Raellus
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 01:49

A full retcon at this point is unfeasible, and, IMHO, an unreasonable expectation on the part of the KSB'ers. I, for one, am not advocating anything of the sort. What I would like to see is a few minor adjustments in the timeline and correlation of forces to increase the plausibility of the run up to the "You're on your own," transmission.

Unfortunately, a small but vocal- and shamefully rude- group is muddying the waters with their shrill ranting and name-calling. I hope Free League can block out that noise, and take the concerns and suggestions of the more reasonable, constructive among this community of fans and backers seriously.

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aramis
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 02:29

The biggest issue for me is that, if they're going to have Clinton term 1 be Clinton as a do-nothing, they should change the name, have someone fictional win the 1992 and be the do-nothing but make big threats that is implied by the lack of mention of the two biggest military actions of the 1992-1996 period: The Iraq no-fly zones and the Balkan UN mission (which was largely US troops). That would also make the (fictional) Gen. West (who seems to be a pastiche of LtC Olliver North sans the disgrace for lying to congress) a MUCH more reasonable choice. It also would have emboldened the USSR.

that the coup itself was doomed from the start also isn't quite realistic, either. The KGB and GRU leadership had their own perks to look out for, and if the coup had succeeded, even so far as just a public sniping incident, the KGB and GRU would have happily faked evidence that it was termination on the orders of the central committee (whose families would be "guarded" by the two agencies from the point it was clear who was to be in charge...) Even the Chairman of the Party can be dirtied up by the ministries. There were plenty of worries at the time that Glasnost would cost Gorbačev his office, to be replaced with a hardliner. Some early 90's defectors I've talked with were expecting the KGB to take him out and label him a US spy... a traitor.

Russian history is FILLED with violent regime changes. One more wouldn't have phased the Russian public much. Especially if the KGB and GRU decry the executed leader and his political friends. Lots of political fictions which made changes go over through the centuries.
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Random Task
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 05:07

Just thinking about this a little:
How is this for a framework to get to a powerful USSR with Warsaw Pact?
  • 1. Start the timeline earlier
    2. Perestroika for a couple years, the East Germans or Czechs leave earlier than 1989, Gorbachev is replaced by hard liners. Rest of Warsaw Pact must toe the line
    3. Soviet military capabilities are Red Dawn level, not reality as we understand it now.
    3. During this time- continuing Middle Eastern Instability- say as an example Syria joins the Iran-Iraq war and the conflict widens. Multi-year instability with high oil prices, USSR able to take advantage of building out their oil resources during this time.
    4. German or Czech integration delayed, hemming and hawing due to a Western recession related to chronically high oil prices.
    5. Resurgent Russia
    6. Attempt to take back E Germany / Czechia because they feel West is weak
    7. NATO decides to defend.
    8. A mistake is made by the Pact ----> NATO breaks out into Poland
    9. Tactical nukes used to contain breakout.
    10. Grinding slog, economic collapses, how does NATO become totally exhausted???
I'm not sure this scenario results in total war that exhausts Nato. How does the widespread nuking happen?
 
Olefin
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 06:50

Just thinking about this a little:
How is this for a framework to get to a powerful USSR with Warsaw Pact?
  • 1. Start the timeline earlier
    2. Perestroika for a couple years, the East Germans or Czechs leave earlier than 1989, Gorbachev is replaced by hard liners. Rest of Warsaw Pact must toe the line
    3. Soviet military capabilities are Red Dawn level, not reality as we understand it now.
    3. During this time- continuing Middle Eastern Instability- say as an example Syria joins the Iran-Iraq war and the conflict widens. Multi-year instability with high oil prices, USSR able to take advantage of building out their oil resources during this time.
    4. German or Czech integration delayed, hemming and hawing due to a Western recession related to chronically high oil prices.
    5. Resurgent Russia
    6. Attempt to take back E Germany / Czechia because they feel West is weak
    7. NATO decides to defend.
    8. A mistake is made by the Pact ----> NATO breaks out into Poland
    9. Tactical nukes used to contain breakout.
    10. Grinding slog, economic collapses, how does NATO become totally exhausted???
I'm not sure this scenario results in total war that exhausts Nato. How does the widespread nuking happen?
I like this a lot
 
aspqrz
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 08:57

1. Start the timeline earlier
I think this is the simplest solution ... as it is they're just force fitting a square peg into a round hole.

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Vader
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 11:09

Had the GKChP had the courage to try to assassinate Yeltsin instead, events might indeed have followed a slightly different course for a while, as that would imply that the GKChP would have been an entirely different body from what it was in history. Who knows, perhaps it might even have been able to find its own bum cheeks with both hands?
But as I pointed out somewhere else, just removing Yeltsin from the equation wouldn't have made the coup successful. It failed on several points, many of which really had nothing at all to do with Yeltsin.

But I'm thinking that it should be solvable by smaller nudges rather than great, sweeping brushstrokes.


My reasoning goes something along the following lines — and bear in mind this is just a rough sketch; I'd need to have some discussions with certain people to refine it into something I really can believe in:

Assume that the world develops pretty much along the lines of known history until the autumn of 1989. Just with one difference: certain parts of the executive branches of the Soviet state don't believe Perestroika is the way forward for the Socialist Revolution, and resist it where they can. The Army and KGB in particular keep up a more hardline Soviet State "on the ground" than what the Kremlin officially directs. As time passes, the more overt and emboldened the resistance becomes. When overly provocative shows of dissent against the Soviet State take place, they crack down on them — the Baltic Way manifestation never gets off the ground; a few hundred "ring leaders" are arrested, but it's a minor ripple.
The Army being occupied with keeping Poland in check (reinforced by units redeployed from other states for the purpose), enable the confused events in Hungary that by extension lead to the Berlin Wall falling to still take place. With things showing signs of beginning to come apart there, the Army was already about to move on Hungary, so that breach is quickly sealed (with consequences for those responsible at the border), but the events spreading so quickly to Berlin and DDR is completely unexpected, and the Soviet Army, taken by surprise, is unable to react quickly enough to stop them.
KPD forces Honecker to resign, and Germany is reunified as before — "illegally", as certain voices in the USSR claim.
This comes as a massive shock — after all, if anyone was going to be loyal, surely it would be the DDR? — and the hardline elements react accordingly; really clamping down on the slightest show of dissent in the remaining Pact countries. The local governments can read the writing on the wall, and revert to more hardline policies themselves.
Gorbachev is not happy. The power struggle in the Kremlin escalates, but in the end, presented with one fait accompli after another, his finds hand constantly forced, but is reluctant to resort to old-school methods himself. He tries to get funding to the dissenting branches cut, but oblique obstructionism and resistance in the Politburo and the government, particularly in the Presidium, means the result is the opposite — funding to particularly the Army increases at the cost of social reforms.
The Soviet citizenry, even in the large cities, never get a taste of freedom, let alone a taste for it.
At length, the situation is of course untenable; come August 1991, Gorbachev is ousted in a much quieter palace coup than the historical August Coup tried to be.

And thus 1991 closes, with an intact Soviet Union, a (mostly) intact Warsaw Pact, the Iron Curtain relocated to the German-Polish border — and a more belligerent Soviet leadership than anyone's seen since Stalin.

Or something like that.
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Arrigo74
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 15:02

Vader timeline is quite sound. And moves the border to Poland.

Otherwise, in my own Timeline (vey similar to Vader, but without fall of the Berlin Wall) the Pact attacks, get repulsed (not implausible with the 1988 onward correlation of forces), and then NATO start a counteroffensive. East Germany is a prime target (with pressures for Bon for reunification) and then after a victory there marching into Poland and reversing the whole Iron Curtain seems possible enough. Especially with, at this point, NATO fully mobilized and National Guard Divisions deployed. I would argue that by this point, as in the old 1E timeline China and SU are also fighting so the Soviets could not devote their full attention to a single theatre of war. So The Big Drive East... Stalled once by a conventional counteroffensive. Second NATO general offensive... and at that time with CAT-C division already fighting someone in Moscow decided Tactical Nuclear Weapons have to be used to stem the tide and 'recover' Poland. Basically there is a panic moment when the Soviet-WP defense is broken and to Moscow it appears NATO, and the Germans are going to march east forever... and they still remember the attempted break aways of 1989-1990...

Then it is all the same. Limited Nuclear exchanges, another round of conventional fighting, and operation reset. Of course by the end of the 1st year of the War probably the Soviet Fleets would be reduced to coastal defense forces. I am also assuming that the USN resist the idea to break the Bastions at starts to avoid ruffling nuclear feathers.

By the initial campaign start, the frontline will be the same in Poland, but probably Czechoslovakia will be split. Not so sure NATO has the strength to drive all the way in Hungary and Poland, it is something that should be tested, also it pays to concentrate the effort in Poland and cover the flank in Czechoslovakia.

As for the initial offensives and how to cross into Poland... I assume a continuation of the Correlation of forces from 1988 onward with no reduction and not great changes, and a medium warning scenario (With REFOERGE units already deployed but not the NG from the US part and only immediate mobilization reserves for the rest of NATO). The PACT was not in a position of massive advantage. I assume based on logistical assumptions that the first offensive could end in one month one month and half, and then a first NATO counterattack across the IGB. Doable. When NATO forces are in DDR, probably a slowing of operations (attempts to negotiation, reinforcement, resupply, but also NATO internal discussions). Then the decision to cross into Poland. So basically first pact offensive-NATO counteroffensive in 1997 to keep with the current timeline, possibly in Summer. Slow down in fall, and NATO cross into Poland in early 1998. First offensive stalled in Spring. Summer offensive in Summer and then nuclear threshold crossed (more or less the same timeline now in the alpha).
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Vader
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 17:28

Like Arrigo's war scenario.

I'll call my previous post "Chapter 1: History Breaks (pre-1991)"...
Those events would activate a lot of the events that we've discussed in multiple threads before the Alpha — how the "End of History" policies are not introduced, how Western politicians do not start cashing in on the "Peace Dividend", how development and introduction of new systems does not hit a brick wall, how perfectly good systems are not scrapped prematurely...


And for this second part; it is really just off the top of my head, my fingers sort of just continued typing... So, if the previous was a rough sketch, then this is really little more than semi-coherent rambling. I haven't even begun thinking about the simultaneous global or even European scenario. As before — there are people I'd need to confer with to turn it into something sensible.

But I ... think there may be a grain of something in there, somewhere:


So, for my "Chapter 2: Prelude to War (1991-1997)":

In spite of Jaruzelski trying — somewhat half-heartedly, in retrospect — to impose a harder regime and revert from some of the liberal reforms introduced during the mid-80's without interfering with too many of the economic ones, Poland continues to be the enfant terrible of the Communist Bloc. The massive economic crisis breeds widespread dissent, despite food and industrial aid programmes from the Soviet Union (who themselves are fighting similar problems) and draconic measures to quell the kleptocracy and black markets that siphon resources from the State's central planning.
The elections of June 1989 had taken place, with Solidarity as clear winner, but almost immediately afterward, the results are overturned and Solidarity again outlawed, with Walesa put into prison for three years. However, the leading Solidarity candidates elect to go underground, and form a "Shadow Government" that purports to be Poland's "only legal Government". Many countries formally recognise it as such.
In the meanwhile, Soviet complaints about the "blatant imperialist aggression evidenced by the illegal annexation of the DDR by the BRD" grow in volume and intensity. Voices in the Presidium and Central Command talk increasingly about "liberating" DDR. No formal decision is made to do so, but in 1994 plans are nevertheless drafted, based on a swift push that would (so it is thought) take NATO by surprise and reclaim at least 85% of DDR's territory, presenting the West with a fait accompli. Being inherently divided and therefore weak, NATO would obviously whine about it, but not take further action. The plans are quickly put into a drawer, as most recognise the strong whiff of rhetorical wishful thinking emanating from it.
Back in Poland, Walesa was freed from prison in 1992, and promptly joined the rest of the underground Government as its President. In 1995, the Solidarity Shadow Government decides to approach the West and seek support for an intervention to liberate Poland from its "illegal" government and Soviet oppression. The Soviet-recognised government gets wind of this, and redoubles its efforts to hunt down the Shadow Government. With the Brezhnev Doctrine firmly re-established, the consequence of such an action are all too clear. Poland goes back to indefinite martial law.
In 1996, the Warsaw Pact moves substantial forces into Poland. The formal reason for this is to quell any secessionist tendencies, but in the background also lurk the plans from 1994 that someone dusted off. With the economic difficulties escalating and war seemingly at the door, several Warsaw Pact countries, among them the USSR and Poland, switch to war economy.
Knowing that the Soviet Union and the rest of the Warsaw Pact countries don't recognise the German reunification, NATO begins reinforcing its forces in Central Europe as a precautionary measure when they receive intelligence of these developments.
The Polish Shadow Government's talks with the West haven't really led anywhere substantial — minor clandestine aid from intelligence services that has enabled them to stay underground is pretty much the extent of it — but when they learn through back channels that NATO is moving forces toward the Polish border, lacking the bigger picture and feeling the pressure of the intensified manhunt most acutely, they interpret it as a positive sign. This misapprehension spreads as a rumour outside the circle, and eventually reaches the ears of the security services. As a result, the formal government, and then Moscow, find themselves unable to ignore the possibility that the NATO deployments actually are preparations for an invasion.
Thus, when 1997 dawns, Europe is one big, dry powder keg, just waiting for a spark.
When Pact aerial surveillance shows an American tank battalion advancing in formation (they are on exercise) and report this, it is interpreted as the launching move of the invasion. In response, elements of the Soviet tank brigade guarding that sector are deployed toward the border to intercept. Joint STARS detects this rapid redeployment, and this is immediately interpreted as an offensive.
And up goes the balloon.
After the initial exchange, with the US President on the Hotline assuring them that this was a misunderstanding, the Warsaw Pact leadership decides to formally declare war on NATO. Misunderstanding or not — at that point, with the risk of Polish secession, a civilian economy about to fall apart, the need to repair the prestige loss of the illegally annexed DDR, a population desperately in need of having its ire directed somewhere other than its leaders, and the ever overarching imperative to move Russia's sphere of influence closer to the Atlantic, the Pact perceives it has more to gain by fighting the war they had prepared for, at last. And thus the first offensive is launched.
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Nicolas Michon
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Fri 04 Dec 2020, 00:11

Hello,

The Arrigo / Vader storyline is very attractive (and clearly a lot of thought has been put into it) - I'd be quite happy if FL made the changes .... but I will be content if the more limited adjustments I outlined are made.
 
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Ursus Maior
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Re: [ALPHA] An attempt at summarizing the world building discussion

Wed 09 Dec 2020, 14:08

And thus 1991 closes, with an intact Soviet Union, a (mostly) intact Warsaw Pact, the Iron Curtain relocated to the German-Polish border — and a more belligerent Soviet leadership than anyone's seen since Stalin.
I like a lot of this, but I do not see a casus belli anywhere on the horizon here. The ideas FL present in their alpha edition is charming, because one can see already at the end of 1991, where exactly it all will be going to hell. A new Iron Curtain means another Cold War, thus 'bipolar stability' (in every sense of the term).

Conflict arises with instability and unclear situations, however. And in order to create that, one needs uncertain spheres of interest. And this is where I cannot follow the argument about Stalin. He is not particularly belligerent actually, if referring to wars against other nations and in comparison to contemporary dictators. Between 1924 and 1939 Stalin's USSR only attacks countries formerly part of the Russian Empire or when a treaty with a third party grants the USSR land-rights (Bessarabia). With such a policy, I see no chance for a Twilight War in your setting. For, if the Polish rebel again, why should NATO intervene? They did not in 1952, 1956 or 1968. Not even in the 80s and early 90s, when the periphery of the USSR was in turmoil.

For a war, there need to be "unsettled issues" such as the Visegrád Countries applying for NATO membership and the US sending 'Partnership for Peace' trip-wire forces that get killed, when the neo-USSR 'suppresses counter-revolutionary insurgents'. This would make the Central and Eastern Europe of the 90s something like a reverse Indochina and the onset of the Twilight War would be similar to the Tet Offensive (plus trip-wire forces).
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