Houston 2093

by Jim Davidson

Copyright © 2001 by Jim Davidson All Rights Reserved

The colonial period ended in 2060. Unable to maintain a colonial empire in North America, the troops of Niatirb were withdrawn. Concerned about their business interests in the region, the Niatirbians established a successor government. Loosely modeled after the ceremonial government of Niatirb, but composed entirely of North Americans, the successor government was intended to maintain order. Order necessary to the commerce of Niatirb was certainly not appropriate to the lives, liberty, and property of North Americans, but that was of minimal concern to the empire. Houston, which had been the imperial administrative headquarters, soon had new "democratically elected" leaders.

Nine years later, the corruption and excesses of the brutal regime were exposed. General Barry Dias took control. He kidnapped the prime minister of the faltering regime, executed the president, and established a junta. Celebrations and exultation were ubiquitous. Everyone hailed the end of the sham "democracy."

Immediately, General Dias allied himself with the Teivos Union, an Asiatic military power. His immediate concerns were military security and education. Having suffered a great deal under the colonial empire, his people were almost entirely illiterate in their own language. Dias funded a massive literacy campaign, bringing schools and teachers to all parts of North America. Again, he was hailed as a great leader.

Alaska, meanwhile, had established itself as a close ally of the Teivos. And Alaska was rich in valuable resources. Oil, gold, coal, uranium, and many other important materials were plentiful in Alaska. The same was true of the Yukon.

Prior to its complete abandonment of North America, the Niatirb Empire had established an administrative line between Alaska and the rest of North America which gave the entire Yukon to the Alaskans. That didnít set well with many from Western Canada.

In 2078, General Dias was convinced that his military supremacy was sufficient to best the Alaskans in open warfare. He would reclaim the Yukon, which was rightfully part of his country. In fact, his family had emigrated from the Yukon in his fatherís generation. So, it was personal as well as political.

The Teivos, however, didnít see any reason to back both Dias and Alaska in this conflict. Alaska was more valuable, and the Dias regime was abandoned. Their supplies of ammunition were provided by numerous vendors, so there wasnít a problem with ammo. But heavy weapons, aircraft, space recon, and other support were gone. The conflict was bloody and very one-sided. A million North Americans were made refugees as their homes were obliterated. Hundreds of thousands were casualties of the war.

Meanwhile in Vermont, trouble was brewing from a different group. These men were tired of Dias and his military dictatorship. They werenít keen on the sham democracy, either. And they didnít feel that Vermont should be ruled from Houston like the rest of North America. So, they revolted.

Faced with an unbeatable enemy in Alaska, Dias decided to consolidate his power. He sent troops to Vermont to ransack homes, murder families, rape women and children, and destroy everything of value. From 2078 to 2091, his government was allied, not with the Teivos, but with the South American States. The SAS provided advisors, lent money to his regime, and sold him weapons and heavy equipment.

Since 2069, the Dias regime had been recognized as the legitimate authority of North America. The war didnít change that fact. The United Nations recognized Dias as president of North America. It was clear that his military dictatorship was brutal, had been torturing political prisoners, and various private charities were upset by these events, but nobody challenged his regimeís authority.

Except the people in Vermont. The men and women of Vermont found allies all over North America, determined to take back their long-remembered freedom. Even in Texas, the home base of the government, there were independence-minded freedom fighters. By early 2091, the Dias government was in disarray. Fighting in the streets of Houston left him without a secure base, and he fled to Mexico City. By 2096 he would be dead. But his governmentís power was eviscerated in 2091.

Again there were celebrations. Men and women from all over North America had fought the final battles on the streets of Houston. They were ebullient. Victory was theirs.

Rather than form another successor government, they abandoned the entire notion of a centralized and bureaucratic government for their homes. Instead, voices on the radio and personalities on television suggested that everyone go home. "Go back to your home town. Live like your ancestors did, when our country was great."

Sadly, however, the end of the war was not the end of suffering. Hundreds of thousands were dead in the fighting. The refugees from the war with Alaska were still huddled in camps along the administrative line separating them from the Yukon.

Nobody had paid much attention to crops, cattle, or climate. So, when drought hit in 2092, the people were unprepared. By the end of the year, there were tens of thousands starving.

Nor had the resolution to abandon a centralized government met with much enthusiasm in Houston. Fourteen groups, each with different political power bases, were fighting over the bones of the dead government. Who should rule North America? It was a joke to everyone outside Houston, that anyone in Houston could pretend to rule the entire continent. But in Houston, it was still deadly serious.

One of these factions contained the remnants of the Dias power base. His associates were going it without him, but had significant backing from the SAS and the UN. Opposing a return to power for the Dias group were a diverse array of other groups from all over North America. The effective opposition was largely from David "D-Day" Tucker. Tucker claimed his ancestor had been a leader at the invasion of Normandy in the last century, though in truth the ancestor in question had been a sergeant.

World interest in the plight of the North Americans was heightened by images of starving people in Houston. The Red Crescent and Red Cross Society had sent food aid collected from the wealthy countries in the Middle East and Europe. Much of it was all rotting on the wharves at the Port of Houston and Galveston, while the food that was being consumed was in the hands of the various military and militia units of the Tucker, Dias, and other power groups.

Food aid distribution elsewhere in North America was notably peaceful. There were no roving bands of troops seeking to keep food from each other. In fact, in Vermont and New Hampshire, good crops had come in. Many other places far from the fighting in the Yukon or in Houston had fared reasonably well. But international attention was focused on Houston.

The trouble was, nobody in North America invited outside intervention. Nobody had the authority to do so, and none of the factions fighting in Houston wanted outsiders to come in.

Thatís when the outgoing president of the SAS decided it was time for action. His financial advisors were upset that the loans their banks had given to the Dias regime were not being repaid. Not only were taxes not being collected by the successor state, nobody in North America had agreed on the idea of a successor state. The few enthusiasts for the idea in Houston were in differing factions. An unprecedented default was in progress. Somebody had to be installed in power, and taxes had to be collected, otherwise the loans would never be repaid. That was a chilling prospect, considering the loans to Alaska and other countries elsewhere in the world. If everyone got the idea that they could get along fine without a central government, the spiraling debt crisis would be out of control in the worst way. Something had to be done.

President Shub Garcia was convinced that his administration could be remembered not only for his very poor showing in the last election, but also for rescuing the poor North Americans from starvation. In the final weeks of his term, he sent 20,000 shock troops to Houston, equipped with battle tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, and huge cargo aircraft filled with food. Order would be restored, and food distributed.

So, in December 2092, SAS troops hit the beaches of Galveston, the Bolivar Peninsula, Surfside, and Freeport. Many of these troops were startled by the presence of television reporters interviewing them as they lay prone on the sand, their weapons covering empty land. Rather than resisting these landing troops, the people of Houston and vicinity welcomed them with parades and enthusiasm.

Food was distributed, crops were planted, and by May 2093, the famine was ended. Declaring success in this aspect of the mission, Garciaís successor, Lib Cojones, pulled the troops. All 20,000 shock troops returned to South America. In their place, "maintaining order" was a diverse force of troops from the SAS, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. These different units were aligned as a United Nations peace-keeping operation. Joint command was still in the hands of the SAS.

At this point, the other element of policy became paramount. The restoration of order and the distribution of food werenít enough. While it was clear that the country could now feed itself, North America had debts to pay. A national government was essential. No smaller government would assume the debts of the Dias regime, collect adequate taxes, and begin making interest and principal payments.

These elements of UN policy were not misunderstood by Tucker. He was familiar with the UN Secretary Generalís previous service as an Egyptian diplomat to the Dias regime. The corruption and influence peddling had reached great excesses when the Egyptian Ambassador, Akbar Galley, had been in Houston. Now Galley was head of the UN, and had been rumored to have promised his old friend Barry Dias an opportunity to return to Houston as elder statesman. The very notion infuriated Tucker, as well as the leaders of all the other factions fighting for control of Houston.

In mid-May 2093, the UN sent a few dozen troops to the Tucker headquarters facilities in Missouri City, just SouthWest of Houston. Ostensibly, the visit was to check out an arsenal of munitions, to validate that no chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons were laying around. However, the radio and television broadcast towers of Missouri City were an obvious target. Tucker had been using them to broadcast invective against Secretary General Galley and broad hints about the plans of the UN.

The UN policy of controlling the media had shown its true colors in Serbia and Kosovo in the waning years of the 20th Century. There, newspapers had been ransacked, editors fired, and limited press coverage had been directed at the war crimes of sovereign leaders. The publication of the names of police officers enforcing a campaign of disarming individuals was not tolerated. Any opposition to the idea of victim disarmament was crushed.

So it was to be in Houston. As Pakistani troops entered the studio facilities in Missouri City, pyres of automobile tires were lit on fire. Clouds of black smoke rose into the air, visible for miles. Militia units and individual shopkeepers came racing in their pickup trucks, or running on foot. Minutes later, the UN troops were surrounded and cut off. A dozen of them were killed in the fighting, along with several casualties from Tuckerís forces. As well, one of the food distribution centers still guarded by UN troops in Southwest Houston was over-run by troops loyal to Tucker. Another dozen UN soldiers were killed, again in a fierce gun battle.

International opinion was galvanized. UN peacekeepers were under attack. Retaliation was necessary, and it had to be both swift and brutal. Under no circumstances could the UN tolerate attacks on its forces, no matter what the circumstances. It was true that no legitimate government existed in North America with the authority to invite UN intervention, and the UN Charter still forbade the UN from interfering in the internal affairs of a country. But, now, noble UN troops were being viciously attacked by barbaric North Americans.

Within weeks, the deployment of more troops from various nations, together with tanks, armored personnel carriers, swarms of helicopters, and mounds of ammunition was underway. The SAS sent two elite units, 440 of its Combat Applications Group, and 500 of its Ranging Force. This special Task Force was to find Tucker and "bring him to justice." Of course, the events in May had not been the exclusive work of Tucker, but such details were brushed aside. Tucker was now the number one international fugitive. A price of 50,000 grams of gold was placed on his head (North Americans having abandoned paper money more than half a century earlier).

Tuckerís alliance was composed of leaders from five of the different factions which had been fighting for control of Houston. On the 12th of June, they met on the sixth floor of the Westin Galleria Hotel. This multi-story hotel rose over the main shopping district for West Houston. Eighty adults, including one man in his nineties, met in the largest space available. Downstairs, their families were preparing food for the meeting. Most of the leaders were there to urge caution. The feeling was widespread that facing the SAS special forces would lead to bad results.

Tucker had not arrived, and wasnít inclined to attend this meeting of moderates. However, he had been persuaded to attend, and was heading for the Westin up South Post Oak Road when he saw helicopter gunships assembling near the stump of the Transco Tower. His convoy of vehicles accelerated toward the scene, up the remains of the West Loop. To his dismay, they were too late. None of the anti-aircraft guns in his convoy were able to reach the gunships now surrounding the Westin.

Seventeen helicopter gunships fired missiles, cannon, and rockets into the sixth floor of the Westin. Over and over, explosions took place inside. Some of these missiles were tank-busters, projecting a cone of copper plasma, behind which came a high explosive munition. Bodies inside the room were torn apart. Explosions ripped through the building, spraying out the opposite side with papers, blood, viscera, and furniture scattering in all directions. Not satisfied with their destruction of the upper floor, the helicopters turned their attention to the families fleeing from the ground floor below. Men, women, and children were gunned down without regard to whether they were combatants or non-combatants.

As Tucker and his convoy drove up, the last of the gunships had already turned and headed back to Houston Intercontinental Airport, the main base of the SAS. Tuckerís men rushed in all directions to provide comfort to the wounded.

By October 2093, Tucker was still a hunted man. But he was a man with vengeance on his mind.

Having learned of a vulnerability in one of the helicopter gunships, he positioned men with appropriate weapons on the roofs of a number of buildings, as well as along strategic avenues. Then he made known to one of the SAS informants, code-named "Lincoln," who was known to be following him, that he would be meeting twenty of his lieutenants and advisors in the Radisson Astrodome hotel.

On the afternoon of 3 October 2093, elite SAS drop troops descended from hovering gunships all around the Radisson. A convoy of trucks rushed up to deploy Combat Applications personnel, who rushed the building. Twenty prisoners were taken in short order.

However, one of the drop troops had fallen without his safety equipment, and needed evac. Part of the truck convoy was deployed to rush him to Intercontinental Airport. The remaining trucks were getting set to evacuate the drop troops, the Combat Applications troops, and the prisoners. Suddenly, all hell broke loose.

One of the circling gunships had been shot down. It crashed near some apartment buildings South of the Astrodome. The pilot, co-pilot, and gunners had survived, but all were wounded. Other gunships attempted rescue, to no avail. The order was given for the truck convoy to head to the crash site.

Some of the drop troops went on foot, having arrived at the rendezvous point too late to meet the convoy. The convoy, meanwhile, found the going difficult.

Every Texan with a gun, it seemed, had converged on South Central Houston. They were running from street to street, using parking lots and alleys, and they were laying fire into the convoy as fast as they could. Bolt action rifles, M1 carbines, SKS rifles, M16s, Mini-14s, pistols, grenades, rocket propelled grenades, the array of militia weapons was awesome. That convoy of enemy troops was torn up and sent packing.

A second gunship was shot down. In fact, over the course of about a week, seven of these gunships would be attacked, though all but two would limp back to the base at Intercontinental Airport. The retreating convoy attempted to rendezvous at the second crash site, but failed. The pilot of this aircraft was taken prisoner after a fierce gunfight that left the other crew dead.

It was no longer just Tuckerís men. Neighborhood patrols were out in force. Home owners, business owners, shop keepers, everyone was on the streets. Texans had come from all over the countryside to fight against the aggressors. They fought against the gunships, they fought against the troops on the ground, and they fought the convoy on the streets.

About eighty SAS troopers were left on the ground at the crash site, surrounded, cut off, and in a deadly firefight. Snipers were gaining position on them. They needed to get off the streets, right then.

Near where they were fighting was a small development of town homes. These row houses were not as large as most Houston free standing homes, but more spacious than apartments. The Combat Applications troops rushed one of these. Inside were noncombatants, who were immediately forced to the floor, tied up, gagged, and thrust into a back room. Wounded troopers were then brought in, and soon the entire force of SAS troops was holed up in three of the adjacent town homes. Not satisfied with the local architecture, they made connecting holes through some of the walls, so they could move about freely.

Darkness had fallen while these events were taking place. A long night lay ahead.

Armored convoys, one of brigade strength, attempted to penetrate to the Astrodome area from Intercontinental Airport five times during the night. Tanks, armored cars, heavy weapons, high-caliber automatic weapons, and air support were the overwhelming advantages of the SAS and UN forces. Each convoy was fought off, fiercely, by the valiant Texans. Defending their homes and their country was now a passion. None of the convoys got through. Thousands of Texans died in the fighting.

Meanwhile, things werenít going well for the SAS troops. They could hear the approaching convoys in the distance, but each time the sounds came closer, the firefight sounds increased, and the convoy would retreat. It was frustrating. Adding poignancy to the moment, many of the wounded were at the verge of death.

One trooper had a severed femoral artery. The shrapnel from an exploding rocket propelled grenade hitting a steel-sided building near him had torn through his thigh. The upper part of the severed artery had withdrawn into the pelvis, making it impossible to stop the flow of blood. Compression was ineffective, and the supply of plasma was rapidly depleted. Helicopters dropped food, water, ammo, and more plasma, but the trooper was weak. He was going to die, anyway, so the corpsman attending cut open his leg and attempted field surgery. In the light of glow sticks and flashlights, he was unable to find the ends of the severed artery. The trooper died there in the kitchen of a hijacked home.

The Combat Applications Group of the SAS had been trained in the most severe conditions. They were used to combat, to privation, to hardship. They were also ruthless men, who had been tasked earlier in the year with the destruction of a church filled with zealots who had refused to file certain paperwork back home in South America. The church was burned to the ground, but not before one of the CAG troopers had placed a demolition charge atop the most secure part of the facility. In that "bunker" were all the women and children of the church. The reaction of the CAG troops was to shrug their shoulders and carry on. Non-combatants got killed in warfare. That was part of their job.

Knowing that the troops holed up near the Astrodome were not the major threat, Tucker and the other leaders were busy with the armored convoys. They left a few guards to keep tabs on the Astrodome group while they arranged various counter attacks against each convoy. It was difficult, because the convoy leaders chose different routes, and were often accompanied by more of the hated helicopter gunships.

Meanwhile, back at the Astrodome, it was 3:30 a.m. In military parlance, 0330. Time for people to get some rest. The few Texans left guarding the SAS troops were tired, having had a full dayís firefight. So, they didnít set up a perimeter. Non-combatants began wandering into the area, trying to get to their homes for some rest.

The CAG troops set up sniper positions with interlocking fields of fire, and began calmly gunning down these civilians. Anyone who came within range was shot, without warning. Often, due to the limitations of their new weapons, one round wasnít sufficient. One CAG trooper would later report that he put seven rounds into a civilian before he finally hit the womanís spine, paralyzing her if not killing her.

Early the morning of 4 October, a truck convoy finally made it through. The beleaguered SAS forces were rescued, hauled to the $400 million football stadium that had been built with taxpayer money at the turn of the century (and operated at a loss thereafter), and air lifted out by helicopter.

Within weeks, the entire SAS deployment was withdrawn. The UN floundered about for several more years, but by 2095, it had pulled all its troops. The relief effort and the nation building effort were at an end. North Americans would have to fend for themselves. Most were just as glad to see the UN go.

Tucker wasnít finished with his efforts, though. He declared in October 2095 that he would establish a new national government in Houston. The palace of the legislature, which had overseen so many corrupt acts, was to be refurbished. A new legislature would be elected, and Tucker would serve as president until a new government could be chosen.

As a result of this announcement, Tucker became a hunted man by all the groups in Texas. Within two weeks, he had been shot by one of his own bodyguards. Tucker was dead. Texans had done in two weeks what the UN and SAS couldnít do in three years. The next year, Dias died in his hideaway in the United Arab Emirates. North America would be abandoned by the rest of the world for another six years.

Then, at a peace conference in Tampico, Mexico, an assembly of delegates from all over North America would form a new government. They would do so, in 2100, knowing that if they did not, they would not be allowed to return home. Armed security guards were deployed around the circus tent where the assembly was conducting its discussions. To honor their UN and SAS hosts, the assembled delegates picked the most corrupt man they could find to head the "Transitional National Government" or TNG.

During the course of 2101, the TNG would operate from Houston and Corpus Christi, though by the middle of the year, their Corpus Christi base would be taken by rebels. By late 2101 it would be clear that the TNG would control only part of Houston. Their efforts to collect taxes fell flat when the tax collectors protested low pay. The seemingly endless cycle of violence would continue.

Meanwhile, in Vermont and in Seattle, things were back to normal. No central government was just fine with everyone far from the center of power. Niatirb colonialism was a distant memory, the war with Alaska was over, the war for independence from Dias was over, and the SAS troops had left Houston. Perhaps now would be a good time to build some free ports and get back to business.

_________

The story which youíve just read isnít really science fiction. It is a thinly veiled account of the events of 1960 to 2001 in Somalia. Niatirb is Britain; Barry Dias is Siad Barre; D-Day Tucker is Mohammed Farrah Aideed; the SAS is the USA; the UN is the UN; the CAG is the CAG or "Delta Force." The church in South America was actually at Mt. Carmel near Waco.

Whatís the point? The point is, the USA and the UN sent troops to a country where individuals lived. They sent troops into the homes of civilians. They sent troops to massacre non-combatants. They fired missiles into a gathering of Aideedís clansmen. They conducted a nation-building operation to recover the defaulted debt of the ousted dictator. In doing so, the UN and the USA committed war crimes. Repeatedly, egregiously, and defiantly, the UN and the USA perpetrated atrocities on the people of Somalia.

And the Somalis kicked their asses. The Somalis defended Mogadishu the way Texans would defend Houston. Placing these events in the context of a distant future, and setting them in Texas was deliberate.

Imagine your country colonized by foreigners for seventy years. The successor government left behind is corrupt. Soon, it is replaced by a military junta, then a dictator. Soon, the country is embroiled in war over disputed territory. (No, the Colonial Office wasnít run by competent men, it was run by idiots who enjoyed drawing lines without consideration for who owned what part of Africa. Dozens of conflicts and millions of deaths are the direct, personal responsibility of the men and women who ran the colonial offices of Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Belgium.)

Finally, prompted by the difficulties with the foreign war, the people rise up. Your people fight against a brutal dictator. He sends troops to a northern city and they massacre 30,000 civilians. Women and children are raped. Property is destroyed. The city is burned. The dead are left in the streets. You grow up knowing that hatred is the only appropriate emotion for this dictator and his troops.

At long last, after years of war, your side wins! The dictator flees! But famine follows. A drought has devastated your country.

Food aid arrives. It is fought over by troops in the capital. Foreigners arrive to help distribute the food, and are welcomed. The famine ends. But the foreigners stay on.

They attempt to bully your countrymen into forming a new government. You join the resistance.

You are shocked when a private and peaceful meeting is ripped apart by missiles, rockets, and cannon fire. You come to hate the men who attack from the sky. You learn to use a rocket propelled grenade launcher.

It is your country: Texas, Vermont, California, Somalia. Where you live, men in UN uniform are attacking your friends, your neighbors, your family, your home. What would you do?

I was again subjected to the PBS "Frontline" documentary "Ambush in Mogadishu" this evening. No mention of the missile attack in June on the Habr Gidr clan meeting. No mention of the atrocities perpetrated by UN and USA forces on the Somalis. The buildings in which the CAG and US Army Rangers took cover aren't identified as homes. No mention is made of the Somali families made captive because their homes were handy for shelter. Lies are told about the estimates of Somali dead. Some seven thousand dead and wounded were the Somali casualties of the UN occupation of Mogadishu from 1993 to 1995.

Combatants and non-combatants get killed in war. Those are the facts. Every once in a while, the individuals fighting for their homes and freedom defeat the butchers and tyrants. We should celebrate these occasions as best we may. The Somalis remember 3 October as "Ma-alinti Rangers" or the Day of the Rangers. On that day, they won a great victory. Freedom loving people everywhere should be cognizant of that victory. Nationalist and internationalist socialism is not invincible.


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