Five Decades of Fear and Loathing - A Drew Spinoff.

A good take on the timeline here so far. The changes work well to set it apart. Looking forward to seeing more.
 
Chapter XVIII: August, 1973
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August, 1973.
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White House Counsel Robert Bork.

On the morning of August 1st, Robert Bork was in federal court. Seeking an injunction on further contingency elections in the House, Bork argued that Nixon's concession and McKeithen's untimely demise resulted in (officially Vice President) Agnew ascending to the Presidency. With the Supreme Court in recess for the summer, the case is heard before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals; the court rules that contingency elections in the House of Representatives should end contingency elections until the case could be heard. Nixon's lawyers hurriedly filed an objection, claiming the former President had renounced his concession in the aftermath of McKeithen's death. George Wallace also filed an objection, stating "I'm still alive and I haven't conceded jack shit!"

That evening, within the walls of the White House, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bork were briefed by the Attorney General on the ongoing investigation originating out of Baltimore. Warning that Agnew would be indicted by a Baltimore grand jury within a matter of days, Attorney General J. Clifford Wallace concluded that the case was open and shut. Rumsfeld, Cheney, and most critically Bork agreed, but decided to keep the matter between them. Cheney was tasked by Rumsfeld to begin looking for a nominee to take on the Vice Presidency, realizing that Agnew's official ascendancy to the Presidency would be short-lived. By seeking to appoint a Vice President who could take over from Agnew when his luck would run out, the troika of conservative ideologues would remain in place and power within the executive mansion. There was one complication that had to be factored in, however. Agnew remained ignorant of the political danger that lie ahead of it, and because of this, he would surely demand an unconfirmable pick for the now vacant Vice Presidency.

Watergate, the once dominate scandal, had almost become old news. Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor for Watergate, filed a subpoena on August 2nd, demanding that former President Richard Nixon hand over the White House tapes. Nixon's lawyers, already busy with the crisis over the disputed Presidency, filed another objection within the DC District Court. The court would rule in favor of Cox, ordering Nixon to hand over the tapes to a "special master" who would hold onto the tapes until the matter was fully heard out in court, though the court also rules that the tapes cannot be listened to, transcribed, or otherwise accessed until a later point in time. The ruling by the court is appealed by the former President, who is hoping to clear himself of the Watergate matter before the onset of the 1976 primaries.

The Million-Person March was held on August 4th in Washington, led by Reverend Jesse Jackson and actress Jane Fonda. With hundreds of thousands gathering on the National Mall to protest the Agnew administration and the war in Vietnam, the event began with Jackson delivering an impassioned speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and ended with the radical Reverend leading demonstrators to the White House. Attempting to personally deliver a petition signed by thousands of leading politicians, academics, and veterans to Agnew, the National Guard was called into Washington in order to disperse the crowds. A riot would ensue, with President Agnew quietly slipping away to Camp David at the behest of the Secret Service.

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The Million Person March in Washington.

Three days later on August 7th, Agnew was formally indicted by a grand jury in Baltimore for bribery, fraud, and tax evasion. Defending himself at a tense press briefing, Agnew denounced the charges as being politically motivated and insisted that he was now constitutionally President, pointedly correcting reporters who repeatedly referred to him as the "acting" President. The following morning, perhaps in an effort to distract the media, Agnew ordered bombing of North Vietnam to resume just 34 days into the 60 day bombing halt. This was against the advice of the Pentagon, who warned the President that the air force was still not logistically prepared to stage massive air strikes on the country, and Defense Secretary Paul Nitze repeatedly and unsuccessfully lobbied National Security Adviser Haig to talk the President out of the bombing resumption.

That same evening, the Democratic Party National Committee met and in accordance with their bylaws officially nominated Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN), their 1972 Vice Presidential nominee, as their standard-bearer ahead of the next contingency vote. Filing with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the hope that Bayh could replace the late McKeithen during the contingency election ballot. Citing the death of McKeithen and Nixon's concession, it was the hope of DNC Chairman Robert Strauss that the Indiana Senator could be elected to end the disputed status of the Presidency once and for all. Though the case proceeds on flimsy ground, the long shot plan highlighted the desperate nature of Washington to resolve the 1972 election. Knowing that the DNC's attempts to seat Senator Bayh as their nominee would likely fail in court, others in the party turned to the reluctant Speaker of the House Carl Albert, who insisted repeatedly that he was not interested into ascending to the Presidency and warned that such a move could trigger an emergency presidential election in 1974, which he believed would only further divide America and damage democracy.

Robert Bork returned to court in response to this lawsuit, mirroring the Democratic National Committee by seeking to have Agnew placed on the ballot as a result of Nixon's concession. The Republican National Committee, chaired by Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), denied this request earlier, and Agnew sought to legally compel the RNC in order to achieve this goal. But Dole, a Nixon ally, came prepared with his own lawyers to challenge Agnew's ambition. This created a deep divide within the upper echelons of the Republican Party, pitting the RNC's chair against the party's sitting incumbent. There are growing calls from conservatives for Dole's resignation, and there is talk back in Kansas of a right-wing primary challenger emerging to take on Dole in the 1974 campaign. But Bork's battle against Senator Dole is forgotten quickly as events in Vietnam heated up.

It was less than twenty four hours after Bork stepped into the courtroom that Operation Bold Eagle finally commenced. Under the command of recently promoted Lt. General Hank "Gunfighter" Emerson, American forces launched a mop up operation in South Vietnam to root out Viet Cong and NVA forces across South Vietnam before pushing northward across the ironically named demilitarized zone which separated the two Vietnamese states. Operation Bold Eagle was accompanied by aerial and naval bombardment of the North, which resulted in an unintentional exchange between Chinese and American destroyers in two separate incidents, though neither resulted in casualties on either side nor damage to either vessel. The reckless nature of the campaign sparked concerns that the invasion of North Vietnam could result in China entering the conflict to prevent a unified, pro-American Vietnam on their southern border.

Despite the concerns about the chaotic nature of China's ruling elites in the Communist Party using the operation to launch an intervention, as they had done in Korea, the conflict remained at least temporarily contained. In truth, China had lacked the military capacity to intervene in Vietnam, with much of their air force in ruins and large portions of the People's Liberation Army bogged down in a stalemate against the Soviet Red Army in the Mongolian steppes. Though the Agnew and Nixon scandals continued to dominate American headlines, the conflict in Mongolia grew bloodier when the Soviet and Mongolian armies were able to retake the capital of Ulan Bator from the Chinese. The battle left the city in smoldering ruins and caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee the street to street fighting, taking refuge in the countryside where they nearly starved to death in hastily organized refugee camps under the protection of the Soviet army. Despite 50,000 deaths related to the fighting, the Soviets were able to drive the Chinese back across the border in a humiliating blow to the regime of Mao Zedong.

The launch of Operation Bold Eagle was not enough to shore up the situation on the home front. On August 10th, Agnew's situation was precarious enough to warrant him taking drastic action. To the horror of much of the nation, he went on national television to annoyance he would be issuing pardons for John Childs, Lester Matz, Jerome Wolff, and most controversially, himself, Agnew's actions precluded him and his cohorts from criminal prosecution, but it did not end the scandal. Quite the contrary, in fact. The decision only sparked further outrage, and had serious consequences for diplomatic matters in Washington as well. With the United States increasingly becoming a pariah due to the President's aggressively anti-communist foreign policy and scandals, the European Community saw the chance to assert themselves as part of a tri-polar world. A secret summit in Germany saw Chancellor Willy Brandt, Prime Minister Edward Heath, and French President Georges Pompidou agree to greater cooperation as a bloc on the world stage. They exercised their newfound influence by deploying the "trio group" - a gaggle of British, French, and West German diplomats - to attempt to negotiate a peace agreement between the USSR and China before the conflict could expand into a nuclear war.

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Prime Minister Edward Heath was a leading figure in the "Trio Group" of European leaders.

As the war in Vietnam also continued, American forces at last hurled themselves across the demilitarized zone, taking the war into North Vietnamese territory for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict. The American force consisting of 22,000 soldiers acompanied by a further group of 14,000 South Vietnamese soldiers occupied the city of Dong Hoi after intense fighting that left over 400 American GI's dead and a thousand more injured. Tchepone, a key junction along the Ho Chi Minh Trail within Laos, was similarly attacked. The incursion into Laos, technically a neutral country, is defended by Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze, who argued that the presence of North Vietnamese troops in the country made the region an "enemy occupied territory" that was being "liberated" by the United States. The attack completes the goal of disrupting enemy supply lines into South Vietnam, but also illegal under the Church-Cooper Amendment of 1970, which prohibited the expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos. Yet the actions, regardless of their legality, were wildly successful - Lt. General Emerson and his chief Lieutenant Norman Schwarzkopf became stars back home in America, and several other junior officers, including Colin Powell and Oliver North, would be promoted for their leadership abilities.

The Soviet Union, though bogged down by the war in the far east, still had an active presence in the Middle East. A slow, steady trickle of anti-aircraft guns and SCUD missiles were secretly transported to Egypt, Iraq, and Syria in anticipation of an Arab surprise attack against Israel, set to take place on Ramadan in October. This planned attack was discovered by France, who attempted to warn Israel to little avail. American and British intelligence agencies were dismissive of the warning, as was Israel, who did not trust the French due to DeGaulle's actions during the 1967 war. At a dinner in New York City honoring former British Foreign Secretary Rab Butler, Secretary of State Bush quietly requested former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger travel to Moscow in violation of the Logan Act, a request that Kissinger obliged by in spite of potential legal consequences.

Back in Washington, the DC District Court ruled against the DNC's request to have Birch Bayh placed on the ballot during the contingency election, and also ruled that Nixon's concession could be retracted. Bork appealed on behalf of President Agnew, and the court continued to issue a stay on further contingency ballots in the House of Representatives until the matter could be resolved. As a result, only McKeithen (who was dead), Nixon, and Wallace would be allowed to contest the Presidency. A three judge panel consisting of Chief Justice Warren Burger, Justice William Brown III, and Byron White declined to hear the case, upholding the DC court's ruling as a result.

At a tense meeting on Capital Hill, the Democratic leadership met to devise a plan going forward. At the behest of Congressman Peter Rodino (D-NJ), the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, a young lawyer named Gary Hart - who managed McGovern's presidential campaign - stepped forward with a solution that Rodino found agreeable. The plan was simple - vote to elect McKeithen in the upcoming House election, which would result in Agnew at last ascending to the Presidency in a official capacity. Noting that Agnew's pardon was legally considered an admission of guilt, the solution was simple: impeach him. The plot would result in Carl Albert, Speaker of the House, rising to the Presidency.

But there was one remaining problem: Albert just truly didn't want the job.

  • Credit to Drew for almost all of this. The impending constitutional crisis Drew came up with is brilliantly well done, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of the upcoming chapters.
 
Chapter XIX: September, 1973
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September, 1973.
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Vietnamese pilots walk past Soviet donated fighter jets.
On September 1st, a strange event in Indochina generated headlines. A North Vietnamese MiG fighter jet was downed over South Vietnam, with the pilot being taken into custody. The pilot, it was revealed, turned out to be a Soviet national, a sign that the USSR was more directly involved in the war than previously thought. Though Moscow denied this, claiming that the pilot was merely a volunteer, the Agnew administration uses the shoot-down to continue to propagate their claims of foreign involvement in the conflict.

Labor Day saw more protests, with 150,000 anti-Agnew demonstrators marching on Washington demanding an end to the war and the resignation of the acting President. Within the walls of the White House, the Secretary of State was summoned for a rare meeting with the acting President, though Rumsfeld and Cheney hovered behind him throughout. In a stunning tirade, Agnew attacked the United Nations, raised the possibility of dropping a nuclear bomb on the Ho Chi Minh trail, and frequently criticized the Secretary for his lack of "stones" in dealing with communist regimes across the globe. The meeting shook Bush to the core, returning to his office at the State Department to tell Jim Baker, his principal aide, that he received "a lecture from the world's most dangerous idiot."

As these events played out, the economy continued to decline. To fund the war in Vietnam, Agnew had ordered his Treasury Secretary George Schultz to find funding through borrowing. Taking loans from banks and money markets at exuberant interest rates, the national debt expanded as the money supply tightened. Rising interest rates exasperated the situation, causing inflation which eroded the savings of millions of Americans. These events would put America on track for the Second Great Depression, and the growing economic concerns weakened the dollar in the face of competing foreign currencies. The price of gold spiked as many investors turned towards precious metals. The GDP remained anemic but somewhat stable, largely because of large investment in defense firms and aviation. Otherwise, most other sectors of the economy continued to slowly languish. Consumer spending collapsed as these events played out, and the slowdown of the economy was watched from Washington with great dread.

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Treasury Secretary Gerge Schultz.

The final House contingency election was conducted on September 5th, when the House voted to elect the dead John McKeithen to the Presidency. This resolved the 1972 presidential election at last, giving the late Louisiana Governor the honor of being elected to the Presidency from beyond the grave. The final vote saw 28 state delegations selecting the deceased Democrat, with several New England Republicans casting their ballots in his favor while Georgia and Mississippi's delegations switched to Governor Wallace's camp. Upon the completion of the contingency election, Speaker Albert personally delivered the certificate of election to Senator James Eastland (D-MS), the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate. The two Congressional leaders then traveled to the White House, where a beaming Agnew accepted the certificates of election as the White House staff hastily worked to prepare for his official inauguration. The portrait of George Washington which had long hung in the Oval Office was noticeably gone, replaced instead by a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, a man Agnew admired and saw himself as a latter-day analogue to. Handing the certificate over to Secretary of State Bush, who affixed the official seal to the document, it was now official - Spiro Agnew was the 38th President of the United States. Hours later, before the Justices of the Supreme Court, the Congressional leadership, and the cabinet, the President was sworn in to office in the White House's East Room. After a brief and uninspiring seven minute speech, Agnew returned to the Oval Office, confident that his troubles were now behind him.

The immediate task was to find a suitable Vice President. Though Rumsfeld and Cheney argued that an inoffensive (and pliable) figure, preferably a Governor (though not Reagan nor Rockefeller) be selected, Agnew had his heart set on appointing Congressman John Ashbrook (R-OH) to the position. That night, a private meeting between House Majority Leader John McFall (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Gerald Ford (R-MI) took place at the latter's private residence to plot out their next moves now that Agnew was officially the President. The two men agreed that Agnew had to be stopped, and decided to embrace Gary Hart's scheme on impeaching Agnew as their means of ridding the executive branch of the embattled President. As Speaker Albert had made it clear that he had no desire to embrace the Presidency, the two men debated for hours as to who should be elected Speaker should events come to that point. It was not until 2:00 AM that morning that the two came to an agreement on a possible compromise candidate, and they remained unsure if he'd accept the offer.

The following morning, Agnew officially nominated Ashbrook without notifying either Speaker Albert nor Minority Leader Gerald Ford. The announcement took Ford and McFall by surprise, but they were confident that Ashbrook's nomination would go nowhere. It was apparent to everyone but the President himself that the nomination of the outspoken Ohio conservative was a dead horse - even Rumsfeld and Cheney knew that he did not a snowballs chance in hell of being confirmed to the position, but they were unable to convince Agnew otherwise. The Senate's Democratic majority reacted in fury as was expected, and Senate Majority Mansfield (D-MT) warned that the President was only prolonging the constitutional crisis by intentionally nominating a toxic designee for such an important role. In the eyes of the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the nomination of John Ashbrook was dismissed as "frivolous" and was not taken seriously. Some argued that the nomination was designed to distract the public from a report released by the Federal Reserve showing inflation to be 9%, while interest rates climbed to 12.5%. This was the highest inflation and interest rates had been since 1947, and the stock market reacted as the Dow Jones plunged.

The next day, Congressman Peter Rodino (D-NJ) introduced articles of impeachment to the House of Representatives. Republican lawmakers who had backed Nixon and Agnew heckled Rodino during the speech, with one member crying on the floor of the House as he screamed "may God damn each and every one of you bastards!" as emotions ran high. Agnew was unconcerned, ignorantly believing that his pardon precluded him from impeachment. At a heated press conference, an exchange between NBC's Tom Brokaw and the President resulted in White House press secretary Pat Buchanan banning Brokaw from the grounds of the executive mansion after the reporter called the President's pardon into question.

September 11th saw an American sponsored military coup occuring in Chile. The militart had removed Salvador Allende from power in a violent coup that installed General Augusto Pinochet as leader of a military junta. The deposed Allende was himself was killed in the violence that followed the army's attack on the presidential palace, dying after a tank fired a shell into the official residence in the capital of Santiago. The Soviet Union and Cuba condemned the coup, but they could do nothing to stop it as the army began rounding up prominent leftists across the country. The death of Allende and the rise of Pinochet ensured that the American backed regime in Santiago would hold onto power for years to come, much to the condemnation and dismay of the communist world and the Non Aligned Movement. The coup, which leftists across Latin America accused of being conjured by Agnew, Bush, Haig, and Nitze, becomes the source of anti-American invective across the developing world for decades to come.

In Vietnam, an NVA attack on both Dong Hoi and the border city of Tchepone in Laos resulted in American forces repelling the communist onslaught, with both sides sustaining high casualties in the fierce fighting that commenced. Using their superior air power to their advantage, the American and South Vietnamese armies were responsible for much of the American casualties after repeated friendly fire incidents over the fluid battlefield. In one instance, over 219 American soldiers from the Indiana National Guard were killed after repeated attacks on their position by mistaken American pilots. This caused an outrage in the Hoosier state, and embarrassed the Agnew administration. The resulting slaughter of American soldiers by American planes would be one of the darkest days of the Vietnam War, and did much to stoke anti-war sentiment back in the United States and across Europe and Asia as well. Senators Hartke (D-IN) and Bayh (D-IN) demand a federal investigation into the circumstances surrounding one of the worst friendly fire incidents in American military history.

The next day on September 12th, the House Judiciary Committee commenced at last with impeachment hearings as former US Attorney George Beall testified for hours. In what ultimately amounted to three days of testimony, Beall outlined the initial investigation into President Agnew. Afterwards in the days that followed, former Special Prosecutor J. Lee Rankin also testified, confirming much of Beall's allegations. These widely watched hearings demonstrated to the White House that the pardons issued by Agnew hadn't buried the matter, no matter what the President said. Soon after, John Childs, Lester Matz, and Jerome Wolff - the three men pardoned by Agnew - resurfaced when they agreed to appear before the Committee. Wolff turns heads when he handed over detailed personal notes which outlined many of his crimes, and the biggest bombshell was his revelation that he delivered personally to Agnew a second envelope filled with cash as late as 1971. The use of forensic accountants is also successful, with the experts called by the Committee quickly tracking the bribe money back to Agnew's personal bank accounts. Some of the money given to Agnew was distributed to the campaigns of both Governor Reagan and Rockefeller ahead of the 1968 Republican Convention, resulting in both Governors distancing themselves from the embattled President.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State quietly traveled to Boston to meet privately with former Ambassador James Gavin. The youngest general of World War II, Gavin had later served as Ambassador to France and was the CEO and President of the Arthur D. Little Group, a major international consulting business that had dramatically expanded under his leadership. Though an outspoken critic of the Johnson administration's Vietnam strategy, Gavin had also worked as an adviser to President Kennedy during the establishment of the Peace Corps. Seen as an acceptable choice to the Democrats and Republicans alike, Gavin was initially hesitant to accept the officer and warned that the perception of a former General taking office via the impeachment process would be viewed as the American alternative to a military coup. Bush argued that Carl Albert was willing to resign as Speaker of the House, and that the House's election of Gavin as Speaker would give the General a mandate that would be seen as legitimate. Still skeptical, Gavin requested (and received) time to think over the request, and to talk the matter over with his wife and family.

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Ambassador James Gavin.

  • Sorry for the delay this weekened, I meant to get this update up hours ago.
 
Really a good rundown of the many flaws of the Agnew Administration and just how badly it's screwing everything up for everyone alright. The friendly fire incident and rapidly growing economic disruption highlight this. Wouldn't the economic side at least have Agnew somewhat worried though?
 
John Tesh was working at a Nashville TV station at about this time. (Wikipedia only says the 1970s, so it could have been after this.) Wouldn't it be funny if Tesh was hired by the Hughes Network to be one of the few non-"opinion" hosts on the channel to make it look more credible. (Like Chris Wallace at OTL Fox News.)
 
Chapter XX: October, 1973
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October, 1973.
As impeachment efforts against Agnew intensify, Robert Bork is called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. His arguments that the President's pardon of himself should not be counted as an admission of guilt hinged on the fact that Agnew was not an ordinary defendant. This claim that the President was immune to being prosecuted fell on deaf ears, with some Democratic members (most notably Elizabeth Holtzman of New York) of the committee openly laughing at Bork's arguments to his face. Heated exchanges with Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) dominated the nightly news broadcasts, which described Agnew's presidency as "an administration under siege."

The Trio Group's representatives meanwhile manage to at last negotiate a ceasefire between China and the Soviet Union, with both nations agreeing to withdrawal from Mongolia without making any real gains. The war effectively accomplished nothing, with the peace agreement being widely viewed in the west as a humiliating defeat for China considering their role as the aggressor. As had happened with the "Hundred Flowers" campaign earlier under Mao's rule, there was speculation in the west by China-watchers and intelligence analysts that the war had been intentionally launched to undermine opponents of Mao within the ruling Communist Party, particularly against Premier Zhou Enlai and his followers like Deng Xiaoping. The conflict had been relatively quickly ginned up by Mao through the fervor of the Red Guard radicals who had effectively seized control of the party and the nation as a whole, and exposed the divide within the ruling CCP as a result. The influence and power of the Red Guards and their allies in the military leadership increased in the wake of the defeat, and there were concerns in Peking that the chaos and carnage of the Cultural Revolution was nearing a horrifying peak. Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, used her control over China's media and the party's propoganda outlets to wage a relentless campaign against the more pragmatic elements of the government, decrying their leadership as unimaginative and their ideology counter-revolutionary.

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Jiang Qing - the increasingly radical spouse of Chairman Mao.

On October 4th, the House Judiciary Committee voted on Articles of Impeachment, passing seven motions against the President:
  • Accepting bribes while in public office.
  • Corruption in awarding public contracts.
  • Evading taxes by not reporting payments.
  • Bringing the Presidency and Vice Presidency into repute.
  • Using unlawfully gained money to support political candidates.
  • Obstruction of Justice by pardoning criminal associates.
  • Abuse of power by pardoning himself.
That same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee was also in session, voting 13-3 against Congressman John Ashbrooks nomination to the Vice Presidency. In order to appease the President and maintain party unity within the Senate, Roman Hruska (R-NE) refers the nomination to the Senate for a full vote. While it is guaranteed that Ashbrook won't be confirmed, Hruska in reality is buying time until General Gavin can be officially elected Speaker of the House before the impeachment trial of President Agnew. Ashbrook's nomination was met with widespread dismay by almost every sector of American political life, spare the John Birch Society. The New York City Republican Party's headquarters in Manhattan was firebombed overnight by a group calling itself "Student Liberation Anti-War Vanguard," with anti-Agnew and anti-Ashbrook graffiti being found near the scene.

As this played out in Washington, events in the Middle East began to catch the eye of Secretary of State Bush. Tipped off by French intelligence officials, American satellites caught significant troop movements in Syria and Egypt, a sign that the rumored Arab attack on Israel was both a real and pressing danger to the Jewish state. Bush warns the Israeli Ambassador against taking preemptive action against the Arabs, but does commit himself to the Israeli cause should an Arab attack take place. At an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Golda Meir informs the cabinet of the impending Arab invasion, stating bluntly that "we should have listened to that fancy boy in Washington." Just hours later, the Egyptian army launched an attack against the Sinai, pushing the Israelis back as they crossed the Suez Canal in a daring amphibious assault. At the same time, Syrian forces pushed into the Golan Heights, though the Israeli Defense Force has an easier fight against the smaller and less well-trained Syrian military.

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Egyptian forces cross the Suez Canal.
The President responded by ordering the Sixth Fleet into the Mediterranean Sea as a display of force, but was otherwise at a loss (and also uninterested) in how to respond, at one point suggesting during a meeting with top national security brass that he would not particularly care if the Arabs overran the Jewish state, much to the horror of Secretaries Bush and Nitze. This was compounded by Rumsfeld, who took to the Israelis defense by suggesting they be allowed to use their (alleged) nuclear capabilities against the Arabs. Agnew shot down Bush's suggestion that he be allowed to travel to Moscow in an attempt to dissuade the Soviets from further involvement, instead arguing that the Turkish government be pressured to close the Bosporus.
The Israeli government was initially taken by surprise by the relatively weak American response, and Prime Minister Golda Meir ordered Israeli jets to be prepared to drop an atomic bomb if necessary. But the Israel Defense Force was able to quickly stabilize the front lines in the Sinai, stopping the Egyptian advance and inflicting high casualties on their invading opponents. With much of their armored vehicles, tanks, and artillery wiped out by repeated Israeli airstrikes, the Egyptians appealed to Moscow for more aide. But with their supplies exhausted by the war with China and their support for North Vietnam, the Kremlin simply was unable to deliver. The Agnew administration took advantage of this by agreeing to resupply and equip Israel with military equipment, much to the chagrin of the Arab world.

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Golda Meir - Israel's "Iron Lady."

On American shores the war was a secondary news item, as the United States was embroiled in a crisis of its own. October 10th, the House of Representatives voted on the articles of impeachment passed by the Judiciary Committee. While the House defeated by a vote of 219-216 motions related to obstruction of justice and abuse of power caused by Agnew's pardons, the other counts were overwhelmingly passed and sent to the Senate for trial. This marked the second time that a President had been impeached by the House of Representatives, a dubious distinction that would surely hang over Agnew's legacy regardless of the Senate trial's outcome. In a televised Oval Office address, Agnew defended himself and insisted that he would not "run, nor retreat, nor resign, nor hide." Less than twelve hours after Agnew's speech, the Senate voted 65-35 against Ashbrook's appointment to the Vice Presidency. This was an expected blow to the President, who vowed to name another nominee for the position in the coming days. Though Agnew insisted that his top aides work on finding a replacement for Ashbrook, Rumsfeld and Cheney had no luck in finding a willing candidate wanting to even take on the position. The vacant position of Vice President would remain unfilled for the time being as a result of the Senate's rejection of Ashbrook.

Another vote was held that day in the House after Speaker Albert announced his resignation, with the House voting 391-44 to elect James Gavin as Speaker. The new Speaker was met with polling that showed nearly 70% of Americans approving of him, and in his first remarks as Speaker, Gavin insisted that he would work to unite the country moving forward. Gavin, who was recognized by the public as the de-facto "President to-be," vows only to serve one term as Speaker of the House and speaks to the nation at a widely watched press conference in which he publicly outlines the possibilities regarding the presidential sucession in the event the President is impeached. The media hails the Speaker's remarks as being reimiscent of the FDR era "fireside chats." Carl Albert was elected Deputy Speaker, and would continue to run the day-to-day affairs of the House while Speaker Gavin awaited on stand-by as the impeachment trial in the Senate . Another election is held, this time by the Republican National Committee, when Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) resigned as Chairman. In his place, Senator Paul Fannin (R-AZ) is elected Chair of the Committee which governed the GOP.

Quietly in the background of all of this was the secretive Kissinger missions to Moscow, which the former National Security Adviser had undertook at the behest of the Secretary of State George Bush. The Brezhnev - Kissinger meeting was kept under wraps by the Soviet Union due to the longstanding relationship between the two men, though it was hard to keep the mission a secret back in Washington. Though Kissinger had traveled by a private plane chartered by a wealthy friend of Bush's and had claimed to be on vacation in the south of France, he was barely back in the United States when President Agnew was informed of his junket to Moscow. Agnew, when informed of the discussions between the two men, was irrate and demanded that Attorney General J. Clifford Wallace prosecute him in violation of the Logan Act, though the top figures of the Justice Department were wary of getting involved any further, fearing a confrontation with Bush's underlings in the State Department that could cripple the function of the federal government in the midst of an impeachment battle due to start in a matter of days.

The Senate’s impeachment trial of Spiro Agnew opened with Chief Justice Warren Burger presiding as perscribed by the constitution just hours later. The four managers appointed by the House – Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI), Don Edwards (D-CA), Peter Rodino (D-NJ), and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) argued in favor of removing the President over the course of the first three days. They were assisted by Staff Lawyer Gary Hart, who employed two fellow McGovern ’72 alumni, Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham, as underlings. These proceedings would take up nine days, and the impeachment process was overshadowed for a short while by the news that OPEC would place a complete and total oil embargo against the United States in response to American support for Israel. The stock market plummets as a result, and within days, gasoline and fuel shortages are felt by Americans nationwide. This leads to long lines, fuel rationing, and numerous instances of violence at gas stations across the country. Anti-Arab sentiment and support for Israel spikes as a result of the embargo.

In late October, the Arabs reversed their fortunes and once again managed to gain the upper hand as the oil embargo began to impact Israel's ability to combat the invading force. While American aid had yet to arrive, the Syrians were replenished by a 30,000 man Iraqi expeditionary force which was under the command of Vice President Saddam Hussein himself. The successful Egyptian counteroffensive in the Sinai revives the Arabs hopes of prolonging the war, with Israeli soldiers withdrawing eastward towards the official Israeli borders. Representatives of the Trio Group, having made progress in ending the Sino-Soviet War, now turn their attention towards mediating the war in the Middle East.

Once the Israelis were able to establish a firm defensive line to prevent the Egyptian army from invading Israel proper, the IDF turned their focus on Syria. Prime Minister Golda Meir ordered the IDF to push aggressively through the Golan Heights towards the nearby Syrian capital city of Damascus. With the arrival of American aid coming at long last, the Israelis used their technological advantage to the maximum extent, decimating Syrian and Iraqi armored units along the way. The road to Damascus was cleared, and the IDF advanced on the Syrian capital to the horror of the Arabs.

  • The bulk of this adheres to the original Drew narrative, though there are some minor changes - for example, the rise of Mao Yuanxin is tempered by having to share power with several other radicals such as Madame Mao, Wang Hongwen, and the other members of the Gang of Four. Instead of China becoming a North Korean style succession under the rule of (pyschotic) "Lesser Mao," Red China will instead suffer under an increasingly fractured and paranoid collective leadership.
 
Still seeing some minor differences that could easily snowball alright. It'll be interesting to see the Trio Group step up more as the US becomes embroiled in its own issues.
 
Chapter XXI: The Impeachment Trial of Spiro Agnew
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The Impeachment Trial of Spiro Agnew.
Though President Agnew was not present (he had gone to spend some time at Camp David to weigh his political future), an assassination attempt was made when an angry Vietnam veteran opened fire at the White House, injuring two gardeners as he attempted to fire into the residence. The gunman is quickly killed by Secret Service agents, though security around the mansion was dramatically beefed up following the shooting. The 82nd Airborne Division deployed armed soldiers to be stationed outside the mansion as a result. The next day, when Agnew returned to the White House, he agreed to meet with Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). In a heated exchange, Goldwater angrily demanded Agnew resign and warned that he and many other Senate conservatives would vote for impeachment. The next night, on November 6th, Agnew addressed the nation from the Oval Office on the impending impeachment vote.

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President Agnew on the eve of his impeachment trial's conclusion.
Good evening my fellow Americans. Tomorrow the Senate will vote on my fitness to continue as your President. I am sad to have to report that many who serve in that body, who I thought of as my friends, have been listening to the nattering nabobs of negativity, enough so that they have allowed themselves to lose sight of the facts. Well, let me take this opportunity to put the facts before you, the American people.

When I came to Washington, it was to help President Richard Nixon fulfill a scared trust that you had given to us with your votes: that was to lead this nation into the nineteen-seventies with honor and to a higher standard of leadership than we knew in the nineteen-sixties. Many of the loopy limousine liberals who led us to disaster in the nineteen-sixties could not accept our victory, so they conspired to bring President Nixon low. They did not succeed, although they plague Richard Nixon to this day with false charges and innuendos. Side-by-side with President Nixon I helped to prove that there was a better way for this nation.

By an accident of fate and circumstance, I know find myself in this office, as your President. At this hour our troops fight around the world against an intractable enemy - an enemy of liberty and of freedom - an enemy that cannot stand American values and thus will not stop until they have destroyed us. Tonight we and our valiant ally in Israel face grave peril - a peril which could consume the world in the fires of Armageddon - a peril brought on by the enemy's relentless conspiracy to destroy all free men and women everywhere in the world. We stand toe-to-toe with the Soviet Union tonight not because we wish to match our power to theirs, but because we know that to give-in to dictators anywhere is to surrender our freedoms everywhere. This is the bloody lesson of World War II, that appeasement is a suicidal folly. So we will not repeat this folly, we will stand tough in the face of the oppressor until freedom wins through.

The nattering nabobs - the Limp Liberals, they do not understand this - or they say they do not understand with a disingenuous nod of feigned innocence. They would rather see America weak, divided and compromised, all in the furtherance of a big state, socialist agenda which is antithetical to all America represents and all our fathers and brothers have fought and died for in two World Wars and in Asia. They hate me because I expose their hypocrisy and because I will not admit defeat in the face of their threats. They turn their knives on Agnew because Agnew - and Agnew alone - will stand-up to the tyrant. They come for me because I alone will never surrender, will never compromise, will never appease the Soviet tyrant and the liberal lobby at the expense of our liberty. That is why they wish to remove me.

I appeal to you, my fellow citizens, do not allow them. Flood your Senators with letters and telegrams, tell them how you really feel. Let them know you stand with me in defense of our freedoms. It is time for the silent majority to let loose a howl of indignation which will send the Limp Liberals forever cowering in their Harvard Libraries and Yale Clubs, never to come out and trouble America again. Rise-up my friends, and tell these enemies of American freedom how much you love liberty, and that you want me here defending you and your family against those who would take all you have and leave you only bitter tears and chains. Tell your Senator to vote no to my removal, and yes to American freedom.

Let me leave you with this final thought, my friends. The man they would replace me with is a Roman Catholic. So we must ask if there is not a deeper foreign conspiracy at work here, if not from Rome some anti-American power is seeking to use the institutions of our democracy to subvert us from within. Communism and popery share much in common in that regard, and both must be guarded against. Do not let this happen, my friends. Tell your Senator not to succumb to the wily plots of Cardinals or Commissars. Tell them to support my Presidency, because in doing that they vote to support your freedom. Good night my friends, and may God Bless the United States.
In what the Washington Post described as "a paranoid screed," Agnew condemned the impeachment process as a sham, describing General Gavin as leading "a military coup." Agnew's condemnations of Speaker Gavin was followed by an attack on the Catholic Church, with the President warning that the Speaker's potential ascension to the Presidency would result in dominance of the church in Rome over the United States. The rambling speech was concluded with the use of the derogatory phrase "popery" at the end of his address, Agnew's remarks created a firestorm of controversy. Press Secretary Pat Buchanan resigned that night, condemning Agnew's remarks and denying involvement in the drafting of the speech (Buchanan himself was a devout Roman Catholic) as he stormed out of the White House before a crowd of news cameras. In the Oval Office, the President spent much of the evening trying to phone individual Republican Senators. But to Agnew's dismay, most refused to take his calls. Growing increasingly panicked, the President was reassured by Rumsfeld that the 67 votes needed to remove him from office simply weren't there.

The next morning, the Senate gathered in the presence of the Chief Justice to conclude the impeachment trial of President Agnew. As Senators trickled into the chamber to cast their votes, Agnew watched from the Oval Office. A dead silence fell over both the chamber of the Senate and the Oval Office. Rumsfeld and Cheney were nowhere to be found as the President awaited his fate.

James Abourezk (D-SD)Aye
George Aiken (R-VT) - Aye
James Allen (D-AL)Aye
Howard Baker (R-TN)Aye
Birch Bayh (D-IN) - Aye
John G. Beall (R-MD)Aye
Henry Bellmon (R-OK)Aye
Wallace Bennett (R-UT) - Nay
Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX)Aye
Allen Bible (D-NV)Aye
Joe Biden (D-DE)Aye
William E. Brock III (R-TN)Aye
Edward Brooke (R-MA) - Aye
James L. Buckley (C-NY)- Aye
Quentin Burdick (D-ND)Aye
Harry F. Byrd (I-VA)Aye
Robert Byrd (D-WV) - Aye
Howard Cannon (D-NV)Aye
Clifford Case (D-NJ)Aye
Lawton Chiles (D-FL) - Aye
Frank Church (D-ID) - Aye
Marlowe Cook (R-KY)Nay
Norris Cotton (R-NH)
- Aye
Alan Cranston (D-CA)Aye
Carl Curtis (R-NV)Aye
Robert Dole (R-KS)Aye
Peter Domenici (R-NM) - Aye
Peter Dominick (R-CO) - Aye
Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) - Aye
James Eastland (D-MS) Aye
Ed Edmondson (D-OK) - Aye
Sam Ervin (D-NC)Aye
Paul Fannin (R-AZ)Nay
Orval Faubus (I-AR)Aye
Hiram Fong (R-HI)Aye
Barry Goldwater (R-AZ)Aye
Mike Gravel (D-AK) Aye
Robert Griffin (R-MI)Aye
Edward Gurney (R-FL)Aye
Clifford Hansen (R-WY)Nay
William Fulbright (D-AR)Aye
Phillip Hart (D-MI)Aye
Vance Hartke (D-IN) Aye
Floyd Haskell (D-CO)Aye
Mark Hatfeld (R-OR)Aye
Jesse Helms (R-NC)Nay
Ernest Hollings (D-SC)Aye
Roman Hruska (R-NE)Aye
Harold Hughes (D-IA)Aye
Hubert H. Humphrey (D-MN)Aye
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)Aye
Henry Jackson (D-WA)Aye
Jacob Javits (R-NY)Aye
J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA)Aye
Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)Aye
Russell B. Long (D-LA)Aye
Warren Magnuson (D-WA)Aye
Michael Mansfield (D-MT)Aye
Charles Mathias (R-MD) - Aye
James A. McClure (R-ID) - Nay
Gale McGee (D-WY)Aye
George McGovern (D-SD) - Aye
Thomas McIntyre (D-NH)Aye
Lee Metcalf (D-MT)Aye
Jack Miller (R-IA) Aye
Walter Mondale (D-MN)Aye
Joseph Montoya (D-NM) - Aye
Edward Moss (D-UT) Aye
Edmund Muskie (D-ME) - Aye
Gaylord Nelson (D-WS)Aye
Louie B. Nunn (R-KY)Aye
Sam Nunn (D-GA)Aye
Robert Packwood (R-OR)Aye
John O. Pastore (D-RI)Aye
James B. Pearson (R-KS)Aye
Claiborne Pell (D-RI)Aye
Charles H. Percy (R-IL)Aye
William Proxmire (D-WS)Aye
Jennings Randolph (D-VA)Aye
Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT)Aye
William Roth (R-DE)Aye
William Saxbe (R-OH)Aye
Hugh Scott (R-PA)Aye
William Scott (R-VA)Aye
Richard Schewiker (R-PA) - Aye
Margaret Chase-Smith (R-ME)Aye
John Sparkman (D-AL)Aye
Robert Stafford (R-VT)Aye
John Stennis (D-MS)Aye
Ted Stevens (R-AK)Nay
Adlai Stevenson III (D-IL)Aye
Stuart Symington (D-MO)Aye
Robert Taft Jr. (R-OH)Aye
Herman Talmadge (D-GA) – Present
Storm Thurmond (R-SC)Nay
John Tower (R-TX)
Aye
John V. Tunney (D-CA)Aye
Lowell Weicker (R-CT)Aye
Harrison Williams (D-NJ)Aye
Milton Young (R-ND)Aye

Watching these events transpire in horror, Agnew was stunned when the Senate voted 91-8-1 in favor of his removal in office. Agnew initially refused to leave the Oval Office, demanding the media broadcast a second speech (all three networks declined this request). While a panicked Agnew grappled what to do next in the White House, the Chief Justice issued the official certificate of impeachment and dispatched a US Marshall to personally deliver it to the now former President Agnew. A furious Agnew refused to accept the certificate (which was left on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office) and only agreed to leave the White House via an underground tunnel to the executive office building across the street after Secret Service agents threatened to arrest him and drag him out of the mansion before the cameras. A defeated Agnew (who lost his title of "former President" in the eyes of the government) retreated back to Baltimore, where he'd spend the remainder of the year in self-imposed political exile.

All the while, Speaker Gavin was called to the floor of the Senate, where he was sworn in on the spot.

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James Gavin, 39th President of the United States.
"My fellow Americans, I accept this office with an awesome sense of responsibility, and at a perilous time in our nation's history. The course of domestic and world events have propelled us to a place of trouble and challenge few of us could have expected to find ourselves in just a few months ago. I enter into the office of President with the full understanding that you did not elect me to this post, and that I serve as President at your sufferance. Today I ask only for your faith and good wishes as I take-on the immediate problems that our nation faces, with the resolve to persevere, and the knowledge that our great country stands for peace and freedom. My comments on this occasion will be brief, as the business of our nation commands my urgent attention. Let me only say that our Constitutional form of government has been affirmed; the rule of law has been upheld and power has been transferred peacefully as our Founders envisioned in such a circumstance. Therefore, my fellow citizens, I ask for your prayers and in the coming days I shall have more to say to you about the state of our nation."​
 
Chapter XXII: November, 1973
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November, 1973

The Agnew (and later Gavin) policy of not getting entangled in the Middle Eastern war beyond sending to Israel and mining the Syrian coast was put to the test in early November, when an American spy plane flying over Syrian territorial waters was downed by an anti-aircraft missile. The USS Cochrane was then deployed on a search and rescue mission for the crew, when two Soviet built missile boats of the Syrian navy appeared on the horizon. It was only a matter of minutes before the Syrians firing upon the USS Cochrane, the American destroyer returned fire and sank one of the Syrian vessels. The incident, which left a handful of American airmen dead as well, was largely overshadowed by the impeachment trial of Spiro Agnew, and occurred just days before Speaker Gavin would ascend to the Presidency.

These events would prove to be the final crises of the Assad regime in Syria; the following morning, the IDF made a final push into the city of Damascus, inflicting massive casualties on the Syrian and Iraqi forces left in the city. The President, Hafez Al Assad and his remaining force of loyalists fled to the interior of the country, where they prepared for a counteroffensive. But Assad's support in the country crumbled when the star of David was raised over the bullet riddled, bombed out ruins of Assad's palace in Damascus. The fall of Syria's capital city to the Israelis precipitated the downfall of the Baathist regime in Syria. Within days, spontaneous revolts broke out across the country as Kurdish and Islamists groups seized large swathes of territory as authority broke down. Days later, the army intervened against the last vestige of Baathism when they removed Assad in a violent military coup. Declaring himself the new leader of Syria, General Luai al-Atassi took the helm in a shattered nation, but the damage had been done. Cobbling together a coalition of local military commanders and regional militias (a few of which had been aligned with the deposed Baathist Party), General al-Atassi was recognized by the west as the President of Syria. Meanwhile, Assad and his extended family would flee the country for exile in East Germany following their downfall.

In Washington, these events were closely followed by the Speaker’s team as the impeachment process dragged on. When Agnew was at last removed from the Presidency, Gavin immediately cabled General Secretary Brezhnev, informing him of both the official finality of impeachment (and the accompanying constitutional transfer of power) as well as his decision to reduce the strategic alert level down from DEFCON 2. Gavin also informed Brezhnev of his intention to dispatch Secretary of State Bush to Jerusalem to persuade the Israelis to withdrawal from Syria. Lastly, the new President also named Henry Kissinger as his personal emissary to the USSR, and once again dispatches him to Moscow for high level talks with Brezhnev. On the domestic side of affairs, Gavin announced his appointment of Caspar Weinberger as White House Chief of Staff; the two had a long-standing professional relationship in the world of corporate America. Weinberger was immediately tasked with the process of restoring order to the executive branch, with many Nixon and Agnew era officials either leaving on their own accord (like Buchanan) or being unceremoniously fired.

As Agnew was escorted out of the White House, a scramble to catalog and return his personal items was underway as Gavin continued to lead the government from the capital building. Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Haig were immediately fired from their positions by the new President, the first opening shots of his hurried campaign to undo much of the damage done by his impeached predecessor. Hours after his swearing-in, when Gavin at last arrived at the White House, he ordered the removal of armed soldiers outside, grimly joking that the mansion looked like a scene from Santiago. From there, he immediately went to the Oval Office for the first time, working a solid twelve hours in the iconic office (where the personal photos of President Agnew and his family had only been recently cleared off the Resolute Desk). The new administration quickly pieced together a new staff. Replacing Haig as National Security Adviser was Brent Scowcroft, while Roger Mudd, a respected journalist, took on the role of Press Secretary.
Former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach agreed to serve as White House Counsel for the interim period, with Gavin mixing an equal number of prominent Democrats and Republicans into the loop. As the new staff established themselves in their respective roles, the President had already set to work on his most pressing political task: the search for a suitable Vice President.

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Gavin's White House Chief of Staff Caspar Weinberger.

The task of finding a new Vice President was led by Chief of Staff Weinberger, whom like his predecessor had quickly established himself as a strong figure in the White House. Consulting with a wide array of Senators, Congressmen and women, Governors, military and intelligence officials, and economists over several days, Weinberger boiled his list down to eight names - four Democrats and four Republicans - whom he felt had both an adequate chance of being confirmed by the Senate while maintaining the apolitical mold of Gavin's envisioned unity government. The names, typed out on White House stationary, were reviewed by Gavin. He slowly deliberated on each name, writing notes and crossing off names in red ink:

Governor Ronald Reagan of California (Rep).

Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York (Rep).

Former Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania (Rep).

Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts (Rep).

Former Governor Carl Sanders of Georgia (Dem).

Former Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina (Dem).

Senator Henry Jackson of Washington (Dem).

Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana (Dem).
On the morning of November 8th, as Gavin awoke in the White House for the first full day as President of the United States, word reached him that the Supreme Court would release it's ruling in the case of the United States vs. Richard Nixon. But even the process of reaching such a ruling would prove to be arduous; Chief Justice Burger, a Nixon appointee, was forced to recuse himself, resulting in William O. Douglas taking on the role of acting Chief Justice for the case. Similarly, Associate Justice William Brown III, a former Nixon staffer, also recused himself from the case. The intensely charged partisan atmosphere ensured that the remaining jurists on the case worked towards a unanimous majority opinion. In the 7-0 ruling, the court ruled that the former President's Oval Office tapes could be introduced by Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox as evidence against him before a grand jury, rejecting Nixon's lawyer's arguments that claimed the tapes were subject to executive privilege.

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Brezhnev and Kissinger meet in Moscow.

In Moscow, the confusion sowed by the Agnew impeachment trial had resulted in Kissinger having a hard time accessing the top Soviet leadership. Only a relatively middle tier figure in the Soviet Foreign Ministry agreed to meet with the new President's emissary, who held on his person a sealed letter from Secretary of State Bush which outlined the foreign policy goals of the new administration. Demanding to deliver the letter to Brezhnev personally, the Kissinger team was stalled in Moscow from the moment of their arrival. This was in part due to the lack of a cabinet shakeup following Gavin's rise to the Presidency - Bush, often an unwilling and hesitant mouthpiece of the Agnew foreign policy agenda, remained in charge at the State Department. This signaled to the Kremlin, which was known for its backroom machinations, that a behind the scenes power struggle was playing out in Washington. Of course, this was not true, but Brezhnev's mindset was set in stone. It took a number of meetings - first with Deputy Foreign Minister Leonid Hyickov, then Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, then Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, before finally being summoned to a late night meeting with Brezhnev himself several days into Kissinger's mission.

At a surreal midnight summit with Brezhnev, who had consumed a copious amount of scotch before and throughout the meeting, Kissinger found the Soviet leader to be dense and difficult. But after a three-course meal complete with plenty of bombastic ideological rhetoric and lectures on imperialism's evils, the Soviet leader agreed to one basic premise moving forward: that a ceasefire would be separated from any lasting peace agreement. While Bush, Gavin, and Kissinger agreed that Israel would ultimately have to return to their prewar borders, they also demanded concessions from the Soviet bloc in order for any further diplomatic cooperation in the region to be fruitful. Talks the following day were more successful, but this shift in attitude among the Soviets was due to external rather than internal pressure.

With Syria teetering on anarchy, the Turkish government - a NATO aligned power - mobilized the Turkish military along the Syrian border in anticipation that Kurdish rebels would use the destabilized Arab state to launch cross-border attacks. Syria, being a Soviet aligned power with a sizable Eastern Bloc military contingent actie within their borders, would surely become a hotspot should Turkey intervene in the conflict. Alarmed by the possibility of a NATO-Warsaw Pact clash in Syria, the pressure on Kissinger was greater than at any moment during his tenure in the Nixon administration. The situation was complicated further by the power vacuum in Syria, where a dissident lawyer by the name of Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni emerged as a new powerplayer in the region. As leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Bayanouni's rhetoric inspired thousands of young students and disaffected soldiers to join the Islamist cause, launching fierce attacks on the Israelis and Iraqi forces occupying the country alike. These militant Muslim militias quickly seized villages across the country as their ranks swelled in numbers, quickly earning the attention of both Washington and Moscow.

Back in the Sinai, the Egyptian-Israeli ceasefire remained in place. The war had destroyed Sadat's relationship with the Soviets, and earned him many enemies in the Arab World as well. Kissinger saw an opportunity and immediately made plans to travel to Israel as soon as talks in Moscow ended with the ambition of convincing Prime Minister Meir to accept a ceasefire agreement that would require the IDF to pull out of Syria, spare the Golan Heights. Meir was hesitant, skeptical of Secretary Bush (whom she deemed "that fancy boy back in Washington") and his plan which would allow Iraq to occupy large parts of Syria. Since 1948, Iraq, like Egypt, had been historically one of Israel's strongest enemies in the region, and their presence near Israeli borders was an alarming possibility that Meir was determined to avoid.

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The 10th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

November ends with a stunning change in Red China; the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party of China, which had been delayed since the start of the Mongolian War, was finally convened in Peking in the Great Hall of the People. The result was a resurgance of Red Guard activity not seen since the excesses of the Cultural Revolution's peak, with supporters and allies of Premier Zhou Enlai such as Deng Xiaoping being purged in the lead up to the party congress. As China's nominal head of government, Zhou was blamed for much of the setbacks suffered during the war against the Soviet Union as well as for the failure of the reproachment with the United States. The Maoist Red Guards seized on the oppurtunity to overpower the moderate wing of the party, with Jiang Qiang leading a vicious campaign in the Chinese media against "rightists" in the party. The youthful radicals swiftly and with brute force take control of the Communist Party on a local level, electing new officials and functionaries and sending a massive number of delegates to the People's Congress who were affiliated with their radical cause.

As a result of this, a number of changes to the party's leadership occurs. Zhou is purged from the Politburo and dismissed as Premier, and in his place, Wang Hongwen is appointed. Wang, a former Red Guard leader from Shanghai who had impressed Mao when his radical followers seized control of the municipal government in Shanghai, is one of many radicals elevated to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Mao Yuanxin, a nephew of the Chairman, is also elevated to the Central Committee after rising to prominence for his involvement in the Cultural Revolution, noted primarily for his brutality and inclination to personally break the bones of suspected counter-revolutionaries. Mao himself makes only a handful of appearances during the congress, and at the conclusion of his address stuns the People's Republic and the world at large when he announces his intention to stand down as Chairman of the Communist Party. The Central Committee votes to give Mao the title "Chairman Emeritus" of the party instead, with his nephew Mao Yuanxin suceeding him as First Secretary of the Communist Party, which would serve as the chief administrative organ. China's vacant head of state position - which has not been officially occupied since 1969, is filled by Mao's equally radical wife Jiang Qiang. The rise of the radical Maoist wing of the Chinese Party is an alarming sign to Washington's foreign policy wonks that the party is sliding away from the hard fought reproachment sought by Nixon and Kissinger during the early 1970s. Furthermore, there is speculation that the rise of Jiang Qiang and Mao Yuanxin is the start of a red dynasty in the totalitarian nation.

  • I removed the coup in South Vietnam that would result in American administration of the country, as I have other plans for the situation in South East Asia. Along with the downfall of the Kims, the removal of the 1973 coup against Thieu by General Cao (IIRC) is the second major deviation from the original timeline. The impact of these events will be felt later on. There are other changes, such as slight weakening of Mao Yuanxin's direct personal power, but these are less important right away.
 
Well, that's quite a series of events alright. The rise of the radicals in China won't be very good, although hopefully won't go as far as it did with Drew's with Mao being slightly weaker at least. The time it took to get a meeting between with the upper crust of the USSR shows just how much damage was done to America's standing as well. I can't imagine the economy's going very smoothly right now either.
 
Less influential Lesser Mao? I feel like this is good and in my analysis, I thought that the rise of the Lesser Mao lead to the knee-jerk "anti-Communism" of Rumsfeld, down to detaining political opponents as mentally ill. Former Governor Carl Sanders is an interesting shortlist item, I wonder if that means we will hear from the man who defeated him IOTL (and presumably ITTL), James Earl Carter.
 
Chapter XXIII: December, 1973
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December, 1973.
As the winter snow blanketed Washington, President Gavin was hard at work within the White House. The first major development of the month is the announcement that the President had decided to name former Pennsylvania Governor Bill Scranton to the Vice Presidency. In choosing a moderate Republican from outside Washington to ascend to the nation's second top office, Gavin avoided the stigma of having to select a Senator or Congressperson who voted for Agnew's removal from office. This ensured the new administration would retain at least some legitimacy among conservative Republicans, even though many were skeptical of the new President and his moderate Vice President. Scranton had irked many conservative Republicans when he had sought the Presidency in 1964 at the Republican National Convention, where he made a last minute challenge to frontrunner and eventual nominee Barry Goldwater. But the Vice President to-be received a boost when Senator Goldwater, having soured on Agnew, announced his support for Scranton's nomination.The swift selection of Governor Scranton also made certain that the position of Vice President could be filled just before or early in the new year, stabilizing the succession in the United States after a year of political turmoil.

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Vice Presidential nominee Bill Scranton.

In Vietnam, the North took advantage of the distractions in the Middle East and Washington to launch another offensive against Dong Hoi. The third attack on the city resulted in high casualties for all parties involved, with 2,000 American soldiers being killed in the fierce battle that unfolded. Though high casualties are also inflicted on the North Vietnamese attackers, the ferocity of their attack made an impression on American forces, with Collin Powell (one of the leading officers in charge of the American defense of the city) later commenting that the psychological damage done by the NVA during the attack was worse than the actual death toll inflicted by the American defenses.

Greece's right-wing military dictatorship begins a slight liberalization process after a student uprising starts at the Athens Polytechnic. Though the student demonstrations are brutally suppressed, the regime's leader, Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos is removed by the ruling military junta in a coup led by Phaidon Gizikis. The new regime continues to insist the military's influence in the country's government will remain in place, but promises greater rights and less heavy-handed tactics against opponents of the regime. The previous regime, which took power in a coup in 1967, had cultivated closer ties to the United States during the Presidency of Spiro Agnew, himself a Greek American. Agnew, who controversially had supported the abolition of the Greek monarchy by the military junta, would also display support for Greece at a time when tensions with Turkey were growing. As both nations were key NATO partners, this angered many at the Pentagon and State Department, and created a serious rift in the organization by the time President Gavin had taken office.

In the Middle East, Secretary Bush and the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko finally negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Arabs after talks in Algiers, Algeria. The agreement allows Israel to occupy the Sinai for the time being, as Egyptian-Soviet relations had deteriorated to a point that Brezhnev simply no longer cared. The IDF was required to completely withdraw from Syria aside from the Golan Heights, forcing the regime of President al-Atassi to further spread out their already overstretched forces as Syria teeters on full scale civil war. The forces of the Muslim Brotherhood under the command of self-styled "Caliph" Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni took advantage of the vacuum left behind by the fall of Assad, and launch attacks on the weakened government across the country as they move to seize power in the country.

Emboldened by the (interim) peace agreement in the Middle East, President Gavin orders a bombing halt on North Vietnam and orders the American forces acting as part of Operation Bold Eagle to quit advancing any further towards Hanoi. This is part of an effort to revive the Paris Peace Talks, which until the 1972 election were making progress until they were abruptly ended by the rise of Spiro Agnew. The Gavin administration's ambition went beyond ending the war in Vietnam; by at least restarting, if not successfully concluding the talks, it was believed in the White House and at the State Department that America's diplomatic credibility could be healed in the wake of the Agnew administration. The Congress was more impatient to end the war, passing the War Powers Act in quick succession in both chambers quickly before the holiday recess. Though Gavin attempted to veto the bill, which would strongly restrict the executive branch from waging undeclared wars or launching lengthy military operations, the Congress overrode him before adjourning. The day after Christmas, Kissinger met quietly with North Vietnamese representatives in Geneva, Switzerland, to hear out their demands and preconditions for resuming official peace talks.

The economy continued to slow down as the oil embargo took its toll. As the nation's fuel supply dwindled, the Gavin administration began negotiations with congressional leaders throughout December to prepare for the passage of a price control and rationing plan once Congress returned in January after the New Years celebrations. Despite the squeeze caused by the embargo, American workers - already facing a near economic depression and rising inflation - became increasingly resourceful in working around these conditions, forming carpools and organizing their own gasoline rationing programs on a community level in suburbs across America. It is expected that the price per barrel of oil will rise to $12.50 by the end of the year, leading to increased interest in American energy independence.

In Red China, "the Gang of Five," a clique of Maoist radicals who had seized control of the Communist Party, launch the "purification of the revolution" campaign in the wake of the 10th Party Congress. Led most prominently by China's new head of state, Jiang Qiang, the campaign targeted "rightists" and "defeatists" within the party's ranks and empowered the Red Guards to act as a paramilitary force with the task of ideological enforcement. The campaign also orders the closure of all foreign embassies in Peking and the expulsion of foreigners from the People's Republic's borders, as well as the return of all Chinese nationals living abroad. Inside China, ancient landmarks and architectural monuments of the nation's past are destroyed. The cult of personality around Mao begins refering to him as being an almost God-like figure, but as the propoganda campaign surrounding the Great Helmsman grows, his actual influence over the party and country begins to wane as his family begin to usurp power and limit the flow of information to him. As a result, the "Chairman Emeritus" is effectively retired to a life of leisure while his wife (the President), nephew (First Secretary of the Communist Party), and his allies Wang Hongwen (Premier) and Wang Dongxing (Chairman of the Central Military Commission) manage the day to day governence of the country. China's leadership change and sudden isolation from the world forces China's now former Ambassador to the United Nations Huang Hua to defect to the United States rather than return home on orders of the regime, knowing that his support for and involvement in the internationalist institution would make him an early target for potential purges.
 
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Now we see the Gavin Administration performing the clean up operations due to Agnew's many mistakes. The War Powers Act is an interesting one alright, although I imagine the executive branch will try and find what loopholes it can. What's happening in China now is rather disturbing and I can imagine that Huang Hua isn't the only prominent defection that happens. Are there major differences in the outcome of the war with Israel and Arab nations from OTL?
 
I think Gavin should fire Secretary of State Bush. There are actually a few interesting options here:
-Governor James Carter of Georgia
-Fmr. Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina
-Businessman Harland Sanders of Kentucky
-Fmr. General Jeremiah Denton of Louisiana
-Fmr. Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York
 
Why...um...why exactly would Colonel Sanders of all people take on that job?
That's what I was going to ask? Maybe @PNWKing was inspired by Kentucky Fried Politics by @gap80, which features Governor (of Kentucky) and President (Colonel) Harland Sanders (BTW, @Nazi Space Spy, have you read that TL--it's much better than one might think; if you haven't, and you get the time, read it!)...

Rockefeller or Sanford would be good choices...
 
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