When the Wind Blew: a P&S Open Thread

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Gen_Patton, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Erin Go Bragh Well-Known Member

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    My concern of the events of the 21st is about the timeline. It seems the Soviets went from chemical weapons to the decision to let the strategic nukes fly in the matter of a small number of minutes.

    Ogarkov wasn't Stalin. He would have had to consult with the Politburo about the decision to launch. I don't know if it could have happened as quickly as P&S portrays it.
     
  2. Tsar of New Zealand Wikiboxes are the lowest form of entertainment

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    My approach is that the entirety of P&S is best read as presented by a series of unreliable narrators. The escalation after Kassel, the events of the Exchange, and what happened to South Africa and Argentina read more satisfyingly to me if one leaves the exact events and decision-making processes ambiguous.

    That's just my individual approach though, which I'm aware is a conscious effort to compensate for plot holes and excuse some of the more egregious implausibilities; your mileage may vary.
     
  3. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    One should keep in mind that following Andropov's death IRL, the Politburo wasn't very functional until after Chernenko died. ITTL, Ogarkov was promoted (likely over the objections of Ustinov, who in OTL had sacked him by mid-1984). "Control of the country was handed over to a temporary military governing commission of the Politburo led by General Nikolai Vasilyevich Ogarkov." Such a move could only mean the rest of the Politburo was now afraid of total collapse of the Warsaw Pact, and therefore decided upon war. Committees do not fight wars well, which is why Afghanistan was a debacle for the Soviets pre-Gorbachev. While it may seem implausible, one should remember that many, many events IRL are implausible on their face, yet happened because men are not always rational actors, even those in charge of powerful nations.

    Also, the escalation occurred over a couple of hours after the failure of discussions between Reagan and Ogarkov--a prime mover in Ogarkov's decision to launch was A: the chemical weapon offensive failed, blowing back on his armies more than the NATO ones; B: NATO launched its own retaliatory chemical strike on Brno in Czechoslovakia, and C: after Ogarkov ordered a tactical strike back on Heidelberg, he felt it was better to launch strategic missiles first lest the Soviets not get their blows in if NATO launched its strategic missiles first, especially with the superior capability of NATO missile subs to strike precise targets and with cruise missiles in Europe that couldn't be seen on radar.
     
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  4. SactoMan101 Well-Known Member

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    Personally, as soon as the first "real" nuke went off, both the Americans and Russians would have immediately moved their top politicians out of Washington, DC and Moscow respectively. In short, it's likely Reagan was already in the air flying the E-4 command post for several hours by the time the strategic nukes started flying.
     
  5. DrakonFin Operator

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    I was thinking along the same lines in terms of my story. The Finnish government does have the plan of dispersing the highest leadership to the countryside, but only practically goes about it at the very last minute. On one hand it is about a hope being entertained among president Koivisto and the Sorsa cabinet that the international situation can be defused through diplomacy, and that it's not all as bad as it looks like, and on the other hand there is a tendency to try to avoid panic on the national level. There is also WWII precedent: the Finnish highest political leadership, for the most part, stayed in the capital through the Winter and Continuation Wars. The government is then apprehensive about the effects the president and the ministers bailing out at an "early" stage would have on the national morale, etc. The Exchange beginning when it did then puts the president and most of the cabinet (at the time in a joint meeting) into the same (somewhat ill-fated) government bunker through contingency, not design (the idea being to just take the leadership to the nearest shelter post-haste instead of trying to transport some of them further away when the bombs are already falling).

    Agreed, with the addition that my spin-off is, despite the stated goals of the "Minne 1984 Project", essentially an institutionally unreliable narrative - a Swedish government account of what happened in Finland, with the state authorities having a final say as to what parts of the project's findings would be actually published for the benefit of the public. It is less obviously incorrect (and ham-fisted) than the story the Finnish National Administration itself is telling about the events and the aftermath, but it is a politically-constructed narrative nonetheless.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  6. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    Is this a reference to Heidelberg?

    So, Kassel was wiped out as retaliation for that commander's mistaken use of tactical nukes on the Soviets. After that, Reagan tried negotiating with Ogarkov to no avail on the HotLine. That call ended around 3:15PM EST. By 5:30PM, the chemical and bioweapons had been ramped up by both sides, deepening the chaos while not making any strategic difference on the battlefield.

    Now, Heidelberg was nuked at 5:45pm, and within eight minutes, the strategic weapons had launched, including nukes from SSBN's off the East Coast, which had a six minute travel time. That's less than fifteen minutes to get the hell out. As studies and live tests had shown, despite all the drills and promises, our guys just didn't move fast enough usually. The guy who launches first has the advantage and the Soviets had an extra advantage in not having to worry about public opinion. Reagan had to worry about keeping total panic from breaking out, a fact which could only be alleviated by staying at the White House.

    I don't think you're wrong in a logical scenario where emotion plays no part. It's just that here, emotion plays a big part.
     
  7. General_Paul Finding the fine line...

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    That was/is my approach in Ashes of the Dragon. Any narrators alive in '84 are inherently unreliable, politically biased, and unable to separate truth from the postwar narratives that they crafted. There's a reason I didn't go into too much detail about leadership decision-making processes in the upper echelons, other than vague discussions about drowning the Soviet lines in bodies. The Hong Kong narrative was riddled with holes because no one kept them in the loop after the outbreak of fighting in central Germany. There's also the whole lingering imperialist narrative that gets wrapped up into that survival discussion as well. The Macao narrative would have been riddled with holes because of the nature of the regime post-1984: Authoritarians recrafting the narrative of the war to suit their needs and maintain the status quo.

    The mainland narratives are unreliable because no one really survived the fighting in the upper echelons from the PRC's inner leadership circle around Deng Xiaoping. Plus, the ideological construction of the regime made it so that any storytelling about the fighting would use the language of Maoism and class struggle, inherently biasing any discussion of what really happened. The Taiwanese would have been so focused on survival that most of the discussion would be a heroic narrative about plucky Taiwan struggling in the post-atomic darkness to rebuild Chinese unity. Everyone is recrafting the narrative of the war to suit their needs, permanently obscuring what happened in order to bolster themselves and their stories.
     
  8. Cyniclone Well-Known Member

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    I remember us having this conversation in another thread (I think P&S Miami, actually) where I wondered about the evac policy for the president and whether he'd stay in DC so close to Armageddon. At least ITTL, Ogarkov was in a bunker well before the festivities started, and there was a reference in one of the P&S threads where Radio Moscow was in rerun mode one day, fueling speculation that the city was being evacuated before even the conventional war began. Whether the Soviet leadership would head for the hills early or stay in Moscow for as long as they can is a question, thank God, we've never gotten an answer to.
     
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  9. Archangel Battery-powered Bureaucrat

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    IMO, ITTL, there will be historians during the late XXI century that will try to make use of liberalization, comparative analysis, and renewed access to information and travel to get a more unbiased look at the war.
     
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  10. President Earl Warren Well-Known Member

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    Okay heres my idea:


    Title of TL:the Bunkermen.
    setting:Mount Weather
    Brief Description: Basically a story about the Presidents aides and other US authorities holed up in Mount Weather and their ultimately fruitless attempts to get into contact with the reast of the country, and a Phsycological tale about the charecters as Reagan goes into complete depression after the war, unable to face what has happened and the other charecters come to grips with how screwed they are and how many love ones they have lost.
     
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  11. Unknown Member

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    Since I contributed to the story that became End of Watch, here's another idea, set in an area of the country that hasn't been covered that much (this was a little inspired by Warday, since it was one of the three cities destroyed in that novel):

    Title of story: Heading for The Hills
    Setting: San Antonio, Texas, initially, and then the Texas Hill Country (or, more specifically, the area around Fredericksburg)
    Description: Two families, one who live in San Antonio and one who live in Fredericksburg (the families are related, BTW) deal with the rise of tensions and the eventual outbreak of war; it'd be similar to Threads and, indeed, End of Watch on this board in that it deals with day-to-day activity that is eventually overshadowed by the aforementioned events.
     
  12. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    You gonna write it? ;)
     
  13. Emperor Norton I Calbear's Love Child

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    Didn't Reagan die during the war, I thought?
     
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  14. President Earl Warren Well-Known Member

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    Mmm, must of missed that. Anyway I could still go with the goverment people stuck at Mount Weather and their struggle both for surrvivial and physcological (after all a few of these guys were the ones launching the Nukes)
     
  15. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    Reagan's death can be found in the last Prospero mission inside the original TL.
    The Mount Weather folks did not launch anything--the original launch orders were sent via EAM and the Nightwatch plane, which stayed aloft throughout the Exchange. Any counterforce would've been directed through Nightwatch and the ELF system based out of the Upper Peninsula here in Michian However, they, the Greenbriar, and potentially Raven Rock (and I would think the Soviets would've left Raven Rock alone, since we made it clear that was the backup node for the HotLine, and if they wanted any cessation of hostilities, they'd have to go through there).

    I can imagine, though, that anyone in any of those three facilities would've felt something akin to what John Connor did at the end of Terminator 3, or what the folks at Corsham did in the original TL, or hell, the AWACS planes aloft in Florida during the Exchange. You've got a front row seat to the end of the world, and you get the pleasure of surviving it. Not a choice I'd want. If my wife wasn't with me, or if I had no chance of seeing her again, I don't know that I'd want to live.

    Existential question: does God forgive a person that commits suicide during a nuclear war?
     
  16. President Earl Warren Well-Known Member

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    Personally I don't know, if you still have people who are depending on you, I think it's most certainly wrong as you would be abandoning them and adding to their sorrow in a time they most certainly do not need to have any added.
     
  17. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    I think a lot depends on the circumstances, like Sgt. Archibald in @JN1's excellent The Last Flight of XM594. He got the bombers off, then laid down in the grass and waited for the nuke to come, even though his wife and kid were off in a safe rural place. Or, for those in a Mount Weather, unless they live close to it, away from the targets, it's likely their families are ash in the atmosphere.

    In those situations, I don't think there's a good answer. I think nuclear war would be the proof, once and for all, that Satan is real. There is no act more evil. I will rest more easy when the short-fingered vulgarian leaves office.
     
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  18. President Earl Warren Well-Known Member

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    I was planning to have Immediate family evacuated to Mount Weather with them, they got the order to move their asses two weeks before it all went down.
     
  19. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

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    I suppose it could be the case, although, in fairness, I'm wondering if it would have been done.

    If you haven't, I highly recommend reading Garrett Graff's Raven Rock, The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of Us Die. He tracks the history of civil defense and government evacuation plans, COG, etc. It's a crazy story, literally crazy. I think Carter's administration put it best: there isn't a good plan, we hope for the best but anything we do will likely fail, especially with a close-in low-trajectory launch from subs. It was that fatalism about the possibility of evacuating D.C. that led him to create FEMA.
     
  20. President Earl Warren Well-Known Member

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    Thanks when I get the time I'll try it. Another story I have in mind is an Americans Fan fic cross over, with the Soviet spy family in Washington while the entire war goes down and how the couple deals with the stress of maintaining their cover, getting Valuable Intel at a time when their bosses needs it most and trying to assure the saftey of their children If everything goes to hell. Could be interesting to say the least.