The following is an approximate description of the effects of a global nuclear war, written by William Robert Johnston. For the purposes of illustration it is assumed that a war resulted in mid-1988 from military conflict between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. This is in some ways a worst-case scenario: total numbers of strategic warheads deployed by the superpowers peaked about this time; the scenario implies a greater level of military readiness; and impact on global climate and crop yields are greatest for a war in August. Some details, such as the time of attack, the events leading to war, and the winds affecting fallout patterns, are only meant to be illustrative. This applies also to the global geopolitical aftermath, which represents the author’s efforts at intelligent speculation.
1 July 1988: Gorbachev is killed when his plane is attacked by a Stinger surface-to-air missile in East Germany; military heads take control in Moscow, accuse the CIA of responsibility for the assassination, impose a news blackout in the USSR, and send troops to East Germany and Poland to impose martial law.15 July 1988: West Germans propose intervention in East Germany following reports of violence there; clashes occur along the border between the two Germanys; NATO puts its forces in West Germany on alert. 19 July 1988: A massive Soviet invasion of West Germany begins: NATO airfields are attacked by missiles with chemical warheads as tanks pour across the border. US nuclear forces are put on alert: Bergstrom Air Force Base (AFB) near Austin receives 4 B-52 bombers dispersed from their home base.