The Four Horsemen: the Nuclear Apocalypse of 1962

Chapter XIX: Co-Dominium, 2008-2022.
Time for the final installment in this TL. I hope you've enjoyed the entire story thus far and like the way I ended it.

Chapter XIX: Co-Dominium, 2008-2022.

President Bush and Vice President Bachmann energetically went to work, being able to push through massive reforms by making the best use of the complete Republican majority in Congress. Large across the board tax cuts took place through a reform that wasn’t a flat tax, but close to it, which resulted from resistance from moderate Republicans to a total flat tax. The number of tax brackets was reduced to just two, with incomes below $500.000 paying only 25% income tax and those above that limit paying 33%. This reduced tax income, but to compensate they used taxes first introduced by Nixon: they increased the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, and now also on gasoline. The federal VAT, which had remained at 9% for decades, was also raised and it was split into two rates to differentiate between goods and services that are primary necessities of life and those that aren’t. The value added tax was set at 15% for most goods and services, but at only 3% for food, water, medication, certain labour intensive services like clothing and shoe repair as well as the hairdresser, maintenance and repairs to houses and gardens, digital educative information, culture and recreation, and public transportation. Taxes were also decreased for major businesses and corporations, which the Democrats denounced as corporate welfare as they had done before.

In short: taxation shifted from income to consumption. Though everyone benefited from lower income taxes, the mid class and low class incomes lost much of what was gained due to the higher excise and value added taxes as they spent a larger proportion of their income on goods and services, particularly groceries and bills for electricity and heating. Business also paid less taxes, and the Republicans of course attributed these tax cuts as the reason the economy started to recover by 2010 after two years of depression. The Democrats of course rejected this explanation and pointed out that oil prices returned to normal. They also pointed out that the national debt started to mount, which the Republicans waved away as a temporary problem that would be solved if the country had a couple of good years of economic growth behind it. Perhaps this would’ve been true if not for serious increases in military expenditure.

The US witnessed China developing more and more advanced military technologies, partially on its own and partially by purchasing and stealing from abroad. These developments were supported by a rising heavy industrial and mining sector, next to serious growth sustained by a burgeoning consumer industry. What helped was that through its control of Siberia Imperial China was virtually autarkic in key natural resources like coal, petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, iron ore and gold. China maintained a huge army of 3 million men in peacetime. New tank and multirole jetfighter designs entered service that could match the performance of American designs, new nuclear attack and ballistic missile submarines entered service and in 2010 a 75.000 tonne super aircraft carrier was launched named Han, a clear reference to the Yi Dynasty’s Han Chinese nationalism. And China’s influence grew as it seemed to deradicalize. Emperor Huanxing formally adopted a constitution and created an elected parliament.

By far the most important Chinese military development was the increase of its nuclear weapons arsenal. By 2010 it had 15.000 warheads in total, one thousand ICBMs and SLBMs capable of striking anywhere in the United States and 450 strategic bombers. The United States had 30.000 warheads, nearly two thousand ICBMs and SLBMs and a fleet of 1.500 strategic bombers. While the US clearly had the upper hand, China had become a clear and present threat because by now it could do more damage than the Soviets had in 1962. Besides that, China strengthened its hold on its allies by forming them into a single economic and military alliance: China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, the Punjab Republic, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Zaire, South Italy, Hungary, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria together formed the Eastern Coalition (ECON).

Three US led military alliances – i.e. NATO, CENTO and SEATO – opposed ECON on all sides, but this wasn’t enough for American policymakers in the State and Defence departments, whose intention was to make a repeat of 1962 impossible. This program had first been conceived in the 90s under President Bush, but had been shelved again during Clay’s tenure as it was deemed exorbitantly expensive and unnecessary given the small size of China’s nuclear arsenal at the time. Secondly, there were questions about its feasibility. In 2010, President Bush announced the National Defence Initiative (NDI). The National Defence Initiative Act was passed by Congress despite Democratic objections to the projected $250 billion. To criticisms of the cost, Bush replied that “I’d spend four times or even ten times that if that’s enough to make sure my children and grandchildren won’t have to witness the gruesome sight of a mushroom cloud and of the post-atomic horrors that follow.”

The National Defence Initiative consisted of two components. The smaller one was called Sentry and consisted of 24 bases that provided a light layer of protection over the United States, each centred on a Missile Site Radar (MSR) and a command centre buried below it. Seven long range Perimeter Acquisition Radar systems (PARs) on the US-Canadian border, another one in Alaska and one on each coast supported the system. The primary weapon to be used would be the long-range Spartan missile while shorter ranged Sprint missiles would be used to defend ICBM fields and PAR sites. The Sentry system would have 720 Spartan missiles and 288 Sprint missiles. This would be enough to make the US impervious to an attack from the eight smaller nuclear powers in existence: the Afrikaner Republic (a successor state to South Africa), Australia, Brazil, India, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Zaire. This club would be joined by a new member in 2011: Russia regained its nuclear status thanks to China practically giving them the bomb to strengthen China’s position versus NATO. The Sentry Program would also be enough to ward off a limited Chinese nuclear strike, similar to the ones in the early stages of WW III, but it wouldn’t suffice against a total Chinese launch with one thousand missiles with MIRV capability (Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles).

This was where the second component of NDI called Domus, Latin for dome, came into play. Domus consisted of eight thousand small missiles in eight hundred small stations, which would be placed in orbit so hundreds of missiles would be above China at all times. If China launched its complete ICBM fleet, the space based launchers would detect their rocket engines using infrared seekers (in a similar way to conventional heat seeking missiles) and launch their missiles to collide with them. At the speeds the intercepting projectiles and the ICBMs would be colliding, the mass of the projectile would have six times the energy of the equal weight of TNT. A 2.5 kilogram solid kinetic missile, i.e. without a warhead, would be used, as it would have enough impact energy to destroy any conceivable missile fuselage.

The combination of the Sentry Program and the Domus Program meant that, according to the designers of the NDI, 99.7-99.9% of enemy warheads would be eliminated before they reached American soil. The Chinese could launch one thousand ICBMs and SLBMs with a total of 8.000 MIRVed warheads. This meant anywhere between eight and twenty-four ICBM/SLBM launched warheads (in the high kiloton or low megaton range) would get through at most, which was devastating but still far less than what had gotten through in 1962. This emboldened the US to adopt a more confrontational anti-Chinese foreign policy by increasing the American forces stationed in SEATO countries, by carrying out military exercises to intimidate China and by vocally criticizing its subpar human rights record.

Such an anti-missile shield was beyond the capabilities of China as it simply lacked the technologies for it. This meant that in the event of nuclear war thousands of American missile warheads would obliterate the Empire of China while less than three dozen of its own would make it through American anti-ballistic missile defences. This did not, however, leave China defenceless: it had been expanding its military-industry complex to equip and modernize its conventional forces, an effort which by the beginning of the 21st century was beginning to bear fruit. As mentioned before, main battle tank designs and jetfighter designs, the first to be able to match the capabilities of their American counterparts, were approved and would enter service in the 2010s.

Granted, it would take time before these would be available in numbers, but until that happened China could use the advantage it had always had: massive numerical superiority. They had had an army with obsolete Type 59 tanks as well as derivatives thereof, AK-47 assault rifles and Soviet aircraft design for much of the twentieth century, but offset this through sheer manpower. China fielded an army of 3 million at any given time in the late twentieth, early twenty-first century. This could be increased to a standing army of 15 million by summoning reservists, complemented by tens of millions of militiamen. The Imperial Chinese Navy had been the smallest branch of the Chinese armed forces, basically a green water navy. This meant it was able to operate only in riverine and coastal littoral waters, but with a super carrier group and increasing numbers of submarines the navy had transitioned to a blue water navy. The massive size of the conventional Imperial Chinese Armed Forces by itself was a deterrent to foreign aggression. Any invasion was doomed to fail, drowning in waves of fanatical Chinamen, and if the aggressor shared a land border he would likely become subject to invasion himself.

But what were China’s plans and defences in place in the event of nuclear war? As its nuclear arsenal continued to grow over the years into a credible threat, the threat of mutually assured destruction resurfaced by the dawn of the 21st century. China felt secure as it has its “no first use policy” and assumed the US wouldn’t launch a war of aggression with a pre-emptive launch given the horrible price of nuclear retaliation. NDI rendered the existing arsenal of ICBMs virtually useless, which meant the US could theoretically launch a first strike whilst suffering little damage from the Chinese counterstrike. What to do? Building enough missiles to overcome the American shield would be expensive, especially since the US would respond with more ABM systems, thus resulting in an arms race that would spiral out of control. Instead the Chinese decided to add relatively cheap dummy missiles and dummy warheads to their ICBM fleet. Secondly, they decided to shift emphasis away from their strategic rocket forces to the strategic bomber fleet. Furthermore, they began investing in long range nuclear tipped cruise missiles, which would stay within the Earth’s atmosphere and out of range of American ABM systems. Finally, the Chinese converted the bulk of its ballistic missile submarine fleet to cruise missile submarines.

The cost of the National Defence Initiative and debates of its effectiveness became part of the electoral battle in 2012. Bush had a strong economy behind him and his foreign and defence policies seemed to push back the Chinese globally and incapsulate their ability to act militarily in response. On the fiftieth anniversary of WW III the thought that the NDI was a spring back cushion – which would absorb most of the enemy strike, and allow the US to reign hell back on them – was a comforting one to many Americans. There were still plenty of people alive – particularly from the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X – who remembered the war and/or the post-atomic horrors and hardships. The older millennials had also seen the last years of reconstruction, so were susceptible to a costly but effective shield under which the US would be safe. Its unsurprising that the Republicans increased their voter share among these generations. NDI had originally been approved by Bush under the motto “never again.” At this time Democratic criticisms on NDI largely fell on deaf ears.

The Democrats had other criticisms that were relevant even in good economic times. The shift from taxing income to taxing consumption – by reducing the number of tax brackets to two and raising excise taxes and the VAT – disproportionally affected the low to mid-level incomes. The Republican healthcare reform – that exchanged government based universal healthcare for semi-public health insurers – also disaffected the lower and middle class incomes. The Democrats pointed this out as well. Democratic candidate Bill Clinton, the long-time Governor of Arkansas and former Vice President, campaigned energetically with his running mate Tennessee Governor Al Gore. The flourishing economy and NDI gave the incumbent a popularity boost and Clinton lost to the younger Bush just like Mondale had lost to the elder Bush, with an even more pronounced Republican victory: 34 states, 331 electoral votes and 52.3% of the vote. The Democrats only got sixteen states, 207 electoral votes and 46% of the popular vote. The victory could’ve been even more crushing given that there were several more close states that could’ve turned Republican if a relatively small number of votes had gone the other way.

The Presidential election of 2012 was the largest Republican victory since WW III, and the third largest since WW II (Eisenhower was the only post-1945 Republican who had won even more convincingly than Bush, doing so in 1952 and 1956). The Republicans consolidated their hold over Congress, which particularly strengthened the burgeoning Tea Party movement that united behind their neoconservative, devout Vice President. The Republican majority in the House swelled from 220 seats in 2008 to 252 seats in 2012 and 53 Republican Senators versus 47 Democratic ones, with most newcomers being neo-cons. Bachmann’s so-called “Tea Party” was a conservatively Christian, small government, fiscally conservative movement within the Republican Party. It favoured lower taxes as well as reduction of national debt and the federal budget deficit through lower spending whilst opposing government-sponsored universal healthcare. The Bush healthcare reforms – moving from universal healthcare to semi-private health insurers – didn’t go far enough in their eyes, as it still left healthcare policies a federal rather than a state matter.

By far the most important topic that came into focus during Bush’s second term wasn’t the healthcare system but abortion. President George W. Bush had always been pro-life, but had largely sidestepped the issue in his campaign in 2008 and did the same in 2012 by giving only vague and brief comments on abortion when asked about it. His Vice President Michele Bachmann had no such reservations. At a campaign rally in Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming, she declared that “[abortion] is a crime against the divine sanctity of human life, a sin indistinguishable from murder.” She quoted herself ad verbatim in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and made a similar comment in Dallas, Texas. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in 2004, had campaigned on outlawing abortion through a new constitutional amendment among other things. This idea was revived by the neoconservatives.

In February 2014, the Republicans in the House of Representatives took action by approving a constitutional amendment that would completely ban abortion, except in the event of “life-threatening danger to the mother or pregnancy resulting from rape.” That this was going to be a controversial amendment was demonstrated by the fact that 22 Republican representatives in the House voted against along with all 205 Democrats. The Republican dominated Senate supported the amendment even though two of their Senators opposed it. A two thirds majority, however, was required in both houses of Congress and such a majority wasn’t achieved as the Democrats were opposed along with some of the Republicans. If it had been ratified it would have become the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution. If it had magically made it through Congress, there are indications a majority of states would’ve opposed this.

What the Tea Party failed to understand was that at least half of the electorate was adamantly opposed. The other half was divided with a wide range of opinions: paleoconservatives would have liked to see the exemption clause concerning pregnancy resulting from rape removed, though this was a minority view even among the right-wing of the Republicans. More moderate Republicans, regardless of their personal opinion on abortion, felt a constitutional amendment to enshrine the ban was an overreach that would alienate too many voters near the centre of the political spectrum. This argument was most strongly heard among Republican Senators, House Representatives and Governors whose seat was up for re-election in the 2014 midterms. The most moderate Republicans argued abortion should be arranged solely on the state level, not the federal level. A handful even argued this wasn’t even a subject the government should concern itself with as it was a private decision. Others argued that banning abortion totally would have the same effect as banning alcohol had in the 1920s, i.e. organized crime would descend on it. Whatever the case, the failure of a majority of states to ratify the amendment meant it was relegated to the dustbin. The attempt to pass this amendment, however, was enough to seriously harm the Republicans among moderate voters.

The Republicans who feared for the electoral consequences were right, as their party suffered sensitive blows in the 2014 midterms. The vast majority of female voters and most of the millennials were solidly opposed to the idea of an amendment banning abortion (while the older generations showed more dividedness). The Democrats gained 65 seats in the House of Representatives for a total of 248 seats and went from 47 to 55 Senators, making Bush a lame duck President for the last two years of his time in office. The Republican freefall extended to the gubernatorial elections as well. There were 39 governorships up for election, in 36 states and three territories. In the 36 state governorships up for election the Democrats won a total of eighteen, a net gain of six. The GOP wasn’t spared in the state legislative elections either: elections to state legislations were held in 46 states and the Republicans fell from 57 to 47 state houses and senates. The 2014 midterms were nothing but an unmitigated disaster for the Republicans and showed them the most conservative wing of their party was unpalatable to perhaps as much as two thirds of the voters.

The hotly contested 2016 Republican primaries were another sign of things to come. There were 23 official candidates, making it the largest presidential primary field for any political party in American history. This was because Bush was ineligible due to the two-term limit, while Bachmann was perceived by a part of the party establishment as unfit to step in his shoes. She only represented the conservative wing of the Republican Party, leaving it leaderless and fractured. As the current Vice President she still secured a comfortable majority in the primaries, but the opposition she incurred as an incumbent was unheard of. Bachmann selected the fairly youthful Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also a vocal opponent of abortion, as her running mate in the hopes that he could win back younger voters as well as secure the Latino vote and maybe the minority vote in general. If they’d won it’d be a double first: first female American President, first Latin American Vice President.

The Democrats fielded a formidable challenger, a scion of a political dynasty that had already produced two titans. Whilst their adversaries showed division and infighting, the Democrats rallied behind one man and he therefore only faced token opposition. This man was none other than John F. Kennedy Jr., the son of President John F. Kennedy and the nephew of President Robert F. Kennedy (RFK was the second oldest living former President after George H.W. Bush at the time). He chose Florida Governor Charles Crist as his running mate.

JFK Jr. had built a respectable political career of his own during which he’d tried to avoid exploiting his trademark last name and had avoided exploiting his family connections for appointments and honours. He wanted to prove he was his own man who won based on his own merits and not the name and legacy of his father and to a lesser extent his uncle. This was hard to do, as people kept comparing him to his father and uncle, but he did well on his own. After studying law at Harvard he worked his way up to the office of district attorney in New York City and had a 95% conviction rate and a strong record in combating organized crime, i.e. the Mob. In 2001, he ran for Mayor of New York and defeated the incumbent Bloomberg after which he steeply reduced crime and was re-elected in 2005. Due to term limits he couldn’t run for a third term as mayor, so after a hiatus from politics he ran for Governor of New York in the 2010 gubernatorial elections and was re-elected in 2014.

John F. Kennedy Jr. ran on a left-wing platform that primarily concerned the domestic front: restoring federal universal healthcare, eliminating college debt, raising social security and raising the minimum wage; a progressive “squeeze the rich” tax system and rolling back the increases in the VAT and excise taxes; scaling back the War on Drugs by focusing only on hard drugs; investing in climate friendly and renewable energy sources and making the federal government the initiator of circular economic projects; passing an updated Equal Rights Amendment that would grant equal legal rights not only on gender distinctions, but would also encompass the LGBT community, ethnic minorities and religious minority groups.

The electoral battle was fierce as polar opposites faced each other – the progressive wing of the Democrats vs. the ultraconservative wing of the Republican Party. Bachmann warned of economic and moral decay if the Democrats won. She said raising social security was going to promote laziness as unemployed people would be less inclined to find a job. She also thought raising the minimum wage would run small businesses into the ground while overall American companies would outsource production abroad to low wage countries to cut wage costs whilst producers remaining in the US would become less competitive as higher wages would translate to higher prices for consumers. The Republicans denounced anthropogenic climate change as a myth and solidly supported the fossil fuel sector and car manufacturers (the former would be scaled down and ultimately eliminated while car builders were expected to build “greener” car models). Furthermore, she saw scaling back the War on Drugs as a critical mistake. Tolerating hedonistic drug use would send America down a slippery slope towards tolerating even worse vices like prostitution.

What made Bachmann the most irate, however, was the proposed Equal Rights Amendment as it implied though not explicitly mentioned, among other things, a right to gay marriage and a right to abortion. She railed against it, declaring at a campaign rally: “The so-called Equal Rights Amendment is an atheist socialist attack on Christian values, an act of sabotage against the cornerstone of the Christian foundations the United States were. It’ll give people living in sin the right to normalize their promiscuous, hedonistic and arrogant insults of God instead of being put in their place as outside our Christian norms and values. Not only that, but it’ll be pushed in the face of good Christian people all over this country who they’re already calling smallminded, intolerant and primitive. The Christians will become the persecuted, communism will be imported through the backdoor. Tell me Mr. Kennedy, is this what your father would have wanted?” She made a number of references to the Book of Revelation during the entire campaign, saying the hammer and sickle would be the mark of the beast. All of this was received well by her supporter base, but this fire and brimstone approach didn’t do well at all among voters close to the centre of the political spectrum. Her campaign was something of a train wreck as she went off the reservation instead of toning down as her advisors had told her. Bush and her running mate Rubio had cautioned her against the fire and brimstone tone and had argued with her to stick to rational, fact-based arguments.

Kennedy parried Bachmann’s criticisms calmly and rationally, but not devoid of idealism. He adopted rhetoric similar to President Clay’s, combining Christian idealism with leftist plans and pointing out how those were mutually inclusive. Many people on benefits on the minimum wage were struggling barely above the poverty line, which meant higher social security benefits and a minimum wage were absolutely necessary. He thought most American companies would stay as that had benefits: they could use infrastructure and had access to a well-educated population that both didn’t exist in the low-wage countries. Those that did outsource to avoid the higher minimum wage (and higher taxes) would face punitive measures. He referred to the bible with Jesus casting the usurers from the temple. He also provided scientific evidence for climate change and the need to stop it. As to his drug policies, he cited scientific studies pointing out tobacco and alcohol were more harmful than marihuana and rhetorically asked in a Presidential debate “if God is against marihuana, then why isn’t he against tobacco and alcohol, which have worse health effects? Should we ban those too Mrs. Bachmann?” As far as the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, he pointed out it would extend equal rights to Christian minority groups too. They’d be able to found their own schools, have their own media outlets, have their own trade unions, have their own lobby groups, apply for subsidies for their churches and other organizations, ask for tax exemption for their charitable activities and so on. The goal was not to persecute Christianity, but to enshrine the inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” mentioned in the declaration of independence, with the restriction of course that others couldn’t be harmed in exercising these rights. This included, but was not limited to, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. This had nothing to do with communism and the younger Kennedy was certain his father would have approved.

Large swathes of younger voters had been alienated by the Republican attempt to enact a constitutional ban on abortion. This didn’t mean that all young people were in favour of abortion per se. Sure, support for the legality of abortion was a lot higher among younger generations, but there was a wide spectrum of opinions ranging from total legality to legality under limited circumstances and from the need for a federal law versus the rights of states to decide for themselves. A majority of young people were close to total legality and state rights on the topic.

Soft drug tolerance, eliminating student debt, a higher minimum wage, green policies and equal rights were also of massive importance to young voters for obvious reasons. Recreational drug use was highest among youths, many young people faced towering student debt, many earned the minimum wage during college and little more just after, they wanted to inherit a liveable planet Earth, and were usually not sympathetic to the stifling groupthink of Bachmann and her conservative Christian supporters. Adding to this was that the youngest millennials and the early cohorts of Generation Z were now able to vote in a Presidential election for the first time. It was a contributing factor, but most important was the popularity of the Kennedy name. The Bachmann/Rubio ticket carried 23 states, 189 electoral votes and 45% of the popular vote. The JFK Jr./Charles Crist ticket carried 27 states plus DC, 349 electoral votes and 53% of the popular vote and won a clear victory.

President John F. Kennedy Jr. was the third president from his family. With a Democratic Congress he was able to enact his agenda unhindered by carrying out the most leftist program in US history: he raised the minimum wage and raised social security benefits; student loans were abolished and college education was made free; the pre-2008 system of universal healthcare was restored; a progressive taxation system was enacted; tax incentives were used to persuade companies to keep their production in the US despite the higher salary costs; the VAT and excise taxes were reduced; the efforts of the FBI and DEA focused on hard drugs; the government invested in solar, wind, hydroelectric, natural gas and nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; car companies received subsidies to produce more fuel economic models, including hybrid and full-electric car models.

Lastly, and most importantly, Kennedy pulled off the very difficult task of passing the Equal Rights Amendment through Congress. Article V of the US Constitution determines that a two thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate is required. This was something Kennedy could only achieve with Republican support as the Democrats didn’t have a two thirds majority in either house of Congress, despite their recent electoral victories. Kennedy proved that, unlike his polarizing predecessor, he was able to build bridges by granting concessions: he made promises to coal and oil producing states that alternative industries would be allocated to their states first to compensate for jobs lost due to the gradual reduction of the fossil fuel industry; he tweaked the tax brackets to meet Republican objections halfway, compensating by reducing the VAT and excise taxes less than planned; and he scratched a proposal to tax “gas guzzling” car models. By taking some of the edges off his plans that frustrated the Republicans the most, he managed to obtain part of their support. Congress passed the amendments and the required 38 states ratified it as the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution.

His successes in passing his domestic agenda almost completely during his second term without much controversy sticking to him probably earned him his second term in 2020. That’s not to say there was no controversy at all: the number of states where marihuana was legal increased to 23 by 2020 and possession while medical use was legal in 27 states, eight of which had decriminalized recreational use as well. The liberal climate had more effects: California became the second state after Nevada to legalize prostitution as well as organizing activities like brothels; New York wouldn’t go that far, and instead decriminalized it like Rhode Island had already done. None of these things that aggravated the Republicans stuck to Kennedy himself as these were decisions made by state governments. The Republicans had to bite their tongue as they could hardly argue for reducing state rights after years of arguing the opposite.

Kennedy extended that ability to build bridges to his foreign policy, which was sorely needed given the Cold War tensions of the past years. He became the first President to visit Beijing and meet a Chinese Emperor in person and was the first foreign leader not made to kowtow before the Emperor. This signified how much importance the Chinese themselves attached to the meeting, which was because the high expenditures on nuclear forces, building up their blue water navy and building large amounts of modern equipment capable of rivalling that of the Americans was becoming an intolerable financial burden. Kennedy negotiated a reduction in strategic arms and a reduction in conventional forces in return for greater access to Asian markets dominated by China, and of course the massive domestic market of China itself.

Rather than constantly engaging in rivalry, Kennedy hoped to reduce tensions through talks, having learnt from his father’s example that extreme tensions could quickly spiral out of control accidentally due to fear, ignorance and misunderstandings. An unspoken and unwritten understanding was reached that the United States of America and the Empire of China would abstain from poking around in each other’s known spheres of influence and would consult each other on matters of international security and stability. A co-dominium was born on the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of World War III, which would hopefully preserve the peace in the 21st century.
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Considering Japan's right-wing turn, was Yukio Mishima Prime Minister of Japan ITTL or did he play a more "behind the scenes" role as one of the main intellectual figures behind said regime, assuming he wasn't killed in WW3?
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JFK Jr. would not be able to pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate because they live in the same state. However, would Hillary still move to New York ITTL?
That is why no nominee for President picks a running mate from the same state.
Bush was apparently going to pick Cheney even if he couldn't get residency in another state. But the main reason is because the VP always seems to be for balancing the ticket and/or trying to pick up a key swing state.
His successes in passing his domestic agenda almost completely during his fourth term without much controversy sticking to him probably earned him his second term in 2020. That’s not to say there was no controversy at all: the number of states where marihuana was legal increased to 23 by 2020 and possession while medical use was legal in 27 states, eight of which had decriminalized recreational use as well. The liberal climate had more effects: California became the second state after Nevada to legalize prostitution as well as organizing activities like brothels; New York wouldn’t go that far, and instead decriminalized it like Rhode Island had already done. None of these things that aggravated the Republicans stuck to Kennedy himself as these were decisions made by state governments. The Republicans had to bite their tongue as they could hardly argue for reducing state rights after years of arguing the opposite.

"Space is warped and time is bendable".
I'm pretty sure you have China catching up in military technology far too soon, without leaching on Soviet/Russian help for an extra 40 years they are going to have more difficulty. OTL they decided they wanted Carriers in the 80's, they, after buying several to examine, then rebuilding a Russian one, finally laid down a 55,000 ton Carrier in 2015, launching in 2017. Even with continuing Soviet/Russian tech transfers it took until 2003 for them to get a domestic 4th gen aircraft (F-15/16 generation) and that had to use imported Russian engines until 2016ish. Likewise it took until 2001 to get a MBT broadly comparable with the Abrams, but that ripped a lot off the T-72

Honestly even with a huge US Peace dividend I would give the Chinese another 10-20 years to catch up to the US, they aren't getting the OTL tech transfers from the USSR, so have to steal and develop from scratch a lot more

Edit: Also if you are considering arms reduction, nuclear weapons are cheap, conventional forces and nuclear defenses are the expensive part
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And so this epic timeline concludes 60 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis went hot with the birth of a co-dominium between the USA and China and the world now largely at peace... Here's to hoping that it remains at peace for a long time to come! Congratulations on completing another epic timeline, Willie! 👏👍
For 1962 Cuban Missile War fans, an excellent series of novels depicts such a world:
More volumes are forthcoming, and there are also "side" novels by this author coveing other parts of his world.
He is also writing an England Crushes American Revolution if your taste goes that way.