Hello, folks. A while back, a friend and I played a pretty intense session, and I took down the play by play of it. It actually told a really good alternative history, so I turned it into a story. I thought I'd post it here, hope you guys like it.
We played with Turn Zero variant. All optional cards were played (not promo cards like Baghdad Pact), except for the "Who Lost China" card. We were playing with the "I lost it and can't find it" handicap.
We played with a house rule for extra influence: Default is US+2, but the US can gain two more for US+4 if he allows the USSR to designate one region where he cannot place influence. This must be chosen before cards are dealt.
We play for fun, neither of us are very good players. Don't bother telling me my play wasn't optimal, I already know that.
- [+] Dice rolls
When dealing with a monster, it’s great to sic another monster on it. If you’re lucky, they kill each other. If not, you have to deal with the remaining wounded beast. But even worse was when the monster emerged from the fight stronger than ever. But if the first monster is so terrible, sometimes you have to take that risk.
We’d heard of the communists. We knew they were evil. Evil enough to join the Nazis, only to be betrayed later. What did they think would happen? Unfortunately, the Reds were the only ones with the firepower and the positioning to help us defeat the Germans. And defeat them we did. And the world came together. But happy tales never last forever. Even before we landed at Normandy and hopped from Okinawa, we knew another enemy lie in wait. It might not have been the same kind of war. Some might think it wasn’t a war at all. But make no mistake, the communists and we, America, could never coexist. One of us had to defeat the other. That was my role, that was my job. And like any good soldier, I fought it to the very end.
I am a man like so many others. My name is William John Mercer, and I was born in 1924. There was nothing auspicious about my birth. But I came from a long line of service. Ancestors long ago fought as patriots for the Revolution, supposedly crossing the Delaware and fighting in Trenton. Later men fought for the Union, one of the few to make it out of Antietam alive. My grandfather fought up San Juan Hill, and through the Legations during the Boxer Rebellions. My father was not of age for service in the Great War, and he turned his mind to finance. He built up a Wall Street firm and traded across the world, particularly with the newly formed Republic of China. He married a beautiful woman, and I was his firstborn.
As firstborn, I was expected to take over this financial empire. And I applied myself rigorously. I learned French and Chinese the same time as English. I learned finance from across the world, and the laws such finances followed. Philosophy, history, rhetoric, and war. For war drove many an economy. I didn’t feel the Depression like others did, Father’s sharp mind, keen instincts, and contacts through the world kept our lives humming as they always had. As I grew through my teen years, I gobbled up more and more knowledge, expected to take a position at the company once my schooling was over.
And then, at 18, I threw it away and enlisted. Because that is what teenage boys do, rebel. I had no interest in running a company. I listened to news from Europe, from Asia, the world was falling apart in a mad rush of war. They might’ve been oceans away, but oceans couldn’t stop madmen for long. Days of crunching numbers and endless board meetings sounded like living death, or perhaps waiting to die when the monsters came.
I was assigned to the OSS. Training was brutal, but I loved it. Then, one day, I was given a test. I was taken to a barn, where the inside was completely pitch black. I was instructed to climb up a ladder. At the top, I traversed a ledge gripping with my fingers. All the while, it was so dark, I couldn’t even see my arms while I was hanging. Eventually, I was told to stop. And then, to drop.
Doing some mental calculations, I gathered it had to be twenty feet or so to the ground, at least. I was looking at a serious injury. That was utterly brainless. So I carefully made my way back to the ladder and climbed down.
Apparently, my actions that night told the top brass I was fit for a specific type of duty. I made officer. Soon after, I was sent to Geneva. There, I was given my assignments by Wild Bill Donovan, the head of OSS. He told me that he knew my father and my family. I was a bit disappointed at that, but I put it behind me: Defeating the Nazi war machine was more important than my own personal gripes, like benefiting from nepotism.
I worked through Italy first, coordinating the people’s movements against Mussolini. Then I was assigned to Vichy France, blending in and helping the French Underground. Gathering munitions, supplies, spying, and coordinating others to do the exact same things. All to get ready for the invasion of Southern France. Operation Dragoon, they called it. Sometimes, history picked good names for things. I took part in the battle of Marseilles with the French before returning to the American forces. And then I continued my work across France and into Germany.
When it became clear the war was about to end, Donovan asked me if I planned to return to my father’s business. In truth, I didn’t know if that was possible. I hadn’t kept in contact, doing so would’ve been impossible in the field. But my father and I parted on bad terms. I was wasting everything he gave me, he had said. He held grudges, and I had other brothers who could run the family firm. And so, Donovan recommended me to FDR’s White House.
Coming back to the States was a glorious feeling. I moved closer to Washington, met my own beautiful woman, and started a family. Then, I reported in for a new sort of duty. Donovan arranged a meeting with a Harvard man named John McCloy, the assistant Secretary of War. He told me he’d read Donovan’s reports on my work and wasn’t sure whether to believe them. I told him how true the stories were. I also told him I could see his hard-scrabble background in his eyes, and in his hands, no matter how his neatly-pressed suit tried to hide it. And that made him laugh. Someone that perceptive, and possibly that blunt, would certainly be useful in the cabinet. The men in charge would, he said, listen to me.
- [+] Dice rolls
Yalta and Potsdam: 1 (USSR chooses Arab/Israeli War to add to their hand) US Acheson / USSR Beria
The only person who wouldn’t listen to me was FDR. I suppose I should’ve expected that, the man always seemed to believe that government was the key to solve all problems. I’d heard him on the radio all my life, and I was sick of him the first time I met him. Maybe FDR should’ve been born a commie, he’d have been happier. He’d gone to the Yalta Conference, which was a disaster. Privately, though, I’d hoped he’d have been too ill to attend the conference in Potsdam, but that old codger surprised me. I could’ve admired his tenacity, but a shark like Stalin would’ve eaten him alive. I tried to advise him to watch out, and I wasn’t alone. I was with Dean Acheson, well-known for his ideas and oratory. His reputation was well earned, I liked him right away. But Stalin has his own man advising him, and speaking to FDR. One Lavrentiy Beria.
I could see right through him, so could Acheson, but FDR lapped up Beria’s words like they were sweets at a county fair. Everytime Acheson tried to say something, FDR would shut him up. I could see just what Stalin was planning on doing with the Middle East, planning an attack on the Jewish state that was to be created. I tried to tell him, but FDR shut me up as quickly as Acheson did. Beria noticed this too, and would always look to FDR just as we were about to speak. Eventually, we were both thrown out of the room.
After the disastrous conference, Acheson visited me and offered me a drink. He appreciated everything I tried to tell him. He noticed, even if FDR didn’t. I told him he could call on me in the future, if it was so needed. And Acheson sighed, and said it would be sooner than I realized.
V-E Day: 2 (Soviets get 8 total in Eastern Europe) - US Dummy / USSR Khrushchev
If I had one underestimation, it was that I didn’t think much of Khrushchev when I first learned about him. I’d read the reports about the Ukraine, and I saw him as nothing more than Stalin’s little toady, purging the party if someone so much as breathed in his general direction. Just another former Trotsky-ite happily slaughtering his way to hide his own past. I thought he’d stay in Kiev forever. But he moved fast once Hitler was stupid enough to invade the Soviets. The attack on Kiev was quickly repulsed, and Khrushchev became very popular, even though it was probably nameless soldiers who did all the work. The Ukrainians enlisted in the Red Army by the scores, and the Wehrmacht couldn’t handle the power and movements, collapsing almost overnight. We were still trudging around France by the time they reached Berlin. For all I know, the German’s desperate sending of troops to hold off the Soviets was how we got to Germany at all. And when I heard it was some commissar in Kiev that the Red Army idolized, I knew my mistake. And I would never underestimate Khrushchev again.
1945 Elections: 2 (No Change) - US Dummy / USSR Molotov
We are told there is a special relationship between Washington and London. I’d never seen it. France was our first ally. In the wars of this century, it was French soil we fought on and bled for, not the blitz-ravaged Londonscape. Britain and the United States fought endlessly through their history. And I held that opinion throughout the war, risking life and limb with the French Underground.
It only changed it when I met De Gaulle, sometime between Yalta and Potsdam. I tried to introduce myself but he kept referring to me as “the uppity American.” And I quickly learned that he was not alone in this: France still saw America as some child, not the leader of the world. A dinosaur stuck in the past. Is it any wonder they lost?
But even with that, I cared little for Britain. So when Labor and the Tories had their elections, I paid it no mind. “Build the Houses!” rah, rah. People could be so irritating, it’s like they never understood that civil government is all about which incompetent can suck up to the bureaucrats the best. How did one say that in British English? Even so, the Tories looked strong in the elections, and I knew that they would stop any socialist ideas if I left them to their work. Even a coalition government could stop such bad behavior.
But so many were charmed by Molotov. How on Earth could that be? He and that Nazi Ribbentrop made the pact that unleashed holy hell on France and England both. But he had a way with words. Maybe Labour learned how to speak like Molotov to reach the voters. Or maybe Molotov learned how Ribbentrop deceived him, and studied at the feet of his enemy. Either way, Labour swept the elections. Not enough to scare off supporters in America, but not enough to stem the problems of the idea of socialism.
Israel: 1 (USSR gets +1 in Syria and two more to place elsewhere in the Middle East) - US Dulles / USSR Andropov
If Khrushchev was my greatest Russian foe, Dulles was my greatest American one. It wasn’t a personal thing, I actually admired the man greatly. When I heard him talk, I felt like he could make me believe in the League of Nations. How silly that was! And I think I made a good impression on him. We were assigned to help David Ben-Gurion with his coalition in the new mandated Jewish state. And we attacked all problems with earnest. I made contacts in the region, quickly learned of the Soviet strategist and leader there: Yuri Andropov. A master of guerrilla tactics, he was sure to cause a lot of strife among the Pan-Arab forces in the region: the displaced Palestinians; the already communist sympathetic Syrians; and others in the region. And we worked together to disrupt everything Andropov could try.
It worked. Andropov couldn’t make a move the two of us couldn’t see and counteract. But for all of our work against Andropov, we lost sight of the real goal: Ben-Gurion's coalition itself. Irgun was distrustful of the promises of a peaceful land, and the more dovish forces saw Irgun and thought there would be a war they did not want. None of the Israelis trusted each other.
The Palestinians caught wind of this, and quickly spread to Syria and the countries around, bringing word of the weakness of the Jewish State. What Andropov couldn’t do, Ben-Gurion did for him.
After witnessing our failures, Dulles sighed. We realized that we did all we could, and then some. He greatly appreciated my intel in the region. The problem was the coalition, the pacts. Too many differing ideologies, even if the end goal was the same. We knew then to iron out such problems within the pacts themselves before they were made. He shook my hand, then. Said we’d both learn from this. Hopefully, with the Jewish state still alive to see it.
V-J Day: 6 (Korean War removed from the game, US can ignore DEFCON on Round 1 and can never make it go to 1) - US Kennan / USSR Dummy
There was always something about Kennan that...just made me feel off. He believed in the philosophy of containment, even if he didn’t voice it with those words at the time. He and I were in lock-step with that. Communism could not be allowed to infect her neighbors. And the communists had no interest in coexisting with capitalism, his very words. But there was something about the way he spoke that made me think his desires for containment only went so far.
After the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, we both knew those blasts made for a powerful symbol. The questions was: What would we do with it? There were plenty of communist satellites around the world, most notably the Soviet mandated zone of northern Korea, but there were others, Syria and the zones of Eastern Europe. For the moment, we were the only ones with the bombs. How could we use that to give the reds pause?
Kennan believed we could ignore the bombs. He believed that economic engagement was the key to counteract the Soviet threat. Capitalism provided more things, it could satisfy inherent human desires in a way communism never could. People would give up Stalin’s model and embrace capitalism if its fruits could be seen and obtained.
That was true in a way, communism was only good at making misery, but, there was a problem with that. Kennan had said it himself: Coexistence was impossible, and the Soviets would never ‘allow’ such a thing. They would respond to any threat with force, it was the only thing they knew. And the only thing they’d understand. The communists needed to understand America and her allies were not toothless. If they wanted a war, they would get one. With any weapon we had. That was my philosophy. I considered the bomb one of the greatest tragedies humans ever made, but we could not unmake it, or unuse it on Hiroshima. It existed, it was used, so it could be used again. We needed to make the message clear to Stalin: “Don’t make us destroy you.”
Kennan, I think, was caught off-guard by my zeal. I think that’s how my philosophy won out. But Stalin got the message. Intercepted messages from his proxy in North Korea, Kim Il-sung, went unanswered. As did many others. The Soviets hadn’t even bothered to try and interfere with our plans in the region. It wouldn’t last, maybe a few years before Stalin got brave enough. I just hoped we would be able to capitalize on it.
Chinese Civil War: 6 (US gets 3 in Taiwan, Taiwan is permanently a battleground country, Formosan Revolution replaced with Nationalist China, China Card starts the game face down) - US Marshall / USSR Dummy
When Chinese businessmen came to America for work, they used our family to get involved with Wall Street. My family’s history was intertwined with China for a long time. According to my grandfather, it was he who encouraged Empress Ci Xi to modernize her country near the end of her life. It sounded like a story to me, but it drove Father and me both. He recognized that China would eventually become a power in the world. So did I, in more ways than one. As the World War was ending. I could see that markets in the southeastern Asian regions would blossom, given independence and opportunity. It had so much to offer and few competitors. It would be hard to manage such development from America. But from China, our longstanding ally? Yes, that would be useful. And there were agents within China, contacts from my father’s business who still supported me after my family feud, who told me of pro-capitalist forces, nationalists called the Kuomintang, and their leader, Chiang Kai-Shek. But it couldn’t be that easy, Chiang was mobilizing for a war of his own.
I was approached one day by General Marshall. He knew of my ties to China, and he was going on a mission there, and asked me for any data and details I could give him. I gave him every resource I knew, put him in contact with many wealthy clients of the family firm. And when he returned, he came to me immediately. He knew and saw the danger there. The danger of one man: Mao Zedong.
The Soviets didn’t seem to take notice of Mao. But Marshall couldn’t avert his gaze. Marshall funneled the resources we had to the Kuomintang in just the right places. I was right by his side, helping in every area he couldn’t be. The Chinese would see Chiang Kai-shek and his armies as the heroes of World War II. And when the Kuomintang and the CCP came to blows, we would be ready. The Communists would be bogged down, and slow to respond whenever problems arose, thanks to a little sabotage. The Battle of Hsupeng showcased a brilliance I’d never thought possible, with weapons and training for Chiang's forces, fresh from the US of A, to slow the CCP, and prevent them from taking the lands north of the Yangtze. By itself, it was nothing, they’d fail before long. But the victories in that one battle convinced Truman to shore up support, and the CCP were pushed back enough that a stalemate was set up. The Kuomintang set up their headquarters in Taiwan, but maintained large support in the south of the country, putting Shanghai under their control and splitting the Chinese mainland into two. The Communists in Beijing were still able to marshal in Manchuria, and the north. But that would take them a few years to consolidate their forces. Given our closeness to Chiang, I would expect them to make overtures to the Soviets before long. But contacts in Beijing told me that would not be in Stalin’s pocket forever: They’d move towards us once they were worried they were getting too close to the reds.
- [+] Dice rolls
US gets +4, but USSR chooses one region he may not place it in. USSR chooses Middle East.
Soviets place 4 in East Germany (0/4), 4 in Poland (0/4), and 1 in Yugoslavia (0/1). They place their extra 2 in Europe in Yugoslavia, turning it to (0/3) They place their extra 2 in the Middle East with 1 in Iraq (0/2) and 1 in Libya (0/1).
After the collapse of the Wehrmacht, the Soviets worked quickly to establish power in their proxies in the region. Their quick moves to Berlin all but assured their heavy support in their zone after the partitioning of Germany. Poland saw fast and furious war march across their lands, with fire and death at every stroke. FDR, swayed as he was by Beria, made empty promises to the Polish exiles in London, and Stalin set up a sham elections to end all shams. I’d seen street hustlers with more honesty. And the Poles never forgot. But Tito, I saw that one coming from a mile away. I knew Stalin would move quickly with him. A liberator, hero. Savior of Yugoslavia. He ran in an election he couldn’t help but win honestly, because the monarchist dinosaurs boycotted the process. Who boycotts an election? But I’d seen a bit of a rift between Tito and Stalin. He was too proud of Belgrade, never willing to listen to anyone. He gave his people religious liberty, shook Churchill’s hand in Italy. Stalin wouldn’t like that. It might have been something we could use later. But for now, he was the number 2 in the Eastern Bloc. And until he could be exploited, he was my enemy.
In the Middle East, things looked bleaker. Qasim led a coup in Iraq and killed King Faisal. Stalin eagerly approved of the government’s socialist leanings, and the Iraqi People’s Republic was born. King Idris, in Libya, discovered oil within his country, and was eager to sell it to the Soviets in exchange for rebuilding, particularly when he heard about the Ben-Gurion coalition’s fractures. Stalin was only too eager to forge ties.
US places 2 in West Germany (2/0), 1 in Denmark (1/0), 2 in Italy (2/0), 1 in Greece (1/0), and 1 in Turkey (1/0). They place their bonus 4 with 2 in South Korea (3/0), 1 in West Germany (3/0), and 1 in Canada (3/0).
For us, we had a world to defend. The government in Taiwan was strong, but I knew Kim Il-Sung wouldn’t stay content above the 38th parallel for long, whether or not Stalin would back him. I wasn’t the hugest fan of Syngman Rhee in southern Korea, but we would need him to defend Taiwan, and even Japan, who’d made overtures towards us. They’d fall without assistance. What a black eye it would be for us if the Soviets conquered them through peace when we dropped an atrocity. Best to stop them before that became a problem.
In Europe, America, Britain, and France formed the Federal Republic of Germany from the divided defeated Germans, and we put our support there to ensure trade and capitalism flowed freely. We also extended our hands to some of the former Frikorps Danmark, who were celebrated as war heroes, as well as new Italian President Alcide de Gasperi, who was eager for our help in recovering the Italian economy.
During the final peace treaties that ended the war, I had pushed for Western Thrace to be taken from Bulgaria and given to Greece. The Bulgarians would not respond well, of course. But they were too close to the communists to agree with me. The Greeks, however, would remember it, and the anti-communists of their government would show it. Even Hitler knew the tenacity of the Greeks, and I knew I wanted them on my side. I didn’t think much of Turkey at the beginning. Ataturk initiated the reforms the country desperately needed, but I could never shake the idea that they only joined the Allies after the war grew in our favor. But I couldn’t deny it’s strategic location. And with the oil fields in the Middle East dangerous close to Soviet hands, I needed some buffer between the communists that would surely arise in Eastern Europe, and the Arabic forces in Stalin’s pocket. So I made my overtures towards them. And just as all my intrigues in Europe wound down, we honored the veterans of Juno Beach with a spectacle to dazzle our northern neighbor. I had ideas and plans for a system to help against Soviet aggression, but I knew I’d need their geography to do it. So what if speeches and parades are boring. They got me what I wanted. And that was all that needed to happen.
Round 1 - DEFCON 5 - 1948-1952
US Cards: Marshall Plan, Warsaw Pact, Vietnam Revolts, Eastern European Unrest, Truman Doctrine, Decolonization, US-Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Special Relationship
Headline - US plays Marshall Plan - USSR plays Arab-Israeli War
Marshall Plan Takes Effect: 1 in Canada (4/0), 1 in Denmark (2/0), 1 in West Germany (4/0), 1 in Spain/Portugal (1/0), 1 in Italy (3/0), 1 in Greece (2/0), 1 in Turkey (2/0).
I had just about finished finalizing the plans for the grand rebuilding of Europe. Marshall had been discussing it for a long time, and might have even convinced Truman of the course of action, had Truman been in a position to see Stalin firsthand. But FDR had to be so arrogant as to go to Potsdam, where both Acheson and I were humiliated.
But fortunately, Marshall saw my work with Southern China, and figured we could do the same in Europe. We worked long hours to decide just how to bring Europe into our sway. Gasperi’s economy was so poor it was easy to help him out, but Denmark was a bit trickier. They had scuttled their navy after their surrender in the war to prevent from undertaking Nazi ops, and some brand new American ships were just what the doctor ordered. I had initially thought of doing some of the rebuilding in France, but the proclamations made by Du Gaulle were making me heistate. He’d rejected the idea of our nuclear umbrella, and just about every other overture we sent his way. So I had it reappropriated to their former FRG territory instead. Greece and Turkey had communist insurgencies waiting in the wings, so we shored up their governments there to snuff those out, food and fuel sold at a low price would bring them fully over to our side. I included Canada in the list largely as a gesture. We were doing some rebuilding in Iceland as well, and told Prime Minister King that I’d be happy to “misappropriate” some resources for Canada was well. It was easy enough to solidify our hold there.
I wasn’t about to think we could be friends with Franco over in Spain, but his neighbor Salazar in Portugal was pliable. Money and prayer, that’s what he cared about. And that was something we could work with. And Salazar was close to Franco. That little Nazi sympathizer would certainly not like his neighbor getting all the goods. I worked it out with both of them, but after I left my meetings with them in Lisbon, I couldn’t help but want a shower all the way home.
USSR rolls for Arab-Israeli War, gets a 2 and fails.
It was no shock to me when the Soviets marshalled their forces to attack Israel. It only took hours after the establishment of Israel for an Arabic coalition to attack. But as quickly as I saw it materialize, things fell apart. Egypt and Jordan were more concerned that the other would be seen as the victor, Lebanon was concerned retaliation would affect them first, and the Syrian forces were ill-equipped for the attack. Irgun was quick to respond. It seemed that, despite the complete shakiness of Ben-Gurion’s coalition, nothing united them faster than an enemy at the gates, even a barely cohesive one. The war lasted only a few months, when Jordan withdrew and Lebanon declared neutrality. Jerusalem sent most of her forces against Egypt, and they quickly signed a peace treaty, turning over the Sinai. And with that, Syria immediately capitulated, thankful they only had to turn over the Golan Heights. It would be known as the Israeli War for Independence, but I never liked that term. It was already independent, after all. I called it the `48 War. And it showed me what even one country could do backed against the wall.
USSR Turn 1 - USSR plays De Gaulle Leads France, and does a coup in Iran. Rolls a 5, bringing total in Iran to 0/3, DEFCON goes to 4.
Shah Pahlavi of Iran seemed rather heartened by the failures of the Pan-Arab coalition. He’d made common cause with us when the Red Army was stationed in Azerbaijan, but he was new to his reign, and the army was not in a position to defend him if a crisis arose, just like it did during the war. And the crisis came quickly was Mohammad Mosaddegh. An able Prime Minister, but an economic dunce, he came up with the supposedly “brilliant” idea of nationalizing the AIOC, the Iranian oil industry. With their control over the Straits of Hormuz, our movements towards India and Pakistan would be hampered. Stalin knew this, and offered his support to Mosaddegh. With able Soviet troops training up the Iranian troops, they launched their attack on Tehran. And Pahlavi, the indecisive playboy shah, was in over his head. The troops struck quickly and ably, and he had to flee his country. He escaped through the Gulf towards Egypt. The troops there might not have received him warmly because of his ties to the West, and he made his way to Italy instead. The newly minted Shah Mosaddegh completed his nationalization of AIOC and forged close ties with Moscow. The Straits of Hormuz, for now at least, were closed to us.
US Turn 1 - US plays Warsaw Pact, USSR adds 1 to Poland (0/5), 2 to Hungary (0/2), and 2 to Bulgaria (0/2). US does a Coup in Libya. He rolls a 2, reducing Libya to 0/0. DEFCON goes to 3.
Buoyed from his successes in Iran and deeply distrustful of our attempts to rebuild Europe, Stalin quickly made a move to solidify his holdings in the puppet states he’d engineered. He had a pronouncement in Warsaw that the nations would collectively defend each other against all threats. I suppose he meant the threat of economic prosperity. Whether out of zeal to the cause or a worry a purge would fall on them, nations fell over themselves to join. But Stalin gave most of his support to the nations on his southern periphery. He’d seen the peaceful successes in Greece, and Turkey, and with Tito happily barking for his master already, Matyas Rakosi in Budapest and Georgi Dimitrov in Sofia were seen as ascendant sons, defending against any southern approach.
There was little I could do to stop that, not that I really wanted to. Such a pact would only be worse if I had allies in the region who could abdicate or be deposed. Instead, I used that distraction to deal with one of those pests in North Africa. There were some mercenaries in the region, disgruntled militias and former oil men who lost their livelihood when King Idris started to seize control of the oil industry. I gave some intel, and let them march.
But Idris was a bit wilier than I gave him credit for. Tripoli was hard to assault, and mercenary troops were not the best choices for a prolonged assault. In the end, Idris died, but many of the mercenary leaders fell to get him. The remaining troops, and the bloody conflict, soured the Libyans, blaming both America and Russia for the crisis. A vacuum emerged. The Russians no longer had a foothold in the region, but that was all I could get out of it.
USSR Turn 2- USSR plays First Lightning as an Event to cancel Independent Reds played as Influence. DEFCON goes to 2. He adds 1 to Iraq (0/3) and 1 to Lebanon (0/1).
All this time, I was waiting for Tito to blink. There was no way a “savior” like him would be content with playing second fiddle to Stalin. Particularly when he was snubbed in favor of his neighbors when Stalin announced the Warsaw Pact. I tried to get what little information I could through my Italian channels to him, and while he seemed warm from time to time, even willing to buck Stalin on occasion. When Stalin vetoed his decisions to start a civil war with Albania, I knew this could be my chance.
But that was all before Joe-1, the first Soviet atomic bomb. I was about to fly to Milan myself, and see if I could make my way towards the border of Slovenia, when I got a cable about a WB-29 detecting some strange fallout on its flight in Alaskan airspace. Sure enough, Truman spoke about it on television that very night. We were off by years for the Soviets, they were far more advanced than any of us could’ve imagined. We were certain Hiroshima would’ve deterred Stalin’s research, it certainly made him timid with his proxies around the world.
And if it scared me, it certainly made its impact known elsewhere. I never heard from Tito again, and one spy in Zagreb and another in Belgrade disappeared without a trace.
The Middle East heard about the bomb as well. The Iraqi Republic finished consolidating its power and pledged formal alliance with the USSR. And Lebanon, fearful of a retaliatory strike by Israel ever since the failed war, eagerly offered their allegiance.
That was the first night since the war I didn’t sleep well. It hadn’t been too long since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I knew better than anyone what those bombs could do. And everyone held their breath, waiting for a war that inched ever closer.
US Turn 2 - US plays Vietnam Revolts. He triggers the Event first. USSR gets 2 to Vietnam (0/2). US player coups Vietnam, V-J allows him to ignore DEFCON restriction. He rolls a 4. This turns Vietnam to 2/0.
I’d wanted to move away from failure after failure in the Middle East, lest Truman think me inept and fire me. McCloy took a big risk in hiring me, after all, I was incredibly green. Fortunately, the world felt unease and unrest everywhere, and it wasn’t hard to find a place to move. French Indochina, which was in a strange state of limbo ever since the war ended, was starting to stir. The nations there, long suffering under French rule, clamored for independence. They’d take aid from anyone to gain it. The Soviets, or us. All I had to do was find someone and make a move. But, that someone came to me.
I was approached one day by the Capitol Building by a man named Ho Chi Minh. He was from the eastern part of Indochina, and he had just failed in a meeting with Truman to gain support against the French. Truman didn’t want to give the French anything, sensible man, but it seemed he wasn’t willing to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to get it. Undeterred by one failure, he came to me. He’d heard the name “William Mercer” through Ben-Gurion. I was said to be a man who thought colonialism was a relic best discarded, was shaky about the French, and had great knowledge of Eastern Asia, her history, and her potential for independence. Most importantly, I was the man to go to in Washington if something needed to be done.
Ho Chi Minh had done his homework, and he spoke to me at length of the Atlantic Charter. He wanted my assistance on the liberation and independence of his homeland, Vietnam. He spoke eloquently, and told me America would be looked upon favorably in his new country if we’d help. And I would’ve done it. I believed in the Charter wholeheartedly. The Charter fit Minh’s goals, and the Southeast Asian areas were lucrative and ready for capitalism. They just needed a little encouragement. Called “kicking the French out.”
But something about Ho Chi Minh bothered me. Truman was no fool, there was a reason why he balked. And besides, Ho Chi Minh was too eager, and, while he assured me that the new nation would look kindly on her benefactor, he was vague about what that new nation would look like. So I dug deeper, past his conjecture. I found pseudonym after pseudonym and kept digging. And I learned the truth. Ho Chi Minh wasn’t just some nationalist. He was an ardently Communist as they came. There might have been allies like Franco I didn’t like, but we were against the communists, not supporting them.
I told him I’d support his efforts if he’d renounce communism. Ho Chi Minh responded by declaring the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to fight the French, without our help. The French responded quickly, but haphazardly, and Ho Chi Minh moved without fear. But the second Dien Bien Phu fell, I moved to strike. There were plenty of Vietnamese not exactly thrilled with the concept of a communist state. And many Vietnamese still remembered that when the Japanese struck their home, it was America who brought them to heel.
Ho Chi Minh’s armies were prepared for the French, but not for me. I had one army move from Hanoi and another from Saigon. Ho Chi Minh’s forces were fatigued, and not able to handle both armies at the same time. His forces surrendered, and the Indochine War, as history would refer to it, was considered a victory for nationalism and America. At the negotiating table, I declared that, in accordance with the Atlantic Charter, Indochina would be split into independent states of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The French objected, but they couldn’t financially keep their colony anymore, and after the token protests, they accepted it. Only after the declaration was made did I order Ho Chi Minh’s execution for starting the war and killing civilians in his crusade for independence. Stalin had reigned in his surrogates after the war, but he wouldn’t do so forever. So I needed to make sure there were no communists for him there to receive his advances.
Laos and Cambodia did not make any commitments to neutrality, stating that they needed to create their own internal affairs. And there were still some disputes regarding the Mekong Delta. But the newly declared Federal Vietnamese Republic, with her president Ngo Dinh Diem, pledged her support to America. There were still some rumblings in the region, but with the Soviets far away, there wasn’t much they could do about it.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays Middle East Scoring. USSR gains 7 points: USSR + 7
The Iraqi People’s Republic, Mosaddegh’s new Prime Minister, and the new Syrian government decided to embark on a “tour” of the West, offering ridiculously marked up oil contracts to the fuel-starved nations of Europe. Lebanon “gently” sent her own responses via cable. We were the second to last dignitaries received, on the grounds that the final position might be considered a seat of honor. I didn’t go, of course. But Acheson had to endure it. He knew all about the failures FDR had given us in Yalta and Potsdam, but it was far worse than even that. I don’t think he was pleased with me. I met with him to try and smooth things over, but I’m not sure how effective I was. I would need something a bit more spectacular if the communists embarked on some other PR coup.
US Turn 3 - US plays US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact for Influence. He adds 2 to Thailand (2/0) and 2 to Jordan (2/0).
I hadn’t the time to waste. I had considered placing a mutual defense treaty with Japan on Truman’s desk, with the thought he’d propose it to Congress. But he was in no mood for me, and I had to solidify our resources elsewhere.
I had recalled that Jordan withdrew from the `48 War with Israel almost immediately. And had very little trust in their neighbors. It was as good a place as any to start clawing my way back in the region. On the guise of arranging a tour to visit Petra, the site of Lawrence of Arabia’s stand, I entered Jordan and made contact during my trip. The King, Abdullah, was receptive to me. We spoke at length, or rather, I spoke. He listened intently. And then he said we could work together. There was talk of him halting peace talks with the Israelis, but thanks to me, he was encouraged to continue them, albeit much more secretly. I brought with me several telecom companies to help communication, on the guise of testing new equipment, to set up private lines for Israel and Jordan. Along with other, more practical resources to help modernize the country infrastructure.
There was also a crisis in Thailand, as King Ananda had mysteriously died very young. The king’s brother, Bhumibol Adulyadej, was to succeed the throne. He was an intelligent young man, interested in the saxophone, the latest science, and shooting. I had no musical talent, my scientific knowledge was limited to rockets, but shooting I liked. We held a contest, I’m not sure who won in the end, I was pretty sure we were being polite to each other.
The new king asserted himself to take his throne. And while that happened, I advised him, and the military dictatorships he grew close to. Many powers the monarchy lost were restored, and the King knew just who helped him make that possible. If ever I needed anything in that country, I knew I could get it.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays Romanian Abdication as an Event. Romania goes to 0/3
I hadn’t given much thought to Romania, but I did know the King. Michael I was a proud man who waged a coup against the Nazis. I’d heard great things, but I’d never thought much of monarchs. They didn’t actually run their governments, and ceremonial power was not something that held much interest to me. Besides, crowns attracted far too much attention.
But I’d heard he appointed the Soviet Petru Groza, bowing to pressure. The idea of assisting him did cross my mind, but resources were thin, and we’d never be able to defend the monarch, particularly with Bulgaria and Hungary’s strengthened governments. I recall offers being sent to offer him asylum, but he refused. European monarchs tried the same, and he still refused. It was admirable, if foolhardy. Eventually Gorza demanded he abdicate. And the writing was on the wall. He was allowed to leave. Last I heard, he met his wife and lived happily in Switzerland. A far better fate than most the Communists thought of as enemies.
US Turn 4 - US plays Truman Doctrine for Influence. He adds 1 to Laos/Cambodia (1/0)
I went on another tour of Southeast Asian region, formalizing a few more discussions with Diem. We toured the Mekong Delta in a discussion about agricultural reform. And I was being cajoled in supporting Vietnam’s claim on the region. A lot of the technology America was developing wouldn’t be suited for such wet terrain. And, while I knew Diem and his forces were loyal, I also wanted to expand our reach into the newly formed Cambodia. After all, at the same time I was being pressured by Cambodia’s prince Norodom Suramarit for assistance against his more communist leading father. I wasn’t about to instigate another coup there: Unlike Ho Chi Minh, King Sihanouk was officially neutral, and attacking neutrals was a great way to anger many, especially with me being on thin ice with Truman as it was. So I made an overture. The Mekong Delta would be shared for the time being, governed jointly by Suramarit and an envoy of Diem’s choosing. After a few years, elections would be held and the Mekong could make their decision, but any act of violence in the region would void the parent country’s claim. Both Vietnam and Cambodia jumped and readily agreed. With control in that country secured, and routes to the sea blocked by capitalist nations, Laos began to clamp down on their own communists, the Pathet Lao. All for a measly tour. Not bad.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR plays Five Year Plan on the Space Race. He rolls a 6 and fails.
In truth, I’d never thought about space much as a boy. I cared far more about the world in which I lived in, not some empty black expanse of twinkling stars. But when rocket technology began to advance, I could see how that empty expanse could be used in dangerous ways. And I got very interested in space. And so did the Russians. It was hard to tell just what it is they were doing: OKB-1, where all the space technology was developed, was incredibly secretive. It was all I could do just to get one insider there. I’d been fed a steady stream of information. Information that was costing the taxpayers a fortune. I learned they were about to launch Sputnik I, their first artificial satellite.. I knew it would be a disaster if that little ball made it up into space. I gave an order to sabotage the launch.
And then...nothing. I heard nothing. There was no launch. Nothing from Pravda. And nothing from my mole. It took me months to make contact with someone in Berlin, and months longer to hear that the satellite exploded on the launch pad. The sabotage I asked for? Or just a failure? I suppose I’d never know for sure.
US Turn 5 - US plays Decolonization on the Space Race. He rolls a 1 and succeeds. He gains 2 VP (USSR+5) and moves to Earth Satellite.
I think the time I spent with NASA was probably when I was most at peace with myself. I suppose it was just more straightforward than most of the work I had to do. And I seemed to get feedback right away. The Army and the Navy had two different projects: Explorer and Vanguard. Another one of those inter-service rivalries, I imagined. Just before I’d lost contact with the mole at OKB-1, he managed to get some blueprints smuggled to Berlin. The boys at NASA were analyzing them, and saw a fuel-injector problem that would cause a serious shock to the Vanguard, probably destroying the rocket all together. So while that one was modified, NASA moved forward with Explorer, checking to make sure everything was working smoothly. And then, in Cape Canaveral in the dead of night, Explorer launched into space. The rocket flew perfectly. And the satellite stayed in orbit for about six months or so. I could hear the cheers for months every time I closed my eyes. It was nothing more than an orbital satellite. But it meant we led the world in science and technology. At least for now. It was the first line in the Space Race, and although not as devastating as that embarrassment of a Middle Eastern tour, it was certainly something. Once Truman and Acheson learned of the help I gave in the project, they started to smile around me more. Take what I could get.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Nationalist China for Influence and allows US to go first. US plays 1 Influence in Pakistan (1/0), 1 Influence in North Korea (1/3), and 1 Influence in Indonesia (1/0). USSR places 1 influence in North Korea (1/4) and 1 influence in Bulgaria (0/3).
While Dimitrov was finishing consolidating his power in Bulgaria, Chiang was giving me notice on activities he’d seen in his region. South Korea was starting to see a bit more economic prosperity than her northern neighbor, and figured Chiang could destabilize the Kim regime a little bit, inserting some loyalists of America into the country. It didn’t go without notice, and Kim cracked down and increased his hold against his people. But it was a start.
I was then informed of some issues in the many-isled Indonesia. The Dutch were trying to reassert their hold on their colonies. The nationalist leader, Sukarno, had heard of my work in Vietnam in gaining their independence, and thought we could make common cause. And unlike Ho Chi Minh, he did not view the Atlantic Charter as some excuse to build a communist state. He had been doing a good job: Indonesia had many ethnic groups and he was keeping them all together without any violence. He was hoping I could help continue that. I provided some funds and promises for projects, together with Vietnam and Taiwan, and helped him create a parliament for the many voices in his region. I was even able to do it without bloodshed. Sukarno was impressed. It would take time to get it all together, but if the region remained stable, those problems would iron themselves out. I was a guest of honor at the first Parliamentary session.
And then there was Pakistan. I had initially thought to make overtures in the region with Shah Pahlavi acting as an intermediary, but Mosaddegh put a stop to that. Their first ruler, Jinnah, was a bit too theocratic for my tastes, but he did believe in free exercise of religion, even if it was Muslim dominated. Unfortunately, tuberculosis put a damper on his plans. The other members of the Muslim League seemed less interested in cooperation and free religion. I might’ve written it off as a lost cause, but they didn’t seem interested in Stalin. It would be a challenge, and with India breathing down Pakistan’s neck, it might be problematic. Still, with Iran in Soviet hands, I needed a buffer, lest they make their way down South Asia to the nascent alliance I had in the Southeast. Perhaps I could make it something better in time. For now, it was like Salazar all over again. Only this time, twice the holy war.
US Turn 6 - US plays Eastern European Unrest for a Coup on Iran. He rolls a 2 and Iran goes down to 0/1. Beause of V-J Day, DEFCON does not decrease.
It hadn’t been all that long since Mosaddegh took over Iran. And I wasn’t about to let it stay that way. I’d heard whispers of some economic stirrings in the Communist Bloc and Warsaw Pact nations, stirrings that might weakened the party’s hold there. But I ignored them. Stalin was working on weapons, nukes, and who knew what else, and his surrogates would no longer be restrained like they were. I launched my attack from Pakistan as soon as I could. And it worked, to an extent. My forces swept through the mountains and made their way to Tehran. And then it lost steam. That terrain was not the best to fight through. Mosaddegh survived, but the rest of his cabinet didn’t. He was barely holding onto power, although I hadn’t made any inroads into the country. My forces dispersed, but Stalin would need to reassert control over the region if he hoped to keep power there. Hopefully, though, my new allies in Pakistan could help me move into the region if I needed to.
Round 1 End:
Score: USSR +5
US - Earth Satellite
USSR - Nothing
Sometimes I’d look into space and wonder if I could see the satellites. After we fixed the problem with Vanguard, both rockets successfully launched their satellites. I remember wondering what sort of joke our ambassador in the UN would say regarding the Russian flops. He never had a sense of humor.
I hadn’t been focusing much on the elections in America, I’d spent most of my time out of the country. It was, after all, what I was hired for. Truman had his own problems, something about corruption or something. Or being ineffective. Always some excuse or another.
Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower was beloved by the country and easily swept into the office. I hadn’t met him during the War, but I became acquainted just after he was sworn in. He told me I came recommended by his choice for Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. According to him: “William Mercer was the only reason America stretches across the Pacific.”
There were others: Diem, Sukarno, Chiang particularly. But Eisenhower had also been reading my service records and liked what he’d seen. He hoped for ‘twice what I gave to make Normandy possible.’
He didn’t think small. Neither did I.
Cards Removed: Romanian Abdication, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Warsaw Pact, Marshall Plan.
Active Effects: Marshall Plan, Warsaw Pact
Areas Scored: Middle East
Let me know if you guys like this or not. I hope you do.
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 2 - DEFCON goes to 3 - 1952-1956
US Player is dealt: (Special Relationship), Blockade, De-Stalinization, Asia Scoring, Cambridge Five, Captured Nazi Scientist, Kremlin Flu, NATO
Headline: US player plays Asia Scoring (US player is at 10 while USSR is at 4, calculates to US+6, total is now US+1). USSR player picks Nasser (Egypt goes to 0/2)
The Soviets had found a great asset in General Gamal Abdel Nasser to appoint in Egypt. He’d made a name for himself serving as the rear guard during the `48 War, and stoked Egyptian anger and sentiments towards the US and the Jewish State. He’d delivered solid control over the region and ousted their corrupt and incompetent monarch, blaming him for the failures of the `48 War. I knew it would be a while before his forces could muster another war, especially with King Abdullah on my side. However, that man would be a problem if left unchecked. Especially if I wanted to make a move on the power vacuum that was Libya.
But he could sit on his toy throne for now, I had pressing issues on the other side of the world. Dulles had recommended me to Eisenhower for more than just my previous service. One of the new President’s first announcements in office was a reconstruction plan along the Pacific, similar to Marshall’s for Europe. Asia, after all, had been just as devastated during the war as Europe. And with so many friendly governments, there, they were eager to agree to our plans. Dulles took charge, and I was right beside him. The Dulles Plan caught like wildfire. Australia was eager to pitch in, and many of the Southeastern Asian nations, South China and South Korea, were on the road to economic prosperity, and eager to flaunt.
When Dulles tried to invite Soviet nations like North Korea, they refused. Concerned by this, South Korea asked if more could be done. Dulles was all too eager to help, that was the plan all along. We announced the creation of the Pacific Ocean Military Alliance, POMA, spanning the whole of the great ocean. Led by General MacArthur, it was designed to ease any burdens of decolonization, building up infrastructure, and other projects spanning nations on the great ocean. Dulles tasked me with ensuring any concerns with the alliances of nations were dealt with: We weren’t about to repeat Ben-Gurion’s failures in the Middle East.
All in all, the projects were just the same commitments we’d already made to our allies, but the pomp and ceremony were glorious. The sheer size and scope of POMA was a black eye to the Soviets. Their Warsaw Pact was nothing in comparison. The press ate it up, calling the Pacific the Great American Blue, and other such rot.
It all finished with a joint military games between Chiang, Rhee, Thailand’s Sanit Thanarat, and MacArthur, then a dedication of the hub building in Sydney. Dulles and I headed back to Washington, basking in the media spotlight. We shared a drink on the flight back. Only for Eisenhower to greet us with another when we reached the White House.
After all was done, I went back to my office. And I received a letter from Acheson. He approved.
USSR Turn 1 - USSR plays Defectors for Influence. US gains 1 VP (US+2) He adds 1 influence to Iran (0/2) and 1 Influence to Finland (0/2)
After the celebrations of POMA, I’d headed to Europe to keep eyes on the region. The Reds were trying to shore up Mosaddegh’s regime, as well as clamp down on a few dissenters during some sham elections Kekkonen was perpetuating in Helsinki. There wasn’t much I could do about either of them at the moment.
But I’d received important news from my agents in Athens that required my personal intervention. A high ranking Soviet wished to defect. This defector’s name was Colonel Yuri Kosygin, and he’d been working as an intermediary in the Middle East, advising the Iraqi People’s Republic and the Syrians. But he was taken by how many things were in such short supply while he was there. Food and medicine in particular. There was plenty of steel and oil, but those weren’t very tasty. It was like Kennan so many years ago, talking to me again: The Soviets gave no way to satisfy a man’s wants.
On his way home, Kosygin’s ship hit an old World War II mine, and he ended up in Greece. He blended in well enough, but injuries sustained from shrapnel, and an episode of polio, prevented him from crossing to Bulgaria. He was seen by some bush doctors who used the Kenny technique to assist his recovery. While recuperating, he spoke with his physician at length. He’d also heard of a vaccine for the condition being developed in America. It was news to me, but it must’ve been all the talk in the medical circuit. I was one of the few who knew FDR’s battle with the condition while he was alive. Only in America could a dream like that be a reality.
Kosygin made me a deal. If I could get his wife and son from Riga, and give them the vaccine, he’d tell me everything he knew.
He’d been a bit misinformed about the vaccine’s progress. When I dug into it, I learned Jonas Salk was planning a field trial in a year or so, but I told him I’d get his little boy in for the research. He accepted. The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic was not easy to reach. Had to cash in a few favors in the Danish government to make it happen. But they reunited in London, and then came to Boston. After giving the family a brand new identity, he told me everything he knew.
US Turn 1 - US player plays Special Relationship as a Coup. He rolls for Egypt and gets a 6. Egypt goes to (2/0). DEFCON goes to 2.
Kosygin’s intelligence regarding Mosaddegh was good to narrow down, but pretty basic. Plus, the Soviets would notice Kosygin’s absence and probably be ready for me in Iran. The Iraqi People’s Republic was too entrenched for me to try something larger. But Nasser was a different story. He was too proud of his service and his troops to accept much from the Soviets. Ben-Gurion might’ve hated my guts, but I still had plenty of friends in Israel. And with the Sinai under our control, accessing Egypt was not difficult. Kosygin knew only the barest details about Egypt. But he knew one really important thing: Who I should work with.
Anwar Sadat was a man not to be underestimated. I saw in him what I learned from Khrushchev so many years ago. He was no puppet of Nasser, and he saw a lot of problems with the Soviets. Hell, he might’ve even taken over on his own. And he agreed to work with me wholeheartedly. He marshalled the Egyptian troops, ostensibly, to track down a rumor about Muslim Brotherhood operatives in Alexandria, where Nasser was staying at the time. Meanwhile, I maneuvered my Greek and Italian forces across the Mediterranean. Even a few Mossad agents snuck across the Sinai.
Nasser didn’t even see it coming. The fighting was brutal, lasting only weeks. Two days after the surrender, Nasser was hung in Cairo. Sadat ascended to the Presidency, and he declared open markets, commitment to higher education, rule of law, and democratic elections for a parliament. It was said the only thing of Nasser’s he kept was a prohibition on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Historians called it the Alexandria War, because historians are bad at naming things. I called it the Mediterranean Melee. I like boxing, sue me.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR player plays Indo-Pakistani War as an Event. He chooses Pakistan and rolls a 4. USSR player gets 2 VP (Dead Even Score) and Pakistan goes to (0/1)
I knew the second I saw the pictures of Nasser’s corpse that the Soviets would not sit idle on it. But the world tense after Nasser’s death and Sadat’s ascendancy. The only real question was where would the Soviets strike. I thought they’d try to influence a few elections, perhaps in Italy, or the FRG. There had been some agitation from some of the Social Democrats there, wanting reform with the East. Naive fools, all that would do is invite Stasi spies.
But it was the Kashmiri Muslims that made the first move. Many of them requested to cross into Pakistan, and eager to be rid of a potential religious strife, India allowed it. As soon as enough went over, they made contact and cause with the Muslims in Punjab, and war raged. The Muslim League was quickly overwhelmed, and what few moderates remained converted quickly to a militant, anti-West agenda.
The infrastructure of government still wasn’t there: The Soviets had only set new leaders, not built up the country. Control over the region was weak, but I didn’t have many avenues to reach it, and Chiang had his own affairs to manage with the Kuomintang. For now, I just had to accept a new hard-line Muslim country with a capital in Lahore and a mountain of Pravda propaganda to sell it to the world.
US Turn 2 - US player plays Blockade for Influence. He discards De-Stalinization and plays 1 influence in Denmark (3/0)
After Berlin was separated, I never found it strange that many people would want to leave the impoverished east for the west. People always went where it was richer, particularly if there was no hope in East Germany. For me, I made sure to keep West Germany as strong as prosperous looking as possible, particularly West Berlin. And made sure everyone saw just who it was that helped the Germans become prosperous. How embarrassing it would be for Stalin to see everyone leaving his precious communist “paradise.”
It was all for show, nothing that would make Stalin truly upset. And then we tried to introduce the Deutsche Mark to Germany. This was our first practical move. But that was apparently too much for Stalin, although I suppose I wasn’t shocked. My sources told me the old dictator was ailing, and I think he was desperate for some sort of victory before he died. We did the right thing with introducing that currency: I remembered the stories of the Weimar Republic, when inflation was measured in scientific notation. And that was never good. Such a thing could only ever lead to conflict.
So Stalin blockaded West Berlin. All the rails shut down, hoped to starve everyone who disagreed with him in that city. All over a bunch of coins with oak leaves on them. I don’t remember who flew the first plane to help, I actually thought it was a South African volunteer. But he flew right by an anti-air installation when dropping off food and blankets, and it didn’t fire on him, or even turn to face the plane. It was one thing to posture, even create a siege; but a dead pilot would mean war. Stalin knew it, and he didn’t want one no matter what. That was the goal.
I threw many operations into it. Aussies and Brits were running around the clock, but it was really the Danish who shined. They offered many of their runways and pilots, and were eager to show of their skills.
Stalin capitulated after so long, and the Danish pilots returned home as heroes. The Liberals and Conservatives, many of whom were pilots or relatives of pilots, ran for office and succeeded, weakening the Social Democrats and forming a new coalition in the Folketing, one very supportive of the US and her allies.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR player plays Socialist Governments for Influence. He places 1 in West Germany (4/1) and 1 in Finland (0/3)
Not everyone was pleased with the result of the Blockade. Or rather, they were happy their citizens survived, but thought the introduction of the Deutsche Mark was unnecessarily provocative to the GDR. Willy Brandt, in particular, held an open meeting in Berlin with Dienghin, the Supreme Commander of East Berlin at the time. Brandt was overstepping his bounds; he wasn’t Chancellor, he was just some Bundestag member who thought himself more important than he was. It took all my effort not to order the fool poisoned, or have Adenauer take matters into his own hands. Even worse, I was so distracted by his blunder that that I couldn’t see Kekkonen quietly trying to hedge out some of Finland’s open markets until it was far too late.
US Turn 3 - US plays NATO for Influence. He adds 2 influence to West Germany (6/1), 1 to Italy (4/0) and 1 to Spain/Portugal (2/0)
After I’d mellowed out, I’d realized that perhaps I’d neglected Europe for a while. I’d been so focused on POMA and Nasser that Europe seemed an afterthought. A couple of investments, I figured, could be enough to keep the countries in order. I started in Italy, where the Holy See was starting to make her opinions clear, calling for the excommunication of communists. I supported these cardinals, and earmarked a few “donations” to renovated some old churches that had been damaged during the war. The work went noticed by Salazar as well, who was impressed. I earmarked a few contributions to Portugal to keep him and Franco in line.
And then once that was done, Adenauer and I embarked on a grand tour of the new factories in West Germany, encouraging the Deutsche Mark and rallying the West Germans, endless pomp and circumstance cheering these Germans for the donations and support they gave to the Berliner brothers during the Blockade.
I felt like such a phony after my European trip, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the reason why I hadn’t been back in so long. But it was effective.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR player plays the China Card. He places 3 Influence in France (0/3) and 1 Influence in Afghanistan (0/1)
Mao had finally started to make a move. After taking so long in Beijing, particularly since he needed a new port after Shanghai remained in Kuomintang hands, I’d almost forgotten about him. There were a few moves in Afghanistan, pledging some minor trade deals, horses for the most part. Nothing all that concerning. But then, he arrived in Paris.
I’d been back in Washington at the time, so I didn’t hear about it at first, but reportedly, Mao had arrived in Paris and planned a weeklong tour. He said all of the right things to the French, talking about how he admired their courage and their desire to be recognized as the power they were. De Gaulle was only too happy to hear him say it. As I heard it, they toured his home in Lille, the train car of the famous treaties. Mao explained that “with the United States in bed with Southern China” it seemed that the North would prefer a treaty of friendship with other, like-minded states who understood that they couldn’t rely on some other power for protection.”
It never ceased to amaze me how someone could fall for just the right words. It was FDR all over again. What was it with De Gaulle and his obsession for French supremacy? And why couldn’t he see his little kingdom wasn’t the power she used to be. He had to have known whom working with Mao would embolden. Like Thorez and many other PCF members, ardent communists all. With France having been left out of the Marshall Plan, the PCF were eager for power. They were given positions of honor at parades and processions, and were the first dignitaries Mao was photographed meeting. He knew how to work a newspaper.
Perhaps I was being unfair to both of them. But Russia whispered in Red China’s ear, and the PCF looked ascendant in France’s upcoming elections. The prize Hitler couldn’t claim with a war, Stalin won with sweetness: All of France.
Two weeks after Mao’s meeting with De Gaulle, I’d received a message, delivered through a embedded source in Bangkok. From Mao. In it, I was told that open dialogue was not going to be easy at the moment, with the “Formosa Situation” thoroughly unresolved. But he was intrigued with the structure of POMA, and knew I was the brainchild behind it. He did not wish for war with America, and expressed a willingness to speak further on “future matters of mutual interest.” And he looked forward to my response.
His letter was so oily I thought it would spontaneously combust. But it would be something I’d have to consider. A growing power like North China was something one could never ignore.
US Turn 4 - US player plays Cambridge Five on the Space Race. He rolls a 4 and succeeds. US player advances to Animal in Space, and may play 2 Space Race cards.
While I spent most of my time around the world, I always made it a priority to make time for NASA whenever a breakthrough was announced. Launching rockets and satellites were really useful for a number of things, but they always wanted to reach further. And of course they should. Reaching further was one of the greatest things humans could do.
NASA had been experimenting with chimps and rhesus monkeys. Apparently, they responded well to electric shocks and bananas. Sounded like your average dictator. I was invited to look at the projects they were working on, and was told my experience would be invaluable to final adjustments on the tests for the chimps. NASA wanted them to go into space and see how they would react. They needed to pull levers and such to ensure the flight and landing worked properly. They asked if I could offer any tips on the project. At first, I thought it was an insult, that they thought I was only as smart as a chimp. It was really an excuse to ask for more funding. But as I read the schematics on the reports, they looked good. And as far as I could tell, the Soviets still hadn’t made any progress with Sputnik, their satellite. So I squandered operations I had planned and sunk the resources into a few rockets for NASA. And some crazy monkey specialist they contracted.
NASA’s work sounded simple, I wondered if it paid better than my current job. But if I had to stay in a lab all day wearing a white coat, I’d probably drink myself blind.
Eventually, it was ready. The launch was during the day. And it came back safe and sound. Both of the monkeys looked to be healthy as ever. Even the specialist was happy with them. Were the stories about cosmic rays and radiation simply exaggerated, or were monkeys different? And more importantly, how long would it be for a human to take the critter’s place?
The media ran with the story of the chimps for months. Stuffed monkey toys sold out by the droves, and imagination as to what lie in space ran rampant on television and books. NASA used it to request more resources. I had to admire such naked greed.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR player plays Containment on the Space Race. He rolls a 2 and succeeds. USSR advances to Earth Satellite and gains 1 VP (USSR+1).
My sources in Berlin and Krakow relayed to me that the Soviets were furious. “The safe return of Able had the scientists furious” were the exact words of one of my operatives. I’d even heard it was making Stalin’s health deteriorate ever faster. They were throwing everything they had into getting their new rocket, Sputnik V, properly launched into space. Exactly seven months after the safe return of Able, they did precisely that. It wasn’t much to parade around, but it was something, and it did stoke a few quickened heartbeats when someone realized a weapon could be attached to a rocket as easily as a satellite. We’d had that ability for years, the threat was exaggerated, but far be it from me to tell panicky people that, they wouldn’t listen anyway.
I remember having our UN ambassador ask them if they’d sent any animals up with their satellite, and we’d be happy to offer them some fruit flies. Eisenhower could pick people better than Truman, at least.
US Turn 5 - US Player plays Captured Nazi Scientist as an Event. He moves to Man in Space on the Space Race and gains 2 VP (US+1)
NASA was still very popular after we sent the monkeys into space. I was told to keep in touch with NASA, even as most of my time was spent keeping POMA in working operation. I was told NASA themselves requested it. In truth, I don’t know why that was, I was no scientist. They kept talking about trajectories and such. They launched the rockets, not me. What I was supposed to do, lead a coup on a fuel injector?
Until I was nearly abducted and forced on a plane to Europe. At first, I thought I was this was some crazy McCarthyite ruse, when I realized I was sitting across from General Ridgeway. He’d told me that there was a former Nazi scientist languishing with his brother in a dank cell in Hesse, Germany. His name was Wernher von Braun. I may not have followed eggheads, but I knew that name. The V-2 rocket was his brainchild, and who knew how many other atrocities he’d cooked up. NASA had been trying to gather these people, and had some success, but this one was on a different sort of level. Much higher up than the usual scientists we nabbed.
The West Germans were planning on trying and executing him. I could see why, that rocket killed a lot of people. But NASA had hit a couple of snags trying to get our rockets into orbit, rather than just shooting them ballistically. Von Braun would be the person to find a solution to that problem.
Adenauer’s coalition in West Germany, was starting to see fractures, and, sensibly, he was worried about men like Willy Brandt becoming ascendant. Executing the Nazi war criminal would be good for public morale. And for his ratings
I had to go in and retrieve Braun. How long had it been since active duty? Coordinating coups and organizing diplomatic missions weren’t the same thing as what Ridgeway was asking of me. But according to him, Eisenhower asked for me by name. He’d known about my work in the Operation Dragoon, and knew age hadn’t dulled by skills. I was someone he could entrust with the fate of a nation.
I think Ridgeway never realized my disdain for flowery speeches. But it was my duty to serve. I snuck into Hesse in the dead of night, and smuggled ourselves out in a laundry truck I had to drive all the way to Trieste. Von Braun was transferred to Texas. A year later, Alan Shepard was launched into space, leaving the atmosphere. It wasn’t enough for this “orbital trajectory” NASA was looking for. But it was still an amazing first step.
Shepard had told us he saw so much blue on the world, and then, lots of white clouds. We sent a message to the Soviets that there was no red on the Earth. We never got a response. They couldn’t take a joke.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR Player places Nuclear Test Ban as an Event. He gains no VP but DEFCON improves to 4.
In all that time spent working with NASA and their projects, the Soviets had been surprisingly quiet. I knew Stalin was ill. What on Earth was he up to?
And then, the announcement that the Soviets would place a halt on underwater nuclear tests. Of everything I could’ve heard them say, that was not one of them. It did help the world breathe a lot easier, but I couldn’t but think this was some sort of long con, like they knew there was only something they could do if the world was so on edge, like it was after the Alexandrian War.
But in the meantime, there was nothing else we could do but follow suit.
US Turn 6 - US player plays Kremlin Flu as an Event. He places 2 influence in Israel (3/0).
I had heard the news when I touched down in Tel Aviv, helping meet with a few allies in Irgun and shoring up the borders with Syria now that Sadat had pledged neutrality with Israel. Josef Stalin had died, and for the moment, the Soviets were rudderless. I’d have thought it was tragic, but then I remembered I was talking about Stalin. As always seemed to be the case with such governments, the other members of the Politburo began to argue and scheme among themselves.
Never let a tragedy go to waste. It was really hard to gather data, because half of it was rumors and hearsay a rival would use to discredit another. Sowing disinformation would be equally ineffective, they’d know everyone was lying to them.
But it was a good time for someone to end up dead. Of course, I wasn’t about to let any of the Politburo link it back to me. They’d set up the “troika” system with three members. But three member systems when each of them wanted full power were never the most stable of alliances. Rome failed at that millenia ago. They figured that out before they learned working toilets.
I’d hoped that I’d get all three of them and they’d go after each other. After all, it was very easy for rivals to kill each other. That didn’t turn out according to plan. But I was able to learn that Beria was executed for treason.
Treason was a such a nonsense word, at least in the Soviet Union. In the halls of Moscow, it was treason if you looked at a man’s vodka and licked your lips at the same time. But Beria was one of the greatest threats the East could throw at me. He was gone now. I briefly wondered how FDR would’ve taken the whole affair.
Round 2 End - Both players are at 2 ops with 4 DEFCON. Since both lack equally, no point difference.
US - Man in Space
USSR - Earth Satellite
I met Shepard only a few times. After his trip, I asked him to tell something about the flight into space that no one else would know. He told me he pissed himself after a few hours. I was impressed he didn’t go on the way up.
POMA and Alan Shepard's launch into space was a PR coup for Eisenhower. And he knew the man behind it. Eisenhower asked me if I wasn’t a promotion. Secretary of State, perhaps. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it. I didn’t want to say it out loud, but Dulles did not look well. But I declined. I was exposed enough with my creation of POMA, and my sort of work required me not to stick out too much. Plus, I’d be bogged down in ceremony with a Cabinet level position, and we both knew how much I hated that.
He did give me a raise though.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Warsaw Pact, Marshall Plan, Captured Nazi Scientist.
Active Effects: Marshall Plan, Warsaw Pact, (Kremlin Flu)
Areas Scored: Middle East, Asia.
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 3 - DEFCON improves to 5 - 1956-1960
Reshuffle occurs during dealout
US Player is dealt: NORAD, COMECON, Red Scare/Purge, UN Resolution, Suez Crisis, Nationalist China, De Gaulle Leads France, Kremlin Flu, (The China Card)
Headline - US Player Headlines Red Scare/Purge, USSR Player Headlines Olympic Games. USSR rolls a 4 (+2 for 6), US rolls a 1. USSR gains +2 VP (Score USSR + 1)
Sometimes, the universe cuts you a break. Stalin’s death did more than just lead to Beria’s execution. Purges abounded as coup after coup raged across the Russiascape.
Khrushchev eventually took power, but who knew how many valuable officers he’d purged in order to keep his power. And who knew how many contacts he no longer had access to in his Soviet satellites, and across the world. He’d certainly be hampered for a few years.
I suppose that was why Khrushchev decided to host the Olympic Games in Bucharest. Of course, it’d been decided earlier, but that didn’t stop the press from speculating. Color me unimpressed. I never saw the fascination. I mean, really, they had that horse dancing...dressage...thing. Shouldn’t the horse get the medal? Give me boxing and maybe baseball. And we took gold in boxing. But Russians were obsessed with track and field. It medaled and medaled and Russia took home so much gold it would lower the price on the market. I couldn’t care less. But the media could.
USSR Turn 1 - Kremlin Flu is in effect, must play Europe Scoring. USSR gets +1 VP to (USSR + 2)
There wasn’t much Khrushchev could do between the rampant purges and the failure of the troika. He had to settle for a large military parade in East Berlin, commemorating the advance to Germany and Hitler’s suicide. To his credit, he invited the west, to “give speeches about the Western front.” He wanted them to talk about how bogged down we were in France while the reds, with Khrushchev at the helm, swept through the East and delivered Europe from the Nazis. The French were the only ones who sent a dignitary. No one else answered at all, not even Brandt. It still wasn’t ideal coverage, but it was hardly painful in the eyes of anyone except the press.
US Turn 1 - US player plays De Gaulle leads France for realignment. He lets the event trigger first, brings France to (0/4). He selects France and rolls (USSR has +1 for France, US has +4 for Control of UK, West Germany, Italy, and Spain/Portugal, total goes to US +3). US rolls a 3, and USSR rolls a 4, bringing France down to 0/2. US player picks France again and rolls. He gets a 1 and the USSR gets a 6, so no change. US player rolls a third time in France and gets a 4 while the USSR gets a 1, bringing France down to 0/0.
The French elections were fast approaching, and the PCF were looking very strong. They looked even stronger when they put forth De Gaulle as their candidate for President. I had always thought he was anti-communist. Maybe he was just for sale, or maybe he thought they’d give him what he wanted.
I could not allow this to continue any longer. I wasn’t about to have enemies in Western Europe. It might’ve been hard to face a finger against a war hero like De Gaulle, but the PCF were another matter. But it would be tricky: The bans on underwater testing was making the world feel more at ease, but France was a tough nut to crack even in the best of times, at least through war. The Communists had to use flattery and sweet words.
Well, the reds weren’t the only ones who could wield a paragraph. De Gaulle was planning a grand celebration in Paris, for veterans of the war to talk about their experiences, their love of France, and everything they did to save her, and make her great. All to drive voters to his side. With many PCF and Russian dignitaries in attendance. Bah, what did the Russians ever do for France?
That realization gave me my first idea. I managed to sideline a few of De Gaulle’s speakers for an event and plant some veterans of the Great War instead. At first, De Gaulle didn’t seem to mind, those men were just as heroic as those who fought against the Nazis. But his tone changed when they started to speak. They spoke of the American forces whom they fought side by side with at Belleau Wood and the Ardennes. And they blasted the Russians for abandoning the Great War. The Russian dignitaries were affronted and insulted the soldiers. The French were...greatly displeased. They should’ve known better than to mess with the people who invented the guillotine.
De Gaulle did not allow that to deter him, so the event continued on. I tried to plant some veterans in other theaters to talk about their own experiences in the war, but that didn’t go over so well. De Gaulle was still a war hero, after all.
Finally, I saw another chance at an event to honor the French Underground, the Resistance movement against the Nazis. Here was something I knew well: That was what I had done during the war, after all. I reached out to as many of my old contacts as I could find. And they were eager to come out. They talked about Operation Dragoon at length, and the preparations for the landing at Normandy. And the PCF stepped in it at that point. One of their members began to argue with a Resistance priest who had gathered intel at Juno Beach, and insulted both the man’s faith and the soldiers that landed on the Normandy shores.
That was the final straw. The French might have been proud, but they were not ingrates. Opinion soured on the PCF nearly overnight. De Gaulle wasn’t affected: He was still the beloved war hero. But the PCF did not fare so well. They were crushed in the elections, and De Gaulle was faced with a parliament dominated by a new political party, the Union of Democrats for the Republic, which had formed in opposition to the PCF and De Gaulle. Georges Pompidou, their reluctant leader, was an intelligent man, and perhaps after De Gaulle’s term ended, he could lead France to a better path.
I was instructed to return back to Washington the day after the elections, so I went to a bar right off the Champs-Elysees to celebrate on my final night. As I was walking back to my hotel, buzzed and happy at a job well done, I walked straight into De Gaulle. I tried to move by him, but he blocked me.
“William Mercer.” How odd he would know my name so. “I’d heard of you.”
“At your service.” I tipped my hat. They were starting to go out of style, what a shame.
“Service?” He nearly laughed. “I’ve heard of the work you’ve done during the war. You fought for France’s liberation.”
“I did.” And I was proud of it.
“And now you work against her? What is America thinking? France is not some puppet you can manipulate, Mercer. She is a great power.”
“I grew out of puppets in grade school. I’m interested in allies. And you threw that away to get in bed with the Soviets. Surely you can’t think such a thing went without consequences, Charles? I can’t say you didn’t deserve it. I guess I'll have to go to Germany if I want an army. Enjoy your Presidency. However long it lasts.” I walked into the night and never saw him again. De Gaulle pledged non-commitment to joint military tactics with the US or the UK. I couldn’t help but feel a little responsible for that one.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR player plays Independent Reds as a Coup in Jordan. He rolls a 3 and fails. US picks Hungary as target for Independent Reds, and it gets to 2/2.
King Abdullah was a visionary, and my strongest ally in the Middle East. It took a war to bring over Sadat, Abdullah just listened and made reasonable choices. If kings must be used, he deserved his throne. Unfortunately, a Palestinian thought he’d make peace with Israel and assassinated him. His son Talal shared his father’s vision, but unfortunately, not his mental state. The man was not altogether sane.
The Soviets saw an opportunity. Fatah, one of the many Palestinian terror groups in the region, were furious with the King, and the Soviets, coupled with some former Nasser loyalists who’d fled from Egypt, attacked in the dead of night.
I was pretty worried, I went to Amman personally, marshalled what forces I could: Israel sending assistance would only make things worse. All I had was the people, and the memory of King Abdullah. It was, after all, a Palestinian who assassinated him. The Jordanians had an opinion of their fallen monarch even higher than mine. I didn’t need to rally them, just coordinate and they did the rest. The Palestinians were expecting warm welcomes for their Arabic brothers, and boy did they get that wrong.
And King Talal, during his more lucid moments, had a fascination with aircraft and all of the innovations made since the war. He had purchased a number of British-made beauties. And had contracted some of the Danish men who flew during the Blockade to assist in training his new air force. Jordan’s pilots strafed and struck the rebels without pity, and the war ended after only a few months of fighting.
Secure on his throne, Talal and I decided it would be best if he stepped down soon after. He was lucid enough to know he might not be good for Jordan. I personally escorted him on his plane to Istanbul, where he’d get the treatment he needed.
As we were leaving, I met his son, the Crown Prince Hussein, a sprightly, energetic young lad of twenty or so. King Talal told him to be strong and wise for his country, to be prepared to face her enemies and defend Jordan with everything he had. If possible, he should handle everything with his own forces. But, if there was something too large for just Jordan to handle, he was to know I was a friend to Jordan. And then he said that he hoped the lad would be twice the king his Grandfather was.
I still don’t know if it changed my opinion of monarchs, but it did tell me Talal would not allow even madness to stand in his way of being the best King, or father, he could be. All the Palesto-Jordanian Skirmish did for the Soviets was bring a new King to the region who would have none of their games. For King Hussein knew that the Reds were behind the Palestinian grudge.
And the failed coup had another sort of benefit. Rakosi over in Hungary had been swayed mostly by fear of Stalin. He was starting to think differently after his death. After Khrushchev’s purges and finally the failed coup in Amman, Rekosi responded by appointing Imre Nagy to be his principal foreign advisor. Nagy was still as communist as the rest, but he refused to be shackled to the Stalinist model. He made an open appeal to the West to recognize Hungary as a neutral power, renouncing the Warsaw Pact.
And all that time, I’d been waiting for Tito to make the first move. I sent in some forces to Budapest as a “acknowledgement.” Khrushchev wouldn’t dare make a move: He had few enough allies after his purges.
It would take more than that to convince a turncoat commie. But it was an inroad into the region, and it would stop a painful Khrushchev retaliation.
US Turn 2 - US plays COMECON for Influence. He allows the event to trigger first. USSR adds 1 Influence to Finland (0/4), East Germany (0/5), Poland (0/6), and Austria (0/1). US Player adds 1 influence to Israel (4/0), and 2 to Libya (2/0)
After losing the markets of France with De Gaulle’s ouster, and Nagy’s declaration of neutrality, my spies told me Khrushchev’s position was looking a little dicey. But in particular, he was very concerned about the economics of Eastern Europe. Marshall’s grand plan was remembered by the people, as were the results of what it did for Italy, Turkey, and the others. And with the Dulles plan across the Pacific, there was a lot of talk in the Eastern European nations about petitioning the US for assistance. There was enough money to go around, after all.
Clamping down on it would probably make matters worse, what with Nagy’s declaration of neutrality. So Khrushchev announced the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance, spreading wealth around Potsdam, Warsaw, and Helsinki. He copied Dulles’s plan almost to the letter. Eugh, how derivative could they be, copying us like that.
After shoring up his cores in Berlin and Warsaw, Khrushchev made a few overtures to Austria, a country that had long preached neutrality like her neighbor, Switzerland. And Vienna was surprisingly open to it, for a “neutral” country.
It would take more than that to sway Austria completely though. I let it be, I had more important things to worry about. Egypt and Jordan might have been neutralized, but Syria remained a threat, and with Lebanon eagerly helping, ensuring Israel’s safety would be more essential than ever, another war would surely be on the horizon. Ben-Gurion still refused to speak with me, but President Yitzhak was more understanding. He was hoping to make a deal for some more advanced radar technology and better jet aircraft, after seeing what Jordan’s fighters did during the Palesto-Jordan Skirmish.
Plus, with Nasser gone and with Sadat’s cooperation, I was able to get my hands into a ruler in Libya. The country itself was begging for a strong leader, and I found one, a soldier in Misrata who had ideas quite similar to King Abdullah’s, only even stronger, with calls for female enfranchisement and an emphasis on education and water technologies, including the building of manmade rivers.
And he pledged to do it without going into debt. And I just about believed him. Even if he didn’t, safe flanks on the Mediterranean were worth it.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact. US increases influence in Japan to (4/0). USSR targets Italy for a Coup. He rolls a 2. Italy goes to 3/0. DEFCON goes to 4.
As the 50’s dragged on, Gasperi died in office, and his successor didn’t last very long. The next man about to take power in Rome was Amintore Fanfani, a commie in all but name. With a Catholicism deeply rooted in a distrust of capitalism, he reminded me greatly of the whispers of “liberation theology” that were taking root in Central America. The idiot. He needed only to look across the Adriatic to see what socialism brings. He was too scared of risk, wanted everything nice and safe. War, money, espionage, all of it required risk. How else were we supposed to live?
I had to get rid of him before he was a problem. He was a former fascist, but repentant about it. Catholics loved repentance. Exposing him as a former Mussolini advocate wasn’t going to work.. So I settled for speaking with some of his fellow Christian Democrats. I gently reminded them that enforced programs for the poor, as Fanfani proposed, were not good Christian charity. True charity, after all, must come from the heart and not through law. We humans knew the difference, and God was infinitely more clever than we. And Fanfani did himself no favors with his attitude. He was a ruthlessly efficient man, said to run on catnaps, apples, and drive. Such a man did not compromise. So I posed a question to the Italians: Hard, unbending, brutal to any dissent? Did that not sound familiar? How repentant of his fascism was he truly?
Fanfani was defeated in the elections by Giulio Andreotti, but the Soviets would not take it lying down. This was the first time Europe had been quiet since the war, and Italy’s growing economy was one of the most tempting of fruits to the Reds. Plus, I was pretty sure they were hoping to scare Nagy back into the fold. Forces entered from Yugoslavia, supposedly out of anger for lack of resolution regarding land disputes in Trieste. But these were not Tito’s forces, they looked more like mercenaries contracted from elsewhere in the Balkans. Bulgaria, maybe. Still, their unfamiliarity with the rugged Northern Italian countryside and the tenacity of the Italian soldiers beat back the coup with only a minimal loss of power in the northern reaches. The Trieste Skirmish, ultimately, did little to Italy. Certainly not enough to completely weaken our hold on the country. I’m not sure if Andreotti suspected my involvement in the whole affair; I certainly had nothing to do with those mercenaries. But he proclaimed the virtues of capitalism loudly and proudly. I’d heard he was a centrist. Perhaps the skirmish scared him out of it.
But if there was someone else spooked by the Trieste Skirmish, it was Japan. Tokyo had, due to a mistranslation, thought that the skirmish was a result of revenge for Mussolini’s actions during the war. Japan, truly, had a lot of enemies still seething after the war, and remembered terrible things that they did. And with POMA set up and many Southeast Asian nations working in concert, Japan was hoping for assurances of our treaty of friendship, particularly since their new constitution abolished war.
We gave it to them, Eisenhower was more than thrilled, and Dulles and I worked to bring assurances to Japan. They joined POMA, but even more than that, we told the Soviets that any military attempt on the island would be considered an act of war. It was a good thing, too. Mao may have had a desire to work with me after his excursions in France, but that wouldn’t last forever, and Seoul or Taipei could easily come under threat if Mao thought he could make common cause with Kim, or wanted his territory from Chiang back. And if they did, Tokyo would be next to fall. That couldn’t happen.
US Turn 3 - US plays NORAD as an Event.
I’d spent much of my time after the Trieste Skirmish working with Prime Minister King in Canada. I’d helped solidify Canada’s bond with the US over the past decade with trade deals and diplomacy, and now we were ready to institute something I’d been planning ever since that 29 picked up Joe-1. King was a little reluctant at first, he had this idea for a huge defense treaty with the nations of Europe that had allied with us, something like POMA for the Atlantic. It wasn’t a bad idea, all things considered, but with the de Gaulle Doctrine still guiding France, and the Trieste Skirmish still fresh on everyone’s mind, I was more interested in focusing on air defense and protection of the continent. Monitoring airspace warnings felt like a better use of our time. More importantly, giving that data to the right people at the right time might help bring more recalcitrant allies along to my way of thinking.
We’d opened the facility in Colorado. I wasn’t present for the ceremony, I’d avoid all ceremonies if I could. But supposedly, I would know the second it saw something. And that was much more useful in my eyes.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays CIA Created. USSR decides to coup Laos/Cambodia and rolls a 3. Influence goes to 0/1. USSR keeps his hand shown for remainder of the turn. US player decides to place 1 influence in Hungary (3/2)
One thing that always gets people confused about my line of work is that they assume I’m some sort of spy, and the CIA always gets mentioned. I never liked it. For one, I worked with OSS. And I considered myself OSS even after Truman dissolved it. Two, after their initial setup, that CIA never helped me much.
It wasn’t that I didn’t give them a fair shake: Dulles’s brother Allen was a member. But I couldn’t get past the arrogance. They’d been in existence for all of one week and they thought they knew better than I did on anything. They seemed to think they could just take over my networks of contacts and agents like they’d made them personally.
After I rebuffed them, they tried to come at me with honey instead of vinegar. I nearly showed them the door, but then they sent Albert Dulles personally to me. I couldn’t say no to a dear friend’s brother, so I sent them on what I thought was a minor task: The Pathet Lao was supposedly making rumbling in Laos, chafing under capitalist rule. While I was sure Vietnam and Thailand were safe, Cambodia, having focused a fair amount of effort on trying to secure the Mekong Delta, might fall into their hands if Laos made a move against them.
I told them to handle the situation while I went to Berlin and arrange a clandestine meeting with Nagy. He was after all, reported to have said “communism should evolve” following the Trieste Skirmish. By that, I hoped he’d mean gutted and left in a ditch, but I could take my time to get him there.
The meeting itself was fairly routine, if unimpressive. Nagy seemed willing to listen, although Ratosky wasn’t as inclined to change as much. That would require more work, or maybe ousting him from power. But Nagy was able to marshall more support among the working class, and held more sway in his borders. Budapest was allowing private gardens and markets to sell jams and pickled vegetables. Supposedly, the winters were going to be more brutal, and Nagy would choose capitalism over starvation. That was considered progress in a communist country. Hardly impressive.
But the Ambush at Angkor Wat, I was told, was very impressive. The idiots in the CIA completely missed all of the signs. The attack was so impressive that King Sihanouk was killed while on a religious pilgrimage, and his son had to seek asylum in Saigon. And the dastardly deed was committed by the Pathet Lao and their Cambodian counterparts, the Khmer Rouge.
Without Sihanouk’s leadership, Cambodia quickly fell and the Rouge swept into power with their insane leader Pol Pot. He even had the cheek to request sending a “new” Cambodian envoy to keep my deal regarding the Mekong Delta. I threw silent support Diem’s way, and the Delta ended up with Vietnam, but that was about all I could do. The CIA goons blamed everything else under the sun, and their mother, for getting the information wrong in the region. Even me, for “not telling them sooner.” I told them to give me all the data they had gathered on the Reds, and never darken my office again.
US Turn 4 - US plays UN Resolution as an Event, coupled with Suez Crisis. He decides to coup Iran and rolls a 4, Iran turns to (1/0). DEFCON goes to 3.
I’d never admit it out loud, but the CIA had tipped me off with some valuable intel regarding some stragglers of Nasser’s armies. They had gathered some forces and were making attempts to block off the Suez canal to strangle Israel.
Those roaches never gave up, did they? I had to admire their tenacity. But I wasn’t going to give them the dignity of a war. That might weaken Sadat. So instead, I gave the intel to our UN ambassador, who shared it with the Security Council. The Russians couldn’t be seen as weak in the eyes of their remaining Middle Eastern allies, and abstained from voting on a condemning resolution. Without support, Nasser’s remaining forces dissolved into the desert sands.
Even better, I’d discovered that Mosaddegh sheltered these men after their failure in Jordan. Once that got out, it didn’t take much for the UN to condemn them for harboring terrorists. It wasn’t too hard to stir up unrest among some of the Iranian colonels, and they did the rest. The Tehran Schism, what the conflict came to be known as, was fairly swift, and Mosaddegh was killed in the bloody skirmish. I think the UN was a bit appalled by how brutal the war was, and they were hesitant to try and build the country up. But the Shah was only all too happy to return to his native soil.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR plays Containment on the Space Race. He rolls a 3 and succeeds. Goes to Animal in Space, US may no longer play two cards on the Space Race.
I was starting to feel bad that I hadn’t spent much time with NASA these past few years. They actually sent me a cake on my birthday, and in thanks for recovering Doctor von Braun. But the world had been demanding my attention, and I hadn’t much time to be thinking about space.
But the Soviets did. They continued their work with Sputnik, and eventually, they sent a dog into orbit. I couldn’t pronounce the Russian, but she was known to the world as Laika. Of course, she never made it back to Earth. More than likely, they didn’t have the technology. A message was crafted for the Soviets, complete with translated texts on animal rights abuses. They responded with another launch, sending three dogs into orbit, and bringing them back safe and sound. They sent back a piece of paper supposedly covered in the dog’s drool, hoping we “might learn something.”
And now I could see why they didn’t respond to my little jokes. It certainly was annoying on the other side.
US Turn 5 - US plays Nationalist China as an Event. He places 1 influence in North Korea (2/4), 1 influence in Malaysia (1/0), and 1 influence in India (1/0)
Chiang Kai-Shek had been very busy working with POMA, and with the recent addition of Japan, he’d had a lot to work with. Fortunately, the CIA’s bungling was a blessing in disguise. The fall of Laos and Cambodia to communism drove a few fears in free-trading Vietnam and Thailand. Japan offered some technology they’d developed, warning systems and whatnot. It really helped to allay old war grievances, or at least soothe them.
Chiang had been speaking a lot with Jawaharlal Nehru in India, as well as his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and introduced me to the both of them. I was turned off right away: Both of them were really skilled at statecraft, but he had a commitment to neutrality, and the daughter was probably one of the most ruthless people I’d ever met. I could appreciate some good honest ambition, but I’m pretty sure she’d have slit her father’s throat if a throne could emerge from the wound. Still, after losing Pakistan at Lahore, and India’s strategic position, made me more pliable in the region.
Chiang had also informed of a growing concern in Malaysia. Ever since the World War ended, Malaysia had been under a violent guerilla crisis. I’d thought it would just die itself out and I could move in once it was done, but it’d been over a decade now. The real problem, as I could see was Chin Peng, the leader of the communists. I’d stand out too much to do anything in the region myself, and the Kuomintang would probably not have many agents in such a wartorn region. We offered aid to the Kuala Lumpur government in the hopes of helping settle the region, in the hopes Chin Peng could be flushed out of his foxhole. It wasn’t initially successful, but I was making friends and contacts in the region and helped it become more stable. It was a start, at least.
And then I asked Chiang if he had any more agents to stick in North Korea. The situation there had been deteriorating rapidly, and while Kim still had a hold on the country, it was basically a Stone Age country with Soviet tanks. Chiang had a few more agents willing to insert themselves into the region. But if anything else was going to happen there, it was going to need to be soon. It wouldn’t be so long before Kim got even more desperate.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Fidel as an Event. Cuba goes to (0/3).
Most of Central America barely warranted taking notes so soon after the war. Most of the countries hadn’t been colonized in a long time, but most of them weren’t really mature enough to work my way into. Plus, they were so far away from the Soviets, I figured I could move in as needed.
Cuba had been a slight exception, we’d always been close to it. Bautista was not a man I particularly liked, and I was hoping I’d find a better leader to install there. There was a minor communist threat there, but nothing to warrant serious attention there.
Until Fidel. What anyone saw in that man, I’ll never know. Maybe it was all the weapons he and his army had. But he locked down the country while I was looking elsewhere. He loudly pledged his allegiance to communism and the Soviets. There’d be no way I could move on them right away without the Soviets getting provoked.
So I had to tolerate a communist only 100 miles away. I warned the southern States to prep for refugees. They’d be coming soon enough.
US Turn 6 - US Plays Kremlin Flu as an Event. He places 2 influence in Mexico (2/0)
Khrushchev was proving every bit as capable as that commander in Kiev had been all those years ago. Even with all the limited resources he had and all the purges he needed to keep his position, he was an annoyance like no other.
Mexico, on our southern borders, had nationalized its oil industry like idiots, and growth had been stagnant ever since. They hadn’t pledged themselves to communism, but they would soon enough if I didn’t step in.
So I floated them some data. Data on how well the Egyptian and Libyan oil fields were doing and their newfound prosperity. The government, it was said, could not handle business. It simply did not respond fast enough to the problems that always happened. The logic was not lost on President Mateos, and I agreed to take in a meeting in Mexico City with him.
While I’d worked on the man, I’d told my agents to target Molotov in Russia if they could. Of the two agents left from the Troika, Molotov was infinitely less pleased with Khrushchev than Malenkov. All it took was a few rumors, a few misplaced bombs to “turn up in the wrong place.” And a forged letter of alliance bearing Brandt’s name, stating that they would pledge to join the Warsaw Pact if Molotov would kill Khrushchev. Supposedly, the Germans were upset with him because he’d killed so many Germans during the War.
That made it into the Premier’s hands. I’m sure he knew the evidence was fake, he wasn’t dumb. But it didn’t need to be real: The goal was to just to put something physical in the Premier’s hand. Men like Khrushchev were easy to understand; he needed just one excuse to get rid of a bothersome rival, so he got one.
And Molotov didn’t last much longer. Celebrations broke out in Finland, remembering his “bread baskets.” Khrushchev and Kekkonen were forced to clamp down brutally, occupying their attentions away from anything I might have planned.
Round 3 End
Score - USSR + 2
US - Man in Space
USSR - Animal in Space
I’d taken note in order to work closer with NASA these next few years. We’d hadn’t seen failures, but we were going nowhere to orbital trajectories despite all the effort we were putting into things. And the Soviets used dogs. Everyone loved dogs. Even here in America, people would gossip about what a good dog Laika and the others must’ve been. It almost cancelled out the fact that Laika was deliberately sent to her death.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, CIA Created, Independent Reds, NORAD, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Captured Nazi Scientist.
Active Effects: Marshall Plan, NORAD, US/Japan Defense Pact, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, (Kremlin Flu)
Areas Scored: Europe
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 4 - Mid War Cards added - DEFCON goes to 4 - 1960-1964
US is dealt: Shuttle Diplomacy, We Will Bury You, South America Scoring, Voice of America, OAS Founded, OPEC, South African Unrest, Summit, Junta, (The China Card)
Headline - US plays Voice of America, USSR plays Lone Gunman. US player removes 2 influence from North Korea (2/2), 1 influence in Pakistan (0/0) and 1 influence in Syria (0/1). US player keeps his hand face up for the remainder of the turn, and USSR adds 1 influence to Haiti (0/1)
Propaganda was the hardest, and dare I say, most annoying, weapon in the Soviet arsenal. Fortunately, we had it too. Voice of America’s job was to broadcast countervailing news in many different languages to counter the lies of the Reds.
I always thought they gave themselves too much credit: The Russians may have picked the stupidest political system imaginable, but they were not dumb. They knew they were being lied to.
I always thought the goal for the radio stations like VoA was to broadcast how much better our lies were than that of the communists. After all, Russians had to lie in order to talk about how great they were, so we could tell truthful stories. There were more believable. I remembered saying that absently to Acheson back during the Truman years. One of the heads of the VoA called me in one evening. It was some distant relative of Acheson’s wife, who had heard me say that. And wanted to take me up on the opportunity.
The easiest target would be a script I wrote for the Pakistanis. They knew of all the brutal fighting that led to the new government in Lahore, and that was led by a bunch of foreigners who had their own sects of faith. My stations kept posing the question: If they were so intent on having Indian nationals governing them, maybe they should rejoin the Indian state.
Syria was a bit more difficult. They shared a stable border with the Iraqi People’s Republic and Turkey didn’t have much interest in conquering their territory. So instead, we broadcast more direct propaganda. Things they would never hear and see in a miserable Soviet territory. Stories of prosperity and wealth, of a life they could only dream of. Like their neighbors in Jordan. Only in the West, it was said, would such dreams be realized. With the Soviets cracking down harshly on radios, a fact I’d heard so many times in conquered Nazi territories during the war, it wasn’t as effective as I’d like, but it was weakening the Soviet grip on the country. And Khrushchev, with his thoughts of Cuba and the Western Hemisphere, would probably not think to do anything with it.
North Korea was already a bit unstable after some of Kai-Shek’s operatives. I’d heard horrible stories about what happened in that hermit kingdom. But I knew I would never be able to do the story justice. I sent contacts to representatives to Shanghai, where North Koreans escapees could appeal to the South China government, and to Incheon, where many operatives were staged. They would know better on what stories to tell, and when to tell them. It took some time, of course. But Kim’s regime was nearly in open revolt by the time those tales finished airing.
But in all this time I spent looking over at the world, I almost missed what happened under my nose. During a contentious and tightly contested presidential race, the Democratic representative and media darling John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. The election hadn’t even happened yet. All the same, Democrat tension flared as they blamed Nixon’s people for this. The Republicans, in turn, called the Democrats ridiculous, and willing assets of Khrushchev’s plans. For all I knew, Kennedy was killed by a jilted lover, or her husband. That man was a womanizer if I ever saw one.
It was all such a scramble, the Soviets would have gotten through anywhere in the chaos. And from their little stronghold in Cuba, they found just the place: Haiti. Port-au-Prince was a place I’d never thought much of, and the Soviets took quick advantage of all the scramble to install Francois Duvalier, avid racist and authoritarian so power-mad I was almost certain Stalin would come back from the dead to praise him. Or perhaps kill him as a rival. Too bad, that would’ve helped.
It wasn’t surprising to me that Kennedy’s running mate, Lyndon Johnson, took the office. The assassination attempt drove up support for his party. He had a lot of grand ideas for social safety programs and huge government incentives. Sounded communist to me, but domestic policy was not my job. Johnson wanted to meet with me not long after he took office. In fact, he dropped by unannounced.
“I was told you were the man behind the grand Pacific alliance.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes. Politician through and through
“Actually, it was John Dulles...”
“He passed, poor man. But you are still here, Will.” He spoke fast. He got so close to me, I almost thought he wanted a kiss. “I’m certain you can execute my plans.”
“I don’t go by that name.” I kept my tone level.
He didn’t seem to hear me. Instead, he started talking at length. My God, the man could talk. His eyebrows moved like dancers. But I kept my gaze leveled. I rarely spoke; I’d heard he was fond of interjection. Said it put a man off his balance. He spoke of his plans, although I barely paid attention to them. He was joyful about them, of future alliances to be made. He complained when he spoke of Cuba, of communism on our doorstep. He tried to crack jokes but I didn’t laugh. He tried to offer analogies and sound cerebral, but I just tilted my head. I could see through it, I knew what he wanted. He wanted my commitment, to follow his orders like a good little slave.
“I brought Shepherd to the stars, De Gaulle to his knees, and Nasser to his fate. If you’re worried about communists, I know how to defeat them.” I leveled his eyes with mine. He didn’t say a word. In fact, he didn’t speak to me for a year. I wasn’t fired though. I guess with enough trophies on your belt, much could be forgiven.
USSR Turn 1 - He is under Kremlin Flu and must play a Scoring card. He plays Central America Scoring. USSR is +3 and US is +2, Score is now USSR +3
With Molotov gone and a number of supporters either gone with him or dealing with problems in Finland, there was little Khrushchev could do but arrange a diplomatic tour with Cuba, complete with photo ops telling him how close he was to America. How ridiculous, I could take photographs in Alaska pointed towards Russia. It was slightly amusing when President Mateos in Mexico ran commentaries in all the Spanish newspapers in the region deriding the Premier, which was certainly helpful. But it wasn’t as powerful as the Soviet machine. They were after all, right next to us. And we couldn’t do a thing about it.
US Turn 1 - Uses We Will Bury You to coup North Korea. US player rolls a 6. North Korea control goes to 4/0. DEFCON degrades to 3. Effect of card brings DEFCON down to 2. NORAD triggers and US player places 1 influence in India (2/0)
Khrushchev was slated to give a speech at an embassy in Poland, and I almost wished I could go. Most embassy speeches were airy-fairy diplomatic nonsense, nothing in the grand scheme of things. But there was a part of me who still remembered being impressed by him, from Kiev to working with such limited resources. Reportedly, he was brash, blunt, and used strong language. And a speech given by him would make those pansy diplomats wet themselves. He should’ve been sent to the UN, give those earmark seeking greedy grubbers something to fret and moan about.
But I had more important things to do. Let one of Johnson’s appointed empty-suits like Rusk sit there and quake. With his attention there, I had a far more delicious prize in mind.
North Korea and the Kim family ran that prison camp barely called a country. Well, barely now. And I’d been moving for years. Chiang’s forces, defectors willing to enter, propaganda, bribable officers. So much more. All was ready to strike the little Hermit Kingdom. And we made our move. Towns upon towns of people swept out and quickly overpowered the military, the few that hadn’t been bribed yet. And then, the armed forces quickly defected. Secret bunkers and caches of weapons were seized and passed out, and the army advanced upon the Kim family bunkers. Trusted advisors sold out their Dear Leader.
All calls in the UN to condemn the actions were blocked by the Republic of South China, as it was a domestic problem that did not affect other countries. The Kim family were executed and one of the generals was put into place. He declared an end to separation, and pledged free movement between North and South Korea. When asked about unification, he declined on the grounds that the newly formed Federal Republic of Northern Korea had differing goals from its southern neighbor, and had its own domestic policy, at least for the time being. But he pledged full trade with her southern neighbor. Two months later, he requested to join POMA, and his free trade agreements were extended to Japan and the United States.
After all was settled in that country, I walked into the middle of Pyongyang, and looked at what had been accomplished. Lots of people would flee North Korea in the short term. The South’s prosperity was hard to deny. But others would stay. Others would work. And soon, perhaps there would be two economic powerhouses called Korea. And to top it all off, the second proudest communist government was toppled mere months after Khrushchev said he’d put us in our graves.
Perhaps there’d be a joke about B movie zombies. Did they have those in Russia? Probably not, they didn’t have time for bad movies. How did they live?
Between Khrushchev’s speech and my war, the world nearly ended then. Everyone was holding their breath, waiting for the nukes to fly. But they never did. Nehru, however, blinked. I floated some of NORAD’s data regarding missile tests the Soviets prepared in response to the loss of the Kim dynasty around POMA’s offices, free to anyone who wanted to see it. I’d learned that the Prime Minister of India requested a meeting to see the documents. And then requested a few more meetings with my advisors there. When I offered some trade deals to “further our friendship”, he nearly forgot his neutrality.
History called the conflict the War of the Northern 38th. Have to admit, it was better than some of the other names they could’ve picked.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR player plays Latin American Death Squads for Influence. He places 1 in Nicaragua (0/1) and 1 in Iran (1/1)
Khrushchev was firmly on the back foot after he got resituated following the War of the Northern 38th. For all the chaos surrounding JFK’s assassination, I don’t think he ever expected a move that crazy. Though to be fair, that speech of his in Poland was pretty crazy too.
But he wasn’t staying idle and neither were his proxies. Cuban forces moved onto the continent into Nicaragua, ousting the current leader Somoza and installing Carlos Fonseca as their new ruler. I knew Somoza, and I never liked him, he was corrupt in a way that made even Salazar look like an angel. He was barely beholden to our allegiance. Fonseca was just as bad, but he was beholden to the commies.
There was also more movement in Iran. Most of the ousted Pakistani Punjabi Muslims had fled to Afghanistan, but then, they seemed to move across to Iran and start to set up shop there. They were still Soviets there, and brought experience in government. That made them attractive to some. They settled in Mashhad, but that was a problem. The Punjabs were Sunnis, and that was a holy site of the Shi’a. Shah Pahlavi stoked sentiment against these newcomers. But he was fairly secular, and it just led his forces into a stalemate.
US Turn 2 - US player plays Junta as an Event. He places 2 influence in Argentina (2/0). He then makes a coup in Haiti. He rolls a 4. Haiti goes to (3/0). We Will Bury You gives the USSR +3 VP (USSR+6)
I was looking for options on what to do with Fidel in Cuba. And most of my options weren’t looking good, at least not a direct assault. With Duvalier and Fonseca established nearby, Castro could shore up support if I tried something, and so soon after the war, a direct assault would be a bad idea.
There had to be others. Other people I could talk to, elsewhere in the hemisphere. Someone willing to help me out. I went further and further south trying to find them. And I got way south before I found an angle.
Juan Peron was an interesting figure in Argentina. Although I’d never met him myself, he was a soul to capture the imagination. His wife, even more so. They would’ve made lovely constitutional monarchs, but they’d run Argentina into the ground with their overspending. As such, Argentina was looking for assistance to get its fiscal house in order. Fortunately, that was something a man raised for finance knew well. I offered my assistance, and they were all too eager.
Finding a few generals to follow my lead was no problem. I’d arranged a trip to Buenos Aires, ostensibly, to discuss the testing of APCs that were supposed to be headed for Iran after field trials. However, once we had our forces in the country, the generals took charge against their government. Surprised and overwhelmed, they quickly stepped down. No bloodshed, perhaps Sukarno was rubbing off on me a little.
New finance ministers were installed, and I pledged America’s support to these as long as it gave me one thing: Democratic elections in a few years. Secretly, though, I wanted access to some Argentine mercenaries. They weren’t going to be strong enough to deal with Castro in Cuba, but Duvalier in Haiti was a whole different ball game.
I landed my forces on Ile de Gonave, and made a midnight raid on Port-au-Prince. Duvalier’s government might have been strong enough to hold Haiti, but my forces alone were more than enough to topple him. The fighting didn’t last long. Most of the world was still awestruck by Khrushchev’s speech, and constantly waxing philosophical about it. By the time Duvalier was killed in a bloody skirmish, it was far too late for the Cubans, or anyone else, to do anything about it.
It was two weeks before a headline was run. My favorite was “The Doc is Out!” It was much more interesting than the Battle of Grand Sallne. That sounded like a really big cracker.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays Arms Race for Influence. He adds 1 influence to Egypt (2/1) and 1 influence to Afghanistan (0/2)
Khrushchev began marshalling support and assistance in Afghanistan. They must’ve noticed what happened with my moves in India and wanted to protect access to their homeland.
But as I was watching, and trying to ensure they didn’t cross the border to Pakistan, I received word from Sadat. He was seeing more activity among some of Nasser’s former lieutenants. An amnesty had been offered because their military skills were invaluable, but it seemed their loyalty to their fallen liege was still strong.
I could see why Khrushchev would be interested in forging an alliance. There had been rumors of rare earth mines and oil fields in Eastern Africa flying around. There was some stock to it all, but South America looked to be more lucrative. Khrushchev had finished replacing any advisors in Afghanistan who had gone with the Punjabs to Iran, and then he flew right to Cairo. He’d brought with him an attache, a mountain of a man who was supposedly there as an “Egyptologist” to study some ancient sites.
Sadat was in no position to turn him away, the credentials were flawless and refusing an academic would look really bad to his people. Even though Nasser wasn’t in power long, the nationalism he inspired never went away. Not that I wanted it to, but it didn’t work well for me. I sent him a cable to look for excuses to get rid of him without it looking bad for Egypt. In the meantime, he was there, whispering poison and thoughts of socialism, hallmarks of the supposed good Nasser was to bring, to the more impressionable of Sadat’s cabinet.
I told Sadat to bide his time. There’d be a chance to be rid of him, if only we were patient.
US Turn 3 - US plays Shuttle Diplomacy for Influence. He places 1 influence in Benelux (1/0) and 2 influence in France (2/0)
It wasn’t long after the coup in Haiti that I’d received word of a dike break and massive flooding in the Netherlands. It was a terrible tragedy, and Johnson ordered immediate relief. Even going so far as to insist that I lend a hand personally.
I don’t know if he was doing it because he wanted me to make inroads in the Low Countries, or if he just despised me. Either way, those were my orders, and I went. The Dutch were incredibly resilient in the face of a tragedy, and the pumps were working non-stop to clear the land. I’d even thrown on waders and got right into cleaning up myself. While there, I made myself known to members of the States General, and promised to broker a few American deals in exchange for future favors. Might as well get something from this humiliation.
But more interestingly, who should I find also helping direct relief efforts but Georges Pompidou. De Gaulle’s term had ended and he did not seek re-election. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, one of Pompidou’s compatriots and a good soul, was the President now. Pompidou was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was very pleased to see me.
He told me that he had contacted Johnson and insisted on my arrival to Holland. Then, he extended an invitation for me to visit Paris. There’d been some polarizing partisanship wracking the Assemblée Nationale, and Pompidou thought my hand could help reign it in and get things working again. I still had many supporters in the City of Lights, The French Underground remembered the Battle of Marseille, and my part in it. At least, that was how Pompidou put it. He also slyly mentioned that Johnson was expecting me “as soon as I returned to Washington.”
I accepted, and spent quite a few months working to bring some of the Assembly members in line. In some cases it was moving cash, others it was PR work, making them look good. I was even able to paint one as a hero who saved much of the Louvre’s artwork during the Nazi invasion. All and all it wasn’t the hardest work I’d ever done. And in truth, I was happy to be back in France under more agreeable circumstances. There was only so much I could do, but with a little more effort I could probably solidify our holdings and get our longest-lasting ally back in America’s pocket again.
And when I returned to Washington, I reported in as I was told. Johnson remarked that if he wanted to see me, he’d send me to Antarctica first. But he certainly didn’t appreciate me taking longer than expected in the Netherlands. But at least Pompidou had been talking up a storm of the good work done by America, and was hoping for closer ties. Johnson was eager to accept and offered numerous trade concessions. I don’t think he appreciated the fact that I was responsible.
Then, I realized that was Pompidou’s plan all along. That cunning old bat. Why couldn’t he live forever?
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays Portuguese Empire Crumbles as an Event. Angola goes to (2/0) and SE African States goes to (2/0)
Salazar had tried to reach out to me while I was in Paris. I’d been avoiding him, but I think I knew what he wanted. Every message I read though, told me the same thing: There’d been problems in his provinces of Portuguese East Africa and Angola. Johnson had declared America would not assist. And it was one of the few times I agreed with him. There was no point to colonies, not anymore. Sovereign countries with free alliances, now that was something useful.
But it didn’t take long for Johnson to mess things up. He wanted to shore up Northern Rhodesia and other former British holdings to prevent them from slipping to Communism. I thought that should’ve been handled by London, and we could’ve made more aggressive pushes into Portuguese East Africa. Angola I had written off as a lost cause, the communists there, the MPLA, were vicious and would likely cause a war to bring in the Soviets if I tried. But the other? I could do something there.
Johnson disagreed. I tried to warn him that states without aid like that fell to communism very easily, just like he feared in Northern Rhodesia. But Johnson wanted to spend resources on a giant welfare state in America, and wasn’t about to spare any time on anything else: It wasn’t as if Portugal itself was going to fall to communism. And, if I was so concerned, perhaps when Portuguese East Africa became independent, I should become the ambassador there.
The empire collapsed almost the second Salazar died. I wasn’t shocked. When the MPLA swept Angola, I shrugged, and started recruiting assets from the opposition, UNITA. And when Portuguese East Africa, now going by Mozambique, fell, I swore I’d find some way to ensure Johnson wouldn’t get elected next time around.
US Turn 4 - US plays South America Scoring. US gets 3 points to USSR 0, bringing score to USSR+3.
I’d wanted to do more in South America, particularly after my successes with that junta in Argentina. But I knew Khrushchev was salivating over the prospect of the continent. It would’ve been really hard for him to make inroads into the continent with Cuba so far away from it and no allies to call on in the region. But if I started building up in Uruguay or coming down from the canal to Colombia, he’d find some dissidents not happy with America’s moves. Might even be able to marshal a coup. The Argentines were fierce, and I’m sure the Soviets tried anything there, they’d be in trouble. But other countries, maybe not so much.
I was hoping for some good press to keep Johnson off my back, some grand event on the continent. Unfortunately, I had to settle for something small. Argentines were about to celebrate the anniversary of Loyalty Day, and America, in celebration, had gifted the Argentines wax sculptures and portraits of Juan and Eva Peron. It was a big celebration for one country, Christian Dior even sent over a dress he never got the chance to give the First Lady. It was strange, all in all. I’d studied Peron’s policies, and he had more communist leanings than I would like. Sure, he couldn’t affect policy any more, but why were we celebrating a Communist?
I didn’t attend myself, that was a job for state officials who liked such things. But Eva Peron was considered a world treasure. The papers loved our tribute. And it made America shine in the public spotlight.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR plays Brush War as an Event. He chooses Libya and rolls a 6, turning all US influence into USSR influence (0/2). He also gains 1 VP (USSR+4)
After my first war in Libya, the one where King Idris had been killed, I’d hadn’t thought much of Tripoli, the former capital. Misrata was the new seat of power, and things were chugging along there nicely.
Until Muammar Gaddafi came from the brush. I’d never heard of him before them, there were always a few Arab socialists putzing around every country. Normally, they just screamed and ranted and eventually made their way to Syria or Iraq, where they could wait until I could figure a solution to deal with them.
But Gaddafi, there was a man with drive and ideas. And unfortunately, the will to use them. It was that little attache of Khrushchev’s he’d sent to Egypt, that “professor”, he secretly funneled some troops under the guise of archaeology students and got them safely to Libya. And they struck. Misrata was defended somewhat, but not enough. It fell after a year. Gaddafi sent messages to Sadat and King Hussein in Jordan, calling for pan-Arab unity, only for him to be rebuffed. I’d hoped he’d stay put for a while. Some Colonels were content with their thrones. I just had to be ready if he wasn’t.
US Turn 5 - US plays OPEC. USSR controls Iraq and Libya and gains 2 VP (USSR+6). US places 1 Influence in Benelux (2/0), 1 Influence in Saudi Arabia (1/0), and 1 Influence in France (3/0)
Libya celebrated its newfound “independence” shortly after consolidating power by joining the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. And they immediately joined with the Iraqi People’s Republic by jacking up oil prices to countries that “refused to recognize the solidarity of the Pan-Arabic lands.” The proclamation wasn’t as strong as it sounded, most of OPEC’s members raised the prices only a token level, as they were still more concerned with profits than some sort of strange alliance. It still hurt a bit: Iraq sold a lot of oil, and the Soviets got it much cheaper.
But it did allow me to sell some of our reserves to France and also to Belgium. It would blow over in time, I told them: Iraq would collapse without money in a heartbeat and the Soviets don’t buy enough by themselves.
And then I received something unexpected. An invitation to meet with a Prince of the House of Saud. The heads of OPEC. It was to be in secret of course, a visit to Riyadh was completely out of the question. But I could make a visit to Duba, and there, I met Crown Prince Faisal. We’d talked for a time, and he offered his own trade concessions, wanting to make pro-America moves. I think he was hoping to use my networks for information to fuel a coup against his brother.
I wasn’t sure of how useful he might be. But the man was a visionary, and he could help keep the Iraqi People’s Republic in check. I’d secured a commitment to the Prince’s ending of slavery, and in return offered him some intelligence on friendly sources he could use for any “personal matters of state.” It only went so far: the Crown Prince was pro-Palestinian, and I wouldn’t budge on Israel. And I wasn’t sure how much more I could support Faisal if we couldn’t agree on that.
He’d triggered his coup against his brother, using the intel I provided. It was successful. I’d been welcome to return, this time to Riyadh itself, if I wanted to discuss matters further.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Nixon Plays the China Card on the Space Race. He rolls a 1 and succeeds. USSR goes to Man in Space, but is awarded no VP.
I’d finally taken a trip back to NASA, and I barely recognized any of it. Doctor von Braun had been clashing with NASA on long term goals, although he’d made a lot of progress on the orbital trajectories. Some of the younger scientists were experimenting with new technologies on booster rockets to reach the low earth orbit needed. But they still hitting a few snags. The reach on the orbits decayed too fast, there was no way the flight could be maintained for the hours it needed for true orbital flight.
I knew I wouldn’t be of much help. I never knew how to make rockets work, and I couldn’t think of any other Nazi scientists I could snatch from some castle.
People were coming and going throughout NASA, and I couldn’t keep track of them all. It seemed too open to me, too many spies. Had to be spies, communism was built on taking things from others.
And the Soviet design bureaus had been very active recently. When I tried to make contact with my moles, they had nothing in regards to that problem of orbital decay. The Soviets were working on other technologies. Ejection methods. It made me laugh for a second: Were they failing that badly they needed to find ways to bail out? But then I realized that the Soviets didn’t have the capability to bring their spacecraft down into the ocean to recover pilots.
And by the time I’d realized that, Yuri Gagarin had made it into space. Pravda claimed it was a spaceflight far superior, given that Gagarin was in space for far longer than any of our astronauts. We responded with: Ejecting from the capsule before touchdown didn’t count as proper spaceflight. Technicalities were about I could do to stomach the fact that we’d lost our advantage.
US Turn 6 - US Plays the China Card for Influence. He places 1 influence in India (3/0), 2 influence in Burma (2/0), and 2 influence in Pakistan (2/0)
I’d returned to Southeast Asia to look into ways to retake Cambodia from the Pathet Lao. Their puppets in the south, the Khmer Rouge, were every bit as bloodthirsty as their northern neighbors. I briefly wondered if the CIA was still failing miserably at trying to retake the country, although Vietnam and Thailand were still stable. I was having no luck, none of my former contacts were in any position to anything: The Khmer Rouge suffered no rivals, so instead, I took my time in the region to finalize some arrangements with India. I didn’t like any my options there: Nehru was committed to neutrality, a secret scheme to get both America and Russia to give India everything it wanted. The Afghans did the same thing, although we hadn’t bitten yet. And Indira Gandhi was willing to use even communists to get the power she craved.
I’d needed the strategic location, so I was about to bite the bullet and help Indira when a missive came to me while I was in Bombay. It told me of a man seeking the Presidency: Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He was a Hindu scholar who believed in bridging the gap between India and the West. Religion was his primary focus, but he’d served in the UN for a while, and was always interested in meeting Westerners. So I arranged a meeting, and I don’t think I ever studied so hard when I had that crash course on Hinduism to try and impress him. But he and I got along well. His Presidential victory wasn’t too hard, I barely needed to help. The real trick was getting him to assert his power from Indira, and those like her, the man was agreeable to a fault.
“Those duties and powers are the President’s, not the Prime Minister. I am a layman, I know, but shouldn’t you be asserting those duties? That sounds like dharma to me.”
And around this time, I came into contact with an elderly CCP man, who was working with POMA as an observer. Because North and South China were still at odds, and South China was one of POMA’s founding members, North China was only allowed to sit in on unclassified meetings and work on a few partnerships. How Chiang agreed to that, I’ll never know. But this North Chinese man was eager to meet with me. And we did, right in New Delhi.
The man said he’d heard of me and my family’s business. I certainly would’ve welcomed any contact in that part of the world. He asked me hard questions about fiscal policy, and we spoke until early morning.
This was my first meeting with Deng Xiaoping. Almost philosophical in speech, the man knew finance so well I thought he’d bleed coins. How he was able to hide that from that communist Mao I had no idea. Behind closed doors, he told me he cared less for the “Formosa Situation” and more for building a better North China, and a better world. It sounded like a sales pitch, and he was a politician with all that entails. But sometimes, the results were worth the deal. And there was more to our meeting than simple words. He’d been making inroads in Rangoon with the Burmese, but he was only getting so far. He thought he’d have better luck if we worked together. With my avenues into Cambodia stalling, I’d have to settle for containment and halt the spread of the Pathet Lao or the Rouge any further.
It wasn’t too hard to convince the Burmese: Burma had many infrastructure plans they’d needed the capital to start up, and capitalism was very popular after the Burmese saw what it did for Thailand. We were able to set up deals for both the US and North China. Deng also was watching my moves in India. Radhakrishnan was his choice as well, and he pledged to keep apprised of any moves that Indira might’ve pulled, if she tried to make any pledges with the communists.
He was recalled to China, but gave an excuse and stayed with me. And then, we traveled further west, to Pakistan, towards Lahore. Elections were being held in their parliament, and the two new Muslim Leagues formed after the country split, were almost at a total stalemate. There was no way I’d allow the communists to take charge, and surprisingly, neither did Deng. A few incidents here and there would be easily enough to sway the election away from the communists. Just enough to make the opposition look ill-prepared for the problems Pakistan faced. And it was easily done.
The election of Mohammad Ayub Khan came to fruition quickly. I think he would’ve preferred if he taken the country in a coup. I might have too, but I wasn’t about to risk nuclear war on it. Even though they were capitalist, they pledged free trade with North China as well as POMA. After that, Deng remarked that North China would collapse if he wasn’t there to stop it, and Mao was not a man to keep waiting too long. We bid farewell.
I couldn’t help but wonder after I’d met Deng if he hadn’t planned this whole affair. The missive on Dr. Radhakrishnan after all, came nearly out of the blue. My people in Beijing, contacts I knew before I met Deng, were able to determine his criticism of Mao and reformist economic policies was his genuine belief, and Mao would more than likely cozy up to the Soviets when they’d seen my moves in Asia. But I never got a straight answer from Deng when I met him next at another POMA meeting. He just said he’d seen some of Stalin’s failures first hand from Sofia to Siberia, and loved China too much to see that happened on his side of the Great Wall. And in truth, it wasn’t as if those inroads made weren’t just for North China: America benefited greatly by keeping the Pathet Lao contained.
Realizing that was all I’d ever get from him, at least at that point, I told him to stay alive.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR plays Our Man in Tehran for Influence. He places 1 influence in Zaire (0/1), 1 Influence in Zimbabwe (0/1) and 1 Influence in Sudan (0/1). The US Player looks at the top 5 cards and may discard any he chooses. He chooses to discard all of the cards: Muslim Revolution, Quagmire, SALT Negotiations, Kitchen Debates, and Non-Aligned Movement. The deck is reshuffled.
Khrushchev’s forces were expanding out from the former Portuguese colonies. He’s appointed an ultra-nationalist, a former teacher named Robert Mugabe to run Rhodesia, soon called Zimbabwe. Shaba I then moved from Angola to the Kinshasa Province to try and seize Zaire. Johnson hamstrung me from intervening in Zimbabwe: Mugabe was a black nationalist and Johnson wanted to shore up support with the black community in America by showing support. Mugabe rebuffed him: It wasn’t nationalism that moved Mugabe, but racism. Well, let him fail: Zimbabwe certainly would, Mugabe was expelling all the farmers. His loss would be Northern Rhodesia’s gain, that’s where the farmers were headed. But with Zaire, there wasn’t much I could do even after the Shaba Province was seized, and the rest of the country soon followed. The country was a well known source of yellowcake uranium, and if I moved on that, so soon after the War of the Northern 38th, I’d definitely be picking apart the irradiated ashes of every major city in America. Assuming I wasn’t lynched.
There was movement in Sudan slowly turning to communism as well. Nothing I could do there either, Johnson refused to consider it. Fortunately, my people hadn’t been idle while I watched Africa turn red. King Hussein’s spies, Shah Pahlavi’s people, as well as some of old contacts from Mossad, had been following information regarding some Muslim Brotherhood operatives. There were planning on seizing power legitimately through calls for shariah government, playing on some strange doctrinal differences. Mossad was eager to snuff those out before they happened. There were also plans on getting us bogged down in some forever war, tricking us into fighting some desert war elsewhere in the Sahel. King Hussein took out the people planning that before it happened. With these moves in the reason, plans for treaties regarding nuclear weapons bans would be put on hold for the time being, as well as a plan to bring Johnson and Khrushchev to meet. And then, there was Nehru, who was planning grand movements of neutral states, that might’ve been appealing to some countries. I wasn’t about to lose allies, so I sent word to Radhakrishnan, who bogged Nehru down in meaningless diplomacy, squelching those plans.
US Turn 7 - US plays South African Unrest on the Space Race. He rolls a 3 and succeeds, bringing him to Man in Earth Orbit. USSR player must show Headline Card before US decides.
I tried to ignore Gagarin’s spaceflight as best I could and focused on what NASA needed I’d scrapped a few ops in Africa I had planned in order to funnel the resources to the space program. It was probably for the best, they’d probably only trigger some of the anger over the apartheid conditions there. Especially since there were whispers of South Africa seeking nuclear weapons. I was pretty sure they were false, but that country was already a powder keg, and our control over it was barely stable.
I’d have much rather spent that time with NASA. And fortunately, it seemed to be just what NASA needed. I’d funneled the resources into research and development, and they finally had a breakthrough. They’d come up with a more efficient fuel that burned less as the rocket ascended. Now there would be enough fuel to prevent the orbital decay.
John Glenn, and then Scott Carpenter, went up in the same year. They were up in those metal coffins for hours. I still didn’t see the point of it. I’d listened to Carpenter’s logs of his flight up and it was checking systems, and this and that. I didn’t see much practical application, military or otherwise. Satellites, sure, but people? Seemed more like a suicide mission.
But it had an effect like no other. The Soviets were in a panic thanks to Glenn and Carpenter. And that my spies in the Kremlin should be able to work within that chaos, sending me some valuable data of any moves they might have made.
Round 4 End
US - Man in Earth Orbit
USSR - Man in Space
I asked both Glenn and Carpenter what would have happened, if, during their orbital flights, they’d seen Gagarin’s shuttle, what would they have done? Glenn said he wouldn’t have noticed, he was too busy. Carpenter said he probably would’ve waved.
Johnson tried to take credit for the orbital trajectory, but I snuck a few reporters into NASA to interview some of the hard working scientists there. They were the ones who deserved the praise.
Just as the election season was warming up, I began to speak to the press a little more. I had strict policies regarding leakers: Anyone caught was fired, at a minimum. But that only applied to classified information. There was plenty of details that the public had the right to know. I made contact with Johnson’s opponents and reminded them of Johnson’s lax behavior across Africa, particularly his warm embrace of Mugabe. The ads wrote themselves, and the press ate it up. “Johnson Cozies to Commie” was my favorite, really got to the point.
Then, I floated a few rumors of my own to the press, reminding them of Gaddafi’s ascent in Libya. That had nothing to do with Johnson, but the rumor mill ran wild: When it came to Africa, it seemed, Johnson was quite content to hold back his hand and make common cause with the enemy.
The Republicans did the rest. The debates lit up with Nixon accusing Johnson of being weak in the face of communism, too focused on some pipe dream of a “grand society”. Johnson tried to pin it on me, even dropped my name once or twice. But, in a stern rebuke, Dean Acheson himself came out of mothballs to state of my service glowingly.
“How did we solve the Korean problem? We pointed Mercer at it. He wouldn’t have failed in Africa. Unless his hands were tied.” He did have a lovely way with words. Not only did Johnson look ineffective, but he looked like a poor leader who blamed other people for his mistakes. Support for Johnson eroded quickly, and he lost the election in a landslide.
I was speaking on the phone with Nixon after his victory. He was going to keep me on. And then, Johnson walked in. Didn’t even knock. He’d done that before.
“Lyndon.” At this point, I’d seen no need for formality. If he planned on firing me in petty revenge, Nixon would just hire me back at the same position the second he assumed office. Might even use some of that vacation time I’d never been using, the wife and kids might like the idea of going away for Christmas. But I was pretty sure Johnson wouldn’t do it; He knew he would just look weak and petty. Even more than he already did.
“Do you realize what you’ve done?” He was doing that thing he always did: Got very close, waited for me to move. He should’ve known by now it didn’t work on me, but maybe it was the only tactic he knew.
“Disappointed?” He liked to interrupt, I kept it to one word.
He twitched, for just a second. I think he was so used to his ambush tactic he was surprised when someone asked him a question. “Nixon will never continue my plans.”
“I know nothing about that. I am foreign affairs, and I have concerns in Africa to look into.”
“Is that it, William?” He didn’t say it out loud, but he thought I wanted revenge for snubbing me. How ridiculous.
“No, Lyndon. This isn’t about me, and it isn’t about you. That’s the point. That is what you didn’t understand.” He didn’t say anything else, he couldn’t. I still don’t think he got it. And that’s why he lost.
It was always going to happen that way. Johnson was ill suited for the world we faced. He wanted big policies like FDR, something he could cling to and say ‘this was mine.’ But that wasn’t how this war would be won. It was about what needed to be done, not whose name was attached. I wished I lived up to that ideal, but I always ended up being seen. But Johnson actively defied it in his mad lust for recognition.
Nixon didn’t seem to be that way. He was a patient, if taciturn man. I think he had a better philosophy then Johnson. But unfortunately, he and Johnson were very similar in one regard: They were politicians. That was a problem.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, Lone Gunman, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Portuguese Empire Crumbles, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, We Will Bury You, CIA Created, Independent Reds, NORAD, Our Man in Tehran, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Captured Nazi Scientist.
Active Effects: Marshall Plan, NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France
Regions Scored: Europe, Central America, South America.
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 5 - DEFCON goes to 3 - 1964-1968
US Cards dealt: (Summit, OAS Founded), Ussuri River Skirmish, Missile Envy, U-2 Incident, Che, ABM Treaty, Southeast Asia Scoring, Arab-Israeli War.
Headline: USSR must show Headline Card first. He chooses Panama Canal Returned.
My spies had learned a great deal from the panic the Soviets had found themselves in after Glenn and Carpenter’s orbital flights. They were planning an operation using some of Castro’s forces and Nicaraguan mercenaries to deploy around the Panama Canal area.
There was a very easy way around this. While Panama had been fairly friendly to us and never caused huge problems, the Canal was always a bit of a flashpoint. Many in Panama believed it was their on their land, so they should have the right to it. That was true, but in all honesty, what they really wanted was the lucrative money that came with use of the Canal.
We’d been planning on returning the Canal, perhaps Panama would be willing to take the costs of maintaining it as well. Costa Rican envoys and Venezuelan oil barons were in attendance, eager to strike new deals with a much closer power. When staffers went down there, they were advised to say something specific to them. Now that we weren’t spending as much on the Canal, we were looking for new foreign investors. And both countries jumped.
There was no materialization of the Cuban threat, and it seemed the plan went well. Nixon was pleased. But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was something the Soviets wanted all along.
US player picks Missile Envy. USSR must hand over highest ranked card. He turns over NATO, which takes effect. US gains 1 influence in Panama (2/0), 1 influence in Costa Rica (1/0) and 1 influence in Venezuela (1/0)
With Nixon just having been sworn in, he wanted a grand display of military might, a showcase of American military might over the communists, right on the anniversary of the War of the Northern 38th. There were some feminists who said it was compensation of some kind, and that it was drive by male ego or some rot. Your basic armchair general. Who’d blame the nearest man if something went wrong.
Nixon could be a bit obtuse, but his displays could be useful if broadcasted directly. Television had been getting more and more popular, not to mention available for mass consumption, and the gleaming missiles made for quite the spectacle. I’d wanted it to be broadcast and make the Soviet Union do something foolish. And they did. The Soviets started marshalling forces for a much more, somewhat pathetic display, a march from Warsaw to East Berlin.
That spooked a West German politician named Kiesinger, who was certain that the East Germans would be making a move soon. He drew together allies like President Segni in Italy and Douglas-Home in the U.K. Even the Greeks wanted to get involved. Everyone but the French. There had always been talk about creating a union across the Atlantic similar to the structure of POMA, ever since the Warsaw Pact had been formed. Canada had lead the charge, but I’d been mostly noncommittal. I had other things to do, after all. Europe always got a bit twitchy, and it was hard for the USSR to try anything violent there after the Trieste Skirmish.
But now discussions were ramped into high gear, and they were completely out of my hand. All I could do was go along with it. I think at one point, I had to send all of my staff to Europe to meet with the government discussions there. After all, Europe wished to be defended by America, so I needed to make sure what America wanted in return. Plus, I’d already made one successful organization. Kiesinger was mobilizing everything, offering West Germany as a staging point. Once things got high level, I got involved personally. I wish I had Dulles by my side, but he taught me well. Those were long nights, but productive. Even that old dinosaur Franco was swayed. I made overtures to Nagy, hoping he’d join in, but Janos Kadar, Rakosi’s successor, held too much sway.
The North American Treaty Organization, NATO, was inaugurated in the summer. The world felt so connected, more than ever. It lacked the pomp of POMA. The world, after all, had seen this before. But the alliance felt much stronger: Mutual defense was front and center in NATO, whereas POMA’s connections were looser. Dulles would’ve been so proud.
All from a little parade Nixon wanted to throw. And the resources the Soviets squandered on their display would certainly make any movements they had to make much more hampered.
USSR Turn 1 - USSR must play Missile Envy. He chooses to use it for a coup on Haiti. He rolls a 2 and Haiti goes down to (1/0)
After their much derided “display” in the East, several Soviet diplomats went on a trip to Cuba. I kept my eyes on Costa Rica, wondering if, perhaps, the Soviets actually were planning a move on the Canal. But while I was looking at San Jose, Khrushchev was looking towards Port-au-Prince. Cuban forces swept across the channels and attacked, trying to use a tropical storm as cover. One of their ships sank, but the other made its way successfully, and fighting within the city killed several important ministers and weakened the army greatly.
We still controlled that part of Hispaniola, but just barely. It was little more than a propaganda victory to the Red Army, particularly after their failed display in Berlin. All in all, it could’ve been worse.
US Turn 1 - US plays Che for Influence. He adds 2 Influence to Costa Rica (3/0) and 1 Influence to Austria (1/1). Che takes effect. Che targets Haiti and rolls a 5, bringing Haiti up to (0/5). Che then targets Costa Rica and rolls a 1, failing at the coup.
That attack in Haiti did inspire someone though. A violent communist idiot named Che Guevara who was a dyed in the wool believer of that stupidity. Somehow, he’d convinced himself that colonialism was the reason Latin America had such poverty and disease. If the fool had ever seen the front lines in France, he’d know about disease, no colonialism involved. And if he’d seen the horrors of the world inside the Iron Curtain, or what I’d heard from defectors from North Korea, he’d know that Marxism was no remedy to poverty.
But he wasn’t willing to learn, or understand. He was nothing more than a thug who wanted an excuse to kill others. He rallied popular support in Haiti and Cuba and attacked almost immediately after the first attack failed. There was no chance at saving them. Haitians died by the hundreds, all in service of Che’s idiotic utopia. He installed Duvalier’s son, Baby Doc Duvalier, in his place. Who was every bit as bloodthirsty as dear old dad.
Buoyed by this, Che turned elsewhere. He wasn’t about to risk nuclear annihilation going after the Canal, but Costa Rica had abolished its army about twenty years ago, and by any stretch, was easy pickings. With his focus on Haiti, I’d marshalled support in Costa Rica as best I could, firmly entrenching people within the country, and supplying what little police force it had with arms and mercenaries.
Che went to Nicaragua and then attacked Costa Rica. Appalled that Che would attack a country with no military, he found no additional aid to help him organize. And the Costa Ricans themselves were in no mood to support him. Costa Rica’s police force capitalized on this, and stopped him at Alajuela, and ordered him to withdraw. Many did. But Che refused, and the fighting was fierce. I wasn’t sure if Che himself was killed in the assault, but he was disgraced even further, and it might have been better for him if he did lose his life. The only thing worse than attacking a country with no army was losing to it.
After the failed coup, I received a message from Vienna. A political party there, the Austrian People’s Party, were growing concerned. They had advocated strong borders and closer ties to the US, despite their commitment to “permanent neutrality” following the end of the war. But their rivals, the Social Democrats were being obstinate. Ever since Nagy had declared neutrality, the two parties had been split on what to do with it. The People’s Party wanted to bring Austria into the fold while the Social Democrats were worried it would provoke Moscow. Interestingly, when Stalin made his COMECON overtures so many years ago, it was the Democrats who took the contracts. Maybe they just didn’t want to hurt their old business partners.
The Austrian People’s Party knew that the Russians wouldn’t be mollified by neutrality and ignoring the red menace to the east. Sooner or later, a man saw no difference between neutrality and an enemy. This was doubly true in the case of Russia. And I wasn’t about to abandon Austria after watching so many African nations fall to Johnson tying my hands.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR plays The China Card as a Coup in Venezuela. He rolls a 4 and Venezuela goes to (0/3). DEFCON goes to 2. NORAD triggers and US places 1 influence in Benelux (3/0)
Oil deals with Venezuela were doing quite well. According to OPEC estimates, Venezuela had the most oil reserves in the world. The President of Venezuela, Leoni, talked of the group in token and dismissive terms, and made no pledges to OPEC, following the lead of Saudi Arabia.
Baghdad was angered by this, and was trying to demand that Communist countries give each other better prices due to some nonsense about colonialism. Didn’t they forget how many colonies Russia took in her history? Or Iraq, whatever their empire might’ve called themselves in the past.
There was no way they’d sit on Venezuela. And, not to my surprise, I saw it come quickly in the form of North China. Mao’s rapidly modernizing industries required a source of import, and China had planned to make a large purchase of Venezuelan oil as a show, in the hopes of a more permanent trade treaty,
Any idiot could see that China buying oil from a source literally halfway around the world was a smokescreen at best, especially since it would have to go through the Canal, and Panama would charge a high price for use of their new prize. But as the diplomats were handling that meeting, the FALN, comprised of communists forced out of the government by Leoni’s predecessor, attacked Caracas without warning.
There was nothing anyone could do. Rafael Caldera, the Senator who had been the dignitary when the Canal was signed over the Panama and a contact of mine in the region, was able to be snuck out and eventually relocated to San Jose. Leoni wasn’t so lucky, and I only hoped it was quick for him.
In the months to follow, Venezuela nationalized the oil industry and sold at a steal to Cuba and other Soviet puppets in Africa.
After the coup died, I’d received word from Deng Xiaoping. He said Venezuela would fall apart in a year without aid from a major power. And with Mao looking inward, Deng was ready to make more moves with me, whenever I was ready. After being denied an oil contract from the now Socialist People’s Republic of Venezuela a few months later, Belgium finally made the decision to join with NATO after a trade deal for oil imports fell through with the newly communist power, sweeping the Netherlands and Luxembourg along to the alliance.
“A wall more solid than Maginot” was how I heard one diplomat put it. Pretty sure he forgot the Germans went around that.
US Turn 2 - US plays U-2 Incident for Influence. USSR gains 1 VP (USSR +7). He places 2 Influence in Botswana (2/0) and 1 influence in Colombia (1/0)
I was keeping my eyes in the Southern Hemisphere. Nicaragua seemed more content with helping Cuba than expanding westward to Honduras, and Costa Rica, still seen as heroic after defending successfully against Che, was secure enough to block any further advances. But Venezuela, with it’s FALN forces itching for another fight, was a different story. It would’ve been very difficult for them to make moves into Brazil through the Amazon, but Colombia was a different story. Colombia had been dealing with militant groups of its own, mainly FARC, but it’s government, the National Front, had been steadily helping in reducing the partisanship and violence after it’s junta was overthrown. But it’s coalition style legislature meant nothing much was getting done, and the authoritarian regime of the FALN was cause for alarm. Bogota reached out, and I answered, helping them shore up their northern borders to deal with the eventually refugee that would come from Venezuela soon enough. Miami had been seeing ways of Cubans escaping Castro’s oppression.
I was also going to need help in Africa to combat the spread of the Soviets there, which would certainly expand. But the apartheid government in South Africa wasn’t listening to any of my overtures. Even the white farmers fleeing Mugabe’s land grabs were opting for the fertile lands of Northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia. So instead, I took my business elsewhere. Botswana, a recently independent, mostly desert country with plentiful mining resources, was looking for foreign investments. And I knew just what they were looking for. There was an Israeli firm that had recently developed a new product: A drip irrigation system for crops. Made them need much less water. Rain was so important in Botswana, their flag was colored for it. I offered the technology as a gift, and Gaborone was grateful.
For all my eyes in the south, however, I wasn’t paying much attention. A pilot on a reconnaissance mission was shot down spying on Soviet bases, and Nixon’s lie about civilian work was quickly exposed. I think Nixon was upset that I didn’t do anything to stop it. I told him I couldn’t exactly stop a plane from being shot down.
I left getting him out in the hands of others. There would probably be some exchange of spies or something. But for reason, Nixon seemed to blame me for the event. I’d never ordered any reconnaissance, I had my own assets in Soviet territory. But I suppose if I did all the work, I was going to be assumed responsible for everything. Such were the downsides.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays Berlin Wall as an Event. East Germany goes to (0/7) and Soviets advance to Man in Earth Orbit. USSR no longer shows his card first during Headline Phase.
With their subsidiaries in the Western Hemisphere humming with Venezuelan oil, the Soviets turned their attention back to their heartland and closest allies. There were strict border controls between Western and Eastern countries. Even with Hungarian neutrality, it was hard to go from East to West.
Berlin, however, was a different sort. Countries were far away, but going several city blocks, that could be done in an afternoon. East Berliners had been fleeing for quite sometimes to West Berlin’s prosperity. I didn’t know how many people crossed, but it had to be millions.
The Wall changed all that. I’d heard whispers from my sources that some rocket engineers were about to defect from Moscow. I’d told my spies to keep an eye out for them. But then the Soviets, almost overnight, constructed a great wall to block Berlin. Escapes tapered off, I never heard anything about the scientists. A few months later, I’d gotten word that OKB-One had cracked the secret behind orbital trajectories. I’m sure they sent some sort of sarcastic joke to NASA, but I hadn’t bothered to see it.
US Turn 3 - US plays ABM Treaty as an Event. DEFCON goes to 3. US Targets Iran for coup. He gets a 3 and Iran goes to 3/0. DEFCON degrades to 2. NORAD triggers and US places 1 Influence in Austria (2/1).
I’d never understood why people were so scared by the anti-ballistic missile systems. I’d heard tell of people saying such things were leading to the development of the MIRV. That was dumb, everyone found ways to make weapons.
McNamara, Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, was especially bothered by the ABM. He’d gone to the World Bank after Johnson’s ouster, and in fact, he even made overtures to Nixon not long after the missiles came into public notice. McNamara wanted Nixon to commit to talking with Khrushchev about them, even offered to sweeten some loans to a few of our developing allies like Botswana and Burma in exchange for a commitment to limit our use of them. Surely, he’d do the same for Khrushchev.
Me, I thought the whole ABM system was fascinating. And we needed something to stop the A-Bombs if someone was stupid to use them. I rarely met McNamara during Johnson’s tenure, but I seemed to see him a lot during the early years of Nixon’s first term. He made it a point to seek me out. We argued a lot about the missiles. I try to keep my cool, but even then, it got kind of heated. One time, Nixon even watched us argue.
Unfortunately for me, Nixon sided with McNamara. The two had been having meetings non-stop. Meetings with the Soviets soon followed. The press got wind of the negotiations and they hyped it up. Inching towards peace, so it went. I couldn’t help but laugh. How many times did they gawk about how many times the world ended. I knew the real number. I could count them.
“Mister President, since you don’t need me for these negotiations, perhaps you’d be okay with me undertaking a little...side project.”
“Yes, fine!” He could always be rather terse. Fortunately, I knew that. I didn’t give him the details, but I’m sure he’d be happy with the results.
Shah Pahlavi was still struggling with the Punjab Muslims from Pakistan, and it was about time to tip the balance. I knew just how to get it to work. Several Iranian forces disguised themselves as civilians, then snuck into Mashhad. There, they insulted high-ranking Punjabs. When the Punjabs responded with physical violence, it stoked resentment that had been long seething among the populace. Not only had these Sunnis taken control of a Shia holy city, but now they were damaging it. Riots broke out.
Pahlavi’s forces descended on the city, and when the Mashhadi citizens expelled the Punjabs, Pahlavi’s troops seized them. Mashhadis were released with token fines and community service restoring the city the next day. I never heard what happened to the Punjabs, but I could probably guess. Public opinion returned to the Shah, and his government was stronger than ever. When I returned to Washington, Nixon seemed pleased with my results.
“I should turn you loose more often.” Was all he said.
No one linked it to the US, except the odd conspiracy theorist. It seemed perfectly reasonable: Palavi had been vying for control for a while. But it did erode the calls towards peace that Nixon was hoping to make. It caught the attention of my allies in Austria, though, and they requested more assistance. Nixon was only too happy to give it.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays Truman Doctrine for Influence. He places 1 influence in Cameroon (1/0). US may remove all USSR influence from 1 uncontrolled region in Europe, and picks Austria (2/0).
The Soviet/Angolan forces continued their march north through Africa. After setting up their puppet in Zaire, they headed towards the coast, to Cameroon. They took over with no fighting at all: Cameroon had been largely abandoned by the British and French, like so many of their colonies as the decade dragged on. It was all too easy for the Soviets to sweep in.
I’d had my attention focused on Austria anyway. Many of the NATO nations could defend themselves if they needed to, but Austria wasn’t a member of NATO. The Social Democrats had been leading in the polls of their recent elections, despite our assistance, and they were pledging for more solidarity with East Germany and Poland. I think they were concerned about an influx of refugees from East Berlin, and the armies the Soviets might send in order to chase them.
I’d been steadily increasing our support of the People’s Party, but it wouldn’t matter how much I supported them if they lost their elections. So instead of just offering them my support, I sent my spies into the grand coalition government in Vienna. Tidbits of information filtered in here and there. A love affair, a financial transgression, a drug addiction, all of it disseminated to the press all to be eagerly swallowed up by whoever came across it.
Nothing fictional, nothing world shattering. The Austrians were free to ignore it, if they didn’t think it mattered. But it made all the difference on Election Day. I was in Salzberg on the day of the elections, when the People’s Party could have ruled by itself if it wanted. They chose to be magnanimous. A month later, though, the Austrians announced their withdraw from COMECON.
US Turn 4 - US plays Ussuri River Skirmish as an Event. US adds 2 influence to Afghanistan (2/2), 1 to Malaysia (2/0) and 1 to Philippines (2/0)
While I was traveling to Jakarta, I’d received word that Khrushchev had been ousted as Premier. It didn’t really affect me much. It didn’t matter who was Premier, after all. Surprising really, the Soviets were in a stronger position than they realized. But, I suppose I should’ve seen Khrushchev’s removal coming. After all, there was Che’s disastrous coup, the War of the Northern 38th, and with Austria’s withdrawal from COMECON, the Soviets did not seem pleased with what Khrushchev brought to the table. I’d heard the whispers that he didn’t care enough about the Motherland, and was too close to Cuba and North China. They’d prefer all their “vassals” to be sending the Soviets the resources it needed: Grain was starting to get in short supply, as should be expected with that five year plan collectivist nonsense.
The more Russia-centric factions began to strain themselves against their allies. And of course, there were longstanding territorial and border disputes with North China, hailing back from the times of Czars and Emperors. And it was only a matter of time before the Soviets and North China they came to blows near Zhenbao Island. After losing Shanghai so many years ago, Mao needed all the territory he could get elsewhere, so he went west. And when the Soviets refused to budge, there was trouble.
I didn’t much notice of the conflict itself: Neither Deng nor anyone else from North China made any overtures to the US for aid in the matter. But I sure noticed the aftermath. Chatter abounded from South China, there was a flurry of activity from intercepted transmissions. About two months after the skirmish. I’d received word from an emissary in Pakistan, one of the first countries Deng and I worked together on, so many years ago. Mao wanted to meet. Not with the US. But with me.
He did have a presence about him, it was not hard to see how he could lead a country and be beloved, even if he did horrible things. However, I’d learned from what Marshall told me so long ago. Besides, if I wasn’t intimidated by Johnson’s tactics, Mao wouldn’t fare any better.
We were never going to see eye to eye on just about anything. But we knew we could work together. I was about to make a move in the Philippines, solidifying our control over the region. Like South Africa, it had been nominally working with us and favorable to capitalism, but it wasn’t as strong as I would’ve liked. We toured in Manila, and came into the acquaintance of a Senator named Ferdinand Marcos. Right away, I knew the guy was slimy, even more than a normal politician. But a lot of his ideas for growing the Filipino economy were solid. I just wished he wasn’t such a...politician. Mao recruited a few hardline Filipino communists to give them positions in North China, and I poured in some resources to the people more loyal to capitalism. Marcos ascended to the Presidency, and told some wild stories about his successes. I told him to remember where his loyalties lie. And he towed the line.
In Afghanistan, the Soviets were pulling out the region in order to focus on Moscow, leaving some projects unfinished. That was a great place to start: Half the work was already done. Mao was friendly with the ruler there, and set up meetings with King Zahir Shah. I threw in some contracts with American businesses, and had some modern housing built in the areas outside Kabul, in addition to completing the highway system unfinished and poorly made by the Soviets. The King welcomed my proposals and received me kindly. He was pretty insistent that fighting between American and Soviet forces be forbidden. I had no interest in breaking that pledge: I could tell just from the terrain and history of the country that I didn’t want to get bogged down in any war there. The Soviets still held a lot of sway over many members of the rural poor, but I’d made inroads with a growing middle class and landowners. With a little more time, the projects could be completed and perhaps the Afghans would be more receptive to further cooperation.
Mao then had made an offer to divide Malaysia, to give Chin Peng and his Communist party the Western island in Malaysia while I took the East. I didn’t agree with him, but Mao started to make a move as if I had. Perhaps he thought I’d assent. According to him, he wanted to put a little distance between the Malay Communists and the ones in Borneo, who were causing a rift with Sukarno. But I knew that would just cause strife in Vietnam. My old friend Diem had just stepped down, and with Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao breathing down Vietnam’s neck, I couldn’t let them be surrounded. And so I had to make a choice.
I ordered Peng’s assassination. I made it look like an accident, as best I could. Sinking ships happened, and sometimes all lives aboard were lost. And the Barisan Nasional moved quickly to consolidate, as they should. At first I don’t think Mao suspected anything. But that was the last time the two of us ever worked together directly. He never contacted me again. Surprisingly, I was more worried about Deng then myself. Until he showed up out of the blue one day in Bangkok. Still in the same position he was always in.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR player plays Duck and Cover on the Space Race. He rolls a 3 and succeeds, advancing to Lunar Orbit. He gains 3 VP (USSR +10).
The Soviets had been launching space missions further and further from Earth. While Pravda had been playing it fairly coy, it was clear to me that the plan was for the Reds to reach the Moon.
I’d read the data. The Moon was too far away for any significant value. Even if, in a wild and crazy possibility, a nuke could get there, there would be no possible way it could be aimed with any precision. It was little more than PR, a pipe dream with only the barest of value.
But pipe dreams were press gold, and such was our world that fever dreams drove hysteria and obsessions. The Soviets began reaching further and further while we stayed in orbit. Eventually, they went completely around the moon with their Lunnik probes. They were all unmanned, mostly studying the effects of lunar gravity and the radiation in what would pass for the lunar atmosphere. But any idiot would know they were just getting ready to set boots on the moon.
It was the first time the Soviets had ever been beating us in the Space Race. Almost fearfully, Nixon declared that we would land a man on the moon before they did.
I was dragged into Nixon’s office not longer after. He held me responsible for what was looking like Soviet victory on so many fronts. The spy plane, the moon. All my coups and successes were nice but they were very secretive. No one really knew what I was behind it all when coups in Iran or North Korea were made. As it should be, but the press didn’t see things my way. I made no excuses, but I reminded Nixon of all we had accomplished, if he would just be patient. He wasn’t hearing anything of it, and I was on shaky footing with him as it was, given my fondness for ABM’s.
“William.” At least he used the name I preferred. “The times are rolling against us.”
“Richard, we control most of the world. I can walk from Lisbon to Hanoi and only touch allied countries.” If we sailed from the Adriatic to Greece. “These problems you’re worried about, they’re just public relations, and the press. A bunch of ridiculous mostly communists with little passes stuck in their hat bands.”
“The world can be lost with the headlines.” True, but it wouldn’t be won with them. We continued to argue, talking about the war for the Shah and problems with Venezuela and Cuba. I didn’t even keep track, but it must’ve gone on for hours. By the time we noticed, it was dark.
We only stopped when a nearly frightened aide told us that Eisenhower had suffered a massive heart attack. We’d dropped everything when we heard that: Nixon thought the world of Eisenhower, and he was still my Supreme Allied Commander, years after the war ended. We were told he’d survived, but I was certain his public life was over.
Nixon and I went together to the hospital. When we saw him, Eisenhower talked about the mission where I snatched Doctor von Braun from Hesse. Nixon’s face changed then. Almost like he’d never heard of it. He looked at me, said a few more words to Eisenhower softly, so I couldn’t hear them, and said he’d see the man in the morning. Then he left the room in order to give us time alone.
Once we were alone, I asked Eisenhower why he did that. Nixon had the clearance to see the mission, of course, but it was still top secret, even if it was all in the past. Eisenhower smiled mirthfully and said sometimes the best thing to do was to be reminded of every accomplishment made, and who and what were used to get it. And then, use all of that to reach the future.
I told Eisenhower there’d be an American on the moon before the Russians. And before he went to see God.
US Turn 5 - US plays OAS Founded as an Event. He places 1 influence in Brazil (1/0) and 1 influence in Dominican Republic (1/0).
As Eisenhower recovered, however, I simply didn’t have the resources to deal with NASA to give them what they needed.
After Che’s attack on Costa Rica, Argentina and a few other allies in the region noticed how the United Nations was completely unable to respond to their problems, and were hoping to create something that could more effectively manage the concerns of nations within the Western Hemisphere. From there, discussion quickly spiraled into policies regarding economic development, modernization. Much like the structure of POMA. Once they realized that, they began to come to POMA’s architect to help continue their efforts. I was ambushed by both Argentina’s and Panama’s ambassador the same day. Fortunately, I loved the idea.
They followed the formula well: Bylaws and concerns, committees. Every mistake we’d realized and ironed out with POMA, they’d figured out. Or maybe they wanted me to voice the concerns so they could seem agreeable. All of the nations expected America to invest. And of course we would. It didn’t take long for this new group, the Organization of American States, to be finalized. All that was really left was to designate the hubs. Given that the initial concern was response times to problems, I reasoned it would be better to have two hubs: One for the Caribbean and Central America, and the second on the southern mainland.
It was easy to decide on the former’s hub, Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. It offered fairly easy access for the islands and mainland Central America. It also made inroads for me on Hispaniola again, after Baby Doc Duvalier had seized power in Haiti. The Dominican Republic had resisted their neighbors, and the other islands rebuffed him, but with the OAS, he’d be kept further in check. This also came with many contracts to help develop the island, the leaders were more than willing to accept.
Then, I accepted Brazil’s bid of Sao Paulo for the South American hub. This would grant me the leverage I needed in that country. Argentine businessmen were a little displeased, but I placated them by telling them it was just about keeping Venezuela contained. We couldn’t have them spreading through the Amazon. Of course, I had known for a while that Brazil’s economy would easily dominate the continent once it got into gear, even if Argentina would be number two. Better to put it where the money would be.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Socialist Governments for Influence. He adds 1 influence to Nigeria (0/1) and 2 influence to South Africa (1/2)
For all Brezhnev’s talk about Khrushchev focusing far too much time on Africa and not enough on the Motherland, he certainly made a move once Nigeria gave word to OPEC about rich oil reserves in the country. They wanted development, and I was in no place to offer it. But the Soviets were.
Then, there was South Africa. I’d spent very little time thinking of South Africa, the rest of the world was just more important at the time, and what little efforts I’d made were rebuffed. So when the Soviets granted arms and resources to the African National Congress, who’d been banned from the country a few years back, they eagerly made their way into the country from their exile in Angola. The President was all but forced to sign a declaration allowing them into the region and promising elections within a few years.
US Turn 6 - US plays Southeast Asia Scoring. He gets 6 VP (USSR +4)
Ever since I’d added Japan to POMA, and definitely after Pakistan and India both, the organization had been struggling under its own weight. Fortunately, after the Ambush at Angkor Wat and the War of the Northern 38th, there hadn’t been much bloody conflict across the region, allowing a stable and safe foundation to modernize the continent. Unfortunately, Asia was huge. And POMA just couldn’t do it at all.
Each country had so many differing needs and desires. Vietnam and Thailand had climate problems Pakistan didn’t. And longer years of capitalism turned those two into trading hubs, but Malaysia had only recently come to the fold and had its own problems, a decade of civil war did that. The introduction of Japan to the group had brought up a few bitter World War II reminders. We’d soothed, but not eradicated them. The Pathet Lao and the Khmer Rouge were sticking to their own territory for now, and the threat of nuclear war kept them from moving. But they wouldn’t stay silent forever. And of course, thousands more problems POMA would not be prepared to deal with at any speed. It was the same thing that led to the creation of the OAS.
We needed to break things up. I made my way back to Hanoi. Diem, who was eager to continue serving his country after retiring, was happy to help. He introduced me to a few retired Thai colonels, and some Indonesian businessman. I reached out to Marcos, who was more than eager, and we began to move. And once we got started, we moved really fast.
A few months after negotiations started, we announced the creation of a sister group to POMA, the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations. ASEAN would serve as a hub based in Saigon to handle problems specific to Southeastern Asia, while POMA would administer South and East Asia. ASEAN would begin her focus on concerns related to sustainability and ecological problems, a cause that had grown trendy in recent years. And more importantly, it would work closely with POMA, the US, and NATO.
Laos and Cambodia stubbornly refused to participate, and they made quite a show of it. I hoped some peasants would finally get tired of Pol Pot and do him in, but so far, none of them seemed to budge. But the rest of the subcontinent was happy to join. And praises were heard all across the world. Got Nixon off my back, for the most part.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR plays Pope John Paul Elected for a Realignment. Poland goes to (1/4). USSR tries to realign South Africa. USSR rolls a 5 and US rolls a 2, so South Africa goes to (0/2). USSR tries to Realign Brazil. US rolls a 4 and USSR rolls a 4, so no change.
I went to church and prayed like a good boy, but I’d never followed doctrinal disputes and matters of theology. The only thing I followed in the faith was those crazy people who believed communism and the Church went hand in hand. I tried to talk to my pastor about it once. He told me “William, you need a hobby.”
But even I recognized something special happened when Pope John Paul II was elected. He was a force of light for the Poles, who’d long suffered under Communist rule, and I could hear outcroppings of support among the people there, even though the thuggish Gomulka was still able to keep power in the region.
The election caused quite a stir in South Africa, as the new Pontiff’s opposition to apartheid led to riots, with many of the ruling party fleeing overseas, as Botswana would not take them. However, calls for solidarity fell on deaf ears in Brazil. The priests down there believed the Soviet “ministers” were corrupting the new Pope’s message. They won out, and kicked any Soviet provocateurs back to Venezuela.
Never argue Catholicism with someone whose national symbol was Christ on a mountain.
US Turn 7 - US plays Arab-Israeli War for Influence. The USSR rolls a 4 and fails because Israel and Jordan add -2 to the roll. The US adds 1 Influence to Brazil (2/0) and 1 Influence to Austria (3/0)
The Palestinians had mostly gone underground ever since their failure in Jordan. They’d made their way to Syria and Lebanon. Even a few found their way to Sadat’s Egypt. With silent Soviet support, they agitated and inspired until, yet again, they launched an attack on the Jewish state.
Jordan, this time, outright refused to participate, and in fact, sent the Israelis data on the movements of the Syrians. Egyptian forces now had to contend with crossing the entire Sinai, as well as the lack of backing among Sadat’s forces. The Lebanese did well for their part, but they just didn’t have the forces needed to assault the now more-entrenched Israelis positions. In fact, if Jordan had joined in the fighting, things might have gone fairly poorly for Israel. The war ended in failure, as abject as the last time. For its part, Israeli was magnanimous and did not take any territory from Syria or Lebanon, but instead annexed only the Palestinian land. Israel called the war the Rosh Hashanah War.
I didn’t even need to take part and help. I’d been finalizing our arrangements with Brazil on the opening of the OAS offices, and starting facilitating traffic throughout Brazil. While there were some military leaders waiting in the wings, the economic boom through the OAS secured civilian leadership, leaving the military free to cast their wary eye upon Venezuela. The first extranational contract I brought in was an Austrian millionaire who’d taken a wife from the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and wanted to start two automobile factories. And, as philanthropy, he helped build up her hometown. It was great publicity on both sides of the Atlantic. The man’s brother, I was told, was an aspiring politician of the Austrian People’s Party and used the story to cruise to election. As well as several other likeminded party members.
Round 5 End
Score: USSR + 4
US - Man in Earth Orbit
USSR - Man in Lunar Orbit
There were nights, I admit, when I stared up at the moon, and could swear a blood red eye was staring right back at me. Could we truly ever get there? Or, like that old emperor Justinian retaking Rome, was it even worth it even if we did?
With so many international groups being created, and a lot of quiet on the parts of the Soviets, Nixon was able to cruise to re-election on a pledge of staying the course. Privately, though, I wondered whether or not I was making a mistake in taking steps against him like I did with Johnson.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, Lone Gunman, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Portuguese Empire Crumbles, Berlin Wall, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, U-2 Incident, We Will Bury You, CIA Created, Truman Doctrine, OAS Founded, Independent Reds, Pope John Paul II Elected, NORAD, Our Man in Tehran, Ussuri River Skirmish, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, NATO, Captured Nazi Scientist, Southeast Asia Scoring.
Active Effects: NATO, NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Pope John Paul Elected, De Gaulle Leads France
Regions Scored: Europe, Central America, South America.
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 6 - DEFCON goes to 3 - 1968-1973
Cards Dealt: (Summit), Eastern European Unrest, Puppet Governments, Indo-Pakistani War, Allende, Brezhnev Doctrine, Cultural Revolution, Flower Power, Grain Sales to Soviets, (The China Card)
Headline - US player picks Grain Sales to Soviets, USSR player plays Willy Brandt. US player gets “One Small Step”. He plays it as an Event, moving him to Lunar Orbit and then The Eagle has Landed. He may now discard 1 Held Card at the end of the round. West Germany goes to (6/2)
The amount of confidence I had in American superiority over the Soviets lie in one thing: Grain. From what I heard, Europe brought it over to America. But we were masters of it. My wife liked to bake her own bread, and she’d always make too much so she had an excuse to go to the food bank every Thursday with fresh “extras.” I’d driven in the Great Plains to visit some of her family once, and we saw oceans of the stuff. The Soviets never had fields like this, I knew. Because we’d been selling them most of their food.
All that land in Africa they’d taken...it wasn’t terrible for farming if you knew what to do with it. But Mugabe kicking out the farmers who worked on a large scale, all to satisfy his racism, and every other nation was working to satisfy the Soviet lust for oil and machinery, so there was no other place to get the staples of life.
I’d mostly facilitate trade through the Federal Republic of North Korea, with our office in Pyongyang. Press were utterly forbidden there, no one could know of the arrangements. How did the Soviets pay for this, anyway. I thought communism was some grand utopian vision where everyone brought things and took only what they needed. Oh well, that was a problem for Commerce to figure out.
One day, I’d met a tall, spindly looking man overseeing the shipments. He’d handed me his umbrella as a token of thanks once we were done. It was going to storm the next day, he said. For a second I thought it was some trick, like a poison on the tip or something. But when I’d accepted it, I found the inside was hollow, and it was full of data and blueprints. I could barely read it, but it looked it had something to do with rockets. At least one part of it was, there was far more there I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
I got it to some scientists, and they quickly funneled them to NASA. Apparently, they were the results of zero G tests, life support systems, space suit systems. NASA been testing their lunar lander and other crafts for unmanned tests when they got this little ‘present’. According to a scientist who reached out to me later, everyone at NASA went wild. It was everything they needed, right when they needed it. They didn’t need to run tests in lunar orbit. They could go right for the moon. With a person.
Apollo 7 and 8 tested every final bit of hardware. And then, Apollo 9 launched bright and early in March. I don’t think I left the command room for a second. I watched and listened to every bit of the space flight. Three days later, I heard those infamous words. “The Spider has landed.” I was with Eisenhower listening live when James McDivitt was the first man on the moon. We’d beaten the Soviets to that gray rock. All for the price of a trainful of grain. I never learned who that spindly man was, and I never saw him again.
But with my focus on the sky, my old nemesis Willy Brandt had taken control in West Germany. He’d pledged a rapprochement with the East and suspended NATO work in the region. Another bleeding heart desperate to get us all killed for his righteousness.
USSR Turn 1 - USSR plays Colonial Rear Guards. He triggers the Event first. US places 1 influence in Algeria (1/0), 1 influence in Nigeria (1/1), 1 influence in Angola (2/1) and 1 in Ivory Coast (1/0). USSR goes for a coup in Nigeria and rolls a 6. Nigeria goes to (0/6). DEFCON goes to 2. NORAD triggers and the US places 1 influence in Algeria (2/0).
We’d received notice of several advance moves of the Soviets in Africa, continuing their expansion across the continent. We’d thought the Sahara would be keeping them at bay, particularly with the dry season, but it looked like they’d be moving around the coast. I’d sent some advance forces in order to shore up the defenses in Algeria, and down near the Cote d’Ivoire. While I was there, I made contact with my allies in UNITA back in Angola, and they responded well. Buoyed by this, I also moved a couple of forces into Nigeria, to help protect the oil fields there. I’d just gotten my forces settled in Lagos when a massive Zairean force came from Cameroon.
It’d been a trap, the Soviets had drawn us out to attack us. They’d fed the locals their lies about capitalism and they caught on like wildfire. Clever move, with Nigeria’s oil fields being such a world flashpoint, it nearly set the world on fire right there. The Lagosian War was an utter disaster, my forces were utterly unprepared for the utter slaughter.
I was still able to get operatives deep in Angola, and the near nuclear scare there fortified the Algerian government with the United States, even if our alliance with France made things very tense. But Nigeria’s oil fields were completely lost to me then. I don’t know what propaganda the Soviets had done in order to turn Abuja and the other cities against us so, but it must’ve been the best damn thing they ever heard.
US Turn 1 - US plays Flower Power for Influence. He places 1 influence in Ivory Coast (2/0), 2 influence in Tunisia (2/0), and 1 influence in Algeria (3/0)
I don’t know if it was the Lagosian War itself that caused the hippie movement, but they certainly became more vocal and active around that time. That fighting was certainly brutal, and I knew some churchmen and doctors opposed to war on moral grounds. But those hippies? They weren’t pacifists. They’d punch and shove if you challenged them. They were just a bunch of drug and sex addicts looking for an excuse for cowardice. We had those back in the 40s, they just smelled better.
I had no regard for a bunch of tie-dyed idiots who needed to learn to take a shower. I had a spreading red menace to contain. I tightened my control of Algeria and the Ivory Coast, granting the new President Houphouet-Boigny some economic advisors. He had a vision for large-scale projects for economic growth with his country’s abundant resources: cocoa, pineapples, palm oil, lots of things. He was a man with vision, that was good. But that wasn’t all there was to a country, so my people helped him with roads, schools and hospital construction. It was all in all, a fruitful partnership.
While working in Algeria, several of my agents had encouraged a few inroads into Tunisia: Their dinar had been excessively devalued following a socialist “experiment” a few years ago, and the country was ripe for a little proper fiscal management.
It had to be in secret, pan-Africanism was starting to go on the rise, and it never seemed to affect the countries under the Soviet sway. But Tunisia’s economy stabilized, Italy and France were eager to create trade deals, and they took to democracy so quickly it might’ve been invented there. It would help keep Gaddafi contained, and keep the Mediterranean secure.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR plays Alliance for Progress. US gains 4 VP for Mexico, Panama, Brazil, and Argentina (Dead Even Score). USSR plays 1 influence in South Africa (0/3) 1 influence in Ethiopia (0/1), and 1 influence in Saharan States (0/1)
I’d never met John Kennedy, but I’d heard he was a man with a lot of ideas. Supposedly, it was where Johnson got them all from. If so, I wasn’t impressed, Johnson had retired to his ranch in Texas and I hadn’t seen him since, but I still remembered how the infection of communism spread across Africa thanks to those stupid ideas he had. Of course, that could’ve been less the ideas and more Johnson himself, man had an ego the world could barely hold.
John’s mantle was carried by his brother Robert. He ran for, and won, a Senate seat in New York, and swept to office not long after his brother’s death. In general, domestic Senators were not relevant to my job and beneath my notice.
But RFK was different. I remember our first meeting well: It was the day after Eisenhower’s funeral. I’d spent all week trying to write a speech, and all I could feel was my inadequacy. Kennedy came to my office unannounced. Bold, I was rarely there. He had a presence to him, a warm magnetic smile.
And he did his research on me, for he dispensed with Washington platitudes and got right to business. “I want to create an initiative. Central and South America. There’s still a lot of poverty and infrastructure problems that haven’t been fixed. There was a cholera outbreak a month ago. No joke, cholera. We can fix this, William. And I was told if you wanted if someone was to be done in foreign affairs, make it to Mercer.”
“Fire whichever publicist told you that line. That’s a project for the OAS, take it up with them, I’ll even put in a good word for you.” Wasn’t like it was any different from their normal day-to-day. Besides, I had plenty on my plate as it was: The Soviets were solidifying their hold on South Africa, installing the head of the ANC as their puppet, in addition to moving northward towards Algeria through Chad and Mali. And they swept through Ethiopia, appointing the local communists, the Dergue, in a bloodless coup. Coups were interesting when they were nonviolent: Sukarno had that right. All the control that could be needed with none of the mess.
“William.” RFK looked me in the eye. “I’m not just coming here. I’ve already proposed this to the President. It has his full backing. And this is going to be big if we do it right. It needs to best coordination, the best leaders. Haven’t you already done that across the world?” Well, not entirely.
I believed RFK when he said he had the President’s backing: Nixon was always a bit reverent towards that family after John’s death. Possibly because, quite falsely, Nixon had been accused of being behind the assassination. And despite that, he still got elected. Only in America.
But still, there were so much more people involved in those programs than me. I don’t think RFK knew what my work really was. But I had my orders, and I would rise to the task, and splendidly. From a booming auto industry in Brazil, clever fiscal use of the canal, Argentine venture capitalism, and the Mexican Miracle soaring our southern neighbors economy, there was actually plenty of funding to start RFK’s little brainchilds.
But there were more people in Latin America than RFK thought. And some of the terrain in those countries was rugged and difficult. But it was very good press. I understood the point of such PR, but the Kennedys always seemed to live and breathe it. Better them than me, I guess.
US Turn 2 - US plays the China Card for Influence, placing 1 influence in Uruguay (1/0), 1 influence in Gulf States (1/0) and 2 influence in West African States (2/0)
Fresh off RFK’s little venture, I was making inroads with some of the local leaders in Montevideo to develop some hydroelectric plants. Going green was starting to become something of a rage even outside of ASEAN’s sphere. Probably a holdover from those hippies: They just seemed to multiply. But business contracts were business contracts, the Uruguayan landscape was in prime condition for such things, and the people were eager to develop their country. They’d seen the work of OAS so far and were impressed, but the men I was working with said I came personally recommended by an old friend: Deng Xiaoping, who was tracking down other economic opportunities for North China outside of Caracas. We agreed to meet.
Deng had been very impressed with my work with ASEAN. As far as I knew, North China only had observer status since it wasn’t technically of Southeast Asia, South China was the same way. I think he was more impressed with the fact that almost all of Asia took orders from me in some form or other. We also talked of Mao’s policies, and I asked him about the “Great Leap Forward” Mao had proposed. Although I didn’t share this part with Deng, I’d lost a lot of my sources due to starvation thanks to that. Deng’s response was “A Great Leap Forward can be done off a cliff.” I don’t know if he said it just to impress me, but it was working.
Of course, Mao could have solved a lot of problems by allying with America and abandoning communism, but there was no way he’d do that. And there was no chance of a permanent alliance without it.
I can’t count the number of times I tried to get Deng to defect. But he wouldn’t budge. He had a code and a country, and I had to accept that. I respected it, even.
He offered to help on a few mutual problems. I needed to make sure I could blunt any advance the Soviets might’ve made through Africa. I had made inroads in some of the smaller African countries like Sierra Leone and The Gambia, with some promises of infrastructure in exchange for diamonds and other resources. Easy enough, but that was only getting me so far. But Deng was willing to assist me in Mauritania and Senegal. Socialism, although non-aligned with the Soviet Union, had infected those places far too much for me to make much ground, but Deng had a brainchild that involved capitalist zones inside a communist country. Zones so important communists encouraged them. It was the North Chinese model, a clever little beast that was more effective than I’d have liked to admit. But I also added my own twist, a sort of veto power for the capitalist zones that could override the socialists. That way, they had all the power.
Between us, we formed a buffer of African nations on the coast to help blunt Soviet expansion. We later traveled together to Dubai: Deng had needed to secure a few oil contracts, while I had received word from Saudi Arabia. Both the UAE and the House of Saud wanted a neutral party to settle disputes along the border. I was seen as a fair negotiator, and known in the region for an able hand. And while I was there, I put in a good word for Deng, and he did so for me.
It impressed Sheikh Al Nahyan, who offered oil contracts of his own, and a commitment to speak later. He wanted to diversify his economy, have more products than just oil. And he knew my track record in helping out the Western Hemisphere with such problems. Sensible, if one relied on one product, the country failed when it failed. I started the framework while Deng worked on his contracts.
I parted ways with Deng. He had to get his work to China while I had to head back to the States. I knew Mao wouldn’t be pleased, and would cozy up to Moscow before long. But it looked like we’d blunted the Soviets advance.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You...” on the Space Race. He gets a 1 and succeeds, moving to The Bear has Landed, US no longer has the ability to discard 1 Held card.
We wouldn’t be so bold as to send any of our actual moon rocks to the Soviets when we reached the moon first. But we did send them a message telling them it was as just as grey on the surface as it was in the sky. And we’d be just as grey by the time they got there. I saw a few gray hairs when I shaved in the morning, but I still had the whole head of hair, so I was happy.
I wasn’t actually sure where NASA would go next with these space projects. So I asked. They had earmarked some funds for a partially reusable shuttle and eventually stations to be permanently crewed in orbit.
That sounded utterly absurd to me, it didn’t seem practical from a PR standpoint. It would be too obvious if a nuclear attack were to happen. But they set the course, not me. And then, almost flippantly, I said if they got the station running, I’d go in the shuttle up there. The guys at NASA thought it was hilarious. One even gave me tickets for SCUBA school, apparently, it was helpful. What a joke, but it was an excuse to go diving. Always wanted to learn. They wouldn’t get a station up there. I was...pretty sure of that. Just a crazy pipe dream. Long term goals and all.
But we were also monitoring the Russian lunar orbital projects. Even after the Spider had landed, the Soviets had been sending unmanned projects to run tests on gravity wells. Tests that certainly had scientific merit, but why bother? We were already up there, we had the data.
And then, they landed their own craft, landing the Soyuz and her lander on the moon. I saw it as live as it could be. The cosmonauts splashed down in the Atlantic, to be recovered by Venezuelans before heading back to Moscow.
They, however, did send over a moon rock. Painted red. With a message that said soon the whole thing would look like that. I crushed it under my shoe to make a statement. NASA was not happy with that.
US Turn 3 - US plays Summit for a coup in SE African States. He rolls a 6 and SE African states goes to (3/0)
Both us and the Russians had done our parts advancing into Africa, securing what resources we can, trying and failing to prevent the spread of the other. For the most part, my work had been positive, pledges of modernization in exchange for support and resources. But now it was time to strike. With his major forces having moved to Ethiopia and Chad, I thought that I might be able to strike him from behind. And there was already a militant group in Mozambique willing to do the work for me, called RENAMO, made up of insurgents and rebels who’d fled Mugabe from Zimbabwe.
I’d arranged a meeting in Antananarivo and planned to move from Madagascar to Mozambique. They were ready for the fight, in fact, they’d made petitions to Nixon already. So much so that Nixon really didn’t give me the resources I needed in order to ensure victory.
FRELIMO, the leading party, was completely off-guard and slow to respond. RENAMO took over in just a few months of fighting. President Machel agreed to relocate to Angola, and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chissano, agreed to terms. RENAMO wanted blood, but I stopped them. They’d already gotten that, and besides, Chissano took to capitalism really well, and had a lot of experience running agencies. RENAMO agreed to let him keep his position. Eventually, he assumed the Presidency because they reasoned he’d be the best at it. He made peace with other nations, negotiated agricultural contracts, and even started up a democratic process. Did it in record time too.
The newly formed Republic of Tanzania, to the north, saw what had happened and made diplomatic overtures. President Nyerere pledged alliance, assisting with the settlement of Tanzania’s multiple ethnic groups between the two countries, and even tried to poach some of the commercial farmers from Zambia.
Sometimes, things really did go your way.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays Sadat Expels Soviets, adding 1 influence to Somalia (1/0). Egypt goes to 3/0.
The Dergue took a move towards Somalia, solidifying control over the horn and starting a friendly government there. I was about to send some people to try and stop them, but then a huge announcement was made before I could muster much.
Several of the states in the region were calling for a summit, to discuss matters of state and of common interest in the Sahel region. It was loaded with communists so much I was certain it was a trick, but if I tried anything, it would not go well, my allies would probably revolt.
The Soviet states just wanted massive concessions from Egypt, including rights to the Suez. It was nothing more than a show, something Pravda would use as endless propaganda nonsense. But there was no way I could put a stop to it without it becoming an even worse disaster.
Sadat, who was nearly forced into hosting the affair, was about to retire, passing power to his Vice President. He was still very popular, but there was always a bit of uncertainty: Some of his forces did join the Rosh Hashanah War against his wishes. He was looking for one grand gesture to use and solidify his Vice President’s victory.
The Sahel Conference went poorly right away. Gaddafi didn’t send anyone, Sudan wanted massive imports and to pay almost nothing, and Ethiopia wanted to put tariffs on people crossing the Red Sea. Both wanted their own forces in Egypt to monitor the Suez, with their own laws holding jurisdiction. A complete insult to sovereignty, Egypt didn’t even own the Sinai. That what happened when one did not recognizing the Jewish State.
It was all a joke to them. So Sadat tapped into his own inner comedian and kicked them all out. Along with any other communist leaning sympathizer in his borders. They had 24 hours to leave or be shot.
The Vice President, Mustafa Khalil, took 80% of the vote. I think 2nd place was people who wanted to keep Sadat in office.
US Turn 4 - US plays Puppet Governments as an Event. He places 1 Influence in Kenya (1/0), 1 Influence in Czechoslovakia (1/0) and 1 Influence in Guatemala (1/0)
As a rule, I didn’t like the word “puppet governor.” Not because I dislike the concept, but because it never felt accurate. Puppet brought to mind Catherine of Russia’s paramour and completely inept buffoons who ran their countries into the ground for the sake of another. That wasn’t what I did. I wouldn’t suffer a rival whose ego would destroy what I’d wrought, but I didn’t want weaklings like how Stalin wanted North China. I preferred stronger, more dangerous allies. I couldn’t be everywhere at once, and if a problem happened, because they always happened, they needed to be able to control things.
And I was always recruiting for new talent. Especially in places the Soviets hadn’t paid much attention. An uprising titled the “Prague Spring” had triggered when reformer Alexander Dubcek had passed reforms to decentralize the economy. Interestingly enough, his resistance was completely non-violent. Reportedly, a Polish force had given up when they got lost trying to find the cities. All because the road signs were switched.
What a joke, but an effective one. I made contact through Nagy and shipped them supplies. No weapons, I needed to keep the charade going. But Dubcek did respond positively.
I moved some of the RENAMO forces north into Kenya from Mozambique. I’d strengthened alliances with Zambia, but Kenya was a very strategic point in order to blunt movement from both Somalia and possibly Ethiopia. Jomo Kenyatta was an intelligent capitalist, but he always kept me at arms length. Former colonials had told me the man was always a malcontent and favored the Kikuyu over the other ethnic tribes. And with many tribes in one area, that would cause some problems. But for the meantime, I had a foothold in the region.
Guatemala, right on Mexico’s southern border, was more challenging, but more straightforward. With Honduras as a buffer from the communist Nicaragua, Guatemala was able to try and focus on democracy. It was not easy to convince those like Laugerud Garcia and Peralta to work together when they all wanted the top prize. And like many military folk, they went to violence and death squads really quickly, attacking and purging each other. Almost like they were secret commies themselves. It felt so pointless, there was an enemy to fight. So I stepped in. I caught wind of a Cuban plot moving in towards Guatemala City. I told Garcia, but no one else. He was unprepared for it, and he and several of his compatriots were slain.
Now that, I shared with Peralta and the others. And they seemed to drop their problems to deal with them. While they worked, I found Ramiro de Leon Carpio, a legal scholar and a man with economic experience. I’d installed him as President. He worked tirelessly to engineer a new Constitution, and it was all ready by the time the other generals had returned.
I declared he was under my protection, and anyone who moved against him, would face the full wrath of the US and Mexico both. I hadn’t secured anything from Mexico City yet, but the threat sufficed. And there was peace in the region.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR Plays How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb for Influence. He adds 1 influence to Somalia (0/2) and 1 to Kenya (1/1)
In all this time, the USSR continued to make their moves in Africa. Kenya’s fertile fields were calling to them. After solidifying their hold in Somalia, they sent “committees” to Nairobi in order to facilitate treaties regarding a few border skirmishes. But it had too many socialist advisors whispering in the ears of the Parliament. Kenyatta himself wasn’t moved, but it caused a rift among some of the poorer indigenous farmers blaming the people in the city for hoarding resources. “The failure of capitalism” so it was said. They elected their own leaders to power, and quickly started a stalemate clash with Kenyatta.
I wasn’t able to help, and I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to. If Kenyatta only wanted our alliance to go so far, that would be precisely what he’d get. He’d see the light or perish. I had an entire world to look after.
US Turn 5 - US Plays Cultural Revolution for Influence. (USSR+1). US places 2 influence in Czechoslovakia (3/0) and 1 influence in Uruguay (2/0)
According to my sources in North China, things were not going well, with the disaster of the Great Leap Forward. And Mao’s health, thanks to all his smoking, was in serious decline. I’d never smoked myself, I just never liked it. I gave him a year, three at most. So, seeing the end of his life coming, he instituted a massive program, a revitalization of the values of the party, and a clampdown on all capitalism. Hmph, I wonder if the people in China could ever see or learn about what capitalism had done for the places it touched. A missive from Benazir Bhutto, a source of mine and now the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, told me she’d secured North China’s friendship with mangoes alone. And Mao had to purchase them. But the world saw his reforms, and no one could take their eyes off of North China. I was worried about Deng, but I was certain he’d be fine. He always was.
It made for lovely propaganda. Except for those who didn’t see communism that way. Dubcek didn’t appreciate the traditionalist belief systems, he’d been a non-violent revolution against it. And that’s when he made contact with with agents in the Austrian People’s Party. He wanted to meet with me in Vienna.
I had initially thought he would ask for more supplies, or maybe to sneak some civilians across the Iron Curtain. Something fairly basic. But worthwhile, particularly given Czechoslovakia’s position. And when I saw him, he gave me a handshake, we sat down.
“I’ve written down what I need, Mister Mercer. Give it to me, and I join NATO.” I was stunned. I appreciated the upfrontness. In fact, the lack of it was why I hated politics. But I got it so rarely that it took me a second to respond.
Dubcek’s notes were thorough, and I could probably marshall the forces, even get the French and Italians to shore up what I couldn’t.
Then I laughed. “Today, we pierce the Iron Curtain. For all that, you can at least call me William.” I worked out as many details as we could on the train ride back. Just as we crossed into Czechoslovakia from Hungary, I began to notice that the staff in the train had left. Train cars were never this empty. Or not supposed to be.
“Get down.” I shouted towards him. I always carried a pistol on me. Just in time to hear a gunshot ring out. It came from the front of the car. I flattened myself against the seat and waited for him to move. After he let out a shot, I screamed in pain, and dropped a bottle of aspirin I always kept. To “sound like me dropping the gun.” When I heard the assassin’s footsteps, I quickly moved and fired. Two shots, right to the assassin’s chest. And then a shot to the head to be sure.
Dubcek was horrified, I couldn’t stop laughing. Good to know I still had it, although I was going to have words with my security detail. “Relax, Alexander.” I clapped him on the back. “You’ve got NATO behind your back now. And the people love their president surviving assassination attempts. You’ll cruise to re-election.”
I don’t think he was as happy as I was. But Czechoslovakia did join NATO. When I came back to Washington, one of my staffers, a former political cartoonist, drew a picture to celebrate. It was a giant Iron Curtain, with me on one side and Dubcek on the other. With scissors. It was good, but he didn’t get my nose right.
I celebrated my newfound assassination attempt by taking a trip back to South America. Uruguay was churning out electrical power like no other, they really knew their hydroelectricity. They even began connecting lines to some of the more rural parts of Argentina. But the halls of Montevideo, things were far from prosperous. Socialist parties were banned, but they were starting to make a comeback: Forbidden things were always tempting, just ask Eve in the garden. But there were ways to deal with that. I just needed an event, and a charismatic figure.
I found the man in Julio Maria Sanguinetti. He was a bit more liberal than I would’ve liked, but financially he was quite skilled. With the right party steering him away from crazier ideas, he’d do quite well. He’d been planning a common southern South American market with Argentina’s National Deputy Alfonsin, and wanted to secure Paraguay and Brazil as partners. I told him to keep working at it, I hadn’t spent much time in Paraguay, and Brazil would act on my orders if need be. But in the meantime, he’d best be prepared to for things to get into high gear.
I sold a story to the press about my assassination attempt in Prague. And that Sanguinetti was there, and aided us. He was surprised, but I just told him to be humble about it, and say he’d rather talk about Uruguay. Marcos in the Philippines pulled these stunts all the time. The difference, of course, was that Sanguinetti wouldn’t be plundering his country for his own personal wealth.
Just like with Dubcek, I don’t think he was entirely pleased. But Sanguinetti ran on it, and won. How upset could he truly be?
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Africa Scoring. USSR has 8 points, US has 2, so USSR gains 6 points (USSR+7)
In all the time I’d spent in Africa, I’d been hearing rumbles of pan-Africanism, and uniting the continent to move forward, to be treated as equals by all of the rest of the world. As a goal, it was admirable, and I’d probably have supported it if they came to me about it. Not that it would’ve been an easy thing to pull logistically, countries in the Kalahari and the Sahel were a lot different than those bordering the Mediterranean, or the coastal lands along the Indian Ocean.
But instead, African leaders went to Brezhnev. He’d created the Organization of African Union, based in both Addis Ababa and Luanda. They decried countries like Egypt who had “lost their heritage.” Algeria called the entire thing a farce, and Tunisia gave a resounding rebuke of a corrupt of the concept of African unity. But with Nigeria’s lucrative oil fields, South Africa’s large economy, and various countries all over the continent pledging their support, there was little my Sierra Leone diamond mines, palm oil from the Ivory Coast, and drip-irrigated Botswana fields could do in comparison.
US Turn 6 - US plays Indo-Pakistani War as a Coup targeting Zimbabwe. He rolls a 2 and it goes to (1/0).
I’d have liked to spit in the face of Brezhnev after he pulled his little stunt with the African Union. And I had forces in Angola. But that was where most of the Soviet incursion into Africa began, particularly since I had already taken Mozambique back. An attack there would certainly provoke a far more vicious Soviet response.
But a strike on Mugabe would not. He might have been an ally to the Communists, but they cared little for Zimbabwe, it offered them next to nothing. And since Mugabe had expelled so many farmers and given the land to people not equipped for large scale agribusiness, Zimbabwe was plagued with famine and rot.
All in all, it was not difficult to instigate a coup there. It was actually harder to muster forces, they moved without my say so once they got what they thought was enough. In hindsight, I probably was a little too eager. It seemed like an easy move, so I wasn’t really interested in keeping my forces in tip-top shape, like I did against Nasser or Kim Il-Sung.
Mugabe was killed within weeks, and I’d set up a government of my own there. Some of the farmers in Zambia were leery about returning: Mugabe didn’t exist in a vacuum. But trade started to flow rather quickly, with my loose confederation of sub-Saharan states. It should get better in time.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR plays Camp David Accords. Egypt goes to (4/0), Jordan goes to (3/0), and Israel goes to (5/0), Score goes to (USSR +6) USSR attempts a coup in Uruguay. He rolls a 2 and fails.
It didn’t take long for Sanguinetti to run into problems. I’d established what forces I could in the country, but he was too willing to entertain bad ideas, and try to modify them. Supposedly to “make them better.” He never learned a hard truth: If the choice was between a lesser and a greater evil, might be better to choose none at all.
Too many of the forbidden socialists shed their label in order to talk to Sanguinetti and shore up support with his government. Once they were in bed with him, they accused the ruling classes of becoming fat cat energy tycoons, sucking of the wealth of Uruguay and becoming rich off hydroelectric power. They called on their people to take back their country. The Uruguayans showed them the door, after a few armed conflicts. Sanguinetti had the nerve to ask us to help with the rebuilding. I met him personally.
“You should be more careful. I’m told I’m not very forgiving when someone cozies to Communists.” Sanguinetti would probably not get elected again. And I could get someone better.
I had something better to deal with than Sanguinetti and his failures.The peace arrangements between Israel and Jordan were getting more and more formalized. And with Egypt’s forces finally free of Soviet influence, Egypt was willing to exchange peace for the return of the Sinai. Israel didn’t particularly want the land anyway, and Jordan, who had been preaching reformation of Islam and peace in the land, was all to willing to make things formal.
Syria and Lebanon refused to attend, but they could whine all they wanted. War would never happen over the Jewish State if I did this correctly. Peace talks were held in Camp David with a newly elected Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin; the new President of Egypt, Mostafa Khalil; and as a last minute addition, Queen Alia Al-Hussein of Jordan. I was a little bit shocked, but I welcomed it, having all three nations would work well. We met briefly upon her arrival. She had told me that she was campaigning for women to get the vote in her country, and she would go big in order to demonstrate it was deserved. Like aid a historic conference.
“Very bold.” Especially since she wasn’t present with her husband. Islam had a different view of women than I did.
“We are bringing peace to a region that has known mostly war. We have tried being timid and it hasn’t worked. It hasn’t brought the vote, or peace. Let’s do bold, then.” She was right. And the talks went well. Khalil and Begin knew what they needed, and Queen Alia was able to get us all on the same page.
Wars would no longer happen over the Jewish State with those accords in place, even with the Syrians or Lebanese. All three were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first time a Muslim woman had ever been given one. I think Nixon asked me if I wanted to be nominated as well, but I disagreed. So many wars and coups started when I whispered in the right ears. I deserved no such thing.
The lack of war brought prosperity to all three countries. Women voted in Jordan in their next elections.
The Queen died a few years later in a helicopter crash. Jordan’s airport was renamed in her honor. I attended the ceremony.
US Turn 7 - US plays Brezhnev Doctrine. He adds 1 influence to Austria (4/0) and 2 influence to Afghanistan (4/2)
After Mugabe’s death and Dubcek’s defection to NATO, Brezhnev was furious. He proclaimed that any country turning from communism to capitalism threatened all communist countries. A proclamation carried far and wide, reaching every country in the world in a matter of days.
I had figured he’d make a move against Dubcek, or possibly Hungary. Nagy was getting older and hadn’t much more time on Earth, so he’d passed on his position to Pal Maleter, who defected to the capitalists. Janos Kadar, the new Soviet officer leading the red faction within Budapest, was still locked in struggle with him over dominance. I got my operations into gear, ready to help Maleter, but nothing ever materialized.
Other than spooking the Austrian People’s Party again. The last members of the Social Democrats were thrashed in Austria’s next election, and they joined NATO soon after. Once this happened, Nagy retired there, and was still making entreaties, hoping Hungary would follow suit.
Brezhnev’s declaration itself was viewed even more poorly in Afghanistan. Kabul, not incorrectly, declared that such a thing would mean that Moscow could define what capitalist meant. Afghanistan refused to allow Moscow to have such control over her policies. They made overtures towards us, and we accepted, starting with grand projects in Kandahar. Eventually, the alliance became more permanent. Capitalism, right on the border of Soviet territory. It was North Korea all over again. I was beaming for weeks.
End of Round 6
Score: USSR +6
US - The Eagle Has Landed
USSR - The Bear Has Landed.
NASA was inundated with samples from the moon. We’d even checked the site of the Russian landing, just to see if we could learn anything from them. There were some among the public that said the Space Race would be over when someone reached the moon. Clearly, they’d never heard of the phrase “moving the goalposts.”
It was not long after the moon landing that Mao passed in North China. I got the message from Chiang. There was a power struggle between Deng and some of the more hardline members like Hua Guofeng. With Deng having completed his work in Africa, Guofeng was probably liable to make a move with Brezhnev sometime soon.
Nixon was pleased with the successes there, but in other areas, I think he was less impressed. Particularly with the African Union. It was too bad to him that he was term-limited, and the voters couldn’t be convinced to stick with his party. The African Union just didn’t look good for him.
RFK swept into the spotlight with vigor. Many of the people remembered his glorious Alliance for Progress sometime ago. Of course, now it was nothing more than a failure, a severe underestimation as to the problems developing societies faced. But the press had a short attention span, and besides, they loved their little media darling.
RFK hadn’t forgotten me, and told me he looked forward to the results I would bring. He said we were a lot alike. I said I didn’t see it, but I knew what was expected of me. Privately, I thought my father wasn’t a bootlegger and I didn’t have mistresses. But he was a visionary. If only that vision could be tempered into something practical.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, Lone Gunman, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Portuguese Empire Crumbles, Berlin Wall, Willy Brandt, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, U-2 Incident, Cultural Revolution, Brezhnev Doctrine, We Will Bury You, Flower Power, CIA Created, Truman Doctrine, OAS Founded, Sadat Expels Soviets, Independent Reds, Pope John Paul II Elected, Puppet Governments, Camp David Accords, NORAD, Our Man in Tehran, Ussuri River Skirmish, Alliance for Progress, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, NATO, Captured Nazi Scientist, Southeast Asia Scoring.
Active Effects: NATO, NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Pope John Paul II Elected, Camp David Accords, De Gaulle Leads France, Willy Brandt, Flower Power
Regions Scored: Europe, Central America, South America, Africa
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 7 - DEFCON Goes to 3 - 1973-1977
Reshuffle occurs during dealout.
US Cards Dealt: (Allende, Eastern European Unrest), Bear Trap, Junta, De-Stalinization, Middle East Scoring, Containment, Don’t Wait for the Translation, Special Relationship
Headline: US Headlines Special Relationship, USSR Headlines Cuban Missile Crisis. US places 2 Influence in Norway (2/0), gains 2 VP (USSR+4). DEFCON goes to 2. Any US led coup will cause US to lose the game unless 2 US influence is given up in West Germany or Turkey.
I didn’t need informants to tell me Brezhnev was furious. The African Union propping him up paled in comparison to losing Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, completely bloodlessly. Except for the guy that tried to kill me.
He wasn’t about to take things lying down. The real question was how. And I got my answer through that arrow pointed at our heart, Cuba. That twerp Castro wasn’t content to starve and butcher his own people, he wanted to inflict great harm upon us.
Secretly, over several weeks, Castro was receiving smuggled missiles into his country. Possibly moved through Venezuela. And right under our noses, there were missiles.
Brezhnev sent a declaration: He would only remove the missiles if we removed the Jupiter missiles from West Germany. Although I was pretty sure he’d concede to removing a few dinosaurs from Turkey.
RFK thought about giving in. It’s not as if the concept couldn’t work for me: Remove some old Turkish missiles and the world could breathe enough that I might be able to strike back at El Salvador or someplace.
But I knew better. It could destabilize Turkey enough to erode their support. And he could easily move in troops from Syria or Bulgaria.
“Robert, relax. We can’t give in to them.” It was a risk: War hawks never liked a war or coup. And the world would be watching us closely. But all of that paled in comparison to letting the Soviets win.
We just had to pretend nothing was going on. So I told RFK to attend a grand affair and ball being held by Queen Elizabeth II, a celebration of twenty years of her reign. It was the exact sort of posturing nonsense a media golden boy loved. He’d have been invited, of course. Probably would’ve been invited if he wasn’t the President.
I was right. But as it turns out, I was invited too. I stared at the invitation and I was certain there was a mistake. But there was no way Kennedy would let me back out of it after I pressured him on the issue.
So I dressed in white tie, and felt like a total fraud as I ate up endlessly stupidity. Funny, I’d dealt with people like these for my whole career and it never felt as artificial as it did. Although I’m sure in the back of my mind, I was just thinking about how much grief I’d get from my wife when I returned home.
After endless food and dancing, the Queen requested I take a walk with her through the gardens at midnight. We talked for a moment, but in truth I had very little I could talk about: I knew little of the world outside of my work, and the Queen didn’t have our security clearances. All I could mention was how much I liked her hats. Ah hats, those I missed. Women looked good no matter what, but men’s clothes went down ever since we stopped wearing hats.
There was a slightly older man who joined her, introduced as King Olav V of Norway. The man was a very down-to-earth fellow, and he probed me for hours. Probed me about what I was thinking when I made NATO, my work with Dubcek. I only told the barest of details, but then, things moved to his country. He had some ideas to help jumpstart his economy, which was starting to run stagnant. He also had ideas and pledges on what to do with NATO. He was certain the Norwegians would join. It was just a matter of when.
I was taken in by the King, and liked him almost immediately. We pledged to correspond, and as soon as we finished, the Queen re-emerged. She said nothing, she didn’t need to. I knew she had arranged the whole thing. Months later, I met her again when she came to America for some diplomatic event. She said she understood NATO better than most people thought, and she could coordinate and set up events in order to bring it to all corners of Europe. In return, it would give the entire continent prosperity and security, allowing it to grow, to heights greater than before the war.
All it took was bringing the right people together through ceremony and circumstance. Such was the role of a monarch. Some monarch before, like Jordan’s ruling pair, might have jump started my thinking, but after that grand gala, I started thinking that, provided they were intelligent, monarchs might not be all bad.
USSR Turn 1 - USSR plays Liberation Theology as an Event, placing 2 Influence in Honduras (0/2), and 2 in Mexico (2/2)
Pope John Paul was a visionary man who charted the course of the church admirably and articulately. But Latin America was so far away from Rome, and when the cat's away...When I first heard the concept of liberation theology, I considered it a Marxist trick. Christ was not a political figure, and the Bible very clearly stated “Truly, I understand that God knows no partiality.” It was nothing more than a power grab for the Marxists trying to use whatever weapon was close at hand.
But it really took off in Honduras. Or rather, a bunch of priests kicked out and nearly excommunicated in Brazil settled in Honduras to preach their radical philosophy. It inspired a few cardinals, who, presumably against church doctrine, ran for office in Honduras. They were charismatic and charmed the masses, turning the country into a religious theocratic state.
Some of these bishops went even further, and began to preach outside the Our Lady of Guadalupe basilica. They too, began to influence for positions of power in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies.
Pope John Paul condemned the actions. I could only think of the Commandment that said not to do evil in the Lord’s name. And if those missiles from Cuba weren’t breathing down my neck, I might’ve been able to come up with a better solution than seething across the Rio Grande.
US Turn 1 - US plays Allende for Influence, adding 1 influence to Mexico (3/2). Chile goes to (0/2)
I was trying to shore up my support with a few of the Mexican Senators that still felt the call of capitalism when a new name crossed my desk down in South America. Salvador Allende. In general, I hadn’t paid much attention to the western part of South America, I’d mostly left managing that to the OAS. Plus, Chile had been fairly democratic, and while there was always a possibility a socialist could be elected, Chile was close to the OAS and seemed to be a believer in capitalism.
Until that idiot Allende decided to nationalize the copper industry. How many times did a country have to fail at nationalizing something before the world realized it was a terrible idea? Inflation skyrocketed and wages collapsed. Prices freezes, rationings, shortages of everything. Socialism at it’s finest. And every idiot seemed to think they could it right the next time. And they failed even better. One thing I tragically learned is to never underestimate human stupidity.
After I finished my work with the Mexican officials, I’d gotten world that Allende was making overtures to Castro, in addition to his basic stupidity. This man had to be stopped.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR plays Nuclear Subs, adding 1 influence to El Salvador (1/0) and 1 influence to Chile (0/3)
A new model of nuclear submarine had completed their field trials just as Brezhnev, eager to capitalize on his new ally in the Southern Hemisphere, sent resources and support to Allende. I didn’t want the knowledge of these subs to go public: With the Cuban missiles ready to deploy, the panic nuclear submarines would’ve caused the Kremlin would be completely wasted.
And then, I read all about it in the press. Governmental leaks, probably some appointment Kennedy had made. Or maybe even a spy from the Kremlin, perhaps desperate to force my hand and remove the Jupiter missiles.
I would not bend. This was what they wanted, and I would not give it to them. But in all my haste to tamp down on what other secrets might have been revealed to the press, I was unable to prevent the liberation theologists from moving into El Salvador. With secret Soviet backing, they were able to install Colonel Armando Molina in a fraudulent election. The actual victor was tortured when he raised a stink, and it took more than a few resources just to get him safely to Guatemala.
US Turn 2 - US plays Junta as a Event, adding 2 influence to Peru (2/0). He attempts to play a realignment in Chile (US has a +1 advantage. US Rolls a 5 and USSR rolls a 2, making Chile go to 0/0). US player then realigns Mexico, which is at a 3 point advantage for US. He rolls a 4 and USSR rolls a 5, making Mexico go to (3/0)
With my focus turned on the Western Hemisphere, I had many fires to tamp down. Castro was still there and dug in like a tick, but Allende was in a country just as difficult to assault: Chile was long and had difficult terrain. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. Argentina’s support was still strongly in my corner, but a military option was out of the question: The Cuban missiles were still breathing down my neck. I would probably need to pull a page from Sukarno’s book and be a bit more clever, from allies in the region. Lucky me, Argentina wasn’t Chile’s only neighbor. Peru, to the north had recently elected a man named Fernando Belaunde, and his commitment to far-reaching projects was masterful. Hydroelectricity, irrigation, the man was a civic planner like no other. But unfortunately, when it came to business, the man was dense as the Peruvian jungle.
I arranged a trip to Lima, and cobbled together a coalition of Belaunde and some military leaders, coupled with a sharp fiscal planner from Uruguay to serve as a finance minister, and quickly installed them. Belaunde didn’t approve at first, the man was committed to democracy to a fault. I told him he should focus on his projects while the generals and I coordinated our plans to deal with Allende. He can run his election at the normal times, and the people will vote for him.
Belanude was persistent, and demanded we “bring things to the people.” The man didn’t seem to gather that, if he was so upset about subverting the law, he should be even more upset that he was subverting the law to call an election at a random time.
But his pleading gave me an idea. I moved some Argentines into the south while I took the Peruvians to the north. There, I had the people speak out against the failed policies and broken promises of Allende’s government. Hyperinflation was the common theme, but what really resonated for people was when I talked about the loss of the free milk for children Allende had promised.
The public hated it when they lost their free things. Allende was subject to a revolt. He refused to surrender, the palace was barricaded, and eventually, he took the coward’s way out. Messy. It wasn’t my plan for him to kill himself. Maybe he was concerned the people would find something more heinous out after he was ousted.
A temporary leader rose in the interim. That would do for now. Fortunately, the Soviets hadn’t budged on the continent from Venezuela, so I could gather forces there on my own time. But Allende’s departure happened faster than expected. I’d expected it to take longer.
Fortunately, it gave me another idea. I’d invited Belaunde and a few of his allies to America, supposedly as a gesture for formalizing new bilateral trade deals. I’d used those same agents who removed Allende to work against the liberation theologists in Mexico, spreading stories of their heresies for seeking political office, and of course, the scandal and corruption that plagued most in power. It was equally effective, although I can’t help but wonder if Pope John Paul’s declaration against liberation theology helped contribute to it. I did notice a lot of nuns in the groups I sent across the borders.
I still hadn’t fixed El Salvador, and Cuba still stared at me from across the Caribbean. But for now, at least, our position was more secure on our side of the world.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays Suez Crisis as an Event, reducing France to (1/0) and UK to (3/0)
It was a good thing that I was alone when I’d heard of the Suez Crisis, because I’m pretty sure the profanity I’d uttered could’ve been heard on the Apollo rockets.
England and France were not invited to the Camp David Accords, and they’d grown accustomed to Israel operating the Suez. Israeli had always been good to them, giving them a good rate for passage in honor of the Balfour Declaration. But after it was returned to Egypt, Khalil wasn’t as generous. We allies might have all had common goals, but not universally common. And so, the British and French engineered a plot to try and seize control of the canal and return it to Israel, trying to disguise themselves as sort of disgruntled mercenaries. It was an utterly outlandish plot, and it being exposed was no surprise.
Khalil demanded an explanation from me, and I had none to offer: This had been done completely under my nose. To prove this, I immediately ordered RFK to sell pounds sterling bonds, nearly crippling the British. They were furious with me, and it also scared away many of the French before I even did anything to them. They were still recalcitrant NATO allies and never took part in joint activities, a holdover from De Gaulle. But harsh circumstances were needed for those two. I would not allow even an ally to destroy the work we’d done just so they could get ships to sail cheaply.
I needed those two more than they might have known. But I wasn’t about to lose a Middle Eastern ally because they wanted to spend less to travel by ship.
US Turn 3 - US plays Bear Trap as an Event
I needed to buy time. After the Suez Incident, I wanted to make more overtures into Britain and France, with some friendlier support. but I knew if I had spent time there, the Soviets would make a move somewhere else. Maybe make another move into France like that had so many years ago with the PCF.
I was also spending my time getting chewed out by a British diplomat. It’s as if he thought it was my fault that we didn’t stand up for the British. He just kept going on and on about how Britain was an ally, and had this amazing long history, and we should’ve stood up for them, and negotiated something else. Every stupid little thing he could think of, he threw in my face. I wondered how much trouble I’d get into for throwing him out a window. It was only on the first floor.
But that gave me an idea. Tamping down on every little fire. Preferably in a place where it was hard to deal with. So I spread flames throughout the Soviet zones in all of Africa. It was hard to move in the Sahel. I spread rumors everywhere. From Johannesburg to Lagos to Mogadishu, I had agents spread stories of rebellions, of secret capitalist black markets.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR uses Indo-Pakistani War to try and escape the Bear Trap. He rolls a 5 and fails.
Whispers of the remnants of South Africa’s apartheid government were the first to draw the Soviets attention. They clamped on some rumblings, possible defectors. But that was one of my false rumors: I wasn’t going to waste time on them. The rumblings continued unabated.
US Turn 4 - US plays Eastern European Unrest for influence and places 2 in France for (3/0) and 1 in UK for (4/0).
I’d heard some tales about more grumbling in Eastern Europe. I might have been able to make a few moves into Slovenia or solidify my holdings in Hungary. But I had to deal with these all of these crises in France. There were, after all, still Brandt and his supporters in the FRG, they’d be able to go through Alsace-Lorraine much easier than going across the North Sea to London.
Most of the men of the Fourth French Republic were gone by now, but Francois Bayrou was amiable. He was a politician from the Pyrenees, and the old friend of d’Estaing and Pompidou. Ah, Pompidou, why did he die. Still could’ve used that clever old bat. But even if I didn’t know the people, I knew the tactics of the Assemblee Nationale, and I was able to help Bayrou beat his opponent Mitterand and got France back to working with America again.
After Britain had disciplined the Suez Crisis architects, I had instructed RFK to buy back some pounds sterling bonds. He bought more than I had anticipated, and the Brits took that as a sign of weakness, and held back more of their support.
RFK was always too bold for his own good.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR uses Decolonization to try and escape the Bear Trap. He rolls a 1 and succeeds.
The Soviets looked like they’d been planning to exploit some of the decolonization stresses that seemed to befall most of the nations on the African continent. However, they needed to chase down all of my rumors. And this time, unfortunately, they’d crack the right source. There were following some rumors about rumblings in Lagos. But unfortunately, I had less support in that region than I thought. The source behind my rumors had been caught. I didn’t share everything with him: He only needed to know what he needed to know. But they knew I’d been instigating false flags. They knew they could ignore what I had done across the continent, and they would peter out on their own.
US Turn 5 - US player plays Don’t Wait for the Translation for Influence. He adds 1 influence to UK (5/0), he adds 1 influence to Gulf States (2/0), and he adds 1 influence to Norway (3/0)
I’d had enough time to get done what I’d needed to done, and now I could continue the work I had been planning before the crisis at the Suez. Kuwait, a small country just below the Iraqi People’s Republic, was getting nervous from her northern neighbor’s moves. Oil production had been on the rise recently, and the glut of fuel meant lower prices across the board, even ones that OPEC couldn’t completely regulate. It was causing stagnations in Iraq, and they would probably eye their neighbors for different sources of economic opportunity. I’d offered them reassurance between myself, King Hussein, and Shah Pahlavi. We promised a defense pact. Iraq wasn’t stupid enough to attack with enemies on all sides, and the other sheikhs took notice of my quick work. I’d received notice from the newly formed Bahrain that they approved of our quick thinking, and offered a treaty of friendship.
I’d also finished installing a few members in the House of Commons back in Britain, assisting a few Parliamentarians on moving huge sums of cash, and in other cases, smear campaigns against rivals. I was still seething about their moves in the Suez, but at least I could get back to work with some new people who shared my vision on the British Isles.
I’d also went over to Oslo to meet with King Olav again. The official story was a ski trip. Unofficially, I was trying to look for a way to get into Finland, perhaps destabilize things there. No such luck, but I was able to make a few more contacts in Norway. They were liking the way NATO was working, and voting in their Parliament had most of the political parties considering joining. Still a few holdouts, but they wouldn’t last forever.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Mobutu. He undertakes a coup in Kenya and rolls a 6, turning it to (0/4). Zaire goes to 3 Stability and goes to (2/1)
I wondered if it was revenge for my little schemes in Africa that caused the Kenyan Skirmish. Socialist troops from Somalia and Ethiopia used a border skirmish and dispute as an excuse to attack. Kenyatta’s forces were overwhelmed and Nairobi fell within a few months. It was brutal, and I could never make contact with Kenyatta, so he was either dead or worse.
Fortunately, the warlord over in Zaire wasn’t all that pleased with the direction of the communist state. Mobutu Sese Seko was an anti-Communist as they came, perhaps even more than me. But that was the only good thing to be said about him. And I’m pretty sure he could’ve been bought to change his stance on communism. He consolidated power quickly in Zaire, securing the border and making it infinitely hard for Angola or anyone to attack it. He was happy to work with America at first. Although I wasn’t sure how long that would last.
I used to think Franco was the worst person I ever had to make cause with. And now I missed that little madman.
US Turn 6 - US player plays Mideast Scoring. US has domination and gains 3 points (USSR+1)
Once things settled down around the Suez Crisis, I’d planned for a tour in the region. Pope John Paul himself was going to speak and sermonize in Jerusalem, and had even invited several imams to speak. Shia scholars from Iran spoke at length, but I wasn’t able to get many of the Sunni practitioners, Saudi Arabia sent a token show, but didn’t do much of note. Egypt and Jordan, however, did talk about the future of the Middle East going forward, with the Camp David Accords firmly entrenched.
Lebanon sent furious denials, Libya called it a betrayal of the faith, and Iraq started to embolden the Palestinians. But the public battle, with the Pope’s clear words and many imams calling for peace, won the day in the eyes of the public, and in RFK. The Catholic was greatly pleased by the show of faith and of peace. The Pope had given him a rosary as a gift. He treasured it greatly.
I could’ve done better, but it was a nice start. I still remember back in the 50s when the Soviets trotted around trumped up oil contracts and I had nearly nothing to show for the region. I wonder what those old snakes Beria and Molotov would think if they could see this now.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR player plays Five Year Plan. He discards Asia Scoring. USSR places 3 influence in Zaire (2/4)
As I had gathered, but didn’t want to admit, it didn’t take long for the Soviets to cozy up to Mobutu. They made grand shows of gifts and who knows how many bank accounts squirreled away in neutral Switzerland. And Mobutu was all too eager to jump.
I wasn’t too concerned. I was planning an even grander event for RFK, something that might have even brought an end to the entire Cold War: A grand trip of Asia, stretching from Pakistan all the way to Japan. Alexander, Genghis Khan, not even Rome itself could compare to the empire of the East that I had built. There was no way The Russians or anyone could compete with the empire I had built.
And then, there was the Five Year Plan disaster. Those had been happening in the Soviet Union around the time I was born, some sort of stepping-stone plan to completely centralized government planned economies and labor markets, controlling one aspect of production at a time. At least, that was the theory. In practice, it was just a bunch of state idiocy. Unfortunately, just as Deng had told me about Mao’s China, records were often forged to showcase success because failure was punished severely, even if success wouldn’t be possible. That was a sure sign for disaster.
This one, the 9th or 10th, I think, was a disaster. They’d tried an agricultural plan, and their irrigation systems were woefully out of date and completely unsuited for the climate. I think the irrigation systems I gave Botswana were more advanced than those. Even worse, they tried making their own trucks and vehicles, and they completely fell apart. I guess they should’ve stuck with Soviet tanks, although even those weren’t made very well. Where were their vehicle people, making the rockets for their Moon landing?
Central Asia nearly collapsed and ran out of food. To prevent a disaster, RFK reassigned my whole staff to selling wheat and rice. He then outright scrapped my POMA and ASEAN planned tour.
The best laid plans, so they say.
US Turn 7 - US player plays De-Stalinization on the Space Race. He rolls a 2 and succeeds, going to Space Shuttle and gaining 4 VP (US+3)
With all of my staff working on saving the Soviet Union, as if forgetting this whole war thing, I decided to spend my time at NASA. Like always, it set me at ease. The eggheads there were goal driven, focused. Working day and night on the space shuttle. Testing went on for months and months. The engineers were eager to talk to me, they knew how much I’d thrown into the space race. And so, they talked to me at length. They told me of problems with something called “O-rings” that they were noticing in examination of the shuttles after unmanned missions.
I gave them two weeks to give me a list of names. They had to provide me every problem person, and I’d only help them once. And they pulled through. So would I. I moved like wildfire against the names. A new contractor was found within a month. And several higher-ups were reassigned to meaningless monitoring positions across Western Europe and East Asia. It was a purge worthy of Khrushchev, except my targets were still alive. Just in places where they couldn’t do any harm.
And the new management took my purge to heart, and applied themselves. They cracked the code on what the shuttles needed. After several successes with unmanned missions, Shuttle Columbia was ready, and Challenger and the others were waiting in the wings. I was there listening when the first spacewalk happened.
While I was there, I was asked if I had used those SCUBA lessons I’d been given. It was the same guy who gave them to me. I had, but I reminded him that he had promised a space station, not a shuttle. Patience, he said. I was starting to believe him, and I think that was the first time I ever hoped America would fail at something.
Round 7 End
US lacks in ops and must give 2 VP to the USSR
Score: US + 1
US - Space Shuttle
USSR - The Bear Has Landed
A teacher went up in one of the shuttles. She gave a lesson on the first day of school. Too bad my kids were already adults at the time, they might’ve found it fascinating.
The missiles in Cuba became obsolete after a few years. Once the island was hit with back to back severe hurricanes for two years in a row, they became completely not launchable, and the Soviets eventually removed them. I considered it a victory. A few of the war hawks however, disappointed in our lack of action against the Soviets, abandoned RFK. Gerald Ford, RFK’s opponent, eagerly capitalized on this, portraying himself as the “wise elder statesman who understood the threats facing America”, while portraying RFK as someone who was too soft, not focused enough on the big picture and more interested in social affairs. It was a close election, and one of the politest affairs I’d ever seen in my life, but Ford won out in the end.
RFK took it well. Even in private, he was gracious. He patted me on the shoulder and said he knew I’d serve Ford well. He invited me to Christmas at the Kennedy complex. I saw my wife’s face, and I could tell it was one of the happiest days of her life.
Ford had a charm completely unlike RFK. Kennedy was a man who lit up a room. Ford made a man feel good about himself. Which was better? Not a contest. He wanted to keep me in my same position, so not all bad.
Brezhnev was having struggles of his own. Czechoslovakia’s joining of NATO, the loss in Afghanistan, and the failure of the Cuban missiles to achieve Soviet ends had him quietly removed from office. He was replaced by Yuri Andropov. Maybe the Politburo was sick of one incompetent having all the power. I hadn’t heard of him since the war. He was supposedly the type that could brutally suppress revolutionaries, which me a bit worried for Hungary, still embroiled in a capitalist/communist split. I have to keep my eyes close down there.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, Lone Gunman, Allende, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Portuguese Empire Crumbles, Berlin Wall, Willy Brandt, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, U-2 Incident, Cultural Revolution, Brezhnev Doctrine, Suez Crisis, We Will Bury You, Flower Power, CIA Created, Truman Doctrine, OAS Founded, Sadat Expels Soviets, Independent Reds, Pope John Paul II Elected, Puppet Governments, Camp David Accords, Nuclear Subs, Mobutu, Bear Trap, NORAD, Our Man in Tehran, Ussuri River Skirmish, Alliance for Progress, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, NATO, Captured Nazi Scientist, Cuban Missile Crisis, Southeast Asia Scoring.
Active Effects: NATO, NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Camp David Accords, Pope John Paul II Elected, De Gaulle Leads France, Willy Brandt, Flower Power
Regions Scored: Middle East, Asia
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 8 - Late War Cards added, DEFCON goes to 3 - 1977-1981
Cards Dealt: (Containment), Iran-Iraq War, Aldrich Ames Remix, Glasnost, The Reformer, AWACS Sales to Saudis, Pershing II Deployed, Wargames, Iran-Contra Scandal
Headline: US Plays Containment. USSR plays Yuri and Samantha.
It was three days after Ford’s inauguration when I received a visitor.
“William. I swear you haven’t changed a bit.” It was George Kennan. “You’re the only one still working with the government.”
“I’m too lazy to find another job, George.” I’m sure, even if I couldn’t get a job at the family firm, some company or other would scoop me up. Pay me tons of money too. But there was a reason I was consulted for infrastructure and business opportunities across the world in addition to war: I was set for money. “Public life wasn’t for you, I respect that.”
“I’ve kept my eyes open. How much of what’s happened these decades been directed by you?”
“You don’t approve.” I knew he didn’t. Kennan had always been a critic of mine. Every war, coup, and other military action I’d authorized, I could feel his eyes piercing into me from behind. Even after he left the government.
“You know my opinion. I’m sure you thought you did what was best at the time. But I’m not here to discuss the distant past. I wanted to commend you.”
“Why?” It wasn’t often people praised me. Most people who knew me knew I’d see it as buttering me up, Kennan included.
“For Cuba. Four years those missiles were pointed. The world could’ve gone to war and you didn’t blink. I’m proud of your restraint, William.”
“It cost Brezhnev more than us.” I’m not sure how much I was at liberty to share with Kennan. “Now, onto the next General Secretary. Andropov. Wonder what he’s learned since his tricks on Ben-Gurion. Ha, that old codger never forgive me for what happened in Vietnam. It’s like he thought it was my fault Ho Chi Minh was a commie.”
Kennan shook his head. “William. Do you even know what you’ve accomplished? Over a hundred countries in the world dance to the organizations you’ve created, your plans. If you’d done NATO without the military part, you might have ended this whole Cold War by now. There isn’t a place a communist can go without being forced to deal with you somehow. Why haven’t you taken it to the next level?”
“Haven’t given up on that, have you George? It’s been thirty years since the War and the Commies aren’t interested in ‘engagement’.”
Kennan cocked an eyebrow. “How much grain do we sell them? And how many times have you worked with Xiaoping? We’ve been doing nothing but engaging. You can do pretty much anything in the world. And the Russians...I know you have your doubts, William. I’ve spent time over there; Andropov is not like the others, he’s a reformer. You can work with him, I know it. Hell, you’ve forged alliances on shakier ground.”
“Reformer? Does he plan on giving up the charade of communism? Stop nationalizing industries? If they want to give up their mad fever dream, they need to make the steps. I’m not interested in kowtowing just for a chance. And until they understand that, I will not yield. And they will see it one way or another.”
“You’re many things, William. I wish you knew the good that you do.” And George walked out the door. There were things he said that were true: Economic engagement was a centerpiece of the world with the Russians, the arms race was just for show. But Kennan, did he study history as I did? He studied Russia, but I’d studied all of the world. And war was far more common than he wanted to admit. Peace was earned, not gifted. History taught that time and time again.
I threw what resources I could into my operations, getting Ford to shunt as much as he could my way. I couldn’t allow any distractions.
Like Samantha Smith. I’d never heard of her, she was just a little kid. But only a few weeks after Andropov came to power, he published a letter she’d written and his response. She was even invited as a goodwill ambassador to the Soviet Union. I almost thought it was some of trick. I had to remind myself the little girl was only nine.
The doves of the world loved it. I knew that I would be crucified if I tried anything on the Soviets. It was the softer version of the Cuban missiles. But the war hawks were already upset as things stood already. It was yet another tightrope to walk.
USSR Turn 1 - USSR plays Marine Barracks Bombing and coups Panama. He rolls a 3 and it goes down to 1/0. DEFCON goes to 2. NORAD triggers and the US places 1 influence in Norway (4/0)
The Panama Canal had been under close scrutiny ever since the Cuban missiles were revealed. Neither Cuba nor Venezuela had the capabilities to manufacturer the missiles, so the question that was begged was: How did the missiles get there. Once the missiles were gone, eyes in Panama slipped to blame. Factions within the country blamed each other. Capitalists claimed that the socialists let them slip past due to ideology. The socialists said the capitalists were bribed. I think the truth was that they simply didn’t go through Panama at all: South Africa had been trying for nuclear weapons, and although they claimed to have abandoned it, all of that technology fell into the hands of the Soviets when they installed the ANC in that region.
That was, until I heard that the leader and our ally in the region, Manuel Noriega, was starting to turn a bit mercenary for my tastes. It’s to be expected, a man always craved more things. I’d kept Torrijos and the other socialists from taking power down there, but Noriega seemed to think it was he alone. And, if the rumors were to be believed, he was selling Cubans a few secrets.
So when Torrijos gathered some of the rural poor in an uprising, I did nothing. I defended my people in the region, but Noriega was on his own. It wasn’t as big an army as it needed to be: Torrijos was a powerful military mind, but he had a mostly civilian force. Still, it was enough to send Noriega back to me.
Before I could make a move, however, Torrijos died in a plane crash. Noriega believed me responsible. In truth, I was in Oslo at the time, on a diplomatic mission for some NATO military exercises, with some NORAD data to show to the right people. Helped get Kare Willoch, a sharp fiscal mind and wary of socialism, elected to the Prime Ministership. NATO membership was overwhelmingly approved as soon as he was in office. I let Noriega believe whatever he wanted.
US Turn 1 - US plays Glasnost. He resolves the effect first: USSR gains 2 VP (USSR+1) and DEFCON increases to 3. US then coups Venezuela. Yuri and Samantha gives the USSR 2 VP (USSR+3). US rolls a 2 and and Venezuela goes to (0/1). DEFCON hits 2 and NORAD triggers. The US places 1 influence in Gulf States (3/0).
Not long after Samantha Smith returned from her trip to the USSR, reforms were coming from within Russia itself. I kept hearing the word “glasnost.” I’d heard the term a few years back before, something about judicial reforms. How one reformed a fixed system was anyone’s guess, but people were talking more openly in the Soviet Union, so my agents had said. Talking of the failures of the five-year-plans, calls for anti-corruption. For a second, I thought my spies were mistakenly in Paris, or the new Madrid after Franco. And the press was publishing their talks as well.
But I’d take advantage of anything I could find. The warhawks were itching for a victory and I would give them one in Venezuela. At least, that was the plan. My agents in the region were mostly student activists, protesting inflation and shortages, all standard fare in communist nations. But, just like Torrijos’s forces in Panama, I’d attracted the wrong sort of soldier. Mine were even worse, there was more resources thrown at them than had ever been thrown Torrijos’s way. The revolution was utterly abortive.
I’d kept most of the bad news out of the press, but those vulture reporters pounced on Ford for an entirely difference. Magazine covers portrayed Samantha Smith’s face with a stern cover of Ford’s glare. He was not pleased with me when he saw that.
Some reforms were made, the socialists there lost a fair amount of their power, probably because of Glasnost’s ever arching reforms, but there was still a disaster right on the southern continent. I hadn’t fixed it yet.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Sultan Qaboos Al-Said of Oman sent a missive through some of my agents in Abu Dhabi. Concerned about communist attacks in Panama and the resistance in Venezuela, and noticing how successful capitalism worked for Jordan, he’d formed a plan to hedge out such problems in his neck of the world. He’d been collaborating with a few of the other states around the Gulf, and was pledging to create a council of states based around the Gulf to handle diplomatic, economic, and regional concerns, including diversifying from oil. Just like the UAE had done.
All that was left was foreign recognition and pledges to invest. And the Sultan knew just who to seek out. I was more than happy to give it. The Gulf Cooperation Council was born that August. It wasn’t as spectacular as the other groups I’d made, but it was a stable influence in that region of the world. And stability brought prosperity and other rewards. Plus, it was well-protected from calls for shariah and other problems. And of course, it was one more black eye to the reds.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR plays Iron Lady. He places 1 influence in West Germany (6/3) and 1 in Venezuela (0/2). Argentina goes to (2/1), VP goes to (USSR+2)
I can’t remember when it was, but I remember very distinctly one of my staffers asked me my opinion of women in politics.
“Women have been running countries since before Caesar. You should care more about what those women do.”
That was before Thatcher rose to power. The woman was power-hungry and brutal, but extremely effective and, unlike Indira, fiercely anti-communist. Analytical as a chemist, she enacted reforms to place Britain back on the map. Not that socialism held much sway in London, but those proto-commies from Lisbon to Copenhagen, even Helsinki, all were blunted by her fierce rhetoric and brilliant economic reforms. They wouldn’t dream of trying anything, fearing her reprisals.
Except for some initial blowback in Dusseldorf, where a few politicians banded together. Social Democrats, led by Brandt, decried her as an obstacle to the reunification of Europe. With some secret funding, with I was pretty sure was linked to the GDR, Brandt’s position in the Bundestag was strengthened.
And then there was the Falkland War. I didn’t particularly approve of it, but she’d reclaimed those islands for Britain. At the cost of some bitter Argentines. Unfortunately, it looked like it would fall to me to tamp down that kind of fire.
US Turn 2 - US plays Wargames for Influence. He places 2 influence in West Germany (8/3) and 2 influence in Paraguay (2/0)
When I saw the bitter Argentines, seething over the Falklands, I knew I was going to need to deal with the threat. They sent missives to Ford to rebuke Britain, but I ignored them. There were other ways to deal with that problems. Right now, it was about containment. They couldn’t be allowed to spread. My forces in Uruguay were still holding strong, but there were other paths and ways for the Falklanders to gain allies. Like in Paraguay. I’d mostly avoided the country, I’d seen no need to get involved. But blocking off any expansion was the definition of containment. And so I got on a plane.
Asuncion was not a difficult nut to crack. It had been run by a dictator named Stroessner. He was an isolationist at heart and ran the country much like any other garden variety dictator. But he was willing to block any expansion from the Falkland rebels. So I put in a good word to OAS for him.
I also funded more opposition to Brandt in West Germany, blunting the advance of the social democrats. Thatcher might have been able to put a damper on their policies, but it wasn’t policy and zeal funding these people alone. It was money. That needed to be applied in the right place.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays The China Card. He places 4 influence in West Germany (8/5).
I think Brandt knew of my opposition to him. Not like I kept it quiet. And so he did something quite unexpected. He’d invited the Premier of China, Hua Guofeng, for a state visit.
He knew I’d despise any meeting with a communist. And Guofeng was eager to flex his might abroad, particularly since Deng already had a portfolio of international contacts, and of course, me. And with power struggles in Beijing, and South China always looming over the horizon, Guofeng needed to prove himself worthy of his position.
And prove himself he did. The Bundestag was impressed with Brandt’s moves and charmed by Guofeng. He advocated for a peaceful reunification under a communist system, West and East working together to turn Germany into the machine of Europe. Those Germans loved their manufacturing, and they were impressed with him. Awarded him honors and extended positions to Chinese nationals, and created a number of contracts for me to seethe over.
Deng made contact not long after Guofeng’s visit. We agreed to meet in Rangoon while on tour for some ASEAN contracts.
“Guofeng sounds desperate, if he must go halfway across the world.”
“More than you can possibly imagine.” Once he shored up his own base in North China, Deng was more than willing to work with me again.
If only Brandt could be so reasonable.
US Turn 3 - US plays Iran-Iraq War as an Event. Flower Power gives the USSR 2 VP (USSR+4). US chooses Iraq and rolls a 5, turning to to (3/0) and gaining +2 VP (USSR +2)
With my attention focused on Germany, I almost didn’t notice the new leader coming to power in the Iraqi People’s Republic. The Baath party, led by Saddam Hussein. It made sense my concern lie elsewhere: Iraq was not an easy country to attack via insurgency. Not to mention any threat was pretty easily contained with Jordan and the GCC. And of course, Shah Pahlavi.
I wasn’t sure what possessed Saddam to attack the Shah. The Shah had been suffering from gallstones and was near the end of his life, maybe Saddam thought he’d be an easy target. Maybe he thought Iran, having experienced many coups, would be a weak foe. Maybe he thought Iran might have been willing to accept a new leader. Or maybe it was something far simpler, border disputes and a desire for a better oil market.
Whatever the case, Saddam struck, and Reza Pahlavi, the shah’s son, struck back. Even though he was barely a man, he fought with his troops ably. It was only two months before Iraq was beaten back across the border. Emboldened, the Shah planned to move forward. I encouraged him, even brokered some deals and committed some troops. Flush with American and Pakistani allies, Baghdad fell in two years. Saddam and many of his high officials were executed. Iran installed a few interim rulers, promising capitalism and free elections. Surprisingly, the people there took to it quickly. With much of the Soviet infrastructure repurposed, the new Federal Democratic Republic of Iraq looked to be a major power in the region. They joined the GCC as if they’d been with me from the start.
Protests abounded, of course. The hippie movement with their talk of free love and non-violence sapped all the joy out of winning that war. None of them were drafted, they were free to not join and move on, but they had to whine. Pathetic.
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays Europe Scoring. Both countries control 2 battlegrounds and no adjacency, so score is unchanged.
Andropov held a conference and celebration in East Berlin, hoping it would sway over many of the Western European states into adopting softer stances towards the Warsaw Pact members. Perhaps he was hoping to secure trade deals for some of the failed five-year-plans, or perhaps he was looking to rout out sympathizers in the East. The Soviets never needed an excuse for a purge, but it seemed they liked to find one.
I told my allies to hold fast. France and Italy agreed without a second thought, but strife within the Bundestag took up everyone’s attention. Brandt’s Social Democrats wanted to attend the conference. Opponents thought it was a trap, and the Social Democrats called them traitors to their own people. Reportedly, it got wild, a brawl right in the heart of the West German government.
I would’ve paid a hundred to see that. Maybe a thousand to take a swing at Brandt. But newspapers from Tegucigalpa to Tunis to Tokyo talked of the brawl and nothing else. The grand conference was an afterthought.
US Turn 4 - US plays Pershing II Deployed. He allows USSR to go first, USSR removes from West Germany (7/5), France (2/0), and Italy (2/0) and gains 1 VP (USSR +3). US adds 1 influence to France (3/0), 1 to Italy (3/0), and 2 to West Germany (9/5)
The Pershing II was the best answer at the worst possible time. Only a few months after the Bundestag Brawl, we’d rolled out the systems to be deployed in Bonn and a few other sites in Northern Italy. We’d planned this, of course, long before Andropov’s conference. But that nuance was lost on the media.
Turkey welcomed the updated systems, but the rest of Europe wasn’t so pleased. Campaigns for nuclear disarmament swarmed the streets of Germany and Italy, spilling over into France as well.
All in all, it wasn’t too hard to smooth over everything. The Eiffel Tower and other cultural sites throughout Western Europe were seeking funding for upkeep. Plus, with the newly established GCC and the Suez Incident buried in everyone’s mind, a few lucrative oil contracts for those governments smoothed over any problems, and silently sidelined Brandt to opposition party status.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR plays Solidarity, turning Poland to (4/4). He places 1 influence in Zaire (2/5) and 1 influence in Argentina (2/2)
Glasnost was having a serious side effect for Andropov’s rule. While he went out bribing Mobutu to support a communist-style system in Zaire, the Polish were starting to stir. A glut of laborers and trade unionists, inspired by the election of the Pope so many years ago, were making themselves loud and known.
We’d supported them from the behind the scenes, but the “behind” part was starting to be less and less needed. They swept through Krakow and began making demands. And the Soviet military did not respond. If my data was correct, that group had gone to Argentina to help train some of the Falkland rebels.
I didn’t like a lot of their policies. Like so many other labor groups, they leaned too socialist for my liking. But they’d serve my purposes for now, plunging Poland into near civil war.
US Turn 5 - US plays Iran-Contra Scandal for influence. US adds 3 influence to Chile (3/0)
The way forward for the Falkland rebels to Paraguay was closed, but Chile was still a concern. Allende’s memory had faded from the minds of the Chileans, but the governments established had only been an interim one.
That changed with Guzman. Political parties had been forming, but the one I liked was the Independence Democratic Union, and its leader, professor Jaime Guzman. He had the chops and the economic advisory ideas. He just needed someone to whisper into his ear for a moment. So I headed for Santiago to help him set up his government and draft a constitution.
It was a good thing too, for a few members of the army were embroiled in a scandal regarding the Contras, groups opposed to the government in Nicaragua. I hadn’t been involved in that, it was probably some CIA failure or other, I had other concerns. But there were a number of Senators, Democrats desperate to seize power back after RFK’s loss, who wanted their fifteen minutes. I was high profile, and heavily involved in foreign affairs. They dragged me in there to testify.
“I don’t deal with the Nicaraguans. The rebels or their government. And wasn’t this whole thing involving the Army? I haven’t been part of the armed forces for decades now.” The Senators insisted on public hearings: They wanted the cameras rolling. I tried not to scowl: Too many staffers had told me I frown too much for television. I guess I was too used to working behind the scenes. I’m sure there’d be a lot more sparks in the private hearings.
“Mister Mercer, as I understand it, you make contact with governments and groups all over the world for our country.” It didn’t take me long to be dragged in front of the Senate. Surprisingly, it was RFK’s baby brother Ted talking the harshest. He might have been worried about looking weak, my close friendship with Robert was well known. Or it could’ve been presidential aspirations.
“Am I required to make contact with the Contras because of that, Senator?” It took all my training not to call him by his first name.
“N-no.” The senator stuttered.
“Senator, if you have a point, get to it.”
“We have embargos on hostile nations.”
“That sounds like something you should ask Commerce about. I don’t make deals with our enemies.” I tended to organize coups and get them killed. Nasser, Mugabe, the list went on. But I couldn’t say that in public.
“Someone had to.”
“For all I know, Senator, this is a stunt to make ways for the election next year.” It sounded really good when I said it, at least I thought so. But the press didn’t take it that way. “Defiant Mercer Accuses Senators” were the headlines. Although I’m sure there were other worse ones. Bah, yellow journalists.
RFK knew me well enough to know how I got in front of cameras and accusations. But he was a bit distant after that. Or a lot. I tried to make amends, but I could only see the rift.
The press was on me like a hawk, desperate to get statements. Until that blew over, I was going to be a bit hamstrung in my efforts should I try anything, the press would get wind of it before long. I was pretty sure, though, the Russians had their own fires to put out to make use of it. Just hoped I was right.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Latin American Debt Crisis as an Event. US discards The Reformer.
I was spending more time with the OAS, hoping to get some intel on the Falkland rebels. No luck, but the OAS showed me some financial records regarding South America’s borrowing. And the results were...not good. Sure, infrastructure plans needed upfront capital, but the end goal was supposed to be paying all of it back. And that looked completely impossible. Investors would pull out, and, worse, the Venezuelans might swoop in to save the day.
I had to fix this. Starting in Brazil, I engaged in a whirlwind tour all around South America, trying to shore up their businesses. There had been other plans made. There was a high-ranking Soviet officer named Mikhail Gorbachev, a reformist, similar to Deng. Both Ford and Thatcher were impressed by him.
But I couldn’t attend, and I couldn’t let them. Perhaps it was the best. It wouldn’t have been the first time a friendly face brought over bad ideas. And between the hippies, and the bad press with Samantha Smith, the people might’ve been swayed by a charming Russian. I distracted the both of them with talk of South America, and the plans completely fell through.
US Turn 6 - US plays AWACS Sales to Saudis as an Event. Saudi Arabia goes to (3/0)
The Pershing system might have been a bit of a disaster, but jets were a different story. They weren’t weapons of mass destruction. Plus, it helped us make our diplomatic moves to the Kingdom of Saud. They were taking an interest in the GCC, and the main economi power in the region would always be welcome. But more importantly, their intelligence into the Islamic world was unparalleled. I’d seen religious sects before: Honduras was still firmly in the grip of the liberation theologists. But the Islamic faith was so central in this part of the world, it would not have been hard for one sect to upend all the work I’d done bringing capitalism and democracy.
The AWACS changed all that. I made the sale of the new aircraft personally. Between that system, control of the holy sites, a powerful economy and a central location, Saudi Arabia was the perfect ally to prevent any such problems. King Khalid could be a bit difficult, but he knew how to use a financial windfall correctly. And he pledged his support against any religious extremism in his region.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR plays Chernobyl on the Space Race. He rolls a 2 and succeeds, going to Space Shuttle and gaining 2 VP (USSR + 5)
I was told that the Russians were making pushes for space shuttles like Challenger or Columbia almost as soon as we hit the moon, maybe even before. Putting people into space was a great challenge to overcome, but I just wasn’t sure what we would do with it. I mean, we had to bring the air, after all.
But they applied themselves diligently while I was making my moves in the Middle East. I think it was just as I got back from a GCC summit establishing banking sectors in Bahrain when I’d heard the Soyuz Shuttle had made it up into space, running tests on the solar wind.
NASA already had plans for a station. I’m willing to bet the Russians did as well. It was going to take a lot out of either of us to make it work. I’m not sure what NASA could do next after that, would free up a lot of resources for other ventures, that’s for sure. Even if I would lose a massive bet and have to do something incredibly dangerous, that might’ve made it worth it.
I can’t believe I was talking myself into shooting myself in the abyss on a giant rocket. I must’ve been going crazy.
US Turn 7 - US plays Aldrich Ames Redux. He has no cards to discard. He plays 3 influence in Poland (7/4) and 1 influence in Panama (2/0)
Spies were always an issue in the war. But a lot of people get the concept of a spy wrong. It’s not just some cloak and dagger, guy leaving dead drops sort of thing. That was part of it, but not everything. A lot of my work, like the creation of ASEAN, was actually all in the open for everyone to see. There was plenty there to busy some Soviet snoop, thinking he could learn about financial movements and plans ahead. That’s how the secret stuff stayed secret. I think only once, after the death of JFK, were my operations so exposed. I learned my lesson well.
Not so with the CIA. I wasn’t exactly sure how they structured their operation, but large organizations with centralized structures were very vulnerable once pierced. And it was fairly easy to sneak one person into just about anything.
I don’t think I ever met Aldrich Ames, I had no interest in the CIA’s second-rate agents, especially their drunks. If he ever tried to make contact with me, I don’t remember it. I could afford to be choosy with who I used, and neither Ford nor anyone else forced me to play nice with the other agencies. And so, when he was finally exposed, he couldn’t give the KGB anything on me. And so while they were putting out CIA fires, I was quietly removing Noriega for someone a bit more secure at the Canal, and putting together a coalition to help Solidarity out to take control in Poland.
Maybe Ames was exposed when the Soviets knew he couldn’t bring them anything useful on me. Wouldn’t be the first time the Soviet axe beheaded their own.
Round 8 End
Score: USSR +5
US - Space Shuttle
USSR - Space Shuttle
NASA was accruing data at an alarming rate, and was even drawing up construction plans for their space stations. Would they have to build the thing in space, or did they intend to launch it whole cloth? I wasn’t sure how either could be possible. Then again, back when I first started my work, going to the moon seemed ridiculous. Now, it wasn’t.
If there was one bad thing about my work, it was that the results and consequences of that work tended to fall on others. Like Ford. The Caracas debacle’s fallout, to say nothing of the thing with the Contras, fell squarely on his soldiers, and the peace-loving hippies sapped all the possible benefits of taking over the former Iraqi People’s Republic. But there were some benefits: Oil flowed from across the globe and the world chugged along well. The problem was that Ford was seen as damaged goods. He decided to step aside and the new candidate was Ronald Reagan, a former actor and governor.
I’d seen Ford just before the primary season. He didn’t even enter, he was smart enough to know it would be a bad idea.
“Mr. President, sir. I’m sorry.” I think it was the only time I ever apologized, at least for my work. It was unsoldierly to apologize for what happened on a field of battle, but this felt different.
“Not a word, William. I’ll hear nothing of it.” He understood, even when most didn’t, that the Cold War wasn’t about just one movement, one war, one person, or even one leader. It was about all of the moves taken, and pieces sacrificed. It was a game of steps. And all of the steps had to be taken. He told Reagan glowing things about me.
America was the greatest nation in the world, but even Ford deserved better than that.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, Lone Gunman, Allende, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Portuguese Empire Crumbles, Berlin Wall, Willy Brandt, Iran-Contra Scandal, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, U-2 Incident, Cultural Revolution, Brezhnev Doctrine, Suez Crisis, Pershing II Deployed, Aldrich Ames Redux, We Will Bury You, Flower Power, Glasnost, CIA Created, Truman Doctrine, OAS Founded, Sadat Expels Soviets, Independent Reds, Pope John Paul II Elected, Puppet Governments, Camp David Accords, Nuclear Subs, Mobutu, Solidarity, Bear Trap, NORAD, Our Man in Tehran, Ussuri River Skirmish, Alliance for Progress, Containment, The Iron Lady, Chernobyl, AWACS Sale to Saudis, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, NATO, Captured Nazi Scientist, Iran/Iraq War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Southeast Asia Scoring.
Active Effects: NATO, NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defense Treaty, Camp David Accords, The Iron Lady, AWACS Sales to Saudis, De Gaulle Leads France, Willy Brandt, Flower Power
Regions Scored: Middle East, Asia, Europe
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 9 - DEFCON Goes to 3 - 1981-1985
Cards Dealt: Tear Down this Wall, Soviets Shoot down KAL-007, Quagmire, ABM Treaty, Star Wars, South America Scoring, Cambridge Five, Nuclear Test Ban, Ortega Elected in Nicaragua, (The China Card)
Headline: US plays Soviets Shoot down KAL-007. Soviet plays Brush War. DEFCON degrades to 2. US player gains 2 VP (USSR + 3). US may place 4 influence, and he chooses to place 2 in Ecuador (2/0), and 2 in Bolivia (2/0). USSR plays Brush War in Egypt. He rolls a 2 and fails.
Seoul had always been one of America’s safest allies. It got even better after Rhee retired and the economy ballooned like no other. After its northern neighbor was pacified, they became an economic powerhouse in the Far East. It was so peaceful it ran itself. Half the time, I forgot it existed.
That changed when KAL-007 was shot down near the Sea of Okhotsk. I was willing to believe it was because of some navigational error, airspace was a touchy thing. But the Soviets responded to it so terribly, with their fumbling and hiding of the black box. It was like they couldn’t even pretend to be upfront. Anti-Soviet sentiment sprouted all over the world, particularly in South America. Many nations down there were courting jet manufacturers to assemble their parts there, and shooting down a plane would spook a lot of investors. The Bolivian and Ecuadorian governments issued scathing rebukes and immediately pledged their support to Seoul. And to America. Quito even received me personally.
The same couldn’t be said of some Sudanese forces, coupled with Palestinian rebels. They used the distraction to march upon Egypt, desperate to get close to their ultimate goal of destroying Israel. However, thanks to some misinformation and poor equipment, the group was in tatters by the time they finally reached Egyptian forces. Israel had offered aid when they learned of it, but Egypt declined, calling the rebels “lost travelers” who had gotten lost looking for Amarna, an old ruin south of Cairo. The rebels were defeated without a problem, and Egypt enjoyed a tourism boom to see Amarna, supposedly one of the earliest monotheistic deities in the world. They certainly knew how to capitalize on a tragedy.
USSR Turn 1: USSR plays Iranian Hostage Crisis as an Event. Iran goes to (0/2).
Shah Pahlavi passed from illness not long after his victory in Baghdad, and succession had passed to his son. The Crown Prince was incredibly learned and a valuable ally. He had traveled to attend a GCC meeting as a dignitary in Bahrain and took very well to a capitalist mindset. A shame he studied political science, he’d have made a marvelous businessman.
However, there were always those in Iran not exactly pleased with the Shah’s government. Coup after coup in Iran had been fought, and it left many grieving and angry. And, given that most of them were fought over the Shah, blame fell on him and his people. They looked for answers. And found them in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a man disgusted with the West and everything about it. Including the Shah. Idiot, I’m sure he liked the modern medicine and roads.
When the new Shah returned to Tehran, he went to our embassy to deliver contracts on some American investments. That was when the Ayatollah attacked. I wasn’t sure if the Soviets were behind it or not, Khomeini considered them a lesser evil in the same way that Mobutu had considered us one. But we weren’t ready for it. The embassy was seized and hostages, including the new Shah, were taken. He didn’t kill the Shah, he knew there’d be a revolt. But the hostages stayed in the embassy for months while the Ayatollah orchestrated a Shia theocracy.
It was a bold move he was making: With Iraq having been taken over, and both Afghanistan and Pakistan friendly to America, he must have known there would be enemies on all sides. He was willing to negotiate and hand over the hostages for payment. Except the Shah. But, it would only happen if I did it personally. I guess they wanted to humiliate someone so close to the old regime. So, I had to take matters into my own hands. Working closely with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Bhutto and some Afghan colonels, I’d contacted one of my agents still embedded in the country. While I personally negotiated the release of the other hostages, my agents managed to get the Shah safely away to Riyadh. The only person the Shi’a hated more than us were the Sunnis.
The Ayatollahs were in a corner. They couldn’t not release the hostages after they’d been negotiated with, after all. They were not pleased.
US Turn 1: US plays Tear Down This Wall as an Event. US adds 3 influence to East Germany (3/7). The US player attempts to Realign East Germany. (US gains +3 to the roll). US rolls a 5 and USSR rolls a 1, reducing East Germany to (3/0). US targets West Germany, which has +5 to the US for the roll. The US rolls a 2 and the Soviet rolls a 5, turning West Germany to (9/3). US player attempts to realign Hungary, and rolls a 6 when the Soviet player rolls a 2, bringing it to 3/0.
I remembered my first meeting with Reagan. I had just returned to Washington from La Paz, where I’d been incorporating some agents to keep my eye on some communists in the region. He came up to me and shook my hand.
“William. You’re the man who brought Czechoslovakia and Poland into NATO, aren’t you?”
“They did it themselves, sir. I just did this and that.”
“You have strange ideas of this and that. What are your thoughts on the GDR?” That was one of the Soviet’s strongest chokepoints. Between the Warsaw Pact, COMECON, the Wall, and who knows what else, East Germany was strongly in the Soviet’s back pocket.
“Impossible to assault, but isolated from any support. A fortified island.”
“Prepare your boats, then.” He smiled. I had no idea what he had planned. So I marshalled my contacts and allies. The Poles, Czechs, even the Austrians were ready to move. Reagan told me I’d know the cue when I saw it, just as he got on a plane to West Berlin. He was to give a speech. And he uttered the immortal lines: Tear Down This Wall!
I moved my forces in immediately. The response in East Germany was devastating. Many of the East Germans were whipped up into a frenzy, turning on the East German puppets and nearly swept them from the country. No one was hurt, except people who injured themselves falling on the wall to destroy it. Eventually, we reigned the Germans in. They yearned for their freedom to associate, to move from the desolate to the prosperous. But they could understand waiting for a proper demolition.
The speech also eroded a fair amount of Brandt’s support on the other side of the curtain. He pledged to work with NATO again. A few years later, he retired.
It also eradicated the last bit of Hungarian communists. Maleter called for solidarity with Germany and Austria, and, with assistance from the Slovaks, sent the communists back to Moscow. East Germany, similar to North Korea before it, declined to discuss reunification at the moment, but instead joined NATO along with Hungary. I don’t know how Germany was going to resolve that completely with two separate countries. Bayrou and Thatcher were massively opposed; they remembered the dangers of a unified Germany. But East and West Germany both pledged to defend each other if attacked, and the West brought NATO with it. Good enough for me, they could work out the specifics. With Poland in NATO as well, I’d cut off easy access for Moscow to Belgrade. Stambolic, the new Prime Minister in Yugoslavia, was significantly less likely to jump ship than Tito had ever been. But with Albanian rumblings and splits within the different Slavic republics, I was certain it would collapse if I kept the pressure up.
History would tell us that was one of Reagan’s greatest speeches. Perhaps it was his acting talent that made it so effective. That was the moment I knew he’d be a great President.
USSR Turn 2 - USSR plays Terrorism as an Event, and the US must discard two cards at random. He discards South America Scoring and Quagmire.
I wasn’t exactly sure how to move against the new Islamic Republic of Iran. I was still seething with the Saudis, who were supposed to be watching for this sort of thing. I couldn’t fault them too much, I guess I just wanted someone to blame. It would’ve been simple enough to marshall troops in to attack, I probably still had support in Tehran thanks to the prosperity of the Shah’s reign.
Some mufti in Iran put a fatwa of violence on both myself and Shah Reza Pahlavi. He had left Riyadh and was living comfortably, but secretly, on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. As for me, I wasn’t bothered. I couldn’t count the number of people who wanted me dead. Some of them were probably even contacts of mine.
With nothing I could do in that part of the world, I took a working vacation to Rio de Janeiro, during the Fat Tuesday celebrations. I’d spent the day discussing movement of some Brazilian informants to make their way to Venezuela. After that was finished, I was supposed to take in the sites with the wife.
I’d been in the hotel, changing for dinner and then, I remember hearing a loud noise. I...remember being stunned, and then seeing the ceiling starting to collapse on itself. There were really loud noises. I...think I was shoved by something, shoved out a window.
The next thing I knew, I was back in America, being treated at a hospital. I’d been airlifted and operated on in transit. Only later did I learn that the hotel had been bombed, almost demolished. About five hundred people had died. I was one of the few survivors, and I’d gotten away with non-chronic injuries because I’d been shoved from the room before the building collapsed.
And, most tragically, my wife was among the dead. She must’ve shoved me from the room before the hotel collapsed. She should’ve barrelled herself out with me. Or maybe she did and didn’t survive. No one told me the details. Maybe they didn’t know.
I spent weeks in the hospital. A grand tour of the OAS facilities with Reagan and Thatcher was shoved aside. Too bad, it would’ve looked pretty good for those vultures in the press. Instead, I was getting people checking up on me, needling me worse than the doctors. My first visitor was RFK. He brought the rosary he’d received from the Pope, and offered to take me to a Mass for some closure. I politely declined, I shouldn’t have been up. But it did mend the rift between us. I’d also been visited by McCloy, Kennan, others from my past. It was nice to know people still liked me.
I kept asking all of my visitors for news on the attack. It was an Islamic terror group with ties to the Ayatollah who claimed responsibility. I had to formulate plans on how to deal with this. Not much else I could do from a bed. I was getting nowhere, any sort of planned war would have me bogged down no matter what I performed. I had to scrap all my plans. So I tried to think of something more subversive.
“Dad. Stop.” My children, all four of them, all visited me at once to criticize me. I thought it was bad form to criticize the hospital-bound. “You need to rest.”
“I’ve been resting forever. I need to get back to work.” They just didn’t understand what I did. They couldn’t. Such was the life of clandestine work.
“Dad, you’ve done plenty. The world isn’t going to fall apart.” Of course it wouldn’t. But that’s because I’d spent almost forty years keeping it together.
US Turn 2 - US plays ABM Treaty as a coup. DEFCON goes to 3. US elects Syria as the target and rolls a 3, turning Syria to 2/0
It would’ve been tempting to make a move on the Ayatollahs right away, especially with a round of treaties regarding ABM’s being the perfect cover. But in the end, my job was not about revenge, it was about defeating the Soviets and their proxies. Like I had criticized Johnson so long ago, it wasn’t about just me.
Yes, the Ayatollahs were a Soviet proxy, but terrorist actions like the one in Brazil took a lot of resources, and they’d be hard pressed to do it again.
Besides, Reagan was looking for a different sort of target. Outside of Russia itself, the longest standing Soviet proxies were Yugoslavia and Syria. Spitting in the eyes of the oldest Soviet proxy would be quite a symbol to Andropov, who was, if my sources were correct, in ill health. And hopefully, the same message would be sent to Iran. And with another round of talks on anti-ballistic missiles, that would be the perfect cover.
Yugoslavia would be impossible after so much conflict around the world, but Syria...I could do that. I’m not sure my heart was in it too much, I think it might’ve left us open in different ways. Of course, that could be me being paranoid. The Syrians, by contrast, had quite a different opinion. Decades of economic stagnation and being ignored by the Soviets left them quite amenable to a change. A few bribable officials later, and nearly the entirety of the forces stationed on the border of the Golan Heights defected and swept into Damascus for me.
The civilians were a big help, and what communists survived took refuge in Lebanon, which became overburdened really fast.
The structure wasn’t completely there: The Syrians had lived under communism so long that everything was new to them. But they were eager to embrace Western prosperity, and figured it out really quickly. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure a lot of the people in Syria were former allies of mine from Pahlavi’s government. How did they get there? Perhaps the young shah sent some of his people when he knew we were making moves. He was an insightful man.
It wasn’t long after that, when I learned Andropov had died. Or rather, he was hospitalized with some sort of horrible condition and permanently stuck there. Sounded like death to me. I wondered how he must have felt, giving orders from a bed while he slowly decayed.
I wondered if my spies should send him cigarettes and scotch, if only he could die in comfort.
USSR Turn 3 - USSR plays An Evil Empire and attempts to make a Coup of Mexico. He rolls a 2 and Mexico goes to 2/0. DEFCON hits 2, NORAD triggers, and the US adds 1 influence to Guatemala (2/0). US gains +1 VP (USSR+2)
Reagan had a thing for fancy speeches. The press loved them, the people loved them, everyone but me. I understood their effectiveness. I still marvelled at how quickly the East Germans joined NATO at one speech. But I always found words to be cheap.
So when Reagan was giving another speech, I was content to let him go about his way. He had wanted to feature me as a guest, a survivor of “The Evil Empire” and its tendrils all around the world, but I had no interest. That was the polite way to put it, I was furious with him that he even considered it; and even ordered him to keep me out of it. I didn’t want to be a public figure. I knew I had no right to give orders, but Reagan understood.
So the speech was altered, aimed more at those peaceniks who didn’t truly understand the threat of what we faced. Those too young or too apathetic for conflict. Just like in Europe, it was effective. What was left the hippies were marginalized, drowned out as the conservatives became energized across the world.
But there were some Mexicans on the border not fond of it, particularly those close to Cabo San Lucas. It could’ve been some separatists backed by Cuba, or maybe some liberation theologists backed by Honduras, not certain. But they saw the speech as an affront, tried to stir up rumblings about the Mexican-American War.
It didn’t go anywhere. Prosperity flowed freely across the Rio Grande in both directions, and Mexico wanted to keep it that way. It continued to flow into towards Guatemala as well, once the failed maneuvers became realized. They were probably eager not to be seen as aiding them.
US Turn 3 - US uses Nuclear Test Ban on the Space Race. He rolls a 1 and succeeds, allowing him to play eight cards a round.
NASA’s training made for effective rehabilitation, and it was a good place to get away from well-wishers. Training was intense, made me feel like a young man doing OSS work again. The doctors had told me I had the fitness of a man half my age. I attributed it to healthy eating, exercise and no smoking. People used to be able to smoke on planes. I never did it, should write a book about it. Even the high G tests were nothing. Originally, NASA only took people under forty, but it looked like they were making an exception. The shuttles weren’t as bad as the Apollo rockets, even John Glenn, much older than me, could go up on them.
And then, just as the weather was starting to change, I heard the space station Horizon had been launched. And crewed. I was told about it by the same guy who gave me those SCUBA tickets, so many years ago. He was regional director now. He’d even gotten my measurements for my space suit.
I wasn’t sure if Reagan would approve of such a thing, but he visited me personally to tell me I was to go to space. In fact, he gave an order. Slight revenge for my anger at his last speech. But in seriousness, he said, like everyone else, he was concerned I was “pushing myself too hard” after the Rio Hotel Bombing.
“You know, ever since NASA told me about what they were doing so many years ago, I could understand reaching for such a lofty goal, but I never understood why someone would want to go there. Now I do.” And then I scowled. “I want to get away from everyone on this planet.”
So, on a beautiful spring morning, the shuttle launched. Being in space was magical: I remember weightlessness for the first time. I couldn’t do it justice with words, it felt like I’d lived my whole life for that one moment.
I was given jobs on the station, of course. Nothing too technical, but I felt like a crewman and not some guest. One day, or night, or however it would be calculated in space, one of the senior fellows brought me to a window, and showed me a view of Earth. The best seat in the universe for the most beautiful site of it, he had said. I looked at the globe and I could swear I saw the lines of the countries. Which were capitalist, which were communist, and what I needed to do to change the latter. I started mumbling plans out loud.
“I’ve heard of you, Mister Mercer. Look at it again. See it. Up here, there’s no communism or capitalism. No East, No West. No conflict like that. It all seems just so far away.”
And I laughed. “You know, the only reason it seems so far away because it pushed us to reach this far out.”
USSR Turn 4 - USSR plays North Sea Oil as a Realignment. He attempts to realign Costa Rica. US rolls a 6 when USSR rolls a 3. The USSR tries again and US rolls a 5 when the USSR rolls a 6. The USSR then tries to realign Panama, and rolls a 6 when the US rolls a 2, sending Panama down to (1/0).
There had been drilling along the North Sea by Norway and Britain. I think there were a lot of politicians in those countries troubled by the moves by OPEC, caused by Iran and Venezuela’s deep reserves. It was certainly effective, buoying the Nordic economies. Part of me wondered whether or not this was what Saudi Arabia and the countries along the Gulf were worried about when they spoke of diversifying their economies. They knew being tied to one source of income would be problematic.
While Europe was working on all of their oil rigs, Soviet backed forces moved from Nicaragua and Cuba. Buoyed by their failures in Mexico, I think they hoped to destabilize the rest of the region before we could respond. But then they followed Che’s blunder and went after Costa Rica. The resilient people kept their borders secure. Eventually, the Soviets gave up and tried moving for Panama instead. And there, they made a dent, destabilizing the economy in the region and successfully making it seem like America was punishing them for Noriega.
But the Costa Ricans suffered no damage. I called them hierro verde, the green iron, due to their penchant for green technology and focus on biodiversity initiatives. They loved it.
US Turn 4 - US plays Star Wars as an Event, reclaiming ABM Treaty from the discard. DEFCON goes to 3. He selects Argentina as his target, and rolls a 4, turning Argentina to (4/0). DEFCON degrades to 2, and US places the influence in Panama (2/0)
Reagan could never be said to think small. Few Presidents could, but him even less than others. I barely grasped his proposals for space-based defenses. It sounded expensive, that was about all I could say about it. Tech was not my area of expertise, but if I had learned anything from my forty odd years working in this world, it was that the actual tech mattered less than what others thought of it.
And the Soviets reacted very poorly. I think I could see their alarmed eyebrows when I went up in the shuttle. Andropov had just passed after several months of permanent life in a hospital, and the new General Secretary, Konstantin Chernenko, thought that it would make conflict inevitable.
Brezhnev’s people pushed for Chernenko, but it didn’t seem wise: Chernenko was as old as Andropov, even older if my information was correct. And he was probably as hospital bound as his predecessor. I suppose he was the last one left of the old guard, those born before the Revolution that deposed the czar, Gorbachev and any others I knew were significantly younger.
SDI had Chernenko rattled. So rattled I was able to make a move on his weaker allies while he was distracted. The Falkland rebels were starting to get agitated in Argentina, so I figured I could move upon them and wipe them out once and for all, while at the same time, floating rumors around the Canal to shore up my support for the new ruler there.
It was a resounding success. The Battle of Buenos Aires crushed the last bit of the Falklanders with only minimal disruption to their economy. And I started feeling like myself again. By the time Chernenko realized what was going on, it was far too late.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR plays Stanislav Petrov for Influence, placing 2 influence in Nicaragua (0/3) and 1 influence in Honduras (0/3)
Fonseca’s position in Nicaragua was starting to look a bit shaky. That tended to happen with longer elected positions, the people got tired of it. Plus, the economy was fairly stagnant ever since he took office. Such was what happened when the state controlled the economy. They saw no desire to make changes, however. Cuba still needed them weak.
But if I took notice, the Soviets certainly would. And so they set up a cross-national soccer match between their two proxies: Honduras and Nicaragua. Soccer was beloved in Latin America. I was told that once, a war started over a bad call. The game got heated, and passions ran wild, just as expected. But the Soviets played into it masterfully, and took the position of honor splendidly. They coupled it by spreading propaganda among the masses, touting the massive successes.
Fonseca’s government gained massively in support. There was an old concept in governance called “bread and circuses.” How easy was the circus when all you needed was a ball and goals?
US Turn 5 - US plays Ortega Elected in Nicaragua. USSR attempts a coup of Costa Rica and rolls a 4, failing the coup. US places 1 influence in Laos/Cambodia (1/1)
Fonseca, backed by a secret police staffed with Castro’s goons, was preparing to use his newfound gift from the Soviets to retire and pass his seat on to his handpicked successor, Daniel Ortega.
Ortega was the same sort of slime as his predecessor. It wasn’t like I knew anyone in the country that could oppose him. However, his election inspired a number of his hooligan cronies to try and spread their communist revolution elsewhere. But with Honduras firmly under a religious communist “utopia” backed by liberation theologists, there was nowhere for them to go but Costa Rica. The same Costa Rica that resisted Che Guevara with no army at all. The same that resisted anything the reds threw at them.
To be fair, these Ortega goons were a lot better organized than Che’s ragtag forces. But there were a lot less of them. After a brief skirmish, the Costa Ricans emerged victorious.
I wasn’t part of the defense, although I would’ve gone if asked. Instead, I had seen some weakness in the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. As was the fate of the paranoid, high ranking members of the Khmer Rouge fell on each other, accusing the others of being racially inferior.
I snuck my way into Phnom Penh. I’d made contact with some members, some proud nationalists who thought the Rouge were puppets from Laos. Others merely wanted power for themselves. It was a start, at least.
I had slightly less luck in Laos. Or a lot less. Unlike Cambodia, they were massively proud of their communism. The Pathet Lao’s successor, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, was the only game in town, and they were even more fanatical than even the Iraqi People’s Republic. I was pretty sure Laos was where the remnants of Ho Chi Minh’s forces fled after he fell all those years ago. No luck in Vientiane, or the other cities. But I was able to make contacts with the Hmong people living there, and promised them support should we find a way to take the country.
When I returned to Washington, I received the news of Costa Rica’s repulsion of the Nicaraguan forces. And on my desk was a bar of iron, painted bright jungle green.
Another reason I loved that country: They had a great sense of humor.
USSR Turn 6 - USSR plays Arms Race. He places 1 influence in Laos/Cambodia (1/2) and 2 influence in Costa Rica (3/1)
The Soviets weren’t going to take my movements into Laos lying down. It was literally all they had in the region, and with ASEAN members on all sides, they would suffocate soon without assistance.
I’d prepared for this. As soon as the Soviets made an push in Laos, I’d instructed the Hmong people to fall back to prepared positions in case of threat. But this was something they’d already known. Communists were not tolerant of dissent, and the Hmong knew when to fight another day.
But then the Soviets did something a little unexpected. They had seen how many times Costa Rica had repulsed aggressors, and opted for a softer approach. Costa Rica had overthrown its communist government just as World War II ended, but the caudillo who abolished the army did not abolish everything of the reds. Their support, however, tapered off when Costa Rican businessmen were lured by the wealth of the Canal returning to Panama, and my support for them against Che did the rest. But those communists never left the country. And the Soviets started to give them aid, rebranding them under the guise of democratic socialism and re-establishing the National Liberation Party, in the spirit of Figueres, their sainted ruler.
Kennan once told me the communists weren’t interested in the Western “proxy” socialists. But I suppose when it came to tough countries like Costa Rica, that was all they could do for the time being. National Liberation wasn’t enough to wrest power from President Fournier, but it was enough to cause concern.
US Turn 6 - US plays Cambridge Five for Influence (Late War means Event does not trigger). He places 1 influence in Costa Rica (4/1) and 1 influence in Panama (3/0)
Just like with the Soviets and Laos, I was not going to allow Costa Rica to fall to my enemies. It wasn’t too hard to get the Social Christian Unity Party the resources it needed in order to secure dominance in the election. But the British had finished pushing out some Soviet spies that had infested their networks, which freed up additional resources to send my way. They gave me data I found very interesting about their next moves. The Soviets had to be making another push for the canal. I shored up my forces there, even extending a quiet amnesty to a few of Torrijos’s lieutenants, offering them positions in exchange for their capitalist support. It was that or prison, and they knew the writing on the wall.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR plays Non-Aligned Movement as a coup in Guatemala. He rolls a 1 and the coup fails
I’d always heard whispers of some “non-alignment” movements, calls for neutrality from America and the Soviets. Nehru in India had been it’s biggest proponent, but there’d been whispers of it all over the world: Thailand, Israel, South Africa. I understood the concept, I even understood the secret motives behind it: Play America and Russia off each other, get them both to buy influence in the country, Afghanistan did that, and it worked out quite well for them: Iranians fleeing the theocratic state were welcomed there, to a country of modern infrastructure and luxuries.
But I also knew, in the back of my mind, non-alignment could be used as a pretext for a coup, or a war. So when non-aligned activists came to Antigua, some of my agents told me they had quite a number of guns for peaceful activists. It was almost certain they were the socialist Mexicans from the failed coup near Cabo San Lucas.
Their real goal, I think, was to stir people up about the recent formulation of the Republic of Belize, and get some new blood to get a new government. All to make a move on Mexico, and her large economy.
I told my agents to expose these insurgents for what they were. They did so, and boy was it a show.. It involved punta drums and three very angry women. Sisters, so it went. I’m pretty sure my agents just made up a story to make it interesting. But the revolution in Guatemala went nowhere.
US Turn 7 - US plays The China Card for Influence. He places 3 influence in Laos/Cambodia (3/2) and 1 influence in Guatemala (3/0)
Having spent so much time recovering, and with my time in space, I wasn’t able to get done as much as I would’ve liked. But fortunately, it helped to have friends in times like those.
Deng had invited me to Beijing, and I was glad to see him again. And he, like no other, knew me well. He knew that work was the best therapy. The Hmong peoples in Laos were ethnically Chinese, and they’d reached out to him once the Laotian forces began to crack down on them. He’d recognized my handiwork, and was impressed with my initiative in the region.
He’d been gathering intelligence in Laos, while my forces were working further on the Cambodians. We wouldn’t be able to try anything too violent. We split the difference between us.
I’d allowed many of the Khmer Rouge to battle each other, and I supplied resources from weapons to luxuries to many of the opposition. And then I found my catalyst, the old King Sihanouk’s son: Norodom Sihamoni, living in exile in Hanoi. Suramarit had died a long time ago, and I don’t think he ever forgave me for the time I let the CIA handle the situation in that little corner of the world. But Sihamoni didn’t seem to mind me much. He was perfectly willing to put me in contact with his own forces. It didn’t take much for Khmer Rouge members to notice, blame their rivals for enabling him, and turn on each other.
Fractured as they were, the Khmer Rouge couldn’t stop it when Sihamoni swept into the country. We quickly declared the Khmer Rouge over and the restoration of the monarchy. Knowing how many the Khmer killed, it was pretty easy to secure support. Many of the Rouge were exiled and the King immediately enacted reforms. I even returned to Angkor Wat and witnessed a Buddhist ceremony in King Sihanouk’s honor.
Deng’s work in Laos was a little different. Many of the LPRP simply disappeared without a trace. I didn’t really need to know the specifics. What I did need to ensure was that Laos was to have an interim governor advised by American, North Chinese, and Vietnamese advisors while they set up a system of government the Loatians agreed on. A symbol of cooperation in a tense, chaotic world.
Deng had a way with public spectacle. And his work also helped me free up some time to assist the Guatemalans with rebuilding after their failed coup.
US Turn 8 - US is out of cards and cannot play Turn 8.
Round 9 End
Score: USSR +2
US - Space Station
USSR - Space Shuttle
I think we’d exhausted all we could out of outer space, at least for the time being. There were those who talked of Mars, of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and just what else might be beyond the horizon.
I don’t think Reagan would’ve given NASA much more. But the launch of the Horizon, his wonderful speeches, and the crushing of the Falkland communists had Reagan easily cruise to a re-election. I almost hoped it would be as exciting as his first term.
Chernenko, however, wasn’t so fortunate. Another longtime smoker, he succumbed to illness after barely a year. He was replaced with Gorbachev. Thatcher had a high regard for the man, me, I wasn’t convinced. Gorbachev spoke a lot about reform, but I don’t think his idea of reform matched what I, Reagan, or anyone in the West would’ve liked to believe. Reportedly though, other Soviets, hardliners, former Brezhnev people, thought more like me, and wanted a return to the old style. Fractures within the Soviet system threatened to tear it apart like none other.
I’d have to encourage everything I could. I wondered if the conflict would be over.
Cards Removed: Blockade, Nasser, Romanian Abdication, Lone Gunman, Allende, First Lightning, Vietnam Revolts, Korean War, Fidel, Portuguese Empire Crumbles, Berlin Wall, Willy Brandt, Iran-Contra Scandal, Ortega Elected in Nicaragua, Warsaw Pact, De Gaulle Leads France, COMECON, U-2 Incident, Cultural Revolution, Brezhnev Doctrine, Suez Crisis, Pershing II Deployed, Aldrich Ames Redux, Iranian Hostage Crisis, We Will Bury You, Flower Power, Glasnost, CIA Created, Truman Doctrine, OAS Founded, Sadat Expels Soviets, Independent Reds, Pope John Paul II Elected, Puppet Governments, Camp David Accords, Nuclear Subs, Mobutu, Solidarity, Star Wars, Bear Trap, NORAD, Our Man in Tehran, Ussuri River Skirmish, Alliance for Progress, Containment, The Iron Lady, Chernobyl, AWACS Sale to Saudis, Tear Down This Wall, North Sea Oil, Marshall Plan, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, NATO, Soviets Shoot down KAL-007, Captured Nazi Scientist, Iran/Iraq War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Southeast Asia Scoring.
Active Effects: NATO, NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defense Act, Camp David Accords, The Iron Lady, AWACS Sales to Saudis, North Sea Oil, De Gaulle Leads France, Iranian Hostage Crisis
Regions Scored: Middle East, Asia, Europe, South America
- [+] Dice rolls
Round 10 - DEFCON goes to 3 - 1985-1989
Cards Dealt: Grain Sales to Soviets, Red Scare/Purge, Muslim Revolution, Nationalist China, Kremlin Flu, Defectors, UN Resolution, Nixon Plays the China Card, The Voice of America
Headline: US Headlines Defectors. USSR Headlines Liberation Theology
I was in Bratislava gathering data of some of the problems with a few of the more “rebellious” Soviet states, like Lithuania. While there, I was told of a high-value defector from the Soviets, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Synod.
The Russian Orthodox Church had always puzzled me. Religion was supposedly taboo under the Soviet system, only revived so as to drum up fervor in World War II. Since then, agents abroad told me Russians in the church had two goals: Help the KGB or be persecuted.
That was a silly thing to say: Those two things were true of all Russians. Under Khrushchev, many chose the latter. And things didn’t get better under any of the other Soviet leaders. It was no surprise that one of them would want to defect: There was a healthy community of such expats living in New York.
One of my agents met with this bishop. Apparently, Gorbachev’s reputation as a reformer had spread across the Soviet bloc, and the synod had been called to end the persecution of holy men, and of the faithful.
But the bishop had made contact for a different reason. He was angered at a perversion of the faith, and of his holy brothers. Several high-ranking bishops were KGB operatives, looking to spread more liberation theology in Latin America from their allies in Honduras. With Mexico and Cuba firmly in Soviet clutches, it was only a matter of time before they seized the Canal, the Dominican Republic, or maybe even fully gain control of Guatemala.
And when I thought of Guatemala, it gave me an idea. I agreed to get the man to the West if he agreed to bless Guatemala City, which had recently had an earthquake in addition to the damage from the coup. I knew there was some kind of split with the church with Catholics and Orthodoxes, but I’m certain that a holy man discussing Christ and matters of faith would go over well in the deeply religious Central America. The bishop was more than willing to do so.
And I was right. None of the closet commies even budged from Honduras once that man touched down in the Western Hemisphere.
USSR Turn 1 - Plays Socialist Governments for Influence. He places 3 in Sweden (0/3)
If there was one move I wasn’t expecting, it was when the Finnish people made overtures to their neighbors, the Swedes. The Social Democrats who ran it were always happy to take advantage of our capitalism and had built up a heavy industrial complex. But they never participated in NATO or any other exercises, preferring instead a position of neutrality, much like Austria had tried to do, before Soviet economics and hostile neighbors drew them to me.
The Finns, unlike the rest of the Eastern bloc, had never been completely part of the Soviet state. Sure, Kekkonen ran the place until he was too sick and had Soviet style policies, but those Finns had some free markets, and trade relations with the Soviets. It was the Russian bread basket, after all. A little cruel to use that term after what Molotov termed such a thing. But the Swedes were admiring the Finnish system.
Russia exploited their naivete and started to implement some, supposedly, social democratic reforms and expanded welfare states. Thatcher would have probably made a statement if things were overt, but it seemed like I was the only one to notice. I don’t even think the Swedes would notice if they fell to communism.
US Turn 1 - Plays Nationalist China for Realignment. Attempts a realignment of El Salvador. US rolls a 6 and USSR rolls a 2, turning El Salvador down to 0/0. Makes an attempt at Lebanon and rolls a 2 while the USSR rolls a 3, bringing Lebanon down to (0/0)
Chiang Kai-Shek had passed in the seventies, and with South China and the Republic of Taiwan a stable hegemony of Western influence, I’d hadn’t paid much attention to it. Besides, as much as I got along with Kai-Shek, he could as brutal as Mao when he wanted to be.
I went to Taipei to meet with his son, Chiang Ching-kuo. But he refused to see me. I had to cajole him through my agents to get him to change his mind. When he talked, he wasn’t pleased. He noticed my close relationship with Deng, and the “situation” in Laos. He “doubted my commitment to the reunification of China.”
I think a younger me would’ve allowed him to rant and just moved on. Instead, I lost my temper. I recited litany after litany of sacrifices I’d made, that Marshall had made. Of the Indochine War, of POMA, of ASEAN, of the War of the Northern 38th, and all the agents his father had trusted me with to bring about the new world Sun Yat-sen would’ve wanted. And that wasn’t enough, maybe Deng should take over Taiwan. At least he was upfront about how North China would play both sides.
I stormed out of the Qinghai, his home. It took Ching-kuo a few days before he gave me the forces I needed. I split them into two groups. I placed one group in Israel, in the hopes of destabilizing the last pan-Arabic ally of the Soviets in that region: Lebanon. It wasn’t as effective as I would’ve liked: I don’t think the Taiwanese understood the region well. Fortunately, the Israelis, Jordanians, and my new allies the Syrians were able to pick up on the plan and offer assistance, enough to get what remained of the Lebanese Communist People’s Republic, long isolated from the Soviets and any else, to collapse.
In El Salvador, Chiang’s forces were a bit better placed. The Guatemalans and my own agents were happy to make their way into the country. There, they gave speeches galore against Molina. The electoral fraud was only part of it. They also showcased some of the splendor and success of their country: Guatemala had turned into the industrial powerhouse a Soviet satellite dreamed to be. Only without the Soviet part.
It was effective, the lower classes were fed up with the lack of growth in comparison to their Mexican and Guatemalan neighbors. Even the military saw a better life with American necessities and finer, German-made weapons. And once the military was gone, a country couldn’t be held together. Molina fled to Honduras one week after.
No force was able to make a coalition in time for the next election. But with Guatemala firmly against Soviet control, I should have been able to handle it at my leisure.
USSR Turn 2 - Plays OPEC for Influence, placing 2 influence in Panama (3/1) and 1 influence in Sweden (0/4)
The Soviets had finished up solidifying the elections within Sweden, thanks to some last minute ad blitz with Venezuelan OPEC money. They were also, as I suspected, making their way towards the Canal in Panama. The Panamistas, the forces I supported, had done fairly well in the elections, but the Democratic Revolutionaries, Torrijos’s forces who hadn’t accepted my amnesty, were buoyed. It wasn’t enough to defeat my coalition, MOLIRENA had also been surging thanks to their business initiatives, coupled with a few programs to help the impoverished, leading many who might want to support the Democratic Revolutionaries to join the party helping the poor who was actually in power instead.
US Turn 2 - Plays Kremlin Flu as an Event. Adds 1 influence to El Salvador (1/0) and 1 influence to Morocco (1/0)
If the Soviet base was so fractured, it was only a matter of time before they turned on themselves. Reagan had mentioned once he might have been able to work with the Soviets on matters of mutual interest, but they needed to stop dying. Andropov and Chernenko might have ill health as an excuse, but others did not. Gorbachev was making rounds in Sweden and a few of the communist satellites still loyal in Eastern Europe. I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not he was avoiding this because he didn’t want to get assassinated.
So I had my agents do their thing. Spread rumors, and lies. It was actually a bit easier than it had been in the past, we had Space Station Horizon and so many other fantastic events to showcase. Made it easy for rivals within the Reds to blame each other for our successes.
It was said Gorbachev returned home to a bloodbath from one end of the Kremlin to the other. I knew that was hyperbole. Assassination happened in private.
While they dealt with all of that, I had my own moves to make. Duarte, the long suffering El Salvadorian who was tortured for winning an election, was determined to retake the position he’d won thanks to Molina’s fraud, but I was pretty sure the torture and long-simmering thoughts of revenge were influencing his decision making. But if I ran an election, he’d probably win. I’d need to arrange something else. It took some digging, but I found it in the Archbishop of San Salvador: Oscar Romero. He tempered Duarte’s impulses. Romero didn’t have the talent for governorship that Duarte did, but they could play off each other. It wasn’t the best solution, but with Guatemala a safe ally, it would do for the time being.
I’d also been making overtures into Morocco. France might have been our oldest ally, but Morocco was the first country to recognize America as an independent country. And having control over most of the Mediterranean was a good idea. So I made a few overtures to Sultan Hassan, who’d had some ideas for business ventures along the coast, and just needed some foreign capital to get it started. I was all too happy to help.
USSR Turn 3 - Has no scoring cards, so must pass
Gorbachev might have been a different sort of Soviet leader, but he had to deal with the same problems as any other. Infighting within the Politburo would stymie him as it would any other. It didn’t look like he had any grand events around the world that might unite the warring factions. He was stuck tamping down fires.
US Turn 3 - Plays Grain Sales to Soviets as an Event. US picks SALT Negotiations. US uses this to wage a coup in Iran. He rolls a 6, bringing Iran to 3/0. DEFCON degrades to 2, and NORAD triggers, granting the US to place 1 influence in Panama (4/1).
While Gorbachev was dealing with all of the Politburo infighting, I decided that would be a good time to revisit negotiations of any grain deals. America had long been a country that produced more food than it needed. And we were always winning to sell to the right bidder. Or the one who needed it.
With our NATO allies far more secure and closer to Moscow, we’d moved our main operations from Pyongyang to Krakow. We’d upped our generous offers after a particularly harsh drought, and my counterpart this time was a stern looking Russian officer. The train was being loaded, but due to a rockslide, he could not leave. I wasn’t supposed to leave until the train had gone, so we got to talking.
I knew just by listening to him I’d be waiting my time trying to get him to defect. He was too staunch a believer in communism, communism of the world. America should be the bread basket, Russia should be the factory, and all should work towards some glorious utopian vision.
He was open with me, though, and through it all, I learned that very few in Russia cared at all for the Ayatollahs, or the mullahs in Iran. A lesser of two Satans was still Satan. If I made a move there, the world might take notice, but it probably wouldn’t cause a global catastrophe.
I needed no more provocation. I made contact with people still loyal to the Shah, as well as eager expats in Karachi and Kandahar. They moved without mercy.
The fighting was brutal. The ayatollahs never really had the support of the people, and when other Sh’ia clerics joined in the combat against the ayatollahs, declaring Khomeini a heretic, his support crumbled.
Khomeini was executed, and a new regime was born. Shah Reza Pahlavi returned to great fanfare and accolades. Saying that the country would work to remove the taint caused by the ayatollah, Iran now went by Persia again, holy sites were rededicated, businesses poured in, Iran joined the GCC, and that region of the world became calm, possibly for the first time in forever. I even enlisted Panamanian caudillos to serve in the conflict. Once finished, they would return home as heroes, to serve as military commanders, strengthening the support of my coalition around the Canal.
After the war was over, I was granted, or should I say, ambushed, with an interview on the matter.
“I’ve heard a lot about you. William Mercer, hero of World War II, the man behind many of the inter-governmental pacts, an astronaut. You’d have some of the best memoirs ever written.” The interviewer’s words for me were golden. She should’ve done her homework, she’d know I don’t respond well to compliments.
“Half of it would be classified, I think the publisher would never be seen again.” I got a blank stare. “That was a joke. But ask what you wish.”
“The war in Iran. The death of the ayatollahs.”
“That wasn’t a war, that was a coup among their own people, for the most part. What of it?” Civilian reporters were always so obtuse.
“I understand you lost your wife in the Rio Bombings. The Ayatollah, he...a group he sponsored claimed responsibility.”
I rolled my eyes. “How cliche. Don’t tiptoe around it, ask the question. You want to know if I feel satisfied, amused, a sense of justice, what?”
“I’ll only tell you this. America’s foreign policy is not bent by the whims of a single man. I have no hatred for Khomeini, or anyone else. No sense of irony, and no pity. That’s it. And that’s all I’ll say on the matter.”
That was the end of the interview, pretty much.
I was seen by Reagan soon after it aired. “William, you should learn how to handle a journalist. Aren’t you friends with Robert Kennedy? Ask him for pointers.” I suppose Reagan must have been used to them.
“I’m too used to manipulating them to see different things. Besides, I can’t say anything to them. It’s all classified.”
“If so, why would you accept an interview in the first place.”
“Perhaps I thought someone would understand.”
USSR Turn 4 - Plays Reagan Bombs Libya, granting the US 1 VP (USSR +1), places 2 influence in Panama (4/2)
Gaddafi, long quiet but surrounded by enemies and desert, seemed to take the fall of Iran very poorly. I could understand why: He and Venezuela were the last member of OPEC still loyal to the Russians, and he was surrounded by hostile actors on all sides.
While the Soviets continued their work with the Democratic Revolutionaries down by the Canal, Gaddafi started agitating to get more powerful weapons.
Reagan responded by bombing Libya into rubble. It would’ve been better if he did it rather than Thatcher, I think there’d have been nothing left of that country if she were at the wheel.
It made for great headlines: “Reagan bombs Dictator.” Punchy and to the point. Gaddafi agreed to terms and started a rapprochement with the West. I don’t think it would cause a seismic shift within the country, or a return to capitalism like was there during the Misrata rule. But I’d take the good press, the country lived for it.
US Turn 4 - Plays Muslim Revolution for Influence, placing 1 influence in Lebanon (1/0), and 3 influence in Cuba (2/3)
After the Iranian theocrats failed, it fell to the Saudis to mop up the stragglers. For the sake of our alliance, I hoped they’d follow through on it. And this time, at least, I wasn’t disappointed. They tracked the insurgents to Fallujah with the AWACS, and the Iraqi army pounced upon them.
While they were handling that, I was making moves into Beirut. It was actually a lot simpler than I thought: Lebanon had long been a multi-religious, multi-ethnic state, and there were quite a few Lebanese businessmen who’d been working in Egypt and Jordan ever since the country fell to the reds. They were eager to return to their home soil, and bring their knowledge and prosperity with them. They barely needed anything from me.
Where I saw my real opportunity, having both Beirut safely under America control and the Iranian stragglers destroyed, was Cuba. Castro had held an iron grip on the country for thirty odd years, and before I got too old, I was going to figure out a way to deal with him. Plus, the Soviets had been moving heavily into Central America. They might’ve been planning something. Better to give them a fire to try and tamp down.
It wasn’t easy, invading Cuba would certainly be taken poorly by the Soviets, and inspiring nationalists would be hard to handle. I’d need expats, since routes through Nicaragua or via the Caribbean were out of the question.
But I found volunteers. Volunteers within America herself. Cuban exiles eager to see the end of that horrible monster Castro, and a few more of my agents. I threw in all I could muster.
USSR Turn 5 - USSR plays Kitchen Debates for a realignment in Cuba. Event triggers and he must give the US +2 VP (US+1). He rolls a 1 and the US rolls a 5, turning Cuba to (2/1)
There was supposed a summit set to happen with Reagan and Gorbachev. I didn’t know what to expect from it: I’m sure it would be fantastic. Reagan, freshly off his bombing of Gaddafi and the Irano-Persian War, and Gorbachev, a reformer. Tossing a goat to a lion. According to the gossip and political cartoons, it looked like Reagan had poked Gorbachev in the chest.
Cameras, angles, anything could be seen if enough pictures were taken. Maybe the media could turn it into a PR victory.
I had more important things to do: Castro and his brother were trying to squelch the people I’d inserted onto his little fiefdom. In a grand speech in Havana, the brothers spoke of the glorious of their systems, even inviting Baby Doc Duvalier and Ortega. It looked good: No matter how many people I might have inserted, Castro had far more supporters on the island than I did.
But for all his planning, it failed. Spectacularly. Many were fed up with the “free health care” requiring providing light bulbs and blankets. Others thought Castro was too deferential to Nicaragua. Others knew what happened if Castro was crossed. There were millions of other regions, I’m sure. Whatever it was, they saw that Castro could be beaten, if they wanted to. And they most certainly did.
Support for the Castro regime fell overnight. I wondered if a picture of me poking Castro in the chest would look as good as the one with Reagan and Gorbachev.
US Turn 5 - US plays Red Scare/Purge for Influence, placing 2 influence in Morocco (3/0) and 2 in Cuba (4/1)
I had forces go into Cuba nearly the second after Castro collapsed. Expats volunteered in droves to return. They were eager to be reunited with their families, and to turn their island into something great again. I had forces quietly snatch the Castros away, preventing any chance of a resurgence. They could be tried in the Hague or left in some black site, it didn’t matter to me. There were still a few communists: It had infected that country for decades. But they had no power now.
There was a grand baseball tournament to celebrate Cuba’s welcoming of democracy. Reagan was offered to throw the first pitch, but instead, he gave it to a Cuban who nearly lost her arm fleeing to America. She was reunited with her husband, a touching love story that made the front pages.
Reagan couldn’t go, anyway, he was due for a meeting in Marrakech. The Sultan Hassan’s ventures bore fruit in a very short amount of time. And he had more ideas. I couldn’t wait to see what he had planned. And so, Reagan agreed to a grand diplomatic overture, celebrating the world’s longest alliance and two hundred years of friendship, complete with many investments and pledges in the region.
In the years to follow, Morocco’s economy grew under the Sultan, and our alliance was stronger than ever.
USSR Turn 6 - Plays One Small Step for the Event, placing the Soviet player at Space Station and the US may no longer take 8 rounds.
The Soviets had been making advances in the Space Race while I had my eyes focused Cuba-ward. Even before the Castro Catastrophe, Russia was launching larger rocket modules, but none of my spies claimed they were weapons related. They were launching modules, stations. Much like ours on Horizon. Eventually, they had a fully functional station of their own.
I volunteered for another tour on Horizon, and was accepted. Once in orbit, I was in space assisting the crew, when their station had made contact with ours. A bit of foam from an external tank struck the wing of one of their shuttles, damaging it too much to be used. And it was far too broken to fix, at least with the staff they had on their station currently.
It was a good thing it happened to them, because if something like that happened to Shuttle Discovery, NASA might force us to go back on that deathtrap anyway. We had mechanical staff on board Horizon, but there was no way the Soviets would allow us on their station to examine or repair their shuttles, they didn’t want us learning any secrets. Even though we had shuttles and a station of our own so there’d be nothing to steal. So we were to bring the Soviets on our station, and get them back to Earth in our shuttle.
They’d be quarantined, of course, they’d only see the basics. And I was hearing endless posturing and politicking from their bureaus. But the cosmonauts were a rowdy, enjoyable bunch. I felt like a young man again, listening to them. They were grateful for the aid, and even shared smuggled vodka. I was told by NASA that the Savoy itself created a cocktail to commemorate the event. Sent it to Houston and Moscow. Too bad Joe Gilmore had already retired, man was a legend.
“And we couldn’t get it up here why? Save us some.” I had said. Of course, I was sure any cocktail would’ve been gone by the time I returned to NASA.
One day, I took a moment to look down at the Earth. I was seeing the Atlantic, and realized I’d never been to Ireland. It had just never come up in the course of my work.
“Hello, comrade Wilhelm...William. That’s it.” One of the cosmonauts floated over to me. His accent was making it hard to understand, but his English was pretty good.
“Hello.” I was as civil as can be.
“I always wanted to ask something of an American. You see Russia, down there on the world. What do you think of it?”
“I don’t think anything of it.” I don’t think he knew who I was, or everything I’d done over the decades. “It’s just Russia. It’s one of maybe ten countries I haven’t visited.”
“World traveller. Lucky man. You should go one day. If you’ve been to so many countries, what’s one more?”
I nearly laughed at that. “Surely you know the difference between us.”
And then he said something unexpected. He said that world of communism versus capitalism seemed to be coming to an end. He said he didn’t care for communism. He’d lost faith the second his sister disappeared; because she rejected the advances of a party Chairman. He had to raise her two children, and his children, by himself. For his wife had rejected the advances of that same chairman. And she had disappeared as well.
But he loved Russia. It was a land with history stretching back forever. And he could feel it in his bones. It was for Russia, not the party, that he went to space. Communism, capitalism, it was irrelevant to him.
He had to go on the shuttle soon after, but I remembered what he said when I returned to Earth. Things were changing in the world. My contacts from Lima to Liechtenstein had been saying it. If the world I worked for finally came to be, what would be left for me? Retirement? If I had to sit on a beach collecting seashells, I’d nuke the world out of boredom.
But it was what I worked for. I suppose it was true: Having was not as pleasing as wanting. It sounded philosophical, and I mused it to one of my compatriots on the shuttle back to Earth. When we landed, he told me that was an old quote from Star Trek.
US Turn 6 - US plays Nixon Plays the China Card as an Event, claiming The China Card from the Soviets face-down.
I was in Dublin attending a spring festival, and making inroads with the government there, when I ran into another dinosaur from my past. Richard Nixon.
I never kept tabs on the Presidents after they left office. Except RFK, but he had an eye for goodwill foreign missions. Too visible to be a good contact, but he was a good ambassador to use. Last I checked, I had him running tours of Europe, and he loved every second of it.
Nixon told me he’d hoped he run into me again. He’d never apologized for going off on me when he learned of the Soviet Lunar program. I’d forgotten all about it, and he laughed and said that was just like me.
That wasn’t the only reason, and he’d been looking for me. He wanted my advice, and in fact, had called in a favor to Reagan to ask him where I was. He was about to head to North China. An official goodwill ambassadorial meeting. I’d been working with Deng Xiaoping for so long I’d almost forgotten we hadn’t done any official diplomatic meetings to North China. Deng Xiaoping ran his nation now, edging out Guofeng. And Nixon wanted to know how to make it as spectacular as possible.
I told him everything; favorite food, favorite activities, the things he liked most about ASEAN. I also instructed him to try not to sound obvious that he’d talked to me.
I think Deng saw through it, he was sharp like that. But he did cancel some proposed summits in Ulan Bator with Gorbachev. Worked for me.
USSR Turn 7 - USSR plays Summit for a coup in Zimbabwe. He rolls a 6 and Zimbabwe goes to (0/4)
In all my focus on the Western Hemisphere, I’d almost forgotten about sub-Saharan Africa. I had my staunch allies in Gaborone, but they never needed much from me other than trade deals for farm equipment and occasionally water shortages from drought. Mozambique and Tanzania enjoyed lucrative ports on the Indian Ocean and development there was chugging along nicely.
But Zimbabwe was never fully integrated into my sphere. Sure, Mugabe was dead, but most of the reforms he’d enacted scared away most of the farmers. They’d settled in more stable regions, and were not interested in returning. The farmers that were given the land in Zimbabwe were used to subsistence agriculture, not the big booming agri-business helping Zambia and Mozambique.
This was noticed by John Nkomo, one of Mugabe’s former Vice Presidents. He accused the US of ignoring Zimbabwe when they had pledged to work with them, and promised a restoration of friendly relations with the Soviet Union and South Africa again.
The people listened and agreed, and immediately crushed the government I’d set up so thoroughly, I probably could’ve seen it on Horizon.
Some of my people managed to flee to client states. Most did not.
US Turn 7 - US plays Voice of America and performs a coup in Nicaragua. He rolls a 5 and Nicaragua goes to (1/0)
Just as the end of Reagan’s term was coming up, I’d received a report from Nicaragua. The Castro Catastrophe had spread down to Cuba’s puppet states in the region. Haiti and Nicaragua were starting to lose their control over their countries. Without the backing of Castro’s thugs, those in Haiti were looking at their more prosperous neighbors in the Dominican Republic and were starting to look upon them with envy. And I was worried they might try something.
Nicaragua was doing the same with Costa Rica. They couldn’t see San Jose was having trouble with its debt problems, that it was working off through green energy initiatives and ecological projects. I wondered if I should try and get OAS to sponsor a seed vault for tropical plants. There were some islands just off the coast that might be viable.
Honduras was harder to crack. But between Haiti and Nicaragua, Ortega’s control over his people was harsher, and his position was less stable than Duvalier’s. The Nicaraguans were nearly banging down the doors of OAS in order to find ways to leave the country. And then, Ortega expelled them, fearing a growing insurrection.
If that was his concern, I’d give him what he wanted. There might have been a scandal before that didn’t involve me, but now, I’d get involved with the Contras. I funneled them everything I could, and they marched on Managua with a fury I’d rarely seen. Ortega was killed in the melee and his Cabinet surrendered. Instead of installing a dictator, they instead held an election season, even demanded that UN investigators be allowed to watch, to declare it free and fair. And with those guaranteed, Violeta Chamorro was elected into the highest office.
She had a lot of work ahead of her, Nicaragua’s economy was in shambles after decades of communism. I thought to ask her about it once OAS was to be re-established in the country. But she actually mentioned it in her victory speech. She said it would be a long road to prosperity, so they’d all best roll up their sleeves and get to it.
I knew that she would be fine.
USSR has insufficient military actions, so must give US 1 VP
Gorbachev was said to be a different sort of man than his predecessors, and that was true. But it seemed a few of the more militants members of the Politburo didn’t care enough for a war in Zimbabwe, no matter how successful it was.
US - Space Station
USSR - Space Station
Forty years ago, the idea of going into space was just for radio and the movies. Twenty years ago, we hit the moon. Now, both America and Russia go to space regularly, and even old timers like me could do it. I didn’t think there was anything more we could do, at least on my end. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would be next. And then I finally understood what it was that drove NASA to move forever forward.
- [+] Dice rolls
I could look around the world and see success. Mine, and those of the people I’d tasked to get everything done.
The China Card - US Possession (US+1)
Like North China, and my deep friendship with Deng Xiaoping. That place may have been as wily as a greased snake in summer, but I could make a lot of good happen with the right people, and they stood ready to help me more than ever.
Central America: - US Control (US+7)
US - México, Panamá, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic
USSR - Honduras, Haití
I could see America’s successes when I looked just to the south. Not that it was easy to get: Cuba had fallen into Castro’s despicable clutches for decades, and his little toady Che had been willing to claim as much of it as possible for the Reds. And the Christian People’s Republic of Honduras stood as an island smack dab in the middle of the continent, mocking like a buzzer. And Haiti still suffered under Baby Doc Duvalier.
But Castro had fallen to his own arrogance and I swept in. Mexico churned towards success once those liberation theologists had been kicked out. And Chamorro promised to lead her Nicaragua to the freedom her neighbors enjoyed. The Democratic Republic of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, who experienced uninterrupted progress, were eager to assist, and with their help, the transition was smooth. Panama the trading titans with her canal helped keep the whole region humming. El Salvador was just spreading her wings to the capitalist tide. And, of course, my hierro verde, Costa Rica, who stood by my side against everything thrown at it and never budged. Not everything was perfect in the region, but no one could deny it belonged in the American sphere.
South America: - US Domination (US+5)
US - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador.
USSR - Venezuela
When South America is spoken of, the “America” is often emphasized. And it was done so for good reason. The continent had been steadily moved through, with juntas and democracies all falling in line behind America, except for Venezuela, who accepted communism from North China and never gave it up, even when China herself seemed to be moving away. But the Federal Chilean Republic and our first large ally, Argentina, worked diligently throughout the country, and the huge juggernaut of Brazil began to power its way to the new millennium with free markets and powerful industry. Colombia and Peru, with sizable economies and stability after the rebel groups were quelled and never came up again, were following Brazil’s path towards the future. Uruguay continued her path of powering the nation, and the newcomers to the capitalist way of life: Paraguay, Bolivia, and Ecuador, would soon know the fortune her neighbors provided.
Africa: - USSR Domination (USSR+7)
US - Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, West African States, Ivory Coast, SE African States, Botswana
USSR - Angola, Zaire, South Africa, Nigeria, Saharan States, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Cameroon
Africa was the only place where the Soviets really had a victory, and I’d have to look into making sure those countries didn’t collapse after the Union fell. The Mediterranean region was marching in lockstep with me, even a tenuous peace with Algeria over their independence from France. Morocco and Tunisia were stable and secure, as well as down the coast to Cote d’Ivoire. And down in the Sub-Saharan, the Botswanan economy did marvelously well for such a rough climate, and the states of Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania turned into farming belt for the region. I’d heard talk of them forming their own multinational group, helping Botswana get their exports to sea in exchange for some mining rights.
But it really paled in comparison to the Soviet client states spread throughout the country, with Nigeria’s oil fields and South Africa’s principle position. Mobutu, completely bought out by Russian bribes, served as a marvelous puppet for the Russians. I wonder what would happen to them without the Soviets. My people in UNITA stood poised to take over if the Soviets collapsed in Angola, but the east and middle painted the Sahara red. What would happen when they collapsed, I wondered.
Europe: - US Control (US Auto Victory)
US - France, West Germany, Italy, Canada, UK, Spain/Portugal, Benelux, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Turkey
USSR - Sweden
US - Austria
USSR - Finland
US - East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia
USSR - Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia
I’d heard it said that the war between America and the Soviets was a battle for control of Europe. There was more to the world than the old money empires, but if that was true, then we’d assuredly won. Paris eagerly shown as a capitalist juggernaut once De Gaulle left office, and the Italian Republics had found their footing and began producing on a global scale. German reunification seemed an inevitability, and the new Polish government remembered how America fought for their independence after the failures of Europe after World War II. Great Britain stood behind her long-serving ally, and even after losing their colonies, Spain, Portugal, and the Dutch fell in line. The Greeks and the Turks proved loyal and steadfast allies, and even up north, Denmark had been a long-term ally and Norway proved able in NATO exercises. Straddling the Iron Curtain, Austria had pledged her neutrality until it saw no other choice but capitalism could be made. Even beyond the Iron Curtain, bold and intelligent thinkers like Nagy, Maleter and Dubcek brought Hungary and Czechoslovakia to the West.
The clients in Europe, the former Soviet Republics, I couldn’t help but wonder how they would fall, and how their compatriots would measure it. Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Romania had been cut off and isolated from the world, perhaps sympathy might have been drawn for them, as with the Finnish people. But the Swedes? Would mercy be shown for those who had no need to join?
Middle East: - US Domination (US+6)
US - Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Gulf States
USSR - Libya
When I think of the Middle East, I think I was the only thing keeping that place from falling apart. Sure, I had my long standing allies, the Kingdom of Jordan; Egypt, once Nasser had been dealt with, and the Jewish State. The others took some time. Peacefully done, for the Saudis and the states along the Gulf. They respected our values and took them for their own, that might have been better. Syria had been long abandoned until I saw it just lying there, and, then isolated, so I took it. Communist Lebanon fell without a single drop of blood.
The war for Iraq and the constant struggles for now the Democratic Persian Republic, however, were far bloodier. Ethnic and religious tension was always still just beneath the surface, such things predated me. But the stable capitalism and drive towards prosperity tended to at least soothe the problems.
Asia: - US Control (US+18)
US - North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Burma, Vietnam, Laos/Cambodia, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Afghanistan
USSR - (None)
I’d always had a fascination for Asia. Maybe that was why it felt like the whole the continent was mine. My greatest victory, the War of the Northern 38th; and my first major victory, the Indochine War, both happened in Asia. I swept through the region like a typhoon, but instead of a disaster, I left prosperity. Untouched by many wars and revolutions, Asia would enter the new millenium prosperous and stable. Maybe even a new rival, somewhere among them. The entire region settled down after capitalism took hold in Laos, and trade pacts among ASEAN members remained strong. Still plenty of tension between India and Pakistan but they knew an attack would risk US wrath. The East Asian sectors, with stability after the War of the Northern 38th, became technical giants with booming economies. North Korea advanced to a state where free elections soon unified the country.
The Soviets were seeing fractures, even before Reagan’s term ended. He couldn’t run again, term limits and all. But it almost didn’t feel necessary. Former republics like Estonia and the other Baltic States, and many of the ones in Central Asia were clamoring for their release. Gorbachev instituted reforms, and worked at a feverish place, but eventually, republic after republic declared their independence and the Union had completely collapsed within a few years.
Reagan’s Vice President took office. George Hewlett-Walker Bush. Apparently, it was strange that the same political party had done it so many times. I think I’d spent too much time around Presidents for life to notice. He had a real eye for foreign policy, I was told. The day after he won, he met with me. He looked at the systems I had made, and told me he thought they were brilliant. He wanted me as his Secretary of State. I declined. In fact, I told him I was leaving the government.
My retirement party was grand. Someone asked me if I would do any travelling, and I wondered if I was old enough to deck him and not get arrested. I’d traveled all across the world already, and I’d only had one country left to go. Soon after the Soviet Union fell, and once I was no longer a government agent. I’d made my way into the new Russian Federation. The last country I’d ever been in. I’m sure they knew who I was, but it didn’t matter. I walked her streets like I walked so many others, and thought to myself if these people only knew the ways I’d destroyed their country, I wouldn’t be getting out alive. And I saw the sights, the sounds. A honest sort of place drenched in lies, was how I’d heard of it. And I laughed and thought that was true everywhere.
And so, my work was done. Forty-four years of service, all in the name of ideology, a service to my country to ensure America was the predominant superpower of the age. And from all over the world, I’d proved that end. Proved it several times over. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the times and the powers will shift, just as it did during World War II. Another threat will emerge soon enough. The world demanded it. I hoped it showed up soon: Alliances and pacts like mine are created in response to enemies. Without one, they fell to corruption, a dedication to maintaining themselves. Like so many things.
In the end, I have to wonder if it was worth it. I’d done a lot for America, and sacrificed plenty for it. I gave up an easy life on Wall Street and my father’s approval when I first heard her call. I’d let good men take the fall for my blunders. I’d ruined other men who weren’t evil, just idiots. I’d exalted absolute monsters whose only merit was giving me what I wanted. I’m sure there were countless more, the faces of masses who felt tragedies strike their country, far more keenly than I did, making my decisions a world away.
But that was the world. Other ideologies would do the same thing, seeking conflict, supremacy, and ruin for others.. And we players must accept all that we do without blame or pride. Without malice, without hatred, without pity. It is done because it is what happens.
And with that, I turned and disappeared into the night.
And that is the end. I hope you all liked my little story.
- [+] Dice rolls
- Matthew MiyaresUnited States
- *Applauds* Well done, good sir. I've enjoyed following this little tale, though I will say, I've rarely seen a US Victory in Final Scoring be so thorough. Might be because few of my games ever get that far...
- [+] Dice rolls