September 1st, 2024 - The Frozen War 2024. The lingering Cold War between the decaying United States and the creeping hulk of the Soviet Union rumbles on; Earth is polarised between the two exhausted giants. In the frigid gulfs of Earth's orbit, both superpowers watch each-other down the barrels of tungsten cannons. The two nations endlessly sculpt constellations of far-flung puppet regimes. The Space Race has been reignited - the two powers compete in the marathon to send a brave pioneer to the dusty lowlands of Mars. The cybernetically-augmented phantoms of the CIA and the KGB spar. Neutral Austria and Finland are convenient backdrops for the cloak-and-dagger 'games' of the US and USSR. In the Cold War, the world has skirted preciously close to total nuclear annihilation a number of times: in 1962, in 1987, in 2014.
'He'll have the stench of regret on his last breath. We'll make sure of that, Chairman.'
Eastern Europe remains under the frozen domination of the Soviet Union - a pillar of the USSR's empire, and an ideological and military buffer zone between the East and West. In the words of the frosty General Secretary Vladimir Kryuchkov, 'the fraternal relations of the Eastern Bloc cannot by smashed by Western aggression.' In the nineteen seventies, the USSR's core satellite states embarked on massive programs of economic reform. East Berlin remains a tangible embodiment of Soviet military and political power.
[Under Kosygin, the Soviet Union does not invade Afghanistan. In Ethiopia, Haile Selassie remains in power. In general, the foreign policy of the USSR from ~1970-1979 is far less aggressive than that of OTL (despite OTL's détente between the US and the USSR, the Soviets - and the Americans - were still up to some shady stuff). Under Kosygin’s tenure, the United States withdrew from Vietnam in 1975. Ties between the socialist-leaning dictatorships of the Middle East and Africa with the Soviet Union were neglected and, consequently, diminished.]
On the eve of 1981, the end of the lingering Cold War is in sight. A peace summit between General Secretary Alexei Kosygin and President Ronald Reagan is on the horizon. The two most powerful men in the world were to discuss prospects of nuclear disarmament and the reunification of a neutralised Germany. Across the entire planet, the ‘benign dictator’ Alexei Kosygin is hailed as a champion of international peace.
Six months before the hotly anticipated Berlin Summit, Alexei Kosygin vanished from the public eye. The Party's mouthpieces reported that the General Secretary had been hospitalised. On January 2nd 1981, the hardliner Vladimir Kryuchkov emerged from the Soviet Union’s political flux to become General Secretary of the USSR. The former General Secretary died in mysterious circumstances: the true nature of Alexei Kosygin’s sudden death was - and still is - shrouded in a concrete veil of Soviet state secrecy. Rumours spread that the Politburo's conservative apparatchiks had thwarted power from Kosygin; suspicions spread that Kosygin was assassinated by his own faceless henchmen of the shadowy KGB, on the orders of the Politburo’s ultra-reactionary hierarchy. The organs of the Soviet Union's state media blasted news of Kosygin’s alleged heart attack. By September 2024, Alexei Kosygin’s passing is still hotly debated.
[In essence, Alexei Kosygin’s reforms and strategic passiveness had alienated the Soviet Union’s conservative elders - Kosygin’s enemies had conspired to seize power for years, since the mid seventies. Some ‘wild theories’, in the words of President Ted Kennedy, circulated that he was murdered to prevent the Soviet Union’s abandonment of Eastern Europe - won with seas of Soviet blood in the brutal march to the black heart of Hitler’s Germany - and a perceived capitulation to the United States. In effect, there was a KGB coup.]
For months, the conservative Kryuchkov - in essence a relic of a Stalinist past - continued to cynically entice the United States with hollow promises of conciliation and cooperation. The General Secretary strove to procure economic and political concessions from the US, while he primed the Soviet Union to magnify its control of Eastern Europe.
[Before the alternative history summit between President Kennedy - the Democrats were able to the US presidential race in 1980, because, in ATL, there was no Iran Hostage Crisis (the Iranian Revolution occurred in 1989, because the brittle Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi abdicated in 1976) - and Kryuchkov, the Soviet Union had adopted a similar tactic to the North Korea of the real-life present - to make empty promises of appeasement, as to procure economic and political concessions from the US. In 1996, the pro-West regime in Iran was overthrown by Soviet-supported Islamists.
The planet looked on as Kennedy and Kryuchkov - the world's new Red Tsar - descended on fractured Berlin. The Berlin Summit, once heralded as the answer to the woes of a broken planet, stalemated. Treaties to limit nuclear arms never materialised. There was no great moment of reconciliatory understanding between West and East. After returning to their lairs, Kennedy and Kryuchkov planned their next move.
The Soviet Union’s foreign policy was completely redrafted. The geopolitical world entered the era of the aggressive Kryuchkov Doctrine; the strategic passiveness of Kosygin's rule quickly melted away. Under the Doctrine, the Kryuchkov Regime implements the infamous 'Weapons Free' strategic nuclear protocol. Soviet senior nuclear commanders - a web of half-bureaucrats, half-technocrats, as well as nameless, mechanical submariners and stern-faced officers - are ordered to launch an immediate nuclear retaliation if the Soviet Union's faulty instruments detect the launch of NATO's ballistic missiles; control over the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal was spread out over dozens of hands. By 1984, the flow of Soviet equipment and hard currency into the backwaters of Africa and Latin America exploded. The USSR's foremost objective was to destabilise fascist South Africa - the continent's foremost anti-communist bulwark and southern Africa’s economic powerhouse, with a rekindled friendship with the US. The phantoms – wielding spectres of death - of the KGB and the CIA reignited the covert, cloak-and-dagger battles of the 1960's in the shadows of the sprawling third-world. The Soviet Union's intelligence apparatus in socialist Cuba is bolstered.
In 1987, a prudent Soviet colonel's base detected the 'launch' of forty-one American nuclear missiles - 25-kiloton ICBMs en route to the steppes of the Soviet Union's sweeping eastern frontier. Under the Weapons Free protocol, the colonel should have - as if according to a primeval instinct - ordered the launch of the USSR's nuclear arsenal. The colonel prevented a nuclear apocalypse. Later, the spectres of the brutal KGB arrested the unsung hero a traitor to the Soviet Union. He was exiled to a frigid Siberian prison, where he rotted until 1998.
On the eve of 2000, the decaying General Secretary Kryuchkov brashly declared: ‘the twenty first century will belong to the socialists.'
The severe rift between the ailing USSR and the unstable People Republic of China lingers. The hardline Communist Party of China crushes resistance, and US investment fuels the country's mixed-market economy. By 2024, China is considered unofficial ally of the United States.
The Soviet sphere, circa 2024:
The Eastern Bloc's nations are flooded with vibrant, dreamlike propaganda. Because millions toil to build socialism in the physical world, the state media are unable to conceal or distort the raw, cool dinginess of life behind the towering Iron Curtain. Without even the slightest sense of irony, Eastern Europe’s web of neo-Stalinist despots continue to refer to the metallic dogma of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin in bombastic speeches. In daily life, the glum people of the Eastern Bloc wade through a thick marsh of socialist jargon.
The docile German Democratic Republic - a shallow welfare state, reforged by the fires of the New Direction - is the pinnacle of the 'officially socialist' world, and remains communism's showcase state. East Germany's energetic, technocrat General Secretary, Fritz Weiss, is more comparable to a social democrat than a Bolshevik. The first-world living conditions of East Germany are the envy of the Soviet Union. Confections and pastries can be purchased in the exotic capital of neon, grease, rust and moss, East Berlin. In the storefronts of the dingy cities of Bucharest and Sofia - crumbling cities clogged by plumes of suffocating air pollution twenty-three times higher than the Western European average -, such alien luxuries are unimaginable. Strengthened by the intricacies of automated surveillance infrastructure, the inescapable Stasi scour the rotting industrial landscape of East Germany for dissent. East Germans are under constant surveillance to discourage subversion, and deeply intimate details with no intelligence utility are routinuely correlated. For each East German, there is a bottomless record of deeply intimate details. Under the tyranny of Adolf Hitler's totalitarian Germany, the brutal Gestapo implanted one informer for every two hundred citizens. In the present, one in seven East Germans report private information about relatives, neighbours and colleagues to the ever-leering Stasi. The prowess of East German athletes continues to unfaltering gleam. The athletes of ‘Stasiland’ continue to dominate international sporting events. On a virtually continuous basis, East Germany claims a greater tally of bronze, silver and gold medals that the United States and the Soviet Union - sometimes winning a haul even greater than both the superpowers’ bounties combined.
In 1989, the infamous Alexanderplatz Massacre smothered East Germany's pro-democracy movement in the crib. Hundreds of thousands of defiant East Germans - with some reports suggesting that the congregation had ballooned to 250,000 - had camped out in East Berlin's Alexanderplatz, demanding the abolition of the rigid single-party rule. After police forces failed to disperse the stubborn demonstrators, Erich Honecker's hardline Party ordered the East German military to crush the protest. About ten thousand troops of the Nationale Volksarmee flooded into the public square, and indiscriminately fired into the swarm of demonstrators. The death toll is unknown, as the GDR buried the details of the slaughter. The Soviet Union's apparatchiks applauded East Germany for its 'swift containment of a counter-revolution'. In the wake of the massacre, the GDR's international reputation suffered - a volley of trade embargoes were hurled at the socialist state.
In 1991, the Soviet Union's armies poured into Poland. A mounting campaign of passive resistance had dragged the PPR to a standstill, and the Party's quixotic oligarchs proved themselves unwilling to beat down fellow countrymen. As the Red Tsar Kryuchkov watched what was unfolding in his fiefdom, he was unprepared to see the nation escape from the USSR's orbit. The General Secretary marched the brunt of the Red Army into People's Poland - just as Khrushchev marched the Red Army into Hungary in 1956, and likewise as Brezhnev marched the Red Army into Czechoslovakia in 1968. With unabating force, the Soviet Union resolidified the status quo. As Poland's opposition fronts were crushed beneath the iron boots of the Soviet Union, the Prawdziwi Polscy Patrioci - the True Polish Patriots - fighting group was established. Once an intricate web of hardy partisans and shrewd saboteurs, the TPP - butchered by surgical Soviet strikes - evaporated by 2001.
From youth, Soviets are trained to subordinate themselves to authority. Otherwise, punishment will be swift and severe. Imbued with this basic frame of mind, most of the USSR’s people restrict discontent to hoarse mumbles behind closed doors. The life of a good socialist pioneer is devoid of any uniqueness or flair. Behind the Iron Curtain, fringe opposition groups are smashed by the secret police. The ruthless rulers of the Warsaw Pact comb their dingy enclaves of bothersome activists, writers, artists and philosophers. The secret political prisons of the Eastern Bloc - poorly-lit monstrosities of steel guardtowers, concrete edifices and barbed-wire fences - are rammed with armies of dissenters. In trademark paper-shuffling character, the pot-bellied mouthpieces of the socialist regimes claim that each 'people's security service' - buzzwords for shadowy government agencies that mutilate the opposition - operates according to the ethical standards of the West.
Under the Red Tsar Kryuchkov and his heirs, the Soviet economy was geared to extensive growth. Using the versatile economic palette left by Kosygin's rule, Kryuchkov's regime fueled the Soviet Union's economic development by adding more inputs. Throughout the course of the 1980's and the 1990's, the USSR's gross domestic product floated upwards. However, the Soviet Union's economy - weighed down by the costly construction of the superpower's orbital defence grid, and marred by the decay of essential industrial and agricultural infrastructure - slipped into stagnation in the 2010's. As of September 2024, the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union starve off severe recession with increasingly severe austerity measures. The Soviet Union, as a result of the Great Gulf War, remains the world's foremost exporter of crude oil - a life-line of the USSR's economy.
[Most of Kosygin's reforms stayed in place, both in the USSR and the Soviet empire's colonies. Kryuchkov and his stratum were not orthodox communists. The Soviet Union's leaders did not ground their control of Eastern Europe in ideology, but in the belief that the Soviet Union's almost incalculable sacrifice in the onslaught against Nazi Germany during the Great Patriotic War had entitled them to rule and dominate the countries.]
In the late 2000's, the once rich soil of the Ukraine became unworkable; the excessive use of chemical fertilisers ravaged the once fertile land. Because of this and the Soviet Union's agricultural inefficiency, the USSR relies on the import of foreign food. If the estranged Soviet Union's granaries could no longer be filled with the foodstuffs of rival powers, the underpinning social structure of the superpower would evaporate. Most experts predict that war between the superpowers would become inescapable if the Soviet Union could no longer access foreign markets.
The Soviet Union is endlessly harassed by countless Islamic terrorist cells. The organs of the Soviet state media diminish the prevalence of religious extremism; suicide bombings, mass shootings, assassinations, kidnappings and ransomings are commonplace in the workers' paradise. On the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, coordinated attacks across the USSR - including the bombing of Leningrad's confetti-coated city centre - rocked the country.
Waves of shadowy, brutal crackdowns continue to sweep across Central Asia - a central geographical pillar of the Soviet Union - in order to dispel severe ethnic and nationalist tensions. Any information scratchily smuggled out of the region is denounced by the CCCP as 'terrorist propaganda' produced in collusion with the West, allegedly circulated to 'destablise' the core of the Soviet Union.
[In ATL, the rule of communism - with the support of the Soviet Union - penetrated deeper into South-East Asia during the 1980's and 1990's. With the wounds of the costly and bloody debacle in Vietnam still raw in the minds of Americans, there was no impetus for direct military intervention in Thailand. The communist victors found themselves in possession of advanced American materiel.
The Middle East
In the aftermath of the bloody disintegration of Iraq and the explosion of political and religious tensions between the Middle East's regional powers, a brutal armed conflict erupted between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in a strategic coalition with Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, in 2014. The two countries had vowed holy wars of anihilation against one another - jihads to raze the unhallowed empires of heathens.
[Remember, a pro-Soviet dictatorship was installed in Iran. Despite starkly opposed ideological viewpoints, the fundamentalist Iranians and the Soviets were, for want of a better word, in bed together.]
In the so-called Great Gulf War, the Soviet Union funneled advanced combat equipment - including guided surface-to-air missile launchers and aerial drones - and medical supplies to the socialist-leaning Iranians. To counter the Soviet Union's support, the war effort of the pro-US Gulf Monarchies was augmented with the materiel support of the United States. Both sides predicted a total decisive victory in a single, stunning offensive. Both powers quickly stretched supply lines to breaking point.
During the course of the gruelling Great Gulf War, the industrial centres of the Middle East were reduced to cratered fields of smouldering rubble and tracts of charcoal. For months, thousands of damaged oil wells burnt wildly. As ancient Arabic and Persian cities burned, millions were left homeless by the conflict. Civilian supply lines crumbled, and the bloodshed of savage anarchy reigned. In the present, the conflict in the Middle East had grinded to a halt. The fragile Armistice of 2019 shakily remains in place, while a de jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran lingers.
The Middle East, a barbarous, scorched land of ruptured oil pipelines and bloody sectarian violence, is an economic and cultural wasteland. The resistance of barely-fed populations is savagely crushed by the region's ailing governments. In the power vacuum left by the Great Gulf War, fundamentalist militia have risen from the ashes to take control of vast swathes of both Arabia and Persia.
In the aftermath of war, the Soviet Union established itself as the world’s foremost exporter of crude oil. The sale of cheap Soviet oil on overseas markets – chiefly in Latin America, Africa and East Asia – props up the nation’s faltering economy. However, experts predict that the Soviet Union will have exhausted its proven reserves by 2031.
United States of America
Strangled by increasingly severe domestic problems and economic decline, the United States has scaled back its commitment as a rift burgeons within NATO. By 2024, the gross debt of the United States is 44.9 trillion dollars. Private outfits patrol the streets of America's impoverished cities; in the crime-ridden slums of Michigan, Alabama, New Mexico and California, the over-stretched police forces are effectively useless.
[Islamic extremists went after the Soviet Union, rather than the United States. There was no 9/11 in ATL.]
The pestilence of home-grown, self-declared 'populist' terrorism - in response to the 'trampling upon the American Constitution' - continues to torment the US. Brutish, rabid White Nationalist sects – enraged by the ‘watering-down of the white race and the tide of Hispanic immigration’ – have mounted bloody campaigns of random lynching and firebombing. Extremist organisations recruit from pools of unemployed, underprivileged vagrants in the concrete jungles of USA. At the time of compiling this report, the tentatively titled 'JFK Airport Hostage Crisis' is ongoing. At least twelve mechanically-augmented - 'backyard enhanced' - militants have stormed the airport, murdered security personnel and taken two hundred people hostage.
In the Cold War, the United States has been one of the primary forces fueling the aggressive militarisation of space. Earth is ringed with the nation's daunting network of tungsten cannons. Two elite battalions of cybernetically-enchanced shock troopers - clad in extremely advanced power-armour - are stationed aboard the controversial mega space station USAF Freedom , primed to deploy to any far-flung flashpoint anywhere on Earth within ninety minutes.The construction of two further space stations of similar specifications have been planned by the USAF, but have been placed - pending unattainable Congressional approval - on indefinite hold.
[In OTL, the USAF Freedom is the International Space Station. Construction of the controversial trillion-dollar ATL space station was completed in 2019. The station has EMP counter-measures to avoid simply being shot down by a missile launched from Earth.
Western European Economic Community (Westeuropäischen Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft):
A bustling trading-bloc established in 1989, the Western European Economic Community is seen as the final stepping stone to a potent European federal body. As the rift between the United States and Western Europe beckons, the importance of unity between Free Europe has been stressed; the envisioned Federation of Europe edges ever closer to becoming reality, in light of the pressing Soviet threat. As of 2021, a singular - augmented with thousands of state-of-the-art VTOL combat drop-ships - military protects Europe.
In 2019, Denmark became the first NATO state to boast the renouncement of petroleum. As of 2024, Sweden, West Germany, Luxembourg and Norway have also abandoned the use of crude oil. The buzzing roads of Western Europe are packed with columns of nimble electric vehicles. The gleaming cities of Western Europe are powered by thousands of wind turbines, hydroelectric dams and fields of solar panels.
Former South Africa:
In the nineteen nineties, a cruel civil war erupted in South Africa. While the South African Defence Force was able to smother the fledgling uprisings and insurrections from 1994-1997, the rallied Black Nationalist and Marxist-Leninist rebel factions - augmented by the massive flow of the USSR's materiel support into southern Africa - began to quickly seize total control of vast swathes of rural South Africa. Thousands of captured whites were raped, tortured, hanged, beheaded and disemboweled, or were held as human shields against relentless government airstrikes on rebel hotbeds in the Kalahari Desert and Transvaal. Atrocities committed by the Nationalist Government resulted in the slaughter of two hundred and fifty thousand South Africans. By 1999, the SADF withdrew from the country's embattled, ruinous north; the husk of Pretoria, largely derelict, fell into rebel hands.
The white minority - both English and Afrikaans speakers - retreated to Cape Province, establishing the authoritarian Republic of the Cape of Good Hope (Republiek van die Kaap die Goeie Hoop)The fascist Cape is a fortified, extensively militarized pariah state, with automated robotic defences overmatching the country's mined and barbed-wired borders; attempted guerrilla raids end in abysmal failure. National Service (Nasionale Diens) remains compulsory for all able-bodied males. The Cape possesses a small arsenal of low-yield nuclear weapons, which are primed to fire at the neighbouring black states. The Cape has a bustling arms industry. In the Cape, individual rights are repressed in the name of 'counter-terrorism'.
The Cape's primary benefactor is the United States, eager to support the staunchly anti-communist bulwark. American donations of bleeding-edge equipment and substantial lump sums of hard currency prop up the Cape's elite military apparatuses, both automated and conventional. The Republic of the Cape of Good Hope mantains diplomatic relations with a mere two states, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Africa is a land of famine, misery and war. As the poles’ ice thawed and the planet’s climate warmed, the crop yields of many developing-nations – latched to crumbling ecosystems – catastrophically failed. Tens of millions have starved. In the uncertain years ahead, the fragile countries of Africa have come to rely on foreign support. The USSR and the USA - despite mounting domestic and economic problems - continue to compete for political influence in Africa, by funnelling enormous lump sums of hard currency and food to the famished nations.
In the Balkans, the socialist unitary state of Yugoslavia - a NATO-leaning power, considered an unofficial ally of the United States - thrives. [In ATL, Yugoslavia stayed together because the people saw a bigger threat in the Soviet Union than eachother.]
Will you give more info about the moon-programm of the individual nations / alliances?
One correction on the german name:
You know we connect all the nouns XD