New Deal Coalition Retained III: A New World

"and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4
 
1999-2000 “The Deal”


[A/N: The next update will be a wrap-up of the war, along with the treaties and border changes. Given the complexity, we need a little more time to make it just right. After that, we’ll be taking a break from most foreign affairs except for the U.K., Germany, and some Asian nations not involved in the war, at least until 2002-ish.]


President Ted Bundy was satisfied with his progress so far as president.


Despite this fact, he needed another signature policy win before the 2000 elections. While the deficit had been reduced, danger overseas would force a modest increase in military spending, about 3%, by 1999. The Great Southern War was beginning to wind down at that point, but America was still threatened by any other future regional wars. While inflation had decreased from its high under Iacocca, change was still needed. He also knew that certain policies, like completely repealing the Iacocca auto-tariffs, or re-examining agriculture policy, could cost him dearly in 2000, or even destroy his relationship with Congress if he went without a solid electoral mandate.


A tax cut was floated by his Committee to Re-Elect the President (C.R.E.E.P) but was found to be unpopular: Bundy had run on cutting deficits. While voters might not have liked his cuts to individual spending items in particular, they liked the idea of doing so generally. In this sphere, they didn’t want a change of course from their President. If they did want one, they would be voting against him in all likelihood. Moreover, most tax cut proposals floated would favor the wealthy, (which was likely given the desires of the various house members in all 3-parties). Knowing this, it became clear that tax cuts would have to wait for now.

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A memorabilia button from C.R.E.E.P. HQ in Arlington, V.A.


Foreign policy with a non-started with C.R.E.E.P.’s polling. describing the issue as “the ultimate lose-lose situation”. Pushes towards education reform and school choice were also floated out, but were non-starters among three key groups: Republican liberals, Communonationalists, and his “Bundycrat” coalition alike. Firstly, many influential “Rockefeller Republicans”, whose main donor base had kids attending schools with weighty reputations, wanted to keep these prestigious institutions out of economic reach for most regular people, even if they were professed liberals. Secondly, Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia all started several measures that would conflict with the plans of the federal government. They banned private schools from being considered non-profit institutions, from making tuition tax-deductible, and boarding schools from being legal in-state, all in an attempt to build social equity by forcing most/all students into the public system. Southern Democrats, no matter how conservative, would defend this policy tooth-and-nail. Lastly, some Liberty Conservative governors in Ruby-Red states like Washington, Maryland, and New Hampshire were worried that increased federal involvement in education would stifle and potentially crush their K-12 school voucher and charter school systems. Education reform would probably have to be bought with increased spending, stifling Bundy’s progress on spending. Bundy had also never been much of an “Education Governor”, leading some Republicans to note privately that he “didn’t like any issue that didn’t involve punishing somebody”. Bundy was furious for receiving this reputation, though seeing his frequent outbursts, he would ironically prove them right. Meredith, however, pleaded with the president to focus on education vs. his current trajectories but was promptly ignored.


Mr. Bundy was also always a bit aloof on the issues of tax cuts and education reform. Revisionist historians would describe him as a caricature of the “stingy Republican” with regard to the post-war deficit. Members of his administration would later account that he had personally relished firing government employees and cutting spending for different departments.


Regardless of personal preferences, both Bundy and his advisors realized his administration had to go big before 2000. The president needed to rally his base and convince undecided voters that he was a bold leader, not one awash in world events, and do something no Republican could do in the past. Something “loud” (C.R.E.E.P. focus group #4 1/10/1999_.


In addition, he would have to reconnect to the party base; vital in a 3-party system. While the war on drugs had bipartisan appeal towards traditional communonationalists (who liked the policy and the populist appeal of sticking it to rich kids in glitzy schools) and African Americans (who hated the drug-pushing hate groups and “old white establishment” alike, all whilst being affected by the decay they brought), it did little for either liberty conservative ideologues or small business owners and suburbanites. They were scared to death of inflation, taxes, and debt affecting their cost of living and savings, and they were the party’s biggest traditional supporters besides African-Americans. While the president was building inroads with traditional Democratic constituencies, he needed a move to keep his party’s traditional base onside, especially when he alienated them with many of his populist policies. Moreover, he wanted to sell himself as a 21st-century innovator in the 2000 election; a bold, commanding leader, who didn’t worry about opinion polls and did what had to be done. This would be contrasted with Iacocca's record as somewhat of an ineffectual president. (Though in later years, many would warm up to Iacocca, seeing him as a man limited because of factors outside his control and his accomplishments as more meaningful than previously indicated.)


The last Republican in office, Donald Rumsfeld, was fondly remembered by all Americans for his handling of the country’s largest crisis to-date, the Third World War. Despite that, his biggest failure was the abrupt disaster of his plan to privatize social security and manage either the deficit or “Democratic Entitlements”. However, Bundy admired the move. After all, Bob Dornan was now his Chief of Staff. (For a short while, he contemplated giving Alex Jones, his campaign chairman, this position. He was eventually given the role of the Press Secretary.) Most of the other “Democratic Entitlements” (Bundy 1999), such as GMI or Caseycare were either too bipartisan or too fresh in voters' memory to tackle across party lines. Dealing with either would be electoral suicide. Bundy believed that he could never completely take “Big Government” down but could instead finally kill off rampant inflation for good. Moreover, he felt that with rising birth rates, which would only make new child support programs more expensive, and keep credit ratings hurting interest rates on the debt, he couldn’t get cold feet from this. Sure this would be difficult, but if done right, he'd be remembered to the end of time by the diehards.
To his credit, Bundy knew he needed a different approach than Republicans in the past, beyond just running with Rummy Nostalgia. As per his campaign speeches and platform, he would take the approach of forcing voters to evaluate who Social Security, and the safety net it provided, was intended for, rather than forcing them to abandon it entirely...

Bundy went on the campaign stump, reviewing his old points about social security and how it had become, in his mind, welfare for the wealthy. Instead of Destroying-Social-Security-As-We Know-It, he wanted to Save It (to quote C.R.E.E.P. marketing materials). Adding a dash of “presidential appearance” to his aggressive style allowed him to hit the right campaign notes in this respect. Bundy would especially give speeches to this point in territory held by key Democratic and Progressives votes, like in Mississippi, Alaska, and Vermont. He focused his attacks on the wealthy and their “abuse of the system”, almost sounding like a “closet socialist” (Mississippi Herald). Bundy’s main argument was that social security was meant to take care of the poor and destitute and that by accepting government money in addition to their private retirement packages, the rich were taking money from the people that they didn’t deserve. In more populist southern Democratic districts, this message was extremely effective, especially when Bundy would quote/reference the populist hero William Jennings Bryan, an odd move for a Republican. Bundy also invoked Rumsfeld, (by now revered by all sides), in his speeches to both hard-core and moderate Republicans, especially in those where the drug war polled poorly.

Bundy, in a repeat of Dornan’s tactics, tried to attract youth support. This group was more reliant on AmCare and CaseyCare (which Bundy argued this would help stabilize) than Social Security, for obvious reasons. Moreover, by appearing as appealing the youth vote, he could frighten many younger legislators who wanted to stay long-term in DC by winning over “High Net-Value Voters”. Sure, wealthy elderly voters would be furious in the short term, but Bundy would remind resistant congressman that “the youth have great memories”, although this was only a half-truth. Sure some young voters were the grandparents-hating, tech-savvy, lovable ruffian caricatures Bundy painted them as, but to paint the youth vote as a block (especially a block of this type) was silly. Young Progressives and Democrats were quite easy to find. Thankfully for Bundy, his and Jones’s narrative trumped the reality in D.C., a city which had become disconnected from youth and youth culture ever since the ’60s.


Throughout his cross country stumping campaign, Bundy reminded voters that it was the Democrats who had broken the “GMI Welfare Consensus of Simplicity and Fairness”, by adding the “Family Health and Credit Program”. This clashed with Bundy’s vision as an innovator, but it put Democrats in a pickle between choosing between Iacocca and Wallace. Bundy said he wouldn’t change “CaseyCare”, arguing that it was more useful in the modern context. He won accolades, probably unwarranted ones, for this bipartisanship. On the other hand, Social Security was a “twentieth-century program that needed twenty-first-century revisions”, and “in order for more innovative and progressive modern safety net programs to succeed we will have to change older ones.” Press Secretary Jones, in one of his more bombastic/unhinged moments, called it a “New New Deal”.


Ted Bundy reviewing notes before a speech.


Bundy even went as far as using his wife to stump for the bill. Mrs. Jennifer Aniston Bundy rarely descended into politics, but the president was desperate, and on all accounts, (as limited as they are due to her quiet political views), Mrs. Bundy approved the idea.


Back in DC, Bob Dornan worked with Dick Armey, OMB Head, Republican Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada (a Bundy endorser in 1996, “died in the wool” liberty conservative and “old soul” retiring in 2000), Republican Senator George Pataki of New York (a moderate liberty conservative with good connections to liberal Northeasterners), Democratic Congressman G.V. Montgomery of Mississippi (the house leader of the Bundycrats), Progressive Congressman Andre Marrou (a key House Progressive Libertarian), and Democratic Senator Andy Griffith of North Carolina (who joined a bill he didn’t particularly like to demonstrate that he was more than a TV personality but could positively change policy and to gain support in an increasingly purple NC), to craft a bill to send to Congress. It was decided that the top 8% of Americans by lifetime income (as designated by their tax receipts until they reach the age of 62) would no longer be eligible to receive payments, along with seniors making above $150,000 in income. These funds would be put into paying for past payments. In addition, the full retirement age would be moved by nine months to 67 years and 4 months (an odd number due to legal reasons), instead of the initial 65 from 1935, to reflect the increase in life expectancy (once WWIII was factored in) that emerged thanks to more reliable access to food, AmCare, and recent medical advances. Current recipients would be grandfathered in and these changes would be shifted over eight years. In addition, a 3% tax increase to income receipts above [OTL $250,000 dollars (2014)] would be charged. This would be added to existing tax increases from the CaseyCare taxes and an across-the-board 1% increase in inheritance taxes.


Meanwhile, Bundy began more formal talks with Lamm and Perot to negotiate their support. Initial offers including replacing existing cabinet members with Progressives and large tax reductions for female-owned businesses fell flat. Perot, the businessman budget hawk personally endorsed the plan but had little support from his caucus. Patty Murray, Perot’s “left-wing whisperer”, feared a revolt from the left-wing of the party, and both she and Perot wanted something that would give the Progressives more permanent power, a constant goal for the third-party. Cabinet membership and gender-based tax cuts (likely unconstitutional) wouldn’t do this.


Campaigning put pressure on Democratic “Bundycrats” to budge on the issue, but they remained firm for the moment. Social Security reform had killed Republicans before, why wouldn't it do so this time? Bundy offered various policy concessions, but the demand for political power was too strong. Many, especially in house members, were facing furious crowds endorsing Bundy’s views on the issue. Opposition existed as well, especially in wealthier communities, but these were too often in the few safe seats left in Congress thanks to Gerrymandering. After Bundy endorsed a 1% increase in NASA spending based on projected savings, that would go primarily towards building launch sites, and all of the construction jobs that would go with it, a few more key Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives as well. (Much of the funding would also go towards the development of a telescope searching for exoplanets and a mission to the Jovian moon, Europa. His aggressive goal for a man on Mars by 2012 surprised many, surprised many because of its bold expectations, and stole coverage from reports of negotiations for the end of the Great Southern War.) The “targeted tax increase” helped as well, though it had hurt Republican fundraising as some donors moved to the libertarian wing of the Progressives. Meanwhile, the left-wing of Bundy’s own party had felt rather ramrodded already by the President, although they appreciated the withdrawal of his attempts to reform divorce law, and strongly considering bolting on this proposal.


As March 1999 ended, Bundy seemed stalled. The president was running out cards on the table. He needed to figure out something, and quick, to obtain the votes for what he wanted to be the signature policy of his term. Bundy wondered if he should shift to education reform or tax cuts, but decided that this would only signal weakness and repeat Iacocca’s penchant for being stuck in traffic.


Finally, Chief of Staff Cheney found something that would work. After looking at the various party platforms, he found that both Republicans and Progressives endorsed admitting DC and Puerto Rico into the Union as states, (though the Democrats endorsed admission for Spanish American Puerto Rico but not DC). Iaccoca had pushed bills vastly loosening germaneness requirements for amendments in his final year in office, which were key to keeping a 3-party system working, although he didn’t remain to see the benefits. Bundy addressed the leaders of all parties and endorsed admission of both states as part of the bill, as a final additional concession.


Puerto Ricans marching in favor of statehood

This proposal appealed to all the key constituents. As a state, DC would become a battleground between Left Wing Republicans and Progressives, with the “Wallace effect” still killing Democratic chances with non-immigrant populations of Black voters. This would occur Post-Bundy and Post-Perot, respectively, Liberal R’s and Left-Wing Progs were desperate for new chances with power and were willing to pay a high ideological price for this. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, as a Spanish American state, seemed like an easy 2 additional senators for the Democrats, especially of the Communonationalist mold.


Believing that this social security means testing would lead to a wave election anyway, Southern Democrats and Progressives agreed to “Bundy’s folly” and threats of a filibuster were avoided on one condition. Bundy would promise that he would not cut the military budget further. While this would hurt Bundy in the Senate, it was just enough to get enough swing seat Democrats to vote for Bundy’s proposal. More liberal Democrats votes like Bieber, Wellstone, and Whitman were “allowed” to vote against the proposal by leadership, but a passage, albeit narrowly with the Vice-President’s vote, was ensured by all three parties. “The Deal”, as Bundy put it, was sealed.


In an unusual joint bill passed on April 26th, 2000, in the middle of the primaries, Puerto Rico, D.C. (Officially now just Columbia) would be admitted into the Union in 1998 and social security would be fundamentally reformed. The lack of dramatics during voting was incredibly remarkable, especially considering the lead-up. Moreover, no states voted against admitting these new entries into the Union as all three parties corralled their state representatives by promising to withdraw funds for any future congressional campaigns if they “broke Washington”.


Partisan Republicans would consider Bundy’s compromise the completion of the “Rumsfeld Legacy”, finally completing the mission of the man held dear in Republican circles. Rumsfeld himself would appear at the signing ceremony, smiling from ear to ear. Liberty Conservatives were ecstatic, considering the bill a “Big Stinking Deal” (Bob Dornan). Bundy would give a short speech that focused on “common sense dealmaking” and “the extension of our great history of government reforming including GMI and Civil Service Reform. The sudden rise in demand for private savings plans helped Bundy immensely in banking centered communities which had soured on his drug proposals. Financial planners in New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Rhode Island made a killing. Housing demand also increased as the property was the safe investment many of the wealthier classes turned to. This lead to a short construction boom which helped Bundy with “Hard Hat” voters in key states. All of this spending would hurt upper-income individuals, but generally speaking, positive economic growth mitigated complaints about the moment. “Punching down” class warfare was too uncouth for the late 90's.


Seemingly immediately after the bill was signed, the US Debt rating across the various agencies increased to AAA from AA+ as a result of Bundy’s deficit hawkishness (mitigated admittedly by his war on drugs). This helped the economy again as investors turned to the US “Island of Stability” in a world of chaos. Although the natural Business cycle, military conflict, and temporary European economic uncertainty post-EEC collapse had a larger role in this than Bundy's deficit hawkishness (though it did play a part) according to economic historians nobody doubts that Bundy had good timing. Many historians would argue that this influx of investment was in part due to the creditors' realization that US debt was far more secure than they had thought previously, austerity or otherwise. However, in the midst of 2.5-3.5% annual growth, nobody quite cared if Team Bundy was telling half-truths. Secretary Trump, although Dornan and Bundy had done most of the work, would trumpet the success of “The Deal” in particular by focusing on building a connection between deficit hawkishness and “the stability needed for growth”.

Excerpt from "Marketing and Politics: The Bundy Years" by Bill Goodstein of UCLA. published 2012.

Al Jones does not receive as much credit for his work on “The Deal” in current historiographical accounts as he rightfully should. Firstly, it was his work (a combination of media blitzes and congressional lobbying) that drove both voters and congressmen into the fear that something must be done in a rapidly changing world. Jones exploited both fear and joy people felt as they entered a new millennium entailed into winning the battle for hearts and minds. Selling a bill as controversial as this one is a testament to his media savvy. Moreover, his decision to keep “selling" the bill after-the-fact prevented a large-scale backlash. Campaign season never ended for the energy-drink-and-supplements-powered maniac named Al Jones. Of particular import was his campaign with C.R.E.E.P. to sell Bundynomics, as opposed to global political and business trends, as the sole reason behind America’s growth. Even my Republican neighbor who collects Bundy memorabilia knows C.R.E.E.P.'s narrative wasn't "on the level". Moreover, he also emphasized the socioeconomic inclusion caused by the admission of two new majority-minority states, making "The Deal" look like a small-p progressive deal to boot.


Lastly, New Flag with 52 stars was created. It was first raised on the 1st day of the New Millenium.




The Robert Ross Story


One of the biggest names of the ’90s in the field of literature was Robert N. Ross. Ross, a Floridian native, dropped out of school at the age of 15 to work as a carpenter and then enlisted to the USAF. After being stationed in Alaska for three years, the young Robert was sent to Vietnam. He spent another three years in the war-torn country and returned home with a purple-heart to show for it. The experience made him a broken man, and he would have a limp for the rest of his life. He found refuge from the horrors of war through his writing. He began to write down his thoughts, especially after a hospitalization for a shrapnel injury, which gave him time to think. After a six-month recovery period in his Florida home, he returned to the Air Force and was stationed yet again in Alaska. This time, he was far less passionate about serving after the trauma of his injury, and he found that he wanted to return to writing. He continued to serve as a first sergeant in the base clinic and in his later books, he testified that the military positions that he held required him to be, in his own words, “tough”, “mean”, “the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, and the guy who screams at you for being late to work.” Ross decided that if he ever left the military, he would never yell or raise his voice again. During this time, which he remembered as the most difficult of his life, he went on to continue writing. He was fascinated by the primeval nature of Alaska, full of mountains and rivers that surrounded him. It was from there that he decided to retire from the military. After 20 years of active service, he signed out from the USAF in 1981 and decided to travel across America and search for inspiration. He sustained his endeavors using savings he had accumulated during his years in the Air Force. He bought a rusty 1967 Ford Mustang and started traveling from Alaska toward the contiguous 48. He traveled across America for roughly 4 years, talking to, and meeting different people. Oftentimes he even traveled through Canada and Mexico. He met regular, everyday people, to hear about their personal stories. He was especially interested in stories of his brothers-in-arms, Vietnam veterans. He became known among them as “America’s Storyteller,” because those that met him remembered his soothing voice and the slow pace of his speech. As his never-ending road trip, as he called it, lasted, life brought to his (car) door different, exciting opportunities. While in Colorado, another mountain state of magnificent natural beauty that he was inspired by, he saw a billboard with the face of the former writer and nationally-syndicated radio commentator Hunter S. Thompson on it. It had a message plastered on it, stating he was searching for new, interesting people to host a radio station with him. He instantly decided to try. In his memoirs, he wrote about this moment: “I don’t think I can go wrong with this. We don't really make mistakes; just happy accidents in life”, a sentence that would be prophetic to his career. In an interview by phone, he impressed Thompson’s secretary, who was handling most of the candidates who offered to take the position. He would then get an in-person interview from Thompson himself. He was convinced right away that Robert Ross was the man for the job, and invited him to the show.


Ross’s radio show proved to be a hit. Listeners loved his smooth voice and his mellow attitude. Listeners would take Ross’s advice on a variety of topics on their day-to-day lives, including, of course, relationships. Fellow veterans of Vietnam and even the more numerous number of World War Three vets felt him to be their voice and spokesman and credited his therapeutic advice for helping them with their struggles.


It came as no surprise when he eventually received a deal with Thompson’s own independent publishing company to write his own book on his unique life experiences and wisdom. The Joy of Writing, as it would be titled, proved to be a smashing success nationwide, giving many Americans the love of writing their own stories. This was interspersed with his own personal stories about his life, exposing the public to numerous underground subcultures. He would be hailed as the Jack Kerouac of the generation.





A snapshot of America

Johnny was in a good mood today, and it wasn’t just because it was his birthday. The school cafeteria was serving Mickey Mouse Pierogis today, which was his favorite. He made the team at lacrosse tryouts, and the coach said he had the potential to do even better! After that, his parents brought him to a restaurant to celebrate both his birthday and the news that he had made the team. He was looking at the news from the T.V. and saw it had switched from a segment on faith to reports of fighting going on in someplace called amenabad and something about “nook” programs. One of the waiters changed the channel to some movie. It looked like Baba Yaga was playing, but he’d already seen that movie before. One of those weird anime shows was on the other T.V. near a bar, making his dad mudder something about American Kings or something. After his dad paid for the bill on his card, they left the restaurant. It was almost 8:00. They needed to hurry up in time for him to see the new SpongeBoy Ahoy episodes! When they got back home, he dropped off all of his equipment to check the T.V. Just in time! During the commercial break between episodes, he put some dino nuggets in the microwave to heat for later. He came back to see a PSA by President Bundy talking about the new NHN and a commercial for a local megachurch. Just then, his mom came in and told him that his birthday presents were ready. It was just clothing again...At least they were cool looking synthwave-pattern stuff, just like what Will Smith would wear. Everyone in school would be so jealous. When he came back to the T.V., it turned out that the episode had already ended. Nick’s new “Patriotic Partnership Program” had started. He had no idea why anyone would watch it, but his dad’s explanation involving “fundamentalists” and “mass boycotts” didn’t make much sense. Probably some grown-up thing he wouldn’t understand… It was now 9:00, time for sleep. His parents tucked him into bed and wished him goodnight. Not yet for him. When he was sure that the coast was clear, he broke curfew, sneaking out the window to the arcade. He would play Pokemon: Ketchup & Mustard with friends until the arcade closed at midnight. All without his parents knowing.

 
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First Senators from each state:

Columbia:
Theodore Olson (Republican)
Frank Rich (Progressive)

Puerto Rico:
Pedro Rossello (Democratic)
Jaime Fuster (Democratic)
 
Hawaii Five-O is a popular TV series in the postwar world.
You're right! more on this subject here.

Are The Simpsons and Family Guy popular postwar?!?
It is important to understand that the 90s in the US of the NDCR world were much more conservative than the equivalent IOTL. While the humor of TV shows like "The Simpsons" would be considered enough to appear on television, the humor of TV shows like "Family Guy" would be considered inappropriate and will be broadcasted as a mid-night show to fit its niche audience.
 

The Dusseldorf Agreement




Dealing with this would definitely take a lot of work. (OTL borders in red)


After the capitulation of the military junta which took power shortly after Milosevic’s death, the Central European powers were left sweeping up the mess of ethnic and sectarian conflict. There was near-total anarchy in some areas, especially in Bosnia, where roving Serbian factions in the country tried salvaging what was left under their control, and attempted to hold a cohesive and contiguous region of majority Serbian territory. The chaos of the civil war and actions by local authorities in Greater Serbia forcing Croats and Bosniaks into ghettos had somewhat ethnically homogenized areas, especially in Bosnia, leading some to call for the end of the partisan fighting by a simple partition of the country along mostly ethnic lines. That said, the task of drawing the internal borders would be almost impossible. Such borders would likely divide neighborhoods, entire cities, and leave many people in ethnic enclaves on the “wrong side of the border”. Many Indian delegates lobbied hard for an agreement to reunify Yugoslavia under a truly federal government which would defang the Serbians, genuinely fearing that a partition of Bosnia would replicate the bloodshed caused by the partition of their own nation more than half a century before. Diplomats from the UN and from nearly every European country had their own opinion on how to carve up Yugoslavia. The neutral British Commonwealth and the Concordat followed the French position. They believed that the answer to the Yugoslavia problem was to do nothing to the borders, except perhaps give Croatia the rest of Dalmatia, Slavonia, and the land claimed by irredentist Croatians in the region of Herzeg-Bosnia. The rest of the country would reform a new Yugoslavia, with the autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo given full provincial status. Nationalist parties like Milosevic’s SPS would be banned, and only internationalist and federalist parties would be allowed to operate in the system.

The Freyist Pact was not as unified in their plan for the nation, with each country having a slightly different opinion. All of the country’s neighbors had irredentist claims to the country, with the exception of Italy, which had its aspirations fulfilled with the end of the Third World War, and Transylvania, which was not interested in obtaining the Romanian majority areas of Vojvodina, numbering 25,000 people. Hungary wanted to make gains in the same region, where a quarter-million ethnic Hungarians lived. Most ambitious of all of Serbia’s neighbors was Albania. It wanted to gain Kosovo, the northern and western regions of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and various other border areas in Montenegro and Serbia. In total, 1.7 million ethnic Albanians lived in this territory. Bulgaria wanted to retake the entirety of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and portions of Eastern Serbia, overlapping Albania’s claims to the former. The Bulgarians were backed up by the Greeks, who wanted a buffer from future Serbian invasion, and additionally could not stand the idea of the former republic, whose very name seemed an insult to their national pride, to be an independent state. Germany itself called for the split of Greater Serbia into its constituent republics, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Vojvodina, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. [A/N: As a note, this plan is roughly the closest to OTL, with a couple of key differences.]


These differences could be hammered out with negotiations. Though what none of the sides could decide on what to do with the Bosnian situation.


Part of the reason that the Serbian groups could not rally around one figure for leadership was because of the fact that Milosevic’s most commonly accepted successor was a nobody before the bombing of Belgrade. This man was the Serbian-American businessman Milan Panic, and he was out of his element. Intentionally chosen by Milosevic as his deputy president both as a reward for his efforts to rally the Serbian diaspora around Milosevic and because of the fact that his incompetence would prevent him from spearheading a coup, the fact of the matter was that was the highest-ranking surviving member of the Serbian government. With a Serbian accent in English and an English accent in Serbian, negotiators noted that he was often frustratingly incomprehensible in both languages. Panic was at home in the business world and in America. Back in his home state of California, he built a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry giant and had connections to major political figures in the state, like Jerry Brown and Jim Jones. And now he found himself back in a country he hadn’t lived in for over three decades, without any domestic allies, negotiating over the future of a nation he no longer had a stake in. Such was the incompetence of the minister, that during negotiations, he nearly signed off the main Serbian/Montenegrin majority port of Bar to the Albanian delegation. He was prevented by his advisers, who furiously talked him out of the move. Despite many calls to resign, and more than a few assassination attempts, Panic remained Serbia’s chief negotiator, mainly because of his connections in America, as well as his being one of the few politicians in Serbia genuine in his devotion to democracy and western ideals. Many of the other alternatives were little more than warlords, such as the infamous Radovan Karadzic, who in the words of the American journalist Jerome Seinfeld, “was more obsessed with the bourgeoisie lifestyle, and living as if his life was out of The Godfather or Rambo.” With no better option for a representative of their interests, Serbia would likely lose out in negotiations.


The Bosniak delegation was led by one Fikret Abdic, nicknamed “King Babo” by many Bosnians. A warlord among warlords, he was still considered among most Bosniak power-players a man that represented their interests and was ruthless in his practice of realpolitik. "Talking to his Bosnian followers was much the same as speaking with cult converts anywhere in the world: a wooden dead-end dialogue hallmarked by the absence of individual rationale and logic." (The Times, 1999) Unlike his idealistic predecessor, Alija Itzergobivic, who died in a Serbian raid months before, Abdic had no qualms about partitioning his home country along ethnic lines. This, however, was a fact unknown to Concordat and Freyist negotiators. Both he and Serbo-Croat diplomats already agreed to an understanding on the topic of partition before the agreement, and the idea of keeping the country whole died out.


The western representatives at Dusseldorf would not contest this, realizing the flame of optimistic internationalism was snuffed out with the beginning of the war, if not with World War Three itself. Instead of attempting to keep the nation together, they agreed that Bosnia would have to be partitioned.


The trouble would be how to carve up Bosnia in a way that would make most happen. These troubles introduced the world to a new term, “ethnic cleansing”. Although the Greater Serbian government had already attempted such maneuvers before the beginning of the Great Southern War, these actions intensified with the chaos that accompanied the end of the war. On all three sides, Bosniak, Croatian, and Serbian militias stormed into crucial geographic positions and enclave villages, forcing out entire populations and resettling them with their own people. (Compared to the dispassionate efforts of the previous Serbian government, these were more destructive on the people affected.) This would be for the purpose of homogenizing their claimed territory for their ethnic group and strengthening their bargaining positions. Whether turning Bosnia into a federalized state with cantons for the three minorities or partitioning Bosnia wholesale, the debate over borders led to much ethnic violence. The favored solution to the Bosnian Problem (at least among the non-Yugoslav diplomats) was to preserve the current provinces but with the devolution of authority between the three ethnic groups in each province, with such decentralization of administration applying to the entire nation. [A/N: This is somewhat like the Lisbon Plan and the eventual OTL solution. This unwieldy solution has led to Bosnia having one of the most complicated governance systems in the world] This plan was voted down by locals from all three ethnic groups.

In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a republic was declared by locals, splitting off from Serbia. The Greek delegation refused to recognize the existence of the country but still wanted a buffer from Serbia to prevent another invasion from the north. Macedonian authorities spat on Greece’s collective pride by building a statue of Alexander the Great in its capital, Skopje. That same week, Muslims in Serbia and Montenegro declared an independent republic of Sandzak in the city of Novi Pazar. Locals in the autonomous republic of Kosovo declared independence as well that same week. With eight nations now claiming territory in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, the world was becoming acquainted with another term, Balkanization. The western powers overseeing the conference were exhausted by the chauvinist, sectarian attitudes of the Yugoslav groups, and negotiations slowed to a halt.


A sense of urgency came to the parties in Dusseldorf with the news of two events in Yugoslavia, the massacre of 8,000 civilians in the Muslim majority border town of Srebrenica, and the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian majority town of Knin in Croatia by Croatian militia forces. Seeing how the situation was beginning to deteriorate quickly, the parties were shaken out of their indecision. They quickly agreed upon a haphazard solution that satisfied almost no one but was still acceptable to most. The Freyists came away with the greatest advantage after a guarantee that all the new republics would nominally be under their orbit. Croatia would gain the Croatian majority areas of Dalmatia and Slavonia, while the Croatian Serbs would keep much of the Croatian territory held by paramilitaries in the area. Named Krajina, the small town of Knin would be its capital. In Vojvodina, the Croats made gains in the west, while the Hungarians gained the areas they had a majority in. The Republic of Sandzak was recognized as an independent republic with its capital in Novi Pazar, while Kosovo and other Albanian majority regions of Yugoslavia were made into a UN mandate, which would be merged into Albania pending the end of recent political unrest in the country. (It had recently been dealing with a low-level insurgency after it was revealed that the government was involved in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme which came out of the pockets of taxpayers. Opposition rebels and gangs had a large presence in the southern half of the country, and with the landing of the Albanian royal pretender in Tirana, Freyist-backed rebels were beginning to rise up to complicate the situation). The non-Albanian majority regions of Macedonia were absorbed into Bulgaria, despite the wishes of the local populations, to satiate the Greeks and Bulgarians.


Lastly, Bosnia was split into a decentralized republic, with three constituent countries for each ethnic group, which had the choice to separate from the rest of the country if parliament so voted.


By New Year's Day 2000, both the Croatian and Serbian local parliaments invoked this clause, partitioning Bosnia once and for all. Now with a physical border to their mother country, the parliament of Krajina in Knin voted to rejoin Serbia after a month, finally stabilizing the borders of this war-torn region.




FR Yugoslavia after the cession of Krajina to Serbia, March 2000.


The new borders set out in the treaty were indefensible, only loosely following “natural borders”. More often than not, instead of borders following the peaks of mountains, or defensible locations, borders were more like “lines-in-the-sand”, weaving around small towns, and oftentimes dividing cities. These notably included the Sarajevo metro, (split between Bosnia and Serbia), Mitrovica, split between Serbia and Albania, and the city of Mostar, (split between Croatia and Bosnia, using a river running down the middle of the country as a border.)


Obviously, the country that came out the worst from the negotiation process was Bosnia. While the nation was theoretically still intact and kept its pre-war borders after the treaty, the cession of the Serbian and Croatian portions of the country set a grim shadow over the nation's prospected. With its nation highly disrupted and fragmented into two parts, (not to mention the fact it was landlocked and surrounded by its two enemies) it would be hard to promote unity. The province of Bihac would be isolated by the Serbian “Krajina Corridor”, making it harder for Bosnia to maintain control. The small Muslim-majority nation of Sandzak, with only 150,000 people, would over the course of the next decade debate joining

Divided, and dependent on other countries, most of the nations of former Yugoslavia would have restricted prospects. Despite their shared enmity, however, relations between Bosnia and Sandzak, Croatia, and Serbia would warm as time went on. One reason for this came from one of the provisions of the Treaty of Dusseldorf. It stated there was to be no border control between those respective nations (including Albania and later Bulgaria), allowing free travel for all of their citizens. This would serve to promote interregional trade, and for younger generations at least, to lessen feelings of hatred of neighboring states. Like most Balkan states, the four nations would find themselves in the German sphere of influence, stabilizing mutul relations.


While relations are at best lukewarm between the different nations, the peace of Dusseldorf has held to modern day. Controlling regions that were both ethnically contiguous and homogeneous, there would not be a flash-point for any future conflict for quite some time.
 
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