Geronimo : What if Osama Bin Laden was killed prior to 9/11?

Who will win the Republican Nomination?

  • Dick Cheney

    Votes: 20 20.2%
  • John McCain

    Votes: 57 57.6%
  • Jon Huntsman

    Votes: 13 13.1%
  • Rick Santorum

    Votes: 9 9.1%

  • Total voters
    99
Part 33 : Bullets & Ballots, Part 1

Part XXXIII Bullets & Ballots, Part 1

Haiti

Alongside the race for the Democratic party nomination, a second major event brewed in America’s revolutionary stepbrother, the Caribbean nation of Haiti. In Haiti, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a slum-born priest and the country’s first democratically elected leader was experiencing a rocky period. For context, shortly after his electoral victory in 1991 he was deposed in a military coup, but once the administration of George H W Bush ended and Bill Clinton took over, the United States insisted on the return of Aristide and an end to the Haitian Junta, following negotiations the junta complied and U.S. troops were deployed in operation ‘uphold democracy’ and Aristide returned from exile. He formed a new political party and gathered strength in the run-up to the country's 2000 election. Aristide earned plenty of enemies who accused him of electoral manipulation and in the presidential election, they opted to boycott the procedure allowing Aristide to win the election with 90% of the votes (though many observers noted that turnout was still high enough that Aristide could have won anyway) but regardless, the criticism of Aristide and the election was used to argue for Aristides illegitimacy alongside allegations of fraud. Following his return to the Presidency Aristide governed Haiti in a manner concerning to some. He was a radical reformer and he demanded that France repatriate Haiti for the billions that Haiti paid for its independence, in a nation dependent on international donations and though his government was committed to aiding the poor, his methods became more and more erratic and authoritarian, to enforce his laws militia were organized, the police were reformed with broad powers to suppress protests as corruption continued to thrive in the country. Worst of all, despite Aristides' grand vision, Haiti’s economy failed to recover, and it remained the poorest nation in the Americas. The country was globally seen as an aid state dependent on international donations and the suspension of U.S. aid by the Bush administration greatly harmed the country. His erratic behaviour persisted, and his speeches became more brutal in tone, encouraging violent acts against political enemies and some of his supporters followed suit.

In January 2004 the country began to celebrate its 200th anniversary of independence. At the same time, the former army turned paramilitary groups began to conduct an organized insurgency, they called themselves the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation and Reconstruction of Haiti. The insurgent’s leadership were comprised of former military, drug smugglers, junta death squads and dissidents all linked by their opposition to Aristide. At the same time the political opposition coalesced, a collection of business leaders, doctors, intellectuals, students, and farmers began pushing for Aristides' resignation and frequent clashes between them and his supporters ended in violence and occasional deaths. Within weeks, the insurgency had begun to take over the countryside, and began attacking police stations, violence escalated in the cities, in Port Au Prince thousands of students were shot at by armed militia and many criticised Aristide for preventing the police from investigating the crimes. Soon after, the opposition forces took hold of Gonaives, Haiti’s fourth largest city and looted it for weapons and vehicles. A large rebellion had clearly broken out and the government reacted by raising barricades in the capital, a state of emergency had begun, and many Haitians began to flee the country in anticipation of further violence.

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(Left) President Jean Aristide, (Right) Haitain rebels
The situation was fast deteriorating and the world noticed, through February rebel forces advanced across the coast taking control with little formal opposition (Aristide had abolished the military) There was global division over the proper response, and the Bush administration presented differing options, first Secretary of State Powell warned against rebels ousting Aristide, until several days later reversing course, and partially blamed Aristide for the violence "Much of the violence that we see now is being created by the gangs that were once aligned with the Aristide government,". Said a state department spokesperson and suggested that Aristides' resignation could be an apt solution. Some urged the President to take action. "If we can send military forces to Liberia -- 3,000 miles away -- we certainly can act to protect our interests in our own back yard,". Said Senator Bob Graham, "Inaction can no longer be our policy," said Graham, "To do so will ensure that Haiti is ruled by thugs and criminals.”. Other Democrats took aim at the poor communication from the White House, describing its response as 'dithering' or 'uninterested', Presidential candidate and civil rights activist Al Sharpton said he would travel to Haiti personally, and Al Gore and John Edwards accused the President of ignoring Haiti or even empowering the rebels via statements suggesting Aristide resign.

As the rebels closed in on the capital and the threat of a bloodbath rose, international negotiators including the United States and various Caribbean states stepped in, hoping to broker talks between the two forces. The Bush administration put forward a proposal that Aristide accepted, to reduce the power of the President while allowing Aristide to serve out the remainder of his term of office. But leaders of the Haitian opposition rejected the overtures ''There will be no more delays; our answer remains the same,'' Maurice LaFortune, head of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and a prominent opposition leader, told The Associated Press. ''Aristide must resign.''. And as the days ticked down, rebel gangs advanced on the city after city, seizing control of the north, the collapse of the peace plan seemed to many like the coup-de-gras to his rule. He had few forces to call on to fight for him, and cities were defecting without a fight, all the while Aristide stood defiant, giving a speech honouring police who had been killed in the uprising "I am ready to give my life if that is what it takes to defend my country,". That outcome was becoming closer to bearing out; if the United States wasn’t willing to protect him and the rebels carried out their increasingly graphic threats. But he still said that resignation was out of the question, and dismissed these propositions as ‘baseless rumours’. Thousands of armed supporters roamed the city, the president's only hope of holding off the rebels, and Haiti prepared for a battle. On the 29th of February, events came to their head. Guy Philip, the rebel leader gave the ultimatum "We're just going to take our positions and wait for the right time [to attack]," said Mr Philippe, a former officer in Haiti's disbanded army “If there is no resignation then we will attack”. Without an agreement with the rebels, the U.S. government assumed the only peaceful way things would end in Haiti is with Aristide out of the country and presented him an offer, his resignation for his and his family’s safe evacuation from the country, warning him that rebel forces would march on the city and thousands of lives including his own were at risk if he did not leave. Aristide was a mix of shocked and outraged, simultaneously asking for the American’s help while accusing them of siding with his enemies.[1] He attempted to field phone calls from his allies who warned him against fleeing the country as it would lead to the rebel's victory and subsequent mass reprisals and warned against taking the American’s offer calling it a “Washington organized coup” he absolutely rejected any request to resign or head into exile and called several news agencies and American politicians[2] to say he has rejected the offer.

On Monday, March the 1st, hundreds of rebels entered the capital of Port-au Prince, and armed clashes on the outskirts between the rebel forces and Aristides loyalists were widely reported. The streets were cleared, as the sound of gunfire making its way closer and closer to the centre of the city echoed out. The well-equipped and experienced rebels seemingly made quick work of the Aristide militia and the city’s police were of no help to the government, most had either defected to the opposition or stayed home, Philippe reiterated his demands that the President resign or face arrest, and by the days end it was clear that the rebels would soon be in full command of the city, already surrounding the Toussaint Louverture airport (a key means of escape for Aristide and secured by an emergency detachment of American marines). Confident, Guy Philippe called into international news agencies and declared himself the new chief of police for Port Au Prince and offered Aristide a final opportunity to resign, before his forces would take the Presidential palace by force. In return there was silence, Aristide made no public proclamations, he had fled the palace intending to make his way to the American embassy where the embattled President supposedly intended to present his resignation and appeal for American protection (This is according to the United States version of events).

But it would be several long hours before daylight revealed the ugly truth, that at some point during the night. Jean Bertrand Aristide, as well as a small contingent of bodyguards, had been killed, the President's car was found stopped in the middle of the road and the vehicle, and the President, his driver and a bodyguard all riddled with bullets.

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(Left) The streets of Port Au Prince on the 1st, (Right) Aristides car being investigated

The death of the President was an unexpected turn of events, but it didn’t take long for it to be paired with the news that rebel forces, had taken hold of the Presidential palace and the headquarters of the national police. The country was now without a President and overrun with rebel militia and could find itself spiralling into chaos. The President of the United States, announced that to prevent a further collapse, a coalition of American countries would immediately provide security to the country under a UN resolution (operation safer tomorrow provided roughly 1000 men from American, Canadian, Chilean and various other south American and Caribbean nations) As for the new Haitian government, the U.S. and the broader international community, as well as the rebels all, agreed that in accord with the Haitian constitution, Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexander would assume the Presidency, who on the same day petitioned for the UN peacekeeping force.

Despite fears of accelerating violence, the intervention of the United States and the swift deployment of the troops prevented a further loss of order, but questions still whirled. Accusations were brought forward by Aristides supporters, that the U.S. had orchestrated a coup and may have been responsible for his death. Their version of events was that the United States had refused to extend protection to Aristide without him resigning and had even forced his U.S. contracted security to leave Haiti to induce him to leave the country too. They also said that the state department's failure to support the legitimate president emboldened the rebels to attack the city. Additionally, some went further and blamed the U.S. for the entire uprising, pointing to claims that the paramilitary forces and Guy Philippe were trained in the Dominican Republic allegedly by U.S. special forces, they also insisted that the United States had demanded that Aristide appears at the embassy rather than the airport, despite the additional distance and danger of such a journey. The state department countered these accusations with an explicit denial “any such suggestions are total falsehoods, Aristide offered to come to the embassy and resign voluntarily … no demands were ever made”.

Democrats demanded an investigation, “We are trying to get some answers, because it is a rather disastrous proposition for this country to be undermining an elected government elsewhere even if we don’t like that government, and empowering killers” Said Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D). And members of the Congressional Black Caucus who Aristide had called hours before his death made their anger well known “I am convinced that the recent deadly coup involved not only drug lords and the armed thugs, but also our own government” charged Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said that the US had failed to protect the Haitian government “Whatever happened on Monday, its clear that the United States could have averted his death, we could have prevented this overthrow” And he disputed the government line that Aristides stubbornness effectively got him killed “I think there is a real issue here of the Bush administration saying one thing and the reality being different,”. It was clear that the Bush administration had again fallen into hot water over its foreign policy.

Spain


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Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Fourth Blast in Madrid after ETA warning
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The scene following a car bombing in Madrid

Police in Madrid have carried out a controlled detonation in a car park, left adjacent to the city’s international Barajas airport.

The detonation, which damaged several vehicles and caused a major interruption at the airport came only minutes after a caller claiming to be associated with the Basque separatist group ETA delivered a warning that an explosion was imminent.

No injuries have been reported, but the area and the city as a whole have been cordoned off, while major police actions have been taken, following a string of similar car bombings so far this month.

Including this device, 4 bombs have been detonated inside Spain’s capital city and the ETA has vowed that yet more attacks are imminent. The ETA, which is blamed for about 800 deaths in its 36-year campaign for an independent Basque state, has pledged to carry out attacks until its political demands are met.

The significant number of car bombs has led to at least 3 fatalities and dozens more injured when one such device detonated outside a Madrid restaurant. Another was found by police outside of a theatre and a third exploded on an evacuated train car.

A number of suspects have been arrested over the week. Though the continued attacks show that the group is still capable of carrying out these operations.

The blast occurred in a multi-storey car park at about 08:00 local time (06:00GMT).

The structure was not damaged, and no flights were cancelled, but travellers were forced to walk to the terminal with their luggage in their hands.

The increased number of attacks has interrupted Spanish life in the capital as police searches and checkpoints have been set up around the city in an attempt to find the perpetrators.

The country is also preparing for a general election next week to decide who will replace Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar who pledged to continue the investigation to find those responsible “We will bring the guilty to justice,” Aznar said. “No line of investigation is going to be ruled out.”



The month of March 2004 became an especially bloody one for Spain. As the country prepared to go to the polls to decide who would take over the reins of the 2-term prime minister José María Aznar of the conservative People’s Party. A string of terror attacks burned through the capital. Half a dozen bombs were found in a string of attacks in the two weeks leading up to the March 14th general election, killing 4 people and leading to dozens of injured. The explosions were paired with newly released videos by the Basque separatist group ETA giving prior warning of attacks and claiming responsibility while vowing to “Continue its mission against those who would deny us, through the force of arms”. The orchestrated nature of the attacks prompted a massive police response in Madrid to sweep the city of more potential bombs, and evacuating potential bombing targets, ending the recovery of a truck filled with half a ton of explosives and the arrest of several ETA members preparing for more bombings.
The string of attacks and the arrests culminated in the March 14th, 2004, Election. Where the incumbent People Party and its Azar’s designated successor Mariano Rajoy kept the reins of power with a greater share of the vote 47.1% of the vote, and 12 additional seats giving them a stronger majority. The People Parties, greater than expected share of the vote was attributed to the public approval of the government’s handling of the ‘March crisis’. Rajoy the new Prime Minister of Spain was expected to easily slip into the shoes Azar left behind, a staunch social conservative opposed to immigration and abortion, it was seen as a rightward shift of the government, Rajoy pledged further tax cuts, a crackdown on terrorist activity, and to combat illegal immigration.[3]

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2004 Spanish general election Wiki Box

Afghanistan

The north of Afghanistan was ablaze, the long raging civil war between the fundamentalist Taliban and the cadre of opposing warlords in the northern alliance had entered a new phase. Following the Bush administration's decision to give renewed military support to the northern alliance including covert special forces action, the northern alliance had been on the offensive, battling to take back territory in the north of Afghanistan, strengthen their hold on the regions and establish safe supply lines into its northern neighbours. Thanks to the American support and airstrikes, the forces of Massoud had been able to outgun and solidly outpace Taliban forces, leading to the growth of his army’s morale and the confidence of warlords, enough to conduct a major offensive in the siege of Kunduz.

Kunduz was a major Taliban stronghold in the north, and with it, they controlled the major supply route into neighbouring Tajikistan as well as some of the country's most vital agriculture. Its importance was not unknown to the Taliban who had placed an estimated 15,000 fighters in the city, determined to keep the population under control and the northern alliance firmly out.

Northern alliance forces under the command of General Abdul Rashid Dostum an Uzbek warlord who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 following the renewed military aid from the United States. Dostum rallied his forces to surround the city and demanded the Taliban forces surrender, but when Mullah Omar the Taliban’s mysterious leader ordered the forces to fight to the death, a bloody siege began, and the city became a ragged battlefield as the opposing forces fired, machine guns, rockets and artillery across the city in efforts to break the enemies’ forces. For months, the city was reduced to rubble, compounded with disease and freezing winter conditions civilians suffered heavily. American advisors and Massoud implored Dostum to withdraw acknowledging that they were also taking heavy casualties but Dostum known for his brutal kind of warfare refused. By the end of the winter, Dostum’s army secured a major victory when several thousand Taliban fighters surrendered to him. But the hundreds of foreign fighters remained, aware that any surrender could mean a death sentence.

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The siege of Kunduz
Now on the edge of victory, the United States decided to send in special forces to aid Dostum’s final operation to flush the city of the holdouts joined by Northern Alliance General Daud Daud. After 2 weeks of intense fighting the remaining resistance in the city by March 23rd, 2004, the city had fallen under full Northern Alliance control.

In the aftermath, it was realized that Dostum had overstated the number of Taliban that had controlled the city practically 3-fold, but the siege had been the deadliest act of the war to date with tens of thousands of civilian casualties. The capture of Kunduz meant that the northern alliance clearly held the upper hand in the north of Afghanistan and quickly prepared to consolidate their gains in the north by taking on the Taliban’s last major northern stronghold Mazar-i-Sharif.

Unfortunately for the United States, parsing the dead and the captives revealed no members of America's most wanted list, but there was a surprise among the captured, a foreign fighter the 23-year-old American by the name of John Walker Lindh.

Lindh a D.C born catholic middle child had converted to Islam and travelled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban. The capture of an American citizen was a quandary for the administration, Lindh had technically committed no U.S. crime, he had associated with various terrorist groups during his stay in Afghanistan but there was no evidence he played any such role in planning or carrying out any terror attacks during his stay[4]. Nor was it illegal to volunteer to fight on behalf of any said group. With the possibility of Lindh having to be released if he were returned to America, Lindh instead remained a prisoner of the northern alliance.

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(Left) Afghan Warlord Dostum (Right) John Walker Lindh the American Taliban

Taiwan

After 55 years of continuous rule, the Kuomintang's long tenure over Taiwan was broken in the dramatic election of 2000, their downfall was brought about by a split in the party between the vice president Lien Chan and the popular governor of Taiwan (a defunct position) James Soong. Allowing the Democratic Progressive Party led by Chen Shui-bian , the left-wing nationalist party to unseat the KMT though he only won the election with a third of the vote.

His term in office was contentious, the DPP had few national political figures and he was forced to work with many KMT members to fill his cabinet including his first premier, he was forced to moderate his stance on Taiwanese independence and pledged that as long as the Peoples Republic of China had no intention to use military force against Taiwan he would not declare the independence of Taiwan, and to subsequently double down on his post-partisanship he resigned from his leadership of the DPP, further boosting his popularity he was also invited to the United States breaking an unwritten agreement between the PRC and the USA that no leader of Taiwan visits New York or Washington.

But Chen's government quickly ran aground. The Asian stock market crash pulled the country into an economic crisis, while the legislature (controlled by the KMT) blocked his policies and each blamed the other for the troubles. He was caught in a controversy regarding his attempt to cancel construction on a nuclear power facility favoured by the KMT, ending his working relationship with the opposition, the resignation of his premier, and Chen re-joining the DPP. During his time in office, the President’s popularity had faded from 70% approval to 25%.

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Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian

In preparation for his re-election campaign, Chen began to double down on his nationalist bona-fides. He pushed through a law that would provide an emergency defensive referendum if the country were under imminent threat of attack, only for a day after its approval for Chen to state his intention to invoke the referendum based on the PRC's missiles. Chen flew again to New York where he shook hands with Secretary of State Colin Powell boosting his approval to 35%, ahead of the KMT’s candidate Lien Chan. Many of his critics accused Chen of attempting to achieve Taiwanese independence through the emergency referendum.

Chen chose his Vice President Annette Lu to again serve on his ticket, she was a controversial pick due to some of her statements on independence, and it meant she had broken her pledge to retire the year earlier, the pick went against the wishes of many party members including those who had already been nominated for the position. Meanwhile, the KMT stitched together their fractured party by renominating Lien Chan for president and James Song for vice president given that each of the two candidates previously gathered 60% of the vote it was seen as assured that the KMT would return to power.

The parties battled fiercely, and policy issues faded behind personal attacks, as the KMT shifted considerably closer to the DPP on nationalist issues abandoning the idea of one country two systems. Allegations of corruption, tax evasion, draft dodging, illegal transactions and spousal abuse were raised and the country became divided. Events began to favour the DPP including a large rally celebrating victims of the Chiang-Kai-Shek era as well as controversy over KMT establishing campaign offices on mainland China including meeting with Taiwanese fugitives. This and other campaign blunders severely narrowed the election polls.

On March 19th the final day of the campaign, polls showed that the KMT still held a narrow lead. For the millions of anxious Taiwanese who just wanted this especially toxic campaign to end there was still a major surprise left. While the President and Vice President took place in a rally, travelling down a crowded street of supporters, stood atop an open-top jeep. Firecrackers were fired at the passing car as the executives waved, a common event in Taiwan politics, but something was clearly different this time, the President collapsed, and it was clear that blood was seeping into his clothing. Shots had been fired and both were escorted to a hospital. Police on the scene established that potentially multiple shooters had fired at the President's vehicle and the country's national security was activated.

The whole country was thrust into crisis, theories sprang up that perhaps the whole event was orchestrated to preclude a Chinese invasion or a military coup or a self-coup by the President to postpone the election or drum up sympathy votes[5]. As the President was rushed into surgery police scoured the area for evidence. The situation became tense across the island as hundreds of hardcore supporters prepared for potential violence from the opposite side. To dissuade worries, the Vice President appealed for calm and both parties said they would suspend any campaign events, and to ease fears the police said that there was no evidence of mainland Chinese involvement. Images were taken shortly after the shots showed both the severity of the Presidents injuries and seriously rocked the Taiwanese government and the public. More questions about if the election could proceed (Taiwanese law allowed for the suspension of an election on the death of a candidate) but this was dismissed by the government, though the severity of the President's condition prevented anyone from meeting with him.

A nervous nation took to the polls, unsure if one candidate would be physically able to take the Presidency. Police and military were out in force to quell potential unrest, and it was clear that the country was in shock from the attack on the President. It was midday when news began to break that the President was dead. He had sustained multiple close-range gunshot wounds to the chest and surgeons had been unable to contain the significant internal bleeding. The death of the President on election day constituted an electoral crisis. The constitution determined that “the Central Election Commission shall immediately announce the suspension of the election” on the death of a presidential candidate however that only applied if the death occurred “after the registration deadline and before the polling day”. According to the commission, the election would still stand.

The votes continued, and thousands of angered DPP supporters took out their frustrations, mostly at the ballot boxes but occasional protests outside KMT headquarters required the police to break them up. The country was addressed by its new potentially short-term President Annette Lu, who again appealed for calm, commemorating Chen and asking the country to continue to vote and that the election results would still stand. The KMT largely bit its tongue of criticism, and the candidates echoed Lu’s sentiments on the former President and the election

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President Chen before the assassin's shots, now President Annette Lu

It wasn’t until Sunday the 21st when the firecrackers really went off, by a razor-thin margin the deceased former President Chen Shui-bian was declared the winner of his re-election, meaning his vice-presidential candidate (and now president) Annette Lu would instantly ascend to the Presidency come inauguration day. Now, the KMT no longer stayed quiet and demanded the election be annulled and echoed dubious claims that Lu had delayed the announcement of the President's death until polling day to win the election.

''The slim gap has been achieved under layer upon a mountain of suspicion,'' Mr Lien told a frustrated crowd of supporters. ''It is a false election. Prepare to annul the election.'' Thousands of KMT supporters came out onto the street to protest the election result, claiming that hundreds of thousands of votes had been illegally invalidated, and the state of emergency imposed kept thousands of members of the military and police from voting, as well as the many reports of KMT voters being harassed. But the electoral commission and Lu remained firm that there was no truth to conspiracies and there would be no recount. More unrest followed as the KMT lobbied for numerous directives to lay to rest any contentious issues with sit-ins and rallies. The President agreed to a full recount, but the opposition wasn’t satisfied citing fraud claims and demanded a full investigation into Chens' death.

Protests persisted and escalated to the tens of thousands all camped outside the Presidential office for days, tensions began to flare as the President and the KMT failed to agree to the terms of the recount culminating in thousands of protesters following speeches by KMT officials calling foul on the election results, attempting to break into the president's office only to be suppressed by the police and military forces.


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2004 Taiwanese presidential election Wiki Box




[1] The exact version of events is disputed between Aristide and the United States, I have chosen a mix of both versions
[2] Aristide had close connections with the congressional black caucus
[3] The government's handling of the Madrid train bombing was a political disaster and is one of the only examples I can find of a nation rejecting its leadership after a major tragedy.
[4] Without a PATRIOT Act, being a member of a terrorist organisation alone isn’t a crime
[5] This is the major conspiracy in Taiwanese politics, but I think it is a bit ridiculous

Update on the US election in Part 2 ...
 
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Part XXXIII Bullets & Ballots, Part 1

Haiti

Alongside the race for the Democratic party nomination, a second major event brewed in America’s revolutionary stepbrother, the Caribbean nation of Haiti. In Haiti, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a slum-born priest and the country’s first democratically elected leader was experiencing a rocky period. For context, shortly after his electoral victory in 1991 he was deposed in a military coup, but once the administration of George H W Bush ended and Bill Clinton took over, the United States insisted on the return of Aristide and an end to the Haitian Junta, following negotiations the junta complied and U.S. troops were deployed in operation ‘uphold democracy’ and Aristide returned from exile. He formed a new political party and gathered strength in the run-up to the country's 2000 election. Aristide earned plenty of enemies who accused him of electoral manipulation and in the presidential election, they opted to boycott the procedure allowing Aristide to win the election with 90% of the votes (though many observers noted that turnout was still high enough that Aristide could have won anyway) but regardless, the criticism of Aristide and the election was used to argue for Aristides illegitimacy alongside allegations of fraud. Following his return to the Presidency Aristide governed Haiti in a manner concerning to some. He was a radical reformer and he demanded that France repatriate Haiti for the billions that Haiti paid for its independence, in a nation dependent on international donations and though his government was committed to aiding the poor, his methods became more and more erratic and authoritarian, to enforce his laws militia were organized, the police were reformed with broad powers to suppress protests as corruption continued to thrive in the country. Worst of all, despite Aristides' grand vision, Haiti’s economy failed to recover, and it remained the poorest nation in the Americas. The country was globally seen as an aid state dependent on international donations and the suspension of U.S. aid by the Bush administration greatly harmed the country. His erratic behaviour persisted, and his speeches became more brutal in tone, encouraging violent acts against political enemies and some of his supporters followed suit.

In January 2004 the country began to celebrate its 200th anniversary of independence. At the same time, the former army turned paramilitary groups began to conduct an organized insurgency, they called themselves the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation and Reconstruction of Haiti. The insurgent’s leadership were comprised of former military, drug smugglers, junta death squads and dissidents all linked by their opposition to Aristide. At the same time the political opposition coalesced, a collection of business leaders, doctors, intellectuals, students, and farmers began pushing for Aristides' resignation and frequent clashes between them and his supporters ended in violence and occasional deaths. Within weeks, the insurgency had begun to take over the countryside, and began attacking police stations, violence escalated in the cities, in Port Au Prince thousands of students were shot at by armed militia and many criticised Aristide for preventing the police from investigating the crimes. Soon after, the opposition forces took hold of Gonaives, Haiti’s fourth largest city and looted it for weapons and vehicles. A large rebellion had clearly broken out and the government reacted by raising barricades in the capital, a state of emergency had begun, and many Haitians began to flee the country in anticipation of further violence.

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(Left) President Jean Aristide, (Right) Haitain rebels
The situation was fast deteriorating and the world noticed, through February rebel forces advanced across the coast taking control with little formal opposition (Aristide had abolished the military) There was global division over the proper response, and the Bush administration presented differing options, first Secretary of State Powell warned against rebels ousting Aristide, until several days later reversing course, and partially blamed Aristide for the violence "Much of the violence that we see now is being created by the gangs that were once aligned with the Aristide government,". Said a state department spokesperson and suggested that Aristides' resignation could be an apt solution. Some urged the President to take action. "If we can send military forces to Liberia -- 3,000 miles away -- we certainly can act to protect our interests in our own back yard,". Said Senator Bob Graham, "Inaction can no longer be our policy," said Graham, "To do so will ensure that Haiti is ruled by thugs and criminals.”. Other Democrats took aim at the poor communication from the White House, describing its response as 'dithering' or 'uninterested', Presidential candidate and civil rights activist Al Sharpton said he would travel to Haiti personally, and Al Gore and John Edwards accused the President of ignoring Haiti or even empowering the rebels via statements suggesting Aristide resign.

As the rebels closed in on the capital and the threat of a bloodbath rose, international negotiators including the United States and various Caribbean states stepped in, hoping to broker talks between the two forces. The Bush administration put forward a proposal that Aristide accepted, to reduce the power of the President while allowing Aristide to serve out the remainder of his term of office. But leaders of the Haitian opposition rejected the overtures ''There will be no more delays; our answer remains the same,'' Maurice LaFortune, head of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and a prominent opposition leader, told The Associated Press. ''Aristide must resign.''. And as the days ticked down, rebel gangs advanced on the city after city, seizing control of the north, the collapse of the peace plan seemed to many like the coup-de-gras to his rule. He had few forces to call on to fight for him, and cities were defecting without a fight, all the while Aristide stood defiant, giving a speech honouring police who had been killed in the uprising "I am ready to give my life if that is what it takes to defend my country,". That outcome was becoming closer to bearing out; if the United States wasn’t willing to protect him and the rebels carried out their increasingly graphic threats. But he still said that resignation was out of the question, and dismissed these propositions as ‘baseless rumours’. Thousands of armed supporters roamed the city, the president's only hope of holding off the rebels, and Haiti prepared for a battle. On the 29th of February, events came to their head. Guy Philip, the rebel leader gave the ultimatum "We're just going to take our positions and wait for the right time [to attack]," said Mr Philippe, a former officer in Haiti's disbanded army “If there is no resignation then we will attack”. Without an agreement with the rebels, the U.S. government assumed the only peaceful way things would end in Haiti is with Aristide out of the country and presented him an offer, his resignation for his and his family’s safe evacuation from the country, warning him that rebel forces would march on the city and thousands of lives including his own were at risk if he did not leave. Aristide was a mix of shocked and outraged, simultaneously asking for the American’s help while accusing them of siding with his enemies.[1] He attempted to field phone calls from his allies who warned him against fleeing the country as it would lead to the rebel's victory and subsequent mass reprisals and warned against taking the American’s offer calling it a “Washington organized coup” he absolutely rejected any request to resign or head into exile and called several news agencies and American politicians[2] to say he has rejected the offer.

On Monday, March the 1st, hundreds of rebels entered the capital of Port-au Prince, and armed clashes on the outskirts between the rebel forces and Aristides loyalists were widely reported. The streets were cleared, as the sound of gunfire making its way closer and closer to the centre of the city echoed out. The well-equipped and experienced rebels seemingly made quick work of the Aristide militia and the city’s police were of no help to the government, most had either defected to the opposition or stayed home, Philippe reiterated his demands that the President resign or face arrest, and by the days end it was clear that the rebels would soon be in full command of the city, already surrounding the Toussaint Louverture airport (a key means of escape for Aristide and secured by an emergency detachment of American marines). Confident, Guy Philippe called into international news agencies and declared himself the new chief of police for Port Au Prince and offered Aristide a final opportunity to resign, before his forces would take the Presidential palace by force. In return there was silence, Aristide made no public proclamations, he had fled the palace intending to make his way to the American embassy where the embattled President supposedly intended to present his resignation and appeal for American protection (This is according to the United States version of events).

But it would be several long hours before daylight revealed the ugly truth, that at some point during the night. Jean Bertrand Aristide, as well as a small contingent of bodyguards, had been killed, the President's car was found stopped in the middle of the road and the vehicle, and the President, his driver and a bodyguard all riddled with bullets.

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(Left) The streets of Port Au Prince on the 1st, (Right) Aristides car being investigated

The death of the President was an unexpected turn of events, but it didn’t take long for it to be paired with the news that rebel forces, had taken hold of the Presidential palace and the headquarters of the national police. The country was now without a President and overrun with rebel militia and could find itself spiralling into chaos. The President of the United States, announced that to prevent a further collapse, a coalition of American countries would immediately provide security to the country under a UN resolution (operation safer tomorrow provided roughly 1000 men from American, Canadian, Chilean and various other south American and Caribbean nations) As for the new Haitian government, the U.S. and the broader international community, as well as the rebels all, agreed that in accord with the Haitian constitution, Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexander would assume the Presidency, who on the same day petitioned for the UN peacekeeping force.

Despite fears of accelerating violence, the intervention of the United States and the swift deployment of the troops prevented a further loss of order, but questions still whirled. Accusations were brought forward by Aristides supporters, that the U.S. had orchestrated a coup and may have been responsible for his death. Their version of events was that the United States had refused to extend protection to Aristide without him resigning and had even forced his U.S. contracted security to leave Haiti to induce him to leave the country too. They also said that the state department's failure to support the legitimate president emboldened the rebels to attack the city. Additionally, some went further and blamed the U.S. for the entire uprising, pointing to claims that the paramilitary forces and Guy Philippe were trained in the Dominican Republic allegedly by U.S. special forces, they also insisted that the United States had demanded that Aristide appears at the embassy rather than the airport, despite the additional distance and danger of such a journey. The state department countered these accusations with an explicit denial “any such suggestions are total falsehoods, Aristide offered to come to the embassy and resign voluntarily … no demands were ever made”.

Democrats demanded an investigation, “We are trying to get some answers, because it is a rather disastrous proposition for this country to be undermining an elected government elsewhere even if we don’t like that government, and empowering killers” Said Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D). And members of the Congressional Black Caucus who Aristide had called hours before his death made their anger well known “I am convinced that the recent deadly coup involved not only drug lords and the armed thugs, but also our own government” charged Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said that the US had failed to protect the Haitian government “Whatever happened on Monday, its clear that the United States could have averted his death, we could have prevented this overthrow” And he disputed the government line that Aristides stubbornness effectively got him killed “I think there is a real issue here of the Bush administration saying one thing and the reality being different,”. It was clear that the Bush administration had again fallen into hot water over its foreign policy.

Spain

Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Fourth Blast in Madrid after ETA warning
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The scene following a car bombing in Madrid

Police in Madrid have carried out a controlled detonation in a car park, left adjacent to the city’s international Barajas airport.

The detonation, which damaged several vehicles and caused a major interruption at the airport came only minutes after a caller claiming to be associated with the Basque separatist group ETA delivered a warning that an explosion was imminent.

No injuries have been reported, but the area and the city as a whole have been cordoned off, while major police actions have been taken, following a string of similar car bombings so far this month.

Including this device, 4 bombs have been detonated inside Spain’s capital city and the ETA has vowed that yet more attacks are imminent. The ETA, which is blamed for about 800 deaths in its 36-year campaign for an independent Basque state, has pledged to carry out attacks until its political demands are met.

The significant number of car bombs has led to at least 3 fatalities and dozens more injured when one such device detonated outside a Madrid restaurant. Another was found by police outside of a theatre and a third exploded on an evacuated train car.

A number of suspects have been arrested over the week. Though the continued attacks show that the group is still capable of carrying out these operations.

The blast occurred in a multi-storey car park at about 08:00 local time (06:00GMT).

The structure was not damaged, and no flights were cancelled, but travellers were forced to walk to the terminal with their luggage in their hands.

The increased number of attacks has interrupted Spanish life in the capital as police searches and checkpoints have been set up around the city in an attempt to find the perpetrators.

The country is also preparing for a general election next week to decide who will replace Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar who pledged to continue the investigation to find those responsible “We will bring the guilty to justice,” Aznar said. “No line of investigation is going to be ruled out.”

The month of March 2004 became an especially bloody one for Spain. As the country prepared to go to the polls to decide who would take over the reins of the 2-term prime minister José María Aznar of the conservative People’s Party. A string of terror attacks burned through the capital. Half a dozen bombs were found in a string of attacks in the two weeks leading up to the March 14th general election, killing 4 people and leading to dozens of injured. The explosions were paired with newly released videos by the Basque separatist group ETA giving prior warning of attacks and claiming responsibility while vowing to “Continue its mission against those who would deny us, through the force of arms”. The orchestrated nature of the attacks prompted a massive police response in Madrid to sweep the city of more potential bombs, and evacuating potential bombing targets, ending the recovery of a truck filled with half a ton of explosives and the arrest of several ETA members preparing for more bombings.
The string of attacks and the arrests culminated in the March 14th, 2004, Election. Where the incumbent People Party and its Azar’s designated successor Mariano Rajoy kept the reins of power with a greater share of the vote 47.1% of the vote, and 12 additional seats giving them a stronger majority. The People Parties, greater than expected share of the vote was attributed to the public approval of the government’s handling of the ‘March crisis’. Rajoy the new Prime Minister of Spain was expected to easily slip into the shoes Azar left behind, a staunch social conservative opposed to immigration and abortion, it was seen as a rightward shift of the government, Rajoy pledged further tax cuts, a crackdown on terrorist activity, and to combat illegal immigration.[3]

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2004 Spanish general election Wiki Box

Afghanistan

The north of Afghanistan was ablaze, the long raging civil war between the fundamentalist Taliban and the cadre of opposing warlords in the northern alliance had entered a new phase. Following the Bush administration's decision to give renewed military support to the northern alliance including covert special forces action, the northern alliance had been on the offensive, battling to take back territory in the north of Afghanistan, strengthen their hold on the regions and establish safe supply lines into its northern neighbours. Thanks to the American support and airstrikes, the forces of Massoud had been able to outgun and solidly outpace Taliban forces, leading to the growth of his army’s morale and the confidence of warlords, enough to conduct a major offensive in the siege of Kunduz.

Kunduz was a major Taliban stronghold in the north, and with it, they controlled the major supply route into neighbouring Tajikistan as well as some of the country's most vital agriculture. Its importance was not unknown to the Taliban who had placed an estimated 15,000 fighters in the city, determined to keep the population under control and the northern alliance firmly out.

Northern alliance forces under the command of General Abdul Rashid Dostum an Uzbek warlord who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 following the renewed military aid from the United States. Dostum rallied his forces to surround the city and demanded the Taliban forces surrender, but when Mullah Omar the Taliban’s mysterious leader ordered the forces to fight to the death, a bloody siege began, and the city became a ragged battlefield as the opposing forces fired, machine guns, rockets and artillery across the city in efforts to break the enemies’ forces. For months, the city was reduced to rubble, compounded with disease and freezing winter conditions civilians suffered heavily. American advisors and Massoud implored Dostum to withdraw acknowledging that they were also taking heavy casualties but Dostum known for his brutal kind of warfare refused. By the end of the winter, Dostum’s army secured a major victory when several thousand Taliban fighters surrendered to him. But the hundreds of foreign fighters remained, aware that any surrender could mean a death sentence.

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The siege of Kunduz
Now on the edge of victory, the United States decided to send in special forces to aid Dostum’s final operation to flush the city of the holdouts joined by Northern Alliance General Daud Daud. After 2 weeks of intense fighting the remaining resistance in the city by March 23rd, 2004, the city had fallen under full Northern Alliance control.

In the aftermath, it was realized that Dostum had overstated the number of Taliban that had controlled the city practically 3-fold, but the siege had been the deadliest act of the war to date with tens of thousands of civilian casualties. The capture of Kunduz meant that the northern alliance clearly held the upper hand in the north of Afghanistan and quickly prepared to consolidate their gains in the north by taking on the Taliban’s last major northern stronghold Mazar-i-Sharif.

Unfortunately for the United States, parsing the dead and the captives revealed no members of America's most wanted list, but there was a surprise among the captured, a foreign fighter the 23-year-old American by the name of John Walker Lindh.

Lindh a D.C born catholic middle child had converted to Islam and travelled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban. The capture of an American citizen was a quandary for the administration, Lindh had technically committed no U.S. crime, he had associated with various terrorist groups during his stay in Afghanistan but there was no evidence he played any such role in planning or carrying out any terror attacks during his stay[4]. Nor was it illegal to volunteer to fight on behalf of any said group. With the possibility of Lindh having to be released if he were returned to America, Lindh instead remained a prisoner of the northern alliance.

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(Left) Afghan Warlord Dostum (Right) John Walker Lindh the American Taliban

Taiwan

After 55 years of continuous rule, the Kuomintang's long tenure over Taiwan was broken in the dramatic election of 2000, their downfall was brought about by a split in the party between the vice president Lien Chan and the popular governor of Taiwan (a defunct position) James Soong. Allowing the Democratic Progressive Party led by Chen Shui-bian , the left-wing nationalist party to unseat the KMT though he only won the election with a third of the vote.

His term in office was contentious, the DPP had few national political figures and he was forced to work with many KMT members to fill his cabinet including his first premier, he was forced to moderate his stance on Taiwanese independence and pledged that as long as the Peoples Republic of China had no intention to use military force against Taiwan he would not declare the independence of Taiwan, and to subsequently double down on his post-partisanship he resigned from his leadership of the DPP, further boosting his popularity he was also invited to the United States breaking an unwritten agreement between the PRC and the USA that no leader of Taiwan visits New York or Washington.

But Chen's government quickly ran aground. The Asian stock market crash pulled the country into an economic crisis, while the legislature (controlled by the KMT) blocked his policies and each blamed the other for the troubles. He was caught in a controversy regarding his attempt to cancel construction on a nuclear power facility favoured by the KMT, ending his working relationship with the opposition, the resignation of his premier, and Chen re-joining the DPP. During his time in office, the President’s popularity had faded from 70% approval to 25%.

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Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian

In preparation for his re-election campaign, Chen began to double down on his nationalist bona-fides. He pushed through a law that would provide an emergency defensive referendum if the country were under imminent threat of attack, only for a day after its approval for Chen to state his intention to invoke the referendum based on the PRC's missiles. Chen flew again to New York where he shook hands with Secretary of State Colin Powell boosting his approval to 35%, ahead of the KMT’s candidate Lien Chan. Many of his critics accused Chen of attempting to achieve Taiwanese independence through the emergency referendum.

Chen chose his Vice President Annette Lu to again serve on his ticket, she was a controversial pick due to some of her statements on independence, and it meant she had broken her pledge to retire the year earlier, the pick went against the wishes of many party members including those who had already been nominated for the position. Meanwhile, the KMT stitched together their fractured party by renominating Lien Chan for president and James Song for vice president given that each of the two candidates previously gathered 60% of the vote it was seen as assured that the KMT would return to power.

The parties battled fiercely, and policy issues faded behind personal attacks, as the KMT shifted considerably closer to the DPP on nationalist issues abandoning the idea of one country two systems. Allegations of corruption, tax evasion, draft dodging, illegal transactions and spousal abuse were raised and the country became divided. Events began to favour the DPP including a large rally celebrating victims of the Chiang-Kai-Shek era as well as controversy over KMT establishing campaign offices on mainland China including meeting with Taiwanese fugitives. This and other campaign blunders severely narrowed the election polls.

On March 19th the final day of the campaign, polls showed that the KMT still held a narrow lead. For the millions of anxious Taiwanese who just wanted this especially toxic campaign to end there was still a major surprise left. While the President and Vice President took place in a rally, travelling down a crowded street of supporters, stood atop an open-top jeep. Firecrackers were fired at the passing car as the executives waved, a common event in Taiwan politics, but something was clearly different this time, the President collapsed, and it was clear that blood was seeping into his clothing. Shots had been fired and both were escorted to a hospital. Police on the scene established that potentially multiple shooters had fired at the President's vehicle and the country's national security was activated.

The whole country was thrust into crisis, theories sprang up that perhaps the whole event was orchestrated to preclude a Chinese invasion or a military coup or a self-coup by the President to postpone the election or drum up sympathy votes[5]. As the President was rushed into surgery police scoured the area for evidence. The situation became tense across the island as hundreds of hardcore supporters prepared for potential violence from the opposite side. To dissuade worries, the Vice President appealed for calm and both parties said they would suspend any campaign events, and to ease fears the police said that there was no evidence of mainland Chinese involvement. Images were taken shortly after the shots showed both the severity of the Presidents injuries and seriously rocked the Taiwanese government and the public. More questions about if the election could proceed (Taiwanese law allowed for the suspension of an election on the death of a candidate) but this was dismissed by the government, though the severity of the President's condition prevented anyone from meeting with him.

A nervous nation took to the polls, unsure if one candidate would be physically able to take the Presidency. Police and military were out in force to quell potential unrest, and it was clear that the country was in shock from the attack on the President. It was midday when news began to break that the President was dead. He had sustained multiple close-range gunshot wounds to the chest and surgeons had been unable to contain the significant internal bleeding. The death of the President on election day constituted an electoral crisis. The constitution determined that “the Central Election Commission shall immediately announce the suspension of the election” on the death of a presidential candidate however that only applied if the death occurred “after the registration deadline and before the polling day”. According to the commission, the election would still stand.

The votes continued, and thousands of angered DPP supporters took out their frustrations, mostly at the ballot boxes but occasional protests outside KMT headquarters required the police to break them up. The country was addressed by its new potentially short-term President Annette Lu, who again appealed for calm, commemorating Chen and asking the country to continue to vote and that the election results would still stand. The KMT largely bit its tongue of criticism, and the candidates echoed Lu’s sentiments on the former President and the election

View attachment 778298
President Chen before the assassin's shots, now President Annette Lu

It wasn’t until Sunday the 21st when the firecrackers really went off, by a razor-thin margin the deceased former President Chen Shui-bian was declared the winner of his re-election, meaning his vice-presidential candidate (and now president) Annette Lu would instantly ascend to the Presidency come inauguration day. Now, the KMT no longer stayed quiet and demanded the election be annulled and echoed dubious claims that Lu had delayed the announcement of the President's death until polling day to win the election.

''The slim gap has been achieved under layer upon a mountain of suspicion,'' Mr Lien told a frustrated crowd of supporters. ''It is a false election. Prepare to annul the election.'' Thousands of KMT supporters came out onto the street to protest the election result, claiming that hundreds of thousands of votes had been illegally invalidated, and the state of emergency imposed kept thousands of members of the military and police from voting, as well as the many reports of KMT voters being harassed. But the electoral commission and Lu remained firm that there was no truth to conspiracies and there would be no recount. More unrest followed as the KMT lobbied for numerous directives to lay to rest any contentious issues with sit-ins and rallies. The President agreed to a full recount, but the opposition wasn’t satisfied citing fraud claims and demanded a full investigation into Chens' death.

Protests persisted and escalated to the tens of thousands all camped outside the Presidential office for days, tensions began to flare as the President and the KMT failed to agree to the terms of the recount culminating in thousands of protesters following speeches by KMT officials calling foul on the election results, attempting to break into the president's office only to be suppressed by the police and military forces.


View attachment 778297
2004 Taiwanese presidential election Wiki Box




[1] The exact version of events is disputed between Aristide and the United States, I have chosen a mix of both versions
[2] Aristide had close connections with the congressional black caucus
[3] The government's handling of the Madrid train bombing was a political disaster and is one of the only examples I can find of a nation rejecting its leadership after a major tragedy.
[4] Without a PATRIOT Act, being a member of a terrorist organisation alone isn’t a crime
[5] This is the major conspiracy in Taiwanese politics, but I think it is a bit ridiculous

Update on the US election in Part 2 ...
Nice an update
 

Part XXXIII Bullets & Ballots, Part 1

Haiti

Alongside the race for the Democratic party nomination, a second major event brewed in America’s revolutionary stepbrother, the Caribbean nation of Haiti. In Haiti, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a slum-born priest and the country’s first democratically elected leader was experiencing a rocky period. For context, shortly after his electoral victory in 1991 he was deposed in a military coup, but once the administration of George H W Bush ended and Bill Clinton took over, the United States insisted on the return of Aristide and an end to the Haitian Junta, following negotiations the junta complied and U.S. troops were deployed in operation ‘uphold democracy’ and Aristide returned from exile. He formed a new political party and gathered strength in the run-up to the country's 2000 election. Aristide earned plenty of enemies who accused him of electoral manipulation and in the presidential election, they opted to boycott the procedure allowing Aristide to win the election with 90% of the votes (though many observers noted that turnout was still high enough that Aristide could have won anyway) but regardless, the criticism of Aristide and the election was used to argue for Aristides illegitimacy alongside allegations of fraud. Following his return to the Presidency Aristide governed Haiti in a manner concerning to some. He was a radical reformer and he demanded that France repatriate Haiti for the billions that Haiti paid for its independence, in a nation dependent on international donations and though his government was committed to aiding the poor, his methods became more and more erratic and authoritarian, to enforce his laws militia were organized, the police were reformed with broad powers to suppress protests as corruption continued to thrive in the country. Worst of all, despite Aristides' grand vision, Haiti’s economy failed to recover, and it remained the poorest nation in the Americas. The country was globally seen as an aid state dependent on international donations and the suspension of U.S. aid by the Bush administration greatly harmed the country. His erratic behaviour persisted, and his speeches became more brutal in tone, encouraging violent acts against political enemies and some of his supporters followed suit.

In January 2004 the country began to celebrate its 200th anniversary of independence. At the same time, the former army turned paramilitary groups began to conduct an organized insurgency, they called themselves the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation and Reconstruction of Haiti. The insurgent’s leadership were comprised of former military, drug smugglers, junta death squads and dissidents all linked by their opposition to Aristide. At the same time the political opposition coalesced, a collection of business leaders, doctors, intellectuals, students, and farmers began pushing for Aristides' resignation and frequent clashes between them and his supporters ended in violence and occasional deaths. Within weeks, the insurgency had begun to take over the countryside, and began attacking police stations, violence escalated in the cities, in Port Au Prince thousands of students were shot at by armed militia and many criticised Aristide for preventing the police from investigating the crimes. Soon after, the opposition forces took hold of Gonaives, Haiti’s fourth largest city and looted it for weapons and vehicles. A large rebellion had clearly broken out and the government reacted by raising barricades in the capital, a state of emergency had begun, and many Haitians began to flee the country in anticipation of further violence.

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(Left) President Jean Aristide, (Right) Haitain rebels
The situation was fast deteriorating and the world noticed, through February rebel forces advanced across the coast taking control with little formal opposition (Aristide had abolished the military) There was global division over the proper response, and the Bush administration presented differing options, first Secretary of State Powell warned against rebels ousting Aristide, until several days later reversing course, and partially blamed Aristide for the violence "Much of the violence that we see now is being created by the gangs that were once aligned with the Aristide government,". Said a state department spokesperson and suggested that Aristides' resignation could be an apt solution. Some urged the President to take action. "If we can send military forces to Liberia -- 3,000 miles away -- we certainly can act to protect our interests in our own back yard,". Said Senator Bob Graham, "Inaction can no longer be our policy," said Graham, "To do so will ensure that Haiti is ruled by thugs and criminals.”. Other Democrats took aim at the poor communication from the White House, describing its response as 'dithering' or 'uninterested', Presidential candidate and civil rights activist Al Sharpton said he would travel to Haiti personally, and Al Gore and John Edwards accused the President of ignoring Haiti or even empowering the rebels via statements suggesting Aristide resign.

As the rebels closed in on the capital and the threat of a bloodbath rose, international negotiators including the United States and various Caribbean states stepped in, hoping to broker talks between the two forces. The Bush administration put forward a proposal that Aristide accepted, to reduce the power of the President while allowing Aristide to serve out the remainder of his term of office. But leaders of the Haitian opposition rejected the overtures ''There will be no more delays; our answer remains the same,'' Maurice LaFortune, head of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and a prominent opposition leader, told The Associated Press. ''Aristide must resign.''. And as the days ticked down, rebel gangs advanced on the city after city, seizing control of the north, the collapse of the peace plan seemed to many like the coup-de-gras to his rule. He had few forces to call on to fight for him, and cities were defecting without a fight, all the while Aristide stood defiant, giving a speech honouring police who had been killed in the uprising "I am ready to give my life if that is what it takes to defend my country,". That outcome was becoming closer to bearing out; if the United States wasn’t willing to protect him and the rebels carried out their increasingly graphic threats. But he still said that resignation was out of the question, and dismissed these propositions as ‘baseless rumours’. Thousands of armed supporters roamed the city, the president's only hope of holding off the rebels, and Haiti prepared for a battle. On the 29th of February, events came to their head. Guy Philip, the rebel leader gave the ultimatum "We're just going to take our positions and wait for the right time [to attack]," said Mr Philippe, a former officer in Haiti's disbanded army “If there is no resignation then we will attack”. Without an agreement with the rebels, the U.S. government assumed the only peaceful way things would end in Haiti is with Aristide out of the country and presented him an offer, his resignation for his and his family’s safe evacuation from the country, warning him that rebel forces would march on the city and thousands of lives including his own were at risk if he did not leave. Aristide was a mix of shocked and outraged, simultaneously asking for the American’s help while accusing them of siding with his enemies.[1] He attempted to field phone calls from his allies who warned him against fleeing the country as it would lead to the rebel's victory and subsequent mass reprisals and warned against taking the American’s offer calling it a “Washington organized coup” he absolutely rejected any request to resign or head into exile and called several news agencies and American politicians[2] to say he has rejected the offer.

On Monday, March the 1st, hundreds of rebels entered the capital of Port-au Prince, and armed clashes on the outskirts between the rebel forces and Aristides loyalists were widely reported. The streets were cleared, as the sound of gunfire making its way closer and closer to the centre of the city echoed out. The well-equipped and experienced rebels seemingly made quick work of the Aristide militia and the city’s police were of no help to the government, most had either defected to the opposition or stayed home, Philippe reiterated his demands that the President resign or face arrest, and by the days end it was clear that the rebels would soon be in full command of the city, already surrounding the Toussaint Louverture airport (a key means of escape for Aristide and secured by an emergency detachment of American marines). Confident, Guy Philippe called into international news agencies and declared himself the new chief of police for Port Au Prince and offered Aristide a final opportunity to resign, before his forces would take the Presidential palace by force. In return there was silence, Aristide made no public proclamations, he had fled the palace intending to make his way to the American embassy where the embattled President supposedly intended to present his resignation and appeal for American protection (This is according to the United States version of events).

But it would be several long hours before daylight revealed the ugly truth, that at some point during the night. Jean Bertrand Aristide, as well as a small contingent of bodyguards, had been killed, the President's car was found stopped in the middle of the road and the vehicle, and the President, his driver and a bodyguard all riddled with bullets.

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(Left) The streets of Port Au Prince on the 1st, (Right) Aristides car being investigated

The death of the President was an unexpected turn of events, but it didn’t take long for it to be paired with the news that rebel forces, had taken hold of the Presidential palace and the headquarters of the national police. The country was now without a President and overrun with rebel militia and could find itself spiralling into chaos. The President of the United States, announced that to prevent a further collapse, a coalition of American countries would immediately provide security to the country under a UN resolution (operation safer tomorrow provided roughly 1000 men from American, Canadian, Chilean and various other south American and Caribbean nations) As for the new Haitian government, the U.S. and the broader international community, as well as the rebels all, agreed that in accord with the Haitian constitution, Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexander would assume the Presidency, who on the same day petitioned for the UN peacekeeping force.

Despite fears of accelerating violence, the intervention of the United States and the swift deployment of the troops prevented a further loss of order, but questions still whirled. Accusations were brought forward by Aristides supporters, that the U.S. had orchestrated a coup and may have been responsible for his death. Their version of events was that the United States had refused to extend protection to Aristide without him resigning and had even forced his U.S. contracted security to leave Haiti to induce him to leave the country too. They also said that the state department's failure to support the legitimate president emboldened the rebels to attack the city. Additionally, some went further and blamed the U.S. for the entire uprising, pointing to claims that the paramilitary forces and Guy Philippe were trained in the Dominican Republic allegedly by U.S. special forces, they also insisted that the United States had demanded that Aristide appears at the embassy rather than the airport, despite the additional distance and danger of such a journey. The state department countered these accusations with an explicit denial “any such suggestions are total falsehoods, Aristide offered to come to the embassy and resign voluntarily … no demands were ever made”.

Democrats demanded an investigation, “We are trying to get some answers, because it is a rather disastrous proposition for this country to be undermining an elected government elsewhere even if we don’t like that government, and empowering killers” Said Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D). And members of the Congressional Black Caucus who Aristide had called hours before his death made their anger well known “I am convinced that the recent deadly coup involved not only drug lords and the armed thugs, but also our own government” charged Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said that the US had failed to protect the Haitian government “Whatever happened on Monday, its clear that the United States could have averted his death, we could have prevented this overthrow” And he disputed the government line that Aristides stubbornness effectively got him killed “I think there is a real issue here of the Bush administration saying one thing and the reality being different,”. It was clear that the Bush administration had again fallen into hot water over its foreign policy.

Spain

Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Fourth Blast in Madrid after ETA warning
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The scene following a car bombing in Madrid

Police in Madrid have carried out a controlled detonation in a car park, left adjacent to the city’s international Barajas airport.

The detonation, which damaged several vehicles and caused a major interruption at the airport came only minutes after a caller claiming to be associated with the Basque separatist group ETA delivered a warning that an explosion was imminent.

No injuries have been reported, but the area and the city as a whole have been cordoned off, while major police actions have been taken, following a string of similar car bombings so far this month.

Including this device, 4 bombs have been detonated inside Spain’s capital city and the ETA has vowed that yet more attacks are imminent. The ETA, which is blamed for about 800 deaths in its 36-year campaign for an independent Basque state, has pledged to carry out attacks until its political demands are met.

The significant number of car bombs has led to at least 3 fatalities and dozens more injured when one such device detonated outside a Madrid restaurant. Another was found by police outside of a theatre and a third exploded on an evacuated train car.

A number of suspects have been arrested over the week. Though the continued attacks show that the group is still capable of carrying out these operations.

The blast occurred in a multi-storey car park at about 08:00 local time (06:00GMT).

The structure was not damaged, and no flights were cancelled, but travellers were forced to walk to the terminal with their luggage in their hands.

The increased number of attacks has interrupted Spanish life in the capital as police searches and checkpoints have been set up around the city in an attempt to find the perpetrators.

The country is also preparing for a general election next week to decide who will replace Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar who pledged to continue the investigation to find those responsible “We will bring the guilty to justice,” Aznar said. “No line of investigation is going to be ruled out.”

The month of March 2004 became an especially bloody one for Spain. As the country prepared to go to the polls to decide who would take over the reins of the 2-term prime minister José María Aznar of the conservative People’s Party. A string of terror attacks burned through the capital. Half a dozen bombs were found in a string of attacks in the two weeks leading up to the March 14th general election, killing 4 people and leading to dozens of injured. The explosions were paired with newly released videos by the Basque separatist group ETA giving prior warning of attacks and claiming responsibility while vowing to “Continue its mission against those who would deny us, through the force of arms”. The orchestrated nature of the attacks prompted a massive police response in Madrid to sweep the city of more potential bombs, and evacuating potential bombing targets, ending the recovery of a truck filled with half a ton of explosives and the arrest of several ETA members preparing for more bombings.
The string of attacks and the arrests culminated in the March 14th, 2004, Election. Where the incumbent People Party and its Azar’s designated successor Mariano Rajoy kept the reins of power with a greater share of the vote 47.1% of the vote, and 12 additional seats giving them a stronger majority. The People Parties, greater than expected share of the vote was attributed to the public approval of the government’s handling of the ‘March crisis’. Rajoy the new Prime Minister of Spain was expected to easily slip into the shoes Azar left behind, a staunch social conservative opposed to immigration and abortion, it was seen as a rightward shift of the government, Rajoy pledged further tax cuts, a crackdown on terrorist activity, and to combat illegal immigration.[3]

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2004 Spanish general election Wiki Box

Afghanistan

The north of Afghanistan was ablaze, the long raging civil war between the fundamentalist Taliban and the cadre of opposing warlords in the northern alliance had entered a new phase. Following the Bush administration's decision to give renewed military support to the northern alliance including covert special forces action, the northern alliance had been on the offensive, battling to take back territory in the north of Afghanistan, strengthen their hold on the regions and establish safe supply lines into its northern neighbours. Thanks to the American support and airstrikes, the forces of Massoud had been able to outgun and solidly outpace Taliban forces, leading to the growth of his army’s morale and the confidence of warlords, enough to conduct a major offensive in the siege of Kunduz.

Kunduz was a major Taliban stronghold in the north, and with it, they controlled the major supply route into neighbouring Tajikistan as well as some of the country's most vital agriculture. Its importance was not unknown to the Taliban who had placed an estimated 15,000 fighters in the city, determined to keep the population under control and the northern alliance firmly out.

Northern alliance forces under the command of General Abdul Rashid Dostum an Uzbek warlord who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 following the renewed military aid from the United States. Dostum rallied his forces to surround the city and demanded the Taliban forces surrender, but when Mullah Omar the Taliban’s mysterious leader ordered the forces to fight to the death, a bloody siege began, and the city became a ragged battlefield as the opposing forces fired, machine guns, rockets and artillery across the city in efforts to break the enemies’ forces. For months, the city was reduced to rubble, compounded with disease and freezing winter conditions civilians suffered heavily. American advisors and Massoud implored Dostum to withdraw acknowledging that they were also taking heavy casualties but Dostum known for his brutal kind of warfare refused. By the end of the winter, Dostum’s army secured a major victory when several thousand Taliban fighters surrendered to him. But the hundreds of foreign fighters remained, aware that any surrender could mean a death sentence.

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The siege of Kunduz
Now on the edge of victory, the United States decided to send in special forces to aid Dostum’s final operation to flush the city of the holdouts joined by Northern Alliance General Daud Daud. After 2 weeks of intense fighting the remaining resistance in the city by March 23rd, 2004, the city had fallen under full Northern Alliance control.

In the aftermath, it was realized that Dostum had overstated the number of Taliban that had controlled the city practically 3-fold, but the siege had been the deadliest act of the war to date with tens of thousands of civilian casualties. The capture of Kunduz meant that the northern alliance clearly held the upper hand in the north of Afghanistan and quickly prepared to consolidate their gains in the north by taking on the Taliban’s last major northern stronghold Mazar-i-Sharif.

Unfortunately for the United States, parsing the dead and the captives revealed no members of America's most wanted list, but there was a surprise among the captured, a foreign fighter the 23-year-old American by the name of John Walker Lindh.

Lindh a D.C born catholic middle child had converted to Islam and travelled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban. The capture of an American citizen was a quandary for the administration, Lindh had technically committed no U.S. crime, he had associated with various terrorist groups during his stay in Afghanistan but there was no evidence he played any such role in planning or carrying out any terror attacks during his stay[4]. Nor was it illegal to volunteer to fight on behalf of any said group. With the possibility of Lindh having to be released if he were returned to America, Lindh instead remained a prisoner of the northern alliance.

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(Left) Afghan Warlord Dostum (Right) John Walker Lindh the American Taliban

Taiwan

After 55 years of continuous rule, the Kuomintang's long tenure over Taiwan was broken in the dramatic election of 2000, their downfall was brought about by a split in the party between the vice president Lien Chan and the popular governor of Taiwan (a defunct position) James Soong. Allowing the Democratic Progressive Party led by Chen Shui-bian , the left-wing nationalist party to unseat the KMT though he only won the election with a third of the vote.

His term in office was contentious, the DPP had few national political figures and he was forced to work with many KMT members to fill his cabinet including his first premier, he was forced to moderate his stance on Taiwanese independence and pledged that as long as the Peoples Republic of China had no intention to use military force against Taiwan he would not declare the independence of Taiwan, and to subsequently double down on his post-partisanship he resigned from his leadership of the DPP, further boosting his popularity he was also invited to the United States breaking an unwritten agreement between the PRC and the USA that no leader of Taiwan visits New York or Washington.

But Chen's government quickly ran aground. The Asian stock market crash pulled the country into an economic crisis, while the legislature (controlled by the KMT) blocked his policies and each blamed the other for the troubles. He was caught in a controversy regarding his attempt to cancel construction on a nuclear power facility favoured by the KMT, ending his working relationship with the opposition, the resignation of his premier, and Chen re-joining the DPP. During his time in office, the President’s popularity had faded from 70% approval to 25%.

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Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian

In preparation for his re-election campaign, Chen began to double down on his nationalist bona-fides. He pushed through a law that would provide an emergency defensive referendum if the country were under imminent threat of attack, only for a day after its approval for Chen to state his intention to invoke the referendum based on the PRC's missiles. Chen flew again to New York where he shook hands with Secretary of State Colin Powell boosting his approval to 35%, ahead of the KMT’s candidate Lien Chan. Many of his critics accused Chen of attempting to achieve Taiwanese independence through the emergency referendum.

Chen chose his Vice President Annette Lu to again serve on his ticket, she was a controversial pick due to some of her statements on independence, and it meant she had broken her pledge to retire the year earlier, the pick went against the wishes of many party members including those who had already been nominated for the position. Meanwhile, the KMT stitched together their fractured party by renominating Lien Chan for president and James Song for vice president given that each of the two candidates previously gathered 60% of the vote it was seen as assured that the KMT would return to power.

The parties battled fiercely, and policy issues faded behind personal attacks, as the KMT shifted considerably closer to the DPP on nationalist issues abandoning the idea of one country two systems. Allegations of corruption, tax evasion, draft dodging, illegal transactions and spousal abuse were raised and the country became divided. Events began to favour the DPP including a large rally celebrating victims of the Chiang-Kai-Shek era as well as controversy over KMT establishing campaign offices on mainland China including meeting with Taiwanese fugitives. This and other campaign blunders severely narrowed the election polls.

On March 19th the final day of the campaign, polls showed that the KMT still held a narrow lead. For the millions of anxious Taiwanese who just wanted this especially toxic campaign to end there was still a major surprise left. While the President and Vice President took place in a rally, travelling down a crowded street of supporters, stood atop an open-top jeep. Firecrackers were fired at the passing car as the executives waved, a common event in Taiwan politics, but something was clearly different this time, the President collapsed, and it was clear that blood was seeping into his clothing. Shots had been fired and both were escorted to a hospital. Police on the scene established that potentially multiple shooters had fired at the President's vehicle and the country's national security was activated.

The whole country was thrust into crisis, theories sprang up that perhaps the whole event was orchestrated to preclude a Chinese invasion or a military coup or a self-coup by the President to postpone the election or drum up sympathy votes[5]. As the President was rushed into surgery police scoured the area for evidence. The situation became tense across the island as hundreds of hardcore supporters prepared for potential violence from the opposite side. To dissuade worries, the Vice President appealed for calm and both parties said they would suspend any campaign events, and to ease fears the police said that there was no evidence of mainland Chinese involvement. Images were taken shortly after the shots showed both the severity of the Presidents injuries and seriously rocked the Taiwanese government and the public. More questions about if the election could proceed (Taiwanese law allowed for the suspension of an election on the death of a candidate) but this was dismissed by the government, though the severity of the President's condition prevented anyone from meeting with him.

A nervous nation took to the polls, unsure if one candidate would be physically able to take the Presidency. Police and military were out in force to quell potential unrest, and it was clear that the country was in shock from the attack on the President. It was midday when news began to break that the President was dead. He had sustained multiple close-range gunshot wounds to the chest and surgeons had been unable to contain the significant internal bleeding. The death of the President on election day constituted an electoral crisis. The constitution determined that “the Central Election Commission shall immediately announce the suspension of the election” on the death of a presidential candidate however that only applied if the death occurred “after the registration deadline and before the polling day”. According to the commission, the election would still stand.

The votes continued, and thousands of angered DPP supporters took out their frustrations, mostly at the ballot boxes but occasional protests outside KMT headquarters required the police to break them up. The country was addressed by its new potentially short-term President Annette Lu, who again appealed for calm, commemorating Chen and asking the country to continue to vote and that the election results would still stand. The KMT largely bit its tongue of criticism, and the candidates echoed Lu’s sentiments on the former President and the election

View attachment 778298
President Chen before the assassin's shots, now President Annette Lu

It wasn’t until Sunday the 21st when the firecrackers really went off, by a razor-thin margin the deceased former President Chen Shui-bian was declared the winner of his re-election, meaning his vice-presidential candidate (and now president) Annette Lu would instantly ascend to the Presidency come inauguration day. Now, the KMT no longer stayed quiet and demanded the election be annulled and echoed dubious claims that Lu had delayed the announcement of the President's death until polling day to win the election.

''The slim gap has been achieved under layer upon a mountain of suspicion,'' Mr Lien told a frustrated crowd of supporters. ''It is a false election. Prepare to annul the election.'' Thousands of KMT supporters came out onto the street to protest the election result, claiming that hundreds of thousands of votes had been illegally invalidated, and the state of emergency imposed kept thousands of members of the military and police from voting, as well as the many reports of KMT voters being harassed. But the electoral commission and Lu remained firm that there was no truth to conspiracies and there would be no recount. More unrest followed as the KMT lobbied for numerous directives to lay to rest any contentious issues with sit-ins and rallies. The President agreed to a full recount, but the opposition wasn’t satisfied citing fraud claims and demanded a full investigation into Chens' death.

Protests persisted and escalated to the tens of thousands all camped outside the Presidential office for days, tensions began to flare as the President and the KMT failed to agree to the terms of the recount culminating in thousands of protesters following speeches by KMT officials calling foul on the election results, attempting to break into the president's office only to be suppressed by the police and military forces.


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2004 Taiwanese presidential election Wiki Box




[1] The exact version of events is disputed between Aristide and the United States, I have chosen a mix of both versions
[2] Aristide had close connections with the congressional black caucus
[3] The government's handling of the Madrid train bombing was a political disaster and is one of the only examples I can find of a nation rejecting its leadership after a major tragedy.
[4] Without a PATRIOT Act, being a member of a terrorist organisation alone isn’t a crime
[5] This is the major conspiracy in Taiwanese politics, but I think it is a bit ridiculous

Update on the US election in Part 2 ...
Great update on other countries and how they're doing
 
Thank you for mentioned Taiwan, such a great TL as always. I'm Taiwanese, 911 didn't impact us a lot at the time but we still know something would never be the same
 
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Thank you for mentioned Taiwan, such a great TL as always. I'm Taiwanese, 911 didn't impact us a lot at the time but we still know something would never be the same
You are welcome, I hope I did it justice and look forward to future updates on it.
 
Great stuff! Haiti often gets short shrift in TLs so nice to stop by there and I’d never heard of the attempted murder of Chen before so that was… something, especially in the wake of Abe’s death this summer
 
Found this old thread from 2017:

The discussion has some relevant reference material that can be used for this TL.

Also, the Philippine elections of May 2004 is coming up. Maybe we can have the butterflies have FPJ win against Arroyo. Apart from that, FPJ may live longer (in OTL, he died on the December of that year).
 
Found this old thread from 2017:

The discussion has some relevant reference material that can be used for this TL.

Also, the Philippine elections of May 2004 is coming up. Maybe we can have the butterflies have FPJ win against Arroyo. Apart from that, FPJ may live longer (in OTL, he died on the December of that year).
Excellent read, thank you.
I don't know much about Phillipino politics and will happily look into it
 
Excellent read, thank you.
I don't know much about Phillipino politics and will happily look into it
Just a head-ups about the 2004 elections: Arroyo won by a large margin. This would later be marred by controversy in 2005 by alleged election fraud and vote-rigging. Not that it meant her ouster unlike Marcos in 1986 and her boss Estrada in 2001. She finished her term in 2010, was jailed for corruption and graft in 2011, but was later released and later became the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2018 to 2019.
 
Just a head-ups about the 2004 elections: Arroyo won by a large margin. This would later be marred by controversy in 2005 by alleged election fraud and vote-rigging. Not that it meant her ouster unlike Marcos in 1986 and her boss Estrada in 2001. She finished her term in 2010, was jailed for corruption and graft in 2011, but was later released and later became the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2018 to 2019.
Looking into it, I have an idea for TTL's Philippines but I would be careful about what you wish for.
 
So the textbook in this universe:

Worst terrorist attack in us=Oklahoma city bombing 1995

Columbia space shuttle disaster =1986 Challenger disaster

Invasion of Iraq= Gulf War

Invasion of Afghanistan =Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979
 
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So the textbook in this universe:

Worst terrorist attack in us=Oklahoma city bombing 1995

Columbia space shuttle disaster =1986 Challenger disaster

Invasion of Iraq= Gulf War

Invasion of Afghanistan =Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979
More or less. Well technically, the Iran-Iraq War is also known as the Gulf War back in the day. Terms vary.
 
So the textbook in this universe:

Worst terrorist attack in us=Oklahoma city bombing 1995

Columbia space shuttle disaster =1986 Challenger disaster

Invasion of Iraq= Gulf War

Invasion of Afghanistan =Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979
9/11 = Emergency Services Recognition Day
 
I've just started watching, @Iwanh , a History Channel documentary called "Ten Mistakes" about ten mistakes that if anyone of them had been avoided would've prevented 9/11, it's quite interesting.
 
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