To mark the release of our new book The Bear’s Claws, here’s a little something from Russell Phillips on the alternate history he created so we could justify a Soviet army marching west…
Background to The Bear’s Claws
During the Cold War, many in the West thought that Warsaw
Pact forces might invade West Germany at any time. That never happened, so when
we came to write The Bear’s Claws, we needed to find some reason for the
war to take place. It’s never directly explained in the book, but for those
that are interested, here’s a little background.
Atlantic Treaty: Article Five
The first part of the hook is article five of the NATO treaty. This states that an attack against
any one or more of the signatories in Europe or North America will be
considered an attack against them all. In that case, all the member nations
would assist the attacked nation to defend itself.
It’s important to note that this only applies in Europe,
North America, and the Atlantic Ocean north of the Tropic of Cancer. In our
book, the invasion of West Germany happens during the Falklands War. Since the
Falklands are much further south than the area covered by the NATO treaty, the
UK government couldn’t invoke article five to secure assistance from their NATO
allies in fighting Argentina.
Only the initial attack needs to be in Europe, North
America or the North Atlantic. Once article five had been invoked, NATO forces
could find themselves fighting elsewhere. This is why NATO forces operated in
Afghanistan, after the US invoked article five following the September 11th
terrorist attacks in 2001.
The Sinking of HMS Ariadne
After Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, Admiral
Jorge Anaya, part of the ruling military junta in Argentina, sent four men to
Spain to sink a British ship in Gibraltar harbour. In reality, the operation
was foiled when the men were arrested by Spanish police. In our alternative
history, the attack succeeded, and the frigate HMS Ariadne was sunk on the 3rd
of May 1982.
Gibraltar is in the area covered by the NATO treaty, and
so the UK government took the opportunity to invoke article five. When the task
force sailed to the South Atlantic to re-take the Falkland Islands, the land
forces were all British, as was the bulk of the naval forces. But in this
alternative history, an American aircraft carrier was included, and they also
provided B-52 bomber support. Other NATO allies provided naval assets.
Argentina responded by calling on other South American countries for support,
characterising the conflict as the old colonial powers trying to re-establish
NATO land forces in Western Europe were not directly
affected, since the British forces sent south were not intended for deployment
there. The reduction in naval forces available to North Atlantic convoys would
mean reduced escorts for any convoys reinforcing Western Europe, however. The
Soviet Union, recognising this, and that the Western powers would have to fight
a war on two fronts, took advantage of the situation and invaded West Germany.
Of course, we’ll never really know what would have happened if the Argentinians had succeeded in sinking a British ship in Gibraltar harbour. It’s entirely possible that the UK would not have invoked article five, preferring to fight alone in the Falklands. But it did allow us to base our fictional war on real events that could have had a much bigger impact.
To see how that fictional war plays out, check out The Bear’s Claws, available at all good e-book stores and as a print book via Amazon.