Well, finally got this done: the world of the Watchmen comic, circa 2019. (This is a TL where Rorschach's journal was never published and something about insect-men controlling the British Royal family went to press instead: the chances of WWIII happening anyway are perhaps a bit too high in realities where Ozymandias/Veidt's plot gets exposed right off).
My apologies if the notes are out of order in the text: I'll get around to fixing that later.
After his 1966 meeting with the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan calculated the point at which Soviet missile capacities would overwhelm his ability to intercept all of them, and privately informed the US military of this fact. The point would be reached sometime in the 1970s: by the mid-1980s, his capacity for intercepting literally tens out thousands of warheads distributed over millions of square miles with flight times in most cases under thirty minutes, rather shorter for those from submarines was down to 60%. By this time these facts (if not the exact numbers) were common knowledge, and were of course also known by the Soviets.
Soviet nuclear war doctrine was based on total, overwhelming attack: there simply was no other option in dealing with Dr. Manhattan.
In an effort extending over fifteen years, several hundred ultra-loyal, ultra-patriotic Soviets were erased from existence while Soviet Science tried to exactly duplicate the accident which gave Dr. Manhattan his godlike powers. In all that time, there was only one success, and a partial one at best: three years after Mendeley Sokolov's disintegration, in 1981, a set of veins and arteries was briefly observed squirming around near the fence to the Project Bogatyr compound: four years after that, a foot was observed floating above a parking lot in the nearby town of Kolpashevo. Finally, seven years later a set of intestines, described as "heavily perforated", was spotted atop a table in a diner some seventy miles to the south. In all three cases the body parts generated an intense radiation flux, giving burns, some serious, to observers.
There have been no more confirmed sightings, and the project was discontinued after Dr. Manhattan left the planet. The potentially utterly uncontrollable nature of a Soviet Dr. Manhattan could only be tolerated while there an American one to fear.
Three million New Yorkers and Jerseyites across the river from Manhattan died or were left hopelessly brain damaged and/or insane. Another million and a half at the outer circumference of the affected zone suffered severe trauma, many later committing suicide or being institutionalized for various lengths of time. Perhaps ten million more suffered brief flashes of inchoate but disturbing imagery or sounds, sudden spasms of head pain, sensations of terror and vertigo, and in the case where they were asleep (at twenty past eleven, most of them), terrifying but fading upon consciousness nightmares. And around the globe, even on the far side of the planet in a few cases, several hundred thousand unusually psychically sensitive people suffered briefly a full blown “Cthulhu is awake and pissed!” moment.
(One man survived being only a few hundred meters from the center of the event with no more than a brutal instant migraine. It wasn’t until later that this was linked to the previously unknown condition of psychic resistivity or “telepathic impenetrability”).
The event had various names: The Scream, Black Saturday, Invasion Day, The Event, The New York Abomination, etc., but eventually the fairly bland term “The Incursion” came to predominate after a prominent politician in a memorable speech referred to the event as a “deadly incursion from an alien dimension”, and various major news outlets were pressured in various ways to drop some of the more hair-raising or absurd terms that were circulating at the time. The greatest human and economic disaster in US history had economic fallout of global reach (people in *flyover country discovered, to their surprise, that wiping out Wall Street and killing off several million actually quite productive New Yorkers was in fact a Very Bad Thing), and in combination with the ongoing realization that Dr. Manhattan was no longer around to crank out endless rare earth elements and helium gas , might have brought on a new Great Depression if not for two things: one, the massive if temporary boost given to markets given by the realization WWIII would not happen, and Ozymandias’ precautions, which included spending billions to manipulate the banking and financial sectors, stock market manipulation on a comparable scale, friendly contacts in both the US and European financial institutions, less friendly contacts in the same area he had dirt on, and the most extensive and successful The Future will be Glorious propaganda campaign in history, carefully balancing “prepare for the alien menace” with “this struggle will turn us into magnificent superscience superrich superpeople.” (Later, it would turn out that the campaign had been a lot less successful among minorities, which noticed they were rather under-represented in the posters and TV ads. Ozymandias may have been a supergenius, but he was hardly free of unconscious bias).
Even with Ozymandias mobilizing every resource, and massive deficit spending in much of the first world (again, in part due to Ozymandias and his allies political pull) – the repopulating and repair of the devastated regions of New York was a colossal project in of itself, as was the enormous research program into the alien invader, where it had come from, what its abilities and intelligence level might be, etc. – the global economy contracted for some years, not really picking up steam again until 1989. By that time Nixon was out of office and Robert Redford, the first Democratic president in two decades, was in.
Nixon was realistic enough to avoid trying for a sixth term in ‘88, being seen as too old, too unhealthy (twenty years in office, with stress steadily ratcheting upwards from ’76 on) and also “The man who lost Dr. Manhattan” and nearly presided over world war 3: not to mention the economic recovery had yet to kick in. Still, Nixon wasn’t giving up his hold on the levers of power so easily: any Republican candidate in ’88 would be a Nixon man through and through, and various cartoonists amused themselves drawing the Republican frontrunners as Nixon’s marionettes, puppets, or muppets [3). Nixon and his team had dirt, real or manufactured, on pretty much everyone: but for once the democrats had even more dirt, including stuff that would probably cause a constitutional crisis if it saw the light of day.
Where had the Democrats gained this new and unprecedented skill in the fine art of Ratfuckery? Nixon had his suspicions, which focused on a certain blond-haired self-made billionaire. The man who had made his political career on the cultivation of resentment, the man who had always been on the attack against “elitist intellectuals” could not help but loathe the smooth, handsome, popular “smartest man on Earth.” Adrian Veidt, meanwhile, had no love for the “perpetual president”: in his memoirs confessed that he had never been entirely able to rid himself of a certain irrational contempt for a man who had been so corrupted by power, and who had so poorly used the vast powers, human and otherwise, that had fallen into his hands. The election would be a washout, with Redford comfortably ahead both in the popular and electoral vote: even South Vietnam would vote Redford. Nixon would retire to California, and before his death in 1996 would live long enough to enjoy the bitter brew of schadenfreude as Veidt’s grand conspiracy began to unravel.
The US state of South Vietnam was a Nixon creation, the most bizarre effort to rig elections in US history, by creating a new state with 19 million inhabitants guaranteed to vote for Nixon. Vietnam would vote to join the US in 1985 in a thoroughly rigged election, presented to the American people as a spontaneous flowering of love for the American Way in the hearts of the Vietnamese people, but in fact reflecting the desire of anti-communist South Vietnamese elites to guarantee the continued protective presence of the US. Dr Manhattan may have been considered by many South Vietnamese Buddhists as a god, but being Buddhists, they were aware of the fickleness of gods.
American Vietnam would not long outlive its creator. With the post-New York new “entente cordiale” between the US and USSR, North Vietnam would not have a superpower sponsor to back an invasion, and explosive economic growth in the 80s and 90s, only briefly stalled by the economic events following the Incursion, had led to a new South Vietnamese self-confidence in being able to defend themselves. Reforms imposed from Washington broke the power of the old elite, leading to a state house dominated by leftist and nationalists by 1996. After only 14 years as a US state, South Vietnam would become again an independent nation in 1999, leaving the US with a mainly human legacy of Vietnamese-Americans, at six million nearly three times the OTL number, and (a bone thrown to the Democrats) the statehood of Puerto Rico. (Talks for reunification with the North began after the collapse of one-party Communist rule in the north in 2007, but have been stalled due to the greatly inferior condition of the northern economy).
The Soviet Union, to everyone’s surprise, even Veidt’s, didn’t do very well with the end of the Cold War. More isolated and embargoed than OTL, with an even larger military budget dedicated to overwhelming Dr. Manhattan’s capacities (tens of thousands more atomic warheads than OTL in the mid-1980s), only a high level of discipline and state oppression kept the parade on the road (the limited détente and third-world socialist successes of OTL’s 1970s were not duplicated, nor was the limited consumer culture of the Brezhnev years post oil embargo). With the pressure of the US/Dr. Manhattan threat taken off, it was harder to justify keeping the screws on and the general level of impoverishment and privation. There was the new Alien Menace, of course, but as years went by without fresh Incursions the general fear level dropped sharply: unlike the US, the Soviets hadn’t lost a major city or had millions of their citizens traumatized. Eastern Europeans, less afraid of triggering WWIII if they rebelled, took to the streets…
The collapse was less total than OTL. A more paranoid and bitter Gorbachev than OTL had not essentially broken the back of the state bureaucratic/security apparatus in the name of reform, and the sense of being a nation under siege had perhaps created more of a sense of solidarity among the general Soviet people. Still, Eastern Europe broke away, the Baltic States took off, Georgia left. Large parts of the Caucasus decended into low-level chaos, and central Asian oligarchs managed to carve out essentially autonomous fiefs. On the Gripping Hand, the Communist party retained its paramountcy, prominent Russian politician Boris Yeltsin died in a tragic automobile accident, and the febrile growth of criminal organizations in the worst years was checked and reversed with extreme prejudice.
There were some other positive factors: isolation from world markets meant the Soviets had never become dependent on the technologies which in turn depended on Dr. Manhattan’s matter-transmuting abilities: for quite a while after Dr. Manhattan left the planet, the Soviet Union could put stuff into orbit more cheaply than anyone else, sold sturdy helicopters to take up some of the slack left by the cratering of the dirigible industry (helium prices had soared), and even electronic devices and power systems not dependent on Dr. Manhattan created rare earths (although it was not long before, as part of pre-existing plans, Veidt industries started putting out their own, rather higher-quality ersatz electronics). Russia was also well advanced in the biotech field, thanks to heavy industrial espionage and a total lack of ethics and low safety standards in development. Of course, the fundamental problem of the Soviets lacking anything like an entrepreneurial culture remained, as did the continued presence of a clammy universal bureaucracy obstructing the slow movement to a more mixed economy.
History continued. The Big Reveal pissed off a lot of Soviets, but then the trick had been played with a pile of American corpses, so the US was (mostly) forgiven for doing better in the aftermath. The “Soviet” bit was dropped, and after a false start of two was eventually renamed “The Eurasian Federation.” Central authority was largely re-established in Central Asia in the Restore Justice campaigns of the early 2000s. Moldova broke away, Serbia joined up. By 2019 the Federation had ended up somewhere not too different from Putin’s Russia, if larger and more powerful, and ruled by a “Red-Brown” coalition rather than tending to one Putin rule. (It does not interfere openly in US elections, admittedly. Turbulent as US politics are, openly asking foreign powers to mess with your opponents is still considered gauche. ) It also embraces biotech to a rather creepy extent: the latest is government clinics to genetically enhance your future baby, including editing out destructive genes leading to blindness, autistm, and homosexuality.
Of course, this is not the first time Russian biotech experiments have creeped out the world: in a world where psychic sensitives actually exist, Soviet research into psychic powers went far further than OTL. Although naturally occurring psychics are at best feeble when it comes to non-psychic minds, psychic-to-psychic test confirmed the existence of ESP in the Soviet Union by the late 60s (less-rigorous US testing largely lost the thread in a crowd of fakers and false positives): attempts to improve upon nature began almost at once, and kicked into high gear once Nixon unleashed Dr. Manhattan upon Vietnam. A means of fighting a God was needed, and psychic powers seemed a possible answer; after all Dr. Manhattan seemed unable to read people’s minds, or at least he had never tried to figure out how to do so.
Thus, “Molotovs’ Children”, named after the Vyacheslav Molotov Biological Research Center in Siberia where many of them were incubated. A terrible human waste, its efforts to create a better psychic using genetic engineering yielded no effective anti-Manhattan psychics by the time Veidt’s efforts made the entire project irrelevant to its original purpose. It did yield a great many children with malformed brains who died before or shortly after birth, and mentally crippled adults. It produced children with brains growing too large for their skulls, which had to be cut open and replaced with flexible synthetic membranes, or in some cases glass domes. It produced on man with a surgically enlarged skull into which the brains of five psychics had been jammed, and another with the top of his head permanently fixed into a sort of aquarium, through which grew tangles of nerve tissue.
In the end it did produce seven psychics powerful enough to read the minds of non-psychics in their near vicinity, and able to radiate their own anger and pain and unhappiness strongly enough to make anyone within a few hundred feet violently ill. (In one case, the subject could not stop
radiating, and eventually ended living by himself behind electric fences miles from anywhere, with one psychic resistive as caretaker and handyman). Their gene lines are preserved in the Eurasian federation: psychics are useful, if too dangerous to be allowed to exist in any numbers (as yet, no way has been found to shield against them save natural resistance, and therefore no way to prevent them from reading the wrong
These facts were made (mostly) available to the US during the period of imagined anti-alien cooperation. US efforts have been more subtle: in 2019, an array of giant-sized cloned brains, healthy but largely blank, rest in gently bubbling tanks a hundred meters below the Alaskan permafrost, cared for by remote control and a few on-site psychic resistives (which may not be resistive enough if things go pear-shaped), undergoing ongoing tests…
Nixon never bothered to go to China: why try to gain Red China as an ally when you have Dr. Manhattan? Mao’s China remained politically isolated till his death in 1976, with the OTL Cultural Revolution largely being sidelined by a massive effort to make China resistant to expected attacks by Dr, Manhattan, creating an insanely massive underground maze of bunkers and hidden industries which would supposedly baffle his ability to find weapons and Chinese high officials to destroy, and booby trapped with vast numbers of nuclear weapons in hopes of killing him by surprise . Hundreds of thousands of miles of tunnels were dug, and due to poor record-keeping, the location of over ten thousand miles of tunnels has been lost, along with an unknown number of buried atomic bombs.
After Mao’s death, in the face of continued US hostility China would ally again with the USSR, which lasted until the collapse of the Soviet economy and outer empire in the early 90s: China would strike out on its own, eventually founding the Pan-Asian Conference in alliance with Neo-Trotskyite India. (The US would finally recognize mainland China as the
China for diplomatic reasons in 1993, which didn’t leave Beijing overflowing with gratitude).
India is poorer than OTL, and more populous, with 1.7 billion inhabitants. Up until the 2000s it stuck far more firmly with leftism, self-sufficiency, and third-worldism than OTL, in part due to the increasingly heavy-handed influence of the US abroad and Nixon’s open hostility to Indian “leftism” (Pakistan becoming a US ally and forward base for propagating US influence into inner Asia didn’t help either). India would suffer from famine as late as themed-1980s, although some argue the 80s famines were more a discreet Indian version of the “Holodomor” punishing internal enemies rather than an inevitable consequence of poor harvests and a lack of foreign exchange. The Neo-Trotskyites, which came to power in the post-Incursion global turmoil, mocked the policies of the former regime as “starvation socialism”, and carried out a large-scale program of technocratic and state-capitalist reform: whatever their other failings, there has been no new famine in India since the late 80s.
Japan, offshore from a generally hostile and huge Asian block slowly modernizing following more of a left-technocratic model with semi-capitalist incentives than the largely unrestrained gilded age capitalism of OTL, is somewhat isolated and remains solidly in the US camp, if less in the US shadow than in the era of Dr. Manhattan enabled hegemony and enhanced Soviet militarization and paranoia. It has as OTL suffered economically from a declining population, if somewhat alleviated by the increased productivity arising from faster technology growth. A counterculture, indeed several countercultures, have arisen to challenge the anti-individualist, protruding nail-gets-hammered-down nature of Japanese society, more angrily and vigorously than anything OTL: Japans “Sentai” and “Cyber” vigilantes are simply one fringe of this movement.
Nixon, as OTL, has supported Israel: with the Soviets on the back foot Israel before 1985 was less willing to compromise, and kept the Sinai, although there is now talk of creating a Palestinian state in Gaza and the Sinai. The Shi’a takeover of Lebanon was something of an Unintended Consequence of the US bombing Beirut flat in retaliation for a terrorist attack on US forces, but Iraq’s mass killings and expulsions of “disloyal” Shi’a Arabs in the new territories were a predictable outcome of Nixon’s support for Iraq in its war with Iran. (Iraq, backed more openly by the US, won a solid victory over Iran: combined with the humiliation of the successful hostage rescue, this left Iran in the hands of the hardline Islamicist fanatics throughout the 90s and early 2000s, a thaw only setting in after 2010. )
The Middle East’s oil power has decreased relative to OTL, as the triumph of electric cars in the 1970s, combined with the spread of solar power and the achievement of practical fusion power in the 90s, has sharply decreased demand for oil (Veidt had also pushed for a move away from fossil fuels, foreseeing the dangers of global warming). Given a population boom comparable to OTL with a smaller oil income stream, Saudi Arabia has suffered from increasing unrest since the early 2000s, with resistance to the regime from both religious extremists and lefty populists (not secular, just not Sharia hardliners: they are hardly a lot of actual secularists in Arabia). The royal family has responded with brutal crackdowns and a massive increase in the use of secret police and high-tech monitoring and surveillance tech, and really only avoids being classified as an outright rogue state because it still has a _load_ of oil, which still has a lot of uses.
Other oil powers have had even more trouble, in the Middle East and elsewhere. As OTL the Shah was overthrown by a revolution which soon turned theocratic (US hostages were extracted by a much better equipped version of Operation Eagle Claw led by The Comedian, but Nixon reluctantly agreed that even with Dr. Manhattan’s help military intervention would be a mess, as well as possibly pushing the Soviets just a bit too far), and Libya descended into practically Warring State chaos in the 2000s.
In 2014, Israel utterly pissed off everyone in the Middle East again by proving itself to be the 10th country to master teleportation technology, in the process utterly wrecking Iraq’s nuclear arsenal and bomb-making capacities, and sprinkling clouds of radiation over multiple sites across Iraq. The Israelis claim justification in the form of intelligence “proving” a planned Iraqi first strike. Whether the intelligence is real, real but interpreted in the worst possible way, or an outright fake (Israeli or Iranian?) remains hotly debated, although a lot of people have already made up their minds beyond any possibility of debate. Attempts to sanction Israel in the UN have been blocked by the US, with a great deal of international hostility resulting.
Europe never really cottoned to Nixon and the US’s Dr. Manhattan-empowered muscle-flexing: France, whose relationship under De Gaulle was prickly enough OTL, was particularly unhappy with the state of affairs and tried very hard to create a unified Europe with its own army that could stand on its own, even if still allied with the US against the USSR: this failed, and Europe remains a military lightweight compared to the size of its economy (As OTL, the collapse of the Soviet empire has led to an expansion of the European Community in breadth at the cost of depth). Relationships have warmed up a bit since the Democrats consolidated their position as Top Party, but Europeans still tend to look with some suspicion on US claims of being a perfectly workable democracy.
The UK is more leftist than OTL, the political career of Margaret Thatcher having been butterflied, with Ted Healey being the most prominent politician of the 80s. Labor managed to find a route between Foot-ite suicide notes and John Major soul-selling, and the UK is poorer relative to the US and France, but has superior social services than OTL and a healthier and better educated populace (British talking heads, meanwhile, bemoan the destructive effects of Creeping Socialization).
France has also looked overseas to strengthen its position, and is even more involved in African affairs than OTL, although political influence is often of dubious value to France itself. The general history of Africa since WWII does not differ greatly from OTL, although communist coups in Benin and Ethiopia were reversed, the FLNA achieved victory in Angola, and RENAMO won in Mozambique with the help of Dr. Manhattan. (Mozambique shortly fell into another civil war between RENAMO factions, but as long as the Communists were on the back foot the US really didn’t care). A more meddle-happy US aided Biafra in its efforts to break away, gaining a new oil-rich client state in the process.
(Perhaps the biggest difference was the rather slower and messier end of Apartheid in South Africa, in which the death of Robert Mugabe and other anti-Apartheid black leaders under mysterious circumstances and South Africa’s annexation of Rhodesia with a wink wink nod nod from Nixon didn’t help things at all. The Cape eventually emerged as a refuge for whites, Asians, and “Coloreds”, and is rather more populous than OTL, dominated by a swollen Capetown full of grumpy Boer refugees.)
During the Nixon years, US influence in Latin America was oppressive and omnipresent, although there was less direct US use of Dr. Manhattan as a cosmically powerful knee-breaker. The US government’s master mercenary and cheery sociopath, the Comedian, and his “Usual gang of idiots”, as he called his team of elite operatives, did a lot of energetic wetwork in the 70s and early 80s, nipping the Nicaraguan and the non-OTL Bolivian revolutions in the bud (The Comedian boasted among those in the know of having personally “capped” Che, but historians of the era consider this unconfirmed), while killing loads of Peruvians and Colombians in the slow, inconclusive struggles for the heart, soul, and short and curlies of those nations. Right-wing authoritarian and military regimes dominated during the period, considered “trustworthy” in Washington, although still kept on a fairly short leash (Nixon made it clear to the Argentines that any funny business with the Falklands would lead to Dr. Manhattan sending the junta leadership on a free trip to Soviet central Asia).
Cuba, OTOH, stayed communist. Kennedy had refused to make use of Dr. Manhattan to remove him from power, feeling that using Manhattan as anything beyond a US missile defense system would lead to the corruption of US international and domestic politics, as in fact turned out to be the case.  Having been informed of the low probability of being able to smuggle nuclear warheads to Cuba past an alert Dr. Manhattan and the even lower probability of being able to emplace enough of them to overwhelm his ability to destroy them mid-flight, Krushchev forbore, and simply put a lot of conventional troops on the island to act as a tripline against US invasion. Ironically, Castro stepped down peacefully and allowed free elections, before his OTL near-retirement.
After the end of Nixon’s reign, the US tried to start a new Era of Good Feelings and put relations with Latin America on a more friendly, democratic basis, but the as the era of dictatorships came to an end in the 90s, the general mood was sullen and pro-left. Brazil is perhaps the biggest success story in South America, a combination of energetic capitalism and an embrace of cutting edge technology in medicine, gene engineering, etc. finally pushing the economy firmly into the upper ranks of “middle income” nations, but Brasilia  still can’t help occasionally tweaking Washington’s nose on occasion. France has grown close to Brazil in recent years, and there’s even some talk of a French-Spanish-Latin American “entente” of sorts, to some German and American irritation.
Mexico was hit hard by declining oil prices, and descended into a slow-motion civil war of sorts in the late 90s, leading to US intervention, occupation, and “restructuring.” (Another example of President Gingritch’s rather, er, expansive
ideas, and from the point of view of his Democratic successors, a dreadful mess to clean up).
The US is somewhat better off than OTL, if with its own unique dysfunctions. The higher technology level alone means that the economy is larger and incomes higher, and there’s a more secure social safety net (Nixon in this world ended up creating national healthcare, a version probably superior to Obamacare, although the Democrats called it a “corporate giveaway” and heavily modified it once they regained power in Washington). As OTL, the crime-ridden cities of the early 80s cleaned up their act, one way or another, and the air is cleaner (gasoline cars made a brief comeback in the days of soaring battery prices, but never were able to regain their former dominance, and prices eventually came down. Pretty clean steam
cars, a Scandinavian development, remain a niche but surviving market).
President Redford lasted two terms before the Republicans used the hammer of “the Democrats are very friendly to Veidt, Veidt caused the New York Genocide, the Democrats knew/were somehow partly responsible for/are good buddies with the creator of the Genocide” to put President Gingrich in the White House in 1997: his attempt (and failure) to return the Republican party to its Nixonian domination of US politics over his two terms in office can be said to be the basis of the current political hot mess. The Democratic effort to stop him from gaining a third term turned very ugly, revelations about the Nixon era that had been considered too explosive to use in 1988 were brought into play, savage legal and propaganda battles ensued, and the refusal of US Special Forces to move from their barracks in the 2004 December Crisis may have prevented the outbreak of an American civil war.
The resulting political garbage fire lead to the breakup of the Republican Party into the Liberal-Republicans (The “Rockerfellerites”) and the Popular Republicans (“Nixonites”), the second of which only narrowly avoided becoming classified an illegal organization by the (Democratic) attorney general, which after recent events was in a bloody-minded mood. The feuding between the factions has meant the Democrats have controlled the Presidency and at least one of the House and Senate since 2005, and packed the Supreme Court into the bargain, although of late the Popular Republicans have been gaining ground thanks to a closer embrace of the Religious Fundamentalist crowd (Nixon and his subordinates never were as cozy with the religious hardliners as OTLs post-Nixon republicans, in part because they gave Nixon endless grief over the probably demonic nature of Dr. Manhattan. With Dr. Manhattan long gone, there are no unwanted naked blue men in the bed). Whether the Liberal-Republicans will caucus with the Democrats to keep the Popular Republicans out of power, or just get ground up between the two of them, remains to be seen.
Homosexuality and gay marriage are more acceptable than OTL, the Gay Pride movement having got an earlier start than OTL (even in the mid-1980s, PDAs by male-male and female-female couples were tolerated, at least in progressive areas like New York City and points further NE). The terminology is a bit different, the normal usage being “gay men and women” rather than “homosexuals and lesbians.” (terms for transsexuals, bisexuals, etc. are also not as OTL). Racial issues are no worse than, say, 2015 OTL; Nazis remain somewhat beyond the pale, although anti-Semitism, driven by Nixon’s own influence and a more expansive Israel, is a bit nastier.
Fast food is a bit more variegated than OTL, with McDonalds and Wendy’s having been butterflied (although Burger King still exists on a somewhat smaller scale) and the largest chain east of the Mississippi is the Gunga Diner, a chain of Indian food stores founded by a refugee from the Indian famines (Also large is the Russian-American Burgers n’ Borscht, although they’ve downplayed their Russian menu a bit since relations with Russia turned sour again in the late 1990s.) Clothes are currently in the midst of a burst of color and wild design experimentation unmatched OTL since the early 70s, enhanced by new technology which allows colors which flow and change and take on new patterns. Older types grumble about “moiling and churning” outfits. There has been a bit of an effort to revive the simpler, cleaner neo-classical styles of the late 80s and early 90s, but for too many they remain too closely associated with Adrian Veidt’s futurist propaganda (which has developed a “Gernsback Continuum”- like association with fascism in many minds, rather unfairly to the man).
There were signs from the start that the millennium hoped for by Veidt was not going to be an automatic outcome of his Vlad Tepes plot: it was only after backroom pressure had been exerted by both the US and USSR that the Indian army withdrew from those territories of Pakistan it had occupied “for its own protection” (and as an undeclared ally of the Soviet Union). Still, WWIII had been prevented, and the major powers were for once working together.
Veidt’s grand plan really started to unravel when the US government took custody of the alien corpse, and shut Veidt’s corporate empire out of the investigation (Nixon, to reiterate, didn’t like
Veidt.) The Soviets, as part of the new Détente, were given full access to the body, and it was a Russian scientist who first pointed out the remarkable similarity of what was left of the brain to an overgrown human brain. Of course, this was only one data point, as was xenobiologist Arthur Curry’s comment that the description of the alien world sounded more like a horror story that a working ecosystem, but more importantly at the time genetic engineering was a rapidly expanding field of knowledge, and the techniques used by Veidt’s scientists to create the creature, although ahead of anything being done at the time
, would be old hat within a decade. And Veidt, brilliant as he was, had not been brilliant enough to do without the services of experts in the field – and since they were dupes to be killed, he could not ask the vital question – is this good enough to fool professional biologists into thinking it’s a real alien? Will it remain convincing in the future? He’d had to gamble on his necessarily imperfect knowledge.
Within less than a decade, the scientific consensus was in: this was not an alien being. It was a genetic hybrid created from terrestrial life forms, with a human brain and mostly cephalopod and arthropod body parts. It could never have lived on its own very long. Furthermore, by this time enough ugly details had come out about the Soviet “weaponized telepathy” program to make some very plausible guesses as to how several million New Yorkers had died or had their minds destroyed. There had of course been enough evidence to suggest something was very fishy in the state of giant alien blob much earlier, but, ironically, there was enough political use for the “alien invader” story for the investigation to be dragged on a while longer.
Veidt had perhaps hoped that with the massive relief of an escape from WWIII nobody would be too concerned with continuing to dig into the cancer deaths which had triggered Dr. Manhattan’s departure from Earth, but he had underestimated the anger of the US military-industrial complex, whose fury at the loss of the US’s strategic superiority was barely reduced by detente with the Soviets. From the start the fact that Laurie, who had been in a sexual relationship with Dr. Manhattan for years, showed no signs whatsoever of cancer before her disappearance, while Moloch, which he met a couple times, died of it, stuck out like a sore thumb.
Further study would show no real correspondence between length of contact or exposure to the exercise of Manhattan’s powers and cancer death – but a strong correspondence to the emotional impact and memorable nature of the relationship. The fact that all those who contracted cancer had worked for a particular corporate entity was suggestive, as was the corporate connections of the news company which had confronted Dr. Manhattan with the “cancer list”: although no smoking gun could be found and no clear connection, the vast, shadowy presence of Veidt’s corporate empire showed up in the background too often, in the opinion of many, including President Nixon, who was kept closely briefed on the investigation up to his last days in office.
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place in 1990, when a long-term very secret US research project bore fruit and was (after a bitter internal political struggle within the US government ) shared with the Russians and other major powers: the (partial) duplication of Dr. Manhattan’s teleportation ability. It could not be done on Earth without the random overlap with air molecules wrecking the teleported item, and even teleportation into a vacuum caused a shock to the nervous system lethal to higher life, but what could be done, and was done, was to put a half-ton chunk of machinery (with vacuum tubes: initial efforts were hard on delicate electronics) half a million miles beyond the Moon and sending out a triumphant radio beep back to transmitters back on Earth. It became increasingly clear how
the Incursion had taken place: the only question was who
had been behind it?
The lack of clear proof of a culprit and the desire to maintain the US-Soviet alliance (by the end of the 80s, the Soviets were dependent on cheap US food imports to keep things from descending to a “shooting food rioters in the streets” state of affairs), and the usefulness of the appeals to planetary unity as a whip against uncooperative third-world nations delayed announcements of the facts, but there were leaks, and after the near-collapse of the Soviet empire and the replacement of Chairman Gorbachev with a new and less cooperative ruling troika, President Redford’s administration quietly moved to close in on Veidt industries: when the impossible has been eliminated, what is left must be the truth, and by 1996 there was simply no other plausible culprit. Unfortunately, the Republicans jumped the gun, revealing everything,
and presented a narrative of themselves as the true conspiracy-fighters and truth-revealers: right in time for the election, of course.
In the subsequent struggle of government against Veidt industries, Veidt industries came alarmingly close to breaking up the government rather than vice versa: he was able to paint a picture himself as an innocent man framed by an ideologically hostile and possibly alien-compromised Nixonite conspiracy. He had gotten wind of the leaks himself, and had been preparing for a fight. He’d been too closely monitored for some years to do anything as spectacular as in ’85, but he was able to make sure enough manufactured but convincing “evidence” of alien presence on Earth was found to create a new global panic. Not to mention that by the mid-90s the ever growing Veidt network of companies secretly controlled much of the news media, and had an extraordinary number of Republican as well as Democratic politicians in its pockets, often without knowing who their real financial benefactors were. 
But in the end Veidt lost his battle for US hearts and minds, and US troops stormed his Antarctic stronghold: in the resultant battle, Veidt died in a fire, leaving a very convincing corpse half the press corps immediately declared a fake. As of 2019, nobody has been able to prove whether or not it was a clone or the original article. (Veidt corporate biotech had made important advances since ’85).
To this day, some still think the US government is thoroughly infiltrated by alien invaders. Others think there really was an alien, but no further invasions, and Veidt was killed to remove an obstacle to the reestablishment of Republican political dominance (partly true). Plenty believe he is still alive, including many paranoid politicians, in spite of the failure of the greatest man hunt in history. Some think of him as a martyred saint, others as the worst criminal in history. And some think that yes, he did fake an alien invasion and kill millions, but that he also saved the world from nuclear holocaust in the process, and therefore what he did was forgivable, or at least justifiable.
Most such people, at least those of them that openly voice such views, do not live in the US.
(Where most people, whatever their views on the events of ’85, agree, was that Veidt industries had been, by ’96, a bit too large to be acceptable: those corporations officially dominated by Veidt turned out to be only part of a much larger structure hidden within a maze of dummy corporations and false fronts, and the total size of his empire was larger than the next seven largest corporations on Earth put together. In the early 2000s, government investigators were still turning up companies, some halfway around the planet, somehow tied to Veidt.)
With Dr. Manhattan no longer available to simply teleport supplies and equipment into orbit or onto the Lunar surface, the US space program took rather a blow, although Nixon’s insistence on having human personnel get there by spaceship  to emphasize US technological superiority prevented it from collapsing entirely. (Dr. Manhattan could of course take people to Mars or the Moons of Saturn: Nixon nixed any such suggestions from scientists or the public, feeling that space exploration should remain at least in part in human hands, and that humanity’s future in space should not be left up to the whim of “that big blue freak”, as he described Dr. Manhattan in private when he was being polite
.) All but one of the lunar bases was shuttered, construction of the space station Minerva was slowed to a crawl, and the plan to build nuclear launch silos on the Moon was permanently discontinued.
Unmanned space exploration made a vigorous comeback after 1990. Although initial teleportation mechanisms only reached a few million miles into space (due to trouble “focusing” so all the atoms in the teleported object remained in the same relative positions and velocities), combining the tangential velocity vectors of Earth’s orbit and its rotation made it possible to toss stuff out all the way to Saturn in only a couple years time, and with much larger payloads than would be possible with regular rockets.
Most religious leaders took the accurate quotation “God exists, and he’s an American” with utter scorn, but some were at least willing to accept the possibility of Dr. Manhattan being a
God, if not the
God. A sizable number of Hindus consider him to have been an incarnation of Vishnu (the color fits) or possibly Shiva, while some Buddhist hold him to have been a Bodhisattva who left Earth when he realized all this working for the US government and having sex wasn’t doing anybody’s Karma any good and was just holding him back from achieving full enlightenment. A few Muslims hold he was a djinn. Many think he was some sort of demon, and a lot of US evangelicals feel he was the Antichrist (his departure from Earth has led to a division between those who think he’s still here, possibly disguised as a Democratic politician, and those who think the prayers of the Faithful led God to delay the apocalypse – for a little while only, mind you!). The Catholic Church officially holds he was just “a man with unusual abilities” and still merely a fleck of dust to the Creator of the Universe. There are quite a few Dr. Manhattan cults, although none of them have reached the success level of, say, Dianetics OTL.
On the other hand, quite a few atheists claim to have obtained their atheism from Dr. Manhattan, who when asked about his religious beliefs explained that he had none: none of his superhuman senses showed any evidence of a God, and as for the physical universe, it appeared to be coldly, mechanically deterministic: to paraphrase Laplace, there seemed no need to use that hypothesis.  (Overall, Dr. Manhattan does not seem to have so much decreased the total number of believers as strengthened the convictions of people already inclined to agnostic or atheistic views, and increased the share of actual atheists in that group, while increasing the fervor of those already firmly in the religious camp).
“Pagans” and “witches” are more numerous than OTL, along with other types of alternative religion. There is even a (vigorously persecuted) Ozymandias cult.
With the US government defending the artistic freedom of comic books after WWII, with an eye to defending politically useful costumed crime fighters, the strict censorship of OTL never took place, allowing the continued flourishing of “mature” crime, horror and SF comics, but the very genre the government had been most concerned for, superhero comics, underwent a sharp decline after the 1950s, with real-life costumed crime fighters increasingly seen as defenders of a corrupt and authoritarian status quo after the 1950s. The void ended being filled by a somewhat unlikely contender, pirate comics. This was in part due to their fairly protean nature, since the genre soon diversified into several sub-genres, including Pirate Horror (overlapping with another popular genre), Pirates in Space (the same for science fiction), Pirate Adventure, Pirate Romance, Pirate Fantasy, and Pirate Humor, with comics suited for all reading ages from 6 to 60s. Pirate comics in turn influenced other media, leading to the popular Disney “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies of the early 1970s (starring Dean Jones), the long running comedy/adventure TV series The Dread Pirate Roberts
, and even British SF, where the Doctor’s travelling companion for some years was the excessively violent Teela the Space Pirate Queen.
Pirates ruled the comics roost until the 1980s, when the comics industry as a whole was badly shaken up by the events of the Incursion (for one thing, much of the comics industry was centered in New York), and Pirate-based entertainment as a whole lost prestige with a series of poorly executed, money-losing “blockbuster” Pirate movies in the 1990s. The US comics industry as a whole
has not seen a collapse of sales numbers comparable to our world’s superhero comics debacle, and while one of the two old titans is gone (DC, leaving EC as the last remnant of Elder Days), there are multiple still active publishers in a varied field. Pirates, seen as old-fashioned, have declined compared to science fiction and horror proper, both of which saw a boom after the Incursion, while romance, crime and the kiddy standbys of funny animals and wacky fantasy remain solid sellers. Of late, possibly due to Japanese influences, Adult Sexy Fantasy/SF has been a growth area (Japanese Manga haven’t penetrated the US market as much as OTL, since the greater variety of comics has satisfied some of the demand which turned to Manga OTL. On the other hand, more translated stuff from Europe is available).
(If there is something like OTL superhero comics, it’s in several sub-fields of Japanese Manga and Anime, although students of comic book literature argue that superpowered hero teams, Japanese style, owe more to martial arts heroes and supernatural beings than they do to the short-lived American genre, whose tropes were quite different).
Costumed vigilantism in the US has come and gone over the years, backed for a while by the US government after WWII, until popular outrage led to the Keene Act in 1977, putting an end to the legality of running around in a moth suit hitting people. In the previous four decades, aside from the dozen or so “big name” costumed fighters which became well known enough to inspire toy lines and attract invitations to the White House, there were dozens more minor figures, some only appearing once, some never getting an established “hero name”, some incautiously going after bad guys with guns and dying in their first outing, some with elaborate costumes and others with just a coat and domino mask or wrestler’s mask, thrillseekers, vigilantes, sociopaths, fanboys and fangirls. After ’77 only a few true hardcases kept at it, most notably Rorschach but also such more obscure figures as Chicago’s Justicer, and New Orleans’s The Hougan. Death, arrest or retirement would take care of these loose ends within a couple years of Rorschach’s disappearance, and not till the 2000s would the US see a modest revival of costumed crime-fighting, with new actors employing bleeding-edge technology and inventive self-branding to carry out was often as much political theatre as serious crime-fighting.
Costumed not exactly legal crime fighting originated in the US, but soon found its imitators abroad. In 2019, costumed vigilantism is more common abroad than in the US, with wrestler-masked crime fighters in Mexico, brutal urban vigilantes in Brazil, high tech crime fighters/pop stars with a tendency to pose a lot and costumed hackers in Japan, and wildly colorful neighborhood watch patrols in the slums of Lagos. Such “heroes” vary from genuine folk legends to corporate mascots to hit squads nudge nudge wink wink sanctioned by the state. Characteristics of areas where the rule of law is weak or the government deeply corrupt, or both, they tend to have high death rates and a wildly variable level of popularity. Some places have even seen the revival of that strange phenomenon of the 30s and 40s, the costumed or otherwise freakish arch-villain, most notably in Mexico, where drug gangs fight back with the Disciples of the Santa Muerte, with their ghoulish costumes and fondness for deadly gasses and poisons.
An American writer, philosopher, and sufferer from osteogenesis imperfect (he answers to the nickname “Dr. Glass”) has argued that what we call “reality” can in fact be influenced by narrative, by powerful enough stories and mental archives. He argues that the escape of costumed crime-fighters from the pages of comic books into reality in the 1930s has shaped the world in ways beyond the usually discussed political and social effects: that the existence of these crime fighters called the odd villains into existence in turn. Why had a skilled stage magician had his ears surgically modified to look like devil’s ears and then turned to a life of crime? Why had he created an elaborate blackmail plot based on a giant solar mirror capable of burning a man to death? He was compelled to fill his role in the narrative. Veidt came into existence as a pre-condition of the existence of Dr. Manhattan: Superman needs his Lex Luthor (Mr. Glass also collects old comics). Did psychics even really exist before the 1960s? Were tachyons real before it became necessary for Ozymandias/Veidt to use them? Why were the more famous masks apparently so immune to being shot, blindsided, lead-piped atop the coconut? Only because the public had ended up rejecting the narrative, turning against costume heroes and the superbeing, had things not gone a lot further; but it was only a matter of time before someone developed a new, comparably influential narrative.
Most people who have studies his work think he’s crazy, but some shady government institutions and research firms are taking a closer look at costumed hero and villain activity abroad and keeping an eye out for the improbable if not downright impossible.
And of course, post Dr. Manhattan, post the Veidt revelations, post teleportation, tachyonics, fusion power, etc., a lot of people believe in the impossible. Adrian Veidt’s particular vision of the future may not have come to pass, but part of it – the notion of a future of truly limitless possibilities – is very real to many people, although many fear it more than they look forward to it. Post-humanist thinkers are very much in the news, as are anti-technological, back to nature/God/whatever groups.
The part satirical, part serious embrace of all things atomic by Wall Street and the often violent nihilism of American Punk have both passed with the end of the apocalyptic US-USSR confrontation, but paranoia remains a profound part of American culture, especially after the events of the mid 90s to early 2000s. Today’s punks may shave their scalps and dye them in eye-hurting color patterns rather than wearing “samurai topknots” and fear government mind control and secret genetic modification rather than nuclear annihilation, but they are almost as disaffected as their predecessors of 35 years earlier. The riots between the “Human Front” anti-tech punks and the “Evolution Revolution” post-humanist metalheads in Britain recently killed dozens and put hundreds in the hospital. That the government has all sorts of secret scientific projects going on is the considered opinion of much of the population, including some very intellectually respectable types (and of course the US and other governments do have ongoing secret scientific programs, if not necessarily the ones people imagine). The notion these include alien bodies (Roswell Incident, Area 51, etc.) is not a particularly popular one after the revelations of the 90s (outside, of course, those who think those revelations were fakes).
Genetic engineering was already producing new forms of plants and animals from mega-lynxes with the instincts of a guard dog to six legged chickens by the early 80s, and has gone quite a bit further since then. A second “green revolution” based on genetically engineered plants has finally put an end to India’s famines and indeed pretty much everyone’s (none-government mandated) famines, although not without some costs (such as considerable environmental damage in the form of edible “weeds” displacing many of the more delicate wild plants over extensive areas), Weimar revival Berlin strikes the fabulous with its avenues of Technicolor palm trees, and Indian biotechnicians have created a pony-sized elephant as a combination ride, luggage carrier, and bodyguard. There is a Pleistocene Park, and while there is nowhere near enough DNA left in ancient amber to recreate actual dinosaurs, that hasn’t prevented US entrepreneurs from constructing ersatz ones out of hypertrophiated birds.
Human genetic engineering is so far forbidden in most countries save in the negative sense of eliminating genetic defects, but what is a “defect” is debatable, and the definition can be stretched pretty widely, most notably in Russia. Since the perfection of reproductive-cell cloning has eliminated the previous main issue with cloning (“old”, already damaged DNA), having a clone for a child has become legal in several countries, with the basic premise that a clone is a legal full human being a matter of international law respected in all but a few dictatorships (notably Saudi Arabia). There are rumors of the ultra-rich and powerful having their kids genes upgraded: this is true, but it’s generally a lot smaller-scale than the rumors would have it, minor tweaks and improvements, the nature of human “genius” being too complicate as yet to simply program genetically. (There is a very illegal secret government program in China which has recently produced some children at least thirty IQ points above average: they’ll be into the third batch before the sociopathic tendencies become obvious). The humanzee exists, although not yet prepared to make a public appearance.
A new Green, anti-gene engineering movement, Hands Off! (Short for Hands off Mother Nature), originating in Britain, has spread internationally by publicizing its fight against the more grotesque products of genetic engineering: the flying dogs, the multiheaded lizards, the cats with thumbs, the longcows and Tall Chickens, with some of the more grotesque products of East Asian, Russian and Brazilian genetic chop shops resembling the products of horror manga. (Some animal rights activists, OTOH, are in favor of the _right_ sort of genetic engineering: it will be harder to deny rights to animals when some of them can actually tell the scientist and bioengineers to put it where the sun don’t shine, no? Their opponents in the Green movement claim they’re just furries hoping to eventually fulfill their sex fantasies).
One of the final achievements of Veidt industries was the creation of practical fusion power: necessary densities can be easily achieved if you just teleport your hydrogen fuel into a very small space. Although emitted radiation remains a problem even with Helium-3 (you just can’t prevent secondary reactions) it has over the last generation reduced substantially the need for fossil fuels even while the global economy has grown enormously. A modified version of this technology is now being used to build fusion “torch” rockets, which if not as energy-efficient as competing ion drives have much higher possible acceleration rates.
The entire solar system is now open to human technology, thanks to a network of teleportation links orbiting at different points from well within Mercury’s orbit to well past Pluto. It is still not possible to teleport a human within the atmosphere without the intersection of their atoms with those of the air doing lethal damage, but sending humans from one spot of hard vacuum to another without killing them is now normal (developing a form of receiver turned out to be key: how Dr. Manhattan managed Earth-to-Earth teleports of humans is still obscure), with fusion-torch rockets supplementing teleporters in hard to reach or otherwise troublesome areas (teleporting living things into the depths of Jupiter’s immensely strong magnetic field turned out to be problematic at best). Truly long-range teleportation, from the Earth to the dwarf planets in one jump, or even to the stars, remains, like fusion power OTL, something a plausibly deniable generation away.
Multiple nations (the US, Russia, the Europeans, Japan, an Indian-Chinese cooperative) are involved in the opening of the solar system, and this remains one of the main fields of international cooperation: teleportation networks are open to and shared by all nations with space capacity, no matter what their contribution to overall infrastructure (something the US, the biggest spender, occasionally grumbles about) rather than each nation having to build its own teleportation network.
Tachyons offer promise for interstellar communications, but they have certain annoying properties due to the fact that they travel backwards in time as they travel faster than light: any tachyonic message sent from within a light-speed bubble with the radius of the tachyon’s travel time will be impossible to interpret. The universe does not allow paradoxes.
There’s a lot more junk in orbit, too: there are now a multitude of space stations and even a few space arcologies, if nothing quite as gigantic as O’Neill’s space cylinders. Most are in fairly high orbit, to prevent crowding of orbits with construction rubbish, and simply because the further from Earth you teleport building materials, the better: there still are air molecules some hundreds of miles up, if not many. Along with communications satellites and space telescopes and spy satellites there are an unknown number of military satellites that are orbiting weapons of some sort or another: the militarization of space was never forbidden in this TL, and Nixon’s America took advantage of Dr. Manhattan to put a lot of stuff into orbit. Much of it is no longer operational and hardly any of it is needed, but the fact someone is always looking makes governments reluctant to decommission these orbiting relics. There probably will be a bad accident one of these days.
Computer science was somewhat neglected by both Veidt and Dr. Manhattan (who didn’t need them that much), and is not as far ahead of OTL as biotech. Something like the World Wide Web got going only a year earlier than OTL (a sort of proto-internet in the form of electronic databases linked by radio, and even an equivalent of “E-glasses” to access the same existed by the early 80s, but nothing as universally open and accessible as OTLs net: moving to something recognizable required the end of the Nixon regime and its security-conscious paranoia). After that, though, it took off even faster than OTL, aided by more powerful computer hardware, and achieved 2019 levels of traffic in 2009. Equivalents to google, facebook, etc., exist, but their functions aren’t dominated by single giant corporations as OTL, the social media landscape being rather more fragmented and complicated than OTL, in part due to strongly anti-monopoly, trust-busting behavior on the part of the Democrats, in part simply ideological, in part due to the general fear of corporate power the struggle with the Veidt “octopus” had engendered. There has been considerable advancement in the development of “weak AI”, although in the field of robotics purely electronic minds compete with enhanced, modified, and cyberneticized animal brains: the US army’s K-9 corps now has it’s “heavy armor” division.
Functional combat exoskeletons, enhancing strength, endurance, etc. have been in use by soldiers of the more technologically advanced nations for over a decade now, although they’re still too expensive for universal use.
Dirigibles have been replaced by magnetic levitation vehicles using room-temperature superconductors, which while most effective flying over urban grids can still cross the country at low altitude flying along buried lines of cables, computer-navigated hovercraft heavy carriers, and one-rider solar power fliers with an essentially unlimited range. Jets, running on hydrogen fuel produced by fusion power, have revived after a period of decline in the late 70s and early 80s (when it seemed Dr. Manhattan-created helium for dirigibles would never run short), and nowadays the near-orbital fliers are only limited in their speed by the need to not accidentally go into orbit (the subject of a couple of popular movies).
Heinrich Bemelmans, a financier of Swiss-German ancestry, inhabits Los Angeles, definitively the US’s greatest city after the disaster of ’85 wrecked New York. A quiet, sober man, bearded and balding, he wears expensive but understated suits, and stays out of the news while he makes billions for his clients. He does not make much of birthdays, but his closest acquaintances – friends might be too strong a word – believe he is close to seventy.
He actually will be eighty this year, and in unusually good health, with arteries and veins wide open as subway tunnels, and a heart in excellent condition. He takes his stroke prevention medication religiously, and has regular cancer screenings. But he is aware his time may be running out.
The man formerly known as Adrian Veidt has changed his name, his voice, and his face, the surgical modifications being done with a very solid understanding of how human facial recognition works: in theory, he should be quite unrecognizable. Being a realist, he keeps his face off screens large and small, and cultivates elaborate opinions and peculiar hobbies to act as false coloring if anyone gets close enough to spot such details. He is, after all, the world’s most wanted man.
Veidt has been badly let down by humanity, but unlike a certain other German he does not blame the people for failing to live up to his expectations. Unification by scary alien had not eliminated the human tendency to quarrel, and if the cold war finally ground to a halt, its failure to start up again had more to do with the near-collapse of the Soviet state once the pressure was off than any new-found brotherhood of man. Furthermore, his extensive efforts through propaganda, magazines, self-help books, TV shows, educational programs, new schools and colleges, etc., etc., to persuade people to take on the intellectual and physical challenges that would reshape them into new, better people – well. The results were, shall we say, underwhelming.
Veidt had adopted a curious form of almost objectivist “willpower is all” thinking while rejecting the associated black and white morality. The idea of being special – somehow inherently superior to the average human – was on some level deeply repugnant to the son of German parents who left Germany out of disgust at the policies of Adolph Hitler (and out of justifiable fear about what might be made of a few Jews perching in the mother’s family tree). What he had achieved could be achieved by anyone with enough will and desire (as if will itself was not rooted in the biology of the human brain).
He was in his sixties before he finally admitted to himself that no matter how hard one trains one’s body, a person with a normal nervous system is unlikely to catch bullets with his bare hands. A person with normal capacity to learn and administer, no matter how hard they train their brain, is unlikely to create within a decade the world’s largest corporate conglomerate while gathering and directing the talent needed to create long range teleportation, high power tachyon emitters, artificial space monsters and giant killer telepath brains.
Veidt’s self-improvement program certainly was superior to those offered by Charles Atlas or the Carnegie Foundation. Many people became exceptionally physically fit, and many athletes attribute their success to it. A smaller number managed to greatly enhance their drive, efficiency, and general mental capabilities, and quite a few successful businessmen swear by it. Nobody learned how to catch bullets, or managed to match Veidt’s intellectual achievements. And they continued to suffer from unexamined assumptions and prejudices, poor relative risk assessment, etc. – human things. (Veidt himself, as he admitted to himself ruefully in his later years as the science of the human mind continued to develop, had assumed, had looked at things through rose-colored lenses, had failed to take a long enough outlook. The pharaohs, whether Hellenistic or old-school, had no real answers to the question of how to create a truly healthy global society.)
Veidt had never married, never being able to find a woman which was, first, his intellectual and physical match, and secondly, after the mid-70s, one he could trust with his increasingly enormous secret. (Sex, in any event, was a serious mental distraction). He did not seek an heir because he had no plans to create a dynasty, which would inevitably become corrupted. Rather, he had sought to uplift the human race to the point where it would not need his leadership. By 2019 this seems dubious: for the glorious future he envisioned, mere training might not be enough: genetic engineering, cybernetics, mind-enhancing drugs might all be necessary.
Of course, Veidt was making sure that development of such technologies were well-funded, and seeking to unravel the mysteries of his own genetics: his genetic material had ended up in a lot labs, open and government secrets, well before staging his death became necessary. But time is not on his side: healthy as he is, studies of mortality rates along both his family trees are not encouraging, and although anti-senility medication is far more advanced than OTL, he is aware that his mind is no longer at its peak. So, he’s gone for a stop-gap solution: an imperfect one, and one with some likelihood of disaster, but once again, he has to gamble.
Over the next decade and a half, several dozen blonde, blue-eyed boys will grow into adulthood in nations around the world, neither they nor their adoptive parents knowing their abnormal gestation. Clones of Adrian Veidt, carefully placed with families which maximize their chances for growing into sane, healthy adult geniuses. It is unlikely most of them will go as far as he did, and some may go very wrong indeed, but Veidt knows himself and his own mind enough to predict that most versions of himself will recognize the basic stupidity
of evil and cruelty and racism at an early age, and statistics predict than any harm the tail of the probability distribution may do will be more than made up by the contributions of the central curve. And even if he dies before that point, at the correct point in their lives they will get a nudge in the right direction…
One Adrian Veidt saved the world. Sixty somewhat less driven Veidts might be able to keep it going long enough for humanity to really outgrow its flaws and built in caveman thinking.
Dr. Manhattan strides across the galaxy, each step light years long, pondering the path ahead. . Still on the very first steps of a long road, he travels towards a world of burning diamond, where he will watch the rains of molten glass by the light of three suns. Since he came out of the obscuring cloud of tachyons, his ability to perceive his long-term future has become vastly clearer – and he can see where it will end.
Human beings, he sees, are not truly puppets. Their choices are the result of everything which had taken place up till then, and in that sense there still is no free will – but their actions are not shaped by any grand puppet-master. The ways in which he acts and reacts which make no sense given the way past and future are one for him, are indeed caused by a puppeteer: but that puppeteer has always been nobody but himself. When he reformed in that place beyond ordinary space-time, he reformed across all future time as well as that particular instant in the desert southwest: and therefore locked himself forever into one possible path. At each instant a particle’s future quantum-mechanical path is unfixed, free, until it is observed and collapses into a set state: at that instant, Dr. Manhattan observed, and collapsed, his entire existence.
It is another reason he has for leaving, aside, of course, the fact he knows he leaves: even if he no longer destructively influenced international relationships, to continue his residence on Earth would narrow human possibilities. It would lock down all those elements of human history he would observe. It is best that he puts some distance between himself and Earth: an intergalactic void or two of distance.
He will travel far, and see much, and learn much, although of course due to his unique nature he will not be able to actually make use of what he knows he will learn until he learns it. He will recreate human life on several planets, because human beings are uniquely odd and unusual, and although human history is freer to take its own path sans Dr. Manhattan, human nature does not lend itself to stable long-term utopias. As he had warned Veidt, nothing ever ends, and he knows a number of ways to destroy a world that do not require atomic weapons. Eggs, baskets.
He sees, far off in time and space, the end of his road, but it is not a true ending. It is merely a point beyond which he cannot perceive his own future self, not because it is far away, but because his own mind becomes incomprehensible to his current self. There are other Gods in the universe than himself, and he will one day join them, but he has much to learn first.
 “Power corrupts: and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton
 Which had helped contribute to the long, long plummet the US market embarked on shortly after Dr. Manhattan departed the planet)
 ]Jim Henson in this TL had turned rather political by this point, following the Muppet Show with a “Spitting Image” style show viciously satirizing the US establishment and mixing old favorites with new muppet parodies of everyone from Nixon to Dr. Manhattan
 Veidt, receiving reports from sources within the US government, and contemplating how only six years after an alien attack was supposed to unite mankind elements in the US government apparently found reestablishing strategic superiority was more important than cooperating against the common enemy, felt a simply Pharaonic headache come on.
 Although, of course, with Dr. Manhattan always available to teleport up and do any necessary repairs, or, if needed, rescue evacuations in the case of an Apollo-13 type situation.
 Dr. Manhattan himself, although immune to temperatures in, say, the mere tens of thousands of degrees, said he was unsure whether he would survive being at the center of a nuclear blast: he had been disintegrated by intrinsic field extraction, but the interior of a nuclear fireball would be a different
sort of disintegration.
 During the Nixon years, Dr. Manhattan’s “keepers” tried their best to steer away from him any questions on the subject of religion.
 Located some hundreds of miles from OTL Brasilia, the location if not the desire for a more centralized capital having been butterflied.
 After the truth came out, the Republicans hurriedly rebranded “The Incursion” as “The New York Genocide”, in spite of protests by both New Yorkers and Jews. They had an election to win.
 Afterwards, the Republican party leadership was forced to essentially extend general amnesty to most of the rank and file, since the party ranks would have been decimated by a general purge of everyone who had helped out Veidt and his corporate empire in some
capacity or other.
And here's a world mappie.