Protect & Survive Miami: End of Watch

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by wolverinethad, May 21, 2017.

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  1. Gillan1220 Gillan, God Emperor of Craft Cafe Bar

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    Bush was evacuated. Safe to assume he was killed in Mount Weather or Raven Rock. As for Reagan, we knew he was on his way to the West Coast as per canon...
     
  2. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    I just want to note for readership's sake--I will be shifting back to my Connally story soon, but overall I'm in a better place now mentally and there should be less of a gap here in between chapters going forward.

    Also, @Chipperback, I know that you wanted to diverge in with my story once I hit a certain point...please let me know, here or in PM, what your plans are so I can sketch mine out.
     
  3. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    Um, putting your responses within a quote, highlighted in red or not, makes it difficult to reply.
    I don't think it would work like that though. If #2 in succession survives and becomes known to "President" Dole, she has no Constitutional choice but to say "Oh George, thank God you survived!" and surrender all her authority to him immediately. Her legal alternative, assuming by then she has facilitated some kind of continuity Congressional authority--gathering up individual elected Representatives and Senators who did survive and have turned up in her bailiwicks, and/or some sort of more or less democratic seeming appointment process to fill out a shadow Congress, would be to ask pointedly "will no one impeach this unfortunate reminder of failed policy!?!" and have a majority of the ramshackle Representatives draw up a bill of impeachment, and for 2/3 of the shadow Senate however composed to then vote to convict, presumably under the highest court justice she has presiding. If she does that, then if no one else of higher succession rank happens to be known to be around alive and kicking, then she legally becomes President again, Bush or no Bush.

    Some other little tricks she can pull to remain the acting President:
    1) poor luckless George manages to survive a Soviet launched nuclear pummeling, get through the glowing poisoned rubble and escape lawless mobs, only to tragically slip and fall on the last banana peel in CONUS somehow and crack his poor head. It is all very very tragic, he gets a nice funeral. If the deed is done and no one formally protests, she remains the legal President, unless and until Saint Ronnie himself or some other higher named Cabinet official or the pre-war Speaker of the House or Senate President Pro Tempore similarly staggers into her camps. Rinse and repeat?

    2) she can claim that actually someone who outranks him (that is to say, in this case, Ronald Reagan himself) is surely alive and compos mentis somewhere or other, they just haven't had much luck communicating, but she is only acting on his behalf until they can get in touch somehow. And that George Bush is exceeding his authority and...really this loops back to the impeachment track, unless she simply has Bush detained incommunicado. Which could of course lead right back to alternative 1.

    It fundamentally boils down to whether the raddled chain of command in the military holds or not. In my opinion, in this situation, if the civilian authorities who turn up not dead yet have a shred of collegiality, a pretense of civil dignity, and all speak the language of legality, the majority of uniformed authorities (police largely merging under military command as de facto militia here) will uphold the legalities and be damn grateful for each torn shred of the former fabric they can patch into place.

    By and large. It is hardly inconceivable that prewar political rivalries will override in some places, that a more or less respected commander will say "well, we can't impeach you but we ought to be able to!" and lock up the inconvenient factional representative or simply order them shot on the spot. Then it is a question of whether the men ordered to do that, or stand by while their boss takes out a pistol and does it himself, sleep well knowing about it. Considering the alternatives of sheer anarchy, many who otherwise might object might well bite their tongues and figure it is for the best really, and help with the cover up if necessary.

    Perhaps. The facts on the ground in the early 1980s were that President Reagan and the Republican ascendency were represented in mainstream culture as fundamentally in charge, due to the overwhelming will of the American people. News stories would cite poll numbers showing Reagan was "popular" with the same numbers they had cited a few years earlier showing Carter was "unpopular." Indeed there will be plenty of people who survive who think the wrong side was doing the wrong things much as your Valdosta narrative has going. But I don't think, if the Valdosta fragment with the Jimmy in active service there were to link up with the Gainesville group, that anyone would claim actually Carter should be deferred to as chief executive. A respected, even perhaps eventually revered, citizen yes. Put in charge of specific stuff by the existing authorities, absolutely. But his former Presidency in no way would be cited to override Liddy Dole's. She was in office in the chain of command, he was not, end of discussion.

    By and large the people on the ground will be grateful to grasp at straws of order and uphold the legal succession. If individuals empowered by that succession behave badly they might be "retired" with some dignity, or in bad situations simply shot, but generally speaking every more or less sane person at every level from random citizen and prewar buck private to whoever is found floating kicking at the top of the cesspool will get on board with emergency restoration regimes, and when one links up with another, assuming they haven't gone down some irredeemable road irrevocably, jigsaw themselves back into place.

    So, President Secretary Dole, if GHWB comes staggering into her camp, will get a cold, strained smile, roll her eyes, and say "welcome and thank God we've got you safe now, Mr President!" And call her top judge in to swear him in and take her place in his cabinet. And Georgie if he is half sane and canny at this point (I never liked things he did and hold him morally accountable for a lot of bad stuff, but he was not an idiot and he did have some sinuous clammy thing resembling a conscience, it is why he squirmed and weaseled so much) will express gratitude in deed as well as cheap words to the once and future Secretary and eulogize her wonderful services as interim acting President, and be careful not to piss off her supporters too much. Or pull a total Machiavelli and have her shot on ginned up charges with her key cronies perhaps as too dangerous to live.

    But taking the low road is risky. The regime is not democratic, whether they go around holding elections for a straw Congress or not, not in this emergency, but the guts of potential democracy are there in the largely order-following chain of command everything is mostly leaning on. On paper, the judges that these various officials salvage out of their shelters and refuges are the law, but in truth it all depends on the general sense of the more or less obedient masses witnessing and executing the orders who are the great jury. They have a lot to lose by rocking the boat and they know it, but by that same token if the officers of the boat are the ones making waves by holding petty coups and countercoups, tossing them overboard is pretty easily done. Plenty more where they came from! A Cabinet official turning up can be a sort of king, but it is a sort of constitutional monarchy--if they make sense and say sensible things, they can exercise hands on executive authority, but the most precious thing about them is their shred of legitimacy and symbolizing the prewar order devoutly desired to be restored (perhaps in the minds of some, with revisions). If the bosses demonstrate a descent into Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome petty drama, they can be brought to heel and made purely ceremonial so they darn well get it, or can be gotten rid of.

    Mutual interest then I think will enforce a pretty smooth legalism facilitating merger of power insofar as it becomes effective. We already have plenty of canon instances of pretty deplorable regimes on the ground that will either be encapsulated on negotiated terms, or fought. But I believe enough former US constitutional authority has survived, largely in uniform but with plenty of civil leaders as well, that the smart bet is on dealing with it and integrating into it.

    So if you like the idea that it is Liddy Dole wearing the Presidential mantle, or love to hate it, his Georgeness had best be left in a dusty glowing midden long dead somewhere, because if he did live, without being driven into obvious raving lunacy, he will in fact be dusted off and put in the Presidential chair, and if he remains reasonably canny, will act as well as symbolize the Presidency. Unless one or the other of them does something really egregious, there is just no other legitimate outcome of a meeting between Bush and Dole but the latter handing the reins over to the former, and perhaps the again-Secretary will be downright grateful to hand it off.

    So a third scenario, between Bush is dead and Bush is President, might be that Bush is alive, but hiding, knowing darn well he'd be stuck with the heavy crown and having decided he don't want it in these conditions. The only way he avoids it is if he keeps his head down and pretends to be simple Luigi the immigrant janitor who barely knows English.

    Not a likely scenario for Bush, but an alternative!
     
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  4. vl100butch Well-Known Member

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    It's a little early yet for Gulf States Command to be making any sort of major moves, but I wouldn't be surprised about contact along the Redneck Riviera corridor between east Alabama and western Florida...
     
  5. JN1 Has been called the C word on Twitter

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    IIRC the main story had Reagan shot to death by a deranged member of the British Operation Prosperous team.
     
  6. Archangel Battery-powered Bureaucrat

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    Glad to see the TL back! :)
     
  7. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    @Shevek23

    While I appreciate the thoughtful analysis, I was simply being snarky about Bush. I'm sure he ate a missile or ten wherever they took him (probably Mount Weather, Raven Rock was meant to be an alternate Pentagon), and even if the bunker survived, they'd be in a real fix trying to dislodge thousands of tons of radioactive rock from the inside.
     
  8. BrianD From OTL or ATL depending on your perspective

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    @wolverinethad , I worked on the 1983: Doomsday TL for a number of years and developed the scenario where nearby Auburn, Alabama survived their exchange (a small enough bomb destroyed the nearby military base in Columbus, Georgia along with much of that city). What do you see as Auburn's fate in this TL, especially since it's fairly close to SW Georgia and the Florida panhandle?
     
  9. Unknown Member

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    I agree, @wolverinethad; Bush is likely dead...

    I do understand why Fort Myers wants to wall itself off, but that's a mistake; you know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell, though (IMO, once the cops figure out what's happening, they won't be pleased; neither, I suspect, will some of the Florida Guard)…

    OTOH, once things get more settled down, Fort Myers will be the largest city on the Gulf Coast; it's on the Florida west coast, it got little fallout, and hurricanes haven't hit there in years (the last one that affected Fort Myers directly was Hurricane Donna, in 1960; IOTL, it wouldn't get a direct hit until Charley in 2004)…

    Glad to see you're back, @wolverinethad...
     
  10. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    So, the video for Brothers in Arms is a bleak masterpiece, pretty well illustrating what a nuclear apocalypse landscape would look like. It really is, in so many ways, the title track of this universe.
     
  11. Gillan1220 Gillan, God Emperor of Craft Cafe Bar

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    Auburn is too small to be a significant target. If that's the case, then Tim Cook would survive.
     
  12. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    As Miss Emily Littella:
    "Never mind!"

    Just a little mockery of the "Don Knotts of American politics" eh? I can get behind that.
     
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  13. mortonofski Little-known Member

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    Yay, great to hear things are going better! Looking forward to more End of Watch (and more Connally!)!

    Gen. Patton killed Bush pere off in Duck and Cover, I believe, but did so by sending him to Cheyenne Mountain Lake along with most of Congress...not sure what would have possessed him to go to a facility targeted by an entire Soviet missile regiment rather than, say, visiting Dubya in west Texas (Midland and Odessa were both hit per the Prospero list, but west Texas is a big place).
     
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  14. Gillan1220 Gillan, God Emperor of Craft Cafe Bar

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    Dubya would have survived right?
     
  15. mortonofski Little-known Member

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    I'm not sure if family members of VPs had Secret Service protection at that time, but if they did I would hope they had the sense to keep Dubya out of a target area. (For all the good that did his father, to say nothing of RAWHIDE...)
     
  16. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    I have a big issue with that. It flies in the face of the nascent COG plans in place by Jan. 1984 to have Bush go to the same place as Reagan, let alone Reagan trying to get to Cheyenne Mountain--Reagan had been briefed years before that NORAD considered the bunker an eventual death post! I know that Reagan's fate is canon and it was done superbly, but Bush had to have been elsewhere, and would have been elsewhere from the moment war broke out. COG plans depended on it, same as Whitelaw having been moved to CHANTICLEER while Thatcher stayed in London.
     
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  17. Cyniclone Well-Known Member

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    I think I've made this point somewhere on the board, maybe even on this thread, but for as transcendent as the original P&S was, it was written through a distinctly British lens. I think Macragge even said the original plan for updating readers on the U.S. was to have a character dismiss it as a big paved-over parking lot, but only after getting a number of requests for more detail did he spin off Operation Prospero. Which, and no insult intended to the author, was done without the same exacting detail to the nooks and crannies of American civil defense, priority targets and the like that he spent on the UK. And that made sense since the original P&S was always supposed to have a UK locus, with everything else being viewed and written about in that context.

    Then the America-focused spinoffs took the ball and ran with it, and did their own magic with it, but they treated the imperfect and inexact U.S. details as canon, which means things like Cleveland inexplicably surviving and Reagan making a beeline for the belly of the nuclear beast instead of hightailing it to a more logical location (like anywhere that isn't D.C. or midtown Manhattan). On the one hand, you certainly don't want to unilaterally screw with someone else's story, but on the other hand, in retrospect it would have been ideal had the authors of the first wave of American P&S timelines gotten together (with Macragge's involvement, or at least approval) to fine-tune the American aspects of the story for accuracy and depth.
     
  18. JN1 Has been called the C word on Twitter

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    Since Macragge isn't around we could always make the assumption of an unreliable narrator with regards to Operation Prospero. It was clear that the men selected for the mission were pscycogically very damaged.
    Who knows how much of what they said they saw, or did actually happened? The Commando, for example, may have been convinced he killed Regan, when in fact he may have never met him, or simply encountered an alread dead body and convinved himself he made it happen.

    From my understanding the VPOTUS was supposed to be evacuated aboard his own E-4B aircraft. So Bush would likely be airborne until the exchange was over. After that, I suspect he would have been taken to a survivin COG facility. Mount Weather, for example, was supposed to be highly surviveable.
    A breakdown in communications could easily lead to a belief that Elizabeth Dole is the senior surviving member of the Cabinet. Once communications are restored it could be discovered that there is a government led by Bush at Mount Weather, or another COG facility.
     
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  19. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    I don't want to consider myself the end-all, be-all expert on this topic--I can only go by what I know from my own defense work and from the last five years of (admittedly substantial) research I've done--but I'm not entirely ready to toss out what's established. I've certainly added to the target list, and fleshed out target information in my story and on the wiki, but there's some things that mitigate in favor of the Prospero story:

    • Air Force One was not EMP-hardened at the time. The RFP for the updated, EMP-resistant AF1 went out in 1985, so Reagan would have been flying on the circa-1972 AF1, which could, under the circumstances, suffer instrumentation issues in flight, causing it to crash land. The in-story explanation made mention that a refueling tanker never linked up with it, which is also quite plausible.
    • Bush was indeed supposed to be on an E-4B, but that evac plan was based upon his being near the capital when the balloon went up. With a three-day lead time until the Exchange, he probably would have been, as I speculated, already in a place like Mount Weather, and prior to 1976, it wouldn't have been on a target list, but after it became publicly exposed because a plane crashed right on top of it, the chances of its survival drastically decreased. I imagine it would get the same treatment as Cheyenne or Omaha--multiple SS-18s directed at it. Its design was for a year without replenishment, but if they got sealed in there and were unable to communicate with the outside world, "survival" becomes a moot point. I don't know how long it would take for direct hits from 25MT warhead radiation to die down long enough to allow for any sort of recovery operation.
    • Soviet failure rates with missiles/bombers were estimated as high as 30%. While the arsenals were at their numeric peak in 1984, not all warheads were mated to delivery vehicles, and both sides were vehicle limited by SALT and SALT II (abided by even though it wasn't ratified). Furthermore, the C&C upgrades hadn't filtered into the entirety of the Strategic Rocket Forces yet, so there's a decent chance that some launch sites never got missiles off. This is why I don't find the survival of certain cities or bases implausible--it fully depends upon their target status and whether the delivery vehicle earmarked for them was able to conduct its mission.
    I think in the end that the list will grow, and when I have time, I plan to add a whole bunch of targets to the Wiki list based on certainty that they'd get hit because of their importance, but I'm not ready to overrule other decisions. At the very least, I'd want folks like Chipperback to weigh in, given their own extensive contribution to canon. This isn't to diminish your input, Jan, in fact, you've been one of the very best contributors and sources of knowledge, just that I think there should be more discussion.
     
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  20. JN1 Has been called the C word on Twitter

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    Reagan would have been on an E-4B 'Nightwatch' aircraft, not AF1. The, VC137 (IIRC), did not have the command facilities of the later VC-25, and even that pales in comparison to the E-4B.
    There is, IMVHO, anyway, an even chance that the Soviets will have left some places like Mount Weather as a 'withhold' (as will the US SIOP). After all you need someone to negotiate with to end the war!

    I agree that more discussion is needed. I'm just putting out ideas for the very purpose of discussion. The 'unreliable narrator' was simply an idea to 'retcon' some of Operation Prospero, if that was felt to be needed.
     
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