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Old 06-26-2009, 02:17 PM
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Default Countdown to the end of the world as we know it...

Twilight 2000 Timeline (V1.2): Countdown to Armageddon

This timeline has been creating using much of the work that had been started by a man I know only as Webstral… Whose amazing and wonderful work he had done to expand and clarify many aspects of the original Twilight 2000 timeline is what had inspired me, and kept my interest in preserving the original first edition Twilight 2000 timeline.

Konstantin Dmitrievich Danilov

Nikolai Ivanovich Tukhachevsky, Defense Minister


By the mid-1980’s, West and East Germany had formed distinct identities. The FRG had become an economic powerhouse. Its military was powerful, possessing a first-rate military tradition and top-notch equipment. East Germany, though a success by Communist standards, was impoverished next to its capitalist half. The population and military were both smaller and significantly less capable. Throughout this period, both halves of Germany were hosts to major foreign military establishments. The United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and France all maintained significant forces inside the FRG to defend their NATO partner from Soviet invasion. For their part, the Soviet Union maintained a massive military establishment in the DDR. Though by the 1980’s there was probably little risk of an outright Soviet invasion of West Germany, both sides maintained a high state of readiness. Germans on both sides of the border hoped for eventual reunification. The West Germans were more vocal about it. It was difficult to see, however, when that might happen.

In 1989, Hungary began to open its borders with the West. Soon afterwards, other Eastern European nations began to allow increased traffic with Western Europe. Gorbachev, the President of the Soviet Union, did nothing. Then, in December 1989, an amazing thing began to happen. The Berlin Wall, which had divided Communist East Berlin from capitalist West Berlin since the early 1960’s, began to fall. It seemed that the Cold War was on the verge of ending. After forty years, the dreams of German reunification were about to be realized. As West Berliners and East Berliners danced on the Wall, hard-line Communists in Moscow made their move.

In a violent coup, the Gorbachev regime was toppled. The new government, led by former KGB man Konstantin Dmitrievich Danilov, immediately set about restoring the Communist situation in Eastern Europe. Soviet troops restored the Berlin Wall with no small amount of bloodshed. Throughout Eastern Europe, the KGB and the Soviet Army reversed the liberalizing trend of the satellite states and reconfirmed Soviet hegemony. Tens of thousands were killed, tortured, or imprisoned. Despite the outcry of many West Germans, NATO stood by and watched helplessly. It was a signal moment for the West German psyche.

A group of KGB hard-liners and military men watched with growing apprehension.

If the Eastern European states had the power to open their borders to the West, there would be an enormous loss of specialized talent to the West. It had happened in East in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. With the border between Communist East and the increasingly prosperous West of Berlin open, professionals and specialists of every description left the DDR in droves. The Berlin Wall had been erected to keep them in. With the Iron Curtain beginning to look more and more like a sieve, the whole scene would be repeated on a massive scale. The economies of Eastern Europe would be devastated. That the Eastern European governments could not help foreseeing this confirmed to the cabal of Soviet hard-liners that the Eastern Europeans had lost their minds. They obviously preferred this self-destructive show of resistance to the USSR to their own economic well-being. There were ominous portents about where this might go. Stalin had conquered Eastern Europe and installed Communist regimes for the principal purpose of providing a bulwark against the West.

But it also would mean that there would be a unified Germany that would be allied with the West, that could invade Russia for the third time in a century if they so wished. The Germans would no longer have to fight their way through East and Poland before reaching Soviet soil. If they lost control of their East European satellites it could mean that Poland might be willing to allow Western forces to transit their country rather than participate in the defense of Russia. The Soviet hard-liners began to make plans, and create a covert network of like-minded allies in many of the East European nations.

In December 1989, the Berlin Wall started to come down. Live television broadcasts showed crowds of Germans on both sides of the Wall partying and attacking the Wall with sledgehammers. And shown as East German border guards who were supposed to be shooting any East Germans as they attempted to cross over to the other side, were instead actually helping West Berliners climb up onto the wall to destroy it. For many, the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 had signified the end of the cold war, but to others it was evidence that their iron grip on the nations of Eastern Europe was waning. And seeing East and West Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall frightened die-hard Communist hardliners throughout the Soviet government to work together and carry out a bloody coup that replaced Gorbachev and his reform government when Gorbachev had done did nothing to stop this travesty.

The hard-liners made their move, and using mostly KGB troops the hard-liners assaulted the Kremlin in the dead night. There was a great deal of violence and bloodshed. Within an hour, a KGB official named Konstantin Dmitrievich Danilov had assumed the top office in the Soviet Union.

Shortly thereafter, Soviet motor rifle troops pulled up to the Berlin Wall in several sectors. There were no warnings. The troops simply opened fire. Their principal targets were the East German border guards, but a good deal of fire was sprayed into the crowds of East German civilians on the Communist side of the Wall. Camera crews caught it all. Numbers of West Germans were caught on the Wall or even on the wrong side and gunned down. The atmosphere of jubilance instantly morphed into a scene of terror as Berliners attempted to flee. The West Berliners, though panicked into mass flight, at least had the Wall to protect them. Hundreds of East Germans died, and many more were wounded. Throughout East and Eastern Europe as a whole, the Soviet security apparatus went into action. Overnight, thousands of East Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, and Bulgarians were seized or assassinated.

The Soviet garrisons in Eastern Europe were mobilized and moved to take control of key assets. Fighting between Soviet troops and local military units broke out in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

Stunned, the West looked on in horror.

In a violent coup, the Gorbachev regime had been toppled. And the new government that emerged from the rubble, was led by a former KGB Official named Konstantin Dmitrievich Danilov, immediately set about restoring the Communist situation in Eastern Europe. Soviet troops had restored the Berlin Wall with no small amount of bloodshed. Throughout Eastern Europe, the KGB and the Soviet Army reversed the liberalizing trend of the satellite states and reconfirmed the Soviet hegemony. Tens of thousands were killed, tortured, or imprisoned. Despite the outcry of many West Germans, NATO stood by and watched helplessly. It was a signal moment for the West German psyche.

Just as there had been nothing they could do in 1956 or 1968, in 1989 the Western Allies were forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as the neo-Stalinists reasserted their control over the nations of the Warsaw Pact. Western public opinion exploded, but the heads of the NATO states were not prepared to invade Eastern Europe to stop the Soviets. Where necessary, the Soviets simply replaced the rebellious governments of Eastern Europe with more suitable local personnel. Fighting and insurrection spread in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Danilov mobilized a quarter-million troops from the western districts of the USSR and sent them into Eastern Europe to help the restored Communist governments put down restive elements. Purges continued in the governments. Disloyal military units were cornered and destroyed. Partisan movements sprang up and were hunted down by Soviet forces. All the while, the West lodged vociferous protests but otherwise did nothing. The Western press came to call it the Black Winter. By the time it was over, nationalist tendencies on the part of the Eastern Europeans had been crushed once again.

The Iron Curtain had been restored, and the brief thaw in the Cold War disappeared in a bitter frost that the Western media started to call the Black Winter.


The period immediately after the Black Winter (’89 - ’90) was one of the most tense in the history of the Cold War. The US President, George H.W. Bush, was deeply angered and frustrated by the turn of events in Eastern Europe. Though he was enough of a realist to know that he could not have done much to aid the Eastern Europeans without going to war with the Soviets, it was nevertheless bitterly disappointing to see the Iron Curtain so close to and yet so far from coming down.

Public opinion throughout the West was explosive. One poll in the US found that a majority of Americans were willing to go to war.* The Western press was filled with anti-Soviet vitriol, and vocal leaders in the legislatures of the NATO signatories soundly denounced the Danilov regime. The US Congress drafted and passed a measure to block all shipments of grain and other US products to the USSR. US leaders pressured other Western and Third World nations to follow suit.

[* It is noteworthy, however, that this poll stood out among other similar polls in making no mention of the prospect of nuclear war. Other polls showed that a majority of Americans still believed an outright confrontation with the USSR would lead to a nuclear exchange. Polls which included the nuclear issue showed a much smaller of the United States willing to risk nuclear war to liberate Eastern Europe.]

Behind the scenes, however, the Danilov regime was working to repair the damage to its relations with the West. Even as Soviet intelligence and security forces were locking down Eastern Europe, Soviet representatives were soliciting the United States and other Western nations for loans, credits, grain, and other products. Though the Eastern Europeans were handled brutally, Westerners caught up in events throughout the region were treated with great care by the Soviets.

Although his first act as the leader of the Soviet Union was to have directed the brutal counter revolution throughout Eastern Europe, Konstantin Dmitrievich Danilov was actually in fact a reformer. He understood why Gorbachev had made changes in the Soviet system. Danilov grasped the single overriding fact of Soviet existence at the beginning of the 1990’s: the Soviet Union could survive no longer as it had been operating for more than twenty years. The military budget had imposed a crushing burden on an economy that was much less productive than that of the United States. The pervasive presence of internal security was consuming nation resources at a rate that was small only when compared to the gargantuan military budget. Centralized planning, combined with the essential deceit of the Soviet system, had resulted in a national production situation that produced nothing so much as waste. State-run agriculture was a disaster. The Soviet Union possessed some of the most potentially productive agricultural land in the world, and yet the USSR imported massive quantities of food from the West. Even then, millions of Soviets existed at the brink of starvation.

Unlike many of his cronies in the new Kremlin cabal, Danilov understood clearly that the Soviet Union would implode without significant change. His problem was convincing the hard liners who had overthrown and killed Gorbachev that some measure of reform was required. Danilov needed to convince his co conspirators that their best option for holding onto power was to give up some of the immense power of the Party state before the state collapsed under its own weight.

Danilov’s initial efforts to restore the Gorbachev-era essence to Soviet-Western relations were soundly rebuffed. Bush and British Prime Minister John Major were under enormous pressure from the respective legislatures to find some means of injuring the Soviets. The West German Chancellor didn’t even want to meet with Soviet representatives. The brutality of the Soviet Communists towards other Communist peoples in the Eastern European satellites caused the large socialist segments of the French and Italian political structures to unite with the generally anti-Soviet conservatives of those countries. The smaller members of NATO had neither the resources to supply Soviet needs nor the inclination to buck the leadership of their larger partners.

In May 1990, Danilov sweetened his offers to the United States. He was willing to pay for grain, machinery, loans, and technology with oil. The Soviet Union possessed stupendous petroleum reserves, as well as a massive production capacity. Danilov silenced protests within his own government by pointing out that he was maneuvering the Soviet Union into a position of advantage. If the US (or other Western states) took the oil deal, the USSR would be edging out other vendors of oil. This could only hurt the oil-producing countries that were aligned with the West, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela. Moreover, the US would be further discouraged from military adventures with the USSR by the necessity of keeping the oil supply line open. If initial deals proved satisfactory, the volume of trade could increase. American dependence on Soviet oil would grow as a result.

Though sorely tempted, the Bush White House refused the deal. The conservatives understood the risks of becoming in any way dependent on Soviet oil. The grain embargo was hurting the Midwest farmers, but the general mood in Congress remained stridently anti-Soviet. The UK and other NATO states refused to deal with the Soviets for the same reasons.

Without outside intervention, this impasse might have kept Soviet-Western relations in a deep freeze for years to come. However, unexpected events occurring in the Middle East would affect the situation between the Soviets and the West, as they had so many times before. This time, though, the outbreak of war in the Middle East would serve to bring the superpowers to an understanding.

On August 2 1990, Iraq invaded the emirate of Kuwait. Within days, the elite Iraqi Republican Guard overran the small but enormously wealthy country on Iraq’s southern border and stood poised to invade Saudi Arabia.

This would become the first real test of Danilov’s ability as leader of the Soviet Union. Within days of the August 2nd invasion, United States airborne troops were on their way to Saudi Arabia. The Western Allies quickly rallied to the American banner.

Defense Minister Nikolai Ivanovich Tukhachevsky advocated immediate and whole hearted support for Iraq. Though it was infuriating that Hussein had invaded Kuwait without either seeking permission or consultation, the fact remained that a major Soviet client had scored an impressive victory over Western interests. Kuwait was conquered in little more than three days, leaving the victorious Iraqi Republican Guard standing on the northeastern border of Saudi Arabia. The Persian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia was the major oil-producing zone of the country, and it was one of the richest areas in the world. On the order of a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves lay between the border of Kuwait and the border of Qatar, and all Hussein had to do was reach out and take it. The Saudi armed forces were still mobilizing, and the only forces the United States could deploy in time to be of any worth were airmobile infantry units and a few Air Force squadrons. With a Soviet nuclear guarantee, the Iraqis would be free to use their tremendous conventional superiority. It was entirely possible for Iraq to capture the northeast portion of Saudi Arabia, thereby denying the enormous Saudi oil wealth to the West. With some Soviet support and a little luck, the Iraqis might capture the western shore of the Gulf south to Oman.

This was a winning position, Tukhachevsky argued. The West would not accept Iraq’s control of so much of the world’s oil. Even with the loss of her expeditionary force in northeastern Saudi Arabia, the United States and her allies would not sit idly by while Hussein’s Iraq controlled the lion’s share of the Gulf oil. By herself, Iraq could not hope to win a long-term war against the United States, her Western allies, and whatever Third World participants the US could bring into the picture. Iraq would have to have Soviet backing. That backing would give the Soviets de facto control over Iraq, which would give the USSR de facto control over a critical share of the world’s oil. The West then could be made to dance to the Soviet tune.

Danilov disagreed with the Tukhachevsky interpretation of the situation. If the oil really were so critical to the economies of the West, they would fight to regain control of it. The Iraqi Army might be able to get control of the Gulf Coast as far south as Oman in the short term, but how could the Iraqis reasonably be expected to control the whole Saudi Peninsula? Nothing less would do, Danilov opined, since the Western Allies would build up for a counteroffensive wherever they could. If the United States could build her forces in Dhahran, she would. If she were forced to build in Doha or Abu Dhabi or Muscat or Jiddah or Mocha, she would. The only way for the Iraqis to prevent an Allied build up on the Saudi Peninsula would be for the Iraqis to secure the entire perimeter of the Peninsula—or at least all the ports and all the potential beachheads. Could it really be supposed that the Iraqi Army, Navy, and Air Force were equal to this task? It was highly doubtful that the Iraqis could secure Dhahran and Riyadh simultaneously, much less march the whole length of the Peninsula against the opposition of the Saudi, Qatari, UAE, and Omani militaries, supplemented as they would be by US naval air assets and arriving Army, Marines, and Air Force assets. And even if they actually captured the Peninsula, the Iraqi Navy was completely incapable of securing the coastline against the US Navy and the Allied navies. By the same token, the Iraqi Air Force could not hope to stand against Allied air power operating off US Navy and Allied carriers in the Arabian Sea and Red Sea and Allied air power flying out of Israel and bases in the Horn of Africa. Without control of the air or sea around Saudi Arabia, there was no way for Iraq to secure the Saudi Peninsula in the long term.

Nikolai Ivanovich Tukhachevsky countered that this was where Soviet support would come in. Soviet Air Force (SAF) regiments could be moved into Saudi Arabia to support the Iraqis. The Soviet Navy possessed the world’s largest fleet of submarines. Surely this force would come in handy in preventing Allied landings along the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.

Such overt support for the Iraqis was tantamount to war with the West, Danilov countered. Was the Soviet Union really ready for this? Such a war could drag on for a year or two while the West built the necessary combat power in the areas adjacent to the Saudi Peninsula. While it might be hoped that the loss of Persian Gulf oil might bring the Western economies to their knees, the fact remained that the West had access to oil from several other sources: Mexico, Venezuela, Norway, Nigeria, and other nations. Some belt-tightening, rationing, and stepped-up production in other oil-producing countries could very well keep the Western economies on their feet—enough so to wage war in the Middle East, at any rate.

Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq, was confronted by a number of problems at home which he hoped to alleviate by conquering little Kuwait. Having seized power in Iraq in 1979, Hussein soon thereafter came to blows with his neighbor Iran. Iran, a long time US ally, underwent a wracking revolution in 1979. The Shah of Iran was deposed, and a new fundamentalist Islamic government under the Ayotollah Khomeini took nominal control of Iran. At first, Khomeini’s grip on the country was shaky. Hussein decided to use this opportunity to settle a long standing difference of opinion between Iran and Iraq over control of the Shatt-al-Arab, the waterway that was the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates River and which linked Iraq to the Persian Gulf. Iraqi forces crossed the Shatt-al-Arab, secured the eastern bank, and drove east. Hussein believed that the Iranians would not be able to respond effectively, giving him control over the southwestern corner of Iran.

The Iraqis moved quite slowly, however, while the Iranians responded with surprising energy. Within weeks, the Iranians had driven the Iraqis back across the Shatt-al-Arab. Hussein asked for a truce, but the revolutionary Iranians refused. For the next eight years, Iran and Iraq would engage in a war of attrition that would see widespread (if inept) use of chemical weapons, missiles, and human wave attacks by one side or another. Hussein built the Iraqi Army to more than a million men, with a robust park of tanks, APCs, artillery, trucks, and other materiel for mechanized war. Finally, in 1988 the Iraqis launched a series of counteroffensives that broke the back of the Iranians.

The Iraqi economy was devastated by the war. The national debt was huge, despite considerable aid from other Persian Gulf states that did not want to see Iranian-style revolutionaries increase their power. With the end of the war, the Gulf states wanted their money back. Hussein could not demobilize his million-man army because there were no jobs for the soldiers. Worse, the price of oil—Iraq’s chief export—was going down at the end of the 1980’s. Desperate, Hussein turned his attention to Kuwait.

Kuwait was one of the oil-rich Gulf states which provided loans to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. The little emirate had not existed until the demise of the Ottoman Empire, at which time the British created the modern map of the Middle East. Under the Ottomans, Kuwait had been a part of what was to become Iraq. Given the very limited access to the Persian Gulf enjoyed by Iraq, the Iraqi state had long coveted Kuwait. The situation under the Ottomans gave Iraq a pretext of ownership, if a somewhat flimsy one. Further, Kuwait was tremendously wealthy.

For Hussein, conquest of Kuwait promised to solve a number of problems. Control of additional oil wealth would help the cash-flow problem. Eradication of the Kuwaiti state would obviate much of the Iraqi debt while bringing billions into the Iraqi coffers. Conquest of Kuwait also might bring the other Gulf states to the table in a much more compliant frame of mind regarding Iraq’s debts to them. Iraq would have an invaluable addition to her coastline, plus the port of Kuwait City. It was a promising package. Thus on August 2 1990, Hussein sent his elite Republican Guard across the Kuwaiti border.

Worldwide condemnation was immediate. The United States demanded that the Iraqis withdraw from Kuwait and began immediate deployment of the 82nd Infantry Division (Airborne) to Saudi Arabia, which now appeared to be under threat of imminent invasion. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) was now faced with the war in the Persian Gulf for which they had trained and prepared for more than a decade.

Although the United States and France both did business with Iraq, the principal supplier of Iraqi military hardware was the Soviet Union. Soviet advisors and technicians were to be found throughout Iraq, and relations between Baghdad and Moscow were cordial. In the West, the initial assumption was that the new hard-line Soviet government was behind the invasion of Kuwait. Comparisons with the Korean War were on the airwaves and in the halls of power throughout the West before the Iraqi Army had reached the southern border of little Kuwait. If the heavy divisions of the Republican Guard did strike into northeastern Saudi Arabia, they would grind the light troops of the US 82nd Airborne into the sand. By the time the first elements of the 82nd Airborne Division were winging their way to the Gulf, the only real question seemed to be whether the Soviets would direct Hussein to invade Saudi Arabia, thereby bringing the majority of the world’s petroleum reserves into Soviet hands.

In fact, the Soviets were as surprised as anyone by this turn of events. Hussein had neither sought nor received approval from the Kremlin for an invasion of Kuwait. He ignored Soviet attempts at communication during his two-day operation in Kuwait. Only when the US began deploying CENTCOM did Hussein respond to Moscow’s calls.

Now, with the Iraqi Army in firm control of Kuwait, the Kremlin faced a dilemma. How to make the most of the situation?

The Kremlin had ears, and Danilov knew the Americans thought the Soviet Union was behind the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Indeed, it was hard to see how the Americans would believe otherwise. The US had persisted in seeing every Communist action around the world as a part of a grand scheme directed from Moscow long after it should have been obvious that this was not the case. The Americans blamed the Soviets for Korea. To a lesser extent, they blamed the Soviets for Vietnam (despite the fact that the majority of aid for North Vietnam came from China). In the Gulf in 1990, the US was presented with a worst-case scenario of a Soviet client invading an important oil-producing state that was friendly to the West. How could the Americans not see it something done to Soviet advantage?

Many of the Kremlin hard liners argued the very same thing. Though they had not instigated the Iraqi action, the Soviets stood to gain enormously from it. With no effort on their own part, the Soviets were looking at a situation that could deny the West some of the Gulf oil upon which it was dependent. With a little more urging and a guarantee of Soviet protection, Hussein could be moved to take northeastern Saudi Arabia and most of the Saudi oil fields. With the majority of the world’s oil reserves in Soviet hands, the West could be leveraged into providing food and loans to the USSR. A Soviet nuclear guarantee to Iraq would prevent the Americans from using nuclear weapons against Iraq, while a steady supply of Soviet parts and equipment to Iraq would be more than sufficient to offset whatever forces the American could get to the Gulf over the next few months.

Danilov and a few of his more visionary allies saw things differently. The hard liners were right that Iraqi seizure of the Saudi oil fields would put the West in a bad situation. An Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia was likely to backfire. While it was true that the heavy divisions of the Republican Guard would destroy the 82nd Airborne, the United States hardly could be counted on to take this lying down. CENTCOM would continue to deploy to Saudi Arabia—to whatever port could receive the American equipment. The Iraqi Army lacked the troops and the logistical capability to occupy the ports of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, plus the ports of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman. The United States would base air and ground units in whatever portion of the Saudi Peninsula was available to them, then open operations against Iraq. The result would be a massive US expenditure, a general Western shift to non-Gulf sources of oil and an overall lessening of consumption, and an heightened American enmity with the USSR that would last for years to come.

The Kremlin hard liners countered that the United States had no stomach for a protracted war in the Gulf. With the aid of Soviet submarines and other naval power, the ports ringing the Saudi Peninsula might be closed to the Americans. Faced with the prospect of fighting their way into Omani or Saudi ports, followed by a campaign over long stretches of desert against an opponent using modern Soviet weapons, the Americans would concede the point. The fact that intense fighting in northeastern Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would ruin the very oil wells the US wanted to control would only make the option of bargaining with the Soviet Union that much more attractive.

Seeing that the Kremlin was deadlocked on the issue of whether the Americans would continue to fight in the Gulf once the 82nd Airborne had been smashed, Danilov changed tactics. He asked his fellow top Communists, who sets policy for the Soviet Union? Regardless of the potential usefulness of current development in the Gulf, the fact remained that Hussein had not obtained Soviet permission before starting his adventure in Kuwait. As a result, the Soviet Union was thrust into a situation in which could not plan, only react. Supporting Iraq now would set a very bad precedent. Other Soviet client states might take unilateral action for their own reasons in their parts of the world, thereby dragging the Soviet Union into one confrontation with the West after another. Sooner or later, the Americans would fight. More to the point, Moscow was supposed to set policy for the client states, not the other way around.

In the light of the current situation, Danilov and a few of his supporters did not agree that the West could be extorted into trading food for oil. More likely, the West would be so incensed and threatened that they would refuse to trade. Non-Arab members of OPEC, as well as non-OPEC oil producers like Mexico and Norway, would be glad to make up the difference in global oil production and reap the profits of higher oil prices.

There was another factor to consider. Hussein had invaded Kuwait because his economy was ailing. Even with Kuwait under his control, Hussein owed billions to other countries. Defaulting on that debt or even conquering the other Gulf states (a feat which the Soviet advisors in Iraq did not think was possible) would not solve all of Iraq’s problems, because Hussein needed hard currency to provide jobs for his million-man army. The Soviet Union could not provide hard currency for Iraq. To obtain hard currency, Hussein would have to sell oil to the West sooner or later, at which point the relationships between the USSR, Iraq, and the United States would become quite complex. Moscow might be put in the position of currying favor with a client state as opposed to the other way around, which again was contrary to the way things were supposed to be.

As the US 82nd Airborne was landing in Saudi Arabia, the United States began assembling support in the United Nations. Most of the UN believed as the United States did that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was a Soviet inspired scheme. Western governments which had rebuffed Danilov’s efforts to obtain grain, credits, and machinery saw the invasion of Kuwait as a Soviet response. Given the events of the Black Winter, the United States had a certain currency in its efforts to build a coalition of nations to oppose the Iraqi action.

The US ambassador to the UN issued a thinly veiled accusation that the USSR had masterminded the invasion. Naturally, the Soviet ambassador denied any wrongdoing.

There was also the uncomfortable fact that the Soviet Union was highly dependent upon the West for grain. Danilov was openly scornful of the notion that the West could be extorted into selling food to the Soviet Union. Soviet forces might get control of the Persian Gulf, but what would the Soviet people eat during the victory celebration?

Danilov proposed instead that Hussein be left to his own devices. He had invited war with the West without consulting with Moscow. Now the Soviet Union could reverse some of the damage done during the Black Winter by allowing the West to liberate Kuwait. Western grain and loans would continue to come in, and the Soviet Union could set about improving her position for the next time such an opportunity presented itself.

This last argument settled the matter for most of the Tukhachevskyites, if not Tukhachevsky himself. The Kremlin might be willing to chance defeat on the Saudi Peninsula a year or two down the road, but short-term starvation for the Soviet people would jeopardize the position of the new regime. The change of power was still too fresh in the minds of the Soviet people.

At this point, the Soviet Defense Minister, who previously had supported getting Hussein to invade Saudi Arabia, changed his argument. If a US led alliance did assemble forces in Iraq, as appeared likely, the enemy would be providing the Soviet Union an excellent chance to see the Western powers fight. The mood at the UN made it seem like the Americans were going to fight after all. That being the case, and given that Hussein had not sought permission for his actions, why not let Iraq stand on its own? If Hussein did not quickly give up Kuwait, the US-led alliance would have to attack. This would be a superb opportunity to observe the state-of-the-art in American war fighting without any risk to the USSR. At the same time, the USSR could send the message to the other client states that if they acted on their own, they would be hung out to dry. The Soviet Union would not be dragged into regional conflicts without prior consultation.

With the support of the Defense Minister, Danilov made his policy choice. He invited Bush to an emergency summit meeting in Switzerland in the second week of August. There, he and Bush came to terms. In two days of meetings that were often one-on-one, Danilov made it clear to Bush that the USSR had nothing to do with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and that the Soviet Union wanted no confrontation with the West. Bush told Danilov that he wanted Moscow to order Baghdad out of Kuwait. Danilov replied that he didn’t believe Hussein would respond to that, but he promised to give the strongest advice he possibly could.

To further impress Bush with his desire to normalize relations with the West, Danilov offered to issue a public proclamation condemning the Iraqi invasion. Soviet military aid would cease until Iraq pulled out of Kuwait. Perhaps most importantly, the USSR would support a UN resolution demanding an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait backed by military action if Hussein refused. Further, the Kremlin would line up as many of its clients as possible to support the US-led effort in the UN.

Bush returned to Washington and waited for the Soviets to play their part at the UN. When Danilov proved good to his word, Bush had the grain embargo lifted. When some members of Congress protested, Bush made it clear that he felt the Danilov regime was one the US could work with “under certain conditions.”

Hussein refused to give up Kuwait. He was certain the West would bargain with him for the oil. He was equally certain that the USSR would back him again if he could score a battlefield success. Also, successful resistance on the part of the Iraqis would put Hussein in the forefront of the Arab world. This would make him impossible for the superpowers to simply manhandle. The Iraqi Army began to dig into Kuwait.

By the time the US XVIII Airborne Corps had finished its deployment to Saudi Arabia, it was obvious that Iraq was not going to invade Saudi Arabia. It was equally obvious that the US led Coalition was going to have to eject the Iraqis from Kuwait. With the support of the Soviet Union, the Coalition had brought nations like Syria into the fold. To liberate Kuwait, the US was going to need more forces and additional diplomacy.

At a second summit, this one in Reykjavik, Bush and Danilov talked candidly about their desire for good relations. Notes written by Bush during the meeting indicate that Danilov told him a good deal more about his thinking than even people in the Kremlin knew. Danilov believed that the United States and the Soviet Union would always be rivals, but they need not be enemies. He told Bush he believed the military competition between East and West was no longer a viable option. He told Bush that while the Party fully intended to retain power in the Soviet Union, he intended to introduce reforms. He would have to do so in a more gradual manner than Gorbachev had done, or the remaining hard liners would purge him as well. However, he hoped that over the course of the next ten years the US and USSR could agree to a 25 50% reduction in nuclear weapons and a 25 30% reduction in conventional forces. Beyond that, he hoped that the US and USSR could enter into trade agreements that would satisfy both their needs and give Danilov the political capital he would need to further advance reforms.

Danilov promised to back a US-sponsored resolution authorizing the Coalition to use force to liberate Kuwait. He told Bush that the Soviet ambassador would approve verbiage that enabled Coalition aircraft to use Iraqi airspace and Coalition ground forces to use Iraqi territory to the degree that said usage supported the goal of Kuwaiti liberation. However, Danilov stipulated that Iraq otherwise was to remain intact. Hussein was to remain in power in Iraq. Destruction of Iraqi equipment and personnel pursuant to the liberation of Kuwait was acceptable to the Soviet Union. Destruction of Iraqi equipment and personnel pursuant to the destruction of the Hussein regime was not.

Bush understood what Danilov was saying readily enough. The USSR would keep its clients essentially intact, though the clients were not free to do as they pleased. Back in Washington, the Bush Administration argued the virtues of being bound by such an agreement with the Soviets. If the US complied with the Soviet demand for a continuing Hussein-led Iraq that kept all its territory, there would be a de facto policy of detente. Had not the Reagan Administration built up US military might for a more aggressive policy? How would American clients feel about a policy that guaranteed that Soviet clients on their border would be assured their political survival (and likely rebuilding) by the proposed Iraq deal?

Voices of realism pointed out that agreeing to Danilov’s condition was nothing more than the policy of containment the US had been applying for decades. Not since the Korean War had the US attempted to liberate or conquer a Soviet client by force of arms. There did not appear to be any good opportunities for that on the horizon, either—even if future US leadership felt inclined to go that route. Danilov was giving the US his permission to do what was necessary to liberate Kuwait without any threat of Soviet involvement. This represented an opportunity to put the US armed forces through their paces without risking an all out war with the Soviet Union. The deal was too good to pass up.


The US military wanted to use some of its European formations in the effort to liberate Kuwait. The experience would be invaluable in any future European conflict. The Army tapped VII US Corps with two heavy divisions and an armored cavalry regiment. Not yet ready to trust the Soviets completely, the Army moved two divisions and an armored cavalry regiment from CONUS to Europe before moving VII US Corps to Saudi Arabia.*

[III US Corps moves to Europe along with 5th ID(M). Two National Guard formations, 35th ID(M) and 116th ACR are called up and deployed to Europe to take over the duties of VII US Corps. 4th ID(M), which is supposed to transit by air to Europe to draw POMCUS equipment, remains on alert at Fort Carson, CO. 1st CD, 2/2nd AD, and 3rd ACR, all of which are slated for deployment to Europe, are replaced by 49th AD (TXNG), 194th Armd Bde (sep), and 278th ACR (TNNG) as CONUS-based reserves for air deployment and drawing of POMCUS equipment. The USMC activates 4th Marine Division to take the place of 1st Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, which is deploying to Saudi Arabia.]

The Coalition build up in Saudi Arabia continued through the end of 1990. Eventually, twenty-seven nations would provide ground, air, or naval combat forces, with another twelve nations providing non combat support units, financial support for the war, or significant humanitarian support. The main combat power of the Coalition came from the United States, which had five heavy Army divisions, two light Army divisions, two armored cavalry regiments, two Marine divisions, plus separate Marine brigades in its ground forces. Air elements included more than 1300 combat aircraft, while major naval elemis included eight aircraft carriers and two battleship groups. Contingents of division size or greater came from Egypt, France, Kuwait, Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the UK. Contingents of brigade size came from Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain, and Bangladesh.

UN Resolution 678 stifled ongoing objections from hawkish anti-Soviets in the Bush Administration regarding the fate of Iraq. Passed on November 29 1990, the resolution authorized the US-led Coalition to liberate Kuwait. The overthrow of the Iraqi government and/or conquest of the Iraqi state were not included among the authorized actions. The Soviet Union deliberately stayed on the sidelines in the formulation of the resolution. Bush pointed out that this was evidence that détente was in the international interest and that the United States would reap the greatest benefit from respecting international opinion on the matter.

The Coalition opened its air offensive against Iraq on January 17, 1991. In an extraordinary display of technical prowess and fighting skills, the Coalition air assets literally annihilated one of the densest air defense networks in the world, then severed the logistical links between the Iraq and the Iraqi forces in the Kuwait Theater of Operations (KTO). Aerial bombardment had robbed the Iraqi forces in the KTO of fifty percent of their combat power by the time the Coalition ground offensive got underway a month later.

At the start of the ground offensive, the Iraqi Army had approximately thirty-seven divisions in the KTO. Somewhat more than half of these were non-mechanized infantry divisions occupying extensively prepared defensive positions. Backing these divisions were eight armored and mechanized divisions of the regular Iraqi Army; still further back were six divisions of the elite Republican Guard. This daunting assembly of conventional forces was overrun, routed, and destroyed by Coalition ground forces in a sweeping mechanized offensive that lasted four days. Losses to the Iraqi Army included more than 2,500 tanks, comparable numbers of APCs and IFVs, huge quantities of other equipment, and more than a quarter-million men wounded, killed, or captured.

True to his agreement with Danilov and the letter of the UN resolution authorizing the use of force in Kuwait, Bush stopped the Coalition forces south of the Euphrates River. The Americans pulled back, and Saddam Hussein was left in control of Iraq.

The results of the Second Gulf War (the First Gulf War was fought between Iran and Iraq) were far-reaching. The emirate of Kuwait was liberated. The oil rich Gulf states of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman were more closely tied to the West than ever before. The United States had put its forces and doctrine to the test, resulting in the most one-sided victory in the recorded history of warfare. It was a sea change in the global perception of the balance of power.

Danilov had scored a major victory over the hawks in his own government. Most of them were forced to admit that the United States would have destroyed any Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia that did not involve massive quantities of Soviet troops. By staying on the sidelines, Danilov had secured fresh grain shipments and a measure of East-West good will that would have been difficult to imagine a year prior. The Soviet Union had shown a willingness to respect international law outside its existing sphere of influence. The other Soviet client states were effectively reined in by the example of Iraq. And the Soviets now had a sobering idea of the capabilities of the United States. Danilov had accomplished all this with virtually no cost to the USSR.

In the West, Bush was able to partially redeem himself in the eyes of a public who still ridiculed him for inaction during the Black Winter. This was unfair to Bush, who had no good options at the time. Unfortunately for Bush, the stigma of the Black Winter weighed more heavily against him than his success in the Gulf, even though the results of the Second Gulf War were far more important for the United States. Bush would be voted out of office in 1992.

When the guns had cooled in Iraq and Kuwait, all parties moved quickly to establish themselves in the new order. The USSR offered to rebuild the Iraqi Army in exchange for oil. In the wake of the war, the USSR found willing Western and Third World buyers for its oil; the Soviets accepted Iraqi oil as payment in kind, then sold the oil on the international market for hard currency. Hussein readily accepted the Soviet offer, despite the fact that his sponsors had abandoned him so completely. The Western-aligned Gulf states established a new defensive alliance. Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) forces were stationed in Kuwait to discourage further Iraqi adventures. The United States left a single heavy brigade in Kuwait and pre positioned the equipment for the balance of a heavy division. Iraq rapidly began rearming. The GCC girded for a likely second round of conflict with Iraq, not trusting the apparent agreement between the US and USSR.

Danilov’s deal with George Bush of the United States worked out splendidly for the Soviet Union. Kuwait was liberated, the Iraqi military was savaged, and Hussein remained in power. Hussein was forced back into the arms of the Soviet Union, who quickly undertook to re arm the Iraqi dictator. The Soviets got a front-row seat to the show, from which they learned that US capabilities were even more advanced than the Soviets had supposed. Danilov’s restraint appeared even wiser. Western grain continued to flow to the USSR, as did Western credits. In the end, Danilov gained immeasurably in the eyes of the Party and of the international community.

Last edited by natehale1971; 06-26-2009 at 04:14 PM.
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