Now imagine a world where they did land on the moon just a year ago (for real!), and we enter 1970 and heading for the less pleasureful high time of the cold war. But suddenly, a POD (Point of... divergence, where the time-line start altering in a way notable) appears. It does have the appearance of a true evil mastermind (insert favorite Bond-Villian-B-Movie-Copy here), which is going to... do the usual things: building a doomsday device, claiming world supremacy, maintaining not railed walkways over shark pods and so on.

But just popping up and claiming he (or she) is now the state of art supervillian would not work, or trigger a rather embarrassing group laughter at the world leaders site. So will have to work your way up from nothing to the most feared human in existence, creating your secret hideout somewhere no one would find it and collect stuff and staff to build your doomsday device....

And that's where the headache starts

Because, in a environment, where the two major players in intelligence are kind of worst enemies, its unlikely that these will work together well to stop your evil mastermind in a combined action. If something goes wrong during such an... exercise, they would blame each other and maybe use every opportunity to claim "the other side is supporting that evil being, lets nuke them!".

Or wouldn't they?

I mean, all that evil guy need to accomplish is staying under the radar of both major factions (lets call em East and West), secretly building his (or hers) doomsday device and taking the world by surprise. If that device is a threat at the same level as the mutual destruction by nukes, at a given point no one could do anything against this. Alone. Well... at this point, East and West may find together to battle their common enemy and may end up as best buddies (for some weeks or so).

But the time before this, when the evil mastermind is frail and vulnerable, he can easily escape any super-agent by wandering off in the other sides sphere of influence. I doubt, they would share information about somebody who did prestige damage to their mutual enemy.

Or wouldn't they?

While I'm a fan of Tom Clancy's work, his stories were sometimes pretty... way off compared to how it worked out in the real world. Okay, sometimes he was kind or right, but that's not the question here. Still, all these stories about that time doesn't tell me how East and West will handle corporation.... even more, reality told us, that one side sometimes ended up supporting enemies of the other side (like offering Stinger-MANPADS to Afghan warriors to fight choppers).

What kind of threat a third party - not a nation, a single island filled with the most advanced stuff available to mankind, picked from both sides best guarded facilities to produce ... a "LASER" cough - so... I lost my thought. thinking

How may co-operation between not even best friend alliances intelligence agency - especially in the field - does look under such circumstances? Or better: what does that evil mastermind need to do to make them share intelligence and work together, before he can use his doomsday device.

For the sake of calculus maximus, let's claim he needs stuff that can be transported by small planes from at least six (three on either side) well guarded location, like:

  • that famous smiling lady picture (Mona Lisa) from that art gallery in Paris,
  • good old Area 51 saucer pieces,
  • a secret anti gravity formula from the desk locker of the Red Place security officer in charge, some
  • jade Buddha from a hidden village in central china,
  • the Pope's hat,
  • a frozen neanderthaler's shorts and...
  • a coin from El Dorado.
  • And so on.

To be honest, I have no idea what kind of doomsday device might emerge from this collection, but I'm no evil mastermind.

At some point both parties will look for help from the other side, but... how, and why, and when?

Well, that does not mean that we do invite speznaz to Langley and show them our latest spy gadgets, but... you get the point I hope.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I find it incredibly difficult to read your post. For example "But suddenly, a POD (Point of... di... divorce? no... well, where the time-line start altering in a way notable) appears." What? I understand it's in line with your username but this reads more like an invitation to a whimsical conversation than a Q&A format. Could you elaborate what your question is? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ I looked up this one: "Point Of Divergence" was the word I did not remember at this point. The question in question... could be the third line from bottom. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 6:17

4 Answers 4


Seems to me, in this scenario both parties would gladly "help" each other. It's a perfect opportunity to learn about the enemy spy networks or mission tactics by the information the other side provides you.

At the same time they would try to negotiate with the evil mastermind in an attempt to get him on their side, at least at the start. It's the same deal with Afgan back in the days, or with the whole situation in Syria, where both sides tell the world that they try to "help" one another to fight the common enemy, but at the same time they will inevitably use the mastermind as a means to get their country a more favorable position and achieve superiority politically.


When you have a great enemy then you start thinking that your enemy's enemy is your friend. Of course this sort of thinking is entirely erroneous as the current generation is able to observe in Syria, but in the crazy days of the cold war people couldn't see that. Those days were very black and white, us and them.

To get the two sides to cooperate you would need to represent a greater threat than nuclear annihilation, and as importantly, the loss of "our way of life".

This is why the big evils of the cold war era tended to have total global domination/destruction on their minds. It was the only way to get attention away from the primary enemy. Anything less than that would be responded to by each power picking the side that better suited their current world view and backing it with money and weapons in the hope that the outcome favoured them. Lots of small time despots came to power and maintained their power this way through the cold war.


Jerry Pournelle wrote about this situation back in the 70's and 80's, with his "Co Dominium" series of stories and novels. In this case, the driving force was indeed fear, but rather than fear of a supervillan, the United States and Soviet Union began to cooperate in order to suppress other potential challengers to their positions of supremacy.

This did not mean the US and USSR had a big love fest. If anything, they still hated and feared each other, but hated and feared the idea that some upstart like Brazil, India or China would rise up and challenge their positions as the dominant global superpowers even more.

Their solution in the Co Dominium universe would probably be equally applicable here as well. American and Soviet forces essentially disarmed the other armed forces of the planet (easy to do when the nations under "your" jurisdiction depend on you for the bulk of their military equipment and training), and licensed all the scientists. Intelligence agents from both sides used their control of scientists to seek out and suppress any research which had military applications (essentially anything at all), and at the same time, embarked on an ambitious project to corrupt all scientific databases, libraries and other repositories of information.

Why is this important in your scenario? While the situation in the 1970's still required "corporate" or university level support to do research, today we have access to all kinds of advanced equipment and knowledge which would potentially allow a supervillan or non state organization to conduct research into chemical and biological warfare agents, cyber attacks against important targets and infrastructure and even advanced energetics to make powerful explosives and weapons. If scientists are not allowed to investigate these areas, and no research material exists to draw upon, then it becomes exponentially more difficult for a supervillan or organization to create villainous devices and super weapons. As well, with the bulk of the world's researchers under surveillance, anyone who starts going off the reservation will attract attention, and possibly a fatal accident will follow.

So this would involve high level political coordination to set up the Co Dominium, but in terms of actual intelligence work, much of it could be carried out "internally", with the CIA monitoring American and Western corporations and universities, and the KGB doing the same for Eastern Europe and Communist bloc nations. So called "unaligned" nations might see struggles between the two agencies attempting to snap up a researcher or library article, but I suspect in general there would be some sort of working group in a neutral place like Geneva where the scientific monitoring committees would meet and exchange notes.

Incidentally, nowhere in Pournelle's works are there indications that the Russians and Americans have stopped spying on each other, but since the focus is on keeping the potential upstart nations down, I suspect that much of the funding and effort would be spent on hunting down scientists and banned research.

Once your would be supervillan comes to the attention of the various intelligence agencies, the matter will be sent to the working group in Geneva and be prioritized there ("the island is in the middle of the Pacific ocean, Boris, so it only makes sense for a SEAL team to take down the secret laboratory" "Da Joseph, and we will send a SPETSNAZ team to eliminate the backup lab in Nepal").


A doomesday device that neither superpower has, and you think their first (or second, third, fourth, or even last) inclination at the height of the cold war would be to work together to get rid of it instead of working separately to own it?

You might have a chance them working together to stop the emergence of a third superpower (China gets it's sh*t together to start flexing its muscles at that time instead of two decades later for example), but I'm dubious that they would work together for a single stealable device - or if they did that both sides wouldn't be looking at a double-cross-and-steal-it end game scenario.


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