Down to Earth Problems

While the United States and the Soviet Union made their moves into space, the world kept turning.

In a certain way, the discovery that there might be something on Mars in 1969, potentially intelligent life that could listen to radio broadcasts and see TV shows, changed more than just the space-race. It started to slowly change the way of thinking for all of humanity.

The Vietnam War had come to an end for the USA in April 1973. During the war, the approval of the US Armed forces had dropped steadily. This was especially noticed by the veterans who came home and, instead of being hailed as heroes who served for their country, were frowned upon and many even willingly neglected.

But the Martian Discovery gave birth to a new form of humanism which was embraced by the already existing Peace Movement, which saved many veterans in the end. It started to change the way people thought about living beings. If humans were as cruel to their own, what would be the value of humanity as a species to the eyes of the aliens anyways. This was definitely not the first impression humanity should make.

As such, the slowly growing group of people, started to take care of those that had served for their country and needed aid: Veteran soldiers, but also police-officers or firemen, that were hurt in the line of duty. As Kennedy had once said in his “Ask not” speech, now was the time for America to thank and take care of those that had done as Kennedy had asked.

The government initially didn’t want to spend more on the veterans, as every dime spent on veterans, was a dime lost for Defense and Space, and as a result the group of people in Washington D.C. grew and their protests became louder day by day. To everyone’s joy, in mid 1972, Congress enacted the Veteran Support Act, P.L. 92-426, increasing support for veterans in financial and nonfinancial means. One Congressman, Hamilton Fish of New York, stated, in reference to an old draft slogan, “Sometimes the United States have to do something for their men”.

Later in 1973, the Oil Crisis hit the world after the United States supported of Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The Oil Embargo of 1973-76 pushed the United States to realize that they were getting too dependent on external parties that could and would push them around.

As the impact of the Oil Embargo was felt more and more, the local governments struggled to find ways to avoid major problems. Many of the parents and grandparents of the current generation remembered the time where the United States was not dependent on anyone else. They managed to push that memory forward, calling for reducing dependency from the outside and not giving in to the OAPEC demands, even if it meant that they would have to take a bus or a train instead of their own car.

In August 1974, President Nixon made a speech that called upon the American Dream. Responsibility was part of that dream; without responsibility there would be no real freedom or success. It would be a hollow dream at the cost of the freedom and success of others and that was not acceptable. He stated that the United States would not give in to the OAPEC demands, which he called extortion. Nixon also added that America would learn to become self-sufficient again and with that, the OAPEC’s demands would be worthless. In very nice diplomatic words he made clear that the OAPEC had just shot itself in its foot.

A day later Kissinger was withdrawn from the negotiations in the Middle East stating that he had other, more important, affairs to attend to. Israel remained on the Sinai, preparing themselves for the next war with Egypt and Syria. The trust of the Americans was reinforced, as Kissinger stated that the US would keep up their current support of Israel.

The impact of Nixon’s speech was inevitable. Public mass transit experienced a resurgence, and local newspapers printed articles on a frequent basis on how to save energy and oil. Local communities reinstated old watermills and windmills or built new ones to try and make their own electricity. While some failed, there were also successes that inspired others to follow the idea. Recycling became a word everyone used, from paper over glas to scrap metal.

The industry looked into ways to solve their own energy problems and renewable energy sources were found and used. While Westinghouse worked on developing a Thorium cycle reactor to get away from imported uranium, other companies, like General Electric, turned their sights into space and abundance of light in geostationary orbit, which could be harnessed with giant solar panels and beamed down to Earth with microwaves. The new Saturn Common Core family seemed to make them possible.

As the new Thorium cycle reactors would only come online in the early to mid 1980s and the Solar Power satellites only in the late 1990s, the United states had to keep buying oil. One of the closest oil producer was Venezuela, a nation that was more than willing to sell oil to the United States for far lower price than the OAPEC.

To keep ahead and continue the high standard of living in the United States, the education system was reformed and given more money. On one end was to keep the industry satisfied with a steady influx of highly skilled laborers and on the other end to keep the lead of innovation the US had over the Soviets, who had put their sight on the Moon. As a beneficial side effect the reformed educational system would eventually result in a lower crime rate, as there were fewer dropouts and more educated workers.

Jobs were created as new large federal projects were started, the construction of new hydroelectric power plants or railroads, factories reopened as companies pulled their production back from overseas with the promise of tax cuts. Similar tax cuts were directed at small business owners and the self employed and it became easier for people to open up a new business.

While these were all great ideas, the execution of them as well as the results weren’t as quick as desired. The United States economy needed the best part of a decade to become self-sufficient in the field of energy alone. Other fields took even longer, but responsibility was taken.

The money that had to be spent between the reforms and NASA had to be taken from somewhere. With the end of the Vietnam War and the inward look of betterment, the military seemed to be the right choice. Of course the Pentagon was less than pleased about the decision.

The Pentagon was presented with the choice of reducing their nuclear arsenal or reducing the conventional forces. To ease their decision, they were reminded of the technological progress that might await on Mars as a sort of future return investment. With the SALT agreements as backing, the Pentagon decided on a cutback of the nuclear arsenal in the end, stating that the MAD doctrine was workable even with a reduced amount of nuclear warheads. However the conventional armed forces would still have to endure a cut of the budget, although lower.

The US Navy had to cancel plans for further Nimitz class supercarriers, the biggest part of the budget, until 1985, when the Navy ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln. Without new carriers, the Navy was able to get around with buying less F-14 Tomcat fighters. The ships needed to create Carrier Task Groups could be retasked into normal duties.

To the US Air Force the budget cut meant that they had to withdraw a number of their bomber fleet from active service and reduce the purchase of new planes. Aside from less tanks and guns, the Army did not even notice much of the cut. The freeze of salaries for two years was felt though.

Most of the military equipment that was sorted out during the budget cuts was the less than state of the art. While some of it was stockpiled, the largest part was sold to friendly nations. Two squadrons of F-100 Super Sabre were sold to Venezuela in exchange for cheaper oil.

Abroad, the budget cut resulted into the withdrawal of several of its units from Europe. While Europe was not happy with that decision, the US considered them safe for now under the nuclear umbrella and the withdrawal did not mean that the US was abandoning its NATO allies. If anything, the Pentagon was sending their best soldiers to Europe.

Richard Nixon left the White House on January 20, 1977, after congratulating Jimmy Carter, who had barely beaten Gerald Ford. Nixon would be remembered as the President who found aliens, ended Vietnam and reminded the United States that nothing should be taken for granted. Additionally he left Carter with an economy that was recovering quickly from the crisis of the early 1970s.

It was only in the late 2000s that documents of William Felt resurfaced after his death, were Felt noted that he had thought about bringing inconsistencies with Nixon’s reelection into the spotlight of the media, but ultimately decided against it as it would have coincided with NASA landing the Voyager probes on Mars, and placed them somewhere safe. Afterwards a car accident left Felt hospitalized for a year, unable to publish the documents. By the time he returned home, family problems and several large FBI cases took up his time.

Scholars were unable to decide if Nixon would have been able to do as he did, had a ‘Watergate Scandal’ happened.

The first half of Jimmy Carter’s presidency was finishing some of the reforms Nixon had pushed and a general, if gently, reopening of the United States diplomatically, something the something the US public actually didn’t like to see and part of the reason why Carter had won over Gerald Ford, who had wanted to soften up on Nixon’s policy of isolation. Carter however decided to continue the path out of safety concerns.

Carter stepped up to its southern neighbour, Mexico, investing into positive relations and talking about the problem of drugs that were smuggled into the United States over the US-Mexican border. In 1978 a treaty between both nations lead to the creation of joint border patrols to find and deal with drug traders. These border patrols were seen as main reason for the drug imports dropping by 45 percent until 1986.

Carter also initiated diplomatic talks with the Soviet Union, warming up the climate between the two superpowers to a degree, as ‘great neighbours resulted in more safety’, as well as perhaps finding out more about the Soviet Space Program.

While well received by other nations, Carters policy wasn’t really liked by the American public, as they presumed his lack of interest for domestic politics. When the Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan for President and made use of his positive image, gained by being a well known actor in a number of successful movies, Carter had little to use against Reagan, who eventually won the Presidential elections of 1980.

In his inaugural speech Reagan stretched his understanding of ‘Freedom’, as he had already done during his Presidential campaign. While not too different from from that of Nixon, Reagan stressed that the government itself was not the solution of all problems, but in itself was part of the problem, and in itself working against the Freedom of people to live self determined.

The economy had grown during the Carter years and unemployment levels were below five percent, but Reagan was determined to do better. For this, Reagan’s policy was to reduce government spending, tax rates and regulation, as well as regulating the supply of money through the Federal Reserve Bank.

His first actions, while in office, were to work out the promised tax cuts. The tax cuts that had been used by the Nixon Administration to keep companies in the United States and create jobs, were increased in an attempt to get more jobs back into the States. Most of these tax cuts were directed at big companies however and the small local companies and self employed were not reached by those cuts.

To reduce government spending, Reagan had to look a bit closer into the Federal budget. Two parts of the budget were immune to those cuts. NASA had to win the Mars Race, while the Pentagon had to defend the nation and had already been cut by the previous administrations.

The budget cuts largely reduced the budget of important federal projects of the Nixon era, such as train lines and the construction of new freeways, as well as social security. However a large number of jobs hung on the federal projects and social security, and not only the jobs directly depending on the federal projects were endangered, but also the jobs in local suppliers for those projects.

The reduction of the governmental regulations meant that larger commercial projects were approved faster. One of such projects was the first commercial Thorium prismatic block reactor on Three Miles Island, which came online in August 1985. It was several years before the Department of Energy had considered the technology to be actually mature, leading a number of technological problems that kept the reactor unable to provide power for a total of one year between 1985 and 1989.

While successful in stimulating the economy to a certain degree, the overall effects of Reagan’s economic plans were mixed. By 1984 the unemployment rate had risen up to just below 8 percent, the highest since the beginning of the Oil Crisis. Tax cuts and the general reduction of the federal budget nearly doubled the foreign debts due to a growing deficit.

By mid 1983 Reagan’s approval ratings had dropped due to an increasing unemployment rate and a general fear of losing their jobs or being unable to pay medical bills with the cuts in the federal social security programs.

Where the late Nixon Administration had followed a foreign policy of relative isolationism, and Carter had opened up the United States by trying to have good relations with neighbours and the Soviet Union, Reagan was more militaristic.

Reagan had, opposed to the general budget cuts for everyone but NASA, increased the Defense Budget for the United States. Partly to stimulate the economy with increased military spending on new weapons and vehicles, partly to allow the armed forces to return to their ‘former glory’ and allow him to use them for his foreign politics.

In 1983, Reagan made two steps that would militarize space over the coming decade. In March he announced his Strategic Defense Initiative, calling for the creation of ground-to-space and space-to-space weapon system that could be used to defend against a Soviet First Strike, unsetting the balance of the MAD doctrine that had been in effect the previous decades. Reagan openly noted that the Soviet Empire was evil and would use any weapon or technology gained from Mars, to attack the United States on the first opportunity.

Combined with the United States leaving the Outer Space Treaty on the same grounds, the warmer relations to the Soviet Union, in place since the Carter administration, rapidly cooled down again. The Invasion of Grenada by US led forces late 1983 finally closed the diplomatic channels to the Soviet Union.

While the US did not approve of the Grenadian switch to socialism in 1979, they didn’t think the impact of the island, no bigger than Martha’s Vineyard, turning red would be massive. The United States however blocked any help that might be coming from the World Bank or others and they would monitor everything travelling in or out the island. They did not want a second ‘Cuba’ emerging in their own ‘front yard’, especially so close to a valuable source of oil like Venezuela.

Tension rose in 1983 after a second, bloody coup. Particular concern was expressed over the fate of 800 American students at the U.S.-run St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada.

As the United States was in the process of planning a covert operation, sending military personnel to Grenada to ‘assure the safety of american citizens’ the school got destroyed in an explosion, killing 13 students and injuring over two hundred more. This made Reagan decide to order an all out invasion of Grenada, using the powers given to him by the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The explosion was later revealed to have been a gas explosion in the main hot water boiler of the building, due to low local building standards.

Operation Urgent Fury was wrapped up in a matter of weeks. The operation saw the first deaths of American soldiers since Vietnam, while the Cuban garrison on Grenada was destroyed and several Cuban officials were killed by stray fire.

The reactions to the successful invasion varied.

The Grenadians were happy about the end of the communist regime, while the relations to the Soviet Union cooled down to a new low. The Cuban ambassador to the UN asked to suspend the US membership for four years, as the United States had decided not to obligate to the very international laws which the US itself had consented itself. Great Britain had considered to second the motion for the invasion of a Commonwealth member, but decided not to.

That the Invasion of Grenada was a ‘Short Victorious War’ helped Reagan regain much of his approval ratings, which rose up to nearly the same amount as they had been at the beginning of his Presidency. Everything looked well for the Presidential election campaign of 1984.

In the aftermath of the war however, American weapons were found with dead Grenadian fighters and a medic exposed that several of the killed US soldiers had died by friendly fire, or so it seemed. In early January 1984 the New York Times published an article about the discovery of American weapons in the depots of the Grenadan Revolutionaries.

How could American weapons end up in the hands of the enemy? That mystery was resolved by a Grenadian officer who had fled in the wake of the invasion, and it was frontpage news for the Guardian on March 3, 1984 and media worldwide picked it up immediately and the American people were shocked.

He claimed that US weapons were sold illegally to several groups in the world, one of them being the Grenadian revolutionaries. The money gained by these sales was invested into helping Israel. Several names were dropped in the article, among others Oliver North as one of the driving forces behind the weapons deals. The claim was accompanied with a photograph of some sort of official document signed by R. Reagan.

Oliver North was immediately apprehended and questioned and 10 days later Reagan appeared on National TV confirming his involvement in the arms deals for Grenada. Reagan stated that he was sorry for the fallen soldiers and the families that got bereft of their loved ones due to his decisions but that he had good reasons for his actions.

While some U.S. papers titled “Who framed Ronald Reagan”, others placed Nixons responsibility-speech on the frontpage and argued that Reagans had acted without the right responsibility at the cost of freedom and success of others. His covert actions had cost the lives of several of their own men. Had he not approved the arms deals, the bloody coup perhaps wouldn’t have occurred. And another question raised was, why aid people to prolong their suffering? All those resources were much better spent within the United States. These unwanted side effects could even cause the Mars Race to be lost.

Reagan’s approval ratings dropped back to pre-Grenada levels and then some. Never had a president risen and fallen in the ratings as quickly as Reagan did.

Reagan’s opponent for the 1984 elections was John Herschel Glenn jr., Senator of Ohio and the ‘First American in Orbit’. Glenn and his election team used the continued popularity of everything related to space and attacked Reagan’s past as actor. The main slogan for Glenn campaign was ‘Do you want a real American Hero? Or do you want someone who played one in the Movies?’ with a variant that replaced ‘Hero’ with ‘Astronaut’.

Still having a slight advantage of having beaten the Communists on Grenada, Reagan lost to Glenn by the smallest of margins.

Glenn began his own inaugural speed with the words ‘Space, the Final Frontier’, echoing the popular Star Trek franchise and used it to reach out far, calling upon the American Manifest Destiny of claiming and settling the Frontier, in this case outer space.

Glenn was ready to revoke most of the legislation made by Reagan in favor of Nixon like politics, but he did not touch the SDI program in its essence or ratify the Outer Space Treaty again. Instead SDI was renamed to Advanced Defensive Program, removing it from the public focus to a degree.

Where the United States got more isolated from the rest of the world, Europe was pulling itselves together in response to the Oil Crisis. The members of the European Economic Community had stayed neutral in the Yom Kippur War, but were hit by the Oil Embargo much like the United States and many other nations.

To counter the Embargo Great Britain, West Germany, France and to a lesser degree Belgium and the Netherlands, increased their coal mining productivity, which would be used for power generation and chemical industries. The extraction of oil fields in the North Sea was just beginning, but ramped up a notch as the crisis began. Soon several oil companies invested heavily in oil rigs.

But the animosity between France, Germany and Great Britain was still a big problem until 1975. Conflicts of interests between the three nations caused problems. France still clung to the fear that West Germany could grow into a military power like it had after World War I and try to get revenge. Great Britain saw Germany as a mainly economic opponent, while France was Britain’s enemy in a more traditional sense.

During the Oil Crisis and the power crisis, France had an advantage compared to its neighbours. It had a number of nuclear power plants, allowing them to export the electricity, while importing German and British coal. Closer economic ties were spun between the EEC members as part of the sudden need of crisis management.

The nuclear industry was the great winner of the Oil Crisis, as Germany and Great Britain were relatively quick to build new nuclear power plants to support existing coal and oil plants. But in most cases the construction of the nuclear reactors lead to protests by the population in the area and in turn gave rise to environmentalism.

It was the reduction of the US military in Europe that dropped many of the last concerns between France, Germany and Great Britain. Fearing the abandonment of Europe by the United States and a subsequent Communist invasion, West Germany and at first Bundeskanzler Willi Brandt went to Washington D.C. to directly talk with Nixon about the safety of West Germany and the rest of Europe. While Nixon was diplomatic the answer boiled down to a simple ‘No’.

Figuring that the Guillaume Affair had resulted in the ‘No’, Brand’s successor Helmut Schmidt tried to reason with Nixon, receiving a more direct ‘No’.

In the end the promises of the United States did little to make the European Economic Community feel reassured. In February 1976, the heads of state of the EEC met in Wiltz, a town in Luxembourg, to talk about the future of Europe, now that they couldn’t really rely on the United States. The Wiltz Treaty was the result of that meeting, which was called the ‘Beginning of the European Unification’.

The Wiltz Treaty officially ended any animosities between the nations, and the heads of state would meet once every two months in Luxembourg to keep each other in the loop. To allow the growth of the economic ties between the nations, tolls between the nations would be dropped and the border checks would be greatly speed up. Eventually it was planned to completely stop all border checks, allowing free transit of people and material between the nations of the EEC.

The most controversial part of the Wiltz Treaty however was the creation of a European Military Response Force, a combination of military units of all EEC nations that would be used to respond quickly in the case of Soviets crossing the Iron Curtain.

Behind the closed doors there were also talks about dissolving NATO, replacing it with a purely EEC aligned version, while some sought to reduce the importance of the United States in NATO, as they were not as involved as they had been before the Oil Crisis, even though they had promised otherwise.

But the Wiltz Treaty also turned a previously nation problem of Germany into a European problem as the Red Army Faction, who described themselves as communist and anti-imperialist ‘urban guerilla’, started a series of terror attacks that were targeted against France and Belgium.

Over the next four years the RAF established themselves as anti-European terrorists that quickly grew branches in other nations. The IRA in Northern Ireland was quick to follow the RAF to become anti-european , even if they had different reasons.

In March 1980 the heads of state of the EEC meet in Toulon, deciding on the future fate of the EEC. With the economic growth and the increased connections between the nations, they felt that some political decisions should be made on an European level. While Great Britain was less inclined to hand over responsibilities, Prime Minister Callaghan eventually was persuaded to do so.

With the Toulon Treaty of 1980, it was decided that the name European Economic Community was not correct anymore. Instead it was renamed into European Union to signify the addition of a partially political union to the largely economic union that had existed before.

With the European Union the European Parliament in Strasbourg received further powers and was able to enact laws that had to be turned into national law within two years by the member nations.

In 1983, the European Union felt itself left behind by the United States after the announcement of SDI and the US leaving the Outer Space Treaty. In an emergency meeting in Brussels, the European heads of state decided that the ‘gung ho’ methods of the United States under Reagan threatened the relative stability in Europe and that the European nations could not fully allow those methods to endanger Europe. The talks in Brussels lead to the European nations diverting most of their forces from NATO to a newly create Euroforce, using all the positive experiences made with NATO and EMRF, while the EMRF was officially dissolved.

Even with Euroforce having largely NATO strength, the United States remained as a main force behind any European defense. This forced the EU to make some concessions to the United States to prevent a full removal of American forces from Europe.

Since the Soviet Union had pulled out of the Outer Space Treaty as well, the European nations followed suit, noting that without the global superpowers in the treaty it was all but useless to keep weapons of mass destruction from space. Many of the other signatory nations followed a short while after, with the exception of Switzerland, effectively cancelling out any effect of the Outer Space Treaty.

During the early 1980s Greece, Spain and Portugal had inquired about becoming members of the European Union as even they profited from the benefits of the EU, but were only admitted as observers and given a set of economic and political targets to reach before they could be admitted as full members, to see whether or not they were really willing to put effort into their application.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the Soviet Union dealt with the economic reform of the Politburo and could not care less about an Oil Crisis of the NATO nations.

The entire management of countless factories was replaced by more motivated and capable personnel, only to be sent somewhere where they could do little to no further damage. Where efficient and motivated workers had gotten medals and the like in previous times, they now got bonuses in what they received as wage in the form of actually ownership of parts of the company or they could keep some of their produce, which was a great incentive to produce extras.

Giving them this, lead to a very loyal feeling towards their job and their factory and increased motivation as well. Doing bad would result in losing assets. The State gave you a house, the State could take your house. Promising workers were sent to receive additional training to build up a more skilled workforce, lazy workers would receive ‘training’ too, usually not in a field of work that was desirable. But then again miners, manure shovellers, cleaning specialists for toxic waste were needed too.

In some areas the new central management system based on the Chilean ‘Project Cybersyn’ was tested. The ability to rapidly change plans and allocate resources was a boon to the involved industries and the effectivity raised by five percent more, compared to those factories not in the project in the first year of testing.

By 1976 the Politburo decided to expand the newly named Prirost System to an entire part of the economy. However the quick growth lead to a drop in productivity by two percent, readily explained by a lack of sufficiently trained controllers. To get around the problem to a degree, computers were added to the system, allowing a controller to switch between parts of his or her area more quickly than by other means.

During 1977, the renowned mathematician Victor Glushkov, who had described a cybernetically controlled economy system during the early 1960s, became the Director of the Prirost System and he quickly pointed out several problems with the approach of using telex machines and primarily human controllers. Under his management, the communication systems of the Prirost System were converted into a direct ‘computer to computer’ networking system similar in many ways to the American ARPANET.

The conversion allowed to transmit more data in a shorter time and established the first decentralized computer network of the Soviet Union. Needing a large number of relatively cheap computer systems that could be used by the Prirost controlled factories, offices and institutions, lead to the further development of an industry that could produce high quality integrated circuits.

Between the early to mid 1980s the computers developed by the Prirost systems were also available for the general public in limited numbers. In schools computers became part of the curriculum, as any Soviet citizen could encounter a computer at a point and had to be able to use it. Many public libraries allowed easy access to a computer as well. On a side-note this eventually allowed the Soviets to monitor it’s citizens quite accurately and quell the rise of possible undesirable elements.

While the Western World feared an attack of the Soviets, the Soviets feared an attack of the Western world just as much. Especially if the Soviet Union succeeded in claiming Mars first. Considering that, having Prirost in a single location would be a terrible weakness. It’s destruction would leave the controlled economy in shambles pretty much immediately. By spreading it out over several interconnected control zones the system could be made more secure and if one part was destroyed, the others could take over.

Much like the United States, the Soviet Space Program and the economic reforms needed to be paid for, even in a communist nation. And the easiest way to do so was to reallocate the needed resources from other places.

The increase of efficiency and the increase of wages, meant that more money returned to the state. More money that was put into the space program. It was a huge step forward compared to the Wage reform of 1956.

In 1980 the Politburo introduced a limited private business. Specific to the various areas a number of licences for private businesses were offered and given to private individuals who offered services such as workshops or small stores. Kolkhozes, the collective farms of the Soviet Union, were allowed to sell a limited amount of their produce on their own. The number of licences were slowly raised over the years as the practice added to the economic growth of the Soviet Union.

Another decision made by the Politburo during the late 1970s and early 1980s was to slowly pull back military units from the Eastern Block nations, moving from an active control over their satellites to a more covert political control. The sole exception was East Germany, as it was still a possible field of battle against NATO and Euroforce. As the Reagan administration came into power in the United States, about half of the withdrawn forces were returned in response to the Invasion of Grenada and fears of a similar invasion is East Germany due to Reagan’s rhetoric.

However the military aid for these nations, in form of hardware and advisors, was increased to a certain degree, leading to additional economic gains. In 1980 the Prirost System was exported to the nations of the Warsaw Pact, attempting to make them less economically dependent on the Soviet Union.

The first signs of the changed stance was visible in Afghanistan 1978, where a communist revolution took place, partly due to a reduction of economic and military aid in the general region in the wake of the Soviet reformations. What finally lead to the revolution was the murder of a communist, with the existing government being held responsible.

The Soviet Union was the first to recognize the new government and support it financially, but while they had interest in the area going back to Tsarist Russia, they did little more as supporting the communists a civil war broke out between the communists and the Mujahedeen. There had been plans for a military intervention on Afghanistan, but in the end the intervention would have pulled away too many soldiers, tanks and planes that the Politburo felt it would expose them in these hard times of reforms.

The second and maybe bigger change was the Polish independent trade union Solidarność that had formed in 1980. The Soviets declined any calls of the Polish government for help, instead sending advisors. Martial law was declared in 1981, but was given up in 1982 as the new head of the Politburo, Yuri Andropov, believed that Solidarność, active in the Polish underground, would seriously hamper any economic gain the Polish could get.

Solidarność was accepted to assist Polish Government with several work related cases to improve the situation. This was a success and put forward in all other countries.

Another important change in the Warsaw Pact happened in Czechoslovakia. As the Soviet Union pulled back from the nation and reduced overt manipulations of the Czechoslovakian government, changes that had happened once before, once again rose in the population. Alexander Dubček reappeared on the political world and as many remembered him as a great reformer he entered the government as an independent advisor, eventually leading to the Second Prague Spring in 1985.

East Germany, important to the Soviets plans against NATO and Euroforce, on the other hand developed less favorable to the Soviet Union. The German Politburo, under Erich Honecker, saw the changes in their direct neighbours, Poland and Czechoslovakia, which did not sit well with them. The Prirost System, while officially supported, got the least amount of active support from the Politburo and the Stasi.

In the middle east an islamic revolution happened in Persia, after the communist revolution in Afghanistan. The Shah was overthrown and a religious government put into his place. While Great Britain was concerned, as they still had some good connections in the area, the newfound absence of the United States, as well as the Shah’s approval of the Oil embargo, made them decide to not assist the Shah. Even as the Shah begged for help, both nations decided to look the other way.

In 1980 Iran finally was invaded by Iraq over fears that the Islamic Revolution could spread into Iraq. Great Britain attempted to negotiate, but there was little that could be done. The Soviet Union decided to become involved to a degree, selling weapons to both sides of the conflict.

In the middle of all this was Israel. With the help of the United States, they had won the Yom Kippur War and, following its end, they felt invincible. But Yom Kippur and the end of any negotiations had left them surrounded by enemies.

While the US pulled back, the traditional ties to Israel remained as did the support. Israel had a priority for weapons exports and were the only operators of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat outside the United States by 1976, having received the Tomcats originally intended for Persia, but canceled during the Oil Crisis.

Israel used its time to prepare to for a war that would come. In 1981, when Egypt and Syria once again staged a massive attack on Israel, closely followed by a raise of insurgencies in South Lebanon, the world witnessed how modern US military technology was doing against mostly surplus Soviet equipment for the first time.

The feeling of invincibility of the Israelis on the other hand lead to a number of tactical decisions that were less than effective and some that were even counterproductive. It were these decisions that ended the Sinai War of 1981, on September 13, 1981, with a ceasefire without any gains for either side, and scratched Israels feeling of invincibility.

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