Guest Historian Andrew Beane says,
In 1984, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini accepted the unconditional surrender of Iraqi forces today, ending four years of bitter fighting that killed hundreds of thousands on both sides and saw the use of horrific chemical weapons.
"The Ayatollah's Triumph", a story by Andrew Beane
The defeat for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was especially damaging, as he faces instability at home given the failed invasion of its Shi'ite neighbor, a shattered economy and possible civil war.
The Iraqi Army crossed the border into Iran on September 22, 1980, with Hussein hoping to catch the Iranians off-guard as the Islamic Revolutionary government attempted to consolidate power in the aftermath of the dramatic overthrow of the Shah. Despite modest early progress on the part of Iraqi forces, which included massive air, artillery and rocket attacks, by June of 1982 the Iranians had regained virtually all of the territory taken by Baghdad.
Unable to bring the Islamic government to the negotiation table, the Iraqi's were forced to pull back deep into their own territory and form a static defense as Iran's army sought to punish Hussein's regime by removing it. Iraq failed to mount a strong enough resistance to the invasion, and was unable to organize new army divisions when the Soviets, France, and the United States all ignored Saddam's call for weapons.
Iran captured Basra in 1983, which prompted Iraq to launch dozens of short-range ballistic missiles, mainly Soviet-designed Scuds with chemical warheads at several Iranian cities. Iran countered with as many as sixty missiles fired upon Baghdad, effectively devastating the city. Iraqi morale never recovered and its command structure disintegrated. By the beginning of 1984, only the Republican Guard still loyal to the ruling Ba'athist Party. Saddam was forced to surrender in order to concentrate his remaining armed force on defeating Kurdish and Shi'ite rebellions.
In 1853, President William King died today after losing a battle with tuberculosis. This comes as a shock to the nation, which is still coming to terms with the death of President-elect Franklin Pierce (pictured), who was killed on January 6th of this year in a train derailment in Andover, Massachusetts.
Death of President William KingKing had been suffering with an incurable case of tuberculosis when he was sworn in on March 4th as the fourteenth President of the United States, a distinction that would have been given to Pierce. Too ill even to travel to Washington, D.C, he was sworn in during a limited ceremony at his plantation in Cahaba, Alabama, and remained there for the remainder of his life. He was the first president since John Adams to officially reside somewhere other than the White House.
Though the shortest presidency in American history, it was extremely controversial just the same. Favoring the Kansas-Nebraska act, King succeeded in pushing the Transcontinental Compromise through Congress. The compromise stated that Kansas and Nebraska would eventually be admitted into the Union as slave states, which favored the southern states; and the Transcontinental railroad would run from New York to Chicago before heading south to St. Louis and continue due west to the California coast, which superseded most of the southern states and favored northern interests.
With only forty-five days as President, King did not have time to select a vice president, though it was believed that King's longtime friend James Buchanan had been considered. In accordance with the Constitution, President Pro Tempore David Atchison will become acting President. Having such a prominent pro-slavery activist in the White House carries the danger of splitting the nation over the issue of states' rights.
In 1941, Anastasia Romanova, former Grand Duchess and daughter of deposed Tsar Nicholas II, was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Federated States of Russia. This comes five days after the FSR was invaded by German forces and their allies in what has become a continent-wide war.
Former Princess Sworn In As Russian Prime Minister by Andrew Beane
Romanova, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party, comes to power at a very dark time for Russia, a nation well accustomed to trouble. After a period of political upheaval and a long communist insurgency that ended in 1928, the fledgling republic was rocked by the effects of the Great Depression and further regional violence. To this day, the Russians are still technically in a state of war with the breakaway Caucasus Socialist Republic, under the leadership of communist warlord Josef Stalin. Stalin has hinted to an alliance with Hitler's Germany.
Russia's antiquated army is equipped mainly with World War I weapons, and is no match for the advanced and well-trained Wehrmacht. German "Panzer" tanks have met by antiquated self-propelled guns and the largest cavalry force still in existence, and Russia's wooden biplanes were no match for the Luftwaffe. By the time Romanova was sworn in, it was estimated that one million Russian soldiers, over a third of the entire Russian Army, had surrendered to the invaders or been destroyed. To complicate matters, Imperial Japan has amassed a significant army on Russia's Manchurian border.
Romanova faces the war with few allies or hopes for success. With Great Britain and France forced to surrender or face annihilation in 1940, and the United States refusing to enter the war, Russia stands alone against the German war machine. Turkey has opted to stay neutral. It is expected that the new Prime Minister will continue her predecessor Social Democrat Vyachislav Molotov's plan to pull the military east and dig in, in hopes of bogging down the invasion in time for the harsh Russian winter.
In 1991, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was executed in front of a Soviet Army firing squad in Red Square this morning, according to the USSR's Interior Ministry. Gorbachev had been arrested on August 18th of this year for crimes against the Soviet Union, including undermining the Soviet economy and giving military secrets to the West. Soviet President Gennady Yanayev used the occasion to reassure the Soviet people that the Communist Party (CPSU) remained firmly in control, and the damage caused by Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika programs would be swiftly rectified.
Gorbachev Executed in Red Square on Christmas Day A story by Andrew Beane
This ended a series of high-profile executions, starting on August 21st with the assassination of Boris Yeltsin, then the newly elected President of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Yeltsin had been arrested on August 17th after his return from a trip to Kazakhstan, though he had yet to be charged with a specific crime. Yeltsin's assassin was an unidentified man that shot himself before he could be subdued.
Efforts to remove Gorbachev from power and restore the nation to its once-mighty status began in December of 1990, when members of Gorbachev's government quietly conspired to create the need for the declaration of a state of emergency in the USSR. The State Committee of the State of Emergency, headed by Yanayev and seven other former members of Gorbachev's administration, seized upon the instability caused by the slow break-up of the union and ordered the arrest of Gorbachev and other "western conspirators". At the height of the crisis, the Soviet Army invaded and recaptured the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).
American President George Bush condemned the execution, saying that Gorbachev had been the greatest hope for peace between the USSR and the West, and that the dead leader would live on "the hearts and minds of the people who so long had to strive for their God-given rights". Deng Xiaoping, leader of the Peoples' Republic of China, applauded the "halt of the USSR's capitulation to the West," and expressed hope that Moscow would follow China's example of "market socialism".
In 1963, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, nationalist leader and the primary proponent of abolitionism in the Caribbean, was proclaimed Prime Minister of the new Cuban Republic today. Castro's first official act as prime minister was to free all negro slaves on the island, which was largely ceremonial since the revolution had made slave-owning a very hazardous venture as a total of 158 slave-owners had been murdered by Castro's followers.
One Giant Step by Andrew BeaneThe Confederate States of America, who operated Cuba as a puppet state while maintaining the island's independence, condemned the proclamation and the precedent that the liberation of the island's slaves may set for slavery in Confederate territory as a whole.
"We choose to support freedom. We choose to make certain that every man, woman and child in North America is free in this decade" ~ JFKCastro's rise to power, following a six-year revolution, is being celebrated by both anti-Confederate Cuban nationalists and abolitionists alike. A general strike was called for the day by nationalist union leaders, and millions poured into the streets of Habana to cheer for the freedom of the nation and for that of its negro citizens. The sound of automobile horns played like a symphony in the cities. Pro-Confederate President-elect Manuel Urrutia Lleo, who took over for former-President Fulgencio Batista, was forced to flee to Florida as Castro's rebel army were marching on the capitol.
John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States, welcomed the news of Castro's official capture of power. He had already admitted at the beginning of the year that the CIA had been secretly funneling weapons to the nationalists. In 1962, Kennedy appeared at Rice Stadium and told the nation "We choose to support freedom. We choose to make certain that every man, woman and child in North America is free in this decade". On hearing of the news out of Cuba this morning, Kennedy was quoted as saying we are "One giant leap closer to that goal".
"We choose to support freedom. We choose to make certain that every man, woman and child in North America is free in this decade" ~ JFKConfederate President Strom Thurmond issued a sharp rebuke against the Cuban nationalists, promising an embargo on the island if Castro " .. did not step back from profaning the right and sacred institution of slavery". Thurmond's' words carry little weight. The CSA's economy is still struggling to pull out of a near-twenty year slump following the loss of the Second World War against the Allies. Wide-spread unemployment, the building of the new national capitol in Augusta, Georgia, and the occupation of Panama since the assassination of Cantera have left little finances to allow for an invasion of Cuba. An embargo would be difficult, as merchant vessels in the Caribbean usually enjoy an escort by Union Navy gunboats.
In 1946, American President Harry S. Truman spoke to the citizens of the United States by radio address to announce his support for a free and independent Vietnam. The news came as a shock to many in his administration, who view the restoration of French rule in Indochina as key to gaining French President Georges Bidault's support against an increasingly belligerent Soviet Union.
President Truman Guarantees Vietnamese Statehood by Andrew BeaneTruman's address began with the words: "My fellow Americans, it is my decision, against the advice of many within my administration, that the United States of America will recognize the Democratic Republic of Vietnam as a free and independent nation among nations". He went on to say that before such recognition can take place, Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh must give the US assurance that his government will not become a client state of the Soviet Union, and that the Soviet Military will not set foot in Vietnamese territory. President Ho has already denied that he has sought Soviet assistance, insisting that after the devastating war against Adolf Hitler, Moscow was in no position to extend support to a place as remote as Vietnam.
"United States of America recognize[s] the Democratic Republic of Vietnam as a free and independent nation among nations" ~ TrumanFrance is not likely to take this decision by Truman in a friendly manner. President Bidault has contended that the restoration of France's colonies that fell under foreign rule or were otherwise lost during the war was essential to rebuilding France. Upon hearing the address, the French Ambassador to the US, Henri Bonnet, accused the United State of coveting rubber reserves in "French territory". Vietnam has already appeared in Washington-Paris relations, with former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt insisting that the Vietnamese people, like all peoples of the world, deserved to live under the government of their choosing, though he died before being able to make a definitive decision to support Vietnamese independence.
In 1815, on this day American forces, led by General Andrew Jackson (pictured), surrendered to the British Army on the west bank of the Mississippi River, near Chalmette Plantation. After sixteen days of fighting, and fifteen days after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent that formally ended the so-called War of 1812, the British Empire scored a decisive victory against the United States.
US Defeated at New Orleans, Andrew BeaneIn the early hours of January 8, British Major-General Edward Pakenham ordered a two-pronged assault against the remainder of Jackson's force. The American soldiers, who had been pushed to the west bank of the river, had no time to prepare earthwork defenses or artillery before the British assault. Lt-Col Thomas Mullins, the commander of Britain?s 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot, lead the main attack against Jackson under the cover of fog. Despite heavy losses on the part of British forces, the Americans were only able to mount minimal resistance. Major General Mullins was able to capture General Jackson and secure the west bank in time to fend off the newly-arrived American 7th Infantry.
This was a stunning victory for the British, after over two years of bitter fighting. The fall of New Orleans, which serves as the gateway to the Louisiana territory, places America?s western holdings in jeopardy. The British victory was so strong that it could effectively nullify the Treaty of Ghent. As British veterans from the recently-ended war against Napoleon Bonaparte begin to arrive in Louisiana, America will be forced to organize a properly-mobilized counter attack or risk a prolonged struggle against the British Crown.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.