By Bob C.
Copyright (c) 2008
Based upon the concept of The Foresight War by Anthony G Williams and Foresight America by Paul Adkins.
Bob Thomas was in a meeting room, drab, heavy smell of tobacco smoke. Three men in military uniforms, and one in a suit were sitting at the table. Two guards in military uniforms were standing by the door.
“Mr. Thomas, why didn't you come to us first?” Bob Thomas was still groggy. “Mr. Thomas!”. Stirring himself, he answered, “Can I have some coffee?”, one of the men poured some from a steel urn, put it in front of Thomas with metal containers with cream and sugar.
“I actually recently read a science fiction story just like what is happening. I read an intro online then ordered the book, Foresight War, I think it was Tony Williams.”
Thomas answered “Ah, it's 1954, I was using a computer network, I can explain it more later. Anyway, the book was about a British man from 2004 who finds himself in 1934. He has some items that he normally carried which he used to get the attention of a scientist, then he helped Britain do better in World War Two.”
One of the men in uniform introduced as “Dr. Chadwell” asked, “So why didn't you do that?” Thomas answered, “You see, that's the problem, there's only a little to fix, and much to get wrong, from 1954 to my year, 2008, there has not been a nuclear war, there was even the fall of communism, sure there are things that could be better, could have been better, but nuclear war was avoided so narrowly, that any change made now could change that outcome.”
“So what was your plan?”
“To live quietly, first I got a little money from a pawnshop from something not anachronistic. I was going to modestly benefit from foresight, and try not to change history if I could help it. On the other hand, there was something called the butterfly theory, in my time, or maybe the 1960's, that said even the flap of a butterflies wing, could months or years later change history in large ways, and even change where a hurricane would be.”
“What happened to your plan?”
“I drank too much in a bar, and showed off my cell phone that takes pictures. I suppose I could have been robbed, but instead I wound up here.”
Another man in uniform said, “Mr. Thomas, you are obviously a patriotic American who wants to help his country. I think you can be of immense service. And like you said, the damage is already done. Our scientists are going to learn from your device, and meeting you has changed history. The people in this room are the start of a whole new government project all because of you. So, let's make the best of the situation and find ways to improve our future and steer clear of the dangers ahead.”
Bob Thomas knew enough about project Ultra and such from the 1950's to know that they could probably get him to talk eventually anyway, so there was no point in trying to stonewall.
“All right, I'll cooperate.”
“Very good.”, the main in the suit, introduced as Professor Robertson, said. “What sort of expertise do you have?”
“My actual working career involves computers, but so far removed from what you have in 1954, or from the basics of how to create what I depended upon to do my job, that it is almost useless. However, I did have a hobby of being interested in alternate history, in ways history could have been changed, as well as a basic hobby-based knowledge of a lot of areas of history and technology. By the way, Dr. Chadwell and Professor Robertson I know who you are. You are part of the Office of Scientific Intelligence and you just issued a report on UFOs.”
“What do you know about UFOs?”
“In 2008, there has never been evidence of extraterrestrial involvement. Many people believe in that though. Did you know that the U-2 plane that you are about to start flying actually is a cause of many UFO sightings, especially before you start painting them black? And since it is still a secret program for a few more years, your people are going to crudely explain away sightings. In my time 50 years later, it was known that the government lied about UFOs, so some people believe in extraterrestrials.”
Robertson said, “It's time to break for lunch. We'll go to the cafeteria. Let me remind you that much of what you know is classified, and even the existence of time travel is classified. Not everyone in the corridors is cleared for this information, so Mr. Thomas, except in closed rooms with only authorized personnel, there is to be no disclosing of the fact you are a time traveler or any information from the future.”
Lunch was surprisingly good. Bob Thomas didn't know what to expect for a 1954 military cafeteria, but besides the ashtrays and smoking, there wasn't much that would be out of place in 2008. Maybe more shiny metal surfaces and no plastic were the big differences.
They got back to the meeting room, this time he noticed the big tape recorder that was recording the meetings. There didn't seem to be any video recording.
Dr. H. Marshall Chadwell, restarted the meeting, “Mr. Thomas, since you have identified the most crucial part of the future is in avoiding nuclear war, why don't you describe what you know about it, and your recommendations.”
Bob Thomas thought for a while, then answered, “Neither the Soviet Union, nor the United States wanted a nuclear war, yet they almost blundered into it by accident a number of times. Mao of China is privately telling Khrushchev around now that he does want a nuclear war, but when they actually develop their own bomb, I think in the early 1960's, they are as cautious as any other and are never part of a nuclear show-down.”
“The first show-down happened in October, 1962. Khrushchev secretly sent missiles to Cuba, then it was discovered by U-2 flights, then Kennedy considered a preemptive strike, which later historians think would have at least led to several US cities being hit, and most of Western Europe as well the East Bloc being destroyed.”
Chadwell interrupted, “Cuba? Thomas replied, “Yes, around the end of 1958 a revolution led by Fidel Castro takes over Cuba. This leads to all sorts of negative consequences, including the Missile Crisis of 1962, possibly the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, generally hurts the US reputation after a failed invasion of US-supported exiles in 1961, and up to 2008 in a strict US economic embargo that leaves Cuba along with North Korea as being the only remaining Communist nations.”
“Anyway, Kennedy decides not to do a preemptive strike, but to demand the missiles removal, and after a tense week or two they were removed. During that period Khrushchev was convinced to swallow his pride, and that probably led to his removal in favor of Brezhnev and Kosygin two years later. That confrontation period could easily have turned into a nuclear war.”
“In the next two years, the I think starting before that crisis, the US built 1000 ICBMs capable of reaching anywhere in the Soviet Union. Around 1964 to 1966 the Soviet Union built 2000 ICBMs The word overkill starts to be used, and in 1969, President Nixon agrees to arms limitations agreements, still with well over a thousand missiles on each side.”
“Nixon uses nuclear alerts as a way to get the Soviets to back down in some minor crises. I don't know if there was any actual danger in war then. Nixon used what he later called the madman strategy, of trying to appear to be a madman while actually fully rational.”
“The last major danger was in 1983, when just after President Reagan made some bellicose statements, and there was a NATO exercise that the Soviets though was a cover for a first strike on the Soviet Union, the Soviet early warning system malfunctioned and showed a US missile attack on the way. If it weren't for the coolheaded response by the low ranking Soviet officer on the scene, civilization could have been ended then. There were also some malfunctions in the US early warning system, I think including one time when the monitors showed a training sequence of what a Soviet strike would look like, and another were a flight of birds looked to radar like missiles. In both cases the US wasn't on a hair trigger and waited to see that it wasn't a real attack. I think there was another lurking danger in the years during and after the Soviet collapse, maybe early 1990's when there was some sort of automatic system to launch missiles if Moscow was destroyed, that turned out to be vulnerable to malfunction also.”
After the next break, Bob Thomas started with, “There is a security issue I should bring up now. Throughout the Cold War, 1947 to 1989, there were well placed Soviet spies. Britain and West Germany were riddled with them. The US had some also. Unfortunately, I don't remember many names. I think there was Aldredth Aimes, or something like that, in the 1980's. There was some decades long debate in the US intelligence community about some early or mid-1960's Soviet defector, whether he was a double agent. Your project MK-Ultra to find a truth serum never really worked, and as late as the 2000's, the US used crude interrogation methods. Also, lie detector tests simply don't work. Some of the long standing spies in the FBI and CIA passed those tests.
They also had patrician Yankee backgrounds that seemed to put them above suspicion, even when they seemed to have unexplained money. Their motivations were often strange, not even communists, maybe they liked the adventure of being double agents. The Soviets only paid them relatively modest amounts. I think some US people stationed in Moscow were turned by local girlfriends. Then there was a new embassy that the US built in Moscow, where the Soviets actually built listening devices into the structure of the building, and other cases were typewriters had spy devices attached to them.
The main effect of the spies was to compromise the Soviets working for US spies in the Soviet Union. Many of those were killed.
In terms of technology, there is a way discovered to bounce a light beam off of a window, and hear the conversation. The countermeasure is to play music with speakers vibrating each window. The light beam is a laser, which I don't think you discovered for a few more years, a coherent beam of the same exact frequency of light, using some sort of crystal to sort out the frequencies and align them.
As documents begin to be prepared on small computers with cathode ray tube displays, in the 1970's and 1980's, it turns out that there is a way to detect the radio emissions from the tube and see it from a van in the street in front of a building. That might even work to see the screen of today's TV's, but I'm not sure. The countermeasure is a Faraday cage.
Professor Robertson opened the next meeting, “Mr. Thomas, we have made your position official. You'll be given a salary, the paperwork for a classified position, lodging and board. You'll get daily newspapers and publications if that helps your memory of current events, also a radio and TV. You'll be given outdoor recreation trips.
We think we found your laser. Charles Townes at Columbia has been working on a Maser, which is the acronym Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. We suspect that the laser is similar, but using light instead of microwaves. Do you remember anything else about lasers?”
Bob Thomas answered, “The element argon comes to mind, in addition to crystals. I actually remember there is a crystal from a fictional science fiction show called Star Trek, where a character builds a laser, rather than from any scientific knowledge. Lasers are used for far more than eavesdropping from windows. They are used for communication through optical fibers, also to read data from a special spinning disk. A 120 millimeter diameter disc can hold 5 billion bits, on off states, of information in the mid 1980's, and 400 billion bits by 2008. It uses tiny elements that reflect light from a laser, and is cheap enough that the average person buy movies to watch on their home TV using that technology. By then, lasers are tiny and cheap. There was also a plan to use lasers or some other energy beam to shoot down missiles. It always seemed on the verge of being deployed, but by 2008, it still wasn't ready.”
Professor Robertson said, “That is very good, we will try to help along our researchers without disclosing the source. We are going to try to be systematic about getting your recollections. First, we want to ask is there any urgent matter now, in 1954 that we should be aware of?”
Thomas answered, “What is today's date?”
“July 8th, 1954.”
“Did the French lose the battle of Dien Bien Phu yet? Colonel James answered, “Yes, and at Geneva they are close to a peace agreement.”
Thomas said, “There is nothing urgent. I think the Soviets were prepared to accept a border a little north of where the agreement wound up being, but I don't think that would help anything in the long run. By 1964, the US is going to send combat troops to prop up South Vietnam, and it is a war the US is going to lose, killing 50 thousand Americans, many more Vietnamese, causing a generation of young Americans to rebel against the draft and authority in general, and end with helicopters evacuating the last Americans from the roof of the embassy in Saigon, leaving behind most of their employees. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon tried different strategies from special forces, a half million soldiers, massive bombing of the North, defoliation, electronic sensors, and none of it worked. I don't think that war was winnable. And oddly enough, after the US left the place, the new Communist government became fairly friendly with the US and fairly hostile to China.”
"Mr. Thomas, since you know what it is that you know, I'll have you draw up
the agenda for what you'll talk about. We are not going to bring in many people
for now, and we are taking what you said about spies seriously. Everyone cleared
to know about you, including myself, is going to be watched carefully, so that
even if one of us was a spy, we wouldn't have a chance to report our findings.
Bob Thomas said, "Now I'll go over computers.
The next topic was aircraft.
“This period is a bit hard to understand in terms of military aircraft. You are building some aircraft still in use in 2008, and others that are obsolete the day they are built. There are also so many types being built that it is hard to remember what was good.
The new F-84 variants, I think the F-94 is not good, the F-104 is a competent NATO plane, not quite the best, but sold to allies. The new F-86, the Super-Saber F-100 would be good if it was built today, but it has a lot of delays, problems with crashes, and by the time it is made in the early 1960's, is obsolete. Aircraft development is so rapid now, that any project that is delayed is probably no longer state of the art.
The F-101 and F-102, I don't remember much about them, sort of decent, but not extraordinary, I think. The F-105 was one of the better of todays planes. It might not have a number yet, and I don't think I could identify it. It was used in the role called “Wild Weasel”, as was an earlier plane, maybe the F-86 or F-101. A Wild Weasel seeks out anti-aircraft, and destroys targeting radars, dodges missiles, sends out chaff for radar and burning stuff for infrared missiles and takes the heat off of the bombers.
The best bomber is the B-52, just being flown now. It is still used in 2008. The B-36, still being build now, I think, is very obsolete, and the B-47 is replaced quickly when B-52's are built.
The high and fast medium bombers, like the B-58, B-66 or 67, seem impressive, but anti-aircraft advances make them useless. The B-52 flies subsonic at treetop level and also fires stand-off missiles instead of only dropping bombs. In a tactical role, it is accompanied by Wild Weasels and goes high, and obliterates a grid on a map. Even in 1991, after Iraq invaded Kuwait and dug in underground, the high-tech weapons that could fly through a particular window of a building got the credit, but the B-52's dropping incredible quantities of bombs is what put the Iraqi army out of commission. By the time the allied army rolled in, after weeks of B-52 bombing, the Iraqi army in their bunkers surrendered as soon as they could.
So high and fast that nothing could catch him, is what a U-2 pilot thought around 1959. The Soviets shot it down with a missile and that was the end of that era.
The best plane both as a fighter, fighter-bomber and carrier plane from this era is the F4 Phantom. Unfortunately it isn't called an F4 or Phantom yet, maybe an F3 carrier plane in development. I can probably recognize the picture, two tall air intakes on either side of the fuselage. This was still the best plane right up until the mid-1970's. It went through a lot of revisions, first no guns, missiles only, then they added a cannon again.
Also the A-4 Skyhawk was also one of the best strike aircraft also up until the early 1970's.
The F-111 variable swept wing fighter was a concept plane, maybe around now, but had delays in development. It served as a fighter-bomber into the 1980's, but probably could have been built earlier.
The theme of the 1980's and later is stealth against radar. Black planes that fly only at night, every angle is a triangle, very few curved surfaces, special radar absorbing materials.
By reputation, probably the best plane of the late 1950's is the Avro Arrow in Canada. The US aircraft industry didn't want competition, so President Eisenhower told the Canadian Premier that the days of interceptors are over and being replaced by missiles, but that if Canada didn't cooperate in building a missile system, the US would use nuclear missiles to intercept Soviet bombers over Canada, instead of over the Arctic. So, Canada not being able to afford both, ended the Avro program, and destroyed all prototypes and blueprints. Then, shortly afterward, the US convinced Canada to buy US interceptor planes. This is a bit of an aside, but the US got away with pushing Canada around a lot, without it turning against it. President Johnson even picked up the Canadian ambassador by the collar and pushed him against a wall when he criticized the Vietnam war.
In terms of Soviet aircraft, the Mig-17 is being built now, and is not just the Mig-15 variant that you think it is. The Mig-21 in the 1960's is decent plane, and the Mig-23 is a peer to the F-4 Phantom. The Mig-25 is an extremely fast and high altitude interceptor. Is was built to counter the US SR-71, the successor to the U-2 in the early 1960's. Initially there was supposed to be a series of fighters and bombers based upon it, but not only was they canceled, but the blueprints were destroyed, leaving only the reconnaissance SR-71 in that series. It was under the orders of Robert McNamara that they were destroyed. He was considered a genius at the time, the Defense Secretary who planned the Vietnam War, but privately knew it was unwinnable.
For rocket planes, nothing better than the X-15 was built for a long time.
Commercial planes, the Boeing 707 is being built around now, and looks like the commercial aircraft of 2008. There was a period that supersonic transports were built, but they used too much fuel to be economical, and there are none flying in 2008. Actually many of the aircraft are a little slower than the 707. They are somewhat larger, go further, and are more fuel efficient.”
Colonel James answered the talk on airplanes, "Mr. Thomas, I don't know how useful your knowledge of airplanes are. I can pick out two errors. The U-2 is not a fast plane, it is considerably subsonic. The F-94 is not based upon the F-84 Thunderjet or F-84 Thunderstreak. It is based upon the F-80 Shooting Star, and the T-33 Shooting Star. A lot of what you said about the planes under development is vague. What makes an F-4 Phantom superior to other planes being developed now? Why is the F-105 better than the F-104?"
Bob Thomas answered, "Actually this is probably the period about airplanes that I know the least about. There are so many models being built, that I mostly think of them as the Century planes, everything from the F-100 to the F-106. I don't know what makes the Phantom better. For that matter the best planes of the mid-1970's to late 1990's, the McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle and Lockheed F-16 Falcon, the first with two crew and two engines, the later with 1 of each. Both were used as air superiority fighters and fighter-bombers, with the F-15 a little better at air superiority.
I don't know what made them better. I know the electronics were important, the theme was to detect and fire at enemy planes first. However, some countries that couldn't afford those newer planes upgraded the electronics on their Phantoms in the 1990's. It still wasn't as good as an F-15 or F-16. I know the F-15 was about the loaded weight of a Phantom, but looked like it was lighter. It also had more powerful engines and could accelerate straight up if it wasn't fully loaded. I think they were more maneuverable than the Phantom. They might have had better metal alloys also."
Professor Robertson asked, "Is there anything else you remember about airplanes?"
Thomas answered, "I remembered a few more things. AWACS were important. I think they were Boeing 707's with a big disk antenna on top. Airborne warning and control system, or something like that. It would be away from the fighting, but track every plane, every radar, maybe every radio call, and direct fighters and bombers to their targets. I think there was a smaller one used aboard aircraft carriers.
Another was the A-10 attack plane of, I think, the late 1960's. Two engines on top of the tail, and designed to stand up to serious ground fire, it would destroy tanks and other ground targets.
One thing I sort of recall about the Century planes, were lots of crashes, delaying several of them. I remember it the same way as I remember the B-26, which you would be familiar with. I don't know if those planes shouldn't be built, but any long delays makes them less than state of the art.
Some of the best planes were Lockheed. They had a group called the Skunk Works that built new designs not being asked for. The SR-71 was something like Mach 3, and probably why I assumed the U-2 was fast. The F-22, the best fighter plane of 2008 is from them. The F-117, the first stealth plane to be deployed in the early 1980's was from them. It was bomber the size of a fighter designed to sneak right past anti-aircraft and maybe take out command and control or anti-aircraft computers, or something like that."
Bob Thomas said, "I am going to address the time travel and maybe why me.
In the fictional book I read, there was a military expert who helped 1934 build better equipment for World War Two. There was never an explanation in the book as to why or how he was transported there.
There is no technology in 2008 that can do any sort of time travel, and the theoretical ideas then are not that different than what Einstein would think. If he's still around, maybe ask him. There was some talk about a wormhole, similar to a black hole, a mass concentration that doesn't let light escape, but sort of a tube through time, but nothing that could be built, or even theoretically ever transport a person through time.
In the book, there was, unknown to the first time traveler, another time traveler to Germany, who motivated by wanting to prevent Soviet occupation, helps them with technology.
My military technology knowledge is more of an overview than anything you can use to build something. And, as was pointed out, some of what I remember is wrong, I think because I never learned it correctly, or remember it correctly, probably not because this history is any different than mine.
I don't think better planes or tanks would really help the US future. The situation in Germany, was generally better US quality, but a huge Soviet quantity advantage. It was assumed they would win a conventional battle, but that it would soon go nuclear, and soon result in a full launch of thousands of warheads at cities. So that war never happened.
The Vietnam war, would probably not be helped by better technology. Dedicated fighters, with AK-47's, wearing pajamas, and blending in with the civilian population are going to be able to cause casualties indefinitely, but not be able to drive off the occupying army, until a political decision is made to cut the losses. In 2008, the US has a similar war in Iraq.
In the Iraq war, the anti-US forces specialize in hidden bombs, especially along roads. The US uses armored vehicles for everything, the soldiers wear armor, and the field medicine is very fast and effective. The other major technology the US uses then, but doesn't have now is drones, small radio controlled planes, transmitting video. They are supposed to find bombs being planted, but the anti-US forces seem to find a way to plant bombs anyway.
The way the history was going, the US would have a quality advantage in armaments of all types from the early 1960's right through 2008. I think the world actually got a little nervous, when the US easily tore apart the Iraqi army in 1991 and then again in 2003 more or less ignored the Iraqi army while invading Iraq. In 1991, the Iraqis had a large battle hardened army that fought Iran for a decade, while the US hadn't been in a major war since leaving Vietnam in 1973.
So, what can I provide? More the flow of history than actual engineering diagrams. Why has a fictional book been made true in another form? I have no idea. Is there another time traveler, or more than one, perhaps in the Soviet Union or China? It is possible, if that book was being used as a source for whatever happened."
The next day, Professor Robertson led them to a lawn, where some barbecues were setup, and some steaks on the grill. He handed Bob Thomas a beer and said, "We've been going at this too hard, let's kick back a little and take a break." When Thomas finished his beer, Colonel James handed him another one, and said, "Try this. I was wondering if they taste different now versus 2008."
One of the guards asked, "How is the music in the future?" Bob Thomas, asked, "How old are you?" He answered, "24". Thomas said, "You'll probably start to like Rock and Roll soon, or maybe not. The music of the 1950's, actually I should say late 1950's, because I can't find it on the radio, is Rock and Roll, sort of an energetic bouncy music. Maybe relate it to Boogie Woogie. You never heard of Elvis Presley?" The guard answered, "No, should I have?" "No, not yet, soon though, and Bill Haley and the Comets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry. Then in the early 1960's, vocal groups, plus surf music played with steel guitars, then protest songs, meditative music, and music for altered states of mind. Then in the 1970's mellow guitar vocal music, then loud amplified guitar groups, a bunch of other types. 1980's music that sounds angry or has a feeling of personal power. Then 1990's, angst music. 2000's is too recent for me to categorize."
A couple of hours later, the tone shifted, he heard someone say, "Don't let him pass out." They started asking him, "Should we avoid learning ahead about how to make rockets and better airplanes? It might not be good for history?" and lots of probing questions about his motivations, whether he is holding things back.
The next day, he wasn't in good shape, Professor Robertson said, "Sorry Bob. We know you said there wasn't a good truth serum, but based on the way you came to our attention, at least for you there is one that works, beer. Tomorrow you are going to have to go through a lie detector test. We all do, everyone in this group, noone is above suspicion, I think you told us that."
After his lie detector session, they gave him a shot, then Dr. Chadwell said, "We are seeing signs of evasion about rocket technology, can you help clear that up for us?" Bob Thomas answered, "I feel funny." Dr Chadwell answered, "Sodium Pentothal Bob, Sodium Pentothal.".
Three days later they were back in the conference room. Professor Robertson said, "You described a decades long debate about a Soviet defector. What we had to do was head off a decades long debate about you. Some people would say that the most logical conclusion that doesn't violate known rules of physics is that you were planted by the Soviet Union. You have knowledge of classified information, but good old fashioned spy work can get that, it doesn't require time travel. You arrived with an extremely interesting device, clearly one that we couldn't build. The possibilities that don't involve time travel could be that Soviets or their German scientists really are that far ahead of us, another could be that it is extraterrestrial technology. Extraterrestrials more advanced than us technologically seem far more likely than time travel in terms of our understanding of physics."
Dr. Chadwell said, "For what it is worth, here are our conclusions after your interrogation. You are human, you are an American, and you believe that you were transported from 2008 by means entirely unknown to you. You have been honest in your descriptions of your alternate future, but you have been holding back a few things you think might be dangerous."
Colonel James said, "We have our new priorities from our superiors. They are not too interested in the debates about the source of your information, they want things that they can build in the next few years, starting with your camera-telephone-computer device. They'll listen to your policy recommendations, and definitely want to hear about them, but they want technology and science that they can use now, not in 50 years."
Bob Thomas considered his options and said, "I'll tell you my concerns, and what I've been holding back. In short, I don't trust everyone in the CIA and National Security leadership, and goes right back to my first concern about not causing a nuclear war due to my interference. I think I would trust Allen Dulles, John Foster Dulles and President Eisenhower and I would like the chance to make my case to them directly. I'll tell you my concerns about Curtis Lemay, the CIA in general, Richard Nixon, FBI chief Hoover, and whoever else I can think of.
As for airplanes, I didn't hold back anything about technology, only about the U-2 that got shot down, because I don't want to get that poor pilot in trouble. He was supposed to kill himself with a poisoned blade built into a coin, but didn't, and then only narrowly was able to prevent a local kid from playing with the coin. You really shouldn't expect that of our pilots."
Colonel James said, "You said that in the next 30 or 40 years, every year it is a roll of the dice whether some radar malfunction or pissing match over a sugercane island caused a thousand missiles to land on our cities. I don't even think we have a thousand cities. You are going to help us fix this. Like you said, you can't count on the dumb luck that prevailed in your history from repeating, after you already interfered just by arriving with your phone from the future."
Professor Robertson told Bob Thomas, "We can get you a meeting as you said, with President Eisenhower, Allen Dulles, and John Foster Dulles, and without the people you don't want there. Before they'll agree to that, they want to see some progress in technology, in particular with your cell phone. If you can explain it well enough, that we can start to understand how to build one, they'll be more than willing to listen to your policy recommendations. It will help dispel doubts about your story."
Bob Thomas said, "I'll help you with the cell phone, I understand that better than 1950's aircraft technology. That pocket sized device contains a cellular telephone, a digital camera, an alarm clock, a music playing device, an address book, and a computer, including a color liquid crystal display, a keyboard, flash memory, and a rechargeable battery.
For the battery, I'd have to look at the label to know what type it is. Probably not a Nickle Cadmium, since those require fully discharging and charging to preserve battery life. It might be a nickel-metal hydride. It could be a Lithium Ion, but those are a little more expensive and this wasn't an expensive cell phone. The battery can be recharged daily for 1 to 3 years before any expectation of it wearing out, and will probably last even longer. I don't know more about batteries.
The keyboard is probably the simplest part, but even that has some refinements in debouncing technology. Any button will cause a series of connections followed by bounces and not just one state transition. Circuitry is setup to have the computer see just the button press, and not the bounces. The computer can be setup to either look at each button, to see if it is pressed every small fraction of a second, or more likely, to have an interrupt circuit, that takes the computer temporarily away from the program it was running, and run a new program to deal with the interrupt. Interrupts would be button presses, a phone call coming in, or a low battery warning.
The camera has an image sensor. I don't know the details of how it works, except some read a row at a time, and some read the whole image at once. This one has about 300,000 color pixels, each with many levels of brightness for red, green, and blue. This is probably better than the camera you are going to put on the U-2 plane. I know you have Edward Land working on that, I think he could look at this camera and figure out how it works. There was probably no person better at understanding color imaging than him in the late 20th century.
Flash memory contains NOR, not or, or NAND, not and, gates. They can be used at least 10,000 times before wearing out. When being read, it is similar to an array of transistors. Being written to is the difficult part, and involves somehow trapping electrons. There is something called a control gate and floating gate for each bit, but that is about all I know.
The Liquid Crystal display has two polarized filters for each pixel. An electric current applied to a pixel twists the second filter to block light through it. There is an backplane light that either shines through or is blocked for each pixel. A color screen has an additional filter of red, green, or blue for each pixel. That screen probably has about 60,000 full pixels, each with 3 color sub-pixels."
Bob Thomas continued about the cell phone: "The computer is probably not that different from IBM's latest computers. There is a central processing unit (CPU) that executes instruction from a part of memory, with the ability to either run the instruction at the next location, branch to a new location or call a routine. Calling a routine saves its state in a part of memory called the stack, resembling the way plates are stacked, and goes to a new location, until it runs the return instruction, then it retrieves its state, except for changes made by the routine, and continues. The working memory is a fast access random access memory that requires continuous power to keep its memory. The program resides in flash memory or other read-only memory.
The main difference between late 1950's transistor computers and this one, is that the transistors are printed on tiny silicon chips using a process similar to photo reduction. Once they started making elements in the 100 nanometer range, something changed, but before that the process was simpler.
The first microprocessor was around 1971. The ones about 1978 with 16 bits of addressing and running 2 million instructions per second, come close to be able to do what this phone does. Those had 3 micron parts, the earlier ones had 6 micron parts.
The packaging of the microprocessor is an integrated circuit. I think Siemens already has a patent from around 1949 for the basic idea, maybe with 5 transistors. The phone microprocessor probably has millions of transistors.
Texas Instruments and Fairchild will be coming up with the idea that works by 1961 or so. After that, there is no one breakthrough that gets to 2008 chips, it is continuous research and development that double the number of transistors every 18 months without increasing much the cost per chip or power consumption. The smaller part sizes help with that. The research and development for each new improvement is enormously expensive, the fabrication facility for each new generation is also increasingly enormously expensive. After that, the chips themselves are almost as cheap to make as the sand they are made from.
The cell phone part of it, works with a network of antennas throughout cities and roadways, broadcasting with only 1 or 2 watts. When you turn on the phone it sends a very short broadcast with digital information containing its id number. The computer at the cellular antenna notifies the home switchboard for that phone that it is in contact with it. To make a call from the phone, the user types in the number, then presses the phone call button, the phone sends a short broadcast with its own id and number being called, the cell site sends back what channel to use, or if all channels are in use something like a busy signal. Then the phone works like a radio over that channel, or later phones like this one, digitally encode the sound and transmit that instead. The cell site connects to a land line phone line and makes the phone call.
If someone wants to call the cell phone, they call its switchboard, which has been notified which cell tower is in contact with it, and then the cell tower sends a digital message to the phone, and if the call is answered, it is broadcast over a channel assigned for the call. If it is not answered, the caller can leave a voice mail message, which a is a recording. The phone gets a digital message that there is a message available, and the phone can be connected to that message which is transmitted to it. There can also be text messages sent by typing into the keyboard the message and recipient, then a short digital transmission is made. A photograph can also be transmitted digitally, breaking down the pixels into a long series of 1's and 0's."
The next day, Professor Robertson said, "That was a good overview on the cell phone. I'm going to pass a lot of questions from the phone team to you, and also the engineering teams trying to see what they can build. Just so you know, they have not been told the source of the device, except to say that it is a disinformation plan combined with some extraordinary technology. So, they should ignore all the "Made in China" signs they have found and the dates shown in your recent calls list, and just try to figure out the technology. We're letting them speculate whether it is alien tech, or some super advanced Chinese technology. Also, to answer the one question you had about your own phone, the battery is labeled "Lithium Ion". It also says "Do Not Disassemble". Do you know why it says that?"
Thomas answered, "It can hold a lot of energy."
Professor Robertson said, "900 milliAmp-Hours at 3.7 Volts according to its label."
Thomas said, "On rare occasions, they can catch fire, or even explode."
Professor Robertson replied, "We're working on getting the meeting you asked for. The cell phone brings up the question about China, the fact that what you indicated was an advanced device for its time, the battery at the very least, was made in China, and labeled for English speakers is not what one would have predicted for 2008 based on current trends. How did that come to be?"
Thomas said, "It gets worse before it gets better. Right now, China is doing a collectivization program as disastrous as the Soviet one of 1931 or so. Then, for some reason they'll decide that sparrows are eating too much of their crop, so they'll send the peasants out to kill all the sparrows, and as a result, they'll have a locust invasion.
Then they'll have the cynical 1000 flowers campaign. They'll tell their people that they want constructive feedback and criticism on how things are running, especially agriculture. They'll carefully note who is critical, then a little later arrest them. All this is just the next 5 years.
Then, they get to the Great Leap Forward. This is to develop agriculture and industry, in particular grain and steel production. Every village had to have a little steel furnace, and much of the fuel came from people's doors and furniture, and the scrap metal to make the steel came from their pots and pans. On top of all that, the steel itself was usually low quality.
In some cases, harvests were left to rot in the fields, as the peasants were required to tend to the steel furnaces.
They lie about food harvests, both to each other, and the outside world. Everyone claims huge harvests, and around 30 million Chinese die, mostly in the years 1956 to 1959. Around 1961 they came to their senses and allowed normal farming, and imported some grain.
Mao's role diminished after this disaster. However in 1966 he found another disastrous way to be in charge again. He started the Cultural Revolution. He encouraged young people to rebel against their elders, and purify the revolution. Everyone had to worship Mao. People were moved around alot, people from cities sent to work in the fields.
This went on until 1976, when first Zhou En Lai died, then Mao Ze Dung. Note that the Latin spelling of Chinese changed. The new way is called Pinyin.
After Mao's death, his wife and 3 others, called the Gang of Four tried to hold onto power. They were overthrown by Deng Xio Ping, called something like Teng Hsiao Ping with today's spelling. He was a reliable henchman for Mao in the 1950's disasters, then he was one of the ones who pushed him out of actual power in the early 1960's, then he was assigned menial work during the Cultural Revolution, then he was rehabilitated by Zhou En Lai and Mao just before their deaths, then he overthrew Mao's wife and took firm control by 1977 or 1978.
Then he made China capitalist. Formally, still Communist, even in 2008, but in reality capitalist. They became very successful. With free trade with the US, most or much of the manufactured goods in the US are made in China by the 2000's. There is starting to be a backlash in the US, but it hasn't changed the trade balance yet in 2008."
Professor Robertson relayed some questions from the cell phone reverse engineering group. "How is the board put together. It has a bunch of rectangular shapes, I guess integrated circuits from what you described and what looks like printed wiring. How do we take it apart without destroying it?"
Bob Thomas said, "First you should understand how the earlier versions worked, those had chips encased in protective material, with pins sticking out. Those pins were fitted into holes in a board, with wiring printed on the underside, top side or both sides of the boards, connecting chips, resistors, capacitors, diodes and other separate components. By the time they refined everything to get the last millimeter, human labor minute of assembly time, and fraction of a cent in material cost out of it, it looks like what you see now.
It is called surface mount. Instead of long pins sticking out of the chips, the integrated circuits, there is a grid of short wires. The board itself has a matching grid of contacts with little drops of solder and maybe adhesive between them. They are just introducing lead-free solder, so the phone might have it. To sell in Europe you need that, and they try to make just one design for the world market, to make mass production more efficient.
A machine precisely applies the solder and adhesive and another machine picks up the chip and places it precisely in place. Sometime people do that instead. The board is heated a little, letting the adhesive work, then gradually heated up more to melt all the solder. Then a cleaning involving solvents is done to remove any stray bits of solder in the wrong place.
When all the parts are in place, they put an assembled board in a test machine to test it out. Then it is assembled into the actual device it will be a part of.
Removing it would probably involve heat and solvents, but not too much heat or heat applied too long to damage the components. As for the chips themselves,
The printed circuit board itself is simple, conductive wiring over a non-conductive surface, using photolithography. You can easily see where the wires go with a microscope.
The chip itself has a protective layer, and then it might have more than one circuit layers. Removing it is a very delicate operation, since the wiring goes right through the protective layer, and I think the protective layer is bonded to the layer below it.
Once you get it open, you would need to use a microscope to see the circuitry. However, an optical microscope probably won't resolve the detail. You'll need an electron microscope, which I think has already been invented.
Note that while it possible to take a chip off and put it back and still have the device work, it probably isn't possible to break open a chip and have it work again."
The next day, Professor Robertson said, "You had requested a meeting with President Eisenhower, Allen Dulles, John Foster Dulles and to exclude Curtis Lemay, the CIA in general, Richard Nixon, and J Edgar Hoover, and unspecified others. Can you explain why?"
Bob Thomas said, "Part of the reason is the same reason I don't want to get into details here, I don't believe that the chain of command is complete, and I want those three at the top of the chain to hear what I say directly.
The simplest case is Curtis Lemay, and I can answer about him. He is an extremely talented leader of the Strategic Air Command. He has put together a professional organization that performs admirably. He instituted security in depth, including using Tiger Teams to test security, that far exceeds the type of security we have in the 2000's decade. He gets people to think on their feet and use common sense, while in later decades people rely more on a fixed rulebook, which doesn't work well against the type of creative enemies we tend to get then.
Now, why don't I trust him? He has shown a desire for preventative nuclear war. Since that type of war didn't happen in my history, I don't want to be personally responsible for one starting. I read reports about him saying that if he ever felt the situation called for it, he would unilaterally launch the bombers. I have heard other people who know him say that he would never do anything like that. The scenario was not one of a surprise nuclear attack on DC. There are clear lines of command and procedures you probably already have for that. You even have, or will have, a duplicate Congress building under the Greenbrier resort. I'm talking about situations where he doesn't think the President is acting as needed.
As an aside, one of the scenarios to be planned for is the Soviet Embassy having a nuclear weapon. President Kennedy used to mention that as an aside to people, but there is no evidence it was true.
The other incident, is during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Curtis Lemay advised bombing Cuba, even though his own estimate was that he could destroy 90% of the missiles. One of the ways Kennedy got Khrushchev to back down was have the Soviet ambassador told that he was losing control over his generals and wouldn't be able to stop a war from starting. Khrushchev believed this, since he thought that a President so young wouldn't be able to command respect from older generals. The history I read about this, didn't really rule out the threat being true, and the general being Curtis Lemay."
Professor Robertson said, "I'll pass along the reasons for your request. What happens to the Soviets?"
Bob Thomas said, "At present, Khrushchev is in charge. Whether Malenkov or Bukharin have any formal leadership, Khrushchev is the one in actual control. In February 1956, at the Party Congress, he gives a secret speech, denouncing Stalin, especially his purges and unpreparedness for World War Two. He fends off challenges to his power from Malenkov and Molotov, then later Bukharin. General Zhukov supports him, but then he removes him as being a threat to him.
He doesn't arrest anyone he removes, except for Beria who is killed in 1953, but makes them retire, or assigns them some low-level non-political position. When he is removed by Brezhnev in 1964, he is also allowed to retire.
Khrushchev is a Communist, and wants to make Communism succeed without everyday brutality. When Hungary revolts in 1956 he is perfectly willing to use brutality to bring them back under the fold. Khrushchev seems to want peaceful coexistence without warfare between the between spheres of influence. In 1960, or maybe 1959, he and President Eisenhower seem close to some sort of an agreement, when a U-2 overflight is shot down over Sverdlovsk, canceling the meeting. Then there are clashes over Cuba, then he is removed.
Brezhnev begins a period of stagnation, which ultimately ends in the collapse of communism in 1991. He fights the Cold War relentlessly, gaining territory in Africa and Central America, and keeping a missile superiority over the US. In the early 1980's, there are two elderly leaders how each last about a year in office before dieing of natural causes, then Gorbachev who tries to reform Communism. He unleashes free speech and elections of Republic leaders. Then there is a hard-line coup against him in August 1991, then the elected leader of Russia withdraws from the Soviet Union with army backing, then there are 15 independent states each in a state of economic collapse.
In the 1990's, the best way to describe Russia is an organized crime state with seeming free enterprise all under the control of mobsters. Then a new leader in 2000 who cleans things up while wielding dictatorial power, then an oil price rise leading to their economic turnaround, then a Russia that is essentially an enemy of the US again, but no longer communist."
Professor Robertson asked, "Does anything in the newspapers and magazines bring something to mind?"
Bob Thomas said, "The Salk Vaccine. There was something about a monkey virus in many of the vaccine doses that caused tumors later.
Another is Algeria. France is going to be in a world of hurt soon, just like in Vietnam. I don't know what to say, they tried to win that war and lost, but it took many years.
I see the Domino Theory speech has already been made. That is going to justify the Vietnam War after non-military aid doesn't work over then next decade.
The only Dominoes that fell were Laos and Cambodia. Cambodia probably could have limped along with a leftist, but not communist government of Prince Sihanouk. I think he is in and out of power, but always important there. The Viet-Cong guerrillas and North Vietnamese army use Cambodia as a sanctuary to reach South Vietnam, the US tried interdicting by air, dropping, some say, more bomb tonnage than used by the US in World War Two, but it doesn't work. Then in 1970, the US does a brief invasion. when the Communists finally take over in 1975, they are so radicalized that they move everyone out of the cities and kill 1 to 2 million people, especially anyone educated."
Colonel James said, "You have talked about U-2 airplanes, what do you know about reconnaissance?"
Bob Thomas said, "The U-2 is your mainstay for several years. It becomes simple to shoot down at the end of the 1950's. After that, the mainstay is satellites. I think the early ones were in the late 1950's and dropped a film bundle right from space, to be picked up by an aircraft while falling. I have no idea how they solved the heating problem during atmosphere reentry. The spacecraft use a metal or ceramic heat shield, and the early ones would simply flame off during reentry with a sufficient thickness to last the entire reentry, and then the parachutes would deploy. The US always used water landings, and the Soviets landed on land."
"Edward, or Edwin or something like that Land develops your first optics for the U-2, and everything is film based until digital photography gets better. Infrared is important, not just visible spectrum. I think fairly early on you use both planes and spacecraft to listen into radio communication. You also directly tap undersea cables very close to the Soviet Union."
Professor Robertson said to Robert Thomas, "Good news, the President, Secretary of State, and Chief of the CIA have agreed to meet with you, tomorrow morning."
Robert Thomas said, "Finally. I was beginning to wonder what was taking so long."
Professor Robertson couldn't tell him all the reasons. Essentially, the experts weren't sure if he was a brainwashed spy, a lunatic, a Martian, or a time traveler. Even the later didn't rule out also being one of the other three possibilities.
The fact that he knew a lot about the camera-phone, and about classified government programs, tended to rule out lunatic as the sole explanation.
There was actually a search made to identify, by picture, Robert Thomas, from among any still missing from the Korean War or World War Two. There were some good leads, but they were all ruled out.
Some of the advisers to President Eisenhower were worried that his main mission was to assassinate the 3 people he asked to meet, or to somehow hypnotize or brainwash them using some advanced technology.
Professor Robertson said, "This might sound a little strange, but we have to stress the importance that when you meet with them, that you not make any sudden moves, or approach them too closely. People are still a little nervous about you."
The meeting itself was in a classified facility attached to an air force base, which is where Robert Thomas has been since coming to the attention of the government.
Bob Thomas was led to a larger meeting room. When the door was opened, at the other end of the room were the three people out of a history book, President Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, and Allen Dulles, along with some guards and other people he didn't recognize.
President Eisenhower strode right up to him, shook his hand and said, "I want to thank you for your help to your country." Bob Thomas said, "It is an honor to meet you, President Eisenhower."
Eisenhower went back to his seat, Thomas was ushered to his seat, and the Dulles's greeted Bob Thomas from their side of the table.
Eisenhower said, "I hear you don't like my Vice President." Allen Dulles said, "And you don't like my CIA." John Foster Dulles said, "Did you say if you didn't like my State Department?"
Bob Thomas said, "I have a bunch of things to say about the State Department. And Mr. President, I am pretty sure that you don't like your Vice President either."
President Eisenhower said, "What is it you wanted to discuss personally?"
Bob Thomas said, "The CIA is a little out of control. You yourself would bring them more in line in a year or two, to have every operation approved as being in the national interest. However, by the early 1960's they slip away again. Some conspiracy theorists think that they even ordered the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The suspicion never fell to the top of the chain of command within the CIA, only in the lower to mid-upper levels.
The second area I wanted to discuss is the preservation of the United States as an elected democracy. I have seen 1 movie, and read 3 novels, that each involved time travel, and each had Richard Nixon as President for life, using knowledge he gained. I don't know exactly what they are talking about, but it became a cliche. In 1974 he became the first President to resign the Presidency, due to his covering up a burglary of Democratic Party offices in which his people, who by the way, also worked for the CIA, tried to steal files. In my history, he lost the 1960 election, which was almost a tie, and your tepid endorsement of him probably made the difference in him no winning. He went on to win in 1968.
The third area I want to discuss is foreign policy, the Cold War, and the long view of history from 54 years later.
The fourth area I want to discuss is your health. In 1955 you have a heart attack, but survive it, and live to 1969. However, in 1957 you have a stroke, which slightly impairs your for your second term. I think you might have been a little more effective if that didn't happen."
John Foster Dulles, said, "Before we begin, let me gauge your advice based upon what I know from history. If this were 1934, what would your advice be, briefly?"
Bob Thomas replied, "In short, to get Britain and France to stop Germany from rearming. After that, for the US to develop military technology, but not to build lots of equipment in the 1930's that would become obsolete soon."
John Foster Dulles said, "I read the transcript where you said that your situation mirrored a novel you read, of a man from around your era, finding himself in 1934 Britain. There was also a man helping Germany at the same time. Since your situation is inexplicable, and the only reference is a novel, have you seen any sign of recent events being different from what you remember?"
Bob Thomas answered, "No. However, I don't know that much day to day detail from this era."
Allen Dulles said, "You are going to start getting CIA briefings of any events going on anywhere outside the US."
President Eisenhower said, "You told me my future health history. What in blazes am I supposed to do with it?"
Bob Thomas said, "I think you already stopped smoking, but that would be the first advice. The second, is to take a daily aspirin as a blood thinner to reduce the chance of both heart attacks and strokes. The third is to check your blood pressure and if too high, cut down drastically on salt. The fourth is to check your cholesterol level, if above 240 mg/dL drastically cut down on meats, dairy fat, fried foods, and increase fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, but not peanuts, and fiber, especially soluble fibers such as oat bran.
The next general advice would be to exercise 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days a week, to get the pulse up to make 120, but I don't know if that would be advised for someone so close to having a heart attack, it might be more for someone in better condition.
You also have an intestinal disease called Crons, but I don't know of any cure in 2008, except for the surgery you will have in a couple years, although I think the same dietary changes help that condition also.
You can also make a difference in American's health. You were going to start the President's Council on Youth Fitness in 1956, which would later become a more general program. It would encourage people to improve their fitness, and it is not just exercise, but also diet, and stopping all smoking. The studies linking smoking to heart disease and lung cancer are already out there. I read it in the stack of news magazines from 1954. It doesn't have to wait until 1964 for the Surgeon General's report to make it official.
You yourself could follow the best advice and inspire others to do so, and do so this year."
President Eisenhower said, "Thank you for your advice. I am wary about starting a public program now, and having a heart attack next year anyway. It might turn off the public from the fitness in general. Let's get to the discussion of the Cold War and what you think we should do."
Allen Dulles interjected, "Getting back to looking for evidence of any other time travelers. Give me some names that a Soviet time traveler would consider important to either help or hurt."
Bob Thomas said, "Leonid Brezhnev, Kosygin. All of the current top leadership, including Gromyko. Nagy and Kadar in Hungary.
Most of the others that I'm familiar with, were important after the next 10 years. Dubcek of Czechoslovakia. Andropov, Chernenko. Mikhail Gorbachev in his early 20's now. Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia, a little younger. Boris Yeltsin, early 20's. Alexander Lebed born 1950 or so. Vladimir Putin born in the early 1950's. Novelist Solzhenitsyn, not so young, maybe mid-30's now. I think he is already a political prisoner who was released and still alive in 2008. Sakharov, now a nuclear physicist in his 30's, later a dissident. Lech Walesa in Poland, born early 1940's, later works in the Gdansk shipyards. A Priest Karol something or other, in his 30's, probably not even a Bishop yet, later becomes an anti-communist Pope from Poland."
Allen Dulles said, "We'll send you a bulletin any time we get any news on any of those names. What about spies? Can you remember who the Communist spies are? Let us start with recent suspects, Alger Hiss, Robert Oppenheimer, and the Rosenbergs."
Bob Thomas said, "Oppenheimer, never any evidence of his being a spy. I think the only thing he was guilty of was being uneasy about atomic warfare. Julius Rosenberg, guilty. He sent atomic bomb drawings to the Soviet Union. They didn't find it useful, but he did try. His wife, still an open question. As for Hiss, there was never any information from the Soviet archives on him, but your own information that you have now became available later, the Venona intercepts. The Soviets misused their one time pad encryption scheme, giving you a lot of decodes, and you were fairly certain one of the communications was from him.
In any case, Hiss should be a lesson to you, which in my history you'll ignore. His profile and background put him above suspicion. There will be a bunch of spies like him over the next decades. And yet, you'll still excuse some people from taking lie detector tests.
Of course lie detector tests don't really work. They mostly intimidate people into telling the truth. Maybe that is why you had the policy some time in the late 1950's. Still, realize that at least some spies can completely fool lie detector tests and the noise level of false positives make it hard to pick out true lies anyway."
President Eisenhower, said, "You expressed concerns about Curtis Lemay. What would you do differently?"
Bob Thomas said, "He was competent, no doubt about that. However, he believed in preventative nuclear war, as did his successor as SAC chief, General Power. The President must have control over his military. I know that you soundly rejected a preventative war, around this timeframe, when the Soviets don't yet have launchable Hydrogen bombs.
What I would do differently, is to find a way to keep the military under control, not just during your term or terms of office, but especially during the next one, if the President isn't someone the military respects. The second change I would make, is to develop a credible second strike capability now, instead of several years from now. It is the lack of one that causes hair-trigger alerts and the possibility of nervous decisions.
One method of dealing with nuclear security is what President Kennedy in 1961, Permissive Action Links on all atomic warheads. These are locks, that require an 4 to 12 digit code for an atomic explosion to occur. The bomb requires a precise set of times for different conventional explosives to detonate, so the lock is a secret code to make that happen. The bomb is also designed so that an external explosion or shock is sure to prevent, rather than cause an atomic explosion. A sub-critical, or small explosion is probably possible, but not a damaging yield, unless the code is entered as part of arming a warhead. It was revealed that the ICBM bases actually set their codes to 00000000 and violated orders to have them under control.
The codes themselves are held by the members of the chain of command. The officers in charge of warheads would expect to hear from the correct personnel, and would get the correct code.
It should be noted, that at the height of the Cold War, the US gave this technology to the Soviet Union, and later to other nuclear powers such as China. Noone wanted some insane General to be able to start a global nuclear war.
The second strike capability is needed. In the next 10 years or so, before the Soviets have an undeniable massive strike capability, there will be never ending debate about what the Soviet capability is. First there will be talk of a bomber gap, which you will know to be false, but not being able to reveal your intelligence capability, mostly U-2 flights, you'll have to let the perception stand. The Soviets can build something like the B-47, I think you call it the Bison, but they don't have the capability of building many of them. You probably don't realize just how limited Soviet industry is right now, and how bad their war damage was. They will recover, but it will take a few more years.
Then there is the missile gap. The Soviets launch an ICBM into Earth orbit, while the US can't launch anything without it blowing up near the launchpad for a while. Actually, the Soviets don't have a working reentry vehicle at the time, and then have only a few ICBMs that would take days to prepare to launch.
In any case, what the US needs is a global network of radars, computers to interpret what they see, and the ability to get a warning to every bomber base. Then the bomber base needs to be able to get enough bombers up in the air, and out of blast range, within 15 minutes. The only bomber you have that can handle the wear is the B-52, the B-47's aren't up to the task. You'll need to have some B-52's in the air at all times, and a large number of others that can be in the air in a few minutes, much less than 15 minutes in order to clear the area. Of course they all need to be pre-loaded with warheads.
The other thing you'll need for the B-52's to be credible is stand-off missiles, instead of gravity dropped bombs. That way they can fire away from areas with heavy anti-aircraft coverage. They'll fly at treetop level the whole way to their target. You'll figure out ways to have a command and control system that can survive any surprise attack.
For missiles, you'll need solid fueled missiles, since they can remain on alert, and don't need to be fueled. They can be based in protected silos, each only vulnerable to an accurate direct hit, and only 1 warhead per missile and no two silos too close together. This way, you won't need to ever have a launch on warning policy.
I don't know how to deal with the Soviet response to the US having this capability first. They'll have liquid fueled missiles, which cannot be protected, so they might have a launch on warning policy."
John Foster Dulles retorted, "How could the Soviets have a launch on warning policy if it takes days to prepare to launch?"
Bob Thomas corrected what he said with, "Actually, launch on tension, not warning. If their missiles of the late 1950's can't be launched before being destroyed, the only way they could be used would be in a surprise attack.
I think by 1961 or so, they get their readiness time down to 1 to 3 hours. The US also has a series of liquid fueled ICBMs, called the Titans. I think they started being ready in early 1962 and took 15 minutes to launch, including loading the liquid oxygen.
Before that the US had the Atlas usable at the end of 1959. I don't think it was any faster to launch than the Soviet ICBMs, but they usually stored them in underground shelters, to be launched at a time they weren't under attack. In any case, with IRBM bases in Britain, Italy, and Turkey, the US wasn't as dependent on ICBMs in the 1950's. Those Jupiter missiles though were very vulnerable on the launchpad."
John Foster Dulles asked, "How do we get solid fueled missiles?"
"I heard that the civilian plastics industry has been credited for why the US got them earlier. They were used in ICBMs, and also submarine launched missiles. These didn't require the submarine to surface in order to fire, and were an important part of a credible second strike capability. I think it was tested in 1960 and deployed in 1961. I think the ICBM was deployed around 1960 and it had its own computer guiding it."
John Foster Dulles said, "For about 2,000 years now, there has been a figure in mythology which symbolizes tragic futility. That was Sisyphus, who, according to the Greek story, was given the task of rolling a great stone up to the top of a hill. Each time when, after great struggle and sweating, the stone was just at the brow of the hill, some evil force manifested itself and pushed the stone down. So poor Sisyphus had to start his task over again. Is that the way the Cold War is going to proceed for the next 37 years until the Soviet Union just goes away?"
Bob Thomas said, "Actually a little worse than that. You lose ground throughout the Cold War, much of the domestic population of all Western Democracies, including the US, seem to be opposed to any actions the US takes. Communist nation rebellions are put down quickly and don't spread.
Then suddenly around 1987 the Soviets start to loosen up on Eastern Europe, and the Cold War ends by 1989, and Communism is a discredited ideology to the vast majority of all nations."
John Foster Dulles asked, "Do you think we need to lose ground in order for the Soviet collapse to happen?"
Bob Thomas answered, "No I don't think that losing ground is necessary to cause the Soviet collapse, with the single exception of Afghanistan. They got themselves bogged down there in 1979, and when they left in 1989, there was no more Soviet bloc.
Actually the one loss of territory to Communism that almost triggered nuclear war is Cuba. It is also where the CIA got unhinged, I'll talk about that later. Avoid the Cuban revolution, and probably similar cases in Latin American near the US, and just maybe the Cold War goes better for the US.
The other major mistake to avoid is the Vietnam War. The actual loss of all of Indochina didn't hurt the US, it was the long war there that did."
President Eisenhower interjected, "Shall we take the position that it is better to surrender pieces of free territory in the hope that this will satisfy the appetite of the aggressor and we shall have peace?
Do we not still remember that the name of "Munich" symbolizes a vain hope of appeasing dictators? At that time the policy of appeasement was tried, and it failed."
Bob Thomas said, "It is more an issue of capability than anything else. The so-called best and the brightest of the 1960's tried every strategy possible, and could not win that war."
John Foster Dulles said "We must use your knowledge to find a way to safeguard the freedom of the peoples of Indochina and Cuba. The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost. So, how do we win in both places without our army having to fight guerrilla wars?"
Bob Thomas said, "I'll go over both places, and mention as an aside another Cold War area that should be changed. In 1956 you are going to stab Britain and France in the back in support of Nasser in Egypt, who is going to be a Soviet ally anyway. Britain and France never recover. Britain is out of the Empire business, with their former empire becoming a Cold War battleground of proxy armies, aid, coups, etc. France pulls out of NATO in 1966, and opposes US foreign policy for the next half century. I'll expand on that later. Indochina I'll have to think about, since between now and 1970 every possible strategy is tried and fails. That leaves Cuba.
The obvious change to make in Cuban history, is that right now both Fidel and Raul Castro are in Cuban jails. I think in about a year, Batista frees political prisoners. They go to Mexico, meet Ernesto Che Guevara an Argentinian, and the three of them return to Cuba and use Mao's strategies to control the countryside, and by the end of 1958 take over the whole island. I don't think the absence of those three would prevent the revolution from happening, though.
Batista is similar to many dictators of countries facing Communist revolutions, including Diem of South Vietnam. They are incompetent and corrupt, and more worried about coups than with revolution. Their armies deliberately have poor leadership to reduce the chance of a coup, and their soldiers are corrupt and tend to flee when there is a real fight. The US tends to try a coup against them, the one against Batista fails in a couple of years. I think the US actually had an arms embargo against Batista at some point.
You can't successfully fight Communism with that sort of alternative. The Communists are experts at leading a broad front of people who hate the regime, and then eliminating those same people when the revolution succeeds.
The record in Latin America is hit or miss with propping up those sort of regimes.
If a regime like this tries to relax repression, they usually fall pretty quickly. President Carter tried to encourage human rights, and both Nicaragua and Iran fell fairly quickly. Iran is one of the few failures of the Communist end game plan. They thought they were using the Islamists in their broad front strategy, but when the regime of the Shah fell, it was the Communists who were executed by the Islamists."
John Foster Dulles asked, "Carter? I am not familiar with who that is."
Bob Thomas said, "Jimmy Carter. Nuclear submarine officer, born in 1924, and I think by now he left the service to take over his family peanut farm in Georgia. He become active in Georgia politics in the 1960's and elected President in 1976. Lost to Reagan in 1980."
John Foster Dulles asked, "Ronald Reagan, the actor?"
Bob Thomas answered, "Yes. Are you going to make a joke about an actor being President?"
John Foster Dulles said, "No. I remember his strong leadership of the Screen Actors Guild, keeping it free of Communism. I can see the possibility, 26 years from now of his building up a political track record. So getting back to Communist revolutions, how can they be stopped?"
"Bob Thomas answered, "First, realize that these are almost always rural revolutions. So, land reform is essential. Peasants who own land, might even fight for the regime. Next is eliminate corruption and mindless reprisals against rural populations for actions of the revolutionaries. If rural population associates the military with theft and random killings, they'll be motivated to fight for the revolution. For that matter, if the revolution is able to use targeted killings in the villages, the whole countryside will tend to go along with them.
The key is a term used in the 1960's, the hearts and minds, of the rural population. The defense has to be smart, focused, and motivated, and the war is on a local personal level.
That, and helicopters. Helicopters can ferry troops around, avoiding ambushes, at least until anti-air missiles get much more effective and cheap in the 1980's. They can also mount machine guns, and provide a real edge against guerrilla armies."