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Thread: The Presidents: The Vietnam War Edition

  1. #1321
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    c0d5579: Ah, yes. Andrew Jackson: Douglas MacArthur with duel pistols.

    I would love to meet Theodore Roosevelt. He just oozed personality.

    Right now I am working on an update about Korea. With the partition of the Korean Peninsula absent TTL, I imagine North Korea today being a carbon copy of South Korea: electricity, towering skyscrapers, and cell phones everywhere. Pyongyang would probably look something like this.

    I also imagine Korea being a much richer nation TTL due to the fact that Seoul has access to North Korea's substantial natural resources like coal and copper.
    Last edited by Nathan Madien; 09-07-2012 at 05:51.
    "In America, anybody can be President. That's one of the risks you take."
    -Adlai Stevenson

    The Presidents: The Vietnam War Edition
    President of the United States in 1962: Henry M. Jackson (Democrat-Washington)

  2. #1322
    Karl Popper Fanboy H.Appleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    Right now I am working on an update about Korea. With the partition of the Korean Peninsula absent TTL, I imagine North Korea today being a carbon copy of South Korea: electricity, towering skyscrapers, and cell phones everywhere. Pyongyang would probably look something like this.

    I also imagine Korea being a much richer nation TTL due to the fact that Seoul has access to North Korea's substantial natural resources like coal and copper.
    Sounds about right, god the world would be so great if North Korea had never existed. It's basically a distillation of the most evil ideas of the twentieth century.
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  3. #1323
    Alternately Korea would be the Asian equivalent of Spain or Italy, which benefited from the Marshall Plan but weren't rebuilt like Germany or Japan. With Chiang's China providing the majority of anti-Communist counterweight in 1940s thinking, Korea could very well wind up a backwater of the Cold War until someone wakes up and realizes that the Generalissimo wasn't on anyone's side but his own, at which point it might very well be too late.
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  4. #1324
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0d5579 View Post
    We are talking about the only American ever to be a field marshal, who switched branches from engineer to infantry strictly because it was career-enhancing, and who argued that Truman's interference as Commander-in-Chief was inappropriate (not militarily wrong, but inappropriate). To say that MacArthur wasn't "that glory-seeking" is like saying Cthulhu "isn't that sanity-devouring."
    Do note that this is a MacArthur that was forced to actually invade Japan and have all that bloodshed be his personal responsibility. That kind of personal responsibility to make all those broken and sacrificed lives worth it could influence him to fully dedicate himself to ensuring Japan was worth that effort instead of using it for political gain. Also, the internal knowledge that he would NEVER have the kind of free rein that he would with Japan would make him averse to dealing with US politics as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    H.Appleby: I wanted to give MacArthur a better exit than he got historically when Truman sacked him. MacArthur was a very good general; the problem was that MacArthur was his own worst enemy thanks to his enormous ego and inability to know when to shut up.

    China is coming up after we make a layover in Korea. We’re going to see Chiang get militaristic, which isn’t good if you don’t trust him one bit.

    Vietnam will get an update, it’s just a matter of where I want to place it amidst the other updates I have planned. As for India, I touched on it in ’58 and don’t plan to elaborate further.

    Kurt_Steiner: We do? Great! Umm…who?

    c0d5579: After Eisenhower died in ’55, the G.O.P. were unwilling to take a chance on another elderly war hero.

    That’s the story reason anyway. The writing reason why I didn’t pick MacArthur in ’56 is because I wanted Sparkman to win a full term to set up Scoop in ’60 and therefore wanted a weak candidate to run against the President – Lodge – instead of a stronger candidate like Old Doug.

    Ciryandor: MacArthur was very much a man used to getting his way and would complain if he didn’t get his way (part of the reason for his OTL downfall). I don’t think he would last five minutes as President in a give-and-take Washington.

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    PvtPrivate: The difference between World War Two and the Vietnam War is that the American public during World War Two knew what the country was fighting for: to defeat the Axis Powers and fight for freedom. They were willing to absorb the terrible lost of live in the knowledge that their boys were fighting for a noble cause. By contrast, the Government during Vietnam never really explained to the public what their sons and husbands were fighting for exactly. LBJ never educated the public to deal with Vietnam for the long haul and that’s part of the reason why the anti-war movement essentially drove him out of office.

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    True, MacArthur for a change was influenced/savvy enough to know his personality would make any stay at the Oval Office a very tumultuous one for everyone involved.

    Also, good choice in concentrating on flashpoints, no sense wasting time on a backwater state that is firmly in the democratic camp and has an easily controlled Communist threat.
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  5. #1325
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    c0d5579: Ah, yes. Andrew Jackson: Douglas MacArthur with duel pistols.

    I would love to meet Theodore Roosevelt. He just oozed personality.

    Right now I am working on an update about Korea. With the partition of the Korean Peninsula absent TTL, I imagine North Korea today being a carbon copy of South Korea: electricity, towering skyscrapers, and cell phones everywhere. Pyongyang would probably look something like this.

    I also imagine Korea being a much richer nation TTL due to the fact that Seoul has access to North Korea's substantial natural resources like coal and copper.
    Oh man, that giant unfinished Ryugyong hotel in Pyongyang stands out like a sore thumb.

  6. #1326
    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    c0d5579: Ah, yes. Andrew Jackson: Douglas MacArthur with duel pistols.

    I would love to meet Theodore Roosevelt. He just oozed personality.

    Right now I am working on an update about Korea. With the partition of the Korean Peninsula absent TTL, I imagine North Korea today being a carbon copy of South Korea: electricity, towering skyscrapers, and cell phones everywhere. Pyongyang would probably look something like this.

    I also imagine Korea being a much richer nation TTL due to the fact that Seoul has access to North Korea's substantial natural resources like coal and copper.
    OK. When I try to access the Pyongyang picture I get a 'Forbiden' message; any connection to reality is non intentional
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  7. #1327
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    i got a "forbidden" at first but i just refreshed the page and it turned out okay

  8. #1328
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    H.Appleby: North and South Korea are also accidents of history, considering they were created simply to figure out who would get Japanese P.O.W.s after the war. Someone saw the 38th Parallel on the map and decided it was good enough to draw a boundary line.

    c0d5579: At the moment, I don't see Korea having much of an influence in the direction of the Cold War.

    Ciryandor: Japan gives MacArthur a high point in which to retire his career on. Which other generals in history have conquered a nation, only to leave it in better shape afterward?

    Undead-Hippie: I had to change the picture after the link broke on me.

    Mr. Santiago: Problem fixed...I think.

    Undead-Hippie: Just in case, I replaced it.

    On a 1960s-related side note:



    Thanks Andy for moments like these.
    Last edited by Nathan Madien; 09-07-2012 at 06:11.
    "In America, anybody can be President. That's one of the risks you take."
    -Adlai Stevenson

    The Presidents: The Vietnam War Edition
    President of the United States in 1962: Henry M. Jackson (Democrat-Washington)

  9. #1329
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    Whoa I've been gone for a while! I like the update about Japan, I've never really read that much about the post-war situation so it's very interesting to see how it developed from the end of the war. I read recently about how the Japanese economy is in a state of inertia and none of the people in charge have any idea how to get it going again, so it's pretty interesting to see how different it was just 50-60 years ago.
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  10. #1330
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  11. #1331
    Indeed, but it's their loss.
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  12. #1332
    Quote Originally Posted by Undead-Hippie View Post
    Oh man, that giant unfinished Ryugyong hotel in Pyongyang stands out like a sore thumb.
    It sure does. There's a great image that shows the Korean peninsula from space at night -- the South looks like an island, because the North is so dark.
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  13. #1333
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Andreios II: Welcome back.

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    Speaking of Korea...
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The June Revolution
    In September 1988, the eyes of the world were focused on the Republic of Korea as she played host to the Summer Olympics for the first time. It was an exciting time on the Korean Peninsula as over 8,400 athletes from over 160 nations poured in to participate in over 260 events. Among the highlights NBC and other broadcasters covered in Seoul:
    • American sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner won three gold medals
    • In a very controversial decision, Korean judges awarded the gold medal in light-middleweight boxing to one of their own instead of the American boxer Roy Jones, Jr.
    • American swimmer Matt Biondi won six gold medals, including the men’s 100 meter butterfly
    For the Koreans, they were understandably ecstatic about hosting the games. It brought international attention to their nation, allowing them to show off their booming industrial economy and high living standards. They treated it as their “coming-out party” on the world stage. Although Germany won the most medals and Korea barely edged out Bulgaria of all countries to make it into the top four medal winners, the Olympics were nonetheless a psychological victory for them. It was after all their chance to shine in the sun...a chance they would get again in 2010 as host of the Winter Olympics.

    Today Korea is one of the leading economic nations in Asia. Despite the fact that mountains cover 70% of the country’s 85,270 square mile area, the country is home to 79,000,000 people (making it the 17th most populous country in the world). The liberal use of skyscrapers in Seoul (capital and largest city), Busan (second largest city), Pyongyang (third largest city), and elsewhere has helped Korea deal with her heavy population density. Possessing a strong market economy has enabled the developed country to be one of the world’s fastest-growing with one of the lowest unemployment rates. One of the reasons Korea is so prosperous is her abundance of natural resources: iron, zinc, coal, fluorite, copper, and salt are among the resources she produces in substantial numbers. These products have made the country one of the largest exporters in the world. Wise handling of all this money has allowed Korea to build a strong credit rating, keep her national debt low, and have extra money to spare in the event of a financial emergency like in 2008. The Koreans enjoy a highly efficient and technically advanced transportation network which allows them to criss-cross the country easily. The magnificent and elegant-looking Pyongyang Station – described as “Korea’s Grand Central Terminal” – serves as the central rail hub connecting the northern half of the country with the southern half via Seoul. Inchon is home to Korea’s largest airport and is one of the world’s busiest, serving over 33,000,000 passengers a year. Korea’s vibrant financial situation has allowed her to be a global leader in nuclear power development, scientific research (such as robotics and biotechnology), and education. Like her next-door neighbor Japan, Korea actively exports her mainstream popular culture abroad – such as K-pop music – and enjoys seamless wireless connection at home (roughly 92% of all Koreans have cell phones like those featured below).

    A century ago, you would’ve been hard-pressed to find any evidence of Korea’s future glory. The Peninsula had been run for thousands of years by various rulers when another ruler arrived in 1910 to stake their claim there. Exercising a hunger for an empire which would eventually get them into deep trouble, the Japanese decided to annex Korea and transform it into their first colony. In a terrible sign of things to come, the Japanese repressed Korean culture and forced the Koreans to labor for their sole benefit. Any effort by the Koreans to assert independence for themselves was brutally crushed, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Those who didn’t revolt openly were forced to give up their ways of life and live exactly as the Japanese ordered them to whether they liked it or not (they didn’t). This horrible oppression – which would be repeated in China and elsewhere over the next couple decades – would dominate the Peninsula until 1945 when the US war machine arrived off the coast of Asia. It was MacArthur, the brilliant but egotistical leader of the unstoppable American drive, who made the case for an invasion of Korea. His twin arguments were:
    • The Korean people were enduring horrible conditions under Japanese rule. The United States therefore had the moral obligation to liberate them and give them a much-needed taste of freedom
    • It also made military sense to attack Korea. With the Japanese certain to put up heavy resistance in the upcoming invasion of their home islands, the Americans would need to create a diversion to split up their defense. Sitting across from Japan via the Korea Strait (the scene of a major Japanese naval victory over the Russians forty years earlier), the Peninsula was a logical secondary target that wouldn’t be too far from the main landings in Southern Kyushu

    The decision to attack Korea turned out to be the easy part; the devil was in the details. Military planners were at odds not only over how much to invest in the attack but who would even lead it. Some wanted a limited engagement while others wanted to go all-in. Then there was the outspoken opinion of General George S. Patton (1885-1948). Nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts”, the aggressive and colorful general had famously – or infamously, depending on your view of him – captured Rome during the war in Europe and was anxious to give the Japanese hell. To him, it was all simple really: invade Korea and advance as far into China as possible. He believed that mobility was the essential ingredient for any successful military operation. Forces had to stay on the move; to slow down or stop would only “waste human lives.”
    And who in Patton’s mind should lead the invasion? Why himself, of course. This created consternation among the planners, chiefly General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Impressed by Eisenhower’s skills in leading the Allies to victory in North Africa and Europe, Dewey ordered Ike to Okinawa to coordinate military operations in Asia. Although MacArthur would lead the invasion of Japan, it would be Eisenhower – acting behind the scenes – who would make sure that the army, navy, and air force behave as one cohesive force. When it came to picking someone to lead the invasion of Korea (codenamed Operation Clamp due to the fact that it would go hand-in-hand with Operation Downfall), Eisenhower expressed his reservations about giving the reins to Patton. Yes, Old Blood and Guts was a more-than-capable general but there was something about him which gave Ike pause. Patton distrusted the Soviets greatly and wasn’t afraid to say so…often with his characteristic profanity. With the Red Army advancing across Manchuria following the Soviet declaration of war on Japan in May 1945, planners knew that American forces would link up with their Soviet counterparts at some point. Eisenhower was afraid of what might happen if anti-Soviet Patton ran into the Red Army and therefore recommended another general whom he knew would be a safer choice. Completely professional and coolheaded, General George Marshall had led the advance which recaptured Paris and was known for getting the job done diligently and without drawing unnecessary attention. Patton tried to argue against this but was silenced when Marshall was confirmed to carry out Operation Clamp. To soothe his bruised ego, Ike gave the hotheaded George command of an army group slated for the invasion...with the crystal-clear understanding that Patton would be subordinate under Marshall.

    In the early hours of August 6th, the Marines waded ashore on the island of Jeju. Located off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula, the volcanic island was seen as the stepping stone to the Asian mainland. After securing the island without facing Japanese resistance, the Americans headed north and established a foothold in Korea near Gwangju. Despite the mountainous terrain, Patton and others were able to advance across the Peninsula with help from local guerrilla units. Although the Japanese fought hard to hold back the Americans, they were undermined by civilian uprisings. Knowing that freedom was near, those who had been forced to support the Japanese war effort took the opportunity to confront their occupiers at every given chance. By the end of 1945, the entire Korean Peninsula was in American hands and bridges had been erected across the Yalu River to continue the US advance into Manchuria and Northern China. Although it was their policy to make Korea free and independent, the Americans established a military administration to manage the Koreans in the short term. Given how long they had been under foreign rule, D.C. felt it would be premature to grant them automatic self-rule. Instead, full sovereignty would be gradually phrased in. Marshall, the jack-of-all-trades commander, was appointed military governor of Korea. Marshall handled the liberated Koreans with such deftness that he would be named Secretary of State after Dewey fired Gerald Nye in 1947. As with Germany, the lack of a Soviet presence on the Peninsula allowed the Americans to block the Communists from having a say in the postwar development of Korea. In September 1947, the American administration ended and the First Republic of Korea was officially established as an independent state.

    In the fall of 1947, the Koreans went to the polls for the first time to elect their government. A constitution was drawn up, setting up a presidential form of government in which the leader would have a four-year term. Syngman Rhee, a prominent member of the Korean independence movement, was elected to serve as the country’s first President. That's when things started going down hill. The anti-Communist Rhee immediately implemented a brutal repression of the Left; anyone deemed a threat to his government was killed. Tens of thousands of Koreans across the country were put to death by order of the autocratic President. This created political turmoil which roiled Korea throughout the 1950s. Rhee forced through Parliament constitutional amendments which for all practical purposes made him President-for-life. This earned the strongman a poor reputation back in the United States; neither Stevenson nor Sparkman were impressed by him. Although the Americans considered the Koreans to be a valuable ally in the Cold War in light of Nationalist China sliding into the Soviet camp, their leaders were privately opposed to Rhee’s iron-fisted rule. Even though her education system saw strong growth and the literary rate rose sharply during the decade, Korea’s economy remained sluggish despite American aid and land reform which established a class of small landowners. Sparkman blamed Rhee’s refusal to make his country a true democracy for the weak economy and privately hoped something would happen to push him out of power. In the summer of 1960, he got his wish.

    That June found the Korean Peninsula racked by protests in the streets. The widespread movement began as a reaction to the Presidential election held on June 12th. With the public growing increasingly discontented against his corrupt and power-hungry dictatorship, the elderly Rhee had the election heavily rigged so he could defeat his opponent with ease. With voter turnout at 97.0%, the incumbent won with 80% of the vote against his opponent’s 17%. To the public, it was too much to bear: almost as soon as the election results were announced, the opposition cried foul and protested the vote. In Gwangju, students and citizens took to the streets to march in angry resentment. The leader of the opposition addressed them directly, declaring that “the election results were completely fabricated by police headquarters and the ministry of internal affairs.”
    In reaction, local police – under the tight control of Rhee’s government – were ordered to quell the demonstration with force. The police opened fire and killed eighty-six protestors – including the opposition candidate. This incident, remembered by history as the Gwangju Massacre, set off an explosion of public indignation that swept across the country. For instance, students in Chongjin rioted and burned the local police station to the ground. On June 17th, while the streets of Seoul were clogged with protestors, the opposition in Pyongyang converged on the railroad station there and forced the trains to screech to a halt. Since Pyongyang – just like now – served as the central hub for rail traffic in North Korea, this action had the effect of paralyzing the northern half of the country. For what would become known as the June Revolution, the action in Pyongyang marked its’ point of no return.

    For Rhee, the protests were bad enough but the fall of Pyongyang Station…it was too much. On June 19th, the government declared martial law and the army was called out to put down the demonstrations. With singular obsession, Rhee gave top priority to retaking the train station by any means necessary. He wouldn’t allow upstarts to grind his country to a halt. Motorized divisions drove their way towards the station, now partially encircled by hastily assembled barricades. The soldiers were ordered to clear out the building of its occupants either peacefully or through brute force. As the motor vehicles approached Pyongyang Station, the soldiers dispatched to retake it were in for a deadly surprise. Unlike their nonviolent counterparts in the South, the North Koreans were armed with various assortments of small and long guns and knew how to use them. Almost as soon as the vehicles came up against the barricades, they found themselves under attack. Firing from the windows, behind the barricades, and atop the roof, the occupiers laid down a steady stream of fire. Hiding behind their vehicles, the soldiers returned fire with their own hail of bullets. What should’ve been a straightforward operation transformed instead into a three-day siege in which the soldiers were barely able to make much progress beyond the barricades. With the army reporting at least seventy-six casualties, Rhee decided on June 23rd to change tactics. He didn’t stop to wonder why the rebels were so well-armed; all he cared about was crushing them. What happened next would shock the world.

    A week after anti-Rhee forces seized control of Pyongyang Station, M26 Pershing tanks rolled through the streets of Pyongyang towards the station. The forty-two ton tanks, developed by the Americans, were under orders to blast their way through and destroy the opposition. With their main guns pumping out round after round indiscriminately, the Pershing tanks crashed through the barricades and attacked the building head-on. The occupiers, facing superior firepower, decide to retreat and regroup rather than risk everything on an Alamo-like last stand. Not content with simply letting them escape, the tanks were ordered to go after the fleeing protestors and brutally deliver a statement: don’t mess with the government. The tanks bulldozed their way through the fleeing crowds, literally running people over. Images of Koreans being crushed underneath the tank treads splashed across the front pages of newspapers all over the world, creating international outrage. At the White House, Secretary of State Dean Rusk – appointed to the post after Culbert Levy Olson resigned two months earlier for health reasons – arrived in the Oval Office to find the President furious at what he was seeing. Sparkman couldn’t believe that American tanks were being used by the Korean government to mow down their own people. “What kind of S.O.B. does something like this?” he asked Rusk angrily. Rhee attempted to justify his action by pointing out that the counterattack had liberated the train station from occupation. Unfortunately for him, with the building shelled and over two hundred Koreans dead, his government's victory in the Battle of Pyongyang Station had been a P.R. disaster of the highest order. It did nothing to quell the national opposition to his rule; it only intensified. On June 26th, a huge crowd of protestors seized hold of Vice President Lee Ki Poong and savagely beat him to death. It was in retaliation for what happened in Pyongyang and they intended to get their revenge on Rhee next. They stormed the Blue House in Seoul (which is the executive office and official residence of the Korean Head of State), overwhelmed the bodyguards stationed there, and searched for him. Rather than be taken alive and mostly likely be executed, Rhee chose to commit suicide. To him, surrendering after all this was unthinkable.

    Syngman Rhee (March 26th, 1875 – June 26th, 1960)
    The country rejoiced Rhee’s death since it meant the eighty-five-year-old's violent and corrupt regime was finally over. On June 28th, an interim administration took over and abolished the First Republic of Korea. Three months later, new parliamentary elections were held and a new government was elected to establish the Second Republic of Korea. The Constitution was heavily revised to make the President of Korea a largely ceremonial figurehead elected by both houses of Parliament. The Prime Minister and his cabinet would wield power in the new Korean government. Watching from the sidelines, Sparkman was pleased to see the long-overdue regime change. He pledged continued American support for the country and demonstrated his commitment by approving new trade deals with Seoul during the final months of his Presidency. Although he considered Rhee’s overthrow to be good riddance, he was privately puzzled by the fact that the North Koreans were heavily armed. Where did those weapons come from and why did they have them while the South Koreans for the most part didn’t? The President would get his answer courtesy of the CIA.
    Last edited by Nathan Madien; 24-07-2012 at 05:03.
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    President of the United States in 1962: Henry M. Jackson (Democrat-Washington)

  14. #1334
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  15. #1335
    Yup.... North Koreans getting guns out of nowhere is odd; I hope they came from some random korean armoury, but that won't happen...
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  16. #1336
    Major Ciryandor's Avatar
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    WHAT. How did those northern Koreans get so much weaponry?
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    OrangeYoshi: ... I'll also put in a preliminary hunt order to Hunt Oky's replacement. (THE_SPLIT if I'm not mistaken). He publicly asked for a sub, and that is slightly more common in Lite if you have some sort of important role.

    This is OY putting in a hunt order on Oky's replacement, who is none other than OY.

  17. #1337
    Captain Undead-Hippie's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIDarkest Hour

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    Well damn, that was messed up. Almost sounded like we were going to get a Korean civil war after all ITTL

    I think it's pretty obvious the CIA were the ones who supplied the north Koreans. The CIA has supported regime changes for American allies in OTL (Diem springs to mind)

  18. #1338
    Colonel Dr. Gonzo's Avatar

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    I second Undead-Hippie. Without the DPRK I feel the CIA would grow weary of Rhee. A strongman is all well and good in the cynical game of Cold War geopolitics but if he's only worsening the situation, better to get rid of him. Then again I'm intrigued the Second Republic, founded by people who literally stormed the Blue House, are fine to maintain close relations with the USA which provided the tanks. Or did President Sparkman openly attack Rhee before his fall?

  19. #1339
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Kurt_Steiner: Yes, but it might not be so hard to figure out after all considering who Korea shares a border with.

    Mr. Santiago: I might not need to say this but when I speak of North and South Koreans, I am referring to their geographic location. North Korea as we know it OTL doesn't exist in this universe.

    Ciryandor: Gotta love cliff-hangers.

    Undead-Hippie: Obviously the June Revolution is based on the real-life April Revolution, but I wanted it to be much bloodier. I looked at real-life revolutions in Libya and Syria for inspiration.

    Of course, if the CIA were responsible for the North Koreans getting weapons, then the CIA acted without authorization from Sparkman. I don't think the CIA would go behind his back and do something without his knowledge. Then again, it is the CIA.

    Dr. Gonzo: I see no one is suspecting foreign involvement. Perhaps there's another country out there who would like nothing better than to see Rhee take a fall?

    As for the Second Republic, I don't think the Koreans would necessarily blame the US for the tanks. After all, the US under Dewey gave Rhee tanks for self-defense against the Soviets...not to crush his own people with. It was the US' idea to prop up the Koreans militarily after they withdrew their forces from the Peninsula in 1949. The Americans didn't anticipate their tanks running protestors over 11 years later.

    Since he isn't a fan of dictators to begin with, I think Sparkman would make it a point to support the new Korean government as much as he could. After all, we're talking about a man who helped put Castro in power in Cuba just to get rid of the Batista regime. I think he would be more than happy to support any post-Rhee government in Seoul. Of course, that's American foriegn policy in a nutshell: get rid of the guy you don't like, replace him with someone else, and hope for the best.
    "In America, anybody can be President. That's one of the risks you take."
    -Adlai Stevenson

    The Presidents: The Vietnam War Edition
    President of the United States in 1962: Henry M. Jackson (Democrat-Washington)

  20. #1340
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Chiang Gets Tough
    In July 1960:
    • Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller film “Psycho”, starring Anthony Perkins as a motel owner with some issues, dominated the American box office
    • With the Congo in turmoil, Moise Tshombe declares the province of Katanga to be independent. The United States would recognize the breakaway state eleven days later
    • Harper Lee publishes her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”
    • The first Etch a Sketch mechanical drawing toy is manufactured in Ohio
    • Colonel General Ludwig Beck, one of the key leaders behind the assassination of Adolf Hitler and the overthrow of the Nazi regime in July 1944, dies at age eighty one day short of its’ sixteenth anniversary

    Ludwig August Theodor Beck (June 29th, 1880 – July 19th, 1960)
    For the Americans, July also meant political conventions as the two major parties now had to nominate their respective candidates for President and Vice President. Since they were the party out of power, the Republicans would meet first on July 11th to resolve the ongoing rivalry between Governors Knowland and Rockefeller. The Democrats would meet two weeks later to nominate Vice President Jackson despite threats of convention disruptions by the Dixiecrats. For Sparkman, the upcoming convention in Los Angeles would be his last hurrah as the leader of the Democratic Party. He was now firmly in his lame duck period, counting down the six months remaining until he would leave office and become a private citizen. Of course, any problems which developed were still his problems to deal with. One problem which would plague the United States throughout the 1960s began to take shape in early July. The first Monday of the month was Independence Day, the 184th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The President spent his July 4th at Camp Ewing in Maryland with his family and closest friends. In 1957, he had an outdoor grilling station constructed at the country retreat so he could entertain his guests. Among those munching on Sparkman’s burgers that July 4th was good old Harry S. Truman. Truman was one of the President’s closest and most loyal friends, standing by his side through thick and thin. When the Missourian arrived in D.C. twenty-five years ago, he was seen as nothing more than a product of the Kansas City political machine. FDR ignored him to the point that the young Senator struggled just to have the White House return his calls. A quarter of a century later, that had all changed. Truman was now part of the President’s inner circle of associates, enjoying such privileges as playing poker with him aboard the presidential yacht USS Sequoia. Whereas “Give ‘em Hell” Harry was invited to the July 4th festivities, an uninvited figure showed up at Camp Ewing that afternoon.

    A shiny black car with ‘50s-era tailfins pulled up to the retreat and out popped William Preston Lane, Jr. The sixty-eight-year-old Marylander had been the steadfast Director of the CIA since Stevenson appointed him in 1953 and his sudden appearance could only mean one thing: bad news. Asking for privacy, Lane led Sparkman on a walk through the nearby woods. “Mr. President,” he began in a straightforward tone of voice, “We at the Agency have been working overtime to determine why the Koreans in the North all of a sudden have weapons at their disposal. We now know where they are coming from.”
    According to Lane, the weapons came from Nationalist China. This announcement came as a surprise to the President. Throughout the 1950s, the Chinese had largely kept to themselves and focused squarely on their own problems. If this allegation was true, it meant the Chinese were for the first time looking beyond their borders. When pressed for details, the CIA Director said that reconnaissance over-flights conducted by the U-2 had taken photographs showing containers being shipped across the Yalu River (the natural barrier separating Korea from Nationalist China) aboard boats. Once those boats had reached the Korean shore, weapons were taken out of the boxes and trickled down to opposition forces in the northern part of the country. The CIA estimated that most of the weapons used in the Battle of Pyongyang Station came from the Chinese. The aerial photos, according to Lane, were backed by intelligence provided by a high-level member of the Chinese government in Nanjing who was covertly working for the CIA. This informant – whose identity is still classified today – was secretly leaking information to the Americans out of fear that President Chiang Kai-shek was leading his country down the wrong path by allying with the Soviet Union. “According to our man,” Lane told Sparkman on the strictest need-to-know basis, “The Generalissimo is getting restless and wants to demonstrate that Chinese foreign policy has a bite to it. He sees in Korea the first step to expanding Chinese influence in Asia.”
    Apparently, according to Lane, Chiang was greatly troubled by the fact that the pro-US Rhee regime was sitting right on his northern border. When revolution broke out in Korea, Nanjing saw a chance to help topple the government and influence the creation of a new one which would be more willing to work with the Chinese. Such a move would greatly undermine America’s hand in Asia. The President was disturbed by the prospect of a Korean government which was pro-Chinese but felt there was little he could do about it at the moment. With his Presidency winding down, he didn’t feel like spending the next six months competing with the Chinese over the future of Korea only to have to turn over unfinished business next January 20th. Instead, he would put the problem on the back burner and let his successor – who would have at least four years ahead of them – deal with it as they saw fit. Meanwhile, he would deal with the new government as is and hope for the best. “Get in touch with Scoop and let him know about this,” Sparkman instructed his top intelligence official, “He needs to start thinking about how he is going to respond to the Chinese desire for dominance.”
    Lane agreed to brief the Vice President on the weapons smuggling and then dropped a bigger bombshell:
    “Mr. President, this isn’t the only thing our spy planes have uncovered.”

    The other piece of news was considered so important that the decision was made to hold an emergency meeting of the National Security Council about it. On the afternoon of July 5th at the White House, the Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff filed into the white Georgian-style Cabinet Room for a meeting whose subject matter was a complete mystery but was absolutely mandatory to attend. Lane stood off in the corner with his assistances, neatly assembling some blown-up reconnaissance photos on a couple of large wooden stands. These photos were taken by a U-2 piloted by a Kentucky-born veteran named Francis Gary Powers (1929-2002). Once the men were settled into their upholstered chairs around the long mahogany table, the CIA Director began his briefing. Directing the attention of his audience to the photos, Lane revealed what they were looking at. “Gentlemen,” he began, “These photographs were taken in the mountains of Western China. Studying the details closely, we at the Agency have determined that the Chinese are secretly building a nuclear reactor.”
    According to Sparkman’s memoir, you could’ve heard a pin drop in the Cabinet Room. The National Security Council sat there in stunned silence as the revelation sunk in: Nationalist China was aiming to become the fifth nation in the world to have a nuclear weapons program. “Are you sure about this?” Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett asked incredulously. Lane replied that the photo analysis was backed by information leaked by “a confidential informant within the country.”
    The highly sensitive information revealed that Chiang established a faculty of atomic research to evaluate the feasibility of developing the atomic bomb back in 1952. When he was told it was feasible to at least have a small program operating, he ordered the construction of top secret atomic research laboratories which was completed in 1955. A faculty of nuclear research was next set up in 1958 at National Fudan University in Shanghai to provide the technical leadership needed for the vast project. Now two years later, the Chinese had an isotope separation facility up and running which enabled them to start construction on a nuclear reactor. The obvious question was why Nanjing felt it was necessary to do all this. Secretary of State Rusk chimed in with the answer:
    “Everything the Chinese have done so far has been done for one solid reason: national security. Do not forget, gentlemen: the Chinese were conquered by the Japanese back in ‘39 and underwent a horrible occupation at their hands. That has naturally left them with the national attitude of ‘Never again.’
    If you want to send a message to the rest of the world that you can no longer be walked over, it makes sense to have a few nuclear bombs in your arsenal. There is simply no greater deterrent than the threat of a nuclear attack that can easily kill millions of your citizens.”


    Were the Soviets involved? Absolutely, Lane replied. The Kremlin, seeing Nationalist China as a reliable ally, had been assisting the Chinese program since 1958 and was the primary reason why the pace of the program was quickening. According to the CIA:
    “The Chinese have average technical skills and are therefore unable to make rapid progress in their research and development projects. The use of Soviet technicians, as evident by their presence in Shanghai and elsewhere, has given the Chinese a tremendous boost and invaluable experience from which to draw on.”
    The Sino-Soviet collaboration was obviously benefitting the former, but what did the latter get out of it? Lane’s answer was a sense of security. With a strong Nationalist China as her neighbor, the Soviet Union didn’t have to worry about devoting resources defending her Asian border and interests in the region. They could therefore focus their attention elsewhere without worrying about watching their back. This would give the Americans a major problem: a nuclear-armed Chiang could exert pressure on pro-US governments on the perimeter of the Asian continent. In response, D.C. would be forced to divide her attention between her Eastern and Western spheres of influence, giving the Soviets more room to pursue their objectives in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. “However,” Lane pointed out, “That scenario is very much down the road.”
    Jackson, who would have to deal with the Chinese should he be elected President in four months, understandably took a deep interest in this development. He asked for the CIA’s estimate for when Chiang would have an atomic bomb in his possession. Lane replied that even with the Soviets helping them out, the CIA expected the Chinese to take a long time with their bomb program – just as it took the Soviets a long time to develop theirs even with better technical skills. His agency currently estimated that they wouldn’t be able to mount a nuclear bomb test until some time in the second half of the 1960s. “Even then, it will be a decade or two before the country can build up a moderate stockpile of nuclear weaponry.”
    “That’s assuming of course they experience no delays,” the President pointed out in a tone of voice that suggested he had something in mind. Understanding the gravity of the situation presented before him, Sparkman ordered the CIA to increase the size of their intelligence operation in Nationalist China and invest in covert missions such as sabotaging their manufacturing and R&D. “Whatever you can do to slow them down,” he directed. Lane answered that his agency would do their best to buy the US time and delay what looked to be inevitable.

    Across the Pacific in Nanjing, Chiang and his closest associates were planning their country’s future. As the Chinese economy began to improve thanks to the influx of Soviet investments and much-needed reforms, Chiang started to look beyond his country’s borders. Expecting the economy to continue growing during the 1960s, the President of Nationalist China decided that political growth should go hand-in-hand with economic growth. Why shouldn’t the great Chinese Dragon have a big say in the development of Asia? Abandoning his previous course of self-imposed isolationism, Chiang in 1960 instituted a new policy in which his country would be more active in the affairs of others. He started with his next-door neighbor Korea, smuggling weapons into the country to help topple the Rhee regime. While covert operations were all well and good, Chiang knew he needed military muscle in order to be more effective in asserting his nation’s influence in Asia. After all, to quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
    In 1958 of course, he accelerated nuclear weapons development with help from Soviet technical aid. A year later, Chiang launched the ambitious Seven-Year Plan. With the exception of the army, China’s navy and air force had been neglected during the 1950s and were in woeful shape. The Seven-Year Plan would fix that by building up those two branches so they would be in strong shape militarily by 1966. To project naval power in the Pacific, the Chinese Navy would be re-organized into six fleets. Aware that their navy could never compete head-to-head with the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy, the Chinese made the strategic decision to focus on speed and mobility instead. Two task forces centered on light carriers and heavy cruisers would provide the main punch. Heavy cruisers would also provide the backbone of two anti-submarine fleets which would screen the waters for enemy submarines and destroy them. Lastly, the Chinese would have two submarine fleets to serve as pickets and first line of attack. Their submarines would be based on the Soviet Foxtrot-class design: 295-foot long diesel-electric subs which could travel fifteen knots submerged and attack using ten torpedo tubes and her armament of twenty-two torpedoes.

    Like the navy, the Chinese Air Force was also strategically redesigned. Rather than have a variety of aircrafts at their disposal, the Chinese would limit themselves to just four types:
    • Dongfeng-101 Fresco single-seat jet interceptor (based on the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 and capable of covering a range of over 1,000 miles with drop tanks)
    • Tupolev Tu-14 Bosun twin-turbojet light bomber (a Soviet export which could carry up to 6,610 pounds of explosives)
    • Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle jet bomber (a Soviet export which was modified to be a naval bomber)
    • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot swept-wing jet fighter (a Soviet export capable of covering a range of 1,230 miles with external tanks)
    More than anything else, the choice of aircraft symbolized the Sino-Soviet relationship. Since Western aircraft was completely out of the question due to the icy, almost non-existent Sino-American relationship, the Soviets were the natural market for aircraft. Khrushchev was more than happy to sell planes and blueprints to the Chinese, since it meant bringing them closer to Moscow’s sphere of influence. That was one factor. Another factor influencing China’s new military strategy was their possession of Formosa. Covering an area of 14,000 square miles, the island sat over one hundred miles off the southeast coast of China. Her strategic position between the Philippines and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan made Formosa a useful forward base in the Pacific. The Seven-Year Plan included expanding the military infrastructure on the island and transforming it into the first line of defense. Most of the naval bombers would be based on Formosa, allowing the Chinese to attack enemy ships long before they neared the coast. The island would be well within range of mainland interceptor and fighter protection. Naval bases on the north and south side of Formosa would be home to the submarine fleet, giving the Chinese the advantage of being able to form a picket line essentially along their entire coast from one location. If everything went well, China would be a serious military power in the second half of the 1960s. That the Chinese wanted a strong military in which to defend themselves was unmistakable. What wasn’t clear was whether or not Nanjing planned to use her new military prowess for offensive purposes as well. The only one who had the answer to that question was Chiang Kai-shek…and he was keeping that answer to himself.
    Last edited by Nathan Madien; 03-08-2012 at 01:19.
    "In America, anybody can be President. That's one of the risks you take."
    -Adlai Stevenson

    The Presidents: The Vietnam War Edition
    President of the United States in 1962: Henry M. Jackson (Democrat-Washington)

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