Here we go for Vietnam! Let's kick some ass good and proper!
Damn Hoover certainly is a mastermind to have that all planned out. Shame no President in OTL stood up to him as Mac did here
Here we go for Vietnam! Let's kick some ass good and proper!
That there were publicly conceded plans for Hoover to move to AG, (and then likely the Supreme Court) if Dewey was elected has always been fascinating to me as it was clear the he and Dewey had very different opinions on how the FBI was run and what its job was.
Maybe Dewey thought Hoover could do less harm on the Supreme Court (where he would be just one vote of nine and probably pretty consistently in the minority) than as FBI Director.
Its so gratifying to see this happen...And so terrifying for the poor people of Iran. Stasi can probably meet Savak in Brutality and will be much much more intrusive into every day life...Radmanesh had recently welcomed Erich Mielke into his government, and the former leader of East Germany’s secret police was ready to begin his old job for a new master.
Thanks for that idea mate! I'm not finished with Iran in the TL yet, so we'll be hearing more from Comrade Horrors soonIts so gratifying to see this happen...And so terrifying for the poor people of Iran. Stasi can probably meet Savak in Brutality and will be much much more intrusive into every day life...
Everything you need is already there, surely you wouldn't want me spoiling the fun of finding it?Trying to parse out the clue at the end. I would say something about the Philippines but they are likely in a good spot right now.
Suez Crisis here we go.
Excellent work, as usual.
It's making me sad that this timeline is coming to an end.
Suez is still another year away... I've still got plenty of story before I'm done And once I am done with the last word of chapter 48, the timeline will never end as long as people are reading and interpreting it:Really enjoyed this update and seeing Mac have to juggle the difference priorities America's allies have. Suez Crisis coming means this timeline will end soon
I am interested on how will MacArthur will handle the crisis and its effects. Also, I am looking forward to the unfolding events in S.E. Asia.CHAPTER 42
It had been fifty years since MacArthur had first travelled to Asia. At his father’s side, that nine month tour of the continent had taken him through Japan, China, Indochina, Siam, India, Afghanistan, and many more places besides. At every land he visited, he had been impressed by what he saw, from the beautiful landscapes to the determination of the people. Forever after that day, he had seen Asia as the land of opportunity, the place that would determine the future of the entire world.
What might have seemed a fanciful prediction in 1905 was becoming a reality half a century later. The European empires were in decline, their hold on the Far East weakening with every year that passed. New states were taking their place: the Dutch had given way to Indonesia, the British ‘Crown Jewel’ had become the Republic of India, French Indochina had been split into three. Having achieved their independence, those new states would seek to develop their economies and improve the living standards of their people.
The question of how best to achieve this would be the heart of the 1955 Bandung Conference. Organised by the Indonesian Prime Minister Sukarno, Bandung would see representatives of over twenty-five countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East discuss how best to handle the challenges of development while the Soviet Union and United States competed for influence in the region.
MacArthur had been keen on attending such a conference long before Bandung was announced – what better way would there be to demonstrate his commitment to reorienting American foreign policy to the Far East? – but when Sukarno put out the call, several members of MacArthur’s government believed that his presence at the conference would be unwise. None was more notable than his UN Ambassador and former aide, Dwight Eisenhower, who warned that if MacArthur appeared in person, alongside the former colonies, he risked alienating America’s European allies. Eisenhower recommended an official of lesser importance – a senator, perhaps – be sent in his place. MacArthur was unconvinced: he had always been set on conducting his administration’s foreign policy himself, and he knew Asia better than anyone else in the government: he would go. The one concession he would make to Eisenhower’s concerns was that he would attend as merely an ‘observer’, and would not sign any policy declaration written at the conference.
While MacArthur’s presence at the conference was well received by the nations in attendance, his would be far from the dominant voice at the conference that he envisioned: that title went to Red China’s foreign minister Zhou Enlai. Zhou would capture the world’s headlines with his sweeping denunciations of former Chairman Mao Tse-tung, promising that, with the reckless leader deposed, China would be a force of peace and conciliation, one that supported anti-colonialist movements, even if they resulted in the creation of a capitalist society. They were words directed not just at the West, but at the Soviet Union as well. With so much discussion at the conference table centred on the Middle East, few had any doubt that he was condemning Moscow’s support for the Radmanesh regime in Iran. They had good reason to: Radmanesh had recently welcomed Erich Mielke into his government, and the former leader of East Germany’s secret police was ready to begin his old job for a new master.
While the world’s attention was on Zhou, MacArthur’s focus was on the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser had seized control of Egypt as part of a military coup in 1952, declaring himself President two years later. Since taking power, he had been building himself up as the leader of a movement that he hoped would one day lead to the overthrow of the remaining colonial institutions in the Middle East and the creation of a great unified Arab state. Like Zhou, he had become increasingly wary about the increased power of the communists in Iran, and at Bandung he had time and again proven himself as the spokesman of the Arab world.
MacArthur needed little time to become convinced that Nasser was bad news. His seizure of power, though understandable as the act of a nationalist seeking to remove British control over Egypt, reminded MacArthur of the Japanese militarists that had caused so much trouble before and during World War II, and Nasser’s belligerent tone on the world stage did nothing to lessen that impression. More recently, he had earned MacArthur’s ire by attempting to play the Americans and the Soviets against each other in negotiating arms deals. There was no doubt that he was dangerous, and when Churchill called him “a Hitler in the making” a month later, MacArthur agreed completely.
Had the nations of Southeast Asia been asked who deserved such a title, they would have said not Nasser, but Ho Chi Minh.
MacArthur’s insistence on an immediate French withdrawal from the region, followed by the breakdown of negotiations at Geneva, had created what became an all-consuming power vacuum, with implications for the entire French empire. In Paris, the stain of “surrender” had been the deathblow for the short lived Mayer cabinet in 1953. Algerian nationalists, encouraged by events in Indochina and the election of the anti-colonialist Pierre Mendès France, had made calls for their own independence. Though the Prime Minister favoured making some concessions, his insistence that the Algerian departments were “irrevocably French” and an increase in fighting between the nationalists and the pied-noirs quickly made war inevitable. A little more than a year later, Mendès France had become yet another casualty of the turbulent Fourth Republic, and the war effort was only going from bad to worse.
To the anti-communist forces in the former Indochina, even a fiasco like the one unfolding in Algeria would have been an improvement. What little formal agreement had been made at Geneva had guaranteed the sovereignty of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, but that agreement rarely, if ever, bore any resemblance to the facts on the ground. What was on the ground were the boots of the Vietminh soldiers, and they paid little attention to mere borders. Some had been there since the earliest stages of the war against France, others had come fresh from their victory over Bao Dai in September 1954, and none showed any signs of going away.
Less than a month after the Bandung meeting, MacArthur would return to Asia, and the success of the Vietnamese revolutionary was at the top of his mind. The first stop was Bangkok, where a long-awaited meeting with Marshal Phibun, the Thai prime minister and effective dictator, was to take place.
Phibun was arguably MacArthur’s strongest ally in the region: although he had aligned Thailand with Japan in World War II, his return to power in 1947 had seen him seamlessly pivot from fascism to democracy (albeit a greatly flawed one), turning the former enemy into a staunch ally. He had committed Thai troops to the Korean War, and had since called for a greater American presence in the region as a deterrent against both the Vietnamese and Red China. Although the Vietminh armies had not yet spilled into Thailand, Phibun had good reason to fear that one day they would. He hoped this meeting with MacArthur would get him the resources he would need to keep them out.
Unfortunately for Phibun, the growing strength of the Vietminh had only made MacArthur even more wary about increasing America’s ground strength in Asia: if he deployed the troops there, even in small numbers, and then a conflict broke out, those troops would demand reinforcements, which would eventually lead to an unwinnable land war against China’s practically infinite manpower. Instead of increasing America’s presence in Thailand, he believed it would be better to increase Thailand’s presence in Thailand, with American financial support. MacArthur would help fund an expansion of Thai defences, but they would be manned entirely by the Thais themselves. An economic alliance, rather than a military one, would be the proper approach to take: military agreements could be easily broken if the circumstances were not convenient (hadn’t Stalin abandoned North Korea just a few years ago?), but few leaders would ever abandon a key trading partner.
While his meeting with Phibun was a great success, MacArthur could not easily say the same when he travelled to Phnom Penh to meet with the King-turned-Prime Minister of Cambodia, Sihanouk, for the simple reason that Sihanouk himself did not seem to know what he wanted out of MacArthur’s visit. On one hand, the Cambodian leader wanted to maintain some sort of neutrality in the ongoing Cold War, partly because he believed that America would eventually have to withdraw from Southeast Asia just like France, and partly because he did not want to alienate the Chinese or leftists at home. Making a major aid deal, or even an alliance, with America would jeopardise that policy. On the other hand, he needed someone to ensure that Cambodia was not again forced under Thai or Vietnamese domination. With China backing the Vietminh and the French driven out, the United States was perhaps the only nation that could offer him that security - even if they were allied with the Thais.
It certainly looked like they would need it. Neighbouring Laos was embroiled in a civil war, where groups loyal to the Vietminh - whether comprised of ethnic Vietnamese or locally-recruited communists - controlled much of the country outside of the capital Vientiane, although they did not yet appear to have gathered the strength to overthrow the government outright. The situation in Cambodia was a less severe version of the same problem: Sihanouk’s forces might have controlled the most important parts of the country, but a third of his territory remained under varying forms of communist control: most under the banner of the United Issarak Front, a collection of Cambodian communist and other left-wing rebel groups as well as “volunteers” contributed by the Vietminh. Ho Chi Minh would never admit to the Vietnamese presence in Cambodia, but if the rebels looked to be losing ground there was no telling what he might do.
Sihanouk also knew that MacArthur’s deal - an economic package similar to that offered to Thailand - was probably the best hope he had at maintaining Cambodia’s sovereignty and independence, at least as long as China insisted on supporting the Vietnamese. As he accepted it, he explained to MacArthur that the deal, while it would represent a good starting point for increased cooperation between the two nations, was not necessarily an agreement to align Cambodia with the United States. The President, understanding the complexity of the situation in Southeast Asia, replied that he was only seeking Cambodia’s friendship.
Congress had a rather different interpretation. To many senators and representatives, MacArthur had bought an ally against Ho Chi Minh for forty million dollars.
September 27, 1955
“Sir, I just got off the phone with Eden.” Henry Luce said. “Churchill’s not happy any more than we are.”
MacArthur put down the letter he had been reading - Ike had suffered a bad heart attack a few days ago, and one of the doctors had written to say that his recovery was going exactly to plan. “What’s London know that we don’t?” he asked.
“They’ve got the details of the Czech deal.” Luce said. “Nasser’s buying from Malenkov - using Prague as a go-between - at least as much as we sold to that Thais and Cambodia put together. Eighty million dollars, that’s a lot of planes, tanks, fighters, artillery, small arms. I’m told there’s even a couple of small warships. Not quite destroyers, but a landing force would have to take them seriously.”
“He’s thinking about Churchill.” MacArthur said. Churchill’s gut reaction to anyone that was either causing trouble now, or might in the future, was to call for war. Even after all these years, MacArthur wasn’t sure whether he should admire his courage or be wary of his recklessness.
“Sir, Churchill’s not looking for a war right now.” Luce said. “Him and Eden agree that while Nasser is dangerous, this isn’t the time.”
“That’s good.” MacArthur said. Patton’s portrait had been donated to the White House’s collection after Beatrice’s death last year, and now hung on the wall behind Luce. He knew Patton wouldn’t have hesitated to attack, even if the pretext was flimsy. “Get me a full report on the contents of that deal.” he ordered.
No, it wasn’t the time now, but it might be in the future. Nasser could wait. There was another battle he had to win first. One where he looked not to Patton’s portrait on the wall, but the photograph of his father on his desk.