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  • Otis continues to progress on his China gambit.

    Early March 2021
    The White House

    President Needleman was moving ahead on his Chinese initiative. He, Ken Doo, and Ron Solmonson had met with the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Agriculture. The reaction was positive.

    Next, the President, Vice-President, and the Special Envoy met with the Senate Leader and Speaker of the House. There were some questions about funding for the Special Envoy, any agricultural relief efforts, and US participation at a peace conference. President Needleman replied his contingency fund was paying for the Special Envoy and his logistical support. The Department of State was preparing line items for the upcoming fiscal year to cover the Special Envoy and costs of US participation at a peace conference, should that happen, but those costs in total were projected for the low millions of dollars. The Department of Agriculture was preparing line items for the upcoming budget to cover agricultural relief efforts, but these costs were presently unknown and the Allies would be contributing. The President said he’d keep the Senate Leader and Speaker of the House abreast of developments, on a very close-hold basis.

    Once the air had cleared in Washington, President Needleman sat down and drafted a letter to Chairman Han. He ran this letter by the people he’d met with earlier. Only minor changes were suggested. The President then sent his draft letter to the Allied leaders for their comments, since they would be involved to varying extents with the initiatives described in his letter.

    Here are some snippets of conversations between the President and the Allied leaders.

    With Prime Minister Frenkel:

    “Do you think he’ll agree to all these, Otis?”

    “The only way to know is to ask, Naftaly. The first two are fairly easy. The peace conference will be a bigger effort.”

    “Do you think these should be publicized?”

    “Not right now, and I’d like to keep the promise of non-aggression quiet as long as I can. I’d expect the press to cover a peace conference.”

    “You know what will happen if the South Chinese were to attack?”

    “Time to execute Joint Operational Plan 2045, my friend. We’ll see Programs A and B in operation.” (The President and Prime Minister laugh.)

    With Prime Minister Thatcher:

    “Ed, if we can get these things going I don’t think you’ll need to worry about Hong Kong.”

    “Quite so, Otis. What’s it going to cost us?”

    “Some agricultural relief and a share of the funding for the peace conference.”

    “Cheaper than fighting a battle for Hong Kong.”

    “And with peace, possibly you can export more to the PRC, have students come to the UK, some scientific and cultural exchanges.”

    “Some is the operative word on those scientific exchanges, Otis.”

    “Yup, nothing sensitive. Same thing with students, gotta watch what they study.”

    With Chancellor Bouhler:

    “Where do you see us participating in all this, Otis?”

    “Phil, right now probably supplying some agricultural relief, observers at the peace conference.”

    “You know, with a peace treaty trade could expand.”

    “That’s right, but I think it will take some time to develop that trade. The PRC doesn’t export a whole lot right now.”

    “We have to start somewhere.”

    With Prime Minister Ojima:

    “Things have been quiet but I’m always concerned about a war there, Otis.”

    “Me, too, Yuriko. But Chairman Han’s fulfilled his part of every deal we’ve made in the past few years. The pledge of non-aggression shouldn’t be that big a deal. The peace conference may be, but we need to ask.”

    “It can’t hurt. What do you need from us?”

    “Initially, some agricultural relief, equipment, advisers, seeds, chemicals. Observers at the peace conference. Longer-term, a commitment to help their agriculture develop, maybe some exchanges of various types.”

    “Improving their agriculture will hurt our exports in the near and long-term, Otis.”

    “Perhaps of grains, but as time goes by they could be in the market for other Japanese products.”

    “You always think long-term, don’t you.”

    “I want to leave something for our future, as a world.”

    The Allies agreed, with just a few minor changes, with Otis’ letter.

    President Needleman then talked with President Yeh of the Republic of China (North China).

    “Do you think the Reds will live up to what they say?”

    “Haven’t they so far, Yong Hui? When was the last incident along the truce line? Been a long time, ever since we started working these agreements.”

    “Will your forces still stay in our country?”

    “Yes. I see a presence for the foreseeable future. And should the South Chinese try an attack, they really won’t like what happens.”

    “What guarantee can you give that the next President won’t go in a different direction?”

    “I can’t, and you know that. I can’t guarantee Chairman Han will be in office tomorrow, either, but I know if we never bring up these issues we’ll never have peace. Peace means more trade. Peace means more communications, more chances for the South Chinese to learn about the Republic of China. Long-term, this is a means to influence favorable changes for us in South China.”

    “All right.”

    Once President Needleman finished his discussions and consultations, he wrote his letter:

    Chairman Han Un Sok
    People’s Republic of China
    Shanghai, China

    Dear Chairman Han,

    Our two countries, together with Germany, Britain, Japan, and Russia, have made great strides toward peace, and have been developing a partnership over the past several years. I believe there are things we can do to further develop that partnership and achieve peace. This letter has been coordinated with the Allies.

    I propose the following, for your consideration:

    1. An increase of support by the United States and the Allies to the People’s Republic’s agriculture. This would be in the form of equipment, seeds, tools, chemicals, and advisers, as you believe they can be best used.

    2. A guarantee from yourself that there will be no military attacks by the People’s Republic against the Republic of China, Hong Kong, and the Russian Empire. Your word is good enough. In return, the Allies and I will guarantee no military attacks by ourselves against the People’s Republic.

    3. A peace conference between the People’s Republic and ourselves, the Russian Empire, and the Republic of China to reach a permanent peace treaty, replacing the Armistice.

    If you would be willing to discuss any or all of these proposals, please let me know. I have designated Vice President-Emeritus Kenneth Doo as my special envoy to address these matters. He would speak for me, and would be authorized to discuss these proposals and negotiate agreements regarding these proposals.

    Please rest assured that this letter and any discussions will be held in the strictest of confidence on our part, although at a future time we may jointly decide to make certain of these proposals public.

    As always, please feel free to contact me regarding this letter or anything else at any time.

    Sincerely yours,

    President of the United States

    While the President was preparing the final draft of his letter, there was a quiet discussion at the United Nations between Ms. Joanne and Ms. Wei.

    “Ms, Wei, my big boss has some proposals for your big boss about some things both could do to help the People’s Republic’s agriculture and work toward a lasting peace. He is wondering if your big boss would accept a letter with these proposals.”

    “Ms. Joanne, I would say my big boss is always willing to communicate with your big boss. They seem to get along well. But I will have an answer for you tomorrow some time.”

    The next day, the two ladies met again.

    “Ms. Joanne, my big boss would welcome the letter from your big boss, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

    “Thank you very much, Ms. Wei. I shall let my big boss know.”

    President Needleman then dispatched his letter to Chairman Han.


    • The Chinese discuss President Needleman's letter and respond to it.

      Mid-March 2021
      Standing Committee of the Politburo
      Chinese Communist Party
      Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

      Chairman Han was discussing President Needleman’s letter with the other five men who comprised the top leadership of South China.

      “As you have seen, President Needleman has asked if we would receive a special envoy, Vice-President-Emeritus Kenneth Doo, to discuss the three issues set out in his letter. Can anyone tell me why we shouldn’t have Mr. Doo come and talk with us?”

      The other men seated around the table shook their heads.

      Chairman Han spoke again. “Let’s look at these three issues and decide how we’d want to proceed in the discussion, then. First is an increase in agricultural aid, not so much grain, but expertise, equipment, and chemicals we believe we could use best. This would work better for the country and the Party in the near-to-long term than constantly importing grain.”

      Comrade Zhou Yong-Kang, Minister of State Security, added, “For those of you who haven’t met Mr. Martin of the American Embassy, he has been doing a fine job. Mr. Martin gets out to our farms and works among our people as if he were a farmer himself. Colonel Tae says Mr. Martin has never caused any problems, and is a good man to work with. If the other experts are like Mr. Martin, from the State Security standpoint they should be very easy to deal with.”

      Minister of Agriculture Hsieh Kwon-Ying stated, “I’ve seen him out on farms, digging holes, helping with machinery and animals, and advising farmers and collective farm managers. Mr. Martin never tries to tell anyone what to do. He gives advice, makes recommendations and suggestions, and uses his equipment to provide information.”

      Chairman Han queried, “How many more like Mr. Martin can we absorb and support? We have Comrade Hua and Colonel Tae, plus a driver and a vehicle. We also provide Mr. Martin’s lodging and meals while out in the field. And we do have an agreement for medical evacuation should he be injured or take sick, which would be extended to any other agricultural attaches.”

      Comrade Zhou said, “I don’t think we can support hundreds of such people, but from our end, we could support up to a hundred, building up over a few years, I would say.”

      Minister Hsieh replied, “We don’t need to have all those people in the field at one time, either. We could use some as trainers and instructors. Mr. Martin does some training, but he’s just one man.”

      Foreign Minister Ma Yue-Xuan added, “We’d also need to provide housing for these experts and their families, probably schools for the children, administrative support, and medical facilities. Right now, we don’t have a whole lot of Western-style housing available. Children go to their Embassy’s schools or the International School. The families buy some food in our markets and get other food through their embassies. Embassy personnel and their families use our clinics and hospitals for anything their doctors can’t treat, or they are flown to Hong Kong or their own countries. All that will take time to expand.”

      Chairman Han said, “Well, we could work out the numbers of experts and the timing of their arrival with the Allies. Mr. Doo’s coming to discuss top-level matters, and President Needleman made it very clear that they wanted to provide us assistance only to the extent we could effectively use it. So, our position is yes, we accept, and let’s get a combined Chinese – Allied working group together to discuss specifics.”

      The Chairman paused. “Now let’s talk about the pledge of non-aggression. Is there any reason we shouldn’t make that pledge? I haven’t heard of any real incidents in some time.”

      Comrade Yu Bong-Jou, Minister of Defense, said, “Nothing big, no shots fired, just the occasional infantryman defecting. It’s been quiet on both sides. Truce Commission meetings go well. Our spies tell us there is no buildup for any sort of an attack, just routine rotations and maneuvers.”

      The Chairman added, “President Needleman has been a man of his word over the years. When we’ve made agreements, he and the Allies have carried out their part of those agreements. And for our part we have also done what we agreed to do. That’s why President Needleman said my word is good enough for him.”

      Comrade Zhou also added, “And if the American President agrees, the Allies go along. I have also heard that President Needleman told Yeh in Beijing that the Allies would not support any unilateral attack by his country against us. And they won’t attack without the Americans and the Russians. But I would say this. President Needleman’s term runs out in January 2023. What guarantee would we have that the new President would proceed as he has?”

      The Chairman smiled. “A good question, Comrade Zhou. But Mr. Doo will probably also ask what would happen should there be a new Chairman. While these questions need to be asked, the only truthful answer anyone can really give is that while there can be no guarantee, if things are working and both sides gain benefit, why would changes need to be made? But yes, I can ask that question, or you can ask, or anyone can ask.” Comrade Zhou nodded.

      Minister of Defense Yu added, “This doesn’t mean we need to change our force deployments, anyway. Nothing to lose.”

      The Chairman nodded. “We’ll discuss it with Mr. Doo, but I have no problem providing a quiet guarantee of non-aggression. Now, let’s talk a peace conference.”

      Foreign Minister Ma started, “As I understand President Needleman’s letter, he is looking for some sort of agreement in principle to start with.”

      The Chairman nodded again. “That’s the way I read it, as well. This isn’t as simple as the agricultural help or the non-aggression guarantee. But I can see benefits to a peace treaty – trade, for one thing.”

      Defense Minister Yu asked, “Would you plan to reduce our military?”

      The Chairman replied, “Anything of that nature would be far down the road, Comrade Yu. Let me ask you this, then – would you want a negotiated reduction of forces on both sides of the border? Not so much a cut but say, some pullbacks and redeployments?” Comrade Yu answered, “We could bring it up and see what the Allies think.”

      The discussion regarding the peace conference went on for some time. In the end, it was agreed that the Chairman would be willing to agree in principle to a peace conference, but there were a number of issues to be addressed before that conference could actually happen. This was seen as a long-term project, which could take months or years.

      The Chairman sent the following letter to President Needleman:

      Otis R. Needleman
      President of the United States of America
      Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America

      Dear President Needleman,

      Thank you for your letter of March 2021.

      I believe we can indeed work together on the issues you described in your letter.

      We would be happy to have Vice-President-Emeritus Doo come to Shanghai and discuss these issues. We invite Vice-President-Emeritus Doo to come to Shanghai during the week of April 19, 2021.

      For our part, you may be assured the discussions will be held in the strictest of confidence, although we agree that there may be a time when we jointly make them public.

      And as always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

      Sincerely yours,

      Han Un-Sok
      People’s Republic of China

      Just before the letter went out, Chairman Han called President Needleman, informally. Here’s a snippet of the conversation:

      “Mr. President, we have no problem with the first two proposals. We do have concerns and questions about a peace conference and a peace treaty, though.”

      “I understand, Mr. Chairman. I just want to get the process started and see what we can do together. This is a longer-term project. Personally, I expect a peace conference to take some time, and it is likely that things would be completed by my successor.”

      “But we can start.”

      “Yes, we can start at our level and get some working groups together to address issues.”

      “Yes, we can provide Mr. Doo with our concerns and move from there.”

      “That sounds very good to me.”


      • Good update Otis and hopefully the long term peace plan comes to fruition. With the alliance between Russia and America, do they field any mutual weapons systems?


        • Jim Smitty
          Jim Smitty commented
          Editing a comment
          Its kind of surprising the French aren't a nuclear power.

        • La Rouge Beret
          La Rouge Beret commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Otis.

          I'm considering an ASB TL that I've briefly discussed with Jim, that would involve a Russian submarine from this tl. Well provided that you consent . If you are interested, let me know so that I can PM you and use that tremendous amount of Russian knowledge that is lurking in your grey matter!

          Agreed about the French too Jim, but does the world lose out by not having the Frogs have nuclear power. IMO no... but that reflects my own prejudices .

        • Otis R. Needleman
          Otis R. Needleman commented
          Editing a comment
          Sounds good to me, LRB.

          Re France and nuclear weapons, over the years they've had challenges, let's say, in developing them. France is still all butthurt from the Great War, which is why the Allies keep them at something of a distance, as was shown when Otis went to France for the anniversary of D-Day.

      • Here are parts of some conversations and discussions President Needleman had with various people during late March and early April 2021.

        Late March 2021
        The White House
        The Oval Office

        President Needleman was talking with Prime Minister Frenkel about the phone call from Chairman Han the day before.

        “Yeah, Naftaly, I’d say we got two-and-a-half out of three up front, and we have a chance to get the rest of the third.”

        “That last half will be the toughest, Otis.”

        “True, and we’re going to have to ride herd on Yeh, at least until his replacement comes in. I already told Yeh we wouldn’t support any offensive actions on his part.”

        “I told him the same.”

        “At any rate, I’ll keep you posted how Ken Doo’s visit goes. We’ll need to get some more people for the negotiations.”

        “Yes. Any idea where they would happen?”

        “I’ll try for Hong Kong.”

        “Not a bad choice. Close to both Chinas, Japan, and ourselves.”

        “I don’t want to meet in Switzerland or Sweden, too much chance of news coverage at too early a stage.”

        “Have you asked Ed?”

        “Not yet. I’m going to do an email after I get off the phone here.”

        “Okay. Oh, on another subject, we’ll have three officers to be promoted with Donna.”

        “Great! Do you know who they are?”

        “Lieutenant Colonel Vasily Tkach, the detachment’s chief of operations, and a couple who are doctors, Majors Andrei and Anna Rychkov.”

        “That first name sounds familiar, Naftaly.”

        “As I suspected, Otis. When you get a chance, call the Tsar, I’ll let him fill you in.”

        President Needleman then did an email to the other Allied leaders. Here’s part of it:

        “Well, I believe we have two-and-a-half out of three, and a chance to get the third. Chairman Han’s invited Ken Doo to come out in about three weeks to get started.
        Looking ahead, we’ll need reps from everyone to meet with the PRC regarding support to their agriculture. As far as setting up the peace conference, we and the Russians, along with the North Chinese, will meet but I welcome
        observers from everyone else just like we’ll do it for the actual peace conference. I have some ideas about where we can meet.”

        The President, Vice-President Solmonson, Senate Leader Marilyn Bustamante, and Speaker of the House Joe Frazier met in the Oval Office. Vice-President Emeritus Doo participated by speakerphone. Otis relayed the contents of his
        conversations with Chairman Han and Prime Minister Frenkel to all present. Otis had already told Ron and Ken privately what had happened. The Senate Leader and Speaker of the House were glad to hear progress was being made,
        and wished Ken Doo the best on his trip. Vice-President Solmonson, the Senate Leader, and the Speaker were getting ready for their own trip.

        In a call with Prime Minister Thatcher of the British Empire, Otis gained the use of British facilities in Hong Kong for the meetings to hash out the issues to be covered in a Chinese peace conference. Otis advised Ken Doo of this, for
        presentation to the PRC.

        A little later, the President and the Tsar were talking, and the subject of the end-of-May trip came up. Otis mentioned Lieutenant Colonel Vasily Tkach.

        “Otis, he’s the great-grandson of Master Sergeant Vasily Tkach, who was killed in the battle our grandfathers fought in.”

        “Whoa! I wonder if he’s ever seen the pictures or heard the story of the fight.”

        “He’s heard the official story and seen his great-grandfather’s picture in the Hall of Heroes in Moscow, but I bet he’d want to hear your story and see your pictures.”

        “Absolutely, Mikhail. I’ll have copies of the pictures made and we’ll carve out some time to meet. I bet Naftaly Frenkel would be interested, as well.”

        “Oh, don’t be surprised to see my son Semyon at Vandenberg when you come, strictly as Mr. Romanov of Star Computer. They’ll be installing some new targeting hardware for A and B.”

        “Well, he’s seen the pictures and heard the story, but no reason he and his coworkers can’t swing by the promotion and the promotion party. Does the Prime Minister know this?”

        “Yes, he stays abreast of all the family’s travel. Sometimes we can do things to quietly be of service.”

        “How long will Semyon be at Vandenberg?”

        “Ten days. They’re scheduled to head back to Moscow the day after the promotion ceremony.”

        Shortly after this call, President Needleman called his brother Joe.

        “Hey, Joe, can you send me all of Grandpa’s pictures from that battle in Russia? I’ll have copies made and the originals will be returned to you. Can’t say much now, but I’ll have an interesting story to tell you soon.”

        “Yeah, sure, Otis. I’ll give them to the agent in charge of our detail. You should get them pretty quick, I imagine.”

        “Yup. Thanks, Joe.”


        • It has been some time since I have posted anything here, for various reasons. Once again, the the longer I wrote in this series the more I found myself writing the same stories over and over. I just got tired of that. However, I couldn't just drop the series and leave everyone hanging. The honorable thing was to write a closure, and this I have done.

          In November 2022, Mike Garrity, former Senator and retired Army master sergeant, was selected as the next President of the United States, succeeding President Otis R. Needleman. President Garrity was inaugurated on Friday, January 20, 2023, a cloudy day with hints of snow.

          President-emeritus and Mrs. Needleman departed Washington for the last time on Air Force One, through the courtesy of President Garrity. The Needlemans quickly settled back into their home and into a much slower lifestyle, albeit with a Secret Service presence. Both Otis and Vicki Needleman retired for good. Otis was 67 and Vicki 65. Neither needed to work, thanks to pensions, Social Security, and the seven million dollars they had saved from their salaries during Otis’ term as President.

          In retirement, Otis did what he wanted to do, which wasn’t much. He’d take his morning walk, eat breakfast, read the papers, and do whatever he liked. From time to time, upon request, he would address meetings, luncheons, and dinners for various San Angelo organizations. While Otis didn’t mind talking about his term as President, he made no comment regarding anything President Garrity and his Administration was involved in. His standard rejoinder was, “Until you’ve walked a mile in the President’s shoes, you don’t know what he or she has to contend with.” Vicki settled back into her life, revolving around family and church. She almost never made any public appearances.

          Otis and Vicki participated in something set up by the new President, informally known as “The Group”. The Group consisted of the incumbent President and Vice-President, as well as Presidents- and Vice Presidents-emeritus. President Garrity brought The Group into being to discuss things going on and get the benefit of his predecessors’ experience and viewpoints. The Group met twice a year, spending a long weekend at a site outside of Washington. The former First Spouses and Vice-Presidential Spouses were also invited, and they met separately with the First Lady and the spouse of the Vice-President. The Group still continues today under the present President.

          Otis and Vicki spent a lot of time with their family. They enjoyed watching their children and grandchildren as they went through their lives. Interestingly, Max was selected as a city councilman for the city of Midland, where he and Darla lived. Donna stayed in the Air Force and made a career out of it, retiring as a brigadier general. She married another officer and they had two children. Nick and Haruko stayed in the San Antonio area, where Haruko worked as a nurse and Nick as a chef.

          Otis wasn’t forgotten by his friends, and he didn’t forget them. Otis and Naftaly Frenkel talked perhaps once a month, and Otis and the Tsar usually talked weekly. Otis and Vicki made several trips to Russia over the years, visiting the Tsar and the Frenkels. In return, their Russian friends would come to San Angelo. Otis also stayed in touch with Yuriko Ojima, Ed Thatcher, and Philip Bouhler. Otis also kept in close contact with Ken Doo, and from time to time would hear from Chairman Han.

          As time went by, the Needlemans became less and less able to travel in person. Instead, they traveled via hologram to places which had the capability, such as Russia, Japan, and Britain.

          Another function of the passage of time was the passage of friends. Otha Whitton passed away in 2026. Hank Mims passed away two years later, and his wife departed the year after that. Tsar Mikhail and Tsarina Elena died in a plane crash in 2036, whereupon their son Semyon became Tsar.

          The Needleman and Romanov families stayed close and got even closer when Tsarevich “Ivan the Happy” Romanov married Naomi Needleman, daughter of Nick and Haruko, in 2041. There were two weddings, one in San Angelo, and one in Moscow. By that time Vicki had passed away and Otis could no longer travel. Naomi moved to Russia to be with her husband, a fighter pilot in the Russian Air Force. “Ivan the Happy” also made a career out of the Air Force, eventually retiring as a lieutenant general commanding Tactical Air Command. Ivan made his way on his own merits, never trading on his name or position. He and Naomi had three children. In due time after retiring from the Russian Air Force, Ivan became Tsar and Naomi Tsarina upon the death of Tsar Semyon.

          Vicki Needleman passed away in 2040, in her sleep. After Vicki’s death Otis moved down to San Antonio, where he lived with Nick and Haruko.

          President-emeritus Otis R. Needleman passed away on June 7, 2042. President Needleman’s casket lied in state at the Capitol in Washington for three days, and he was interred next to his wife, in San Angelo. Otis’ friend of many years, Vice-President Ken Doo, was present for the funeral, as well as the present President and former Presidents. There was also a substantial Russian contingent, consisting of the Prime Minister, and of course, the Tsar, Tsarina, and all the Romanov family who could attend, including Tsarevich “Ivan the Happy” and his wife Naomi.

          Historians have discussed where to place Otis Needleman in the rankings of Presidents. Some say he was a great President. Otis’ outreach to the People’s Republic of China did a tremendous amount to lower tensions in Asia and end insurgencies in many areas. He also spearheaded the help which saved the PRC from starvation and allowed that country to improve their agriculture. Others put him as a near-great President since he didn’t serve in time of war or national disaster.

          In the end, it made no difference to Otis Needleman where the historians ranked him. He knew that he had left the United States and the world a better place than he found it.

          Otis R. Needleman was a man in full, a man who always did his duty, by his God, his nation, and his family. Upon his death, Otis ascended to the Light on the wings of eagles, to be greeted by family and many friends. The Light smiled and shined upon him. “Well done!

          The End


          • Archangel
            Archangel commented
            Editing a comment
            Good ending, Otis!

          • Jim Smitty
            Jim Smitty commented
            Editing a comment
            A good wrap up to a good story Otis.

          • Otis R. Needleman
            Otis R. Needleman commented
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