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What If: A World Frozen In The Cold War


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As said on the "Exploring WW II und Cold War History" thread, the recent visit of two museum on the former Inner-German Border close to home made me think about the conditions for and results of a Cold War that didn't end in 1989 but continued to this day. It is probably not an entirely original topic, but consider the following qustions.

 

Let us, first, determine what would have been necessary to prevent the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact (other than of course a successful war against the West). This is obviously a tall order; I mentioned the CSCE Treaties on the other thread, which were used to beat the East over the head with for human rights violations, and could be construed to never have been signed easily enough, as they ironically were pushed for mostly by the Pact states themselves, who thought this would push the US out of Europe.

 

The economic situation of course is not so simply handwaved away, given that the East was headed for collapse at a million miles per hour - and probably would still have no matter how much they spent on defense. Even if Gorbachev never came to power, the best the Warsaw Pact could hope for today might be looking like 2012 North Korea writ large. The Soviet Union can hardly go the Chinese way of paying lip service to socialism while embracing capitalism on a largely nationalist motivational base; arguably, nationalism was another force tearing the Pact apart as it combined with the drive for individual freedom, like in Poland.

 

The North Korean example might work in as different regard too, however, basically by playing the Pyongyang Nuclear Blackmail on a global scale; the West, facing its own financial strain of ever-more expensive arms development and procurement, under pressure by the peace movement and wary of a possible uncontrolled breakdown, might find it more economical to prop up its opponent rather than keep trying to outarm it. Arguably, we might see increasing arms control regimes out of mutual interest. Then again, North Korea is sealed off from outside influence in a way doubtfully to be achieved by the Pact, particularly with the advent of satellite TV and the internet; popular pressure on Eastern governments might still match that on their Western counterparts.

 

Whatever reasons we ultimately come up with, lets us, second, regard the results of a prolonged Cold War. It has become a commonplace phrase how its end let supressed regional and internal conflicts come to the surface, but how true is that really? Sure, Saddam Hussein might not have felt as tempted to invade Kuwait, and no resulting basing of unbelieving US troops on Saudi holy soil might have ticked off a certain Osama bin Laden to the point where he waged his own private crusade against the West; but I'm less sure Yugoslavia for example wouldn't have broken up just as well and maybe burnt even more fiercely, as neither NATO nor WP would have allowed each other to intervene trying to stop the slaughter.

 

Then again, the breakup was accelerated by Germany, flush with its own recent experience with the right to national self-decision, moving Europe towards recognition of Slovenian and Croatian independence, which wouldn't happen here. Speaking of which, the pace of European integration, the founding of the EU and the introduction of the Euro was considerably hastened by German reunification and the breakdown of the Pact, mostly to deal with the perceived dangers of this developments. We might not see this yet at all, and considering the current Euro troubles, some would undoubtedly opine this not too much of a drawback vs. real history.

 

And finally, after all this boring theory, let us, third, do what we really wanted all along and think about how the armed forces of various countries on either side would look: size, structure, systems? Consider the aforementioned financial strain of escalating high-tech and popular dissent; also consider the demographics of ageing European societies and the competition of the military with the civilian economic sector in terms of development and workforce.

 

Go.

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Let us, first, determine what would have been necessary to prevent the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact (other than of course a successful war against the West). This is obviously a tall order;

 

Maybe not necessarily. There were attempts to save the USSR after the WARPAC was disbanded - Gorbachev himself didn't want its dissolution, his goal was liberalization, but there was also a 1991 coup d'etat attempt by Soviet Commieparty hardliners. Had they succeeded, the USSR would survive (the question is - for how long?) and the Cold War could have been continued, albeit with Central European states already 'on the other side'.

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Need to push it back a few years, perhaps, to give a bit more time to deal with the economic unsustainability. Admit Brezhnev was dead earlier? :D

 

What would/could Andropov have done if he hadn't snuffed it and had started in 1978-79 instead of 1982? I don't know very much about him, but wiki suggests he was opposed to the Afghanistan invasion and was attempting internal reforms to improve the economy.

 

Of course, he was also a major proponent of the suppression of Hungary, so it might have been bloody, too.

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As far as I'm concerned, we can go all the way back to 1955, i.e. after the actual signing of the Warsaw Pact, for necessary changes in history. We shouldn't succumb to the usual fallacy of "How could Germany have won WW II" What-ifs though, which tend to require the Nazis not being Nazis; which means here that the Commies must still be Commies with all the ideological baggage that comes with it.

 

Interesting point regarding Andropov BTW; the all-knowing Wikipedia has this to say:

 

[...]

 

Andropov played the dominant role in the decision to invade Afghanistan in 1979. He insisted on the invasion, although he expected that the international community would blame the USSR for this action;[11] the decision led to the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1988).

 

[...]

 

During his rule, Andropov attempted to improve the economy by raising management effectiveness without changing the principles of socialist economy. In contrast to Brezhnev's policy of avoiding conflicts and dismissals, he began to fight violations of party, state and labour discipline, which led to significant personnel changes. During 15 months in office, Andropov dismissed 18 ministers, 37 first secretaries of obkoms, kraikoms and Central Committees of Communist Parties of Soviet Republics; criminal cases on highest party and state officials were started. For the first time, the facts about economic stagnation and obstacles to scientific progress were made available to the public and criticised.[13]

 

In foreign policy, the war continued in Afghanistan, although Andropov - who felt the invasion might have been a mistake - did half-heartedly explore options for a negotiated withdrawal. Andropov's rule was also marked by deterioration of relations with the United States. U.S. plans to deploy Pershing missiles in Western Europe in response to the Soviet SS-20 missiles were contentious. But when Paul Nitze, the American negotiator, suggested a compromise plan for nuclear missiles in Europe in the celebrated “walk in the woods” with Soviet negotiator Yuli Kvitsinsky, the Soviets never responded.[14] Kvitsinsky would later write that, despite his own efforts, the Soviet side was not interested in compromise, instead calculating that peace movements in the West would force the Americans to capitulate.[15] [...]

 

http://en.wikipedia...._of_Afghanistan

 

Of course its questionable if he would have been successor to Breshnev if the latter wouldn't have been brought back from one of his various near-exits from 1974 onwards; Kremlin astrology was suggesting Mikhail Suslov (but he died in 1982 himself), Andrei Kirilenko, Fyodor Kulakov (died in 1978) and Chernenko as possible candidates at that time, other possibilities would have been Ustinov or Gromyko.

Edited by BansheeOne
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...but I'm less sure Yugoslavia for example wouldn't have broken up just as well and maybe burnt even more fiercely, as neither NATO nor WP would have allowed each other to intervene trying to stop the slaughter....

W/O Pact falling apart there would be no great debate about % of military budget republics were supposed to give to federal government hence less likely relations with Slovenians would break down. W/O Slovenians quitting I can hardly imagine other trying. In that case it would be possible that both Tudjman and Milosevic end either marginalized or totally removed from power in case of Milosevic case - after all Milosevic sold himself as "liberal reformer" to certain part of CP (Ivan Stambolic primary), if whole "liberal reformation of communism" does not come as trend it would be questionable if he could gather enough backing and w/o Slovenians complaining about military he probably could not gain military backing. Some sort of breakup would probably happen, but IMO it would probably not end up in open war, more like move to confederate organization of republics by mid-90s.

Kosovo would implode sooner or later like it almost did in early '80s, but whole KLA thing would be avoidable as long as Albania does not suffer total meltdown with massive looting of arms like it did in 1997 and KLA type organization does not get cover and direct help.

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Let us, first, determine what would have been necessary to prevent the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact (other than of course a successful war against the West). This is obviously a tall order; I mentioned the CSCE Treaties on the other thread, which were used to beat the East over the head with for human rights violations, and could be construed to never have been signed easily enough, as they ironically were pushed for mostly by the Pact states themselves, who thought this would push the US out of Europe.

 

An improving economy would have avoided the breakdown of the Pact. The different oligarchs were quite happy to be Moscow's stooges, and despite things being bad, there was only one Solidarity in 1981. They could have taken a page from the Chinese by liberalising the economy while quashing the demand for political rights - but would have been un-russian! but then, there's Cuba as an example to what unrepentant communism can do, and given the wish to avoid war in the West, the Soviets could have been bribed with economic aid. Delete Reagan for starters, he was too determined to win.

 

Whatever reasons we ultimately come up with, lets us, second, regard the results of a prolonged Cold War. It has become a commonplace phrase how its end let supressed regional and internal conflicts come to the surface, but how true is that really?

 

The former Soviet Union would still be the Soviet Union and that, and the KGB, would have had stopped Chechnya, Georgia, Armenia vs Azerbajan, etc. Afghanistan would be about the same, but the Soviets would still be bankrolling terrorism world wide.

 

And finally, after all this boring theory, let us, third, do what we really wanted all along and think about how the armed forces of various countries on either side would look: size, structure, systems? Consider the aforementioned financial strain of escalating high-tech and popular dissent; also consider the demographics of ageing European societies and the competition of the military with the civilian economic sector in terms of development and workforce.

 

Size wouldn't change much from 1989 to 1990, but the advantage of the West in microelectronics would give us a marked edge at sea and in the air.

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But if I had a free hand, I would have had a treaty to have Germany reunified and declare itself neutral like Austria. Again, by the 1980s it was too late. If it was done in the 1960s, I think the USSR may have had a chance of turning things around. The central problem there is that Khrushchev after the sino split never had the authority to get away with something like that.

 

Stalin offered unification in neutrality for Germany in 1952 to keep it out of NATO, however Adenauer chose Western integration over unity, for which he was bitterly attacked domestically at the time; but he feared (quite sensibly IMO) that a neutral Germany would eventually fall under Communist rule anyway, and as a Catholic Rhinelander he was just as glad to be shot of historical Prussia which to him was the spring of all that had gone wrong in German history.

 

Of course we might speculate what would have been if Adenauer had not been chancellor then, however it was not his choice alone, but those of the Western Allied Powers too, so the number of required butterflies goes up exponentially; and we're really outside the limits of the scenario there which stipulates the Warsaw Pact as a fact (the latter being the response to West Germany's accession to NATO, of course).

 

Afterwards it doesn't get any easier to find either German or Allied consent for such a proposal; Chancellor Schmidt is undermined by the younger, anti-NATO SPD wing in 1982, but even if their liberal coalition partner hadn't gone over to the Conservatives to elect Helmut Kohl instead, they had also foresworn German reunification out of the same misguided greater sympathy with the East, and of course the DDR had done the same basically since the formal end of the state of war with the Soviets IOT become a Pact member in 1955, and since the German-Soviet Friendship Treaty of 1964 the latest.

 

An improving economy would have avoided the breakdown of the Pact. The different oligarchs were quite happy to be Moscow's stooges, and despite things being bad, there was only one Solidarity in 1981. They could have taken a page from the Chinese by liberalising the economy while quashing the demand for political rights - but would have been un-russian! but then, there's Cuba as an example to what unrepentant communism can do, and given the wish to avoid war in the West, the Soviets could have been bribed with economic aid. Delete Reagan for starters, he was too determined to win.

 

A good point that I was also going to make; it's not just Soviet leadership that influences development. Though while doing some more research on possible Breshnev successors I found that Kirilenko is an interesting choice for our purposes. Another early economic liberal, in fact maybe too early, since he peaks in power in 1976 when he is indeed considered too powerful by his comrades and gradually sidelined, estranging himself from his former close buddy Leonid over economic issues. The latter is still mostly alive at this point, though I guess he could have died in a plane crash or be removed in a palace revolution.

 

Kirilenko was also an opponent of the Aghanistan adventure. He is another case of dementia after 1982, but lives until 1990, which gives us Breshnevian stagnation throughout the 80s if his underlings are as content with running the show behind the throne as they were with Breshnev in real history. After that we run out of crystal ball range - Gorbachev was Andropov's princeling, and the latter was instrumental in pushing out Kirilenko, so I can't see him rise to the top in this timeline. Maybe it's time for the 1991 coup cabal, Kryuchkov and comrades?

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Andropov was quite smart apparently, and he had this fear of a Hungarian revolution after living through it and seeing the secret policemen decorating streelamps, he could just as well go to war to end the Cold War in Europe by neutralising NATO - Marshall Ogarkov was warning that the West was opening the breach.

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I don't think the problem was economic or military, except in symptoms. The real root problem was that the inherent contradictions and idiocies of the systems became visible to all the participants, and they lost enthusiasm for the whole sorry enterprise, on both sides. The West was simply fortunate enough that it hadn't put quite so many eggs into the military-industrial basket as had the Soviets, and they came through the transition period quite a bit better off than the Soviets.

 

The real problem for the Soviets was that the "true believers" had died off or lost enthusiasm for the entire enterprise, after having lived through it all. Were the WWII and immediate post-war generations still in charge and as enthused about "building socialism" in 1989, you'd better believe that the Berlin Wall would still be in place and the Soviet empire would still be in operation. Just like with the West--If Curtis LeMay or his ilk had been in charge in 1989, there's a good chance they might have taken the opportunity to decisively end the entire issue by glassing entire regions of the Soviet Union.

 

The Cold War was like a fever, and waiting it out was probably the best thing we could have done. I don't think humans have it in them to fight these vast impersonal multi-generational conflicts, unless there's periodic bloody refreshment of grievances. Nuclear weapons put that large-scale conflict on the shelf, and with the absence of real conflict to build up new reservoirs of anger, the idea of a war sort of lost relevance. Or, so I conclude.

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my dad once mused that Sov.Union could be described as state of one generation - the ones that were born at around 1905 revolution-1914-ish - too young to remeber czar era, grown with the revolution, lived through the 30´s , WW2, Khruschev, became milder with Brezhnev and died around 1980´s. and with them the state went too, because they were the only generation who both believed and were ready to suffer for the end result

Edited by bd1
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And finally, after all this boring theory, let us, third, do what we really wanted all along and think about how the armed forces of various countries on either side would look: size, structure, systems?

 

All four Iowa BBs would still be floating giving the BB-fanbois a continual hard on (forgot the medical term used by MCab recently :D ). The B-52 perhaps in Megafortress mode (giving Dale Brown a continuous hard on), M1A3 (or was it M1 Block III?), facing against T-95 at the IGB. UK would have its 2 full-sized CVs now and they'd be CVNs. France would have 2 De Gaulles and still out of NATO. ( :D ) USSR would have its orbital weapons (Polynus? forgot the name) up there being serviced by Buran shuttle. Clark AFB and Subic would still be gone because of Pinatubo, US forces there having been redeployed to Japan bases and/or Singapore and Thailand perhaps. Peacekeeper is alive, Minuteman IV maybe? More B-2s and B-1s perhaps. Anyhow, one thing's for sure...

 

Tom Clancy would have a perpetual hard on.... :D

 

 

A few more decades down the road, and we'd have the CoDominium.... ;)

Edited by TomasCTT
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It's unlikely that USSR would be able to hold on all the satellite countries. OTOH what might happen is forming a "neutral buffer zone" out of them - IE no NATO, no EU...

 

Question: If Soviets saw the writing on the wall, did not pressure Poland regarding the Solidarnosc in 1981 but instead co-opted Solidarnosc as "progressive left-leaning movement", while concentrating on keeping USSR... The WarPac might still collapse, but if a wave of "Solidarity" went through its countries end result would be still pretty socialist regimes, with a bit more of personal freedoms etc. - so a bearable compromise.

(if we want to go earlier, same with 1968 and Czechoslovakia. The "Prague spring" was not about capitalism and Western-style democracy, but about Socialism with "human face". If Brezhnev did not get nervous, he might get much more viable WarPac even, going in by blunt force pretty much shattered the dreams of idealists.

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There really wasn't anything Gorby or any other leader could have done to prevent the end of the USSR. Soviet Oil industry collapsed at the end of the 1980s.

 

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7878

 

They need not, see Cuba, no oil, defunct ideology, Castro on his last legs and the regime endures. NK, now on its third generation of the Kim family, Syria, on the second... Dictatorships fail because the props of the regime decide it's no longer viable and want a change, Gorby and his entourage pulled out the props of the Communist party and KGB, and then everything fell apart, but they could have chosen no to.

 

Pulling out of Afghanistan would have allowed some manoeuvering room, some liberalisation of the economy in the Chinese model would have improved the lot of the average citizen, and Eastern Europe was rather quiet after 1981 because everyone remembered Czechoslovakia in 1968. Keeping up with armaments production would be a problem, but the Soviets had a healthy technology intelligence program until one Vladimir Vetrov pulled the rug from under it:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Vetrov

 

But it could have been rebuilt with money as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen demostrated.

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Gorbachev's reforms speeded up collapse of the USSR but that doesn't mean that the Soviet Union can function nicely with its 1970s system. No matter in what timeframe you wanted to save the USSR you would need to solve question what is the ideal condition for the USSR. How it should look like - institutions, laws, economic system etc? And now take in account that you have here such "experts" which were able to launch this: http://en.rian.ru/business/20110202/162419049.html

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No not only, even today's Russia has something more than nukes, the natural resources and a potential of destabiliziation. This last thing was even more true about the USSR.

 

Gorbachev's reforms not only hastened the collapse of the SU, they actually made it possible. With the boot taken off people's necks, dictatorships fall. PRC introduced more economic freedom while preserving political control and it exists. DPRK and Cuba changed nothing and they exist. Had the SU officials not decide to end it, it would exist. Had the coup d'etat attempt of 1991 succeeded, the SU would exist, although without the WARPAC already.

Edited by urbanoid
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Guest Charles

Gentlemen, very intersting thread.

From what has collectively been deduced so far, economics was the SU's Achilles heel. Yes we bought oil and natural gas from them (still do), helping to bring in foriegn currency; but what else is the SU going to sell to continue investment in their huge MIC?. The West's was big enough and there are those who have opinioned in the past that we could barely afford NATO.

How therefore, could the SU continue to the present day economically?, fielding the forces that upheld the WP with modern equipment.

 

Charles

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Gorbachev's reforms speeded up collapse of the USSR but that doesn't mean that the Soviet Union can function nicely with its 1970s system. No matter in what timeframe you wanted to save the USSR you would need to solve question what is the ideal condition for the USSR. How it should look like - institutions, laws, economic system etc? And now take in account that you have here such "experts" which were able to launch this: http://en.rian.ru/bu.../162419049.html

 

With such genius, it's small wonder it failed like it did, but if it had been able to hold together a bit more, they would have been able to earn from the sale of gas/oil to the West. In the 70s it was a closed economy but that was changing. Remember, with no reunification, Germany would have enjoyed a few more years of boom and that would need fuel.

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There really wasn't anything Gorby or any other leader could have done to prevent the end of the USSR. Soviet Oil industry collapsed at the end of the 1980s.

 

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7878

 

They need not, see Cuba, no oil, defunct ideology, Castro on his last legs and the regime endures. NK, now on its third generation of the Kim family, Syria, on the second... Dictatorships fail because the props of the regime decide it's no longer viable and want a change, Gorby and his entourage pulled out the props of the Communist party and KGB, and then everything fell apart, but they could have chosen no to.

 

Cuba and NK are not USSR. The Soviet economy was based on heavy industry and without oil it could not function. Cuba and NK are largely agricultural and don't need very much oil.

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I've gamed West Germany and found a little more leeway for changes than I thought at first, despite the limitations on sovereignity which would continue. To be sure, the equipment looks remarkably the same as it does today, since most of the current major items started development in the 80s, but I was mislead by the fact that most of the Bundeswehr was permanently assigned to NATO command to think there couldn't be any major change in force strength. In reality, the German government decided on a reduction by 95,000 to 400,000 active troops as early as December 1989 - after the Wall came down, but before reunification and full sovereignity.

 

So there is some room for cuts if either cost or demography start getting painful; ironically, only in 1986 the same government had decided to increase the basic term of conscripted service from 15 to 18 months effective 1992 in anticipation of less draftees available - but when we were eventually drafted that year, we were actually first to serve a reduced term of 12 months in the all-German Bundeswehr of 370,000. I believe though the latter number may be the lower limit, as there were treaty obligations to defend Northern Norway and the Black Sea approaches with several ten thousand German troops if necessary, which played a role in the further reduction debates of the 1990s.

 

This will necessarily mean continuation of the draft, no matter what government is in charge. Arguably Kohl was handed re-election by reunification, but even if a Red-Green government comes along sooner, they proved rather capable of Realpolitik in actual history, promptly sending German troops onto their first combat missions since WW II in the Balkans and Afghanistan despite fierce criticism from their base. How much nicer it would have been for them to lean back in the cushy German Cold War cave of limited responsibility while talking about the need for peace, detente and disarmament!

 

I could see an alternate 2012 Heer of maybe nine instead of the original twelve divisions, overall similar to Heeresstruktur 5 of the 1990s with unified square mech brigades except for the mountain and three airborne ones, plus the French-German Brigade (which was agreed upon in 1987). One likely casuality is the KSK and its predecessor parachute commando companies, which were only established due to the change of the situation after 1990. OTOH we get to keep the nuclear-capable artillery units (I guess though PzH 2000 will eventually take over for M110, too, and ATACMS might replace Lance, so no more corps-level artillery).

 

Other changes in equipment: The G 11 would likely see introduction and hopefully prove to work; I'm even more suspect about its spinoffs, the LMG 11 and the MP 11 PDW. If the caseless wonders fail, we'd still end up with the G 36/MG 4/MP 7 combo - unless they're kept on life support long enough to go straight to the HK 416 family, but I suspect all those super-ARs of late are an outgrowth of the War on Terror. No Bunkerfaust or other results from recent actual-history conflicts either. TRIGAT MR, like many other systems strung out and ultimately cancelled post-Cold War for lack of funds and enthusiasm, would take the place of EuroSpike as a Milan follow-on.

 

Another survivor is the Marder 2 of which 1,000 were planned to be procured from 1997-2001 (of course it would be behind time and over budget, but still this obviously deletes the Puma); we'd probably be at least on the A1 variant by now, though not sure what that would encompass, since protection against mines and lateral RPGs is another result of the post-Cold War conflicts. Same for any updated Marder 1 soldiering on to fill budget gaps. No Dingos, Yaks, Wisents and a host of other animals born in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

 

The price question is of course the next MBT; plans in the late 80s foresaw the first batch of 300 Leopard 2 follow-ons to be introduced from 1999. Concepts featured a heavily protected MLC 60 tank with 2 x 2 hull-located crew and autoloading 140 mm gun. The potential for failure is again substantial there, and what might really appear is a Leopard 2 upgunned with the new weapon and loader. Again, real-world Leopard 2 A6s might bring up the balance between plans and budget for any new tank purchases.

 

Plans for new tank destroyers included elevating TRIGAT LR launchers on Leopard 1 or wheeled chassis' as well as wheeled 105 or 120 mm-armed vehicles to lower operating cost, including the Daimler Panther prototype - but I'm rather dubious about that. Other AFVs like Fennek and Boxer occur as in real history (or, in the latter case, hopefully sooner). Gepard and Roland would likely still be in service, the latter with RM5 missiles. Tiger and NH 90 might be in full service already. No CH-53GS or GE.

 

For the Luftwaffe, Eurofighter will be the original pure fighter EFA, but probably still not have BVR armament; IRIS-T was a response to testing Soviet AAMs after reunification and might still be the less capable original IRIS Sidewinder upgrade. Taurus was co-developed with Sweden and might not have happened, but there was the French-German MoBiDic modular stand-off weapons project that was tested in both powered and unpowered versions in the 80s, cancelled after the end of the Cold War. A 400M and MEADS might be here already; in the absence of IRIS-T SL, unclear about a Hawk successor, maybe a domestic/joint upgrade with Israel, or none at all. No A 310 multi-role tanker aircraft.

 

For the Marine, the F 125 would decidedly not be developed as the quasi-colonial cruiser it will be in reality, but rather a smaller design optimized for ASW maybe best resembling the Norwegian Nansen class. Likewise, K 130 was a result of the late 80s detente which opened perspectives of use in all of Europe's littorals; before 1988, the Schnellboot force was once more considering smaller vessels or even to rely on coastal AShMs for defense of the Baltic approaches to reduce cost. Judging by the precedent of the 60s, when much thought was given to planing hulls and hydrofoils but ultimately dropped, they would have gone with even bigger and more expensive boats in the end, similiar to the Lürssen Type 62 or the Turkish Kilic class from the same yard; less than the 40 earlier hulls, but more than the 15 originally planned K 130s, I'd think.

 

U 212 was planned from 1987 and will turn up with all 12 projected units. A rather quiet supplement would have been the Narwal minisub, build to clandestinely collect ammunition parts after Pact exercises, but never used operationally due to the end of the Cold War and decommissioned in 1996. We have badly lapsed in our mine vessel force in real life, and I'm sure there would have been more than the 22 unitary hulls commissioned since 1989, with a follow-on for the current Troika remote clearing system already in service. We'd also still have an amphibious squadron, probably with the same unbreakable Type 520 and 551 landing craft.

 

Finally, I think all the WEU Treaty restrictions on conventional systems went away in 1984, including the 6,000 ts limit for replenishment ships, but anyway the Berlin class wouldn't be the same; when we wanted to name the eventual training vessel Deutschland the same in the 60s, the Allied Powers vetoed that. Nor am I sure the latter would be replaced after 1989; in real history, training was just taken aboard the destroyers and frigates.

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Having travelled to the then fin de siecle Soviet Union, the major problem with a Chinese style perestroika was the lack of external links. The PRC had strongly established outlets and trading partners through Hong Kong and the wider diaspora in SE Asia and beyond. People used to doing business with the Communists, even in the height of the Cultural Revolution.

 

An example is my own family, whose remnants remained in Chaozhiu(Teochew) City. The ancestral home was seized by Red Guards but the family remained in place, sharing it with other families. Despite the Communist insurgency in Malaysia and Singapore, money could still be remitted back to help them along. These links meant that economic liberalization had access to markets and capital. Senzhen is literally the other side of the railway to HK.

 

The Soviets did business with the Warpac states. Those states, did business with the West. that is why they were much more able to transition. Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia all had strong cultural and trade links, ostensibly through neutral Austria and to a lesser extent, somewhat red Italy.

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I've gamed West Germany and found a little more leeway for changes than I thought at first, despite the limitations on sovereignity which would continue. To be sure, the equipment looks remarkably the same as it does today, since most of the current major items started development in the 80s, but I was mislead by the fact that most of the Bundeswehr was permanently assigned to NATO command to think there couldn't be any major change in force strength. In reality, the German government decided on a reduction by 95,000 to 400,000 active troops as early as December 1989 - after the Wall came down, but before reunification and full sovereignity.

 

So there is some room for cuts if either cost or demography start getting painful; ironically, only in 1986 the same government had decided to increase the basic term of conscripted service from 15 to 18 months effective 1992 in anticipation of less draftees available - but when we were eventually drafted that year, we were actually first to serve a reduced term of 12 months in the all-German Bundeswehr of 370,000. I believe though the latter number may be the lower limit, as there were treaty obligations to defend Northern Norway and the Black Sea approaches with several ten thousand German troops if necessary, which played a role in the further reduction debates of the 1990s.

 

BTW, the DDR was of course faced with the same demographic problems at the same time, exacerbated by a lack of workers in its socialist economy. There were plans for a force reduction from 1985 on rather than an increase of terms of conscription (despite a Soviet demand for more troops); the intention was also to recruit more professional soldiers, but those too would have been missing in the civilian economy, and in fact young officers were increasingly sent to lead "work brigades" directly after training. In January 1989 the DDR leadership announced a rather hasty reduction by 10,000 troops and ten percent of defense expenditures, including the disbanding of six tank regiments and one fighter wing (I believe this left the mot. rifle divisions without tank regiments at all).

 

In a spiral of mutual reaction to force reductions I could see the NVA of 2012 with maybe five triangular divisions. Their equipment is of course mostly hitched to Soviet development, though there was domestic production of small surface combattants and landing craft for the Volksmarine. In particular we would have seen more Balcom-10 missile boats, also exported to other Pact nations along with Parchim-class ASW corvettes; maybe successors to the Kondor-class minehunters and Frosch-class landing/replenishment ships. They might also have thought of a domestic replacement for their Koni-class light frigates similar to the Romanian Tetals or Yugoslavian Kotors; it would be a logical evolutionary development over their previous vessels.

 

Another thought: What would have happened to the various arms reduction treaties? START I and INF would have been in mutual interest as cost saving measures (this means the Luftwaffe won't replace its Pershing IAs with IBs or eventually II RRs), but START II would not as I understand in real life the Russian balked at ratification because it would have meant extra cost for them modifying missiles to comply with stipulations.

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Another significant military change would be the question of cruise missiles at sea. Historically, when both sides agreed to do away with tactical nukes at sea, they went away, but in this scenario every man and his dog would be able to carry Tomahawks/Granats with nuclear weapons, making verification impossible.

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