The cold war never ended in 1990-94, and the Warsaw pact still exists, as does the prominence of communism in eastern europe. It’s now 2030, and both sides have colonies on the moon and are establishing colonies on mars. Ignoring the technical the fact that both sides now have prominent forces in space, what would have caused the Warsaw pact not to fall, communism and the cold war to continue and Gorbechev to live through the coup during 1994?
1971: the Soviets are invited back to China by Lin Biao.
Lin Biao officially became China's second-in-charge in April 1969, following the 1st Plenary Session of the 9th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Lin's position as Mao's "closest comrade-in-arms and successor" was recognized when the Party constitution was formally revised to reflect Lin's future succession. At the 9th Central Committee, Lin's faction was unquestionably dominant within the Politburo... Because over 45% of the Central Committee were members of the army, Lin's supporters dominated the Politburo, and Lin's power was second only to Mao's.
During the Second Plenary Session of the 9th Central Committee, held in Lushan from August–September 1970, Mao became uncomfortable with Lin's growing power... Because Lin was one of the most influential figures in promoting Mao's personality cult, he began to be criticized within the Party for its excesses later in 1970. .
A serious rift developed between Mao and Lin. Mao was displeased with comments that Lin had made about his wife, Jiang Qing, at the Lushan Conference. Generals loyal to Lin refused to accept Mao's criticism of them... In July 1971 Mao decided to remove Lin and his supporters. Zhou again attempted to moderate Mao's resolution to act against Lin, but failed... Lin died when an aircraft plane carrying him and several members of his family crashed in Mongolia at 3:00 am on September 13, 1971, allegedly after attempting to assassinate Mao and defect to the Soviet Union
In this timeline, Lin is successful in assassinating Mao. In the chaos that followed, Lin needed an edge to take control of the Chinese state. He found it with the Soviets who were reintroduced as the pure keepers of Communism and an antidote to the brutal excesses of the cultural revolution.
The USSR and China were good for each other, the USSR providing a stabilizing influence and quicker recovery from the chaos of the 1960s and Chinese economic energy providing an antidote to Soviet economic stagnation which would ultimately lead to the dissolution of the USSR in our timeline. Sino-Soviet cooperation make them an adversary to be reckoned with and the Cold War continues unabated.
I like this too because the Sino-Soviet cooperative Communist entity would be fun to write, and a change from "Soviets in the Future!" which usually is just the Soviets from the past with ray guns.
You must repeal the Outer Space Treaty (1967)
The Outer Space Treaty (1967) expands on a set of more general principles (1962) from the dawn of manned space exploration. It is one of base documents of International Law governing space.
It includes the following principles:
- The exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
- Outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
- Outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
- States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
- The Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
- Astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
- States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
- States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
- States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.
This treaty quite cleverly makes space not worth fighting for. Territory cannot be claimed by a nation, so there is no territory to defend. War production and military-supporting activities are prohibited, so there are no legitimate military targets worth attacking...so there's also unlikely to be any acceptable reason to station space-based forces and garrisons to protect those non-existent targets.
The problem with repealing this treaty is that it permits all kinds of exploitation -- a wide-open frontier ripe for brave and intrepid barons from around the world without moderation. Analogous frontier conflicts of Australia and Argentina and the USA weren't simmering cold wars -- local barons fomented many small-and-nasty hot conflicts over control of resources or plain old politics. And that's exactly the opposite of the powerful centralized control that keeps a cold war cold.
The shooter on the grassy knowl missed
Kennedy survived his assassination attempt in Dallas, and continued on for a second term but after the fall out from bay of pigs and being caught with a mistress lost control of both chambers of Congress.
Rather than being a martyr for the cause of space exploration, Kennedy led a minority government that accomplished nothing. The outer space treaty was never signed.
USSR was first on the moon, and stayed there, they started mining and refining in space and building permanent military bases and colonies. USA dismissed this: "Let them skip around in the dust - the more soviets that leave Earth the better!".
It wasn't until Reagan came along with his "evil empire" rhetoric that the USA was motivated to get into space, by which time the moon was firmly Soviet. In the early 90s USA launched a massive fleet to the asteroid belt to mine some of the more promising deposits and build a colony and military base around Ceres, which is rich in water and thus oxygen and fuel.
The USA is getting richer and powerful as the asteroid belt has insane deposits, but the moon is in a strategic position to cut the USA off from its colonies. The ussr promises safe passage in return for payment, which the USA begrudgingly pays, for the moment.
Gorbechev staying in office would help but that only part of problem. While he did have good intentions he inherited a failing system That was already dependent on prisoner slave labor, Serfdom Forced draft And other nastiness. No to make this work You have to go back further and you gonna need a lot of hand waving.
Stalin never rises to power. This would not completely fix the USSR But it would have certainly improved it. Lenin didnt want Stalin to succeed him anyways. The cold war would still happen even with out Stalin but the USSR would have fewer problems probably.
Somehow the Soviet Union convinces the captured members / Vassal States that they are better in the Soviet Union than out of it. This is something that they never succeeded to do in our time, And require honest you Going to have to be a little hand wavy with this. Either there's less of independence Movement in the members of the Soviet Union or Russia is just better at assimilating Or for some reason there propaganda was more effective in this timeline. Maybe there was Already large Communist movements In these countries before they were taken by the USSR.
Communism works somehow. A major factor in the defeat of the USSR in the cold war is that Communism Just couldn't provide the quality of life for your average citizen that capitalism could. That is going to have to change. Perhaps there's another great depression that equals things out a bit. Perhaps a The USSR last long enough That they're able to fix The holes in the communistic system. Maybe they find some resource that they're able to sell to other countries and managed to get rid of the corruption enough that they actually do distribute Their wealth among the workers. You may have to get a bit creative with this one.