This entry is part 12 in the series The Imperial History of Earth-Regency


Pieces Of Creation is an occasional recurring column at Campaign Mastery in which Mike offers game reference and other materials that he has created for his own campaigns.

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The Lunar Prospector was one of the science highlights of 1998. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

The war on drugs

Total world sales of Crack Cocaine are estimated to have exceeded those of Heroin, signaling the ascendancy of the designer drug.

Map of the Belligerents in the Second Congo War by Jaro7788. Click on the thumnail for a larger image.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Continent Of Blood

Massacres and Ethnic Cleansing continue in Algeria throughout the year.

In June, a coup by a former Brigadier-General begins a Civil War in Guinea-Bissau on the African west coast. With the failure of the coup, rebellious uprisings took place independently in two provinces, creating a bloody three-way conflict. Each faction successfully sought allies with a different neighboring African nation; those allied nations then began agitating against each other while attempting to recruit allies further afield. To quell this unrest, the majority of Imperial troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan and redeployed, opening a fourth front. The three allied African nations were declared rogue states by the Imperial Government, increasing the anti-Empire sentiment throughout Africa. It would be a year before the resulting political quagmire yielded a solution to the immediate problem. When the Civil War concludes, thousands will be dead and 350,000 will be displaced, their homes razed.

August saw the commencement of the Second Congo War. It will persist until 2003, by which time 3,900,000 will be dead – making this the bloodiest conflict since the Third Global War.

The remains of the USK Embassy in Kenya after the bombing, photo courtesy the FBI.

The Embassy Bombing

August was also the month in which the USK Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed in a cold-blooded and ruthless attack, killing 224 people and injoring over 4500 more. These bombings were later linked to Osama Bin Laden by the FBI.

The Omagh Bombing Memorial, photograph by Ardfern

Irish Developments

In Ireland, there was a concerted effort to set aside the mistakes of the past on both sides and to make a fresh start. On April 10, these efforts are rewarded when the Belfast Agreement is signed by the Imperial Government and by all but one of the dissident groups.

The lone exception is the Democratic Unionist Party, whose religious views are more extreme than the others. As the second-largest dissident group, this demonstrates both overall progress without actually changing anything very much. Many hold-outs from other political and radical groups changed affiliations or formed isolated splinter groups in the wake of the Good Friday agreement, but without the support network, these would be run to ground or persuaded to give up their radical agendas one-by-one. The first such splinter group to receive public recognition was the “Real IRA” when they exploded a car bomb in Omagh on 15 August. The death toll of 29 included both Catholics and Protestants, a Mormon teenager, five other teenagers, two Spanish tourists, a pregnant woman, and six children and was condemned by both Prime Minister Blair and the leadership of the Sinn Fein. 290 more were injured, some severely. The attack did much to cement support for the peace process and led to a backlash of public sentiment against the “Real IRA” which left them persona-non-gratis throughout Ireland. So vehement was the outcry, both nationally and internationally, that three days later the RIRA apologized. However, they stopped short of naming those responsible, leading to an Imperial Man-hunt for the perpetrators. Unfortunately, the investigation was bungled, leading to an ongoing cycle of arrest and acquittal or arrest-and-release over the next decade. The perpetrators were never positively identified, leading some to suggest that they may even have been amongst those killed on the scene – with no real evidence to support the allegation, it must be acknowledged.

India-Pakistan Tensions

Through the course of the year, India and Pakistan would begin a dangerous game of brinkmanship and antagonism toward each other. With India a captured subject of the Mao, and Pakistan a disaffected member of the Empire, the potential existed for these acts of provocation to lead to a new Global War, yet each could justifiably claim that it was doing nothing overtly wrong. Pakistan, still resentful over the Bangladesh conflict of 1970, started the conflict by demonstrating a missile system that could reach India, but which was carefully designed not to have the range to threaten mainland China. India retaliated by demonstrating the ability to create a tower of fire several miles across and 60 miles into the air, which could completely destroy a city centre. Pakistan responded with a series of nuclear test detonations, proving that they had the capability of independent nuclear attack.

Bucharuddin Jusuf Habibie - official Vice-Presidential Portrait, courtesy the Government of the Republic Of Indonesia

A Change In Indonesia

Indonesia continued to be a blight on the human rights record of the Empire. On May 21, President Suharto resigned after 7 consecutive terms in office, a record allegedly made possible only through extensive repression, vote-rigging and electoral fraud; his hand-picked vice-president and natural successor, B. J. Habibie, inherited the position and party machine after Suharto was forced to resign amidst a climate of rioting and civil uprising. Habibie was a compromise that satisfied no-one; the critics perceived him as an extension of the discredited Suharto regime, while the loyalists perceived his attempts at a more progressive agenda as radical. From the outside, Habibie appeared to address the criticisms of the Suharto regime, giving the residents of East Timor a referendum on Independence and reestablishing diplomatic ties with neighboring Kingdoms; but under this veneer, many of his government were holdovers from the Suharto regime who changed neither policy nor attitude, undermining all attempts at genuine reform. The head of an unstable coalition which satisfied neither element, Habibie was repeatedly forced to compromise the ideals he espoused. Despite the diplomatic successes, a semi-successful bid to normalizing the internal race-relations of the country, and successfully stabilizing the economy during his whirlwind 17 months in Office, the progressives broke with the coalition and delivered what was effectively a vote of no-confidence in the Habibie government in the lead-up to the 1999 elections, following which he withdrew his candidacy for President.

The Jovian moon, Europa, image by NASA. The brown is volcanic material, molten because of tidal pressures, which wells up along the stress fractures in the ice.

Science & Technology

In January, the Empress was presented with a petition signed by 1/4 of the combined population of 19 European kingdoms asking her to forbid human cloning; she agreed in February. This followed the success of New Zealand researchers in cloning Dolly the Sheep in 1996, with attempts underway to clone many other higher organisms, ranging from Rhesus Monkeys to Camels to Cats and Horses. The goal for most researchers at the time was simply to develop the techniques and technology to permit successful cloning, with the end-use of those techniques still open to debate. Medical purposes relating to humans was a medium-range goal that would (it was hoped) eventually lead to more successful organ transplants; for many, the short-term goal was to repopulate endangered species and possibly even restore extinct species. The first successful case of the former would be reported in 2001 with the cloning of a Gaur (Indian Bison). A near-miss attempt at the second took place in 2009 with the cloning of the Pyranean Ibex; the clone lived for seven minutes before dying of lung defects, a recurring problem with the cloning technology of the era. Ironically, the Ibex itself is neither endangered nor extinct, only the Pyranean subspecies. In 2004, and despite the Imperial edict, a researcher attempted to clone a human in clandestine research but the embryo did not take.

The same month, The Lunar Prospector was launched; it eventually found deposits of water ice in perpetually-shadowed Lunar craters. By March, Selenologists reported having found enough water to sustain a permanent settlement on the Moon.

Also in March, the Galileo space probe reported that Jupiter’s moon, Europa, has a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice.

On September 4th, Google was founded, with little fanfare or notice paid; there was no indication that it would come to dominate the internet within a decade, becoming synonymous with its primary function. The innovation at the heart of Google was a revolutionary approach to determining the relevance of the websites indexed by the search engine to a particular user enquiry; instead of ranking pages based on the number of times they were opened by those searching for the term in question, or by the number of times the search term appeared on the web-page in question, Google ranked pages based on the number of sites that linked to the page in question, reasoning that the more such links there were, the more likely it was that the page would be useful. Refinements to this basic system occurred regularly thereafter, but the heart of the system is defining relevance to the user enquiry.

In November, a Russian rocket carries the first segment of what is then named the International Space Station into orbit.

The Logo of the International Criminal Court

The Genocide Solution

The problem of criminal acts against a population as a whole was one that had been on Imperial minds since the Nuremburg Trials following the Third Global War. In the past, such crimes had been handled by ad-hoc proceedings with little in the way of legal authority. One of many problems to be given to an IMAGE committee, no unity on the issue could be found because each Imperial member-nation had its own definitions of what was acceptable and what was not. In July of 1998, a solution was achieved by the IMAGE Committee On Population Crime; they redefined acts of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Acts Of Aggression as crimes against the unity of the Empire itself, and established a permanent International Criminal Court in Italy to deal with these cases as necessary. Promulgating a treaty between member nations to bind them to agreement over the jurisdiction of the Court, they achieved the signatures of 87 member nations. Diplomatic negotiations immediately commenced with a view to adding those nations under Mao rule to the list of signatories; these talks would be ongoing for many years.

On September 2nd, the ICC heard its first case, finding Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of a village in Rwanda, guilty of nine counts of Genocide. Even though anti-genocide laws had been on the books in various Kingdoms since 1948, prosecution had been impossible because no Kingdom was permitted to interfere with the internal workings of another. Only when the crime had been accepted as an Imperial-level matter did the Empire itself take the responsibility for declaring and enforcing laws against such acts. Akayesu was sentenced to Life Imprisonment on each of the nine counts and incarcerated in a prison in Mali, in Western Africa, even though that country was considered a rogue state within the Empire for its role in the Guinea-Bissau civil war. Shortly thereafter, Mali renounced its support of the Senegal faction in that conflict, and was restored to normal Imperial Membership (though downgraded to Class III for its usurping of the Imperial Prerogative).

Map by Papayoung

The Yangtze River floods

It emerged in August that Mao weather control was less perfect than the initial analysis by the Imperial Space Agency had led the Empire to believe when the Yangtze River broke through its main bank prompting mass flooding. Considerable Imperial debate followed, with some advocating a humanitarian responsibility to offer aid, while others argued that the offer would reveal both the capabilities of Imperial Space capabilities and the fact that the Empire was using them to spy on the Mao. After 2 days of wrangling, the Empress made her decision, in favor of the humanitarian arguement – did her advisors really think that the Mao didn’t know the Empire had this technology? This was an opportunity to further establish bonds of trust and respect between the two cultures, and not to be wasted. Besides, she added, Imperial Intelligence might finally learn something worthwhile from the impressions of the troops providing relief on the ground.

Somewhat to Imperial surprise, the offer of assistance was accepted by the Mao. Subsidiary levees had continued to collapse and needed immediate reinforcement, and thousands had been displaced and needed food and emergency shelter. Their forces were delaying and containing the flooding at the moment while evacuations were carried out, but were reaching the limits of their strength, having bought the Mao Empire 48 vital hours of additional time in which to respond.

Immediately the offer was accepted, Cargo flights began ferrying food, blankets, tents, and sandbags into China. A charity appeal was launched to generate funds to obtain further supplies. One hundred Red Cross volunteer medical personnel were airlifted in. Imperial estimates were that with these actions, up to 300,000 lives were saved.

Of course, they were all extensively debriefed apon their return, but hard intelligence proved elusive. The architecture was uniformly beautiful, the land green and fertile. There was a timeless quality to the country, a patience and supple resilience that seemed positively archaic and out-of-place in the modern era. The Chinese citizens were reportedly extremely fatalistic, speaking of “living in natural harmony” and other such phrases. The citizens were uniformly well-fed, uniformly educated no more than necessary for their decreed role in the stratified pseudo-fuedal society, driven by religious belief, and seemed extraordinarily content. Children were tested for aptitude and personality early in life, and the results used to determine their rank and social class within society; a gifted child could elevate the entire family into an entirely different social stratum. In short, Mao society was a highly regulated and regimented feudal caste-based meritocracy. But beyond gaining this appreciation for the internal political structure of the Mao society, the only hard intelligence to be obtained was that even amongst their own subjects, the Mao remained separate and aloof, with their domed helmets and travelling cloaks concealing their appearance.

Iraq: one game too many

Iraq continued to play games with the Imperial investigators searching for WMDs throughout 1998, first agreeing to inspection requests and then restricting the timing or access of those inspections. On one occasion President Hussein restricted the inspection to the car parking spaces of the facility. Unusual rail movements were detected in the hours and days prior to more substantial inspections, suggesting the possibility that the evidence was being moved. Inspectors were repeatedly expelled from the country on trivial charges only for new agreements to be made permitting their return a few hours or days later.

By December, the USK had had enough. On the grounds that the potential presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction posed a clear threat to American Citizens, President William Clinton launched a series of airstrikes into Iraq, notifying the Imperial Authorities of the action only once it had commenced.

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