The US in 1970
The United States of 1970 finds itself in a tumultuous time, facing the murky conflicts of the Cold War and the Vietnam War. As a dominant superpower, the US is a major player in the Cold War, but also is beset by significant tumult at home. The late 1960s saw intense conflict and chaos in the US, with the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and intensification of the Vietnam War, but also major victories such as the 1969 Moon Landing.
In 1970, Richard Nixon is president. Having run on the platform of a plan to achieve peace in Vietnam, Nixon began troop withdrawals in 1969, but then in 1970 authorizes the US invasion of Cambodia. The Vietnam War is facing declining US troop morale, serious opposition internationally, and domestic antiwar protests that have turned violent, such as the Kent State protest where four students are killed by US National Guardsmen.
The Cold War is less tense than it has been, having entered a period of détente between the US and the USSR. Treaties between the two nations have been signed, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1968. The US continues negotiations with the USSR and Warsaw Pact countries on nuclear arms deescalation.
Although direct relations between the two countries are beginning to normalize, the conflict that continues in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Third World means that tensions are still high. And although negotiations are happening around nuclear weapons, the nuclear arsenals of both countries are still on high alert, ICBMs aimed at enemy cities. Espionage is especially vital to gain key intelligence about the intent of the other side.
The US Embassy in Norway
The US embassy to Norway is seen as a posting of only moderate importance since US-Norwegian relations are strong and secure. It’s prestigious enough, certainly not a backwater, but is seen as a bit of a safe posting, without the glamour or danger of a higher profile location. However, those in the know are aware that the real value of being posted to Skien is the excellent opportunities it affords for espionage, located as it is at the nexus of friendly, neutral, and hostile powers.
The embassy is fairly small and mostly cohesive, but it seems to lack direction in many respects. The current ambassador, after a long diplomatic career, seems to be drifting and lacking fire for American exceptionalism any longer. In stark contrast is the Deputy Chief Minister, a real hardliner, vehemently embracing pro-American superiority. The contrast between the two personalities has led to recent tension between staff who align with either a more tempered or more enthusiastically pro-American stance.
Hints of a double-agent at the UK embassy also have everyone on edge. Can the US embassy really be sure their operational security is watertight? Tensions are also high following an election of a US-friendly government in Pakistan. It’s excellent news for the United States. However, there are rumors that the new government might allow the US to station nuclear weapons in Pakistan. If this occurs, will it upset the balance of détente and throw the Cold War back to the brink of dangerous crisis?
- Ambassador M. J. Bryn (late 50s, N) – The US ambassador is nearing the end of a long and grueling diplomatic career, having lived too long in the world of grey and compromise. Bryn is slipping away into disillusionment and has been finding refuge in literature and art that somehow still seems to hold meaning.
- Deputy Chief Minister H. Madison (late 30s, M) – The Deputy Chief Minister is second in command at the US embassy and is a passionate firebrand, committed to the superiority of the United States and the US role as the world leader of freedom and democracy. Madison’s zealotry is rivaled only by a fierce ambition to rise in the diplomatic service.
- Sgt. J. O’Reilly (40s, M) – A veteran of the early Vietnam war, O’Reilly was left with an injury that led to his removal from active duty. He serves now as the bodyguard and head of security for Ambassador Bryn, but his loyalties are being tested. He is a man whose career has been his life, but there are new pressures being brought to bear.
- Cultural Attaché M. Friedman (any age, M) – A member of the CIA working undercover at the embassy, Friedman has a dark past of violence and passion that has returned to haunt him. He knows the terrible price of a mistake and seeks to understand all he can of the spy networks that surely must be operating in the city.
- Technology Attaché E. Greenglass (any age, N) – A CIA agent operating in the embassy, Greenglass finds life entwined more and more closely with the other side of the Iron Curtain – running double agents, seeking sources. But as the technology attaché with a specialty in nuclear weapons technology, Greenglass knows all too well the high cost of failure.
- Commercial Attaché W. Russell (any age, N) – An idealist through and through, Russell is proud to have gotten so far in a diplomatic career, somehow managing to hide a background in unsavory circles at university. Now a model employee, Russell works to build strong connections between the US embassy and other diplomats within the city.
- Interpreter N. Rydberg (early 30s, F) – Rydberg is not an American, but works at the US embassy as an interpreter. She was drawn to the world of diplomacy because of the glamour and excitement of it. Lately there has been perhaps too much excitement – the games and fantasies are beginning to have real and dangerous stakes.
- Press Officer, I. Weiholt (any age, F) – Weiholt is not an American, but works at the embassy as a press officer. She has worked in similar roles in the diplomatic world for a few years throughout Europe and even has some friends on the other side of the Iron Curtain from her time in Berlin that she keeps rather hush hush. Lately she has made some new friends who have come to her with an intriguing new project.