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Dawn of the New MillenniumWith the apparent easing of tensions between the two power blocs of the world after the Crisis of 1991 and the re-unification of the Confederate States of America, those of the United States of America, Russia and other democratic nations versus the Sorelist dictatorships of France and Japan, many optimists believed that the world had put the terror and misery of war behind them.
Despite such predictions, many tensions still made the relationships between the great powers very rocky and dangerous. One of the main problems was that, despite Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy's efforts to reduce the constant bickering and tensions between the major powers, he still harbored goals to bring all of Europe, especially Poland, Scotland and Greece into the Sorelist fold and bring an end to the Juneau Pact threat to the periphery's of the empire, much like his deposed and exiled predecessor Jacques Chirac.In the United States, President Ross Perot was presiding over a new "Era of Good Feelings", the likes of which had not been seen in almost 200 years. With the President's Nationalist Party dominant in politics, and the Socialist Party still struggling to regain its footing after the serious drubbing it had ever since the failure of Micheal Dukakis to continue the "Kennedy Years", political deadlock was considered a thing of the past, and might not ever be repeated again.
Troubles in the EmpireWhile Prime Minister Sarkozy continued to work on solving the Empire's numerous problems, both foreign and domestic, the unwilling citizens of the occupied territories in Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Italy were growing increasingly angry at the Imperial Government and the indifference, if not downright hostility that the French had to the conquered peoples in Europe. Many groups to try to right these wrongs by any means were founded, and though some were infiltrated and destroyed by the Service de Sécurité Impérial, some managed to grow and thrive.
The largest and most powerful of the new "freedom movements" was the European Liberation Party, founded in the aftermath of the failed 1973 Revolution by Helmut Schmidt, and soon came to become the umbrella organization for multiple other groups reaching from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, and from the Bay of Biscay to the Border with Poland. Schmidt centralized the control under him in the safety of neutral Sweden, and was planning for a massive uprising to overthrow the French dictatorship once and for all. The French knew of him, and his leanings, but it was always difficult to infiltrate the organization due to their stringent demands and checks with informers inside the French Government.
Russian and Japanese WoesThe troubles France was having was over hyped by the Juneau Pact nations, who did little than to offer moral support, not wanting to spark another 1991 Crisis. But within Russia and Japan, tensions between those nations that had been conquered decades before, such as the Ukraine, the Baltic States and Manchuria, were all clamoring for independence. It was more difficult in Russia, due to the democratic government in charge, to try to resist the demands, and continuing efforts from Home Rule only intensified with each year. Tokyo had a much easier time than their Northern neighbors and is able to suppress dissent, both real and imagined, brutally and swiftly.
An economic slowdown in Asia in 1998, however, lead to increasing dissatisfaction within and without the Japanese Empire. Efforts to try to kick start the economy were half-hearted or ineffective, which seemed to only push Japan even further into recession, making unemployment skyrocket and overwhelmed the "hands-off" approach to the economy the Sorelist Government practiced. Dissent continued to increase, putting massive pressures on the Imperial government. The people of the Philippines and Korea especially resented the Japanese government, due to harsh measures and "unofficial" discrimination which gave better, higher paying jobs to Japanese citizens than locals. Movements to try to gain their freedom began to be formed, though little headway was made due to the efficiency of the Japanese secret police services.
The "Millennial Crisis"
Since the mid 1970s, the first signs of of climate change were being shown as dried rivers in Africa and droughts in the US and Europe due to low reservoirs, while increasingly powerful storms in the Caribbean and South East Asia began to challenge the long held belief that the world was able to handle the industrialization of the world and the increasing population. Scientists around the world began to investigate, and noticed that a sharp rise of carbon dioxide and other pollutants was starting to create a "Greenhouse effect," where the suns rays would enter the atmosphere, but instead of bouncing back out to space, they are instead trapped under an increasingly thick layer of carbon dioxide. Smog in cities like New York, Beijing, London, Paris and Moscow became symbols of a planet in danger, while famine in French Africa and the slow Imperial response, raised new issues. By 2000, many scientists began sounding alarms at how dangerous the situation was, but governments, skeptics and an increasingly detached public either ignored or where un-motivated by the doom and gloom. While efforts by the largest industrial countries like the US and France to harness new technologies and reduce pollution where undertaken, no one was ready to give up personal cars or cheap manufactured goods from the developing world.
To further confound the problem, the generation that was growing up in the first years of the new millennium were also suffering, along with their parents who increasingly had to shoulder the burden. Increasing costs in post-secondary education and homes, with a very marginal increase in the jobs available, was leading to a huge crisis. Around the world, as factories became increasingly mechanized and automated, millions of manufacturing jobs were lost, and outsourcing expensive American jobs to cheaper labour markets of Africa, South America and Asia lead to urban decay in once massive industrial cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh. Although more jobs in the service industry, like shopping and fast-food, quickly sprung up, most of them were part-time, minimum wage jobs that could barely support one person, much less a family. Unemployment and underemployment was reaching the highest levels since the Great Depression, without a recession of economic collapse to cause it. Economists were baffled to explain this trend, while the solutions they provided, ranging from a return to "lassiez-faire" capitalism of the late 1800s and early 1900s or an increasingly socialized state to provide jobs (the so called "Make Work" program as experimented in France that was started in 1998 but ended in 2001 due to costs and other issues) were unpalatable to voters around the democratic world.
Eurasian Liberation LeagueTensions in the Sorelist empire's continued to simmer throughout the later part of the 1990's. The Juneau Pact quietly did its best to support them, though on a rather small scale, not wishing to provoke another crisis so soon after 1991. However, nations like Ethiopia, Persia, India and China (the so-called "Four Knights") feeling threatened by the power of France and Japan, began to work together with the different groups, ultimately forming a loose alliance between the different groups struggling against France and Japan, called the Eurasian Liberation League. Given access to vast amounts of resources and training opportunities, and the rise of more hot-headed and aggressive leaders, such as Angela Merkel from Germany and Kim Jong-il in Japanese dominated Korea, plans were being formed without the knowledge of their sponsors for a massive strike against their opposition.
The "Grand Gestures"The so called Grand Gesture was launched on September 10, 1999. In France a series of car bombs at symbolic monuments and assassination attempts on the hierarchy of the Empire and of the various puppet states threw the Empire into chaos. The death of the head of the Service de Sécurité Impérial, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, was especially a blow, as he was considered the best weapon against the European Liberation Party, and the infighting among the leaders after his death severally hampered the initial effort to combat the ELP, which allowed them a strong foothold in many areas, especially Germany and the Balkan states.
The attacks on Japan were much worse: besides car bombs, six Nippon Airline jetliner's were hijacked by Korean and Filipino freedom fighters, putting well over 1000 people at direct risk. Efforts to negotiate were stalled by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and his cabinet's refusal to step down and call free elections. As all six were still in the air, the military was given the order to force them down by any means necessary. This forced the hijackers, who personally hoped to come out of this alive, realize they were doomed. The crew and passengers on two planes managed to overcome the hijackers, and were allowed to land in Fukuoka and Niigata. However, the other four, on route to Tokyo and Kyoto, were still in the hijacker's command, and they made the fateful decision to crash their planes into targets in the city they were heading for, a plan they had planned to carry out if their demands were not met.The first plane aimed for downtown Tokyo, and crashed into Shinkuku ward of the city, destroying and damaging dozens of buildings and skyscrapers. The second, on route to Kyoto, destroyed the Imperial Palace, and killed the Emperor Akihito and much of his family, including the Crown Prince Naruhito. After the news of these attacks, the fighters were ordered to shoot down the jetliners, and both were struck, and crashed into the outskirts of Tokyo, causing much more damage to many family residences.
Aftermath of "9/10/99"
The world was in shock. Due to the time differences between Paris and Tokyo, they managed to strike when most of those attacked were either on their way to work in Paris at 8:30 AM or on their way home in Tokyo at 3:30 PM. The car bombs in France and the other Imperial lands managed to severely damage several famous landmarks, including the famed Arc de Triomphe, the burial place of Napoleon I, and the Reichstag in Berlin, which had survived two world wars and the National Socialist burning of the German Parliament in 1934. Both buildings would later have to be torn down and plans to build a new mausoleum for Napoleon I had to be undertaken. However, other structures, like the French Ministry of Defense and the HQ of the SSI that were attacked were not severely damaged. Overall in France and Europe, roughly 667 people were killed, including about 98 directly targeted for assassination.The death toll in Japan was exorbitantly higher, due to the "Bushido bombings" as they were called. At least 98,000 people were killed in Tokyo alone, though the number can never be truly estimated, and some guessed that the number could be closer to 200,000 or more. Over 300 buildings, ranging from the Headquarters of Mitsubishi Corporation, the largest in Japan, to dozens of small family stores and homes were destroyed or badly damaged. The death of the Emperor and most of his extended family, believed to have occurred due to the failure of the government to warn him soon enough (plus their underestimation of the events unfolding at the time), badly shook up the government, and forced Prime Minister Murayama's resignation three days later, and committing seppuku the day after.
The War Of Liberation
Along with the attacks throughout the Sorelist superpowers, the Eurasian Liberation League had been planning on waging guerrilla and indirect war against the dictatorships in the hope of forcing the fall of the puppet states, and ultimately reforming new countries in their place. Although many different groups composed the ELL, they had all been subservient to the overall command, who saw that winning their freedom was the first and primary goal: nothing less than establishing states independent of French and Japanese control would be accepted.
Armed bands supplied by the "Four Knights" began to fight the Imperial French Army throughout Europe, taking cities like Hamburg, Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Rome within the first few months. The people, long oppressed, also gladly rose up to join with the freedom fighters, and practiced non-cooperation and civil disobedience tactics that continued to test the patience of the French authorities. The army immediately set in to try to restore Imperial authority, but ambushes, improvised explosive devices (nicknamed "Sarkozy Potholes" by the rebels, and later the American media) and the difficulty in pinning down the illusive armed bands severely hampered this effort, and lead to an increasingly large casualty list for very few gains, as most of the cities still remained in rebel hands. Traditional pacification efforts, such as taking hostages, were for the most part unsuccessful, as the rebels were not driven out in large numbers, while many of the innocent prisoners were later freed by coordinated attacks throughout 2000 and 2001.
Japanese CoupIn Japan, the attacks on the Tokyo and Kyoto had quickly crippled the government; the death of the Emperor and the Crown Prince raised the question of who would succeed to the throne of Japan. The Household Law stated that no female family member could ascend the throne, and no living male descendants were alive. And with the resignation and suicide of the Prime Minister, another PM could not be named, due to his needing to be approved by the Emperor, no matter that is mostly a traditional ceremony. The Japanese Military therefore took matters into their own hands and mounted a coup d'etat, and made Admiral Yukio Hatoyama the "Acting Prime Minister and Regent of the Empire of Japan."
With the government now in the firm control of the military, the army begins a systematic campaign against the rebels in Korea, Manchukuo and the Philippines, destroying most of the suspected rebel camps and forcing the leadership into fighting a guerrilla campaigns from the mountains and jungles. However, support for the rebels continued to grow as increasingly harsh and brutal methods to try to stamp out the revolts drew more and more people into the arms of the rebels. The Manila Massacre in April 2000, where Japanese machine guns mowed down a large crowd of peaceful protesters, and resulting in 1987 deaths and twice that number of wounded, drew world wide outrage.
Juneau Pact Responses
The US and Russia, startled by the sudden revolution, were caught off guard in the immediate aftermath of the start of the fight. Even the Four Knights were stunned by the sheer audacity of the attacks, but they continued to supply the freedom fighters, despite protests by the French and Japanese. Other nations, such as Australasia and Assiniboia agreed to recognize the rebel movements, but the larger powers continued to delay the issue, not wanting to anger their rivals and lead to yet another crisis.President Ross Perot, in his last days as United States President, secretly authorized weapons shipments to the rebels, but his administrations apparent lack of empathy for the freedom movements damaged Nationalist candidate Newt Gingrich's chances for election, as Socialist Candidate Hillary Rodham promised "all support short of troops" to the rebels, as well as reversing Perot's "coddling" of the Sorelist nations. In the 2000 Election, Rodham easily won over Gingrich, becoming the first female president of the US. The Socialist Party, considered a spent force since President Dukakis in 1988, was suddenly back in power in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And, as promised, President Rodham announced her support for the rebels, which drew cries of protest from France and Japan.
Attempts OSN InterventionThe Organization of Sovereign Nations immediately tried to step in and try to end the bloodshed, but appeals were met with stony silence, if not outright rejection, by French and Japanese authorities. The OSN continued to push for a peaceful resolution, but to no avail, as the dictatorships refused to recognize the "terrorists and murderers."
However, President Rodham's recognition of the rebels, despite the anger invoked by Japan and France, did have the effect of forcing the French to at least to modify some excesses, such as the hostage taking. Japan still did what it wanted, despite threats to ban them from the OSN Security Council and institute embargo's on much needed oil and metal shipments, which took effect in October 2001.
Tensions in AfricaAs Europe and Asia brewed over into chaos, Ethiopia and Egypt, long rivals over influence in non-French dominated Africa, began a dizzying descent to war as well. Border clashes for decades had always been resolved by the OSN with French and American pressure. However, now with France focused on its own problems, Ethiopia took this as a chance to correct supposed wrongs with their neighbor to the North over the territory of Sudan.
Though a relatively poor area, Sudan had always been considered part of both Egypt and Ethiopia. During the Colonial Period, Sudan had been under British control, but after the collapse of the British Empire at the end of the Third Global War, Egypt claimed the majority of Sudan that they had captured from the British, while Ethiopia made an effort to capture as much territory as possible as well. This lead to Egypt demanding Ethiopia to evacuate the Southern Sudan, but the Empire refused.
The discovery of oil in Southern Sudan in 1982 further increased Egyptian efforts to take over the Ethiopian controlled land. Ethiopia continued to refuse, and was supported by both America and Russia, while France, not wishing to provoke both of their enemies, advised caution and restraint with Egypt. The OSN made an effort at this time to try to unite both halves of Sudan into one country to try to calm down fears, but this only caused more resentment among both countries instead, who refused to take part.
In January 2002, a border clash among Ethiopian and Egyptian forces lead to the suspending of relations, and ultimately the declaration of war on February 5. The OSN, busy trying to bring peace to Europe, was helpless to resolve the conflict, and with tacit agreement from the pressed Prime Minister Sarkozy, Egypt invaded Ethiopia.
The Red Sea WarAs Egyptian forces drove deep into Southern Sudan against the unprepared Ethiopians, Emperor Amha Selassie II begged for assistance from America and other Juneau Pact members. Persia was one of the first to respond, demanding that Egypt remove its forces from Ethiopian territory, or that Persia would declare war. When no answer was received, Persia declared war on Egypt on March 2, using their powerful, modern air force to attack Egyptian military bases and armor, crippling the offensive very quickly.
An Ethiopian counter-attack in the middle of March threw back the Egyptian army to the border, but under direct orders of the Emperor (and pressure from the United States), the army did not go any further, which allowed the Egyptians time to reorganize, and prepare for a second offensive in June. With the Declaration of War by Arabia on Persia in April, the Persian's had divert most of it attention back to its own defense, allowing the Egyptians a chance to attack Ethiopia again, though this time they were up against a much stronger defense, bolstered by the Ethiopian reserves and the time they took to fortify their positions.
Arabian OffensiveHaving recovered from "Operation Crusader" in 1980 very quickly with French help, the Arabian army had been reorganized into an effective fighting force. The attack on Persia in April had startled the Middle Eastern power, who then had to face off against a fairly powerful adversary. A quick thrust into Mesopotamia and Yemen threw Persia off guard, and leading to the collapse and evacuation of the Persian held southern part of the Arabian peninsula in June. However the still superior Persian air force was saved from destruction by General Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who ordered the withdrawal of the planes and their crews first to Ethiopia when the Arabian advanced on the main base in Yemen, then after being refueled, back to Persia itself to counter the Arabian attack. In a few weeks, with the air force back in bases in Persia itself, the Arabian attack was halted, and eventually thrown back with heavy losses.
After a period of strategic withdrawal, the Arabian army launched a counterattack, and pushed eastward and captured Baghdad on July 7, and Basra on the 12, and began pushing into Persia proper. However, the Arabian army was now vastly overstretched and unable to defend its positions. Several raids by Persian soldiers then turned into an impromptu attack on Arabian positions, quickly pushing the demoralized and weakened attackers out of Mesopotamia, where they dug into trenches and the war devolved to a war of stalemate.
Failed Palestinian Peace Efforts
Palestine watched the war unfold on its door step, and immediately declared its neutrality, and the US said they would intervene if Palestine was attacked. With its security ensured, Palestinian President Reuven Rivlin tried to set up peace talks in Jerusalem before Arabia entered the war to try to broker peace between Ethiopia/Persia and Egypt, but were rebuffed by the Egyptians first as their drive into Ethiopia was going strong, but then after the Ethiopian counter-offensive Ethiopia refused to negotiate unless Egypt would evacuate all troops from the disputed areas, which Cairo rejected.President President Reuven Rivlin, as his term was drawing to a close before he would switch positions with the current Arab Prime Minister Yasser Arafat, was disappointed with the results of the first attempt for peace. Speaking before the Palestinian Assembly on July 4, 2002, Rivlin announced that Palestine had exhausted all efforts to restore peace to the Middle East, but that "Jerusalem will remain open as a place for all warring parties to join together to settle their differences when the time is right." When Yasser Arafat was sworn in for his first term as President, he said that he remained behind the peace efforts instituted by now Prime Minister Rivlin.
For the next few months, little happened due to exhaustion on all sides, and restraint forced on the fighting nations by the larger powers. However, peace did not break out until 2004, when President Hillary Rodham of the US managed to at last get Egypt and Ethiopia to agree to negotiate a peace treaty.
2003 Economic Crisis
With Europe, South-East Asia and the Mideast ripped apart in sectarian conflict and war, America and Russia seemed to be the beacon's of stability for a war torn world. However, the economy of both Great Powers had already shuddered after the attack's on France and Japan in 1999, and despite slow growth for four years after, the crisis over the Middle East sent shock waves through the global economy. With the largest sources of oil in the world currently under attack, oil soured from its pre-Red Sea War high price of $39 in January 2002 to $90 by December, and hit $125 in January as the coldest winter in American History in two decades hit.The pressure of the rise of oil created fear that the prices of even essential products would skyrocket. Despite continued assurances by the large continent-wide store chains that they would not raise prices dramatically, consumers across North and South America started to not spend on luxury and extra products. This had the ripple effect of forcing multiple companies to report losses for the first time in years, which lead to an increasing panic in multiple stock exchanges across the world. But by February, the stock exchanges around the world were reporting major losses, and billions of dollars were lost every week, and unemployment was inching upward with every report. By March, President Hillary Rodham announced that America was in a recession, and that it would be "a long, hard up hill battle to defeat it." At the same conference she announced that the government could be intervening to provide billions of dollars in relief for suffering businesses and industries. Although Nationalist's decried this "bailout," the majority of people approved of this measure, as the loans and grants given helped to keep, and even create jobs.
The "Putin Affair"Russia, despite pouring in billions into the economy, continued to suffer from the continuing economic malaise into 2004 when a major scandal broke out from Moscow. The head of Severnaja Zvezda Ltd., (Northern Star) one of the largest corporations in Russia that primarily dealt with mining and industries, Vladimir Putin was charged with several counts of fraud, but the case soon ballooned out of control as allegations of secret backroom deals and shady transactions that allowed Severnaja Zvezda to flaunt various labor and environmental laws. By the time of the trial in September 2005, the corporation was facing severe losses, layoffs and numerous attacks in the media and a stinging boycott by many major businesses in Russia and around the world. As the trial dragged on, Putin also faced charges related to his authorization of allowing the company to spy for classified business secrets, bribing government officials and attacking critics with media outlets that they had several secret agreements with, where SZ Ltd. would provide money and resources to them if they would brush aside concerns that were raised, suppressing the news if need be.
The revelations of the scandal, including exactly how far into the government it reached, including to the President's office and most of the legislative branch, caused untold political fallout for President Alexander Rutskoy, who was forced to resign. In his place, Sergey Mikhailovich Mironov was named President, and started by proposing a sweeping Government Reform Act to curtail the power of the powerful lobbyists and increase the ability to hunt down corruption in government.
Home Rule in RussiaStarted in 1999, negotiations in Russia between the federal government and the national parties at last began to bear fruit by 2001. Moscow was willing to allow these nations to have a form of home rule (called Vnutrennie Pravila, or Internal Rule) to decide internal affairs, which the nationalities, most notably Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, White Russia and the Ukraine, accepted. Development and elections for National Assemblies, to be led by a Premier and a cabinet answerable only to the National Assembly. The Federal government in Russia would still collect taxes (though a percentage of the taxes collected in the states granted Vnutrennie Pravila were returned to them to use for hospitals, schools, police and other matters delegated to them), control foreign affairs, the military and trade within Russia and the Vnutrennie Pravila nations.
Despite the crisis and scandal in Russia in 2003, the five nations were officially given Vnutrennie Pravila on January 1, 2004, and elections were started on the 15th. This was, admittedly, a first step to their eventual independence, but was considered the best course of action. Jubilation in the streets greeted the announcement of the nations receiving home rule, while Conservatives and Unionists in Russia, who did not wish to see the Russia of the Czar's broken down, formed the Rossija Navsegda (Russian Forever) Party to run in subsequent elections.
President Rodham's AmericaPresident Rodham was riding high on her declared support of the French and Japanese revolutionaries, as well as her successful handling of the economy. As the first female occupant of the Oval Office, Hillary Rodham had her work cut out for her, but she managed through the various political stumbling blocks with grace, charm and tactful political knowledge.
In her first four years in office, she managed to not only save the American economy that was beginning to founder at the start of her term and cut unemployment with strategic tax cuts and investment in education and re-newable energy. In the 2004 Election she outlined her "Bringing America Forward" program, where further investment in renewable energy, conservation, education and modernization was supported by many on both sides of the political spectrum, and it was called by one pundit as "a gift basket for everyone."
Rodham also flexed her diplomatic skills by bringing all sides of the Red Sea War to the table to negotiate in December of 2003. Egypt and Ethiopia eventually hammered out a deal in May 2004 where a Sudanese state would be formed, while the majority of the oil rich South Sudan remained part of Ethiopia, but Egypt gained first rights to buy the oil. An OSN observation team traveled to Sudan to set up the government, and the first elections were held in December.
Cracks in the AdministraionThe 2004 election was a sweep in for Rodham and her VP Micheal Moore, and before the second inauguration she had already begun laying out the plan to Congress. But in December, the first rumors of corruption in the Rodham administration began to surface, including millions funneled into the Socialist Party by a business consortium lead by former admiral George H. W. Bush for preferential treatment for bids for government contracts. When an unnamed White House secretary was fired for being linked to the leak, she left with photocopies of much of the sensitive material passed through her hands, despite the orders to destroy them.
By the time Rodham was sworn in in March of 2005, the crisis was already starting to grow beyond a small circle of possible suspects, the highest ranking of which was Chief-of-Staff Jon Kerry, to eventually encompass President Rodham herself. She continued to deny any wrong doings, but the Nationalists in the House of Representatives, who now possessed 40% of the seats in the chamber, seized the opportunity to begin proceedings to impeach the president. At the same time, efforts to bring George Bush and his associates to trial was begun by a reluctant Justice Department.
By September, a huge dossier that included most of the information provided by the secretary that revealed the corruption was presented to the Senate, who then began the hearings into the case. When the President was called to the stand in November, she politely but firmly refused, saying that the congress had no right to subpoena the President, as well as still claiming that she was unaware of what was going on, despite many of the documents that revealed this was not so. The Senate then approached the Supreme Court who then said that "the laws of justice do not end at the door of the Oval Office," and Hillary Rodham was ordered to face the Senate.
End of the PresidencyWhat followed was a massive side show as President Rodham tried to defend herself and her administration: she stuck with the story that she knew nothing about it until she at last admitted that she knew the Chief of Staff had been involved, but she tried to stay above it. Kerry, stunned at the betrayal of his boss, then did his best to drag her down with him and the other conspirators, revealing that she had ordered wire taps of supposed political enemies, as well as creating a "blacklist" of people that the administration would try to destroy secretly, especially before the 2004 election.
President Rodham, who had maintained a respectable 49% approval average during her first term, saw her ratings plunge to 20% in December 2005 as the testimony continued. By January they dropped further to 12%, while she tried desperately to fight every accusation against her. But by February, Hillary Rodham, having become seriously ill from the stress, announced that on February 6, she would resign the presidency to bring an end to the impeachment trial, the first president in history to do so. Her Vice-President, Micheal Moore, was sworn in a few minutes after Clinton signed the resignation and handed it to Secretary of State Joseph Lieberman. The moment she stepped out of the White House, she was arrested by the FBI on corruption charges. She would later beat the charges in a sensational 2008 trial, but she quietly slipped into retirement soon after.
The new President was faced with the image of the tainted White House, and struggled through the rest of his term to repair the damage. It didn't help that Moore was a combative figure, who would never back down from a fight or argument. The 2008 election was, almost from the moment Rodham resigned, going to a Nationalist the majority of pundits and commentators expected, and was confirmed when Tom Hanks, a popular Nationalist Governor of Ohio, was named the candidate, and won the presidency in a landslide.
Brazilian FreedomIn the aftermath of the Venezuelan War, the power bloc that was Brazil and her allies fell to be divided between the Juneau Pact and the European Defensive Alliance. Brazil, the de-facto leader of the former bloc, became a French dominated state under a series of military dictators. But by the early 1990's, the economy had recovered from the lows of the fall of the Brazilian Bloc and was now growing at a steady pace.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who had worked his way up the Brazilian Civil Service since the 1960's, was named the civilian President in 1998 by the military council. Affectionately known as FHC, Cardoso began to outline a plan to establish greater freedom for the people of Brazil, as well as try to withdraw itself from French Dominance. The military tolerated a few minor reforms, but harshly attacked any effort to loosen the Junta's power. By 2000, Cardoso was considered a threat by many in the army, and a coup was planned. Bumbling on the part by the generals, including not directly taking Cardoso under arrest (instead, he was granted "Protective custody", and was still allowed to use phones and even his computer), which allowed the clever politician to assemble loyal units, including the Presidential Guard, to help put down the coup.
Cardoso, when freed, announced that the military junta was finished, and that a new democracy was going to be established in its place. Although France tried to support another coup later, they were too distracted by their own problems to pay much attention.
The Sao Paulo Movement
The second part of FHC's plan to liberate Brazil was to distance itself from France. In 2004, Cardoso and other nations including Australasia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, India, China and Argentina joined together in Sao Paulo to announce its intention of forming a "Third Way" between the Juneau Pact and the EDA. Called the Sao Paulo Movement, its aims to preserve peace and foster development over ideological lines soon expanded to encompass many nations in the world, especially in South America, Africa and Oceania.
This lead to many nations "breaking" ties with the larger alliances, mostly over the desire for world peace and humanitarian development. However, some of the nations that did join later, like Chile and Palestine still retained their membership of the Juneau Pact, though they began to withdraw from the unified military components of the alliance.
The defection of Brazil as a associate of the European Defensive Alliance was barely noticed by France or Japan, due to the continuing resistance movements in their respective empires. Prime Minister Sarkozy was reported to have said he didn't care what Brazil or South America did, just so long as they did not directly oppose France in any of the big issues.
Eurasian Liberation League Success and French RetreatAs the ELL continued in its efforts to liberate Europe from French rule and Asia from Japanese dominance, the European Liberation War appeared to gaining more ground as huge areas of the most productive lands in the continent where ravaged by guerrilla warfare and mass retaliations by the French Army. The populace of France proper continued to have to put up with the high costs of the war, as the death toll soared through the years, from over 500 military deaths in 2000 to almost 30,000 by 2010, not counting the huge expenses of equipment, training, rebuilding and new security measures that continued to become more draconian as time went on and the Service de Sécurité Impérial's stronger and harsher methods to dealing with suspected and captured terrorists. Bombs left in places of economic, military and symbolic value continued to rock Paris and other major cities, killing and wounding dozens at a time despite the best efforts to stop them.
In Japan, the more brutal measures employed by the military Junta that come to power with the death of the Emperor in the 9/10/99 attacks had the effect of isolating the rebels to the jungles, small rural villages and the mountains of Korea, Formosa, Manchukuo and the Philippines. This made it difficult for the organized resistance to direct their war efforts without inviting commando raids, air strikes and the use of poison gas when the Japanese found these hideouts. America, Russia and even France were horrified and denounced the use of poison gas, and the military not ruling out the use of even nuclear weapons. Japan was disbarred from the OSN in 2004 by an overwhelming 97% vote, and was not allowed to take its place on the High Council.
Negotiations in StockholmYear after year, Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy continued to claim that the rebels were closer to defeat, but year after year his words rang less true. As the cost of the war went up, and increasingly large sections of former Germany, Italy and the protectorates was held by the European Liberation Party, exhaustion and economic malaise in France soon turned many French citizens against the government.
In July 2010, France at last agreed to meet with the leaders of the ELP in Stockholm, sponsored by the Organization of Sovereign Nations. The European Liberation Party was skeptical of these talks, but cautiously accepted. Soon the negotiations, urged on by the OSN, began to bear fruit as the French diplomats were desperate to try to end the bloodshed. The European Liberation Party began to push for the re-establishment of Germany (including Prussia), Italy (to include the Tyrrhenian Protectorate), Switzerland and the Netherlands. However, France was hesitant to allow the development of these new nations to merge with the smaller protectorates that they dominated. They instead agreed in principal to allow a smaller West German state, and a North Italian state, as well as the smaller Swiss and Dutch nations. They also agreed to pay to help rebuild these economies, and hold free elections.
To the ELP it was a dream come true: the re-establishment of nations suppressed by France for over 60 years, as well as their promise to help pay the cost of fixing the devastated economy. The ELP leaders agreed to these terms, and though hammering out the details still left large areas such as the land west of the Rhine and the all the land from Genoa west in Italy under French control, but the ELP pushed to have these areas possibly readmitted to these new nations in the future via referendum. France also agreed to this, and tentatively said anywhere from 10-20 years in the future.
Coup of March 19, 2011
After almost a year of negotiations, the Peace of Stockholm was virtually hammered out. Nicholas Sarkozy, a aged man after years of war, was eager to sign the treaty and end the conflict. However, conservative leaders in France were furious that the Prime Minister was willing to negotiate with terrorists, and when the full details of the treaty was leaked to the press, large demonstrations both in support and against the proposal echoed across France, and violent demonstrations were common, riots gripping Paris and Marseilles for almost a week.
As the Prime Minister was preparing to fly to Stockholm, the die-hard Sorelist politicians and generals began organizing a coup. On March 19, when Sarkozy left the Prime Minister's residence to fly to the Scandinavian Union, military units were told to secure the airport and other transportation and communication centers in Paris and all over the empire as an attempt on the Prime Minister and Emperor Charles. Rebel military units then silently captured Sarkozy, and rushed him to a cabin in Switzerland under house arrest. Minister of the Army Alain Juppé was proclaimed as acting Prime Minister, and he quickly set out to end the reign of Sarkozy.However, the coup soon began to fall apart when Emperor Charles, realizing his life was in no danger, used his power over the Service de Sécurité Impérial to confront the coup leaders. As the SSI had been left out of the coup and were actually supportive of the Peace of Stockholm, they swooped in and freed Sarkozy and arrested the coup leaders. Sarkozy was able to continue on to Stockholm later that day, and signed the treaty on the 20th of March, ending the European Liberation War with the establishment of West Germany, North Italy, Netherlands, and Switzerland as democracies, with elections held in the next few months after their "Liberation."
Aftermath of the War and Coup
With the end of the war and the suppression of the coup de Mars vingtième, Sarkozy returned to Paris and began to organize a "purge" of hardliners and coup supporters, many of whom where tried, imprisoned or exiled to the colonies which allowed more reform minded men and women to come to the head of the Sorelist Party. Efforts to liberalize the economy and the government were started in later 2011, a policy described by Premier Sarkozy as "Réparation," or "Redress", to solve long standing issues in the empire. More control was given to the governments of the National Assemblies of the Empire founded after the Second Global War, but were virtually impotent by the Third. The economy was to be opened up, given access to the credit of the rest of the world, while a downsizing of the Army and the Service de Sécurité Impérial being given a more Federal policing role than that of a secret police force. However, censorship was still in place, the Fédération Impérialiste Française was still the only party allowed, and tariffs of foreign goods were still high to promote an Imperial economy. The colonies were still to be ruled directly from Paris as well, though the colonial citizens did not accept this lightly.
Russia and America was originally surprised at the end of the European Liberation War with negotiations, but they did not realize exactly how bad the war had affected France proper. France, however, was still a strong power, and these new nations were in no position to challenge France at all, and the other puppet states, like Prussia, Tyrrhenia, Austria and other Central and European nations where still under French control. One estimate that France might collapse with this "strategic withdrawal" was laughed at, while other predictions that this was merely an act, and that the Sorelists would maintain power, and possibly increase it in the near future, was considered more accurate.
Caribbean Border ConflictThe Presidency of Tom Hanks was confronted almost from the start in 2009 by a brewing issue along the common border of the United States, Mexico and its puppet state Texas, as well as Hispaniola. Although a normally quiet, if tense area, the start of the 21st century saw the rise of an enormous problem. The Sorelist government's in charge of Hispaniola, Mexico and Texas, were reliant on French subsidies and business dealings, as the economy was still dependent on exporting raw-materials, and an unofficial embargo placed by the United States left France and Japan as the major trading partners of the three nations.
As the European Liberation War started in 1999, however, their economies were some of the first to be negatively effected. The French scaled back their subsidies to Mexico and Hispaniola to try to fight the freedom fighters in Europe. With this lack of money, the three Caribbean dictatorships were hard pressed to try to make ends meet. Hispaniola ultimately relaxed their economic and social policies, and President Rodham in 2003 gladly agreed to start negotiations about lifting the embargo and restart diplomatic relations. Mexico instead clamped down harder, and under Miguel de la Madrid tried to institute Autosuficiencia, or "self-sufficiency." This lead to a slight decrease in the amount of cash crops to be grown in place of food stuffs, the state designation of labor, and widespread rationing of everything from food to housing to fuel. This lead to a decrease in the specialized sciences, and a return to more simplistic living encouraged by the government until they could rebuild. Texas, on the other hand, relied on its large oil reserves to keep propped up, and was able to avoid what happened to next to a large degree.The problems soon became evident: while the nation could now (almost) feed itself, their was now no hard currency to support the army and administration, and the upper leadership did not give away anything, and in many cases, actually became richer due to black market and drug trading. The people began to protest this, and violent clashes in 2002 and 2003 between the police, and later the army and the people lead to hundreds of casualties. Mexico refused any outside help from the OSN to try to resolve the crisis, claiming that the riots were "American sponsored terrorism on the Mexican People." Eventually calm was restored, though tempers remained frayed, and many people tried to flee to Colombia and the US.
Mexican Civil WarBy 2009, the little support the masses had for Miguel de la Madrid was gone. Autosuficiencia was failing, people were beginning to starve, and the army, in lieu of payment, instead were allowed to raid peoples homes for necessities. One such incident in a small village in the Yucatan lead to the rape and beating of 16 women in July. Protests and riots flared up all across the country, which the army was sent to put down. However many of the conscripted soldiers refused, and instead sided with the rebels, and seized control of barracks and armories to supply the scattered rebel groups. Madrid still managed to hold on to his post, if only by the bayonet tips of the loyal soldiers around Mexico City.
Battles raged up and down Mexico between the fanatical and desperate peasants and the army which saw its strength whittle away little by little. Thousands of people were killed by brutal vigilante justice and indiscriminate artillery and airstrikes, while thousands more tried to flee. Texas, taking this opportunity to escape from Mexico's grip, closed its borders with their former master, and tried to keep as many refugees out as possible. Colombia did accept the refugees that came to her borders, if by only the fact that very few made the journey to the south.But the majority tried to make their way to the United States. It was estimated that by 2010, over 529,000 Mexican's had tried to escape to the United States, though the number has been estimated to be many times higher. Guard posts on the Mexican side of the border turned their machine guns away from pointing to the US and instead fired on the refugees as they came toward the border, while the Americans, only a few meters away, did nothing. The few that did make it were confined to refugee camps in Cimarron, Deseret and California, where some were allowed to work on vegetable farms and in other menial labor jobs. However, American politicians like Cimarron Senator John McCain in the South-West were under pressure to try to stop the flow, and in turn pushed Washington to either stop the illegal immigration, or stabilize Mexico.
President Tom Hanks campaigned on a promise to end the bloodshed south of the border, if for no other reason than to stop the flood of refugees. The instability on the border was considered a major threat to American security, so in May of 2010, with the tacit agreement of France and the OSN, an American army force was sent through Northern Mexico, Air Force bombers pounded military installations, while Marines landed south of Mexico City. Miguel de la Madrid tried to send his loyal soldiers to stop the attacks, but they instead surrendered en masse. American troops occupied Mexico City in less than a month after the start of the Operation Taylor, named after the hero of the War of the Southwest over 160 years before. Madrid was found in the ruins of the Presidential Palace, and brought before an OSN tribunal to try him for Crimes against Humanity.With the end of Madrid, American forces remained in Mexico to help rebuild and supervise the first free elections in Mexico in almost 80 years, where Vicente Fox, a well known former cabinet minister of Madrid's who was one of the first to defect after the start of the Civil War, was elected. Texas announced they would hold free elections in 2011, when President Mark White announced his retirement, and was succeeded by well known freedom activist Rick Perry in an election the most international observers called fair. American troops remain in Mexico to try to put down Sorelist attacks and train the new Mexican Army, but the economic and political costs increased with each fatal attack on American troops. By 2013, 3,000 US troops had been killed in action in Mexico, leading to protests and dissatisfaction both inside and outside the US.
As the new decade dawned, the Juneau Pact was starting to show signs of strain from the Dual Powers Conflict. Formed by the democracies in the aftermath of the Third Global War, when France, Japan and other Sorelist nations were uniting under one banner, and Brazil establishing a de-facto alliance, the United States, Russia and other democracies put aside their differences and united. However, between Russia and America, the differences were vast: Russia demanded security on both borders, even if that meant a strong army and domineering smaller states, as well as very strong central government, which could be seen as dictatorial and excessive. The US, being the only major power in North America after the war, wished to exercise restraint and keep diplomacy as a major option, backed up by the most powerful Navy and Air Force in the world. While the dual approaches worked for years, tensions between Russia and the United States grew increasingly large. The election of Tom Hanks accelerated the deteriorating relations. As an avowed "diplomatic" Nationalist, he saw that trying to confront France and Japan through military strength was a loosing game, and pressured Russian President Sergei Stepashin to try to do the same. Stepashin resented being dictated to by Hanks, blurting out "...America thinks it's the most powerful country on Earth, and can order others around? This... arrogance is an American trademark, and best exemplified by the current President." Increasingly cool relations sparked increasing hostility at meetings of the Juneau Pact, as the alliance seemed to be splitting along geographical lines: European, Middle East and African leaders with Russia, and North and South America, Asia and Oceania with the US, while Hanks' re-election in 2012 election confirmed that the present course will continue.At the same time, France and Japan were starting to diverge: harsh Japanese methods under a military dictatorship to hold the crumbling empire together, while bloodied France bowed to the inevitable and allowed some of the oppressed people to establish new governments. Japan's military leaders called France "weak, deplorable and suicidal," claiming that by allowing the enemies they had fought 70 years ago to reform was stabbing themselves in the back, while minor French officials spoke to reporters that Emperor Charles and Prime Minister Sarkozy were "losing faith" in Japan, and that "only a more conciliatory gesture can repair the fracture." Although both the Emperor and the PM denied making the comment, their answers seemed to indicate that, indeed, they were thinking so.
The "Brave New World"
The 2012 US Election raised a lot of issues in America. The increasing cost of the Mexican occupation, the spurting economy and dissatisfaction with President Tom Hanks lead to the rise of numerous third parties. The "Union-Farmer Party," made up of an unlikely alliance of unions in the big cities and rural residents in the west was a broad-based coalition of centrists and Populists that, though they did not run a presidential candidate, did support many formerly independent candidates for the House and Senate elections in 2012, winning a stunning 25 seats in the otherwise dually divided Legislative Branch. On either edge of the political spectrum, more extremist parties began to rise. On the left, the Communist Party began to make a comeback after being marginalized by the Socialist Party, elected a member for the first time since the 1930s, while on the right the America First Party, made up of libertarians, small-government advocates, strict constitutionalists and isolationists began to challenge the Nationalist Party from within, pushing their preferred candidates on established Nationalist leaders, and pushing the Nationalist party increasingly to the right. Though Tom Hanks won the election, it was a slim majority, and the House was split between the Socialists and Nationalists with less than half, and the Union-Farmer Party held the balance of power.
France was turning inward as they struggled to rebuild the Empire after the devastating European Liberation War. While the policy of Réparation was well received in Metropolitan France and the European parts of the Empire, the colonies in Africa and Asia, which had faced the brunt of conscription by the Imperial Army to bolster the ranks to fight in Europe, began to agitate for increased freedom that was still denied them. Civil disobedience campaigns and petitions flooded Paris and the colonial capitals, but a lack of violence and rioting (with the exception of the Hanoi Riots after a French officer was accused of raping a young girl in August 2013) and the question soon became if the Empire could be held together while also granting freedoms and without the ability to use force, as the army was almost 42% non-European, and so could not be trusted to suppress Africa and Asia. Premier Sarkozy, given near free reign by Emperor Charles to do whatever he could to keep the Empire together, gambled that the Empire could remain one if Africa and Asia was given some self-government. So long as they remained in the empire and acknowledged the Emperor, the colonies would be given more free reign, similar to the original structure of the Dominions of the old British Empire. A new Federal system was established in January 2014, with an "Imperial Assembly" to sit in Paris. Five members of each National and Colonial Assembly where to be sent to the Imperial Assembly, giving equal representation to each nationality and colony in the Empire. While the powers of the Imperial Assembly were not well defined, it was to be used as a consultive body for the Emperor and Premier.