and 50s, which Lynch had grown up watching. Though Philip K. Dick would unfortunately pass away a few months before the film’s release in June 1982, he approved of the final script and said Lynch’s vision for his world “could have come from out of [Dick’s] own head.”

Below is a synopsis of the film’s plot, which adheres fairly closely to Dick’s novel.

Rick Deckard (Harry Dean Stanton), an inspector for the San Francisco Police Department, is assigned to “retire” (kill) six androids of the new Nexus-6 model which have recently escaped from Mars and traveled to Earth. These androids are made of organic matter so similar to a human's that only a “bone marrow analysis” can prove the difference, making them almost impossible to distinguish from real people. The analysis is painful and lengthy, and is in most cases posthumous. Deckard hopes this mission will earn him enough money to buy a live animal to replace his lone electric sheep to comfort his depressed wife Iran (Catherine E. Coulson).

Deckard visits the Blue Rose Corporation's headquarters in Los Angeles (a change from the novel, which has this in Seattle) to confirm the accuracy of the latest empathy test meant to identify incognito androids. Deckard suspects the test may not be capable of distinguishing the Nexus-6 models from genuine human beings, and it appears to give a false positive on his host in Hollywood, Rachael Rosen (Sean Young), meaning the police have potentially been executing human beings. The Blue Rose Corporation attempts to blackmail Deckard to get him to drop the case, but Deckard retests Rachael and determines that Rachael is, indeed, an android, which she ultimately admits.

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Above: Harry Dean Stanton as Rick Deckard and Sean Young as Rachael.​

Deckard meets a Soviet police contact (Freddie Jones) who turns out to be one of the Nexus-6 renegades in disguise. Deckard kills the android, then flies off to kill his next target, an android living in disguise as an opera singer. Meeting her backstage, Deckard attempts to administer the empathy test, but she calls the police. Failing to recognize Deckard as a bounty hunter, the cops arrest and detain him at a police station he has never heard of, filled with officers whom he is surprised to have never met.

An official named Garland (Brad Dourif) accuses Deckard of being an android with implanted memories. Garland, pointing a gun at Deckard, reveals that the entire station is a sham, claiming that both he and Phil Resch (Everett McGill), the station's resident bounty hunter, are androids. Resch shoots Garland in the head, escaping with Deckard back to the opera singer, whom Resch kills in cold blood when she implies that he may be an android. Desperate to know the truth, Resch asks Deckard to administer the empathy test on him, which confirms that he is human. Deckard then tests himself, confirming that he is human but has a sense of empathy for certain androids. Deckard is now able to buy his wife Iran an authentic Nubian goat with his commission.

Later, his supervisor insists that he visit an abandoned apartment building where the three remaining android fugitives are assumed to be hiding. Experiencing a vision of the prophet-like Mercer (Max von Sydow) telling him to proceed, despite the immorality of the mission, Deckard calls on Rachael again since her knowledge of android psychology may aid his investigation. Rachael declines to help, but reluctantly agrees to meet Deckard at a hotel in exchange for him abandoning the case.

At the hotel, she reveals that one of the fugitive androids is the same model as her, meaning that he will have to kill an android that looks like her. Despite having initial doubts by Rachael, she and Deckard end up having sex, after which they confess their love for one another. Rachael reveals she has slept with many bounty hunters, having been programmed to do so in order to dissuade them from their missions. Deckard threatens to kill her but ultimately holds back and leaves for the abandoned apartment building.

The three remaining android fugitives plan to outwit Deckard. The building's only other inhabitant, John R. Isidore (Jack Nance), a radioactively damaged and intellectually below-average human, attempts to befriend them. He is shocked when they callously torture and mutilate a rare spider he discovers. They all watch a television program which presents definitive evidence that the entire theology of Mercerism is a hoax. Deckard enters the building, experiencing strange, supernatural premonitions of Mercer notifying him of an ambush. When the androids attack him first, Deckard is legally justified as he kills all three without testing them beforehand. Isidore is devastated and Deckard is rewarded for a record number of Nexus-6 kills in a day. Returning home, Deckard finds Iran grieving because, while he was away, Rachael stopped by and killed their goat.

Deckard travels to an uninhabited, obliterated region of the Pacific Northwest to reflect. He climbs a hill and is hit by falling rocks, realizing this is an experience eerily similar to Mercer's martyrdom. He stumbles upon what he thinks is a real toad (an animal thought to be extinct). He brings it home to Iran, who gleefully agrees to care for it. Deckard smiles, though whether or not the toad is truly organic (or a replicant) is left ambiguous as the credits roll.

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True to his word, Lynch delivered Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? On time and under-budget. The film nonetheless confounded studio executives who found it “baffling” and “indecipherable”. After their advanced screening of the film, they openly questioned Lynch’s decision to keep the adaptation close to the source material. Some were uncomfortable with the idea of Deckard cheating on his wife with Rachael, only to then turn around and not end up with her at the end either. Nonetheless, the film had been completed and the studio felt obligated to release it (with minimal publicity) and try to recoup “some” of their loss. Thankfully for them, the gamble paid off.

For one thing, Lynch’s close partnership with Stephen King and Philip K. Dick paid dividends. Both King and Dick’s estate agreed to throw their weight behind the film upon its release. They wrote positive reviews (King) and spent their own money (Dick’s estate, along with Lynch) to promote the film and raise its profile in the national media. Though the returns were slow-going at first, they eventually got the word out. As the word of mouth campaign gained momentum, box office returns improved steadily. By the end of its run, the film not only broke even, it actually turned a modest profit - raking in some $65 million. Much of that came from international sales, where the film was greeted with even more enthusiasm than it was in the United States.

Critics, contrary to expectations, celebrated virtually every aspect of the film. “Finally,” one critic wrote for The New York Times, “someone has made a thinking-man’s Sci-Fi flick.” Another lauded, “David Lynch has done for science fiction cinema what Ray Bradbury did for science fiction literature - made it respectable.”

In particular, critics approved of Lynch’s surrealistic imagery and aesthetics, which contrasted strongly with the focused, “hard-boiled” neo-noir tone of the script. Themes of duality - good and evil, light and dark, warmth and cold - so essential to Lynch’s work, were on full display here. The contrast of machinery and humanity (another Lynchian hallmark, from his time living in Philadelphia in the early 1970s) fit perfectly with the source material as well. As “bizarre” as some of the plot points might seem at first glance, they seemed to fit perfectly with the cultural zeitgeist hitting America and the West in general at the time. With Cold War tensions at a near twenty-year peak, the idea of a world devastated by nuclear war, reduced to caring for “cold, electric” animals and worshiping a prophet of perpetual suffering (Mercer) really struck a chord with many.

Stanton’s performance as Deckard wound up becoming his breakout role. Not only did he deliver on the world-weariness and cynicism of the character, but he brought a vulnerability, however hidden, that made Deckard relatable and heroic, however violent his actions might become throughout the story. Young’s turn as Rachael was also lauded, with the young actress being compared to Sigourney Weaver in Alien (in which Stanton had also appeared). Some critics detected feminist themes in the film, with Rachael employing her sexuality as a means of protecting herself, forcing Deckard (the male hero) to question his place as a violent enacter of the state’s will. Environmentalism is also an important theme, with the real animals in the world of the film being depicted as sacred, a holy thing to be protected and cherished.

Since its release, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Has been studied extensively in film studies courses across the world. Considered a seminal film in the history of Sci-Fi, Lynch also considers it his last “big budget, studio” picture.

Having made the money needed to work on Ronnie Rocket, he declined Warner Bros. offer to direct another film for them and instead began work on his long awaited passion project.


The Colour Out of Space - Horror. Warner Bros. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written by Kubrick and novelist Diane Johnson, based on the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft. After being spurned by Stephen King in favor of David Lynch to adapt The Shining, Kubrick still wanted to direct a horror film, and Warner Bros. still wanted to work with Kubrick. The director thus turned to King’s spiritual mentor, H.P. Lovecraft, for a story to adapt.

After rejecting more popular tales (“The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”), Kubruck decided upon “The Colour Out of Space” because he felt that it would be the “most logical to adapt to the medium of film”. Its plot is largely the same as Lovecraft’s original story, though the time period is updated, with the frame story taking place in the modern day of 1982 (rather than 1927) and the primary action of the plot in the 1940s (rather than the 1880s).

Ward Phillips (John Lithgow), a surveyor from Boston, Massachusetts, attempts to uncover the secrets behind a shunned place referred to by the locals of the hills west of Arkham as the “blasted heath”. Unable to garner any information from the townspeople, Phillips seeks out an old and allegedly crazy man by the name of Ammi Pierce (Donald Pleasence), who relates his experiences with a farmer named Nahum Gardner (Jack Nicholson) and his family who used to live on the property.

Some forty years prior, in June 1942, a meteorite crashed into Nahum’s land. At the time, local scientists take a sample from the meteorite, and are perplexed by several strange behaviors that it exhibits. The sample disappears overnight after being stored in a glass beaker. When attempting to take a second sample from the meteorite, the scientists reveal a globule encased in the meteorite emitting a strange color. It was “only by analogy that they called it a color at all”, as it fell outside of the range of anything known in the visible spectrum. One of the scientists hits the globule with a hammer, and it disintegrates. Overnight, the meteorite disappears after being struck repeatedly by bolts of lightning.

The following season, Nahum's crops grow unnaturally large and abundant. When he discovers that, despite their appearance, they are inedible, he becomes convinced that the meteorite has poisoned the soil. Over the following year, the problem spreads to the surrounding plants and animals, altering them in unusual ways. All of the vegetation on the farm begins to become gray and brittle.

Mrs. Gardner (Shelley Duvall) goes mad, and Nahum decides to keep her locked in the attic. Over time, the family becomes isolated from the neighboring farmers, and Pierce becomes their only contact with the outside world. Pierce informs Nahum that their well water has gone bad and suggests digging and drinking from a new one, but Nahum refuses to take his advice. Thaddeus (Nicolas Cage), one of Nahum's sons, also goes mad, and Nahum locks him in a different room of the attic. The livestock start to take on disturbing forms and die off. Like the crops, their meat is inedible. Thaddeus dies in the attic, and Nahum buries his remains behind the farm. Merwin (Danny Lloyd), another of Nahum's sons, vanishes while retrieving water from the contaminated well.

After weeks of no contact with Nahum, Pierce visits the farmstead. He meets Nahum in his house, and realizes that he, like his wife and son, has also gone mad. When asked about Zenas, Nahum's last son who was accounted for, Nahum tells Pierce that Zenas “lives in the well”. Pierce ascends the stairs to the attic and finds that Mrs. Gardner has taken on a horrible form. Pierce then kills her in an act of mercy. When he descends the stairs, he finds that Nahum too has become horribly deformed. Nahum has a moment of lucidity and tells Pierce that the color that arrived on the meteorite is responsible, and that it has been siphoning life out of the surrounding area. Shortly afterwards, Nahum dies.

Pierce leaves and returns to the farmstead with six men. The group discovers both Merwin's and Zenas's eroding skeletons at the bottom of the well, along with the bones of several other creatures. As they reflect upon their discoveries in the house, the color begins to pour out from the well. The trees start to convulse, and the grayed organic material on the farm begins to faintly glow with the color. The men flee the house as the color flies from the well into the sky and disappears. Pierce alone turns back after the color has gone and witnesses some residual part of the color attempt to ascend briefly, only to fail and return to the well. Realizing that some part of the color still resides on Earth is enough to send Pierce into a bout of madness.

In the present, a horrified Phillips suggests that they have to go back to the Gardner farm and do something about the color. Pierce acquiesces, but when they arrive at the ruined farm, they find only gray, inorganic dust. The true horror, Phillips reflects, is that something like that could yet exist, somewhere out in space.

Filmed on location in rural New England, The Colour Out of Space helped to popularize the cosmic horror genre, along with another horror film of 1982 - The Thing by John Carpenter. It also helped launch the career of Nicolas Cage, the 18 year old nephew of acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola. Kubrick’s film was well-received by critics and generally successful at the box office. For the record, Stephen King mended fences with Kubrick after their previous row.

“Kubrick would have made Lovecraft proud with his film.” King wrote in a review for his hometown newspaper. “It’s terrifying.”

(The following film was submitted by @Nishimura89 . Thank you for your contribution!)

First Blood - Action. Orion Pictures. Directed by Ted Kotcheff and co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as Cambodia War veteran John Rambo.

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Similar to this in spirit, if not at all in execution...

The film opens with scenes of the lush Cambodian jungle, transitioning to intense combat where John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) and his unit fight against the Khmer Rouge. The brutality of the war is evident, and Rambo's leadership is highlighted as he navigates his team through deadly situations.

Fast forward to 1976, Rambo is living a quiet life in Montana, working on a ranch. He is respected by his community for his service but still struggles with the emotional scars of the war. One day, he receives a letter from an old war buddy, Paul Davenport, who is now living in the small town of Riverwood, Oregon. Davenport writes about strange occurrences and threats he’s been receiving related to their wartime actions.

Rambo decides to visit Davenport. Upon arrival, he finds that Davenport has mysteriously disappeared. Concerned, Rambo starts to investigate and soon discovers that a local businessman, Frank Reynolds (Kirk Douglas), has been exploiting veterans for his own gain. Reynolds runs a private security firm that hires veterans to carry out illegal activities, and Davenport had stumbled upon evidence of these crimes.

Rambo confronts Reynolds, who dismisses him and warns him to stay out of it. Undeterred, Rambo starts gathering evidence against Reynolds. His actions attract the attention of local authorities, who are in Reynolds' pocket. Rambo is arrested on trumped-up charges but escapes custody using his survival skills.

Now a fugitive, Rambo hides in the nearby forest, setting traps and outsmarting Reynolds' men who are sent to capture him. The local sheriff, George Harper (Brian Dennehy), initially views Rambo as a threat but begins to suspect there’s more to the story. He starts his own investigation and gradually learns the truth about Reynolds.

As the hunt for Rambo intensifies, he uses guerrilla tactics to dismantle Reynolds’ operations. The climax occurs when Rambo confronts Reynolds and his henchmen in a final showdown, using the forest to his advantage. Harper intervenes, bringing official charges against Reynolds based on the evidence Rambo has gathered.

The film ends with Reynolds’ arrest and Rambo being cleared of all charges. Harper offers Rambo a job as a consultant for veteran affairs in the town, but he decides to continue his journey, still seeking peace and purpose. The town of Riverwood is left to reflect on the treatment of veterans and the corruption that had infiltrated their community.

First Blood was highly successful, both commercially and critically. The film scored more than $125 million at the box office against a $15 million budget; critics lauded the film as "dark, gripping, and arresting". Roger Ebert and others claimed that much of the credit for the film's success should go to Stallone, who turned in arguably the finest performance of his career playing the nuanced, complex protagonist of the film. The film would spawn a sequel, which would be released in 1985.

(More Films to come in a subsequent update!)



The 55th Academy Awards - April 11th, 1983 - Hosted by Liza Minnelli & John Belushi

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Best Picture: E.T. & Me - Steven Spielberg & Kathleen Kennedy, producers
Best Director: Richard Attenborough - Gandhi
Best Actor: Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi
Best Actress: Liv Ullmann as Zofia "Sophie" Zawistowski in Sophie’s Choice
Best Supporting Actor: John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Lange as Julie Nichols in Tootsie
Best Original Screenplay: E.T. & Me by Melissa Matheson
Best Adapted Screenplay: Das Boot by Wolfgang Petersen based on the novel by Lothar G. Buchheim.

News in TV & Film Throughout the Year

February 1st - Late Night with David Letterman debuts on NBC; Letterman's first guests are Bill Murray (who dances around to the song "Physical") and "Mr. Wizard" Don Herbert.

March 4th - The crime drama spoof Police Squad! premieres on ABC; though it only lasts 6 episodes (the last being broadcast July 8th); the comedy would serve as the origin of the Frank Drebin character (played by Leslie Nielsen) and the inspiration for the Naked Gun movie series.

May 2nd - The Weather Channel premieres in the U.S.

May 27th - The series finale of Mork & Mindy entitled "The Mork Report" is broadcast on ABC. While it actually wasn't the final episode to be filmed, ABC nonetheless aired it last in hopes of giving the canceled series some proper closure.

June 22nd - The Coca-Cola Company acquires Columbia Pictures for $750 million.

July 9th - The Sci-fi movie Tron is the first feature film to use computer animation extensively.

July 11th - ABC broadcasts the FIFA World Cup Final between Italy and West Germany from Madrid. It's the first time that the World Cup's final match is aired live on American television.

July 29th - Professional wrestler Jerry Lawler slaps actor Andy Kaufman in the face on the NBC program Late Night with David Letterman; Kaufman responds by throwing coffee and shouting profanities at Lawler. The incident was later revealed to have been staged.

September 25th - Saturday Night Live begins its 8th season on NBC, with host Chevy Chase and musical guest Joy Division. Among the new additions for this season include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who will stay for 3 years (1982–1985) as a featured player/regular cast member.

September 30th - The pilot episode for Cheers airs on NBC.

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October 22nd - First Blood, the first film in a series about John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a Cambodian War veteran who suffers from TAPS, is released in the United States.

November 20th - At the age of 7, Drew Barrymore becomes the youngest person to ever guest-host Saturday Night Live on NBC. As fate would have it, she ends up hosting the same episode that saw Andy Kaufman banned from ever performing on the show again.

December 5th - Southwest Championship Wrestling becomes the first weekly wrestling program on the USA Network, airing Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. However, because of a particularly bloody match between Tully Blanchard and "Bruiser'' Bob Sweetan (which USA refused to air), the inability of the promotion to keep paying USA the $7,000 per week to keep the time slot, and a monetary offer made to the cable channel by WWF owner Vince McMahon to replace Southwest Championship Wrestling with his own programming, USA will end up canceling the program in September (in spite of the high ratings the show was garnering for the network), replacing it with WWF All American Wrestling. This is seen as the beginning of McMahon’s “national expansion”.

December 8th - Comedian Eddie Murphy makes his film debut in the hit 48 Hrs alongside Nick Nolte. Two weeks later, Nolte will guest-host Saturday Night Live and appear in a sketch alongside Murphy as their characters from the film.

1982 in Sport

Super Bowl XVI - The San Francisco 49ers (NFC) won 28 - 21 over the Cincinnati Bengals (AFC). San Francisco QB Joe Montana is named MVP.

World Series - The Milwaukee Brewers upset the St. Louis Cardinals with an extra-innings victory in Game 7 to win the Series 4 games to 3. Centerfielder Gorman Thomas is declared Series MVP.

NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers won 4 games to 1 over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Stanley Cup - New York Islanders win their second cup in a row, in their second sweep in a row, this time over the Vancouver Canucks.

1982 in Professional Wrestling

Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards:
Best Wrestler
- Ric Flair
Feud of the Year - Ted DiBiase vs. The Junkyard Dog
Tag Team of the Year - Stan Hansen and Ole Anderson
Most Improved - Jim Duggan
Best on Interviews - Roddy Piper

Time Magazine’s “Person” of the Year - The Personal Computer
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Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot - More Movies from 1982
 
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