April 06, 2008

October 1969

This is a fascinating article in Wired magazine about how in October 1969, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided to feint a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union. They believed that such an attack would terrify the Moscow government into helping them in Vietnam and taking disarmanent seriously. The risks were obviously vast as American planes crossed Canadian airspace into the Arctic ocean, the Russians had no reason not to beleive that they were under attack and consequently to respond appropriately. Nixon and Kissinger believed that only if Nixon were seen as a madman willing to do anything, would negotiations take place in ways that suited the United States. Obviously the calculation did not completely backfire- we are all still here- but on the other hand neither did it work fully. Vietnam did not see peace until 1973. Kissinger claims that the move was responsible for the gradual Soviet acceptance of disarmanent in the 70s, it would be interesting to hear from someone on the Russian side or even look at Russian documents to confirm what they thought of the crisis. As it is it remains one of those episodes when the cold war almost got very hot.

1 comments:

amphibian said...

Flight 2012
THE FOLLOWING STORY WAS INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS.
EXT. ALASKAN AIR FORCE BASE - WINTER LATE AFTERNOON
CLOSE ON SIGN: "Welcome to Eielson - Alaska's Friendly Base"
CUT TO:
ESTABLISHING SHOT of Eielson Air Force Base.
SUPER: Valentine's Day, 1950
A US Air Force B-36 - a huge intercontinental bomber with a
wing span the size of a football field, sits on the tar mac
as a couple of dozen men, braving the frigid temperatures,
go about pre-flight preparations. We see Captain TED SHERO
approaching the rear of the plane.
INSERT: "02012" IS VISIBLE ON THE REAR TAIL OF THE PLANE.
Shero begins to walk the length of the plane, and as he
approaches the wing we see a mechanic (MECHANIC I) on some
scaffolding under the wing and another (MECHANIC II) below,
handing tools up to him. The engines of the bomber are
running, forcing eveyone who speaks to yell.
MECHANIC I
Another one here.
MECHANIC II
Shit.
SHERO
(to Mechanic II)
Another what?
MECHANIC II
(departing)
Leaky fuel hose.
Shero continues his walk along the plane until he reaches
the trap doors of bomb bay number two. There, two more
mechanics are frantically trying to close the doors.
SHERO
What's the problem?
2.
MECHANIC III
Ice damage, they won't close.
(to Mechanic IV)
We'll have to wire them shut.
SHERO
Wire them shut?
MECHANIC III
Would you rather fly with them wide
open?
Shero continues along to the front of the plane, where he
sees and addresses Aircraft Commander RAINSLEY.
SHERO
Commander Rainsley?
RAINSLEY
Yes?
SHERO
Third pilot and weaponeer Ted Shero.
RAINSLEY
Shero, glad to meet you. Welcome to
SAC. We're just putting out a few
fires.
SHERO
Normally I would think you were being
facetious. With all due respect sir,
is she going to make it?
RAINSLEY
Oh ya.
(pause)
But it probably won't ever make it
back.
CORPORAL (O.S.)
Commander!
Rainsley's attention is turned toward the hangar.
RAINSLEY
(to Shero)
Here comes your baby.
3.
ANGLE ON HANGAR AS DOORS OPEN
From within the hangar a utility vehicle emerges, trailing
behind it a bomb at least the size of a sedan.
RAINSLEY (CONT'D)
Mark IV. Familiar with it?
SHERO
I've trained on it.
RAINSLEY
Guess you wouldn't be here if you
hadn't.
SHERO
About the plane -
RAINSLEY
You worry about the Mark IV, I'll
worry about the plane. That sound
reasonable, Weaponeer?
SHERO
Yes sir.
Shero turns and approaches the oncoming utility vehicle. As
he passes we see mechanics wiring shut the doors of bomb bay
two. He continues on and as he meets the utility vehicle at
bomb bay one we hear, off:
MECHANIC I (O.S.)
Another one!
Shero watches as the bomb is hooked up to a winch beneath
bomb bay number two. As the winch begins to lift the bomb a
wind gusts and the bomb sways, causing all around to jump -
as if they could catch it should it fall. The bomb steadies
and is raised up into the belly of the bomber.
INT. B-36 COCKPIT - NIGHT
Two pilots, RAINSLEY on the left and LEVY on the right, sit
and go through their pre-flight checklist. Levy reaches
toward the centre for the communications handset as Rainsley
quickly grabs Levy's arm, stopping him from putting the
handset to his mouth.
RAINSLEY
They're probably listening.
4.
LEVY
Shit. It's habit.
INT. B-36 BOMB BAY - NIGHT
SHERO inspects the Mark IV suspended ominously in bomb bay
number one. As he circles the bomb he comes upon a wooden
crate, labelled "AEC012 - Top Secret".
Other CREW go about their duties and begin to strap themselves
in as DAVIES approaches SHERO. Davies rests one hand on the
Mark IV.
DAVIES
Ever seen one of these before?
SHERO
(removing Davies'
hand from bomb)
Yup.
DAVIES
Never seen me a nuke before.
SHERO
It's not a nuke without its core.
DAVIES
Huh?
SHERO
This is just a good ol' fashioned
bomb as it is now. It's not a nuke
'til you insert a nuclear core.
DAVIES
(looking around)
So where's the core?
SHERO
There's no core.
DAVIES
Whadya mean there's no core?
SHERO
This is just a test run, we don't
need a core.
5.
DAVIES
Well if this is just a test run then
why all the secrecy? I wasn't even
allowed to tell my wife where I was
goin'.
SHERO
Beats me. Just don't want the Russians
to know what we're doing I guess.
DAVIES
Hell, my wife ain't Russian.
INT. B-36 COCKPIT - NIGHT
LEVY
You're not worried about the ice?
RAINSLEY
Of course I'm worried about ice.
We're lucky it's as warm as it is
tonight.
LEVY
Minus twenty-seven is warm?
RAINSLEY
Ya. For this time of year it is.
Where you from?
LEVY
Los Angeles.
Rainsley rolls his eyes.
LEVY (CONT'D)
California.
RAINSLEY
I know where Los Angeles is.
LEVY
Well what are we waiting for?
RAINSLEY
The observer.
LEVY
I don't get it.
(MORE)
6.
LEVY (CONT'D)
This mission is beyond top secret,
to the point it doesn't even exist,
and yet we have an observer.
ANGLE ON ORAY AS HE ENTERS COCKPIT
ORAY, a stern man in a crisp black suit, is carrying a
conspicuous black brief case.
ORAY
It's okay, I don 't exist either.
Let's go gentlemen.
ANGLE THROUGH COCKPIT FRONT WINDOW
TWO FLAGMEN give the signal to taxi forward. Wind sweeps
snow around them as the flagmen retreat, still waving.
ANGLE ON RAINSLEY'S HAND AS HE PUSHES FORWARD ON THE MAIN
THROTTLE.
EXT. ALASKAN AIR FORCE BASE - TARMAC- WINTER EVENING
LIGHTS from the B-36 turn to camera as it taxis toward the
long, desolate runway lit by runway lights and the last gasp
of late afternoon twilight.
INT. B-36 COCKPIT - NIGHT
LEVY looks at RAINSLEY. Rainsley nods.
ANGLE ON UNUSED COMMUNICATIONS HANDSET
as Rainsley's arm, pushing the throttle forward, again becomes
visible.
EXT. ALASKAN AIR FORCE BASE - RUNWAY- WINTER NIGHT
OPENING CREDITS, as the B-36 makes its way down the runway
and takes off into the darkening sky.
INT. B-36 COCKPIT - NIGHT
RAINSLEY AND LEVY are flying the plane.
LEVY
That headwind is going to affect our
time.
7.
RAINSLEY
Nothing we can do about that.
ORAY
What about our fuel?
RAINSLEY
What about it?
ORAY
I heard you talking about a headwind.
Won't that affect our fuel too?
RAINSLEY
(laughing)
Mr. Oray, you are sitting in a
Peacemaker. A B-36.
Oray says nothing.
RAINSLEY (CONT'D)
This baby could fly to Germany and
back with the fuel we have on board.
Theres' plenty to get to Fort Worth.
ORAY
That would be fine. If we were going
to Fort Worth.
Oray hands some papers to Rainsley.
RAINSLEY
Shit.
Levy looks at Rainsley. Rainsley hands the papers to Levy,
who reads them.
LEVY
Shit.
INT. CABIN - CANADIAN WILDERNESS - NIGHT
BOB, a distinct mountain man in his sixties, is in the kitchen
area of his very rustic wood cabin. He reaches into a
cupboard and pulls out a bottle of scotch and a couple of
glasses. He takes these to a crude dining table where a big
plate of steak awaits. There he picks up a box of matches
and lights two candles on the table. The lighting of the
second candle illuminates a framed picture of a younger woman
(Bob's wife Irene)on the table across from him. Bob sits at
the table and pours scotch into the two glasses.
8.
He raises a glass.
BOB
My love.
Bob drinks the scotch down and puts his glass on the table.
He pauses for a moment, staring off into space. He then snaps
back to the real world, and reaches for the second glass.
BOB (CONT'D)
(addressing photo)
Do you mind?
Pause.
BOB (CONT'D)
You're too kind.
Bob downs the second glass of scotch and then digs into his
meal.
The sound of a small airplane is heard overhead.
EXT. CANADIAN CESSNA - FLYING - NIGHT
An RCAF Cessna is flying through the night over the Canadian
wilderness.
INT. CANADIAN CESSNA - FLYING - NIGHT
Captain MONTGOMERY of the Royal Canadian Air Force is flying
a routine coastal surveillance mission.
MONTGOMERY
Control, this is Charlie Tango two
checking in.
INT. RCAF CONTROL TOWER -- NIGHT
SIMPSON
Roger that Charlie Tango two.
INT. CANADIAN CESSNA - FLYING - NIGHT
MONTGOMERY
How's your Valentine's Day going?
SIMPSON
Well let's see, I'm all alone in a
control tower in the middle of nowhere
talking to you. How's it sounding?
9.
MONTGOMERY
Who would you rather be talking to
than me?
SIMPSON
Betty Grable comes to mind.
MONTGOMERY
I bet she can't fly a plane.
SIMPSON
She can fly me.
MONTGOMERY
Don't you want to ask me what I'd
rather be doing?
SIMPSON
No.
MONTGOMERY
My wife, as we speak, is making me
Fettucine Alfredo, with peas, and
has some beer on ice.
SIMPSON
This is a treat for you?
MONTGOMERY
Always has been.
SIMPSON
You're a simple man.
MONTGOMERY
Best way to be. And if I'm lucky
she'll be wearing -
INT. CANADIAN CONTROL TOWER - NIGHT
SIMPSON
I'm losing you Charlie Tango two.
Over and out.
Simpson flips a switch terminating communication with
Montgomery, and goes back to reading a Hollywood glamour
magazine.
INT. B-36 BOMB BAY - NIGHT
SHERO and DAVIES are seated and belted in.
10.
DAVIES
Not quite what I had pictured doing
on Valentine's.
SHERO
You'll excuse me if I don't ask what
you had pictured.
DAVIES
The peeler club in Fairbanks is having
half price drinks all night.
SHERO
Like I said -
DAVIES
Me and the girl could drink all night
and it would be like it was only one
of us.
SHERO
The girl?
DAVIES
My wife.
SHERO
You would take your wife to a strip
club on Valentine's Day?
DAVIES
Did I mention the half price drinks?
INT. B-36 COCKPIT - NIGHT
LEVY
What time is it?
RAINSLEY
Quarter to midnight.
ORAY
It's time.
LEVY
(dubious)
Okay.
ORAY begins to unbuckle and LEVY does too. Oray stands first,
holding in his hand his very official looking black case.
Levy gets up and opens the cockpit door.