Franco-American War Part 2
THE AMERICAN DREAM
1852 brought yet another three-way election as the American Party tried to capitalize on its growing success in the agrarian West and a few other states. However, by and far the nation did not accept its agenda. The Federalists won once again, with Winfield Scott, who had been culled to gain favor with the West with younger Northerner Nicholas Frome as VP. But their victory is no indication of national consent over their policies. The industrial base of the Federalist platform is beginning to shake. The economic downturns caused by the chaos abroad converge with the populist movement by the nativist American Party. Immigrants were attacked by 'true American workers' and violence was common in the cities. Many would end up voting for the Liberty Party, those who moved up generally voted Federalist. Organized crime also began to take off in this era as cities began to grow and the labor violence confined immigrants to certain neighborhoods of them.
The vaunted Western frontier continued its steady retreat into history in the face of aggressive settlers and the steel of guns and railroads. However, Scott's administration would set up many reservations in southern Utah, away from the railroad land grants.
But as the railroad grew, the abuses of the old wing of the Federalist party became clear. The problem was not worker exploitation; it was the blatant collusion between the political aristocracy and the rail and corporate barons. As much as newspapers dressed it up as a moral issue, people were angrier about others getting rich on money they paid (albeit indirectly) rather than workers. So reform minded Federalists and the Liberty Party ran on 'anti-corruption' platforms that promised to clean up the government budget and "remove the trough Washington lays out for the modern aristocracy", in the words of Liberty Party Presidential candidate Howard Long. He wins in 1856 and takes more of New England and other traditional Federalist base areas than expected, though his victory is quite slim.
However, industry continues to chug along even after reforms are passed, if only for the revolutions in management and technology occurring earlier. The Schmidt-Herman Process, invented in 1851 by a German immigrant scientist and a US-born businessman in the metalworking industry revolutionized the industry and made the mass production of steel much cheaper. Combined with advances in the Morey Engine and the spread of the railroads, it only furthered the power of the industrial machine in the United States.
Long largely succeeds in his anti-corruption platform, though he is careful to keep the railroads working on the Trans-American line so he does not lose favor with the West. Long continued an aggressive containment policy against American natives and increased trade and relations with Latin America. He was re-elected in 1860 where he went through a rather unremarkable Presidency save for the fact that he was the last President to preside over a nation with American slaves. Blacks were largely concentrating in the more liberal areas of the industrial belt or moving farther west, away from the racial troubles of the eastern US, though many remained working as free labor in the South, supplemented by immigrants and poor whites. As wars began to break out in Europe once more, the US remained relatively quiet. But when conflict spread to Latin America, it was US armaments that helped fuel the flames, everything from Rotary Guns to Repeating Rifles were sent to both sides of the war as it went on. Long's Northern VP, Frome, wins the election in 1864 and largely continues his predecessor's policies, though the sudden resurge in colonialism by the European powers leads him to adopt a 'strong navy' policy, much to the delight of his home region's shipbuilders.
Frome wins again in 1868, and continues to expand the railroad and telegraph networks through pro-business policies rather than the more direct approach favored by Federalists. However, economic backlash strikes again from the European conflicts and some say the lack of government support was partly responsible for the recession. Federalists gain many seats back in the 1870 mid term elections.
THE GREAT GAME
In Europe at least, a lull in the fighting began, if only to re-arm for the next time. Tensions ran higher than ever though, catalyzed by the situation in Germany between the three powers of Central Europe. Emboldened by their colonial gains, many Prussians began to call for the unification of Germany and the ascendancy of Prussia to the position of dominant regional power, angered by the influence that France and Austria Hungary were exerting in the Rhineland, with some believing that both nations intended to claim some land in the weakening, leftist nation for themselves.
These events brought about a great change in the Great Power system. With both nations standing against Prussia, Austria-Hungary sided with Russia, while France, the Rhineland, and to a lesser degree Spain coalesced to form a second, if minor group. The other major alliance was between the United Kingdom and Prussia, as a classic form of British 'balancing' against the major continental powers. But war would not come to Europe. Instead, industrial power was converted towards a 'Great Game', a series of imaginary conflicts fought by politicians and generals, pins placed on maps that resulted in masses of men and war machinery being raised and deployed in an attempt to intimidate and control without provoking conflict. The British and Prussians raised a formidable force of iron: despite the lack of manpower when compared with the other nations, their technological edge was significant. Britain and Prussia were the first European nations to field the Morey Engine powered 'Battlewagons', armed with cannon and rotary guns that formed a small fortress on treads. Their naval technology was similarly advanced, and the collaboration between scientists and industrialists of the United States, Britain and Prussia grew during this era.
Russia and Austria Hungary, the 'Big Two', accelerated their efforts to industrialize on the level of their counterparts, with Russia fielding battlewagon prototypes in their suppression of the Turkmen in 1878. More importantly, Russia was uniting their country behind the 'New Rome' ideal, attempting to unite the many nations their empire encompassed behind the Orthodox religion and imperialist drive.
Their targets were Manchuria and Persia. Had they planned to fight solely for Manchuria, they would not have provoked too much international backlash. But in 1876 when oil surveyors from British Mesopotamia published their findings for a potential black gold-mine, Russia knew it would have to act soon.
Britain's quest to locate oil was a bit of strategic foresight on their part. As the Suez Canal was completed and opened in 1872, the British began to look for other strategic real estate in the Middle East. After fighting a brief conflict to take over most of the Arabian Peninsula; the British dotted the region with territories and client states. While the Turks objected from their small corner of the area, it was of no use. Their dilapidated regime stood no realistic chance against the British military.
The re-colonization of India continued, but unfortunately plans to expand territorial rule met resistance from Indians, especially Muslims who were angered over Britain's treatment of nations in the 'Holy Land'. The status quo of client states manipulated and exploited by European powers continued.
Britain also extended its grip on Africa by colonizing its coast with the Red Sea, while the Dutch expanded their own holdings in Madagascar and Tanzania.
Meanwhile Scandinavia consolidated itself against a possible war with a revived Kalmar Union, merging Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Spain and Portugal pushed deeper into Africa, though Spain was far more fervent in its suppression of the native populations than the latter. The Spain-Italies-France group hoped to not just expand their possessions in Africa, as France began to do in Libya, but to control the Mediterranean once more, as a way to gain clout with Britain, whose Suez Canal would become an ever-more-important factor in world trade, especially with the number of nations colonizing the Indian Ocean region and the growing importance of the Middle East.
But the European powers had yet to fight each other, and few recognized the potential size of the conflict should the Generals' and Ministers' hypothetical scenarios ever become reality.
THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
East Asia was not exempt from the political and military maneuvering of the era. After an abortive conflict with the Taiping, China found itself under the heel of the Tsar and his East Asian forces. Testing his strength, the Tsar launched his campaign into Manchuria early in 1875, gobbling some of the decrepit Empire's territory.
Japan seemed in no better condition, and after hearing of the Russian invasion and subversion of Chinese rule in Manchuria, declared that it would go back to seclusion, attempting to expel the trading powers to more controllable locations. The plan did not work. Prussian, British, and American merchantmen used their superior firepower to effectively destroy the Japanese capability to carry through with its threat. Rather than conducting a coup and formally ending the Japanese government, the Treaty of Tokyo effectively divided Japan into different 'spheres of influence'.
In South Africa, the British attempts to crack down on the strong Boer Republics met serious resistance. While the British effectively controlled the Cape, the Boers stood between them and expansion to the north. Rather than start a war and with the bitter aftertaste of the Indian Rebellion still strong, the British instead turned the Boer Republics into client states that gave them some internal autonomy but made any further expansion the task of the British government first.
The arduous and often deadly task of completing the Nicaragua canal continued throughout this decade, but Nicaraguans were starting to wonder how much the canal would benefit them when compared with the UK and US who would own the actual canal. There were some rumblings of revolution, but the presence of US troops and mercenaries would ensure (hopefully for the powers) that the 'anglos' would control the trade through the nation.
The Republic of the Rio Grande began to thrive, as its plentiful supplies of coal and oil ensured not only the strongest industry between Brazil and the US, but a lucrative stake in the petroleum sector. Mexico was also starting to industrialize, albeit much more slowly. Civil war erupted in 1874 when Santa Anna's handpicked successor was killed, some Mexicans wanted a worker's democracy similar to Rhineland or France, but there was no resolution to the conflict apparent by 1880, though it appeared the conservative elements manifested in Mexico City's oligarchy would prevail.
Brazil reformed nearly everything but their slave laws throughout the decade, making the Emperor ever weaker and reducing the influence of social liberals in the nation. For Brazilian liberals, they were caught in a bind. While they opposed the increasing power of the slave lobby, if their fully democratic reforms were completed then the conservatives would only gain more power. The moderating power of the Emperor would be useless. Once respected, the bloody cost of Brazil's wars and the growing power of the landowners was beginning to be disruptive to Brazil's government. But stability was maintained.
THE BREAKING POINT
In 1881, Western Asia was controlled by a mere two powers. And with the discovery of petroleum and its new use, combined with the strategic location of the region, it was the new strategic prize for the late 19th Century. Both had conflicting goals and visions, both were the contenders for the greatest empire of the day. As much as Britain tried to balance the powers of the world, it had been unable or unwilling to stop Russia's march through Central Asia since their loss of India. With an economic development they were unlikely to foresee, the consequences of that negligence were now manifested in Afghanistan.
Russian troops launched an invasion of the country and were able to push the Afghanis back easily, but the real prize remained Persia, promising a gateway to the Indian Ocean, a stake in the region's oil wealth, and a barrier to British expansion eastward. The forces assembled were the culmination of decades of military-industrial reform and imperial exuberance. And in the spring of 1881, they marched south from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan into Persia.
The Russians were excellently prepared for the fighting, while Persia's army was weak and outdated. Artillery and experienced mountain troops overwhelmed Persian defenders; new weapons like the machine gun were psychologically devastating to the Persian troops whose government only possessed a handful of Rotary Guns. Siege was laid to the major Persian cities, when defenses could not be broken were crushed under battlewagon treads. Such a weapon under skilled command was almost invincible in this situation. The Russians knew trench warfare well and knew how to break it with their 'Iron Beasts'.
Britain began to supply the Persian military, or what was left of it, with arms, but they could not supply Persia with effective military leadership. Tehran fell in late 1882, and when they declared that they would make all Persia their dominion, Britain finally declared war. Anticipating this, the Mediterranean Fleet of Russia, the best in the nation attacked their British counterparts in Egypt and blockaded the Suez Canal, knowing that they would not be able to defeat the Royal Navy once its full force was arrayed against them, but stalling for time in hopes of turning Persia into a fortress against any possible aggressor.
By the time Britain had re-cleared the Suez and mobilized troops to Mesopotamia in adequate numbers, they launched a serious counter attack into the heart of Persia. Unfortunately for Britain, they were not prepared for the Russian defense. While dismissing machine guns and artillery as 'highly overrated' due to their 'ingenious battlewagons and brave soldiers' as one British commander put it, they were sadly mistaken. The British Battlewagons, better designed for Britain's colonial campaigns than fighting in a full-out trench war, were destroyed by their Russian equivalents or modified light naval guns, the first anti-battlewagon guns to be used in combat. The Russian battlewagons were far better suited to this sort of warfare, used in devastatingly efficient combined-arms tactics to retake Persia's border with Mesopotamia and secure it yet again against British attack. The Russians built their defenses intensively and carefully, for they believed this would be the final line of combat.
Prussia, of course, had fulfilled its obligations with Britain and attacked towards St. Petersburg, again meeting the guns and trenches of Russia. While Russia had far less battlewagons than Prussia and Britain, they were used more efficiently and they were arguably more advanced and powerful. Nevertheless, the advance stalled in the winter of 1882 and fighting was pushed back to the Baltic territories by 1883, primarily due to Austria-Hungary's invasion of Prussia's south.
Britain had balanced the powers perhaps too well. Russia knew its limits and turned to solidifying them rather than expanding them, and while Austria-Hungary's invasion of Prussia was ineffective at capturing territory, it was certainly effective at grinding the European front of the conflict to a halt. A cease-fire was signed in '83, but both sides planned on using it to re-arm instead of accepting peace.
THE FIRST ANGLO-RUSSIAN WAR
Selected Extracts from British and American newspapers
IVAN RUNS FOR THE HILLS
WHY WE MUST FIGHT
THE TRIUMPH OF STEEL
The rest of the world seemed on the brink of war, but in the United States the situation seemed closer to that of a civil war. Almost every aspect of politics seemed to be coming apart in a frightening way. The American Party soon gave way to the 'American Progressive Party' in the election of 1872, realizing that without solidarity among workers they had no chance of success. But still some of the racist elements of the party persisted, and while it took a fairly good chunk of the electoral vote in 1872, the reformed Federalist Party had beaten the Liberty Party at their own game. While the Liberty Party had previously done well in the Presidential election, it was faltering in the legislature due to unpopular decisions on Western policy and military positions. The younger Liberty Party also found itself facing serious problems in terms of foreign policy; their more Jeffersonian views were not popular with a nation that was starting to feel the tug of Jingoism. Similarly, business leaders were disappointed with their reluctance to create a favorable international environment for trade. Combined with accusations of corruption during the Frome Presidency, it was Edward Marshall of the Federalist Party who took the nation's highest office that year. Marshall would stray a bit farther left economically than the Liberty Party, believing the growing unrest lead by the American Progressive Party could be harmful to the nation's economy as a whole. In 1873 he would allow limited coinage of silver in a weaker form of bimetallism, but overall his policies were very pro-business. He was re-elected in 1876 as the Liberty Party continued to falter.
By 1876 Indian reservations were growing smaller and smaller, while industry was dominant. Increasingly efficient systems of production and management had made business magnates as powerful as Presidents, who in turn would use their abilities to negotiate favorable trade arrangements throughout the Western Hemisphere. Public consumerism was also beginning to surface, with motorwagons growing in popularity for reaching the remote areas that the railroads had yet to reach. Favorable legislation to increase the population of non-agrarian land sales in turn helped the sales of motorwagons for businesses that set up in these areas. But by now, the allure of silver had worn off for the populist and progressive wings, who realized that limited bimetallism on its own was not a cure but a distraction. Labor riots in 1878 both energized and discredited the movement and further divided America into two economic camps. While young populist-progressives like Jon Kunitz wrote manifestos and organized local movements, the new capitalist intellectual class pumped out tracts like Neil Adams' American Commerce that took elements of Matthew's theories and applied them to the economy with the history of 'American individualism'.
Organized crime rocked the cities, and to some it was the sign of the 'moral corruption' of America. This era of US history was marked by various moral crusades to limit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, mostly on the state level.
In 1880, the American Progressive Party finally gets their wish and takes the Presidency. Unfortunately for them, they lack a majority in the legislature at the time, making President Harold Lieber's first two years difficult ones. But when the free coinage of silver began in 1883, it came at a bad time. The economic downturn induced by the Anglo-Russian War and the failures of several companies and banks both in the US and abroad. While some of Lieber's standards, such as health and safety regulations and the standard for agricultural protectionism on the international market remained, the United States returned to the gold standard in 1884 with Federalist Calvin Roberts. Americans believed that new markets and new expansion would be a lasting cure for their economic woes. Now the pre-Lieber policy of trade was becoming infused with the original Federalist tenet of expansion. The logical targets seemed to lie to the East…
THE NEW IMPERIALISM
The economic downturns caused by the war had started to drive some nations towards imperialistic expansion, even the more 'peaceful' ones. Spain continued its march through the Sahara and Western Africa, and France began to set up small 'Republics that were colonies in all but name. While France claimed to be egalitarian, like most European nations prejudices about Africa ran high. Prussia began to move in on Central Africa after reports of diamond and gold, but their campaigns against the Kongo Empire were stalled after the war broke out with Russia.
Outside of the warring alliances though, things were outwardly peaceful on the continent. Italy was reunited at long last, but Britain began to deal with the shocks created by the war. While British citizens had been fed stories of glory and victory the fact that all of Persia was in Russian hands by the war's end told a very different story. Labor protests and peace demonstrations began to rise, and the true cost of the wars and Britain's lack of preparation for modern great power conflict was laid bare. Leftist movements seemed poised to take over the streets and Parliament as well, and more conservative Britons were beginning to wonder if their fate would be similar to that of France or Germany. But by 1885 news of a new threat from Russia was already emerging: stories of Canadians being killed in Alaska and the Tsar turning his attention to East Asia. Prussia's leadership was also shrinking away from its old policies, with Wilhelm II's ascendancy in 1884 came new policies focused more on increasing power in Germany than fighting Russia, the breakup of the alliance system Britain had worked to create was no more reassuring. Realizing that their next campaign would focus more on East Asia, the British would now have to work on creating a new power base to stop Russia there. One of the more embarrassing factors was that they could not rely on the Middle Eastern clients for support, most of them were not interested in fighting for Shiite Muslims and Britain's memories of India meant that they wanted their own soldiers, not locals, to do the fighting.
So Britain began to pump aid to China, hoping to make it a client, with China forming new armies equipped and trained up to Western standards. In reality, Britain was very pessimistic about the chances of China standing up to Russia, but they were more optimistic about a victory in Alaska. So now the theater of conflict moved to the Pacific Rim.
In South America, Chile fought another war of expansion against Peru, while Brazil continued its program of modernization. Pedro II, however, was beginning to use his moderating power to try and restrict slavery, infuriating the conservatives. Plots were already hatching to bring about a new, conservative dominated Republic at the time of Pedro's death.
THE BLOODY PACIFIC
Russia continued its aggressive policies both internally and externally. Domestically Russia enforced political unity, with the Church working to homogenize and convert Russia's conquests. While these efforts seemed to work fairly well in Eastern Europe and the older Central Asian possessions, Russia knew it could not hope to push them on its clients in Persia and Afghanistan. However, with the Middle East 'secured', Russia began to push their second axis of advance further into Manchuria in 1886, sweeping aside the 'reformed' Chinese forces with ease. Though Russia had reinforced Alaska with additional naval and land forces, Britain declared war on the Tsar that year and launched a naval attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet, winning several victories in the Aleutians. In the spring of that year, the British attacked along with the United States, each allied to the other in name, but each also hoping to get more of the Alaskan territory than the other nation. The semi-independent Canadian Confederation was still a bit angry with the government's strict controls on Canada. The hoped-for liberal government simply did not arrive. Britain decided that Alaska would be administered as a separate entity from Canada, angering Canadians who wanted it for the Confederation. Citing the Slavic influences in Alaska, many Eastern European immigrants in western Canada began to rail for greater political autonomy as well, and in due time so did the Quebecois. However, these movements were frowned upon by the Canadian Confederation government, which believed all of British North America should be unified and whole. During the war, the many volunteer groups of pioneer-soldiers from the States were encouraging Alaskan independence both inside their native land and in Alaska. Many Alaskans were also more interested in continuing their business interests rather than being pushed out by a hypothetical British monopoly, and they too supported the independence movement, if quietly.
The actual war went quite slowly, because with winter came an effective halt to any fighting. But by 1890 Russia had lost any vestige of control over their Alaskan colony. No treaty was signed, because Russia was still at war in Asia against China. The conflict there saw Russia gobble up Mongolia as a client and even more of Manchuria before China gave in during the fall of 1891. Russia, Britain, and China signed yet another treaty, this time to establish Russia's gains in China (in exchange for some monetary compensation) and Russia's loss of Alaska. However, the war did have profound political effects. It tarnished the invincible myth of the British navy when Britain took significant losses to the Russian fleet in the North Pacific later in the war. It triggered political debate in Canada and established Alaska as a jointly-occupied polity slated for independence. The experience gained in the war also helped improve the well equipped but green Chinese forces, which would later aid them in their wars to retake the Taiping Kingdom, and it consolidated Russia's position as a major player in Asian affairs. The war also gave the final spark to bring the US into the race for imperial power by showing the strategic importance of the Pacific. The increased reliance on the West by China also sowed seeds for Chinese nationalist movements and increased hegemonic influence in China by the West itself.
THE ASPIRING POWER
Roberts, a somewhat more progressive Federalist, maintains some of the institutions left behind by Lieber but immediately joins in against Russia with Britain on an expansionist platform, hoping to establish Alaska as a satellite state, if not a US one. He also gave implicit approval to the corporate-backed coup by American settlers in Hawaii in 1886 and annexed the islands at the end of his second term. The election of 1888 brings in noted economist and businessman Neil Adams. While his policies bring in economic growth, some begin to worry that the poor and working class is being left behind by his adherence to classical liberalism and 'American Individualism'. Adams also cut the tariff in his second term during the economic boom he is largely credited with. However, while some find Adam's corruption-free, outsider politics refreshing, the hard-line Federalists are dissatisfied with his 'lack of imperial drive', while he carried on the war with Russia at the behest of his Secretary of War, he did not pursue further campaigns at a time when some were calling for further Pacific expansion.
One thing the Federalists at the time did near-universally was tone-down or reject the 'morality politics' espoused by the APP. Both the populist and progressive rings of the party supported prohibition of alcohol and to a lesser extent, women's suffrage. Contrary to the progressive movements abroad and the Hegelian collectivists in Germany and France, the APP appeased the populist wing by promoting 'Christian values' and justified their welfare policies using the Bible.
In 1891 a drought and a slight recession caused by a disruption in the agrarian sector brought about an APP victory on the shoulders of the west with Illinois native Alfred Smithers rising to the office of President in 1893. However, many of his laws designed to reduce the power of trusts and tax income and the "stock tax" (an early version of the Capital Gains Tax) were undermined or declared outright unconstitutional by the strongly pro-business Supreme Court. Decrying the judicial activism by an "aristocratic elite of pro-trust mouthpieces", there were murmurings of a Constitutional amendment not only to make the APP taxes effective, but to reduce the power of the judiciary. Naturally the political spinsters of the Federalist Party seized on the opportunity to decry the APP as 'disrespectful to the idea of checks and balances' and invoked their status as the "Party that forged the Constitution". But while the APP was derailed in the other branches, they held on to the Presidency in 1896.
On the state level, the entire continental US were states by 1896, a factor partially responsible for the success of the APP in the Presidential elections. This also signaled another milestone in American history: The last of the Indian Wars had come to a tragic close. While the 'true progressive' wing of the APP opposed harsh treatment of the natives, the populist wing knew that Western voters would not tolerate a soft policy in this area. So the once proud peoples of North America were confined to reservations, dependent on Federal aid they rarely received enough of to subsist on.
Many state governments were picking up on the morality based movements the Federal government would not. 1896 saw an ever-dryer US, in the South and Midwest, while the coasts and Middle States chose local regulations or no prohibition at all. Women's suffrage was also expanding at somewhat slower pace; in socially conservative New England especially there was limited suffrage or no suffrage at all.
The affluent middle and upper class of America now enjoyed new luxuries. Electricity was widely available and making inroads West, and the development of both public transportation (subways and trolleys) and private vehicles (motorwagons were now becoming practical for personal use) made city and country life easy. Telephone use was growing at quick pace and newer technologies like vacuum tube based wireless telephones was one marvel among many that was intriguing the American people.
But perhaps the most remarkable new device was the wingcraft, the concept invented by a pair of motorwagon designers in the Republic of the Rio Grande and further refined with American capital. While airships had been around since the 1870s, the potential of these new machines enticed many military thinkers.
A NEW ERA
Despite their loss of Alaska, Russia's successful campaigns in China were one of many factors used to boost Russian morale through the end of the 19th Century. However, in 1897 Tsar Alexander III dies, and Peter IV takes the throne. His policy is of consolidation rather than expansion, and making Russia a 'hub' for international relations rather than an antagonist. He envisioned a world where Russia was a center for world commerce, and as a result conducted policies that furthered Russian business and industrialization, though many accused him of installing cronies in charge of the new corporations and factories. Peter IV was also the first Russian tsar who seriously considered the 'rights gap' between Europe and Russia. However, his intentions were not entirely benign. Independence movements in Finland and the Ukraine especially were troubling him, though they had yet to gain much strength. He hoped by both encouraging pro-Russian settlement in these areas and instituting some semi-democratic reforms, he could calm those who claimed Russia was too oppressive, including the collectivists who were influenced by Western European governments by creating a new Duma, abolished by his namesake in the 1700s.
As part of his wish to make Russia more internationally respected nation, Peter tried to make amends with the United States and the Republic of Alaska, and to a lesser extent with Britain. Believing that the Americans were more concerned with "profits than politics", he believed that they could be swayed, over time, from the British sphere of influence. Especially because of the imperialist aims of the Federalist Party, Russia wasn't interested in making an enemy of what some thought could be a future great power should it be roused out of its comparative isolationism.
China looked to rebuild nationalist sentiment by fighting a war with the even more dilapidated Taiping Kingdom, and was victorious in the closing years of the 19th century. However, China was facing internal problems. Though the Taipings had been brought back under Chinese control after years of whittling away at their power, the fact that the war had made them more reliant on Western nations, and the Imperial government's reluctance to take action against them, was troubling to many. As a result, many Chinese were entertaining ideas of a new Chinese Republic, nationalist and free from outside influence. It seemed the Imperial government's latest victory would be its last.
In Europe, the devotion of resources to colonization rather than continental warfare kept the peace between the nations. However, within them was another matter. Austria-Hungary's uncontested dominance of the Balkans was beginning to weaken, and in Britain, the death of Queen Victoria in 1899 brought about many new questions about Britain's new direction. Though the new King promised to keep up the policies of his predecessor, the British people were not so sure that it was a good idea. Many already thought Britain was paying too much attention to foreign ventures rather than its own problems, and that the traditional liberal movements were closer to free market policies than pro-labor ones. As a result, in 1897 the People's Party was formed.
However, the 'new threat of collectivism' was beginning to alarm Europe, as the two industrialized collectivist nations, the French Republic and the Rhineland, were accused of exporting their ideals elsewhere. Prussia's conservative society was grappling with a growing revolutionary movement, and French-influenced Italy began to feel the tugs of collectivist influence.
Despite the calls for 'people's governments', collectivist movements did little to stop the colonialist policies of the European nations. Where colonies existed, they were expanded, and Italy took it upon itself to take Lebanon, and eventually the Holy Land, from the Ottoman Empire. France, Spain, and surprisingly the Kalmars expanded holdings in West Africa.
The variety of medical advances made in studying the health problems spawned by the jungle work on the Nicaragua Canal had also begun to speed inroads into Central Africa, where previously European settlements had failed. The semi-autonomous Boer Republics, with British permission and guidance, pushed north, while the 'Prussian Kongo' was recognized as a legitimate territorial claim. Tales of immense resources meant that whoever could establish their power in Central Africa effectively would likely be the richer for it. But the wars to penetrate into the most independent part of Africa were fraught with danger for the European imperial powers. Despite technological advantages in arms and medicine, the tenacity of the region's cultures and wildlife meant that it would be years before the European powers truly controlled the region.
THE GREAT EXPERIMENTS
Some historians will say that the election of 1896 was a greater blow to the party's platform than any other factor. The emboldened APP was pitted against a Supreme Court and legislature balancing against it, yet Smithers was emboldened by a second victory. He called for tariffs combined with a minimum wage to keep American workers happy and began to make murmurings about the nationalization of railroads and trust breaking later in 1897, and when the National Anti-Trust Bill and the proposed 1896 Tariff passed in the House; and stocks took a serious slump. The actual effects of the two pieces of legislature will remain unknown, but what was sure was that when so many Americans had a stake in big business and their interests, it would be reflected in their votes. The Federalists gained a majority in the Senate and prevented a 2/3rds majority in the House by the APP, neither of the bills made it past the Congress. However, the initial shocks still resonated as both sides prepared for the election of 1900. Wallace Vaughn, an old guard Federalist and pro-trade advocate; took office and saw the US through a fairly uneventful period in history, marked primarily by the introduction of higher taxes on liquor and tobacco, attempting to please both the morality-oriented voters and also to deal with decreasing US revenue. But without the Trust-Acts, some Americans were appalled when the stock market picked up again and the rich industrialists were making gargantuan sums of money while many Americans were still unemployed or underpaid.
Peter Gabriel, a moderate member of the APP, won in 1904, and many moderate Federalists retained their seats. In 1905 the US Constitution was amended so that taxes on income specifically could be made without apportion. This is because in part of the efforts of Federalists, who feared that the government might institute capital transfer or inheritance taxes that were claimed to be 'unhealthy for business'. Nevertheless, tax rates were not abused or turned into direct redistribution as feared by many hard-line Federalists. He also encourages Women's Suffrage, and in 1907 another Constitutional amendment is passed to guarantee all American citizens over 21 the right to vote. However, things begin to shake up with European problems once again, and the wave of immigration leads Gabriel's successor, former Vice President Zachary Johannes to institute reductions in US quotas all around during the ensuing economic troubles, claiming 'American jobs must come first' and believing that while Americans were unemployed, they should not allow exploitation of immigrant labor.
Further South, Mexico's populist revolutionary government established control over the entire nation, and had even taken control of the Yucatan Republic as a 'semi-autonomous province'. Now, their sights were set on the small but wealthy Republic of the Rio Grande, first with revolutionary propaganda in hopes of destabilizing the government.
Elsewhere in Latin America, Pedro II passed away in 1897, and in response the conservative elements of Brazil created a 'Brazilian Federal Republic', one that gave power towards the Federal government and the industrial, slaveholding aristocracy. This resulted in a collectivist revolt by Brazil's free laborers and progressives, who believed only a radical ideology would save Brazil from descending into another industrial slave power state. Because of this, their main targets were the industrial, commercial, and upper-class organs of Brazil, and many elements of Brazil's own armed forces supported the Brazilian revolutionary movement. Peru invades its former territory in Brazil as a response, while Chile and Argentina both attempt to make land and power grabs in the guise of 'stabilization'. Both are not eager to see a strong Brazilian state either way and the European and US interests both dictate that collectivism must be stopped. In fact, US corporations hire mercenaries and, during the Vaughn administration, with US military backing, intervene in several Central American Republics (and Orinoco) to maintain their own interests, while Britain uses Argentina and the US to protect theirs.
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING
The trouble ultimately started when Prussia invaded the Rhineland, a reactionary effort that would, supposedly, unify the German nations and the Prussian people behind the cause of the government. Believing that 'a good war, like strenuous exercise, keeps nations strong', the leadership of Prussia sent battlewagons were storming across the Rhineland Republic border by 1907, justifying their war outwardly with desires for 'unification' and 'containing the collectivist threat'. Hypothesizing that the values of the Rhineland would make them weak-kneed pacifists who would quickly knuckle under in a real conflict, while the Rhineland was unable to effectively hold back Prussia, their resistance was quite effective and bought enough time for the French forces to move in and defend what was once their client.
However the Prussian war seemed to have the opposite effect as planned domestically. The global economic slump in industrial nations combined with the growing popularity of radical and left wing causes had left much of Germany's working and fighting age population disgruntled with current policies. Meanwhile, the talk of unifying the 'German race' was quite disconcerting to the Poles and Baltic peoples who lived under Prussian rule. Labor federations protested the war when the government tried to justify pro-production policy by strikebreaking, and the strong monarchy was called a 'blot on the face of Europe' by Prussian Republicans.
This menagerie of opposition groups in Prussia would be the greatest stumbling block to the war. In industrial cities, Prussian labor protests were ordered to be struck down, ironically by drafted Prussians, who themselves were wary of the government's motives. The war stretched on, inconclusively at best. Though a complete war of attrition was avoided, neither side could dominate the Rhineland. Britain threw in their support of Prussia in 1908 when it was decided by Conservative leadership that 'a collectivist alliance spanning the Pyrenees to Poland is unacceptable'. While British naval support was able to fend off French attempts to blockade the nation, they did little in helping to suppress the collectivist movement inside Prussia.
At this point, the Slavic territories of Prussia were in outright revolt, holding that being a Russian client was better than being a Prussian servant. By 1910, Prussia realized that their war effort was coming at the cost of the state itself, and a peace treaty was hammered out in Stockholm. But rather than ending bloodshed, it simply internalized it within Prussia's own borders. The loyalist troops' excesses only heightened the revolutionary fervor, and the Prussian Civil War began in earnest. France and the Rhineland (and to a lesser extent Austria-Hungary) fed support into the revolutionaries while Britain did the opposite. Though American reporters like Jon Kunitz pleaded for the APP leadership in America to intervene against Prussia, while conservative and pro-market writers and much of the business-dominated news industry favored the British position of 'containment'. Though a few eccentrics on both sides volunteered service or support towards either faction, their efforts were ultimately negligible. In 1911 Berlin was under siege by the Republicans, who ran the gamut from classical liberal thinkers to hard-line collectivists, and by the next year the Prussian monarchy reigned only in name, having fled to England. A moderate collectivist government took power and aligned itself with the French and Rhineland for support, believing they were all victims of the old monarchy.
In other corners of Europe, different wars dominated these years. The Slavic rebellions in Austro-Hungarian territory were widely supported by the Tsar, who believed his nation's former ally was weak. War was officially declared by Austria-Hungary in 1909 against Russia, and Russia responded by sending soldiers across the border. Two years later, when Austria-Hungary saw what war had done to Prussia, decided to give up some of its land in the Balkans, and Russia agreed.
IT CAME TO THIS: SELECTED WRITINGS FROM THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
"It is here that the true fallacy of militarist commercialism can be found: No humane or just system will force workers to make the guns that will shoot down their brothers" (Death of an Empire, Kunitz)
"We have been given so called 'progressive' Presidents, and yet there is not a bit of sympathy in our government for those on the continent and in the colonial power's conquests… Ignorance of our fellow men has become a prerequisite for American progress. Ignorance of our fellow men has soiled the meanings of our own ideas. Ignorance of our fellow men has turned our progressivism into nationalism and selfishness, and ignorance of our fellow men will take a toll on our movement. Progressivism can never be about one nation. It must take up the cause of humanity or it will fail" (Death of an Empire, Kunitz)
"This so called 'progress' is nothing more than a front for collectivism, and some at least have enough honor to candidly admit to that. But this nation cannot become just another pawn in the collectivist game by staying at home. The so called 'pacifist' compatriots of the progressives have colonized West Africa, they have stirred revolt in Brazil, and they are grinding the opposition to their new government in Prussia with twice the enthusiasm of the old Kaiser" (Sen. Jacob Maynard, F-NJ)
"… If you don't mind, I think this nation's gone soft. European nations are rising and falling and they are getting more vicious than ever. Barring an outbreak of good sense in this country's foreign policy, they will be turning their sights on our hemisphere next. They don't see to have much of a problem with fighting their military equals, and without a strong force of our own and a consolidation, we will be the experiment in liberty that was" (Gen. Horace Walden, US Army)
"The so-called great civilizations of the world are built on the backs of the wretched, the neglected, and the ignorant, told that carrying the burden is a freedom and a privilege as they are ground into the dirt" (Political activist Albert Richards)
American businessmen were fed up with APP rule, and combined with the government's isolationist tendencies that kept it out of South America and Central America under those administrations. And while corporate mercenaries could certainly fight in the smaller nations of the world, Brazil's civil war was another problem entirely. The US could not pick a side, to choose the Republicans would be to choose the slaveocrats of Old Brazil, to choose collectivism would be considered by many as a betrayal of American values. Especially with the post-war European 'Collectivist Scare', some Americans were unwilling to support the existing sides. However, there was one moderate choice, an idea floated by the British, to create a liberal Republic in the south of Brazil where a proper mix of resources and 'willing men' might make it a success compared to the more conservative and resource-scarce regions. The Brazilian issue was used as a plank in the Federalist 1912 platform, and surprisingly enough it was the old President Wallace Vaughn who was re-elected by a slim margin. He put strong interventionist Edgar Fitzpatrick as Secretary of War and waited as reports of atrocities in Brazil by the 'immoral factions' of the collectivists and the slave-holding authoritarians dominated the presses. Less advertised was Brazil's position as a continental power and a strategic market. The papers were also filled with reports of the scrappy, courageous liberal republican fighters in the South, though they did not mention they already had the backing of most of the other South American nations.
However, Congress would approve the US intervention in Brazil for whatever the reason, and soon American troops were deployed into Rio Grande do Sul, which was guarded by British and Argentine soldiers. The war also marked the first use of combat aircraft in the Americas, which were used by the UK and the US for scouting and 'raiding' missions throughout the country. While this move had garnered the support of pro-Europe Chile, Peru and Gran Colombia wanted more territory or client republics that would serve in their interest. Meanwhile, despite the best efforts of all other parties, the collectivists in the Amazon region had taken a firm grip on the nation and few were willing to expend the resources and lives to remove them. As part of the complex negotiations, Southern and Eastern Brazil was organized into the Republic of Brazil, the Guyana was granted independence and given a chunk of former Brazil to offset the creation of the Republic of Amazonas, the collectivist state in the empire, and various other regions under de facto control of other nations were given to their respective conquerors. The two year finale to the long Brazilian Civil War was over in 1914, but the stage for a new war had been set. Things within the Brazilian Republic were already going to need a great deal of management: the emancipation of the slaves and the crackdown on the hated slave-holding class would require heavy military presence for some time yet.
It was not a true peace, because the United States especially knew that they could not let collectivism become a serious force in Latin America and still maintain their new hegemony over the region. There was, in fact, an assassination attempt against Amazonas Council Leader Gilberto Covas by mercenaries believed to be in the employment of the United States in 1915.
In Mexico, the new government issued the "Declaration for Mexican Justice", the most notable section of which called for a return of the former Mexican territories of Baja California and the Rio Grande Republic to Mexican rule. Meanwhile, Mexican guerillas launched attacks into the Republic of the Rio Grande, especially attacking the oil companies and railroads in the area. These actions resulted in a 'unified security perimeter' along Mexico's northern border by both nations, and by 1914 the US was at war again, penetrating deep into Mexican territory with mechanized cavalry to rout out the guerilla forces. Mexico declared this a violation of sovereignty, but neither nation officially declared war. Around this time many US critics began to say that the Mexican government was adopting the 'authoritarian tendencies typical of collectivist movements' and tried to establish a link between Mexico and the 'collectivist threat'. Many of the more radical constituents of the APP were blacklisted by the group to maintain the party's stability, and as a result these splinter groups formed the Labor Unity Party in 1916, though their split of voters actually gave Vaughn his re-election in that year. However, the fracture within the APP voting bloc was not entirely responsible for his victory. In this time of international turmoil, many believed Vaughn was strong enough on foreign policy to stave off the myriad of threats to American interests and the 'American way of life', both real and imagined.
The last few corners of the world were annexed, lost, won and bargained for in what many collectivists called 'the final stage of imperialism'. There was, quite simply, little left to conquer on Earth that was not in the hands of another power or their ally. With the instability in Brazil came a final rush for Southeast Asia, where the British and other colonial powers established new rubber plantations there quite successfully. The British and Portuguese also made several forays into India, where two states had finally established themselves as the powers in the inland regions emerged, one, to the west, was the Hindustan Confederation, while to the East lay the Magadha Kingdom. Other significant entities included the Uttar region, which was slowly becoming more integrated with the Confederation, and the Punjab Empire. The westernmost regions of former India had been re-conquered, and with enemies seeming to press on all sides, the Hindi population of India was looking towards unification as a solution to preventing further imperial encroachment. With virtually no access to ports and reliant on colonial powers for trade, the late 1900s provided the Hindi states with an opportunity to form a prospective 'Hindi Union', which incidentally lead to Punjab seeking closer relations with the West, particularly Russia.
Elsewhere, the anger against imperialism was manifesting itself in a different way. The Italian invasion of the Levant and near taking of Jerusalem lead to an outbreak of Islamist sentiment in the Middle East, with many from the British clients in the Middle East volunteering to fight the Italians in their territories. The movement against colonial organizations was popular among Sunnis in Egypt and Arabia, who called for the British to remove their presence from the 'holy land'. Though British forces themselves went nowhere near Mecca or Medina, they were the de facto rulers of Egypt, which held the two regions under its jurisdiction. Though there were occasional attacks, there was nothing serious enough to make the British truly stand up and take notice.
That changed in the 1910s when some Islamist Nationalist leaders began to meet take after collectivist radicals who had engineered and fought in the Prussian Revolution. This finally came to full attention of the British Empire in 1914, when Italian soldiers captured Arabian radical leaders along with a collectivist 'advisor' from Rhineland in the Levant. However, outright war after 1912 simply did not occur. Most nations instead focused on rebuilding their arsenals and keeping a firm grip on any covert or revolutionary activity provoked by the 'other side'.
China went through periods of continuing turmoil until 1916, when surprisingly quick revolution dethroned the Emperor who had become acquiescent to the demands of Westerners, and created a highly nationalist Chinese Republic. The following year, the new government was fighting to maintain control over the Muslim populations in the west and Tibet. South Africa received independence with a Dominion status, with the various semi-autonomous republics expressing their own desires through a semi-federalist system. However, the United Republics remained largely subservient to the British.
The remnants of the conservative Prussians fled the country after scares of a 'purge', and the colonies of Prussia remained staunchly conservative, with the 'Imperial Prussian Kongo' becoming a new nerve center for the conservative Prussian movement, though life in the colony was nowhere near the quality that had once been experienced in Prussia.
The 1910s were also marked by a good deal of political intrigue, with the possession of three industrial nations in Europe and footholds in South America, the collectivist movement could no longer be taken lightly. Britain, Russia, and Austria-Hungary formed a secret alliance after Italy began to slide towards collectivism. The United States was later informed of this pact and implicitly agreed as it prepared to suppress anti-Western and collectivist movements in its own hemisphere. The Untied States also formed the Special Tasks Group, a covert branch of the military for counter-revolutionary and collectivist operations in Latin America, which worked in conjunction with, and sometimes against, their governments to ensure that they remained firmly out of the collectivist camp. It was a time of peace, overall, but a dark one as the new decade dawned.
In the United States, it was a time of unparalleled prosperity and unparalleled paranoia. Under Vaughn the nation was a true industrial giant, with roughly 31% of world industrial output when Vaughn left office in 1921. Vaughn was succeeded by fellow Federalist and former Secretary of State Benjamin Kramer, who worked to secure greater ties with Britain and Russia alike while continuing Vaughn's popular domestic policies. Not being the hard-liner on economic policies like his predecessor, he discouraged explicitly anti-union policies and reminded that the government should neither help nor hinder big corporations, declaring that "Our economy is self-regulating and self-sufficient, we need only ensure opportunity and things will work themselves out equitably".
The US, along with Rio Grande, continued the quasi-war with Mexico throughout this time period, and as Mexico began to restrict raids into the two nations, it also began to build up its own arms industry with help from Europe. Central American nations began to fall under Mexico's sway, nowhere was this more troubling for the US than in Nicaragua where revolutionaries plotting an overthrow of the government in one of the continent's most strategic chokepoint. The STG was involved in suppressing them there, an assassination of one of Orinoco's more left-leaning ministers, and capturing or killing 'collectivist spies and infiltrators'. The US kept the governments obedient, if not loyal, but the US knew it would need a stronger effort to root out anti-Western and anti-collectivist sentiment from the hemisphere.
In Asia, the Chinese Republic is able to prevent the secession movements in all regions save Korea and part of Tibet, which the Republic deemed was not worth the trouble of annexing. Instead, the Chinese would focus their efforts on rebuilding their military and industrial capacity for a war against Russia or Japan. Russia itself had designs on Korea and Japan, and as a result the change in government did little to improve prospects of stability in the region. Austria-Hungary was also beginning to experience some unrest from left-leaning worker's groups, and it slackens its ties to the anti-collectivist alliance. This is offset by the death of Alfonso XIII in an aircraft accident during his trip to Northern Africa, resulting in his very conservative son taking the throne in Madrid. Alfonso XIV tries to strengthen ties with Britain and puts restrictions on collectivist movements and unions, angering some of the Spanish people. In 1923, the second year of his rule, there is an assassination attempt by radicals which fails, and soon what many call a 'new Spanish inquisition' is started to root out the radical leftists from Spain. Many are sent to the harshest reaches of Spanish Africa to do manual labor while others are simply killed after a brief, if existent, trial. A second attempt on his life succeeded, when a disaffected soldier shot him during a return from a visit to the UK in 1924. During the unrest that followed, his conservative advisors requested troop presence from the United Kingdom, enraging the leftist population of Spain. The Spanish government would not end martial law until the radical leftists had been 'pacified', but the leftists would not end their efforts until troops were withdrawn. After news of British soldiers oppressing the local population, the 'Workers International Movement', considered by some to be a puppet of the French government, said that if a referendum on Spanish government would not be held and British troops not withdrawn, they would start a campaign against the 'reactionary' nations and request support from the collectivist governments around the world.
Within the UK itself, in 1917 the Irish had peaceably requested, and were granted, independence, though in return they would still be a Commonwealth member and were forced to sign a guarantee that Ireland would not ally itself with any nation that was opposing British interests.
In Austria-Hungary, a crisis similar to that unfolding in Spain was beginning to occur, though it was not quite as violent as that in Spain. Slowly, the sides were formalized and the battlegrounds were laid out. Though Britain and Russia were the two single strongest nations, the collectivist nations had nearly the same industrial output and nearly equal naval tonnage. Another problem was that both of the 'Big Two' members were reliant on expansive, but unstable empires for their massive industrial growth, and both these empires were threatened by Islamic Nationalist and East Asian independence movements, both causes that collectivists had in fact courted. There was no single cause to the war to come; it was merely a convergence of fires ignited in the strategic flashpoints of the world. At no other time had the globe been so fully polarized, and what many historians today see as the outgrowth of the Napoleonic Wars was about to come full circle with an even bloodier result.
ESCHATOLOGY PART I
"It is apparent that the benevolence and caring we call 'humanity' is not what makes us human. It is rather our choice to do the opposite, and our unique ability to rationalize it that makes us 'thinking men'."
The Third Global War was started in Spain, if one would be forced to choose a particular location. When it was French rifles and mortar shells that were used against British troops in Spain in increasing number, the UK declared a complete blockade of Spain and began sinking non-authorized vessels with impunity. Meanwhile, a radical British collectivist group set off a motorwagon bomb in London, killing the Spanish ambassador to the United Kingdom. The conservative government of Britain claimed that the French had a hand in it, but the dominoes had already started falling: war was virtually inevitable as historical records show France was planning a similar declaration on the eve of their backing of a revolt in Spain.
So, two catastrophic events occurred in the week following Britain's declaration of war in August. The first was the bombing of the French port cities, not just to destroy ships, many of which were already at sea, but to destroy the infrastructure of the ports. Flying at dawn so they could make their approach in darkness, the two engine bombers and fighters dropped all manner of weapons onto Cherbourg and Calais especially, everything from incendiaries to sea mines. Of course, casualties were quite high among the aircraft due to the presence of French fighter craft, and soon the English Channel became a 'no man's land', similar to those of the wars in the 1880s. France responded with similar attacks, and soon both sides were increasing their production of multi-engine bombers that could fly higher than the other side's aircraft, and interceptors that would rectify that problem.
Spain was a disaster for all sides. The 1926 Revolution killed thousands in the first few months due to indiscriminate and bungled tactics by both sides. Spanish soldiers declared curfews where anyone leaving their house was shot; the UK was not much more merciful. Revolutionaries attacked anyone who was seen as a servant of 'the enemy', which included any townspeople with perceived religious, business, or conservative affiliations. If a man joined the military to fight the revolution, revolutionaries killed his entire family. Likewise, the military did virtually the same against the revolutionaries. French troops pushed into Central Spain while Britain withdrew to a few key ports. French naval forces were moderately successful in breaking the British blockade and imposing a few of their own.
The Netherlands was effectively invaded by France and Rhineland in the fall of 1926, invoking a secret treaty with the UK and opening up a new front on the war. The dykes were bombed in response, hampering UK efforts to get a foothold on the continent.
Austria-Hungary tried to stay neutral, but a pro-collectivist coup occurred when the government considered signing a pact with Russia, believing this would ensure them security as the Tsar launched an invasion of Prussia. However, this seemed to be the 'final straw', and soon the nation was in the midst of a civil war.
In late 1926, the Prussians, reinforced by the Rhineland and the 'International People's Volunteer Corps', had fought the Russians back across the Western Bug river and were advancing steadily into Belarus. The Collectivist forces here took advantage of the Belarusian, Baltic, and Ukrainian independence movements, hoping to wear down Russia in a war of attrition. Collectivist forces also established airbases in Austrian Romania, where they launched bombing raids on Constantinople, Ploesti, and other strategic targets. Hoping to further create chaos with Russia, Collectivist forces signed alliances with the Ottomans and Chinese. The Ottomans began advocating a Turkic Union that stretched across Central Asia, and though these provinces were under strict Russian control, guerilla warfare did erupt in some of the more southern regions by the end of 1927, forcing Russia into yet another troop commitment.
On top of it all, China pursued similar tactics in Manchuria; though fighting for the Russians was significantly easier there than in the other theaters. However, the fighting had only begun.
In Egypt an Islamist revolution shook the region as Britain was forced to commit ever-increasing amounts of manpower to the Middle East if it was to maintain its colonial rule over the region. Fighting was bloody and constant, especially in the populous regions of Egypt and Mesopotamia. As a result, the British enlisted the aid of minority groups, like the Shiite Muslims, the Kurds, and Bedouins to help keep British control over the region. This of course angered the Turks, who had a significant Kurdish problem of their own, and added yet another layer of bloodshed to the conflict. Italy maintained their hold on the Levant due to Britain being 'locked out' from the Mediterranean, but nobody was sure how long this could last.
The United States was drawn into the war as well when the press got a hold of 'incriminating' telegrams between Mexico and the Collectivist governments. As the US had just been waiting for an excuse to launch their invasion of the region, it did not take long for American aircraft and battlewagons to be storming down the Sonora. Mexico launched a counterattack into the Republic of the Rio Grande, gunning for the oil facilities in early 1927, which damaged millions of dollars of property. US airfields in Cuba bombarded southern Mexico, though guerilla fighting intensified in Central America.
In South America, Amazonas launched its invasion of the Guyana Republic, and the US allies of Brazil and Colombia made their counterattack, though they were little better suited to the jungle guerilla fighting now than they were ten years ago. No clear victories had been won by the close of 1927.
The Hindi Union attacked foreign possessions on the subcontinent, especially those controlled by the British and Kalmar Union. Because the trading colonies were so closely tied to the Hindi Union for trade, there was little isolation between the two populations and many in the colonies were sympathetic towards the Hindi Union cause. Because of military commitments elsewhere, the British simply withdrew to a few port cities and Ceylon.
During this time, several Italian physicists expressed the possibility of using radioactive materials for power generation. Though they had been performing research on this for years, they believed that by tying it to a war issue (such as running low on petroleum or other energy-generating resources), they could secure additional funding for their research. Contacting the government of Prussia which was believed to have significant amounts of uranium ore, they began their research on making a 'uranium fission plant' that would provide immense amounts of energy. UK intelligence learned of this plot in 1927 and started their own project in cooperation with their dominion, the United Republics of Southern Africa.
Other technological advancements that were put into service or began research during the beginning of the war included 'night optics' for vehicles and even sniper rifles, radio sensors small enough to fit in aircraft, and 'rotocopters', or rotary wing, vertical lift aircraft by both sides.
ESCHATOLOGY PART II
"Anyone see anything?"
Lieutenant Blair tapped on the wireless headset, as if it was going to do any good. He could hardly hear a bloody thing, anyway. Hours inside the cramped hull of the Lion and plenty of combat during them had left him with a mild case of tinnitus. Looking through the night optics at the green, ghostly landscape of what had once been a quaint Dutch village, Blair awaited a target. There were reports of movement here, possibly the Collies looking for a strike at dawn. How romantic
Under him the Lion's treads trundled onward down the barely-paved road, engine grumbling and metal creaking all the way. Blair fiddled with the periscope more, until something quite unusual caught his eye. "Hold up, Rogers. I think I've…"
The green exploded into bright, and the display of the night optic went out completely. Somewhere close, the whooshing hiss of incendiaries sounded, and then was drowned out by a colossal racket of a cannon and its impact, probably on one of his men's battlewagons. Cursing the "American piece of shit" for its continued failure to function, Blair barked over the intercom for a report on the situation, and tried the normal periscope. His night vision was shot though. Damn it all.
"Bleedin' wagon-'stroyer just took out number one!" yelled another battlewagon commander over the wireless. So they were hitting their flank. Blair suddenly wished he'd come against the town differently. He couldn't take the frustration anymore and popped open the hatch to the top of the turret. Cold wind bit at him, and he grabbed on to the turret MG, spinning it so its shield would get between him and the tracers ripping out from a hedgerow to his right. Ahead, the farmhouse that had once overseen the field he was plowing through exploded into smithereens, courtesy of another 'wagon's 20-pounder.
A primal scream of satisfaction overtook him, and he glanced over to the optics of the night sight to ensure the finicky thing wasn't broken. Then he gripped the handles of the .50 caliber turret MG and swung it towards the source of the tracers raking his vehicle's hull. The steady thunder of the weapon was a reassurance; if it didn't kill them it would surely encourage them to keep their heads down. Deciding his work was not finished, he ducked down and called to his loader and gunner for a HE round for the gun position, and a few seconds later his request was granted. The shell picked up debris and dirt and threw it into the sky. After a few more minutes of shelling and machine gun fire, the Collectivists pulled back. Quietly reveling in his victory, Blair ordered his formation to press forward. Already dawn was upon them, and the idea of turning the tables on the enemy was all too appetizing. He radioed command to inform them of his decision, and got an approval. It was only then that he heard the dreaded drone of aircraft engines approaching from the south…
The year of 1928 is considered to be Britain's darkest hour. French naval forces won two victories in the English Channel, hurting the British fleet and leaving anti-Collectivist forces, now called the Coalition of Sovereign Nations after the New York conference in late 1927. French and Rhinelander four engine bombers pounded the English countryside, using primitive night optics but advanced bomb-sights for their aircraft that inflicted devastation upon southern England. London became a fortress, and the Collectivists began to muster forces for what appeared to be an outright invasion. The British contingent in the Netherlands was cut off and then pounded by Rhinelander troops into submission. The Royal Navy's forces in the region were practically limping by mid 1928. The RN was further weakened as Spain and the Gibraltar fell to Collectivist forces in the spring of that year. There were rumors of invasion throughout the summer, despite a particularly nasty stormy season during autumn that scared off the invasion planners, and Britain began to prepare itself for the unthinkable. The Conservative PM, George Thurley, institutes authoritarian reforms designed to 'maximize the efficiency' of the British war machine, and declares that any strikes that cause 'significant disruption to our wartime industry' will be met with severe force by the government. Leftists who hold their ideology over the new nationalism are ostracized by society, or even outright arrested as subversive. Ironically, it was the threat of invasion that helped unify the nation in purpose and prevent the outbreak of class warfare the Collectivist thinkers had hoped for.
The Eastern front was turned towards Austria as both sides intervened, officially, in the war. Rather than attempting to fight their way across the steppe past the disputed areas of Ukraine and Belarus, the Collectivists allied with the Turks and put Constantinople under total siege, with Italian forces slicing through the weak puppet of Free Yugoslavia and encircling the city completely. The bloody siege began in mid-summer and showed no signs of letting up on New Year's Eve of 1928, when the Russian relief forces met a disastrous end in the Ukraine during the autumn, at the hand of Free Ukraine guerillas and Prussian soldiers.
The war of attrition in the Middle East continued, with the British enforcing severe martial law over the entire region, while disbanding and disarming Sunni Arab militias. Egypt was used as a base for raiding the Mediterranean and into primarily French controlled Spanish possessions in Africa, though due to effective Collectivist dominance of the Mediterranean, it bore little fruit in 1928.
Russia beat back Chinese forces to the pre-war borders as it exploited its air superiority. Chinese cities and military infrastructure alike were annihilated from the skies by Russian attack aircraft. Japan, inspired by the nationalist ideas of the Chinese, also went into revolt against the numerous trading powers in the region, though without the industrial base or military experience other nations had, the venture was virtually doomed to failure.
The Hindi Union continued its war against the colonial powers, while Russia sent an expeditionary force from Iran to try and capture Collectivist possessions in the region, in addition to driving off the Hindi forces.
While the US offensive stalled in Central Mexico, a US invasion force from Cuba landed in the Yucatan to establish a beachhead into the region. Fighting in Brazil did not fare nearly as well; it was the area with the highest US casualties, though this is partially due to the inhospitable conditions of the region. Nevertheless, Americans believed that Kramer had done a good job with the war, and re-elected him in 1928. The US had fully shifted to a war economy, though Kramer promised to keep the system in check and in the national interest of defense.
The United States also began marshalling a small amount of forces in the Pacific, intending to pick up some staging bases should the US be required or wish to exert its influence in East Asia. Violence in the Indochina region was on the rise as various colonial powers fought brush wars, and then the inhabitants of those colonies rose up against them. While insignificant to the war itself, many began to wonder if this would be the last wars the old empires ever fought.
The US and Russia started their own nuclear energy programs, though all three collaborated when they learnt of the potential for them to be used as weapons and not just sources of energy. However, at this point it was mere speculation. Massive amounts of infrastructure would be required before anything noteworthy could be produced. The same went for the Collectivists, who were a bit farther ahead of the Coalition in terms of power generation, having conducted the world's first controlled nuclear reaction in Prussia in 1928, but were little closer to the Coalition in terms of making a bomb, which was now the chief interest of the program. The atomic research branched out into other areas as well, but still the bomb remained a priority.
ESCHATOLOGY PART III
Late 1928 brought the first mobilizations for the 'invasion' of the United Kingdom. Though efforts to incite rebellion among British radicals had failed due to the crackdowns by Thurley, however, the Collectivists were still convinced that Britain could be toppled and was a key to victory. The foremost proponent of this plan was French Republican Army Primary General Henri Simon, who believed that taking the British on in their homeland would guarantee the collapse of the British on all other fronts, and, if all went wrong, that British territories could be used to convince the US and Russia for a separate peace.
The winter of 1928-1929 was a hard one in the isles. Strategic bombing and naval attacks isolated Britain and pounded its infrastructure, while Thurley stirred up nationalist sentiment and organized a vast militia system. However, the Labor Party was calling his methods ineffective, for the bombings continued and Collectivist navies raided British ports.
The summer of 1929 brought with it rumors, and later evidence, of an invasion force from Calais headed towards Dover or Folkestone. But they had been fooled. And by the time the British had seen through the deception, it was all too late to marshal resources to stop what was coming.
I remember it like it was yesterday, the first day, I mean. I was a Civil Defence officer, in some junk heap of a 'patrol boat' in the Channel, based out of Portsmouth to watch for enemy infiltrators. Spies, frogmen, and the like. The Collies had already sent out lots of saboteurs to attack our railway lines, so everyone was afraid of limpet mines at Portsmouth. So we were out in the dead of night in a patrol boat, with nothing but a few machineguns and light repeating cannon, and some mines for submersibles. It wasn't a quiet night with the bombers on their nightly runs, but we were used to that. What was new was when we saw the flashes of light on the horizon. Like thunder, but deeper. You could tell there was something sinister about it. And we heard the sound too. Like freight locomotives passing overhead. What an awful, awful sound. So we gunned it back to Portsmouth and radioed that the Frogs had battleships shelling somewhere on the coast. They said they already knew, and that they were the recipients.
Traveling past the harbor, it was absolutely surreal. I'd seen the bombings before, but the bombs were small compared to these things. They were battleship guns, at least fourteen inches if they're anything like ours. They went through destroyer and cruiser hulls like paper and smashed entire buildings and docks into smoke and debris. I got deafened when some ship's magazine went off. I remember little else, but we ditched the boat farther out in the harbor. We walked inland and looked for the nearest group of troops. I wanted to be there when the Frogs and the Rhinelanders and the Prussians and whoever else they were going to throw out us hit the beach, so we could get revenge. We weren't going to accomplish a damn thing in that boat. It took us till dawn to reach a Civil Defense armory, which was a supply depot for the regulars on the beach. We asked if there was anything we could do, they gave us some surplus Enfields and other equipment, and we marched out while they bombed us. I wanted to shoot more with every pound of iron and dynamite that fell on our soil. I didn't care about Thurley's excesses or my lack of training. I just wanted to fight…
- "While We Slept", by Roger Martin.
The night of bombardment along the southern coast of England was the largest one ever seen. While the RAF scrambled torpedo planes and all their available naval ships to stop the assault, the destruction of radar installations by naval vessels and bombers rendered them helpless to the Rhinelander and French airborne soldiers dropped behind British lines, who, once organized, wrought chaos upon the attempted British defense of the coast. Seizing control of supply lines, the Airborne were able to disrupt the British Army and take control of the battered Portsmouth harbor, in hopes of turning it into a deepwater port later in the invasion.
The real punch came when the amphibious forces landed, bringing with them heavy battlewagons, artillery, and infantry in serious numbers. Rotocopters and attack aircraft were used in an effective close-air support doctrine to keep the offensive rolling, and as the summer passed on, increasingly bloody battles were being fought in the English countryside. Defensive pockets formed around Bristol, London, and Oxford, and heavy fighting ensued. French Type-1928 battlewagons were superior to most of Britain's mainland forces, and soon rumor had spread that the monarchy had left the isles for Canada, while Thurley threatened to take dictatorial control over the nation. He also employed poison gas against the Collectivists to little avail, the response was even worse. There was no mercy, and British forces continued to take a beating. London was captured in December, and the Scots threatened to declare independence after reports spread of their troops being used as 'cannon fodder' rather than Englishmen. Identifying the independence movements with Collectivist conspiracy, many wondered if it was their influenced that had helped the Irish movement.
Research into the nuclear fission bomb continued in South Africa, but not even a prototype was ready in 1929.
The United States had completed its occupation of Mexico by the end of the year. Despite technological and military aid from the main Collectivist powers and their allies, Mexico's nationalist government was unable to hold off the American military, which by now was benefiting from the war economy put in place. Vaughn was re-elected once again, and some were starting to wonder if term limits should be put in place. But during the war, any political attack on the popular Vaughn would be electoral suicide, so he continued his campaigns. The bloody fighting in Amazonas continued, with the United States and its Latin American allies attempting to isolate the general population from the military and guerilla movements. Peru's nationalist government was also found to be aiding Amazonas, in hopes of gaining territory back from Chile, resulting in another United States declaration of war there.
But the United States, full of nationalistic hubris, also began considering expanding its reach in the Pacific. Setting up bases in the Philippines and some of the smaller Pacific islands, the US declared war on China for its offenses against ally Russia and planned an invasion of some of the Chinese controlled islands in the West Pacific, for use as military bases and trading posts. Stressing that China's expansionist policies in the Southeast Asian colonies was evidence of its posture as a 'rogue nation' determined to 'close off Asia again', many saw it simply as a pretense for expansionism.
Russia had reached stalemate at roughly the pre-War borders, but as Britain's Middle East colonies descended into chaos, it mobilized troops to 'restore order' in the chaotic region. Russian troops also launched an offensive against Turkish Syria, and planned to occupy the Italian Levant as well.
The Hindi Union had completed its campaigns against hostile colonial powers, through trouble was brewing between it and the Sikh nation between it and the Russians, who were already sending troops in hopes of containing the influence of the Hindi and preventing them from invading Afghanistan and destabilizing Persia. African conflicts between the colonial forces of the warring powers continued, though with little to fight over south of the Mediterranean border, it held little significance.
The Prusso-Russian front swung back in the favor of the Russians briefly, but the Prussians were coming ever closer to developing their own nuclear fission bomb, which the Russians were nowhere near completing. Russian air superiority was also waning in the face of Prussia's access to advanced Rhinelander and French factories and designs, which outclassed most of Russia's designs.
The devastation and wide range of the war was causing many to wonder how long all the sides could go on fighting. Already it was the greatest conflict in human history, yet no side had accomplished many of their goals yet. Both ideologies remained intact and both sides had their powers, yet the desire for war had largely remained.
ESCHATOLOGY PART IV
The winter of 1929 brought with it a milestone in science and technology. In Spanish North Africa, a small bit of the vast Sahara was turned into radioactive dust and glass by the world's first nuclear fission bomb. Made with Prussian uranium, the shocking results of the test brought with it an immediate demand for this new, unparalleled weapon.
The winter of 1929-1930 was a bloody one. One after another, the cities of Southern England fell to Collectivist troops. By now, however, the United States was sending vast amounts of aid, realizing that Britain alone was unlikely to stave off the invading forces. So, the British would rally around Liverpool, where the US, unable to provide manpower, was sending munitions and armaments to make up for the loss of many British factories.
However, on March 23rd of 1930, a flight of Ba-27 bombers approached Liverpool, flying at maximum altitude. Only one dropped a bomb though. It was the Type-I Nuclear Device, rated at 15 kilotons. It airburst over Liverpool, and over 200,000 were killed instantly, partially due to the density of the soldiers in the region gearing up for the front.
The effects were nothing short of catastrophic, in every sense of the word. Firstly, the British logistical system for the defense of the island was gone. Secondly, it was the greatest hit to morale since the enemy had first landed in the South. But ultimately, it was responsible for the surrender of Britain.
The General Election, still scheduled for May, was not cancelled as originally feared. Instead, British voters flocked to get Thurley out of office, believing that his violent aims had gotten Britain into a 'suicidal war' in the first place. He was replaced by Michael Kingsley, a Whig member with labor sympathies. Kingsley, on 28 June of 1930, signed the surrender of Britain. Its terms virtually ended the British Empire.
Firstly, the Southeast Asian colonies were to be surrendered, along with Ceylon. The Middle East, too, was wrest from British hands. British Central Africa was given over to the Interim Alliance Government run by the Collectivists. The British military was capped, especially naval and strategic bombers. The British were forbidden from having a nuclear bomb. Britain would also be required to pay some reparations, though these were alleviated by the wealth of the territories the Collectivist IAG was receiving.
Russia too paused after seeing Liverpool wiped away, and agreed to a European Front truce, though fighting in the Middle East and India continued. The US also began expanding into China in a coordinated offensive with Russia, seizing Taiwan and setting up 'military bases' in Japan and the Philippines. US troops, battle hardened by the jungle warfare in Amazonas, performed effectively here, and Russia continued it's back and forth struggle with the Chinese.
However, neither the US nor Russia recognized Collectivist claims on Southeast Asia, as they were not involved in the treaty, and as a result the US sent troops to the Straits of Malacca, and farther northward into Indochina, more concerned with controlling trade routes than continental territory.
Mexico officially surrendered as conservatives reacted to growing Collectivist influence in the nation. Believing that renouncing the offensive war and the Collectivist rhetoric of before, Mexico would be more independent; the US agreed but reserved the right to intervene to keep out the influence of Collectivism. Compared to fighting a costly guerilla war as the Amazonians did, many Mexicans thought it was a small price to pay, though seething anger at the US and the Republic of the Rio Grande would remain. The Yucatan Republic was reformed as a US protectorate in winter 1930.
Fighting in Amazonas and Peru continued, but the most important moment for America came in the United Republics of South Africa, with the remnants of the British program. About a month too late, in the winter of 1931, Coalition scientists detonated the Mark 0 Fission Bomb in the Kalahiri Desert. With three other bombs in their arsenal, the Coalition began plotting on where best to employ them, determined to answer the bombing of Liverpool.
The war had just escalated.
ESCHATOLOGY PART V
"Gentlemen… I'm glad we could all be here."
Vaughn's once smooth, charismatic voice had grown rough and weary from years of war. He smoked too much, he drank too much and he worried too much. His hair was gray, his face worn, his eyes seemed more cold now than they had before. Around him were equally world-weary men. Tsar Peter IV of Russia who was already an old man, and the British Admiral Jack Rutherford, commander of the Royal Navy, or what was left of it these days. Forbidden by the Treaty of London to operate a substantial naval force since that disgraceful day, Rutherfordl had since transferred his base of operations to Newfoundland, making the 'Canadian' navy globe-spanning and powerful than its equivalent in England, reigning over Imperial forces from Halifax to Durban to Sydney. What was left of the true English military was gone. What was left of England was gone. Rutherford was a fighter though. He was here because it was he who held true power now, not that "joke of a Prime Minister in charge of appeasing the Frogs". The Admiral sipped a drink now, pondering the world map laid out in the resort's conference room.
Stacks of papers and photographs sat with them. The men who ran the Coalition were all here, each managing their undercurrent for a desire of revenge.
"We're all fairly representative nations here," Vaughn continued, surveying the other two and their staff who sat quietly among these battle-worn but nevertheless powerful men, "so if we can't keep our people's hearts in this war, we're going to lose, plain and simple. There's no truce here. These bastards have the bomb and they're willing to use it. Either we retaliate, or we let everything we've fought for get swept under the rug." The other two nodded in agreement.
"We need to hit them hard, and we need to do it soon. We have the bombs to put at least one of the continental wars out of the equation. We can bomb them from the Azores, but if we want to follow up, we must secure England. We fight this war for the freedom of our people, and as long as people in Britain are starving and the Collectivists are building their 'aid centers' there, well, what the hell are we going to do?"
"I'm ready to do anything to bring back our homeland. But we're going to need full commitment to the task. The Empire cannot do this anything close to alone."
"I will not risk any more of my people without atomic bombs, Admiral. Either provide us with more or wait for our program to develop more, until then any attempts at advancing on the Prussians is suicide."
"We'll wait for the bombs then. We quite frankly, don't have enough to go around. My staff believes it will take multiple devices on the Western front alone to pull this off."
"And what of Britain in the meantime?" asked Rutherford.
"The government is too Collectivist leaning to work with, you know that. We're going to need to do something about that PM. Have something holding England together when we come in."
"That… That I believe I can do."
The informal resistance to the puppet rule of Kingsley had begun almost immediately. His victory was really by a slim margin, and his favor only grew during the disastrous aftermath of the war. With the end of US military aid came the end of US aid in general. The Collectivists were determined to seal Britain off from the outside world, and that included outside goods. Everything would have to be handled through the Interim Alliance Government, the new apparatus managed to handle the spoils of the war. The well being of Britain was no more important to the IAG than any of Britain's former colonies that it managed. Most aid was restricted to collaborators on the Isles, and ultimately the process was so choked in bureaucracy that even humanitarian-minded distributors failed to deal with the resulting crisis.
The British military and police force that the Collectivists were so eager to restrict was now barely holding the nation together, and most had lost faith in the government anyway. Militias and gangs were now the dominant enforcers of order, and France, itself now coping with the resultant economic problems of the war, was not very interested in throwing more lives away on the 'accursed Isles'. However, elements of the French secret police were ever present. Thurley was killed after leading a march of the 'British Independence Party' in London, presumably by accident though many insist he was shot down by a sniper. However, Thurley had 'lost his mental health' following the election and was said to be showing suicidal tendencies, many speculate he wanted to become a martyr for his cause. But the impact was felt. With no General elections on the horizons, many wondered if a revolution would come. Already in Britain were US supported anti-Collectivist groups like the British Independence Party, many curried great favor among the remnants of the British military establishment. 1931 and 1932 were tumultuous years as aid from the IAG was cut off due to 'belligerent activity' and their own local economic crises. Then, 1933 came, and with it the March 23rd Coup, said to be dated to 'commemorate the loss of our comrades, and remind of us why the Collectivists cannot be trusted'. Lead by British Field Marshal Richard Wight, they claimed their legitimacy was based in the "illegal and immoral shutting down of the competing democratic parties by the Collectivist forces and their collaborators."
There was no real initial opposition to the coup, but violence followed as right-wing and nationalist groups attacked 'collaborators' and their families. The United States and Russia immediately announced recognition of this new government, and soon the US was deploying troops freed up by the end of fighting in Mexico.
Russia fortified its borders throughout this time period, instead focusing its energies on the Middle East, capturing Mesopotamia and sending an expeditionary force to the Red Sea. In response, Italy increased troop commitments to the region, and bloody fighting by native guerilla forces continued, especially when Sunnis began to perceive the client state of Persia's complicity with Russia to be a sign of the evils of Shi'a Islam.
The United States continued its campaigns in Southeast Asia, especially in the Malay-Indochina region. Declaring direct military rule over Singapore and Taiwan, the US, French and Chinese fought a bitter campaign through these years, ultimately with better trained US troops prevailing where conflicts could be localized, but unable to penetrate where their naval power could not stave off Chinese land superiority, as in the Indochina area.
The Collectivist forces in Europe used the Eastern Front truce to their advantage by solidifying the control of Austria Hungary, but they were not immune from the economic troubles of the time. Whenever wartime demand slackened, inefficiency increased; as a result the Collectivists had to keep up demand to sustain their command economies. Some historians also cynically paint the continued drive for warfare behind a Malthusian desire to reduce population, noting that there was some famine in Prussia and Austria-Hungary, especially among Slavic communities. There was a shortage of virtually all non-essential civilian goods, and even the essential ones were often not abundant enough to meet consumer demands. Dictatorial control, justified by wartime needs, was not a problem universal to Western nations like Britain.
Peru surrendered to Coalition forces in the fall of 1933, as did the formal government of Amazonas. However, guerilla fighting in former Brazil continued, though now supplies were limited without the continuing support of Collectivist or Amazonian sympathizers to ship weapons in internationally.
During this time, the Collectivists learned of the Coalition atomic bomb tests in South Africa, and scrapped their bombing plan of North America and Russia, knowing their cities were more vulnerable to nuclear retaliation. But both sides believed, that with a little more time, they could win a decisive victory. The world had been given a chance for peace. The fear that it would not come on their terms ensured that each side would reject it.
ESCHATOLOGY PART VI
"I'm not leaving until this is done."
Vaughn, on his final inaugural speech, 1933.
"Capitalism destroys all."
Only known last words of French Prime Councilman Galtier
The group of 17 men packed into the metallic hull of the massive B-35 bomber was two more than usually seen on the aircraft. Though only 15 were combat veterans, all were nervous. Their mission was the most important assigned so far in the war. This aircraft's two human additions were a terse man from the Special Tasks Group and "some political hack" from the same organization, apparently one sent as an enforcer and the other as an observer. But the most important addition of all was the weapon sitting in their bomb bay, a Mark III. Best kind available, they said. Like a 100,000 tons of TNT.
"We know full well the leadership in the capital. Paris is just a big fucking target. But that's the point. We want to see what we do to one of their industrial, political, and cultural centers. We can make enough Bombs in safety to bomb these fuckers off the face of the earth, but we'd prefer to save time. So we're going to bomb this sucker once and for all, and show Galtier that we mean business. You all know what a bomb can do. Any man who has any doubts about this can leave now and face no consequences."
They had all glanced at the STG officer, at each other, then back at the General briefing them. Nobody got up.
And now they were flying, three aircraft, with the lead titled "Liberty". "The -35's just a blot on a bright green sea…"
"What was that, Thomas?" said the STG officer, sitting near the observer; who was supposed to report directly to Vaughn on the mission. Both were having difficulty coping with the roar of six contra-rotating pusher props.
"Nothing… Just never been up this high before."
"Should be glad. Not many interceptors and ack-ack makes it this far up…" muttered one of the gunners, picking through the 1 inch shells for anything that might jam the remote turret's feed.
It was a long flight. Seemed too long. They passed over some coast far below.
"Portugal," said someone, though he said no more. No bright fingers of cannon flew up to meet them. No interceptors racing up to harry the aircraft. Just three bombers and clouds over one of the few countries in Europe that had managed to remain neutral.
They knew they were over Spain when they observed the little puffs of flak, far below them. There were few guns heavy enough to reach them committed to this region. Spain, despite being the cradle of the bloodbath, had been forgotten by the Coalition and remained under Collectivist rule.
But they were there only briefly. Soon they switched routes, and flew over the Bay of Biscay. Other bombers had been there before them, for the landscape below was muted by great clouds of thick smoke.
"God damn… I knew they were going to clean up for us, but this is insane."
What was insane was they were dropping bombs that could destroy cities. That three planes just might do more to end a war than millions of lives spent before had.
Soon the interceptors came up, and the gunners sprang into action. The vibration of the engines was joined by those of the turrets extending outwards, twin 1 inch guns probing for targets as the interceptors came up after them. The were two-engine jobs, the newer Prussian types that could actually reach them.
"SON OF A BITCH."
A gunner again. There was something reassuring though, as the cannons started to rumble. He whispered as the guns shuddered, lancing out towards the interceptors that probed at the formation like wolves surveying their prey. But they were by no means helpless. The sheer firepower of the three bombers, each with more than a dozen 1 inch guns was enough to push them away. One of the aircraft began to smoke as an engine short out, but they had stocked on extra fuel, and could always land in Britain. Their target lay ahead though.
Somewhere else in the aircraft, a bombardier was preparing to drop the bomb, and elsewhere eyes were fixated on Paris, spread out below them.
The bomb fell downward, and the plane lifted a slight bit as the weight disappeared from the bay. The crew tried to follow it downward, but could not see it. The darkened goggles they wore were no help.
Suddenly a new sun rose over Paris, and thousands of lives were swept away by the work of invisible particles.
The Paris bomb of 1934 was cheered on. Oh, some scientists had doubts, but after the bombing of Liverpool there was little sympathy among the military. The Collectivists, of course, responded in kind. An American carrier group near Britain was evaporated in April. Mainz was next, chosen for its industrial capacity after an air raid from Britain. Collectivist bombs fell on the Tsar's advance into Prussia, and Russia responded with its first nuclear bomb, at forces moving to defend Warsaw. Another weapon was detonated in Dover by the French, as an attempt to dissuade the British from basing American bombers.
The year between 34 and 35 was one of the bloodiest in the war. All gloves had come off. Bombs went from the assembly lines onto the nearest enemy in advance on the Eastern front, sixteen detonated by the close of the year. Entire troops concentrations during Russia's drive into Prussia were wiped out on both sides, while northern France and the Germanies were pummeled by atomic bombs. Poison gas was employed during Russia's drive on Danzig, and combat casualties were massive on both sides. Despite the prevalence of bombs, neither side had enough to fight off the huge military numbers of the other.
The last bomb was dropped on Galtier's bunker in the French countryside, where the man, who had visited his former capital to visit the refugees, had taken fairly severe radiation poisoning from some of the 'messier' bombs employed by the Coalition. Some said he seemed to have a death-wish after his beloved Paris was gone. His last words are said to be his reply to a radio message to the air defense command that had launched the fighters.
The war didn't formally stop. The combatants just collapsed like a folkloric racehorse, exhausted.
Russia sued for peace, threatening to bomb Berlin as its troops approached and met stiff resistance. A revolution in Poland occurred, one that rejected both Prussian and Russian influence, and nobody was quite willing to stop it. Austria-Hungary splintered into a Greater Austria and lost land to Russian supported Free Yugoslavia along with Russia itself in late 1935.
The British Independence Party's military arm maintained its firm control on the United Kingdom, the people still more enraged at the enemy for bombing Dover. France and Prussia surrendered before the Rhineland, but in the end all folded. War in Europe would not end formally until the Spring of 1936, but at least the bloodshed had stopped there.
China surrendered when the Tsar threatened to bomb there, and more of Manchuria fell. The Republic of China collapsed into disarray, while the US formalized its gains in the region. But the economic realities of the war had formally set in. The US government was facing increased calls for racial equality, for all colors had been rallied for the war effort.
The war had ironically won as many victories for workers as American businessmen. Despite claims of corporate imperialism, the labor shortage had given American workers many of the benefits they desired as companies scrambled to keep up their labor pools. But still challenges remained. The US was faced with a choice, of either maintaining its war economy, or moving back towards a peacetime one. But not all Americans were convinced peace was at hand, or that the US could even survive a transition back to peacetime goals. Despite the surrender of Peru and Amazonas, the guerilla wars in America's new territories, and the possibility of new threats from Russia or another power.
But this would not be resolved in 1935.
The Germanic nations of Europe, less weakened than formerly dominant France, were beginning to call for the unity of the Germanic speaking people, especially as some conservative Prussians returned home in an attempt to reshape the crumbling Collectivist government in favor of a new one. Spread out from France to Danzig, the looming pan-Germanic movement now had an opportunity to move out. In the face of economic disaster, the people of Central Europe were looking for a solution. And that solution seemed to be the historically elusive goal of German unification.
But for now, the world mourned. Millions had died, and now most wanted to bury the bodies. There seemed to be no point for any further vengeance attacks. The bombs had dropped, and the world seemed no better than it had before, it not worse.
The greatest tragedy of history came to an end.
"What I saw in Paris that day was not just a city dying. That mushroom cloud was a funeral pyre for the old world."
RT Thomas, in his autobiography.
The election of 1936 brought with it Vaughn's decision not to seek re-election. Though people idolized Vaughn for his efforts in the war, it was apparent now that the conflict was over that the United States needed a clear vision on shaping the world ahead. Many Americans thought the United States needed a President more willing to resolve domestic problems created in the wake of wartime mobilization. That President was Douglas Finnegan, a former businessman from Tejas, welfare capitalist and civil rights advocate. A member of the Progressive Party, Finnegan wanted to revitalize the nation's economy. Believing that the government should be a referee rather than a commander in economics, Finnegan believed that the 'triangle' of the military, the defense industry and Congress had to be broken to ensure prosperity, believing that without a unifying national aim like the war, it would corrupt the US.
Finnegan helped stand down the military and provide opportunity for those the military no longer needed. Providing education, loans, and pensions, while expanding Veteran's Hospitals throughout the country, he hoped that they could be a model of how a successful welfare system could work, and its nature ensured that it would be popular nationally.
The civil rights movement, however, met more opposition. While popular in the West and Southwest, the Southeastern US seemed resistant. Despite the integration of the armed forces earlier, some states went back to century old interpretations of the Constitution, which outraged many Americans who connected them with the insurrection in South Carolina. The PP threatened to push a Constitutional amendment through, which divided both parties, for despite the Progressive moniker, the 'moral reformers' and religious conservatives that often supported reform were not strongly in favor of extending the benefits to non-whites.
The United States still needed to play a strong role in international affairs. Rather than dissolving the Coalition, Finnegan chose to keep it and use it as a framework for international cooperation.
Finnegan did not believe in an immediate withdrawal, on the contrary he believed US/Coalition presence in Latin America and Asia was vital to national and global security, as well as the development of those regions. Pushing aid to pro-US governments, some modern historians now believe he turned a blind eye to the corporate advances in those regions, while some radical contemporaries say he was a neocolonialist in outright collusion with the corporate interests.
In Britain, a 'United Commonwealth' was proposed and formed among the various British dominions. A compromise between the desires of the dominions to have more influence over the weakened Empire and the desires of the British to maintain political power abroad, the Commonwealth seemed determined to remain a world power.
But life in Britain was hard. US aid money helped soften the blow of the war, but nevertheless life was hard. The right-wing British Independence Party, despite its moniker, seemed subservient to US interests in order to continue the flow of aid money. But life in Britain was nothing compared to that of France.
Internal strife here was only increasing. The Collectivist government remained, though now it took up the tone of a nationalist, autocratic state. A coup by veterans installed a 'military interim government', but it was unable to prevent the secession of the Germanic populated areas of France to the Confederation of the Rhine. The nationalist desire to form a newer, better government was most prevalent in the Germanies, in which 'liberal revolutionaries' desired a return to a republic or enlightened monarchy rather than the majoritarian politics of the very movement they fostered. Many thinkers believed in a utopian vision where the Germanic peoples of Europe would be united under one nation, either an Empire or a Republic. The movement sparked the Frankfurt Conference of 1938, which outlined a large Germanic state. Austria-Hungary began to dissolve into civil war, and while Austria clung to the Germanic states, the rest of the population turned to Russia or warfare.
Poland became a Russian satellite state, though it hoped to maintain its republican tendencies despite heavy Russian military presence.
Italy shed its Collectivist governments and also looked towards a more traditional republic, while Spain struggled to recover in the wake of the bloody conflict that had occurred there.
Northern Africa, without the worry of the Mediterranean colonial powers restricting them, fractured into various states with the consent of the victors. Generally the borders were drawn up more based on military power in the region than any reasonable ethnic or geographic boundaries, with the backing of whatever corporation the region's resources were most useful to.
The United States and Russia expanded their presence in East Asia, with the US expanding its reach from the regional 'headquarters' in Singapore, while Russia backed the nascent Korean state and attempted to turn Japan into a client. The Republic of China, despite having lost some land in the north to Russia, also committed itself to a program of reform, fueled by a seething hatred of the Western nations that had stolen land from it, while itself hoping to exert more pull in the recently de-colonized Indochinese countries.
The Hindi Union, relatively unscarred from the weak Russian effort at containment, absorbed the subcontinent's last few colonial possessions, but agreed with Russia not to invade the states to the northwest.
In the Mideast, the liberated Egypt declared itself a head of a New Caliphate, setting itself in opposition to the more oil-rich United Thrones of Arabia and the strategically located Yemeni Republic, both Coalition backed states.
Mesopotamia also finally fell to the Russian sphere of influence. Some doomsayers predicted that Russia had expanded its power too far, but other Coalition internationalists believed that their alliance against their former enemies would hold true for the time being.
The world dragged itself up and moved uncertainly into the future.
MIRACLES AND MILITANTS
Finnegan wins his second term in office, and presides over the Civil Equality Act of 1942, which effectively ends segregation after a series of pro-integration court decisions and protests. Finnegan also begins the most controversial and sweeping series of programs of the 20th century, now known as the Finnegan Doctrine. After 1940, the United States had military bases on every continent. Outwards from these bases would come financial and military aid to governments that would support the US or governments that could be made to do so. Finnegan spoke of a 'great pact of the Americas' and referred to the continent as a 'birthplace of liberty', citing the strong republican traditions of Chile and Colombia and praising the newly liberal regimes of Peru and Brazil. While Amazonas was weakened, the US sought only containment there, believing economic necessities would drive them to liberalize.
In 1941, Coalition forces, in a 'peaceful revolution', aided the ascent of the new government and liberal constitution of Mexico, and pledged to support the new government. But on the whole, US military presence in the region was ending as troops in the north were withdrawn. A variety of ambitious projects, designed to relieve some of the unemployment in Mexico and Central America, were conducted, including the 'Pan-American highway', which would reach from Colombia to Canada upon its completion.
The US also increased aid for counterinsurgency groups, fearing that Latin Americans might experience what was now called 'the French situation': a militaristic or autocratic government lead by those dissatisfied with the end of collectivist government or the economic downturns created by the strain of war. The so called "false democracy" was marked by social conservatism, nationalism rather than transnational class sentiment, and a mixed economy that was generally designed to benefit the oligarchic or autocratic ruler.
France itself was still a shadow of its former glory, but had been improving. The return to more pragmatic economic policy in some areas had given some Frenchmen the opportunity to soften the pains of the times, but now the old rivalry between the French and Germanic peoples seemed to be reappearing. The loss of the Rhineland to the growing Germanic Empire had sown the seeds for antagonism, and the two nations developed negative nationalistic tendencies that played off each other. Though the Coalition threatened to intervene if France's military grew too large, militias were common near the border, and those in the cities worked to expel French of Germanic descent that had left the former French Rhineland.
The Germanic Empire itself was officially formed in 1942. It drew an obvious parallel from the Holy Roman Empire in that the Kaiser was elected. He was limited by a bicameral Parliament. The economy was similar to that of the other 'false democracies', though the Empire's government was considered more representative due to its constitutional monarchy.
Who the first Emperor would actually be was a subject of great debate throughout the years of 1940-1942. There were a variety of factions in play. The dynasties of former Austria-Hungary competed with the resurgent Hohenzollerns and the Rhinelander political families and the military leaders for dominance. And it was here the Hohenzollerns gained the upper hand.
Imperial Kongo was an ugly, but incredibly profitable place. "Imagine a mass of ruthlessly oppressed, terrified African porters carrying a Prussian in an ornate Sedan chair," wrote one author in his description of the colony-turned-seat of the Prussian monarchy. He was not far off. Through implementation of their autocratic policies from old Prussia and brutal applications of force when "necessary", the colonists were profiting immensely from the Imperial Kongo's vast mineral wealth. That wealth was used, in turn, to finance the campaign to put one of their own back on the throne. But many Germans were suspicious of the Hohenzollerns, who they had just earlier overthrown, and instead the Hohenzollerns financed another family, a group of military men who'd fought against the Russians but had ties to the old Junker families. So in late 1942, a member of the Volgt family was elected as Kaiser of the German Empire.
Russia, angered by Volgt's anti-Slavic rhetoric and his relations to those the Tsar often denounced as 'war criminals' for their acts in the previous conflict, pushed for the Coalition to step up their investigation of the Germanic states' military activities, especially the removal of all nuclear technology from the Empire. There was even an attempted assassination on Prussian nuclear scientists. But it was to no avail. It seemed the nuclear secrets could not be 'unlearnt'.
Russia had more pressing problems in Central Asia, though. Though 'Russified' subjects of Asian descent were being granted more rights, there was growing problems from the revival of Turkish nationalism and pan-Islamist sentiment. Many Russian troops from the European front were actually deployed into Russia's central Asian territories to fight rebel groups. The Persians, however, did not show much initiative in throwing off their client monarchy.
In the Italian Levant, fighting broke out in the Lebanese region between Christians and Muslims over the Italian's occupation of Jerusalem in 1941 when a right-wing government was elected. A general revival in Catholicism had started, due to its opposition to Collectivism and the use of Church hierarchy to provide aid in war-devastated regions.
The 'New Caliphate' of Egypt also threatened to expel the Coalition from the Suez Canal due to their continued support for client regimes in the Arabian Peninsula. Skirmishes on the Mesopotamia-Caliphate border continued throughout this time period, and the diplomatic disputes continued until 1943, when the Caliphate moved to blockade the canal. In the 'Two Hour War', US and Italian forces attacked Caliphate troops in the Suez and their ships in both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Portugal relinquished control of Mozambique and Angola in 1942 and 1944, respectively, and both became clients of URSA and the Imperial Federation as a whole. Greater Netherlands also gave greater self-government to Oranjeafrika. The Coalition took a greater role in African affairs after an attempted revolution in Zambia that spread over to Imperial Kongo, claiming it would act in a role similar in ideology to the 'civilizing' role the old colonial powers had claimed, though the US under Finnegan tried to keep from dirtying its hands.
Russia was also worrying over China, which had learnt well from the war and was pursuing breakneck, total industrialization to try and stem the influence of the US and Russia in the region. Though angry with the US over the occupation of Taiwan, of more concern was the Tsar's control of Manchuria, which the Chinese believed held the key to Chinese success. China also signed the famous 'Free Asian Pact' with the Hindi Union and shared the anti-Western rhetoric prevalent at the time. Whether they would act on it would remain to be seen…
NEW PIECES, SAME GAME
The world pulled out of its intermittent economic slumps as the British economy stabilized due to reformed trading policies and an increase in investment after the reforms of the Liberal Party government, elected in 1945. Though the Federalists would return to power under Peter Wright, there was a general shift in attitudes over tariffs. Previously the Federalists had favored them; however the influence of many post-war neoclassical economists (who blamed much of the problems on the world on government intervention in the economy) convinced the Federalists to support tariff reform. This was a major contributor to the global economic recovery of the period.
Domestically the Federalists did not follow through on Finnegan's proposed economic reforms. Believing issues like the minimum wage and other regulations should be left to each state, they also reversed the union-friendly laws previously passed by Congress. Somewhat hypocritically, the new laws defended the 'universal right to property' that made sit-down strikes that involved the unauthorized 'use or occupation' of another's property as part of industrial action a crime. Federalists defended employers on the basis that management should be able to write their contracts freely, which ironically meant that closed and union shops, along with businesses that forbade unions, could be established in employment contracts. In 1946 the Supreme Court ruled that unions were required only to represent their members, supposedly eliminating the free rider problem. But the civil rights acts that Finnegan's administration previously passed were also expanded to include unions, addressing most fears that the Federalists policy would undo the civil rights movement's attempts to create equality in the workplace. This somewhat split the Federalists, many of whom believed that the government shouldn't interfere with who people decide to employ or sell to, but socially liberal members replied that this legislation would actually make the economy more efficient, since now only the ability to pay or perform could be considered.
The Federalists did not expand the National Pension System, but did link it to inflation to "keep spending in control".
The late 40s also marked a massive redeployment of Coalition forces stationed overseas. In terms of combat troops, there were withdrawals. However, the number of strategic ports and airbases was increased. The US and Imperial Federation specifically could deploy their forces to strategic chokepoints quickly and effectively in case of danger. Breakthroughs in rocket and jet technology had finally carried over to standard issue equipment, and nuclear-armed rockets and aircraft were deployed to Taiwan and various other overseas bases.
The Coalition ended interim governments and restored independence to Singapore and Taiwan, though the US specifically retained a 99 year lease on bases in both. Taiwan/Formosa became a Republic that was closely allied to the Coalition nations and encouraged investment. The downside of this was that Taiwan's European population skyrocketed and acquired a disproportionate chunk of the nation's middle and upper class, though the government itself was mostly local. A deep enmity remained between the rising Republic of China and the Republic of Taiwan, due to differences in ethnicity and politics. Much of the Taiwanese people, of all classes, were also alienated by the irredentism of the post-war Chinese government. These fears were not allayed when China and the Hindi Union invaded a section of Kashmir. Bitter guerilla wars were also fought with the pro-Russian Sikhs by the Hindi. What was particularly troubling was the modern way that China fought in Kashmir, using effective combined arms and mobile warfare tactics that China previously failed to put to good use in Manchuria.
Russia itself had more serious problems to worry about. Though its alliance with Persia remained, the revolts in Central Asia continued. Russia responded by attempting to swamp local populations during 'land reform' that provided loyal Russians (Europeans and Orthodox) with cheap land. This was countered by targeted killings of those ethnic groups, and likely did more to escalate violence than to allay it. Nevertheless, it seemed Russia would win out.
Russia also founded a curious alliance with Japan in the wake of the Ryuku War of 1945. Japan was thoroughly beaten at sea by the Chinese Navy, which seized control of the symbolically important (the discovery of petroleum by Chinese surveyors would not be until years after the conflict) island chain. A brief moment of Japanese national pride was captured during the repulsion of Chinese naval infantry by Japanese garrisons in Okinawa. Though a heavy follow-up attack was on the way, Japan held out long enough for Russia to make an ultimatum against the Chinese government, which was not yet prepared to face Russia in war.
The Tsar and Emperor met in a historic conference in Tokyo, where they signed a full alliance. Japan committed itself to modernization, but found itself tied to the Coalition for resources. Secret conferences indicated that Japan and Russia intended to gobble up even more of northern and coastal China, angering some in the Coalition.
In the Middle East, fighting calmed in the Levant, though only because of continued garrison of Western troops. The New Caliphate underwent a change in leadership after the disastrous conflict over the canal. The arbitrary borders left over from British administration were sparking cross-border conflict with the Republic of Sudan, a semi-collectivist autocracy to its south that emphasized a return to pre-Muslim religious tradition. The Caliphate used its far superior military to attack Sudanese people and militias in the late 40s. The massive post-colonial nation of Morocco splintered as the Catholic populations of the coast lead campaigns of 'cleansing' against the Muslim inlanders. A similar conflict occurred in Algeria.
The relative stability of the Persian Gulf region resulted in massive development of infrastructure and the region's petroleum resources. Kurdish risings in the Greater Turkish Republic threatened to destabilize Mesopotamia and Persia, but pressure by US and Russian troops kept the conflict contained within the borders.
In mainland Europe, things had stabilized. All the continental post-war states were de facto recognized by each other, though in former Austria-Hungary tensions continued. However, the remnants of old militarism remained. Germany and France still possessed atomic bombs, and it now seemed their enmity had returned to the traditional ethno-geographic dispute over the Lorraine, rather than with other political regimes. As the 'worker's states' led way to the dirigisme and revolutionary nationalism, anarchists who saw these new ideologies as oppressive increased in number. In Berlin, there was a failed assassination attempt against the Kaiser by revolutionaries nostalgic for the old Confederation of the Rhine. In Germany especially there was hostility towards the Catholic Church, which was most associated with conservative politics in mainland Europe. This distrust of the church prevented a resurgence of Catholicism in France, but was not present in the other Mediterranean Catholic nations.