Friday, June 14, 2013

A Very, Very Bloody Accident: WWIII In 1983

Today on my message-board I decided to take a look at ABLE ARCHER 83: Timeline of a Third World War in 1983. In real history, the Able Archer military exercise frightened the Soviet leadership into thinking a Western attack was imminent, but nothing ended up happening. Here things get ugly--the Soviets launch a pre-emptive "bolt from the blue" assault on completely unsuspecting NATO forces.

It's really interesting, although it'd be unbelievably horrific to live through if you lived in West Germany and other areas being fought over.. Thus far it's staying conventional and the author is saying it won't end up like the British movie Threads (in which civilization is bombed to hell and gone and only reaches roughly Victorian levels again 20 years later). Some interesting bits:

*The Soviet Union, rather than keeping occupied territory under military government (the most sensible option in my opinion), sends the KGB in almost immediately and starts murdering political opponents, collectivizing economic assets, etc. This could have some interesting consequences--with most of Austria's political elite liquidated, someone suggested Austria might be more inclined to join a united Germany if and when the USSR and its allies are defeated.

*There are Soviet attacks on Alaska in the early days of the conflict and the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk is destroyed off Korea. U.S. forces in the North Pacific bounce back and the Soviet Pacific Fleet pretty much ceases to exist. Some more detail on actual Soviet attacks on the U.S. mainland would have been nice.

*There's also a lot of space-war going on, with Soviet killer-satellites attacking American ones and the U.S. shooting down a Soviet satellite with a modified ballistic missile. And space-mines.

*Given how strong the anti-nuclear/peace movement was in the early 1980s, there are a lot of protesters hanging around military bases when the attack does come. With hundreds of peace activists killed by chemical weapons intended to make airfields and tactical nuclear stockpiles unusable, that pretty much strangles the Western anti-war movement in its crib. Oops.

With the exception of a left-wing Italian member taking offense at Italy's relatively quick capitulation to the Soviets, the depiction of Soviet infiltration of the 1980s peace movement and the trade unions (something that in the former case happened to be true), and acting all incredulous South Africa's black neighbors would attack it (regardless of who attacked whom first, I still think that's possible), the thread hasn't really gotten contentious. The closest thing to an argument that's taken place involved a Finnish member who seems very knowledgeable about the Finnish Cold War military correcting the writer's mistakes in the area. The Austrian issue is touched on (someone claimed the terrain would make much of Austria difficult for the Soviet Union to occupy), but much more briefly.

The timeline is still going. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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