Fighting For Your Future: The Presidency of Walter Mondale

Preamble
Mondale Bradley 84.png

PREAMBLE
I’ve always loved the 1980s. I know it’s cliché nowadays, because pretty much everyone does, but to me, it just oozes cool. Everything from the music, to the films, the cars, the bad outfits and bad hairstyles, the political dynamics of the time, the intrigue of the Cold War, the awful tragedy of the AIDS virus, the big personalities and big achievements of leaders at the time (Reagan, Thatcher, Hawke, Gorbachev etc) and so much more. There was so much triumph and tragedy wrapped up in a single decade and it bookended so many important events like The Cold War.

Looking back, it just felt like a special time and important decade in the development of the world. And Reaganism was such a big part of that.

In my opinion, the 1980s, was like Reagan's Presidency, cinematic in nature.

But Reagan himself was a deeply complicated man, and his legacy is deeply complicated. Generally when people think of a Democratic 1980s, they have to remove Reagan entirely. Either Carter beats him in 1980, or Ford is re-elected in 1976.

But what if Reagan comes into office, the actor President who promised fundamental change in the America, and then fails to win re-election? What if Walter Mondale, the decent but doomed liberal candidate from out timeline, defeats him?

The kernels of that Reagan Revolution are still there, that famous inaugural address and landslide victory which showed a demand for change – but now, Mondale picks up the baton in 1984 and runs with it.

I make no secret that two of my biggest pieces of inspiration for writing this timeline are timeslines found in this website. The first is Patton in Korea/MacArthur in the White House, which proved to me how great narrative, chapter-based storytelling could be in an alternate history scenario, and how it didn’t necessarily have to be a novel in length to be compelling.

The other, of course, is McGoverning – a great, longer form style narrative which takes a deep dive into what a McGovern upset would truly be like. This, in many ways, is my own tribute to that – a feel good story about the victory of a fundamentally decent, doomed candidate in our world who ran on honestly, only to lose to sketchy, right wing demagogue because he told the people what they wanted to hear at the time.

Sound familiar?

And in a similiar twist, Nixon and Reagan, the two victorious demagogues, were damaged by scandal in their second term which told us more about the sort of administrations they truly ran.

McGovern and Mondale, for as different as they were, share a popular place in history: doomed idealists who seem predetermined to lose based on the popular perception of events as we know them. But for a shining moment, victory seemed within grasp for their true believers.

Well, consider this timeline a tribute to those true believers, and to the late, great Walter Mondale – the greatest and most influential Vice President in American history, and a man who stood for what was right, even when it was not popular.
 
Last edited:
Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1:​

“More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country, to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values.”

-- Ronald Reagan’s speech at the 1980 Republican National Convention​

Every breath hurt. Each gasp, worse than the one before it. What was worse, no matter how much air he tried to breath in, it never felt like enough. So that meant another breath in, and another bout of sharp pain in his ribs.

He joked to those around him that he felt fine but in truth, every move he made hurt. Lights hurt to look at, so tinted shades covered his eyes. His sleep, when he could sleep, was interrupted by the ever-present agony that tormented his waking life, pulling him back into consciousness.

The beating, and the message that went with it, gave a clear order: Go away, and stay away.

The Nicaraguan soldiers of the Somoza regime had said as much: “Go home, dog. Tell the rest of the scum what happened to you”.

The vicious beating that he and his interpreter endured served was to serve as a warning any journalist who came to Nicaragua would suffer the same fate, given the perception of foreign journalists as "part of the vast network of communist propaganda".

When they returned to the United States on a plane chartered by his employer, ABC News, the world saw what had happened to them. It was recorded by a cameraman inside of the van they were operating out of.

His interviews with his fellow journalists only served to further fuel the anger of the American public, aimed squarely at Somoza regime.

His President, Jimmy Carter, personally met with him and expressed his condolences over the torment inflicted upon him and awarded he and crew medals for their bravery.

He described the violence as “an act of barbarism that all civilized people condemn” and withdrew US support from the Somoza regime.

A month later, Somoza fled Nicaragua and the Sandinistas took control shortly thereafter.

Denied asylum in the US, Somoza settled in Paraguay, where he was assassinated by Sandinista agents in 1980.

The event brought Bill Stewart no joy or closure.

Despite the senseless violence of what occurred, he felt his business in Nicaragua was not yet finished. All the fame, respect, and attention afforded to him as a recognisable figure meant very little.

He was a nationally and internationally renowned figure, but that he was known for being a victim – and that was not why he went to Nicaragua. He went to break a story, to be a journalist, to live his dream.

If he was to reclaim himself, he needed to be known as something other than the guy who filmed getting his ribs caved in by Somoza’s storm trooper.

A few months after Somoza’s death, he made up his mind knew - he would return to the site of his defining moment and find some way to move beyond the violent act done to him.

Nicaragua was not done with Bill Stewart, and nor was he done with it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

It was those words in Reagan’s inaugural address that had set Walter Mondale on the path to run for President in 1984.

Mondale was a political disciple of Hubert Humphrey, and had seen firsthand the positive, transformative power of government when President Franklin Roosevelt had lifted his community, alongside so many others, out of the Great Depression with his New Deal agenda.

The beliefs he gained in childhood still shaped him to this day, and he was not about to let anyone – even the 40th President of the United States, trample on them.

For now, he had to sit, smile for the camera, and accommodate Reagan as part of the peaceful transition of power. But in 1984, he knew he would have a chance to respond.

However, Mondale had to be realistic. He, and the great President he had served under, had lost a landslide election. Reagan had won 44 states, and in a 3-way contest, attained a popular vote margin of 9.7%. A sober look at the facts told Mondale one thing – Jimmy Carter’s administration was not popular.

So he would approach the next for years carefully, and use them constructively – he would teach at a university in Minnesota, examine issues at his own pace without the pressures of day-to-day crisis management, read extensively, and speak to people from outside the Washington bubble to get a fresh perspective.

He would be a whole new Mondale, refreshed intellectually and spiritually, and he would take his time in building up the right staff, and coalition, to sweep Reagan out of office. Because in the end, Reagan was, as his mentor Hubert Humphrey once said was “just George Wallace sprinkled with eau de cologne”.

Remembering that line made Mondale crack his first genuine smile of that day.

Something else brightened that chilly January 20th day. The thought of 1984.

Mondale knew the liberalism he stood for, the ideals of good governance and caring for ones’ fellow man, would propel him to the White House. And in 4 years’ time, it would be him delivering an inaugural address from the State Capitol.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On March 30th, 1981, President Ronald Reagan strode out of the Washington Hilton Hotel, following a speaking engagement with members of the AFL-CIO.

He was still riding high in the glow of a massive landslide victory the previous November.

America’s newly elected 40th President had brought with him several new Republican faces to the House and Senate, and with any luck, they would soon pass a bill that would substantially lower taxes, stimulate the economy and end Carter’s recession.

Reagan, ever the optimist, looked at the next four years as being full of endless possibility. He was determined to give to the world the America he had inside him – the shining city on a hill.

Little did he know, however, that a figure skulking in the crowd that afternoon was moments away from putting an end to all that promise.

John Hinckley Jr stood in wait. This would be the ultimate expression of his love. He knew he might die, but it didn’t matter – Jodie Foster meant too much to him. He would do this, and she would see him as an equal, and she would have to love him.

Reagan approached now. Hinckley was about to have his chance, with Reagan right in front of him.

Hinckley assumed a crouch position and attempted to draw his Röhm RG-14 revolver.

However, his nervous meant that his motion to draw the weapon was clumsy.

Rather than smoothly draw his weapon, he awkwardly tried to pull the weapon from his pocket, initially getting it caught on the fabric, then forcibly jerking it out.

This motion caused him to drop the weapon onto the ground, resulting in it going off and a bullet hitting Washington DC police officer, Thomas Delahanty, in his left shin.

A nearby labor union official, Alfred Antenucci, saw Hinckley’s fumbled assassination attempt and tacked him to the ground, before landing several punches to the back of his head,

The moment the gun went off, Reagan was shoved into his limousine by Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr, who dove on top of the President to protect him. As he did so, a sea of police and Secret Service agents converged on Hinckley.

Parr inspected Reagan, who was unhurt except for bumping his head as he was shoved into the limousine. They returned to the White House, and he made a brief statement thanking “the brave DC police and Secret Service members who may well have saved my life” and brought particular attention to “Officer Tom Delahanty, who was wounded in the line of duty”.

Reagan took his survival as a sign from the heavens that things were looking up for America – there would no national shock from the death of a President, no “what if?” as to his legacy, and no period of national mourning. Nancy was, of course, frightened by the incident but relieved that her husband was unhurt.

The attempt of the President’s life caused his approval rating to jump slightly, then subside to previous numbers shortly thereafter.

The failed attempt on Reagan’s life by a man obsessed with Jodie Foster would ultimately prove to be an odd curiosity, rather than a defining event of Reagan’s first term.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Joseph Crane rubbed his eyes. He took in a long drag of the cigarette in his hand.

I should’ve just not showed up and taken the ban, he thought to himself. Better than working himself half the death so Ronnie Reagan could look like the tough cowboy he played in movies.

The irony was not lost on him – PATCO had supported Reagan in his election against Jimmy Carter.

He recalled the arguments amongst the boys.

“He’s a former union man!”

“Carter is a sissy. Reagan will whip the Russians.”

“He’s for us. Remember that letter he sent to Robert Poli?”

Hell, after a while Crane himself started to believe it. Maybe Reagan was the shining hero, right out of a movie coming to save America and help out the members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.

What a lie that was. President Reagan had strung the whole of PATCO along, then left them out to dry the moment negotiations got tough.

The bosses organized a sickout, and Reagan had responded with an ultimatum – come to work, or lose your job.

Well, Joe had come to work. Most of his buddies hadn’t.

And now he and the other poor saps who showed up were dumped with extra work while the White House rushed around trying to find non-union replacements or Air Force guys to pick up the slack. They were overworked, understaffed, and demoralized. Not a great combination, Joe thought.

He didn’t so much sip his coffee as chug down what was left of the cup.

He and his fellow air traffic controllers were in for a long night.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

America woke on the morning of August 9th, 1981, to news of a horrible accident.

A commercial airliner, a Boeing 747 flying from Japan to New York City, crashed into the World Trade Center, in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan.

The tragedy occurred at around 3:30 AM in the morning, and as such, the only people present in the tower were cleaning staff.

The event could have been much worse, but for the fact that the plane was at the end of a long journey and had spent half an hour circling JFK, waiting for permission to land.

This had meant the fuel tank was relatively low when the plane made contact and lessened the size of the blaze that occurred when flaming jet fuel meant flammable office furniture and whatever paper materials were left around the office.

Firefighters rushed to the scene, and spent hours putting out the inferno and rescuing anyone trapped inside.

In total, 285 people, making up passengers and crew, were killed, along with 11 others in or around the Tower when it was struck by the Boeing 747. Three firefighters would lose their lives in the line of duty responding to the disaster.

While the economic, social, and political fallout would only be evident later, the outpouring of grief at the loss of life in this terrible accident was immediately apparent.

The World Trade Center was a cultural icon, a symbol of not just New York, but Americana itself, and an international tourist destination and symbol of the financial might of the United States.

To see it damaged as it had been sent a shudder through the national psyche of the United States – for Ronald Reagan, whose whole presidency was predicated on restoring America’s sense of pride in itself, this was a great blow indeed.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

To say that the Reagan White House panicked in response to what was being called the World Trade Center 747 Accident was something of an understatement.

Reagan called an emergency cabinet meeting to address both the federal response to this tragedy, and the political and public relations response to the controversy that was sure to come from it.

As the Cabinet bickered, debated, deflected, and suggested, Reagan sat silently and stared around the room, as though looking for someone to save him from the predicament he now found himself him in.

He had played hardball with the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, firing more than 10,000 air traffic controllers, and only a few days later the United States had its worst aviation disaster in the history of the nation.

The two men, alongside Reagan, who were sure to receive the most political heat were Secretary of Transportation, Drew Lewis, and Attorney General William French Smith.

Both men were present at the press conference were Reagan issues his ultimatum and both were seen as key players in the President’s controversial decision to fire the striking PATCO workers who did not comply with his demand.

“Mr President,” Lewis said, “If we back flip on this, we’re dead in the water. You laid down the law and were clear as can be – the strike was illegal, and the strikers broke the law and must be punished. Your word is final. Hire these people again and everyone from Tip O’Neil to Leonid Brezhnev will think your words mean nothing.”

“We’re going to get blamed for this. No two ways about it.”, interjected Edwin Meese, a mainstay of Reagan’s political circle since his days as California Governor, and current Counselor to the President.

James Baker, the President’s Chief of Staff, sought to get to the heart of the matter and turned directly to the Reagan.

“Mr President, now’s the time for you to be seen as a leader during a national tragedy. If the Democrats or anyone else tries to pin this on you, then they’re just trying to use a terrible accident for partisan mudslinging. We’ll prepare a speech for you to give in the Oval Office.”

The art of public performance. That was something Reagan knew he could do. The clear directive for Reagan to do what he did best – appeal to the nation through public address – focused and calmed the President.

“Well, I can certainly do that.”, the President responded, with a wry, nervous smile.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“My fellow Americans, events that transpired this morning in Lower Manhattan have shaken the city of New York, and this nation, to the core.

Nancy and I share the grief felt by millions of you at home, as we watched alongside so many of you, the footage of that plane hitting The World Trade Center. Others heard the reports over the radio or got a call from a frightened neighbor.

However any of us received the news, one thing is certain – we are all bound together by our grief and by our sympathy for the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible occurrence.

Experts tell us that this is the worst aviation disaster in American history, and almost 300 people have lost their lives. But these are not just statistics, and each life lost has a story behind it – a family that will mourn them, friends who will cherish their memory, the dreams, and the people they’ve left behind – this is a true measurement of this unspeakable tragedy that has befallen this nation.

To those who have lost friends and loved ones – we cannot bare as you do, the full burden of such an inconceivable loss. But we feel your pain, and you are in our thoughts and our prayers.

There will be an investigation, to be sure. This White House will do all it can to get to the bottom of this tragic event and do our utmost to make sure it never happens again. While do not know the exact cause of today's events, we do know one thing for sure – our first priority is, and must be, the safety of the American people. It is for this reason that as President, I am ordering a 24 halt to air traffic in American airspace, with the exception military, police, and medical flights.

Our administration is in close contact with state and local officials in New York, and we’re working tirelessly to get the city back on its feet.

In times of national tragedy, we as a nation have always found a way to come together and remember those we have lost, determined to forge a new path dedicated to their memory, together.

For almost a decade, the World Trade Center has stood as a symbol of ingenuity and accomplishment – towering pillars of excellence that stand watch over a dynamic and vibrant sprawl, so renowned for excitement they called it “The City That Never Sleeps”. Today those proud pillars were damaged, but they can and will be rebuilt, stronger than ever.

And perhaps we’ve forgotten that the ideals the World Trade Center represents are stronger than steel and concrete. For it is called the World Trade Center – not the American Trade Center. We know that there are millions more people across the globe who mourn with us.”

The speech was classic Reagan, soaring rhetoric, dripping with American exceptionalism, designed to bring the nation together and preempt any efforts by Democrats to blame Reagan’s decisions as being a contributing factor in the crash.

While Reagan sought to console and calm the nation with a resonant speech, his cabinet secretaries were tasked with handling the more practical matters of addressing the crisis.

Members of the Reagan administration were in close contact with New York Governor, Hugh Carey, and the Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.

The effect on New York City, an area that had already become synonymous with urban decay and the “malaise” of the 1970s, was profound.

Mass transit in and around The World Trade Center were completely shut down minutes after the plane hit the tower and would resume days later.

Many financial institutions based in Lower Manhattan were closed on the day of August 9th. Most were operating as normal by the 12th.

The South Tower would be closed for repairs for months, while the rest of The World Trade Center would resume regular activities in the days and weeks following the accident.

Hundreds of already struggling small businesses were crippled by the events of August 9th, and the subsequent disruptions that continued thereafter. As a result, thousands of jobs were lost.

For a city already saddled by economic woes, high rates of crime and racial tension, this was yet another misfortune.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the days, weeks and months following the World Trade Center 747 Accident, a congressional investigation was launched, and countless media exposes were released to the public.

Whistle-blowers inside the aviation industry spoke of the conditions they were put under, following the mass firing of 11,345 striking air traffic controllers. They were forced to work long shifts, with fewer breaks and in workplaces with critically low morale.

The United States Senate Select Committee to Study The World Trade Center Aviation Accident, better known as the Packwood Committee, made a finding that the conditions which led to the fatal accident “were the result of human error, and abetted by critically low manpower and improper workplace practices among those responsible for air traffic control”.

This made Reagan’s decision to fire them over the labor dispute incredibly divisive. On one hand, his detractors stated that Reagan’s harsh decision had created the conditions that allowed for the incident to happen.

Inversely, those who supported Reagan, claimed that his detractors were politicizing a tragedy and the fault rests with the individual air traffic controller and pilots whose errors caused the crash. They also blamed the union for being unreasonable, breaking the law, and forcing Reagan’s hand.

Thus began the first truly divisive flashpoint in Reagan’s presidency – his decision to break the PATCO strike and fire the striking workers.

In the aftermath of the event, Reagan’s approval rating briefly went up a few points, then as more information was released to the public about the causes behind the crash, his approval rating sunk to 44% by October of 1981. This was no doubt enhanced by the continuing recession that plagued the US and much of the world.

However, perhaps the biggest impact of the day of August 9th was on the national psyche – Ronald Reagan had campaigned on improving America’s shaken national confidence following the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. What began with the assassination of President Kennedy, through the Vietnam War, civil unrest, Watergate, the Oil Crisis, and Iran Hostage Crisis, had continued with the World Trade Center 474 Accident.

It was the first sign that perhaps Reagan’s talk of American renewal in the 1980s was not all it was cracked up to be.

Perhaps America’s hard luck was set to continue, after all.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

October of 1981 saw the passage of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981.

It was a bill primarily built on compromise between the Republican executive and Senate, and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Senator Bob Dole was a central figure in the final version of the ERTA that was signed into law. It closed several tax loopholes, introduced stricter compliance and tax-collection measures, increased excise taxes on cigarettes and telephone services, and corporate taxes were not lowered to the extent Reagan and his fellow supply siders would have wanted.

Reagan got his income tax cut through, however. Within 3 years, the top tax rate would be lowered from 70% to 50%, while the lowest would be reduced from 14% to 11%.

Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 into law at Rancho del Cielo, his vacation home.

Located on top the Santa Ynez Mountain range northwest of Santa Barbara, California, it would come to be known as the Western White House by the public and the media, given Reagan’s frequent visits while in office.

In signing the legislation, Reagan called it “the culmination of months of tough negotiation between the White House and the Congress. I would like to give particular thanks for Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for his work in seeing the passage of this vitally important piece of legislation.”

He went on to highlight how this tax bill was “the most sweeping overhaul of tax code in our nation's history… that encourages risk-taking, innovation, and that old American spirit of enterprise.”

The passage of this legislation lifted Reagan’s approval rating, which sat around 46%, to 50%. His Presidency had been marred by the PATCO/World Trade Center controversy and partisan gridlock for much of his first year, but the passage of major legislation did much to redeem his first year, in his own eyes if nothing else.

Despite touting it as a major success, behind the scenes, conservatives were frustrated at the number of concessions Reagan had accepted to get it passed. It was not the piece of legislation that Jack Kemp and William Roth envisioned.

The anger of conservatives had to go somewhere, and in the end, it was directed at James Baker, Reagan’s chief of staff.

Baker was a former Democrat and had endorsed George Bush in the Republican primary of 1980. His influence, particularly on domestic legislation, was considerable. He had facilitated much of the negotiations between the White House, the Senate, and the House, and encouraged Reagan to seek compromise where he could, to get the bill passed.

Howard Phillips and Clymer Wright, two conservative activists and early Reagan backers, were central figures in galvanizing opposition to Baker, and encouraging Reagan to dismiss him. Baker, they argued, was undercutting the conservatives in both the White House and the Congress, and had to go. He was the reason for the President’s disappointing first year in office.

Reagan had no intention of doing so, but the increased stress on Baker began to affect him. Weight gain, depression, and a lethargy soon followed.

By early 1982, Baker was ready to leave.

“Mr. President”, he said, “It’s been an honor working for you. But I just can’t do this anymore. I think it’s time for me to go into the private sector.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, James.” Reagan replied.

Baker knew he would never hear from Reagan again, unless Baker himself reached out.

It was classic Reagan. For as gregarious and warm he seemed in public, in private, he was a deeply reserved person. This was especially true in political settings.

In the words of his biographer, Lou Cannon, Reagan was “humanly accessible to people who had never met him and impenetrable to those who tried to know him well.”

There was a barrier between Ronald Reagan and the rest of the world. For as much as foreign dignitaries and world leaders called him the most gregarious world leader they had ever met, his own staff found him oblivious to the needs their needs and almost completely passive in the face of any decision or hardship.

He gave no orders, no instructions. He gave no emotional support to those around him. Long-time staff could go away for months at a time on sabbatical, and they would return unsure if Reagan had even noticed they were gone at all.

It was not as if he was cruel or rude – quite the opposite, he was consistently polite to everyone in his circle – he simply kept an emotional distance between himself and everyone else around him that only Nancy could penetrate. And even then, only to a point.

This did not bode well for the internal culture of the Reagan White House – aides competed for Reagan’s favor, not knowing they would never get it. Many young, Reagan staffers and even hardened political operates would destroy themselves trying to gain the acknowledgement of a leader who seemed unwilling, or unable, to give them that attention and affection.

As a result, this created a White House with critically low morale at almost all times, and even the most capable aides who departed would soon write tell all memoirs about the inner workings of the Reagan White House – most of which, were not positive.

Reagan’s detached passivity made his most central staffing appointments, such as the Chief of Staff, utterly central to his Presidency. They were the true power inside the White House, who moved it along, gave the orders and guided everything.

It was any wonder that the job left Baker a burnt-out mess within a year. Reagan never scorned him, and even regretted the “campaign of harassment” directed at his departing Chief of Staff. But he never really thanked him – that was not Reagan’s way.

As such, a major cabinet reshuffle was conducted in early 1982, with James Baker’s departure from the White House.

Baker’s role of chief-of-staff would be carried out by Donald T. Regan, the incumbent Secretary of the Treasury. George Shultz was invited to return to government as Secretary of the Treasury, replacing Regan, which he accepted. Haig would remain as Secretary of State, in spite of his tensions with Caspar Weinberger, the incumbent Defense Secretary. Meanwhile, Reagan’s Secretary of Transportation, Drew Lewis, was quietly let go, and replaced by William Milliken, the long-time Republican Governor of Michigan.

With any luck, this new team would produce better results for Reagan’s next year, compared with his turbulent first year. With mid-terms rapidly approaching, Reagan needed some major victories that conservatives could get behind.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bill Stewart touched down in Nicaragua in January of 1982. He was unsure of how he might feel – nervous? Excited?

In truth, he felt calm. Relaxed. This is where he was supposed to be.

Here, he would build a new legacy for himself – one built on his journalistic talent, not his suffering.

Many people within Nicaragua recognized him, and a representative of the Sandinista government met him at the airport in Managua when he landed.

If he wanted a story, they told him, he could report on how much better life was for the people of Nicaragua now that the Sandinista government, led by Daniel Ortega, were in charge.

Stewart politely declined – there was another aspect of Nicaragua he’d come to report on. Conflict had brought him to this troubled nation in the first place, so it was conflict he sought to return to.

He had heard about a group of right-wing rebels conducting a campaign of guerrilla war throughout Nicaragua, in an attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government. This would be his story, nothing less would do.

He smirked and asked the government representative one question.

“What can you tell me about the Contras?”
 
Last edited:
I like your story thus far and how you are incorporating Bill Stewart's death into it. I was in HS at the time it happened and remember being horrified at the video showing him being murdered. I am curious if you will be incorporating the Lebanon disaster into the story later on. I know the Israeli invasion doesn't occur until 1982 and the Marine barracks bombing occurs in Oct. 1983. That said, if Reagan is down in the polls that bad, the Lebanon fiasco could be one of the final nails in his presidency.
 
I like your story thus far and how you are incorporating Bill Stewart's death into it. I was in HS at the time it happened and remember being horrified at the video showing him being murdered. I am curious if you will be incorporating the Lebanon disaster into the story later on. I know the Israeli invasion doesn't occur until 1982 and the Marine barracks bombing occurs in Oct. 1983. That said, if Reagan is down in the polls that bad, the Lebanon fiasco could be one of the final nails in his presidency.
Lebanon will play a factor, as will Grenada.
 
-siHWsqnQ_LZK4kZzhxHLM41b4ufrleckVdAZdpZq6CotUJU3Tpp7EmzyVjaU-R6kMeGkrntfo6gG7men3sg5_9iMXVNV4CJ7BCOtcFHdujYgD-1SmTsGqnzctGOLmgxrpeXWCaqBm0FeUTrahyr1EzgJPE1KhWSS5uSfteOhlEOh0cxBCsWii5Fgm6FVAe63ZTBYFzWj-d7MAyO_wYnuL16WrZv6l4q2w


I don't think I could approve of this TL more if I tried. For many long years it was foretold that a proper Fritz TL would show up eventually; the day has come. I like your POD very much, very clever and it sneaks up on the larger causality field, which is often the best sort of POD. Will read eagerly and with great interest to see how the Fjord Not a Lincoln[1] does.


[1] My own personal nickname for Fritz, based on Gerry Ford's play on words about being "a Ford not a Lincoln" in appreciation of the Mundahl family's heritage.
 
Immediately watched, damn. It’s a sneaky way to get Ronnie in a much more vulnerable position to say the least, especially taking one of his big tough-guy moments and turning it on its head. Can’t wait.
 
-siHWsqnQ_LZK4kZzhxHLM41b4ufrleckVdAZdpZq6CotUJU3Tpp7EmzyVjaU-R6kMeGkrntfo6gG7men3sg5_9iMXVNV4CJ7BCOtcFHdujYgD-1SmTsGqnzctGOLmgxrpeXWCaqBm0FeUTrahyr1EzgJPE1KhWSS5uSfteOhlEOh0cxBCsWii5Fgm6FVAe63ZTBYFzWj-d7MAyO_wYnuL16WrZv6l4q2w


I don't think I could approve of this TL more if I tried. For many long years it was foretold that a proper Fritz TL would show up eventually; the day has come. I like your POD very much, very clever and it sneaks up on the larger causality field, which is often the best sort of POD. Will read eagerly and with great interest to see how the Fjord Not a Lincoln[1] does.


[1] My own personal nickname for Fritz, based on Gerry Ford's play on words about being "a Ford not a Lincoln" in appreciation of the Mundahl family's heritage.
Thank you for the support! And thanks for your own inspiring work.
 
I’m very excited for this, and I believe you’ve gotten it right with the PATCO Strike backfiring as your initial POD. Great start. Though I am a bit heartbroken Fritz will be going to the Whit’s House without Gerry,I’m interested to see her 1986 Senate race with D’Amato. It’s going to be nasty…
 
This should be intriguing given I have something sorta like this in the works and your glimpse into how Reagan works is helping a lot.
 
My dear friend.... You are doing me a great... GREAT favor of writing this. It is sad that Mondale passed away recently, and for all that is said about Reagan, I have yet to find something conclusive with regards to Mondale beating him.... And now... Now you have brought it to me.

I wish you luck with this as this is already looking really good!
 
This should be intriguing given I have something sorta like this in the works and your glimpse into how Reagan works is helping a lot.
The book President Reagan: Role of a Lifetime takes a deep dive into the inner workings of the Reagan White House and was monumentally helpful. For as much as Reagan boosted the morale of the US during his two terms IOTL, his own White House was a demoralizing snake pit, much of the time.
 
Chapter 2

CHAPTER 2:​

“It's a pity both sides can't lose.”

-- Henry Kissinger commenting on the Iran-Iraq War​

The Middle East had long served as a proxy battle ground for the West and Soviet bloc through much of the Cold War.

Yet one of its bloodiest chapters yet was not the product of the two great powers jockeying for position – no, the root cause of this conflict would come about due to the struggle for resources, and sectarian and ethnic differences that gave rise to violence as one group chose to impose itself on another.

In the Arab World, such conflicts were nothing new. But now, in the late 21st century, they would reach new levels of brutality. A brutality that mixed ancient animosities, outmoded tactics, and cutting-edge technology into a messy cacophony of violence that would leave thousands of men, women, and children dead or injured.

Thus, Saddam set himself on a course for war. Border clashes with Iran had revealed what Saddam interpreted as post-revolutionary chaos and disorder. Iran was weak, and Saddam was prepared to strike.

His reasons for beginning this conflict were twofold – firstly, he sought to secure the Khuzestan Province that was rich in oil, and the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

The latter was a vitally important channel used in the export of oil through the Persian Gulf. It originally belonged to Iraq, but was seceded to Iran in 1975, in exchange for Iran’s promise to discontinue support for Kurdish guerrillas inside Iraq. The former would bolster Iraq’s supply of oil and be a boon to the Iraqi economy.

His second reason for launching an attack was out of fear that Khomeini would export a fundamentalist Shia revolution to Iraq, as he previously called for Iraqis to overthrow the Ba'ath government.

These reasons were enough for Saddam to void the 1975 Algiers Agreement, and commence an attack.

On September 22nd, 1980, Saddam Hussein ordered the first strike in what would become known as the Iran-Iraq War.

Taking inspiration from Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, Saddam ordered a strike to cripple Iran’s far superior air force.

However, the Iraqi Airforce failed to take into account the hardened air bunkers used to protect Iranian planes, and as such, the attack failed to do any significant damage to Iran’s air force.

What followed was a ground invasion of Khuzestan by Iraqi ground forces, which included mechanized and armored divisions.

Port cities of Abadan and Khorramshah were quickly put to siege, and the traditional Tehran–Baghdad invasion route used by Iran was blocked by Iraqi forces after they secured territory near the city Qasr-e Shirin.

The attack had caught Iran off guard, and allowed Iraq to capture a significant amount of territory in a short time.

However, the following day, Iran mounted a major air offensive called Operation Kaman 99, which saw nearly 200 Iranian aircrafts attack Iraqi airports and air bases, to gain air superiority as quickly as possible.

Operation Kaman 99 proved to be extremely effective, badly damaging Iraq’s air forces and ensuring Iranian air superiority by the end of 1980. Later studies would suggest that the effectiveness of Iraq’s ariel efficiency was cut down by as much as 55%.

Still, while Iran had air superiority, through most of 1980 Iraq was able to conduct a slow, grueling advance into Iranian territory.

This slow advance had allowed Iran to bolster their forces with thousands of new recruits, emboldened to fight in holy war against an invading enemy. Much to Saddam’s disappointment, his invasion only strengthened the shaky internal reputation of the Khomeini regime. Furthermore, Arabs inside Khuzestan remained loyal to Iran, when Saddam believed they would join his cause in fighting for Iraq and Arab superiority.

While Iran’s military was severely weakened following purges of military commanders believed to be disloyal to the Revolution, they were far from the paper tiger Saddam expected.

By 1981, the war had largely fallen into a brutal pattern of bloody stalemate.

The tactics and overall ebb-and-flow of the war had established itself. It had become a conflict with modern weaponry, but tactics out of the First World War.

Trenches were dug, and the ground between them became a barbed wire filled field of death, with mortar fire and a volley of bullets rushing to meet anyone who dared cross the gap. Soldiers manned fixed machine posts and conducted bayonet charges. And chemical weapons were used extensively by Iraq.

While many saw misery and a terrible struggle ahead, one man saw opportunity – the President of Iran, Abolhasan Banisadr.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In his youth, Banisadr had actively participated in the anti-Shah student protests of the 1960s and had been imprisoned multiple times for his efforts. Rather than continue domestic rebellion inside Iran, he fought to oppose the Shah abroad.

His journey took him to France, to become part of the entourage of Ruhollah Khomeini. Banisadr’s father had been an ayatollah, and close to Khomeini, so the decision was a natural one.

been an early supporter of Khomeini, joining him when the populist cleric was exiled in France, and returning with him following the ousting of the Shah.

He was a former Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Relations appointed by the Revolutionary Council, before becoming the first President of Iran.

Despite his long history with Khomeini, Banisadr’s Presidency was far from secure. This was due in large part, due to his hostility toward the clergy and theocratic figures like Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ali Khamenei.

Banisadr believed that clerics should not assume positions of power inside government, such as ministerial roles, and that major reforms were necessary in Iran’s economy and military if it was to thrive.

His demands were ignored, and his tense relationship with his own Prime Minister, Mohammad-Ali Rajai, only made things worse.

Banisadr’s position as Iran’s President was precarious at best, and he needed drastic to affirm his legitimacy as a leader.

The present conflict with Iraq offered such a chance.

As commander-in-chief of Iran’s armed forces, Banisadr ordered a major offensive, entitled Operation Nasr.

The brainchild of Banisadr, who was not a military leader, Operation Nasr was designed an armored offensive to drive Iraqi forces back, and relieve the city of Abadan, which had been under siege for several weeks.

The attack was delayed a few days to build up necessary infantry support to ensure the tanks were adequately protected. But the success of the operation relied almost entirely on it being a complete surprise.

In the days leading up to the operation, Iran launched a diversionary attack to distract Iraqi forces and leave them unprepared for the major offensive.

Operation Nasr was the brainchild of a career politician, but Iraq’s own military forces had a similar issue.

When it came to Iran’s enemy in the war, Saddam exercised total control of military strategy and would see anyone who disagreed with him executed. This created in inflexible, timid military command who were at the behest of someone with very little strategic or tactical knowledge.

It was for that reason that Operation Nasr had any chance of succeeding at all – indeed, it was a poorly planned out operation that would have seen Iran’s tank forces bogged down in swampland and likely wiped out.

But as fate would have it, this was not to be.

With Iraq’s forces stretched thin and controlled by incompetent leadership, the 300 strong force of tanks, alongside infantry, advanced undetected and undeterred until it was too late for an effective Iraqi response.

Thus, the armored thrust would successfully cross the Karkheh River, push past the cities of Susangerd and Ahvaz, and drive down the west bank of the Karun River.

Forces inside Abadan broke out of their position and linked up with the armored column. Together, they pushed back Iraqi forces back from Abadan and toward the Iran-Iraq border.

This turned Banisadr from a beleaguered political leader into a national hero overnight. Upon his return to Tehran, he was greeted by cheering crowds of thousands, and a parade through the street.

A series of Iranian victories following Operation Nasr were attributed to Banisadr, despite his limited involvement in the planning process.

As ‘the Liberator of Abadan’, Abolhasan Banisadr’s position as President of Iran was secure. But he would always have enemies plotting in the shadows, and Khomeini recognized that his popularity, and their differences, threatened the stability of a post-revolution Iran.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“We will do everything in our power to prevent an Iranian victory in the Gulf. The expansionist character of the Khomeini regime makes them a threat to every other nation in the Mid-East, including our friends, Israel and Saudi Arabia. To that end, our administration has begun the effort to rearm and resupply Iran’s enemy in this conflict, Iraq. But we seek a peaceful negotiated end to the conflict for the good of all the people of the world. Iran and Iraq occupy a vital piece of geography, that contains much of the world’s oil supply. If it is compromised, it could throw the global economy into chaos. Put plainly, this in unacceptable. But, if the choice is between a victory for Iran and a victory for Iraq, we choose Iraq.“

These were Reagan’s words in a special address to the American people from the oval office on June 9th, 1981.

He was making his case the American people that Iraq should be removed from the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, and that the US should send large amounts of dual use technology and equipment to aid in the country’s battle against Iran.

Without foreign support, it was likely Iraq would eventually fall – their military forces were in disarray after a series of successful offensive actions by Iran, and the fact that Syria had closed the Kirkuk–Baniyas pipeline, stopping Iraqi oil from reaching tankers on the Mediterranean.

Congress was largely supportive of Reagan’s suggestion, as Khomeini had made clear he intended to oust Saddam and put an Islamic Republic in his own image. Memories of the hostage crisis were still fresh in the minds of the public, so they too did not offer objections to aiding an enemy of Khomeini.

Thus, there was very little domestic resistance to the White House’s efforts to bolder Iraq. Internationally, many nations began to aid Iraqi’s war effort, including the Soviet Union.

The fact that the Soviets and Americans were both supplying Iraq led Reagan to quip that “ just about the only thing Leonid Brezhnev and I agree on is that Iran must be stopped.”

And foreign military aid was desperately needed – since the success of Operation Nasr, Iran had won a series of victories that had pushed them into Iraqi territory. From there, the battles became brutal slogs as Iran slowly began grinding down the Iraqi army.

The Iraqi strategy had changed from gaining Iranian territory to denying Iran any Iraqi land. Saddam had ordered a state of total war, as virtually every aspect of Iraqi society had become based on the war effort. A strategy of scorched Earth was used to ensure that Iran could not benefit materially from any Iraqi land they captured, and every man, woman and child was expected to do their part, on pain of death.

This, combined with massive amounts of foreign aid from America, France, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, slowly began to turn the tide.

Through heavy artillery barrages and extensive use of chemical weapons, Iraq began to push back Iranian forces toward the border and by the final months of 1981, had successfully pushed Iranian forces out of Iraqi territory.

This would have substantial implications for the internal politics of Iran, to say the least.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By December of 1981, Abolhassan Banisadr’s rivalry with the clergy had spilled over into many aspects of Iranian society, with different factions and groups taking sides.

This rivalry was beginning to damage Iran’s performance in the war, and in domestic affairs. Not least of all to the competing loyalties of Iran’s armed forces and political wings.

President Banisadr, as commander-in-chief of Iran’s armed forces, had the loyalty of Iran’s Army, Navy and Air Force.

However, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard had far stronger ties to Khomeini and to the clerics, as their very purpose was to protect the Islamic character of the revolution itself.

The general mistrust between Iran’s military wing and Revolutionary Guard meant that they did not coordinate or conduct joint operations, severely undercutting the effectiveness of the war effort.

But perhaps even more damaging to the stability of the Iranian government was the political infighting between the President and the clergy.

Banisadr argued for reform and for an advisory role for the clergy, while the clergy themselves argued his undercutting of the clerics had been a betrayal of Khomeini and the revolution.

In essence, the conflict had become one of technocracy vs theocracy, and soon Khomeini would need to make his opinion known as to which would govern Iran.

And despite his personal popularity as the Liberator of Abadan, Banisadr feared that Khomeini would soon oust him.

To that end, he sought the cooperation of the armed forces in the event the Revolutionary Guard moved against him, which they promptly gave him.

But Banisadr feared this would not be enough, so he reached out to Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), also known as the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran.

As a militant leftist group who had risen to be the largest domestic source of rebellion against Khomeini, their support would be essential if Banisadr was to require allies against Khomeini.

However, recent months saw the Revolutionary Guard crackdown on MEK, raiding areas where they congregated, violently suppressing public demonstrations, and executing or imprisoning MEK members when they could be found.

By December 11th, 1981, rumors of Banisadr’s discussions with MEK reached Khomeini, and this was all the Supreme Leader needed to impeach the President, as announced the very next day.

The impeachment sent ripples through Iran and was watched closely by Iraq and the West.

The Presidential suite was raided, but Banisadr could not be found - loyalists within the government had warned the ousted leader that his impeachment was coming and he promptly fled to Western Iran.

Soon, infighting began between Iran’s military and Revolutionary Guard. Streets that had been largely untouched by the war with Iraq were now being drenched in blood from a civil war inside Iran.

MEK soon joined in, fighting alongside pro-Banisadr members of Iran’s armed forces, conducting guerrilla raids and bombings of Revolutionary Guard military positions.

Saddam was elated at the internal strife, and used the chaos from the Iranian Civil War to conduct a major offensive, breaking Iranian lines and advancing toward Khuzestan.

Rather than allow Iraq to take the land, Khomeini ordered that the oil fields in the region be set on fire.

This would slow the advance of the Iraqi army, as Saddam ordered a substantial force of men to combat the subsequent ecological disaster that occurred, to preserve the oil that would fuel Iraq’s rise to the dominant power in the Middle East.

Images of the Khuzestan Oil Fires shocked the international community, and a picture of a lone man standing near the blaze behind a thin sheet of asbestos to act as a shield would capture the world’s attention for many months.

A number of NGOs and religious groups offered to volunteer assistance, but given the current climate of violence, many in the international community forbade citizens from traveling to offer assistance, with the US being one of them.

“Nancy and I share the grief and frustration felt my millions of Americans who pray for an end to the conflict in the Gulf and who want to see those horrible fires put out,” President Reagan said in a statement to the media, “But until the current war between Iran and Iraq is put to an end, it is simply not safe to send humanitarian aid.”

The Khuzestan Oil Fires would take several months to put out, and would prove bitterly divisive for the already bitterly split Iranian public.

However, it would prove to only slow down Iraq for a very limited time, and there was no way that pro-Khomeini forces could succeed in a two-front war.

Difficult choices would soon need to be made, if Khomeini’s revolution would survive.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In March of 1982, Donald Rumsfeld touched down in Baghdad to represent the interests of the United States, as Reagan’s special envoy.

With Saddam poised to become the dominant power in the Middle East, the White House sought to build better relations with the Iraqi strongman to ensure he could be a useful ally.

In a cable back to the White House, Rumsfeld laid out the points discussed between himself and Saddam.

This was relayed to Reagan in the situation room, surrounded by the staff of his National Security Council.

“So, what’s the situation in Iraq?” Reagan asked.

“Well, Mr President,” answered Secretary of State Alexander Haig, “Rumsfeld let Saddam know that it’s our position that his goals in fighting Iran have been accomplished and that we believe he should work on securing the land he has, rather than continued expansion.”

“The Israelis won’t stand for Iraq gaining too much power. Saddam has made clear that he’s seeking nuclear weapons and the French are happy to build him a reactor”, interjected Vice President Bush.

“Right.” Reagan responded, shifting awkwardly in his seat, “Is this going to cause us a headache?”

“All the more reason to get Saddam on side, Mr President,” Haig answered, “Congress might have their own ideas, but we’ll lean on them to give the Iraqis as much leeway as possible. The situation in Khuzestan is going to get bloody before it all calms down.”

The President gave a slight nod, as if to acknowledge everything Haig said and agree to the general course of events he suggested.

“And what about Iran?”

“The civil war there in ongoing,” Haig responded, briefly looking down at the file he had in front of him, “The two sides are split between Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guard and other loyalists, and President Banisadr, the military, and the pro-communist MEK group...”

As usual, Haig dominated the meetings of the National Security Council, with his overbearing personality and background essentially running the White House during the troubled final years of the Nixon presidency.

Few were willing to interject or take the initiative from Haig by this point. Or not since James Baker left the position of chief of staff to enter the private sector. Only Defense Secretary Weinberger would argue with him, but by now even he had been worn down by Haig’s imposing, relentless style.

Bush might have had the knowledge and clout to contribute, but he and Reagan had never warmed to one another – aides thought this was likely due to the mutual animosity between the two men’s’ spouses. Thus, he, like most of Reagan's cabinet and staff, was kept on the outside and lacked familiarity or comfort to interject into meetings.

As such, Haig was left to control US foreign policy almost by his lonesome, as Reagan took no initiative on himself and everyone else seemed subservient to the domineering Haig.

“In short Mr President, our options are a rouge, expansionist Islamic Iran, or a Soviet aligned more moderate Iran. In my view, the latter is preferable. Khomeini is a wild card and at the very least, negotiating with the Soviets might give us some leverage over a Soviet-backed MEK Iran. They can be reasonable, Khomeini is a fanatic.”

Reagan looked very unsure at the suggestion that a Soviet aligned Iran might be preferable to the current Khomeini government.

“If nothing else, Mr President” interjected Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, “our intel suggests that Banisadr opposed taking hostages in the US Embassy and opposes Khomeini’s expansionism. A neutered Banisadr government will be far easier to deal with.”

That was enough to get Reagan on board.

“All right,” Reagan responded, “Lets reach and see about supporting this rebel group”.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As 1982 dragged on, the pro-Banisadr forces found themselves a useful new ally – the CIA.

American weapons meant for Iraq were being diverted by Israeli and other private arms dealers into the possession of MEK and other anti-Khomeini forces.

This proved a boon to rebel forces, but would pale in comparison to what had come next.

For the past several weeks, Saddam Hussein had worked to tighten his grip on the areas of Iran he now controlled – the Khuzestan Province and the eastern bank of the Shatt al-Arab river. He ordered his men to conduct mass killings of the local populace, and he deployed the usage of chemical weapons several times.

Iranian helicopters air lifted foreign camera crews to document Saddam’s extensive use of chemical weapons, which made it impossible to hide from the international community. The usage of chemical weapons was viewed as a crime against humanity by the UN, but the US used their veto power to protect Iraq from any substantive resolutions.

Thanks to in-fighting inside Iran, heavily weakened Iranian forces were wholly incapable of mounting any effective offense, which meant that the territory was now effectively Saddam’s.

As such, with Iran in such a vulnerable state, Saddam sought to solidify his gains. He gave Ayatollah Khomeini an ultimatum – sue for peace and accept terms favorable to Iraq, or Saddam would march his army all the way to Tehran and beyond.

There was no way Khomeini could continue to fight a two-front war, and, after several weeks of deliberation, he agreed to Saddam’s terms.

Khuzestan Province and the eastern bank of the Shatt al-Arab river were now Saddam’s.

This decision, especially in light of Khomeini’s action to set fire to the Khuzestan oil fields to stop Saddam, angered many Iranians who were previously sympathetic or neutral toward Khomeini.

The combined might of the disgruntled Iranian citizenry, alongside Iran’s military, proved too much for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The situation was rapidly deteriorating, with many of Khomeini’s allies, such as Ali Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, were killed in MEK assassination plots or died at the hands of the military. His support was eroding and his loyalists were rapidly losing ground in the urban fighting.

In the early hours of June 2nd, 1982, Khomeini attempted to flee Iran in a private aircraft. However, Iranian soldiers operating a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon saw the plane in the air and, assuming it to be Iraqi or an Islamic Revolutionary Guard aircraft, shot it down.

It would be several days before Khomeini’s death would be confirmed.

Despite all that had happened, Banisadr was devastated at learning Khomeini had been killed. Benisadr had been one of Khomeini’s favorite students and most loyal followers, and had been with the former Supreme Leader since his time exiled in France.

Whatever differences the two men grew to have, and however else Khomeini had broken his promises regarding the revolution, he was still Banisadr’s hero from the time he was a teenager. This loss would hurt, for years to come.

Fighting between the Iranian rebels and Islamic Revolutionary Guard would continue for months, most heavily in Tehran but elsewhere too. As time went by however, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard became less and less effective until only small pockets of resistance and low level guerrilla insurgency groups remained.

It would be several weeks before Banisadr could return to Tehran and claim his place as the head of a new Iranian government, but he would do his utmost to see that this new revolution would be one of, by, and for the people of Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was gone. Now, the Democratic Republic of Iran would take its place.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saddam Hussein surveyed the scene of his triumph.

Flanked by a massive military guard, he looked over Khuzestan. Pillars and smoke still bellowed, the result of the ill-fated attempt to burn the area’s oil wells and stop the Iraqi military from advancing. The trenches that had been dug during the fighting still remained, and burnt out and destroyed mechanized vehicles littered the landscape, months after the fighting had concluded.

For all the scars of war that covered the landscape, it was still the most beautiful thing Saddam Hussein had ever seen.

Saddam knew that the struggle to hold and occupy his newly gained land would be long and difficult, but entirely worth it.

Khuzestan and the Shatt al-Arab river. Both belonged to Saddam. He had conquered his enemy, Iran, and had seen its leader Khomeini, deposed, and replaced with a Soviet puppet.

Soon, the French would help him complete the nuclear reactor that would give him his ultimate weapons. He would enact revenge on Israel, another enemy, and he would be the untouched, ultimate power in the Middle East. The Kurds too would soon feel the renewed wrath of Saddam’s growing empire.

Tonight, he would partake in an increasingly common habit for him – heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. They were the substances he treated himself to in victory, and he would relish them greatly.

For Saddam, the future was his to command.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the United States, the final climactic months of the Iran-Iraq War had a considerable impact on both the economy and on foreign policy.

The Khuzestan Oil Fires badly damaged the supply of oil, and thus increased the price of oil to highs not seen since the height of the Energy Crisis under Jimmy Carter.

This, combined with the weakest economy since the Great Depression, badly damaged Reagan’s popularity going into the midterms.

Unemployment approached 11.2% by November of 1982, and there was a perception that Ronald Reagan was completely ambivalent to the needs of working people.

Meanwhile, in the area of foreign affairs, Congress grew increasingly concerned over Saddam Hussein’s efforts to commit genocide against the population of Khuzestan, and his renewed attacks on the Kurdish minority inside Iraq.

As such, a bipartisan bill in Congress sponsored by Jesse Helms, Wendell Ford, Carl Levin, Dick Lugar, William Proxmire, Claiborne Pell and Joe Biden was put before the Congress.

The bill, known as the Prevention of Genocide Act of 1982, was designed, in Senator Helms’ words to “help demonstrate to the Iraqi regime just how seriously our country views its campaign against the Kurds, and how disgusted we are in their treatment of the people Khuzestan. In addition, it will help assure that US tax dollars do not subsidize the Iraqis”.

The drama of the Iranian coup, Khuzestan Oil Fires, and Reagan’s very public support for Iraq had brought international attention to events in the Gulf and created a desire among many to see Saddam punished for his actions. The very public utilization of gas attacks against ethnic minorities brought comparisons in the media and in Congress of Hitler’s genocidal barbarism before and during the Second World War.

Impassioned speeches against Saddam’s genocidal behavior from the likes of Dick Luger, Joe Biden and others captured the public’s attention.

Despite having wide bipartisan appeal, public support, and pressure from foreign lobbies from countries such as Israel, the bill was vetoed by Ronald Reagan, who claimed it would “do nothing to prevent genocide, negatively impact the economy of the United States, and compromise our strategic interests in the Middle East”.

Vetoing the Prevention of Genocide Act created a firestorm of controversy among human rights activists, members of Congress, foreign governments, religious organizations, and the international community.

This was yet another sign of Reagan’s ambivalence to the suffering of others, and Democrats made the reintroduction of the Prevention of Genocide Act a major issue leading into the midterms of 1982.

With the terrible economy and controversy over foreign policy decisions of the Reagan White House, Republicans looked set to face a drubbing in November.
 
Last edited:
Top