Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Redcoat, Jul 21, 2018.
I haven't read this shit since before WWIII but I can see it's still a right wing wank right?
1999 - US Economic and Internal Policy
New Living Wage
Democrats, after the high of a successful 1998 campaign, were prepared to propose radical new policies under the leadership of Minority Leader Al Gore.
The goal was not necessarily to pass bills through the divided Congress but to show the country what a Democratic victory in 2000 could give them. This began with proposing a minimum wage hike to 12$ an hour. Initially, Gore wanted to drive a wedge between Bundy and his poorest supporters but found this would be difficult. Moreover, with early post-war inflation so high, he believed that the past national minimum wage was “non-existent” and “unlivable”. To quote chief sponsor Owen Bieber, “the minimum wage needs to catch up and then some” although economists agreed that even with inflation, this was a significant hike in the minimum wage from before. After meetings with Ginsberg (who rallied enough left-wing progressives to force Perot and Lamm to support the bill) and Danforth (a leader of the liberal Republican faction in the Senate), there seemed to be a tri-partisan consensus in favor of this simple, but important, bill.
Bundy disliked the idea, however, thinking it would ruin his economic progress and “war against inflation”. However, he knew that he would have to more tri-partisan achievements if he wanted to win in 2000, and after being quiet on the proposal, announced he would sign the bill if it passed, which did to little fanfare. Bundy concluded that it would be a better option than other welfare proposals that would increase government spending. Importantly, he had made some friends on the Hill by doing so. To Bundy’s surprising economic growth continued unabated, and inflation did not spike nor did unemployment drop by a statistically significant amount (and when it did, it was in areas that didn’t vote Republican according to Bundy’s research team). Many poorer families were relieved by the minimum wage hike and polling showed more households experiencing economic stability. Markets also appreciated this sign of stability and moderation from the President, although fast-food and fast-casual chains saw a temporary dip on the NYSE that disappeared shortly for all-time gains once sales reports indicate increased consumption.
Bundy had to drop numerous proposals including a bill against absentee fathers, as liberal Republicans buckled up against him [A/N: Divorce rates a lower than OTL for a variety of reasons, though they rose by a bit post-war, hence this idea].
Worse, after a testy interview on the Buckley News Network, Bundy was even worried he would not be endorsed in 2000 by Governor Rockefeller of New York, even fearing a primary challenge. So he decided that Meredith would go on a trip with the Governor to two of the Governor’s favorite vacation and business spots: Chuvashia and Free Altai in 1998.
Trade Deals: Part 2
Post-war, Free Altai had become known as “the new switzerland”-famous for its beautiful mountains and world-class shopping (thanks to its interesting strategy of recruiting luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton). it had become a new exclusive hub for the lucky few to “get away from it all” as its remote location and beautiful mountains made it an exceptional winter retreat for the rich and famous. A few resorts had been constructed, but bureaucratic issues were hampering growth. Meanwhile, Chuvashia beer culture, had become world-renowned in part because of massive government subsidies and support (including a law that operated similarly to the Idaho Potato Commission) and the cultural staple, in part to encourage a national identity. The government had chosen the luxury market because this would make the exclusivity of the Beer (due to transportation issues) an asset as opposed to a liability. Also, regular consumers felt too much of an attachment to national brands. The Rockefeller family had invested in Chuvash beer in a partnership with the Chuvash Government to create these new luxury Beer labels which had become a premier product that replaced fine liquor in some quarters as the drink affluence.
A typical view in free Altai, 1998
On this trip, with his “frenemy” Governor Rockefeller, Meredith did engage in some important business for the President: namely negotiating trade deals. Working with his closest advisors, Bundy bet that trade deals that stood to make the Rockefeller’s a fortune would lead to an endorsement, and more importantly “sweet, sweet donations”.
Chuvashia and Altai were receptive for their part. Both wanted to move away from both the Freyist Pact, Entente, etc. and the US looked to be worthy partners. The negotiations went swimmingly, and Meredith would receive high praise for the favorable terms he negotiated
Altai and Chuvashia agreed to use the US Dollar as their national currency as their own domestic currencies were hard to transfer and volatile. Also, US firms would now receive priority beer shipments from Chuvashia while the government agreed to set an export cap to keep the product exclusive enough to be a luxury.
Meanwhile, in Free Altai, US Citizens would now get priority treatment on the state-owned Free Altai Airlines and Free Altai Resorts Chain (privately owned resorts existed as well, but not as common).
Visa Free Travel between all-three nations would now become standard, a rarity in the ex-Soviet world. In addition, Altai and Chuvashia agree to exclusively purchase US Commercial Aircraft and military equipment. Lastly, mutual tariffs on other goods would be lowered to an average of 1% on trade between the three nations. In addition, various regulations that limited US exports to both small nations would be lifted.
A secret handshake deal also outlines that the two nations would exclusively sell their fine art (during WWIII many Soviet and Russian Art pieces had been moved to Altai for safe storage and remained there after the 2nd RCW) and ethnographic art (both passions of the Governor) through Rockefeller dealerships.
Rockefeller was very pleased, and as he saw his luxury beer contracts improve and his art collection grow. His wealthy friends now had easy access to travel to Altai where they could avoid “the rabble”. The Senate thanks to the Whipping of Perot, who needed a pro-free trade win to keep his compatriots happy (not to mention his own pro-trade views [A/N: since the US is more protectionist OTL, Perot, ever the contrarian, goes in the opposite direction]. Late in 1999, Governor Rockefeller agreed to endorse Bundy again (also secretly ending any rumors of a liberal Republican primary challenge), while also publicly denouncing his previous views on Bundy’s personality and began fundraising for the reelection campaign. Revisionist historians would point to this trade deal as evidence that Bundy was not the “anti-special interests” saint he sometimes is painted as, but while politically important to Bundy, this bill did not move the needle much in the national discussion due to more important news on the war front.
After negotiations in both Altai and Chuvashia, Meredith would continue by traveling to Kiev to meet with the leaders of Ukraine and Galicia. After negotiations there, the Ukrainian Hetmanate (negotiating in tandem with the President of Galicia as part of their common market) agreed to an FTA that eliminated all import quotas (very common in Ukraine) and exempted the US from local content requirements. Tariffs did remain but were generally not as significant as these types of barriers. Galicica would also promise to remove import quotas of Polish goods, in a bid to reduce tensions. Ukraine had an existing deals along the same lines with most European states (Germany, Turkey, Romania, Samara, Georgia, etc.) and wanted to balance itself and retain “an independent foreign policy”, though they were connected to the hip with Galicia. Meanwhile, the state owned aircraft company Antonov agreed to have it’s non-military production bought out by Boeing at the same time due to its poor results, although many suspect Bundy may have had a hand in this. Antonov was very successful in military fields, as their products are used throughout the third world, but couldn’t compete with commercial airliners. Antonov commercial helicopters were also becoming relatively popular. Bundy negotiated this buyout in part because he wanted to protect the US aircraft industry, knowing that most of the old Antonov Manufacturing would leave Ukraine for the USA where Boeing could monitor quality control. The merger was primarily intended as a way to poach the old soviet designers;many of whom would move to the USA. Germany disliked the purchase of Antonov, and protested, but when Ukraine threatened to halt shipment of Beets and Beet sugar, Germany quieted down. Ukraine and Galicia also agreed to allow Poles travel visas. Thanks to the various trade deals Ukraine signed, the nation became a trading hub between East and West, which required in some ways Ukraine not to be in either the German or American camp. This was ok, in part because the FRR was focused more diplomatically and militarily on ex-Russian territories, especially those with oil and natural gas. Ukrainian cheap currency made manufacturing relatively easy, and the nation helped feed the Balkans and Germany. Corruption remained a serious issue, that would continue to haunt Ukraine throughout the period, but that is for another time.
Building off of this success, Bundy and Romney would focus on East Asian Trade later in 1999 and 2000. Bundy realized that these foreign visits made him look Presidential, and his embrace of trade and foreign cultures made him look appealing to urban voters, man who had warmed up to him for his “tough on crime” stances, (outside of the Big Apple) that is.
Bundy himself would travel to Vietnam later in 1999, where both sides agreed to eliminate all import quotas and tariffs between the states outside of US Auto and Milk Tariffs (which were currently not being applied but were legal for the future) and Vietnamese Carp Tariffs. Visa travel requirements would also be lifted. In return, the Vietnamese agreed to raise its minimum wage to $6 USD levels and establish a eight-hour workday, so not to undercut the US and to defend the labor rights of their people. The Social Democratic Government was ok with this, and in fact ecstatic that it could persuade more conservative Vietnamese that these initiatives would not “send Vietname down the road of Socialism and becoming a Chinese Puppet”. This support of an overseas minimum wage won support from more trade-skeptical businesses and unions which felt Bundy had leveled the playing field. The US responded to positive Vietnamese changes by using the IDFC to finance infrastructure projects-dams, bridges, airlines, and surprisingly, solar farms, in Vietnam. The US even agreed to help finance a large Elephant Sanctuary run and funded by a philanthropists and locals with the IDFC, per the wishes of environmentalists, although this bordered on the illegal. Lastly, the agreement also pushed Vietnam to shift from purchasing coal from China to the USA, a major win for West Virginia coal miners. All of these factors lead to an easy approval in the US Senate.
The Communonationalist Response
Democrats and Communonationalists in the Senate were weary of all of these trade developments, especially given recent developments in the economic thinking by a certain Paul Krugman.
Mr. Krugman, chair of the economics department at Columbia University had recently published some seminal works title “New Trade Theory” that were popular in Communonationalist circles that argued that the US needed to institute strong non-tariff protectionist policies (import quotas, content requirements, etc.) in “naturally monopolistic industries” (Krugman 1999) in order for them to survive.
While Democrats Minority Leader Marcy Kaptur and Senator Art Trujillo knew Bundy and his aides had not been particularly receptive to their initial demands for increased tariffs, they believed that due to close personal ties form his days as Washington Governor with Boeing, they could persuade Bundy to adopt some protectionist measures for the US Aircraft industry. In addition, they did have the support of moderately protectionist republican Senator Buchanan, who had voted against the Ukraine and Chuvashia trade bills. The US aircraft industry was very receptive, especially companies like Lockheed which had been devastated by US military spending cuts.
All internal Commercial flight must employ aircraft built in the US and owned by US-based companies
Al direct and “repeated” flights between a US and international destination (no layovers), must follow
All federal employees must fly on US carriers or US aircraft if using private jet.
These requirements are to be enforced beginning on October 15th 2000, in order to give airlines sufficient time to retool there fleets, with smaller fines at first, followed by larger punishments beginning on October 15th 2001.
However, Bundy only agreed to sign the bill on two conditions:
That the Pataki Amendment, which increased airline competition by adding a lottery for “young and emerging” airlines to receive more space at airports currently “locked out” by existing airlines so as to encourage competition
That the President, with the approval of the Senate could waive the content restrictions on a case-by-case basis for developmental projects related to technological growth (used for a special project shared between Boeing and Mitsubishi which we will discuss later).
While disliked by many of the bill’s initial supporters, and enough to make the existing airlines go from furious to apoplectic, the compromise was “worth it” in the eyes of Kaptur and Trujillo.
The Progressives, seeing this as classic interest groups politics, as opposed to bipartisanship (the official Republican and Democratic Party Lines) tried to rally a filibuster in the senate, but lost the cloture vote because they were unable to get as many “hardline” Republicans to defy their president in the name of ideology.
All CarFTA nations were exempted from airplane source requirements, provided they build the plane in its entirety, which would never be the case. This was in part because these nations lacked the industry or the cheap and/or educated labor force to compete much with US firms anyways. Canada and the UK would have been exempted by, except both had massive subsidies for Aircraft Production to beat Boeing, which leads to the amendment’s easy defeat in the house by the Democratic minority.
Citizen Donor Responsibility Act
David Boren and Dick Gephardt sponsored the Citizen Donor Responsibility Act that changed American Organ Donor law to require that unless it is explicitly wished beforehand by patients or parents, that organs of patients will be harvested, due to the need of urgency. Also, asking whether an individual wanted to be an organ donor at the DMV would be prohibited. Instead, it would be assumed one was an organ donor unless they mail paperwork otherwise indicating a religious or medical reason for exemption. In addition, those listed as organ donors were by law required to be given priority when they need an organ themselves. This move was part of a growing “Whole Life” ideology in the party. Bundy, and HHS Secretary Dan Evans and Attorney General Thomas, didn’t have any strong feelings either way, although concerns about federalism were there, the presence of AmCare as a federal institution lead Thomas to conclude that the courts would uphold its legality.
The campaign sign of the AmCare department of organ donations, often found in hospitals [A/N: Credit Eylondamovich for the Sign]
Some more fringe figures, including in the Natural Law and AKIP parties, would cite this bill as an “attack on religious conscience”, “an assault on federalism”, and “symbolic of an increasing conformist culture”, but since there was a massive jump in organ donations and a marked increase in the survival rate, no serious figures, either politically or religiously, opposed this change. Some legal theorists believed it would lead to a larger change from the “Explicit consent” norm, and thus a more authoritarian legal system, in the US, but this had yet to be determined.
Moreover, a suit against these requirements which went to the supreme court was defeated 9-2 (with Kennedy writing the majority opinion and Dershowitz and Schlafly, both more libertarian on these sorts of issues, dissenting)
“Knowledge Hubs and the New HUD”
GMI had made HUD a bit of a “lost agency” with the exception of course of the post-war rebuilding phase, as low-income housing and middle-class housing subsidies were replaced with GMI. The Office of Fair Housing, Lead Hazard Control Program and Healthy Homes Program remained, but this was not an exciting, nor powerful, portfolio. Rumsfeld had also specifically designed the reconstruction efforts to avoid a massive federal bureaucracy by reinstating the Community Development Block Grant system, which navigated federal funds to states and municipalities which knew how better to rebuild from Soviet bombings. Most of these funds were set to expire once rebuilding finished, but Rumsfeld had been forced to institute some “permanent community development” funds, to win enough support to prevent any real debate. Currently, these funds, along with funds from the Economic Development Agency (a New Deal relic that although whittled down by Wallace to fund GMI and reduced to 1 old building outside of central DC had managed to barely survive) were awarded at the discretion of the funds manager, who in January 10th, had had to resign after an audit found that the funds had been going to wealthy development communities which had lobbied Hugh Harmer in order to get funds to build frivolous entities like High School Football Stadiums, luxury shopping malls, and roller rinks in communities in the top decile of income like Harmer’s hometown of New Rochelle. The Great Southern War had covered up this minor scandal (harsh prosecution by the justice department helped as well) but Sam Katz and Bundy felt that HUD needed to be reinvigorated and the EDA needed to be put to pasture.
Thankfully, Katz, already had some theories on Urban Development that he was itching to “try out”: Katz had been arguing for years that since cities require more “public goods”-public transportation, parks, shared facilities, etc. that they deserved more resources than rural areas where individuals were naturally inclined to self-sufficiency. Moreover, because of this increased demand, cities would always have higher taxes than rural areas; which Katz saw as unfair to the Urban Poor.
Meanwhile, Katz had also been in discussion with theorists at the University of Pennsylvania who believed that given the information-heavy requirements of new industries in computing, engineering, biotech, and even old-school steel and car manufacturing; companies would be much more competitive if they were grouped together in major metropolitan areas with an educated base (as the result of local academic institutions) and/or cheap land.
Bundy believes that large metro areas are crucial to economic development because of the “knowledge bubble” effect and how businesses build upon themselves. But at the same time, he wants to ensure that enough housing is provided so that large metro areas are liveable and that middle-class individuals could be part of this new economies-both in the information dimension and in the large factory complexes that would make the products of tomorrow. Moreover, he did not want urban poverty and crime to dissuade companies from taking the steps needed to create these “cities of the future”.
Thus, with the help of Senator Pataki and the whipping of an enthusiastic Senator Lugar, Katz wrote the 21st Century Cities Act which outlined.
Community Development Block Grants would now be renamed Urban Development Grants.
They would only be available to the top 13 largest US metro areas by census population to develop facilities such as public transportation, business centers, libraries, and public parks. Budget is increased by [$1.6 billion] from the planned “post-reconstruction levels”. For this program.
Moreover, the administration announces its support for opportunity zones in these large cities in a future tax reduction bill.
To fund these Urban investments, the Economic Development Agency, long on the chopping block, is to be eliminated and its assets sold.
The EDA famously had its headquarters bulldozed to make room for a local minor league/high school/college/community cricket pitch. Lamm would joke that “Bundy is great at eliminating things that are already gone...but in all seriousness, good riddance with that trash heap”. Overall spending would increase slightly from this change, but Bundy believed that long-term the positive effect of eliminating the EDA would be a net-cost saving (though this is controversial). Bundy also believed that by focusing on knowledge-hubs HUD would receive positive ROI through increased economic growth, increased tax revenues, and a decrease in overhead (i.e. more money actually going to recipients).
While this bill received near universal support from Republicans and Urban Progressives, Bundy and Katz were forced to change the qualifications for receiving and apportioning funding in order to win some key support from House Democrats from smaller cities that wanted a shot at the money. Instead of going purely by population, cities/mayorships in the top 35 in population, as calculated by the mean of previous two censuses (in order to demonstrate long-term population stability) would submit bids outlining their plans, and the top 13 bids would receive funding for the next two years, with HUD monitoring progress and discussing other applications for the next round of funding (which would be in odd-numbered years every 6 years starting in 1999, even though the initial bids would be rushed). The Director would have to justify his choices in a document to Congress to ensure that political favors would not dictate fund destinations. HUD Director Katz, knowing he would be the one who chose this, accepted, knowing he would. In addition, removing single-use zoning laws was to be considered a “bonus” in any bid for winning a grant (although technically the choices would be completely at the HUD Director’s discretion). To win New York Support, New York City would be allowed to submit multiple bids per-borough (as done by private groups in conjunction with the Mayor) in addition to an “all-metro” submission by the Mayor’s office. Mayor Sanders, for his part, would use this last addendum very effectively, winning 2 cities’ worth of bids, much to Bundy’s fury. Bundy couldn’t convince Katz to rescind these bids for political reasons, but after better political news on other fronts, decided that it would be better for his legacy if he executed his policy “as written”. Besides, Katz reminded Bundy that he had rejected the bid from his hometown of Philadelphia.
The winners would be
New York Metro
While generally considered a positive move for the Urban development in these cities by encouraging effective management, rural Democrats, especially in the Heartland, which had not received any funding, would paint this as part of Bundy’s “coastal snobbishness”. Moreover, when Bundy rejected and attacked, a proposal to increase farm subsidies put forth by Senator Kerrey he was accused of hating farmers.
Portland Light Rail built using these federal funds
Stopping the Rise of Occupational Licensing
Bundy, while not as regulation-averse as other Republicans (which some biographers claimed was a result of living in Washington State) as indicated by his approval of the ban on BGH, was still at heart a Liberty Conservative. He also felt a bit of a connection with the “farm belt” western libertarian progressives like Ron Paul, even though they hated his drug policies.
Secretary of Labour helped the sponsors write the Ron Paul-Jon Kyl Occupational Licensing regional Compact Bill: which had two segments
The Licensing Smoothening
Frivolous License Banning
The first section outlined a legal process whereby states could legally form “compacts” whereby various licenses (trucking license, legal bar, etc.) could be transferable across states so that freedom of movement was easier for professionals.
The second section attacked the first inklings of a move towards onerous licensing tests and requirements on various lower level jobs that were pushed by states as a form of tax revenue and by existing businesses as a way to restrict potential competition. If these licensing requirements were enforced, states and municipalities would lose all federal funds.
Bundy's "banned licenses included those for jobs including:
Ballroom Dance Instructors
Democrats were very unhappy with this bill because it not only attacked “states rights” this help, especially in urban areas with more service-oriented economies, would deliver positive employment results while also bolstering Bundy’s re-election campaign. One unintended positive consequence was that various private “licensing agencies” would emerge to take the place of the government in certain industries. The general shift of priorities towards Urban and suburban metropolitan areas, helped keep the Liberal “Rockefeller Republican and “John Lewis Republican” types in the fold and made Bundy even more popular amongst the Liberty Conservative African American wing which saw this as an extension on the attack on “local and state tyrannies” and their “war on individual freedom”. Minaprogressives also appreciated this attack on "government interference in private lives". When speaking before the signing of the bill, Bundy let out a quip: “I don’t care if it’s the federal government, state government, or local dogcatcher that’s making people’s lives miserable…if the government is causing problems I aim to fix them” followed later by the more professional, but hash, remark of “federalized tyranny is still tyranny”.
This bill would be challenged up to the Supreme Court, but the court ruled unanimously in favor of its standing as just under the Interstate Commerce Clause and the precedent of other federal economic initiatives.
While Bundy’s Presidency was happy, if incredibly tumultuous time, it was also a time when Americans had to close a chapter in history. Under Bundy, post-war reconstruction finally ended completely (although all serious reconstruction was finished early in Iacocca's presidency, certain communities had received delayed funding for various reasons including budgetary, logistical, and the need for preliminary environmental cleanup). Bundy had also ended America’s adventure with NATO and the “Cold War Internationalist” mentality. Organizations such as the Wounded Fathers hit their peak support in 1999, but would, decrease slightly as time healed wounds.
Meanwhile, the new millennium was about to come and America wanted to move on.
1999 would also see the opening of the World War III memorial in Washington, D.C. along with the WWII memorial in Los Angeles-symbolically chosen as the last two reconstruction projects. Although a controversial project when it was first put forward by Iacocca, much fanfare surrounded Bundy’s opening speech at the WWIII memorial (VP Meredith, in conjunction with WWII veterans Dole, Bush Sr. and Wallace would open the WWII memorial the next day). [A/N: The memorial is located and built roughly the same spot and design as OTL’s WW2 memorial, which wasn't constructed until 2004.]
Bundy spoke eloquently about the sacrifices America endured to make sure the world was free from “the Twin Heads of Tyranny”(i.e. Communism and Fascism) but remarked that “America continues to lead the world as a father...but as any good father America must let this reborn world learn from its mistakes...but that takes nothing away from the sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors, and pilots”...” we must never forget the great national unity and sacrifice made during the last war...come to terms with it...and wage peace in this new millennium with the same effort that we waged war in this last century…”
Overall, while Bundy wasn’t able to make as big splashes as he wanted during 1999, he was able to regain his footing after the Midterms and prevent his presidency of falling into the traffic jam Iacocca had gotten into. He built positive relationships both with “acceptable” Democrats and Progressives, and even if he had signed some bills that he didn’t particularly like, he had built political capital he needed and he still had 1 more year to use it, the only question was how...
Nice look at Bundy's end-of-term policies. I can see how some of these might boost his chances of reelection, but I'm kinda hoping he doesn't.
BTW, while I know he's kept the killings covered-up, but did anyone ever uncover Bundy's incestuous origins in TTL?
Almost certainly not, though like the killings I'm sure a small group of "conspiracy theorists" peddle the idea
Great Southern War: early 1998
Protests in Europe
One benefit of being run mostly by dictatorships was that dissent was kept to a minimum through most of Africa. Despite charges by many of their enemies that they were neo-colonialists, the Europeans were democratic, and protests made the public opinion of the war at the homefront obvious. Massive anti-war protests in France and Belgium ground streets to a halt and brought attention to the growing anti-war movement. It was most obvious in Italy. The populace was tired of conflict so soon after they had achieved peace, and felt as if their nations were forcing them through a brushfire war no one but the elites had wanted. They especially called for an end to fighting in most fronts except in Libya (which was an immediate threat to the nation). The Entebbe Pact was only too willing to spread these lines of dissent. Most of their nations, (except for Kenya, which had popular support for the conflict), were dictatorships that could crack down on protests without needing to worry about how this would affect popular opinion or election prospects.
In the aftermath of the 1993 and 1995 elections, regionalism was alive and well in the country. A core tenet of Freyist ideology was to bolster nationalism and pride with the use of a figurehead that the country could rally behind. While Germany’s solution was a regular constitutional monarchy, Italy’s was the Catholic Church. And to some extent this did work. Separatism remained low in most regions. Some violent groups, including the New BAS (based on an existing South Tyrolese group) and “Padania Libero” (A Padanian independence group), attempted several attacks on government institutions, but these stayed mostly low level for now. Northern Italians were especially anti-war as they had recently lived through Soviet occupation during World War Three. After negotiations with the Italian government broke down, the former began receiving covert funding from the Entebbe Pact. The people of Sud-Tyrol/Trentino Alto-Adige were majority German speakers, a minority in Italy, and felt disenfranchised as a result. They demanded total independence and the chance, if they wanted, to join either Switzerland or Austria. The Italian government, wanting to preserve the unity of the nation and set an example to other separatists, followed through with a heavy crackdown. A state of emergency was placed on the province, and draconian searches and police raids for terrorist compounds did not endear them to the local populace. Support for the New BAS, lukewarm at first only rose. Under the combined weight of strikes, massive protests, and terrorist attacks against government institutions in Bolzano, Berlinguer’s LSD party was forced to kowtow to these interests to save their election prospects for elections in early 1999. Their agreement went as such: The Italian government would return their soldiers from all fronts of operation by December 31st, 1998. This was except for the Iraqi front, (where the date would be March 31st, 1999), and Libya, where operations would continue as normal. A lavish celebration was held in Nairobi after the news was heard, involving leaders like Obama, Amin, and Mobotu. One country less for them to worry about.
A “Padania Libero” Protest in Venice (April 1998)
Belgium was yet another obvious target. The former colonizer of Mobutu's Zaire, the dictator took to meddling in Belgian affairs personally. This war was a war to right the wrongs of the past, and this was just one of the ways he would do it. When it came to this, he would stop at nothing but the partition of the country, an optimistic goal to say in the least.
A political crisis was coming to the forefront of national politics shortly before the start of the war with a political debate over the status of the municipalities surrounding Brussels. Brussels, a Francophone island surrounded by Dutch speakers, was beginning to stretch the influence of the French language outside the city with the growth of suburbs inhabited by French speakers. Many Flemish citizens were worried that this would be the start of Walloon encroachment on “Dutch-speaking territory”. Language services would be given only in Dutch in these suburbs, which proved detrimental for French commuters living in the suburbs of Brussels. They wouldn’t be able to receive services in their language or vote for French parties. Neither side could come to a decision and reached an impasse. While a petty matter, linguistic politics in Belgium defined the country as a whole, and neither side would give an inch no matter how mundane the matter. With the start of the Great Southern War, however, the political crisis became worse than the usual squabbling and posturing of Belgian politics.
Flemish populists charged that the Great Southern War was a drain on the economy and that their nation had been dragged in by French and their Francophone allies in Wallonia. (This was ignoring the fact that the Netherlands was also supportive of the Concordat, though most of these types wouldn’t let facts get in the way of their populist screeds anyways). Mobutu knew that if he could draw a wedge between the two linguistic groups of Belgium, he would be able to force one of the main European participants in the war out, and strike a blow against his nation’s former colonizers at the same time. This could only help his popularity. Like in Italy, billions of dollars were funneled into radical separatist groups on both sides.
Far-right Flemish groups decried the “perfidy of the socialist Walloons” and Francophone expansion, while far-left Walloon groups called for the abolition of the monarchy or secession from the country altogether. The latter had great appeal in Wallonia, home to a swath of decaying and de-industrializing areas, where socialism and more extreme ideologies like Dugin’s Nationalist Bolshevikism were gaining ground. While the war caused the two parties to put aside their differences and form a national unity government for the war, the leaders of the main parties in Flanders and Wallonia could not stand each other, and rumors were that the coalition was close to dissolving. In the case that a government could not be formed, a provisional cabinet and prime minister would be chosen, while the king would rule partially by decree. King Baudouin's lack of intervention in the crisis did not endear him to either side and despite being a Francophone, his anti-leftist track record made him hated among many Walloon politicos within the country. Flemish ultra-nationalists responded by ironically rallying behind the king to show themselves more patriotic than “the separatists”. Belgium had reached a political standstill.
Flemish separatists rioting near Brussels (March 1998)
When election season rolled around in late 1998, the coalition government led by Wilfried Martens, waited with bated breath for what would come of the results. Unfortunately, they were not encouraging. Martens and his Walloon allies in the Liberal Reformist Party took 6% hits each, making them lose their majority. They would be forced to form a coalition with smaller parties, including one outright Walloon separatist party which was gaining ground in Belgium’s “rust-belt”, especially the Charleroi area. The king in such a situation would ask for the current prime minister to create an interim government to run the nation until the parties of parliament could reach a final agreement. However, no one was up for the job, fearing the pressures it would present on them, and being given the task of juggling several competing interests. Belgium was left at a standstill.
After nearly a month of the country partially being run by decree of King Baudouin and of a haphazardly created provisional government with members from all major parties, all factions eventually came to an agreement. To appease most Wallonians, language facilities in the French language were given to the growing suburbs of Brussels. The borders of Wallonia itself also grew slightly, though a proposal to connect Brussels physically to the region was shot down by Flemish representatives, who were adamant about keeping it surrounded by Flanders. Most importantly of all, to appease Walloon separatists and bring their voters back into the fold of the major Francophone parties, a referendum was promised for after involvement in the war ended. A man in Kinshasa watched the news of this compromise from his home, seeing an opportunity to gain revenge.
Nothing can go wrong with that, right?
Before their defeat in World War Three, Yugoslavia had one of the largest militaries in Europe and the second largest in the Warsaw Pact besides the USSR itself. This carried over to Milosevic’s Serbia, which kept most of the country’s military and industrial centers. Its target, Greece already committed many of their troops to the African fronts, especially in Libya and the Namib front. Because of this, it was unsurprising to most observers when the Serbians began to steamroll through the Macedon plain. From the moment Serbia joined the war, the Greeks were almost written off by their allies. Though the Concordat sent reinforcements to help their ally, especially through (a rump) Croatia, such troops were largely green units without much experience in battle. Compared to the seasoned Serbian border force, made up of veterans of the Third World War, they had no chance. They were too overstretched on most fronts to spare troops. Since the Concordat was in no condition to send even more troops for yet another front, even one close to home, the Freyist Pact saw it as their responsibility to oversee this front. They did this after an agreement with the Concordat that the Balkans (except Greece) would officially be under their orbit post-war.
With victory after victory in Ioannina, Kozani, and Veroia, Milosevic’s army seemed unstoppable, and it only seemed a matter of time until Athens itself fell. The entirety of Macedonia except for Solun (Thessaloniki as the Greeks called it), was under their control. Serbian units, adept at fighting in mountainous terrain, took the Epirus region and were in the process of attempting a beachhead in Corfu to take the Ionian Islands. The Thracian region was left cut off from the rest of Greece, but no further advancement east was made because of a fear of being overstretched. Some in Istanbul whispered about intervening in the war and nibbling at this end of Greece. Best to wait and see how things would turn out.
Many of its neighbors, Balkan allies of the Freyists and Concordat, saw this and began to fear that their country was next on the list. They began to debate whether or not to withdraw troops back home to defend their borders in case Milosevic decided to open up a new front. Something needed to be done before another European ally withdrew from the war. With France and its allies, especially Spain, not being able to commit troops, and Berlin unwilling to sink too deeply into Serbia, Fischer's government eventually decided that the most obvious thing to do was to ferment rebellion among the oppressed people of Serbia. Namely the Bosnians, Croats, and Macedonians. This would not be hard to do either. Milosevic’s Greater Serbia left many non-Orthodox residents who did not identify as Serbian living as second-class citizens in their own land. Serbia’s apartheid-like policies against Bosnians and Croats caused many to seek to overthrow the government. (The Montenegrins and the Macedonians were off luckier if they identified themselves officially as Serbs. Neither of their identities was strong to start with either so Milosevic’s government stayed popular there.)
The famed Serbian elite unit “Panthers Guard” before the battle of Kozani (December 1997)
Serbian irregulars pose for a picture around Veroia (January 1998)
Radovan Karadžić, the newly-appointed commander of Serbian army, meeting with soldiers in the Epirus region (February 1998)
Indeed the Freyists found many offers from underground resistance groups for their services, but giving support to every single potential warlord in occupied Bosnia and Croatia would be impractical. Joschka Fischer realized this would not bode well for any future peace plan, as the region would possibly end up a mess of interethnic and sectarian violence. But despite major issues, two militiamen caught their interest. One was the Bosniak resistance leader, Alija Izetbegovic, and the other was the Croatian Mate Boban. Billions of dollars in aid were sent to the two’s respective militant groups. It was hoped that under their leadership and the blessing of Berlin, Bosnians and Croatians would be able to rally against the regime which oppressed them so and then allow the Freyists to sweep up Milosevic’s government. From there they could free up its troops for a final confrontation against the Entebbe Pact in Africa, preferably in Libya. (The Libyan front had for the large part stagnated, with Qaddafi's initial surge past Sfax failing to gain the momentum needed to reach all the way to Tunis. At least for now, Western Europe couldn’t do anything about it…)
Izetbegovic was a firm believer in keeping the multiethnic Bosnia intact, and that all groups could live together in harmony if united under a common national pride and liberal government. He had an authoritarian and illiberal leanings, but despite that, he endeared himself to Western observers with such policy ideas.
Western Europe’s honeymoon with Alijia would not last. Unlike Boban, Alija-aligned resistance members did not bide their time for the right moment to revolt. Instead, they began to attack local military installations right away, with hit-and-run tactics. Seeing a sudden uptick in partisan activity localized around the city of Tuzla, (Alija’s base of operations), it became obvious to Milosevic what was going on. After his spy network discovered that a meeting of all the rebel kingpins was in progress in Tuzla, he found his opportunity to cut the head off the snake. Milosevic ordered his secret security force to open fire on their position. There was almost no warning for the Bosnian leaders. Nearly everyone in attendance died, including Alija.
After the death of Alija and many other important leaders, the Bosniak resistance was left in disarray. Infighting weakened the movement and made it easier for the Serbian government to wipe up dissenters. With their resistance weakened, even more, resistance leaders were killed or arrested in the process. Standing above the rubble, however, was the businessman and Bosniak politician, Fikret Abdic. Or as his men called him, King Babo.
Abdic was a pragmatist. In many ways, he was like how many externally analyzed Milosevic himself. He was a political chameleon, willing to take on whatever political position was most expedient to gaining power for himself. He had no qualms about partitioning his own country and was willing to make deals with whoever it took for the pursuit of power. He was ruthless in his goal, and in the cutthroat atmosphere that set the tone of the Bosnian resistance, he was coming out on top. He had no problems with partitioning his home country or selling out his own people either. Unknown to the Freyists and the Entente, he and Boban already reached a gentleman’s agreement to partition Bosnia along vaguely ethnic lines instead of keeping it intact.
Boban was a conventional politician as things went, and if history went a different way, likely would’ve ended up the next president after Franjo Tudjman, if not for intervening circumstances at the time. He rallied together Dalmatian Croats in favor of the current Croatian government under president Gojko Susak, a formerly Canadian based businessman. While he was relatively less flashy than other rebels in his aims, he was recognized as a good statesman, needed for the post-war building process. Men like him would be needed if a lasting peace in the Balkans was to be created, lest it becomes another powderkeg for war.
The Fall of Tanzania
The story of Tanzania was one of the big surprises of the Great Southern War: a weakened nation, still nursing wounds from the Ugandan-Tanzanian War and a Concordat ally surrounded by the Entebbe Pact, its activity in the war surprised many commentators, who expected them to be too frightened of a repeat of this humiliation. However, the Concordat was desperate for a breakthrough, and secretly made a deal with the Tanzanians in exchange for the promises of favorable treatments and investments. In a sudden blitz towards Kampala, they succeeded to advance into the heart of Uganda, helped by the fact that they simultaneously cut off Ugandan troops from a land retreat from Mozambique. By mid-1998, they reconquered the Kagera region and the entirety of former Rwanda, a territory that they had lost in 1978. This would not last forever, as Paul Kagame, a protege of Amin would personally lead resistance in his home nation. Before slowing down to let their supply lines catch up, they even advanced further through newly-formed nations of Hutuland and Tutsiland (former Burundi). Neither governments had sufficient defense forces and rolled over quickly. When the Tanzanian army reached Masaka, 80 miles away from Kampala, their supply lines were almost completely depleted, The Entebbe Pact’s supreme command decided that enough was enough. They planned an impressive operation: An amphibious landing near Bukoba, where troops would seize the city and advance westward, through former Rwanda. This was a move that would practically cut off the already weak Tanzanian supply lines, and leave their armies without a chance to resupply. The Tanzanian army was considered weak and was mostly consisted of green recruits. They would easily fold when confronted with successive defeats. Also, because of their relative distance from their main allies in the Concordat and the then-ongoing blockade of Madagascar, which prevented naval movement within the western portion of the Indian Ocean, they couldn’t demand reinforcements from their allies. As the Entebbe Pact’s supreme command understood the geopolitical situation of Tanzania, they figured out that it was the perfect plan.
When the sun shone on that morning of March 3, Ugandan and Kenyan forces landed one mile south of Bukoba, accompanied by the cover of sea-to-land missiles fired from Ugandan missile ships at strategic positions. The small Tanzanian garrison stationed there was caught unprepared and forced to abandon the city quickly. When the Entebbe Pact’s Supreme Command watched the results, they decided to send reinforcements to the bridgehead that was secured in Bukoba and continue westwards to encircle the Tanzanian army units fighting in southern Uganda.
Tanzanian artillery operator stationed in Tanzanian-occupied Rwanda province (April 1998)
In a single push, a force of Ugandan and Kenya troops cut off nearly 40,000 Tanzanian troops in the spearhead, trapping them in a pocket. While they fought valiantly, after a week they were defeated near the town of Kakoma. Uganda was safe. Idi Amin boasted that his troops were strong in will and immune to Tanzanian bullets.
Unfortunately, it would take more than that to take the Tanzanians out of the war. Although they failed to militarize their army up to modern standards, they were still able to hold back their neighbors due to the sheer distance that needed to be covered and the men that both sides could through into the meat grinder. That would require taking men away from the main fronts to deal with this nuisance. That was exactly why the Concordat found it useful to pull them into the war after all. It was then that India decided to intervene again. Although it was still busy with a major campaign in Pakistani territory, Sanjay Gandhi’s administration found a strategic opening in Tanzania. The Zanzibar archipelago, off the coast of the mainland, was in an important position in East Africa. Influence over it would give India a foothold into East Africa. Capturing it could possibly allow it to gain some leverage from its occupation, possibly in the form of an overseas naval base or a puppet government.
The Indians brought fire and fury on the region, but learning their lesson from the international backlash from their Djibouti campaign, they targeted only military centers and avoided civilian populations as much as they possibly could to avoid receiving even worse press than they already had. A beachhead was established on the island of Pemba, allowing the Indian army to overrun the island in its entirety. Still fearing that the Indian government would have no qualms in virtually turning their island to glass, defense forces surrendered en masse. The main island of Unguja fell shortly after, but not before a brief battle in taking the largest city, Zanzibar City. With their planes now in the range of the Tanzanian heartland, a campaign against Dar Es Salaam was put into works. While the president vowed he would keep fighting, nearly a week into the mainland bombing campaign, the military organized a coup to stop Tanzania’s involvement in the war. They quickly agreed to the Entebbe Pact’s terms. They would leave the conflict and cede border regions to Uganda, Kenya, and Mozambique and the island of Mafia to India. They would recognize Zanzibar as an independent country (upon India’s insistence).
Map of post-GSW Tanganyika. border cessions are colored: blue for Uganda, green for Kenya, red for Mozambique, orange for India and yellow for Zanzibar.
With a now independent Zanzibar, a new Ugandan-aligned Tanganyikan government was created. (Tanzania’s name was a portmanteau of the names of the British colonies it was formed from, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. With Zanzibar independent, it reverted to its old name). India received permission by this new government to build an overseas base in Stone Town. The Arab sultan of the country, Jamshid bin Abdullah, was returned to the throne. He was previously ousted in the 1960s after an African, pro-Tanganyikan revolution. The new government called for the return of the diasporic population which fled after the revolution, although this was mostly unheeded. The famous singer Freddie Mercury, born in Zanzibar to parents who were then kicked out after the revolution, bemoaned how his birthplace had become little more than a pawn in geopolitical chess. With plans for a substantial military base in Stone Town, India was once again showing the world it could give the Americans a run for their money for superpower status.
The Battle of Palmyra and the Golan Heights insurgency
After the successful Iraqi attack on Syria and the capitulation of Deir-Ez-Zor, the Syrian front was on free fall. Al-Badri's army group, after consolidating Iraqi rule over the city, turned southward, towards Damascus, the biggest city in the protectorate of Syria and Lebanon, and Beirut, its capital. [Beirut was chosen as the capital for the protectorate because of the friendly Christian population residing there and because of its defensible, seaside location]. Uday Hussein’s group advanced towards the city of Al-Raqqa, located near the banks of lake Massu [formerly known as Lake Assad], on their way to the Turkish border and reached it by the new year’s eve, with almost no opposition. Meanwhile, Qusay Hussein's army group, now reinforced and better-armed, rammed along the Jordanian border with a clear plan to take Damascus and threatening Israel and Jordan.
Al-Badri’s group faced virtually no obstacles on their way towards Damascus. That was until early 1998 had commenced when they reached the archeological site of Palmyra. Several hundreds of Concordat’s armored vehicles were placed there, commanded by the French Maj. Gen. Pierre de Villiers. De Villiers was a WWIII veteran who commanded a platoon of AMX-30 tanks during the battles of Strasburg, Saint-Dizier, Brussels and promoted to be the commander of the 501st-503rd Combat Tank Regiment in operation Mjölnir following his performances in these battles. After the end of WWIII, he remained in his role until the Great Southern War has started and he was sent to Syria along with his regiment. His regiment was quickly stationed along the Al Tabqa-Palmyra-As Suwayda line. With the increasing withdrawals of Belgian and Italian troops beginning to hit troop numbers, they had to use conscripts from the local population, which was proven to be a hard task. By and large, most of these soldiers were of unreliable loyalty, many of them even supported the pan-Arabism that Saddam spouted in propaganda.
The battle slogged on for days, with each side equally matched. Arab soldiers took the brunt of the fighting, making many feel as if they were being used as little more than cannon fodder compared to the French. Desertions began to bleed the numbers of these regiments, allowing the Iraqis to make a breakthrough on both sides. Boosted by defections, the mainly French and Spanish force was routed.
Pro-Iraqi irregulars patrolling around Palmyra after the battle (March 1998)
While the battles on the central flank of the front continued being waged, the southern flank was a completely different story: Qusay Hussein’s forces had now reached the outskirts of As-Suwayda and quickly took over the city. The local garrison surrendered quickly when met with their numerical superiority. The Yarmuk River and the Israeli border were closer than ever before, and now the frontline was within the range of the Iraqi air force. Saddam Hussein, for all his pragmatism and his use of realpolitik in foreign policy, relished this position. Even though he did not bring it up for political reasons, he had a deep personal hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. This fact, combined with the hot-headed temper of Israel’s new Defense Minister, Rafael 'Raful' Eitan, [more details will prevail in the future Israel update], quickly tightened the security situation in Israel. The already-tense situation escalated even further when an Iraqi aircraft was shot down by Israeli anti-aircraft missile that was stationed in the Golan Heights, an area in which Israel considered its air space. If Hussein conquered all of Syria, Israel would have to deal with him a lot more from there on.
IDF 366th “Fire Path” Armored Division ready on the Syrian border (June 1998)
As the Concordat’s situation on the Syrian and Balkan front worsened, the right-wing Turkish junta, still led by Doğan Güreş, watched it with mixed feelings. They were unsure about whether or not they could join and reap spoils. On the one hand, Turkey received almost nothing from WWIII, and the ruling junta needed a surge in the nationalistic sentiment within the population to retain their public support for their regime. They could achieve it by joining the war on the side of Iraq. On the other hand, Serbia, a nation that conducted apartheid-esque techniques and ethnic cleansing on fellow Muslims, was on this side too. The public at large would not support an ally like this, which they would see as a “war against Islam”. Along with this fact, the land that the Turks *would* get was in majority Kurdish and Arab land. The former population was already a nuisance to Turkish authorities, and bringing more of their ethnic land under their control could heighten tensions further than needed. And as for the latter, the general Turkish speaking populace would be unsupportive of measures to bring more non-Turkish land under their control. Turkey would sit this contest out.
As Palmyra fell and the defense line was fully broken, the road to Damascus was wide open and the Concordat's supreme command ordered a full retreat to the former Lebanese border. Forces that were north of the road to Damascus were ordered to advance toward the Lebanese border through the narrow corridor of Homs and the forces that were stationed south of it were allowed to pass through Israel, where they were joined by a volunteer force made of the Druze population of Israel, eager to defend the fellow Druzes of the Syrian protectorate from Iraqi aggression.
The Grim Reaper has had a busy decade. And Eris must be delighted
Great update. Frightening to think stuff like this could have actually happened in OTL after the Cold War ended.
RBG is a New Jersey Senator in this postwar universe.
This is true but how it's related?
And so the war gets even messier. I can't even begin to imagine what the post-war world will look like.
It's been a while but BIG things are coming...
An unstable postwar world especially in former-USSR and the old Eastern Bloc....
RIP Lee Iaccoca. You are fondly remembered as both an OTL and ITTL icon!
Could a 9/11 event happen in this timeline?
The Naval Invasion
The pertinent demands of the Chinese naval invasion would force the Navy to split in two prongs: one half to go east to block potential attacks from the French Pacific Fleet, (based out of France’s South Pacific Holdings), and another to destroy the Thai Fleet and Bangkok's defense to prepare for invasion.
Landing near a major Metropolitan area was risky, especially without the complete element of surprise (impossible for such a task). However, it was a bold stroke needed to seal the victory. That being said, while the Thai expected an invasion, they believed it would come during Chinese New Year, according to their misread intelligence from their networks, not the Western New Year, and because of that, they were caught relatively off guard.
Twelve-hours after sighting the main Chinese force in the South China Sea, the Thai Fleet, realizing it could do little, has been ordered to pull back, with the exception of its two submarines which would attempt to harass the invasion force, evacuate major relics and do what the country would need to convince the French to help earlier. While Chinese aircraft did sink four cargo ships, most of their resources were preserved for the main assault. However, Bangkok fell into a panic as refugees began to flee the city, clogging traffic.
Spearheading the actual landings themselves were an elite team of Chinese shock troops, whose goal was to capture the Thai King and convince him to surrender. However, all they found was the King’s charred body in a helicopter that had crashed in the refugee chaos. News of this spread like wildfire among the Thai. Morale was substantially lowered among the defenders.
Bangkok itself was successfully evacuated just in time before the invasion, although refugees continued to clog the roads outside the city itself. The Chinese army, learning from the Battle of Moscow in WWIII, engaged methodically through a brutal House to house, canal to canal campaign that focused on securing key chokepoints-often the tallest skyscrapers or key bridges. In an unusual move, smaller, older tanks, and APCs, would often be the spearhead of the advance. They could fit in the narrow, destroyed husk of the buildings of Bangkok more than the main Chinese battle tanks.
An Older Type-62 tank of the type used in Bangkok. Private American paramilitary forces like the Pinkertons under Rally Johnson were among the main providers of such old tanks.
Then, Thai Command heard some unwelcome news: Laos would not be as neutral in this conflict, worsening their expectations and throwing a wrench into their plans. Thai border defenses were the last element in pre-war preparations and key elements had been removed to defend the Chinese invasion to the South.
Chinese supporting heavy equipment and weaker and less experienced Laotian forces began a steady advance in the Northern Thai jungles. However, their advances were delayed by the terrible terrain and the Thai strategy of counterattacking versus the weaker Laotian forces on the parts of the line which they controlled and were not controlled by forces with the support of Chinese advisors, tanks, helicopters, etc. The Chinese were sure not to directly involve their own troops so as not to alienate local Thai citizens. Civilians were ambivalent about the Laotian invasion, with some seeing them as brethren and collaborating, and others seeing them as little more than Chinese puppets and resisted their onslaught.
However, the Chinese and Laotian leadership, realizing that the terrain did not suit itself to conventional warfare, began using helicopter landing forces, supported by heavy air strikes to seize the key transportation hubs, small villages, etc. The Chinese Helicopter landing forces cut off the supply routes. China now knew it would have the advantage of time. A mass panic began when Burmese forces joined the fray, cutting off the Kra peninsula and stopping any hope to defect to Malaysia for those in the middle of a mass exodus towards the border. (This would end up leading to a wide Thai diaspora, as many fled in rafts to Malaysia, where they eventually found their way to the United States, Britain, and especially Australia. In the latter, the Thai diaspora would end up being as influential in the country as the Gujarati diaspora in the U.S.) Seeing the humanitarian crisis in Thailand, some Indian Republicans, Nick Modi among them, advocated for American intervention in the Great Southern War. They were ignored.
The Chinese helicopter forces, in conjunction with some light Burmese reconnaissance units, cut off many of the retreating forces attempting to seek asylum. However, many stronger columns of Thai troops, often accompanied by “irregulars” - refugees desperate to get out”-managed to break through the journey south. The Malaysian government was receptive to refugees but had to engage in a tense game of ego massaging to ensure that the Chinese didn’t strike further south.
The Thai Prime Minister, Anand Panyarachun, debated whether to copy the work of the NVLA and wage a guerrilla war in the jungle or to surrender. Even with WWIII, the best example of such a fight would be in the Vietnam war. However, the US had still won, even in the hot steamy jungles and unfamiliar terrain, thanks to overwhelming air and material superiority. The NVLA also had massive support from the USSR and Chinese. A determined local guerilla force was no match for a modern army with enough airpower, even on its home turf. When reports revealed that the Chinese Air Force was ready to begin a mass bombing campaign against the scattered remnants of the Thai Army; he realized all was lost.
As such, Anand Panyarachun decided to surrender formally on 0800 hours on February 13th.
Thailand would cede a few northern provinces to Laos and ethnic Malay areas to neutral Malaysia, but overall, its territorial integrity would be preserved. However, the existing regime-parliament, king, army, and all would be sent into exile. A new Chinese military puppet regime would be installed under the leadership of Admiral Yao Xingyuang, who had already been compromised pre-war by the Chinese, who knew how to satisfy his tastes. Meanwhile, the Chinese would gain total control of Thai heavy industry and mining, and first preference in agricultural deals, which would boost the Chinese economy and military.
A Thai Government in exile established under the Prince Regent of Thailand would be established in Fukushima, Japan (the Japanese wanting to partially hide the government away from Tokyo). However, no countries would recognize this government, besides the Japanese, Salvadorans, and Armenians.
Thailand’s territorial cessions (borders to be finalized post-war)
Breaking of the Madagascar Blockade
Queen Ranavolona IV, or as she was born, Ruffine Tsiranana, was the adopted daughter of President Philibert Tsiranana, the father of modern Madagascar. She had also claimed a (rather dubious) lineage back to the native, pre-French dynasty of the country. Under her rule, the queen had created a cult-of-personality, focusing on her connection to ancient tradition and her divine authority. She was simultaneously pushing for a return to pre-European traditions while paradoxically advocating for closer relationships with France, (partially to act as a counterweight to their immediate neighbors). Like her namesake, she ruled with an iron fist and meted out harsh punishments to dissenters. While giving off the air of an insane, mercurial, woman, she was actually rather cold and calculated, an expert machiavellian. While the French knew that the “Mad Madame” would not be a reliable ally, they could be trusted to fight together against their common enemy.
Throughout 1998, though, Madagascar had been trapped by its isolation, with war all around it. Fearing attacks on its shores, it closed nearly all of its ports. The blockade made Madagascar a caged tiger, waiting for its chance to re-enter the ring. However, the French, with both deadlock in North Africa (at least until Italian reinforcements arrived), and the Chinese beginning to assist the Indians in the Indian Ocean, they needed some way to keep up its presence in Southern Africa. It was decided that the keystone to operations on this front would be Madagascar. The blockade would need to be broken.
The French decided to do this, they would first send their best minesweepers, destroyers, and even an aircraft carrier halfway across the world to assist in the breaking of the blockade. However, to disguise their tracks from satellite detection, they also made a “dummy fleet”. Modifying many of their outdated ships to look like different battleship classes when viewed from above, this fake fleet was taken along a course to what seemed to be Nigeria, possibly to bombard Lagos. Instead, said fleet ended up docking in nearby Benin, where the vessels were sold for their scrap. While Indian forces were focused on the fake fleet, the real fleet continued over open waters. To hide their heat signatures, the fleet was advised to lower their power consumption and to avoid detection of their communications, signals were dampened. Little to no air support was provided either, a gamble, but one that would pay off. Several months after having set sail, the fleet was sighted off the coast of Toliara, in Madagascar. It met in battle against two lone Kolkata-class Indian Destroyer, INS Kochi, and INS Ahmedabad winning thanks to overwhelming odds.
For the Queen, this news was nothing short of a godsend. On the ground, forces threw incendiary devices at minelayers found within the firing range of coastal positions. Its makeshift air force, made of a hodgepodge of MiG and Boeing F-15 planes, harassed them to no end. The victory was rewarded greatly, defeat was punished equally so. One Air Force commander, after having lost half of his unit to a SAM counter-offensive with little to show for it, found himself impaled under the order of the Queen for his blundering losses. With the fanatical loyalty of the armed forces behind their godlike queen, and with the knowledge of the consequences of failure, Madagascar punched above its weight. Combined with French assistance, it was finally able to break the Indian blockade by March 14th. While they maintained their hold on Zanzibar had taken control of Seychelles, and Comoros, events in other fronts would prevent the Indians from trying another blockade.
The Indian Front
The largest tank battle in history raged through the first days of 1999, as Pakistani model Al-Khalid tanks raged against the Indian counterforces. Pakistan managed to stave off a swift defeat after the Indian capture of Lahore, but India generally had the advantage in numbers. Indian forces started by seizing all of Gujarat in one fell swoop by advancing a tank column across the I19 highway [OTL the NH-08] and cutting off the peninsular part of the province. Pakistani Cobra anti-tank helicopters were suppressed by Indian forces (thanks to naval air support) and with it, the Indians cut off 30,000 Pakistanis including some of their best tank crews. Airpower, supporting truck-driven infantry, would hold off the counterattacks, while tanks and mobile infantry would finish off the besieged Pakistanis. Closer to the mountain ranges of the north, the Pakistanis had the advantage in maneuverability. Unlike the Indians, they had better trained how to use their tanks, APC’s, and RPG-carrying infantry from training in the mountains of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram ranges, and quelling insurgencies in Kashmir. Pakistani tank Commander Khalid Nawaz Khan became a legend after racking up 33 tank kills in this region. India had purchased much older 1980’s era surplus vehicles that had been used for home defense in WWIII from both sides, and they made easy targets, as the “Quality-over-Quantity” focus of the Pakistani’s small elite tanks corps-the IV armored division, based out of Lahore. However, the issue of quality would soon come to the forefront.
Highway map of Gujarat given out to Indian commanders
While both Pakistan and India had upgraded their armies in the early ’90s, they suffered from the same issues that most of the GSW combatants did: that outside fo elite Praetorian guards, the backups of their armies relied on human wave attacks supported by chemical weapons [A/N: See Iran vs. Iraq war]. India, thanks to a secure supply chain from China private contractors in the USA (notably the Pinkertons), had superior logistics (supplied by Ford trucks) and a more reliable force (thanks to spare parts made in China). However, Pakistan had understood the reality of the battle and dug-in first, while India still thought that there would be a war of mobility between the best tank armies. Pakistan would start digging in first across the front, even retreating in some areas with flat terrain to small hills that provided better cover. This helped in giving it the advantage as the war descended into a series of casualty lists. Pakistan believed it could “bleed India white” until the French could intervene. This was, of course, assuming they could spare the troops to do this, and be of any use. It was a gamble, but one the Pakistanis depended upon. Their efforts were bought by a new wave of French strategic Mirage 2000N bombers that now began chemical and cluster bomb attacks onto New Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, etc. Civilian casualties in the first wave reached the tens of thousands. For a couple of weeks, Indian casualty numbers compared to the Pakistanis were skyrocketing, and the frontlines refused to move. However, Indian military leadership (lead by Vishwa Nath Sharma) came to a head after intelligence learned about Pakistani general Raheel Sharif’s strategy. India decided it would have to preserve its resources for now, until they could have a final decisive battle, on their terms. It would take a couple of months of preparation.
While Lahore had been captured at this point, the Indian army knew that to achieve total victory, they would need to seize Islamabad and Karachi, which would achieve the “decisive trifecta”. While there were other large cities in the country, these were the “nodes” of Pakistani supply chains and military command. The former was obviously the capital and the political center. The second was its largest city.
A dual pincer attack, with a direct frontal assault on these territories, would be needed. What was left of the offense-capable forces of the Indian army (though to be fair this was a massive force), would focus on Islamabad, while the Chinese Expeditionary Force would take the south. For months, the Chinese had been logistically preparing their forces to deal with Pakistan. Outside of their amphibious and jungle-trained troops, their best had been preserved for the fight to finish off Pakistan. Thailand was easy pickings compared to Pakistan. The elite military cadre that had built the new post-communist state would test their might against the Pakistanis. Chinese armor, helicopters, and elite infantry formations made the journey both by land and sea. Slowly the Overseas Expeditionary Force started preparing for the fall of Thailand to crush the Pakistanis. Importantly, India was now able to steadily drawback its forces from many sectors of the front. Few weak spots were left and the Indian army, now experienced, was able to draw its strength in reserves.
On April 4th of 1999, in the scalding heat of the summer, the “decisive battle” of this front, “Operation Agni” (Operation Shiva having been taken) would commence. First there would be a sudden break in the bombing campaigns, as Chinese-made S-27 Fighters (acting in both a fighter-escort and fighter-bomber role) joined the battlefield. The repetitive missile, rocket, ad artillery bombardment that had been constant throughout the pause in the campaign would continue so as to wear the Pakistanis down. This would temporarily stop again to make way for a low-altitude strike, to be led in the north. It would be in the form of the largest unified helicopter force in history, with 1000 helicopters from both Dual-Pact members, (escorted with high-altitude Indian fighter Jets.) It would be a bombing campaign never seen in the war so far.
“And the sky blackened from the locusts”-General Sharif
This strike proved devastating, as with India’s swift change in strategy, the lack of mobility of the Pakistani troops turned into a liability. SAM missiles were distracted by the higher altitude fighters, allowing the helicopters to roam freely along the battlefield. Moreover, the Pakistanis had few countermeasures to these tactics. Most of their ground-to-air missiles had been nearly expended before Operation Agni’s commencement, and what few installations were still able to handle the onslaught were either bombed out of operation or swamped by sheer numbers. The helicopters focused on destroying the strong points and “choke points” at once. However, they were not alone. Following up “5 minutes later” were the veterans of the Indian tank and mobile infantry core in the center, and the fresh praetorian guard of the Chinese army to the south. Copying the creeping barrage of WW1, except now with missiles and helicopters, the strong points were crushed. However, the Pakistanis had relative consistency along the front, meaning that the strong points weren’t that much stronger than the weakest points. Figuring what bases were worth destroying was not easy. Once the initial helicopter attack wore down, the Indians found that while they had made great advances, they had yet to breakthrough. The Pakistanis knew their last armored and mobile reserves were waiting to be deployed. Except they had been grouped between the two pincers, and they were neither organized nor numerous enough that they could be split up. Which advance needed to be halted more? The one towards Islamabad, or the one towards Karachi? While Islamabad was the capital of the country, it wasn’t as central to supply chains and had a much better prepared Urban defense--that is, should the front lines collapse. The loss of Karachi would be a much more immediate setback in the eyes of Pakistani commanders. And so the counterattack went south. Ironically, the Chinese had just broken through their positions when the reserve forces began arriving in the fight. At the same time, Indian advances had stalled (much to the pride of the Chinese leadership at the time). That is, of course, until the reserves headed straight for the Chinese.
Chinese tanks rushing into action
For seemingly the first time in Chinese military history, a large Chinese army group was itself numerically overwhelmed.
Libyan and West African Front
The Libyan Front had been rather uneventful since the battle of Sfax, with both sides dug in their positions, fighting in near trench warfare in the deserts. The Libyan military authorities consolidated their rule over the region of south Tunisia as preparation for eventual Libyan annexation. Domestic political dealings at home were leaving Italy crippled by protests, leaving Occheto with no choice but to scale down Italian involvement in “a silly French war” to the main threat to Italian soil. Their former colony, Libya. Fortunately, Italian de-escalation in other fronts meant that seasoned reinforcements could pour in to hold the line. The front had stretched from the Mediterranean coast, approximately 50 miles north of Sfax to the Algerian border. The Concordat line of defense was built like all of their heavy defense systems were built: Rows of fortified pillboxes and bunkers with barbed wire fences and tank obstacles in between them. All were armed with machine guns and anti-tank missiles to counter the human wave tactics favored by the Entebbe Pact. It made the latter realize that they would not be able to puncture them easily. The line of defense slowed their advance north to Tunis. To bypass the line of defense, the Entebbe Pact Supreme Command decided to attack in a different direction, towards the “Algerian Sahara” autonomous region. Since 1964, the year Algeria received de jure independence, but de facto an autonomous region. It remained undeveloped compared to Metropolitan France. Even compared to the Entebbe Pact states, it had lacked the necessary infrastructure and skilled manpower to wage a defensive war in the desert. On New Year's Eve of 1999, when the forces of the Concordat sent reinforcements to defend the (mostly Christian) border regions, soldiers celebrated the New Year in the traditional manner. Many even got drunk while on the frontline, without knowing that Libyan troops were arriving. The enemy took advantage of this, beginning a strategic bombing of their positions. These positions, in most cases just houses in villages which became improvised outposts, failed to hold their positions, and troops were forced to abandon the border villages to retreat south by the only road available to them, into the wider desert. For their commander, the five-star general Jean-Pierre Bosser, this was a humiliation.
The last stand of the local Algerian forces and militias came to the city of Constantine. Unit coordination had been next to non-existent, leading the Libyans to take on divide and conquer tactics on individual units. The battle turned into a decisive Libyan victory. Qadaffi himself ended up visiting the city to proclaim then and there the start of a new pan-African Empire, consisting of Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, with himself at the helm. Until the war was over, he would base his operations in the city. There would be 200 miles more until he could reach Algiers and achieve that goal.
Bosser, however, had other plans. His army regrouped nearly 250 miles to the south in the Algerian city of Touggourt, slipping away from the current frontlines, and away from Libyan forces. It would be a slow march to the sea, but Bosser was in for the big prize. Most of the Libyan army and Qadaffi himself were in Algeria focused on the campaign. What was left to defend the mainland were naval and amphibious units, focused on defeating seaborne invasions from Malta or Greece. Little protected the Libyans from inland attack besides green, inexperienced troops. Bosser wanted to target Tripoli itself.
The situation in Nigeria was quickly deteriorating. While the Entebbe Pact and its allies were making gains across most fronts, in Western Africa, the Concordat was making gains. Under the leadership of French general, Laurent Isnard, Niger’s troops were able to make significant inroads in some areas. Sokoto and Maiduguri were captured by elite French-trained forces. The major prize, however, would be the city of Kano. The jewel of northern Nigeria, Kano was the transportation hub of the North and the center of military operations in the region. With its capture, the Concordat would have the edge in battle. Plagued by underfunding and nepotism pre-war, the Nigerian army was just not up to par. By the time the war started, it wasn’t able to prepare for an invasion by its smaller rival, Niger. Goodluck Jonathan, commander of forces in the defense of the region surrounding Kano, was unpopular with his men, and uninspiring. A Southerner from territories currently belongs to Biafra, he had little in common with his northern troops, and many alleged he was unfit for his role in a military position, citing his connections with the ruling administration as the reason for his command. Due to his indecisiveness, rumors spread that Jonathan was abandoning the front to take a shot to run for the presidency. This only weakened the resolve of the defenders. The Nigerian army found its better in the form of Laurent Isnard. He first started off by leading his unit of Chadian and Tunisian soldiers towards a diversionary attack on the city of Zaria, some 90 miles to the southwest. Suspecting that this was the beginning of a pincer movement against his city, Jonathan diverted forces to attempt to prevent the taking of the city. Strafing campaigns by the Nigerian air force atrophied areas of the Concordat line, giving the Nigerian forces a crucial stretch of time to pounce on the weakness of the Concordat army. Despite this though, the army did not take advantage of this, staying on the defense because of an overabundance of caution from Jonathan and his fellow commanders. Because of their indecisiveness, Isnard was able to regroup his forces in time to crush the defenders of Zaria in a decisive victory. Losses to the Nigerians weakened the morale and discipline of the soldiers, who blamed their commander for their inability to strike at Zaria. Isnard refused to meet Jonathan’s main force in a pitched battle, however, instead opting for quick hit-and-run attacks which chipped away at the strength of the army. The main goal was to weaken morale above all else. As a result of humiliation to the north, many commanders decided to take things into their own hands. While president Ernest Shonekan was attending a summit of African leaders in Kampala, they found their window of opportunity. With the support of rebelling factions of the local gendarmerie, tanks rolled into the presidential palace, as a coup against the president was declared. Shonekan, at a conference with fellow African leaders in Kampala, was unable to do anything to combat the putschists. The first declaration of the new military government proclaimed that Nigeria would end “this frivolous, useless war”, ceding some amount of land that would be determined once the war ended on other fronts. Nigeria’s short stint at democracy ended, though the public was indifferent to the change. The government would be more stable compared to their previous volatile democracy, and fiercely anti-corruption. Nigerian politics under the new military regime would become dominated by the air force, with many of its future leaders picked from its corps. Some drew comparisons to China, where army commanders held key military positions. In a nod to comparisons to both it and Prussia, many a strategist quipped that Nigeria was a mere “An Airforce with a state.”
With the closing of the West African front, French and allied African troops were regrouped into other fronts, with reinforcements mostly being sent to Rhodesia and South Africa to stem the bleeding. Along all African fronts, the Entebbe Pact was beginning to be ground down by the Concordat, and even some gains were made. But across the nations fighting the war, the populace began to tire of the conflict, leading many to wonder how long this war could go on. While forgotten by most members of the Concordat, the Indian-Pakistani front would grab the world’s attention.
So, China's power in Southeast Asia grows, but their and India's efforts in Pakistan are stalled. Madagascar's back in the game, but Nigeria's quitting while it's ahead. And Libya has won for now, but seems posed to suffer a serious blow.
Overall, a great update.
Honestly, right now if a time traveler ITTL traveled from WW3 to now, they probably would think the war was still ongoing. It sure doesn't seem like a peace, or even a 20-year truce like the one between WW1 and WW2.
RIP Ross Perot
So wait. This TL has President Bundy but it's...not bad? He's even doing well, I guess? No bad murders?
US is doing well. ROW, not so much... all questions will be answered in good time...
Separate names with a comma.