- Panda Kwong
Twilight Struggle is a very thematically driven game, and I often find myself wondering what the world would be like if the Cold War REALLY played out like my TS games. Sometimes the world looks vaguely similar-- especially in US victories. Other times, it can look a bit odd-- free, democratic Afghanistan threatening the Southern border of the USSR while unified, Communist Korea is the only Soviet stronghold in Asia. (Which, incidentally, occurred in my last game.) Do you ever find yourself pondering what the world would be like after your TS games? If enough people are interested in drawing up a geostrategic map after their games, I suppose we could even have a competition to determine the most dynamic analysis of a post-Twilight Struggle world.
What do you think? I'll start:
The USSR won the Cold War in 1976 with a combination of decisive support from multiple different regions of the globe and symbolic triumphs in the space race. This was the state of the regions in 1976:
What was the former American Lake is no more, and the Soviets dominate the region. Communist Panama remains the Soviet bulwark in the region, the product of a long and bitter struggle over the strategic gateway to South America. It remains a dominant regional power with Colombia as its strategic hinterland. Cuba also remains a powerful geostrategic threat to the US, encouraging left-wing insurgencies across the region and sponsoring instability in pro-US regimes in the Caribbean. It is aided by Nicaragua and Haiti, both radical Communist regime. Mexico has become the main US trading and political partner in the region, with Guatemala and Honduras run by rightist juntas barely holding on to US support. The US, remaining as a great power, continues to support Mexico as part of its hinterland but its dedication to supporting the other pro-American regimes is suspect with its defeat in the Cold War. The Soviet Union, too, may withdraw from smaller states in favour of spending more on domestic affairs while maintaining dominance in the region to threaten the US. The region remains somewhat volatile, especially in some unstable puppet regimes like Haiti and Guatemala.
South America is divided into 2 distinct regions-- upper South America and the Southern Cone. Apart from Communist Colombia, both Venezuela and Brazil are solidly capitalist, with Brazil being the prime power in the subregion and the larger recipient of US support. With the US in decline, Brazil may pursue a more radical regionalist agenda, uniting Venezuela and Paraguay and reaching out to pro-USSR regimes in the quest to become a great power. The hardline socialists of Chile act as a key flagship for the USSR, and continue to receive Soviet backing to contest regional hegemony with Brazil. Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia join her, with Argentina in an uneasy partnership with Chile. The US, meanwhile, attempts to encourage regional enmity between Chile and Argentina while developing economic interests in Venezuela. A potential "fault line" in the region is the Colombian-Venezuelan border, where a Panamian-Colombian alliance is deterred by the strength of Brazil only temporarily and continues to covertly disrupt Venezuela to expand Soviet influence and harm American trading interests. A conflict in Uruguay, the gateway between Brazil and Argentina, is not out of the question.
Neither power can truly claim to dominate Europe. The USSR is holding on to Poland and Romania, two states critical to maintaining the integrity of its borders, and the US continues to build strong ties with Canada and the UK. Italy, the US' last stronghold in mainland Europe, is rapidly slipping away with the allure of joining what is truly Europe with West Germany and the USSR. Yet a string of socialist but democratic governments in West Germany have turned it into a truly independent regional power. It is looking to expand ties with France, Italy and the Mediterranean countries to preserve its economic and security interests, using its independent but democratic political culture as part of its appeal. East Germany, with a dominant Communist Party government but strengthening democratic forces and civil society, is viewed as a model of authoritarian democracy, and is actively engaged in unification talks with West Germany. A unified, politically independent Germany will be a strong threat to Soviet interests, and the USSR strives to prevent reunification. The two powers may continue to spar over the Balkans, Greece and Turkey, with the latter two weakened and now unstable because of the lack of American support. Apart from low-intensity conflict and all-out war, a potential third path has been said to exist-- the USSR extracting security and economic interests from a politically pro-Soviet but democratic Europe, with West Germany developing peaceful relations with Italy, France and East Germany, then looking to develop its overseas interests to avoid direct conflict with the Soviets.
The Middle East has one central security issue-- Israel. It has received significant US support, but it is not completely a US ally. This status has led some Arab states to believe that it is vulnerable to invasion, but the US' efforts in the region have led to increased regional security through the establishment of moderate Arab regimes in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. With the withdrawal of US support Egypt and Jordan are expected to pull through with their relatively popular regimes, and the fact that they may pursue policies closer to USSR interests. Lebanon is highly unstable and may be a key target of Soviet disruption, looking to end the existence of anti-Soviet regimes in the region starting with the weakest. However, with this reasonable security situation Israel is expected to continue existing with some foreign policy adjustments. The Gulf region remains a hotspot of strategic contention. The US is determined to preserve its economic interests by protecting Saudi Arabia, but equally the USSR desires to force the US to accept a new economic reality where resource monopoly held by pro-USSR states ensures economic weakness in the US. As such Iraq, a power in the ascendant, will probably pursue either direct or covert conflict with Saudi Arabia. With the support of pro-Soviet regimes like Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is swiftly influencing oil-producing countries and the Islamic world. However, as a regional anchor of the USSR it remains fairly stable and cooperative.
Since the unification of Korea into a capitalist, liberal-democratic state, it has become a key regional power. With strong economic fundamentals and markets in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, it is increasingly aggressive in defending security interests in Asia. While the struggle over Europe or South America might be primarily economic or political, there are direct matters of confrontation over security in Asia. Japan has weakened significantly with America's decline, and as has Taiwan. Korea has looked to fill that security void and act as a powerful barrier to Chinese intervention. The pro-American regimes in the Philippines and Malaysia will become significantly less stable with Soviet efforts to turn Southeast Asia into a Soviet lake. Korea and Australia both look to intervene in support of the governments there, while the Communist regimes of Indochina hold on to fragile stability due to Soviet support. India has emerged as a strong player in the region, taking up the mantle of military support in areas where the USSR has retreated from to focus on domestic affairs. Southeast Asia remains its hinterland and peace with Pakistan has been pursued through the use of the USSR as a key intermediary. The future political status of pro-Soviet China is unclear, with the regime being more or less closed to the outside world with minimal security involvement internationally. However, Southeast Asia continues to be highly unstable as Korea is expected to continue to defend Malaysia and the Philippines, and perhaps even extend pan-Asian ideological efforts to Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Africa remains a chaotic and tragic continent. Algeria has been a capitalist and reasonably democratic state for a very long time, and with West Germany's rise it is expected to survive reasonably safely in North Africa. Yet from Mali and Mauritania all the way down to South Africa, war and chaos is the order of the day. South Africa, the only other pro-US regime in the region, is slipping away into the Soviet grasp due to the Communist leanings of Southern Africa. Angola and Zaire, in particular, have gone through numerous coups, revolutions, and wars, meaning that the Communist regimes there are narrowly holding on to power through repression and violence. Nigeria is in a similar chaotic state, and Africa continues to be ridden by chaos and strife. If there is one bright spot, then it is that with the decline of US power, insurgencies and military factions loyal to the US will be much weakened and Communist regimes will be better able to restore stability. The flip side to this, however, is that with no superpower mediation (the USSR is increasingly disinterested in the region because it is no longer contesting it with the US, apart perhaps from the resources of Zaire, Angola and Nigeria), low-intensity conflicts may take hold and throw the continent into an even worse dark age.
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- I always do this with any 'grand scale' games. World in Flames always gets me thinking too.
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- Philip ThomasUnited Kingdom
- Nuclear Winter?
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- David Benito Richards(Prowler)Spain
This "grand scale thinking" is one of the pleasures of Twilight Struggle...
In other games that I like, such as Agricola, the world will surely be the same whether it's you or somebody else who has that one more carrot. But in TS, surely the game won't be the same if you win or lose.
What I often think about is, what would the USA look like if the USSR won the Cold War? Or, what could the US have done to lose the Cold War?
For example, if the US loses the Cold War in the Early War, maybe they go back to isolationism after WWII like they did in 1919 after WWI. If they lose in the Mid War, the USA could be torn apart by internal conflict. If they lose in the Late War, I imagine the US going down by an extreme case of the "Carter Malaise", or maybe they transition to some kind of socialist government in a process like Gorbachev's Perestroika in reverse...
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- Max DuBoff(MD1616)United States
ConnecticutNever let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
My game/historical fiction novel from today (sadly, my US lost by 19 in Final Scoring):
In 1989, the United States crumbled, surrounded by Communist-power dictatorships. After a Destalinist dictator came to power in Chile, the USSR carefully sowed the seeds of autocracy in South America as the US watched with a mix of shock and horror. Not even a short-lived US-supported Junta in Argentina could last for more than a year or two. An early coup in Panama instituted an unshakable Red regime, while Fidel Castro ushered in a destructive age of fear on the Southern US border. Devout followers of Liberation Theology in Mexico and Guatemala gave the USSR life right on the southwestern US border, hurting trade extensively as the US increasingly had to turn to its solid northern ally, Canada. The US had no trouble securing oil, though, since it maintained friendly relations with the reassuringly (and wholly!) democratic Middle East. The USSR could only influence the troublesome radicals in Syria and Lebanon. After WWII, Italy never truly converted to the Allies, and it soon openly allied with the USSR after a powerful coup. The post-WWII Marshall Plan gave the US the support of France, West Germany, and the Mediterranean countries, ensuring constant tension between Eastern and Western Europe but nothing too destructive. Northern Africa supported democracy, but Southern Africa was a Communist stronghold. Over in Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India were completely loyal to the US, but the USSR manipulated all of Korea and a ring of countries around Thailand, which was weakened by bad press from the Ussuri River Skirmish but eventually returned to the Communist fold. In the end, the Americas ruined the US; so I suppose we'll be "asking not..." only because the Communist overlords don't reveal their government secrets.
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