Mexican Intervention: post 2029.
The election in the US was bitterly contested because of different views on how the war had gone. Some reviled it as unnecessary and destabilizing, while others thought it was a triumph for freedom that came at a high cost. The EP did remain in office, though all were wary about the post-war period and how it might affect the US.
With the admission of Mexican states into the Union, American territories and possessions were wondering if they deserved a voice in government. Guam, which had paid heavily for the US, considered merging with the Northern Marianas for a new US state of Pacifica. The 'Pacifica Party' showed a strong presence in local government. Puerto Rico continued to sit on the fence, though the US Virgin Islands were also hoping for statehood. The idea of the Mexican people having more power in US politics than them was disturbing to some, though the movement was limited to US possessions and not other nations.
The EU was relatively unaffected by the war. While the UK provided major support for the war and Poland was a vocal proponent as well, that was not what was dividing the Union. It was the changing ideas of the Union itself. The population problem in Old Europe had lead to increased immigrant power, and nations like France had responded with their nationalist, nativist policies. But Eastern Europe, hoping to bring the Russian Confederation on board, was gaining increasing power in the parliament. The sectionalist tendencies of the Union were making things increasingly difficult for a solid economic policy to emerge. France and other nations favored adding more protectionist policies to Union internal and external trade, while the Eastern Europeans wanted liberalization to stimulate foreign trade with their own industries. The UK began to distance itself from the EU in general, with many calling for the UK to outright leave.
Africa during the war was experiencing a major political change. With China knocked out of the arena, South Africa and the Alliance of God found the chance to exert their own soft power in the region. South Africa appealed to the idea of bringing Africa 'into the 21st Century', and offered to increase foreign aid in exchange for trade liberalization where South African made manufactured goods could find new markets. South Africa also made huge amounts of profit from constructing of water pipelines and power lines into neighboring nations. South African businesses performed 'humanitarian dumping', selling vital goods to poorer nations at low costs, thus allowing them to monopolize the area and create consumer opportunities. To assure South African companies could sell more expensive manufactured goods, they offered jobs to the locals in the construction of new infrastructure. It reeked of a corporate conspiracy to many, but few could deny the beneficial results the program had on the 'Dark Continent'.
The Alliance of God began encouraging more pro-Islamic governments on 'fringe states' with significant Muslim populations, especially in Nigeria. The AoG offered a key commodity in many African countries with political instability: Arms. The humiliating defeats of 2006 had created a strong arms industry, and with plenty of surplus the AoG was buying friends with assault rifles while the Western powers and China turned a blind eye. With China gone, the AoG was essentially on its own. Ironically, the AoG policy of empowering Muslim minorities only furthered the fight for independence of the White Nile Republic. With US money going elsewhere, the White Nile Republic turned its appeals to South Africa. A new power struggle seemed apparent as the world turned a blind eye during the war.
The economic destruction of China left a huge void in the manufacturing industries of the world. But fortunately for consumers, there were other options that had been overshadowed by China for many years. South American nations began to service the US market, though at a price. Leftist governments found themselves unable to compete with their neighbors, and many worried that if the US began to like the idea of cheap Latin goods, they would start using muscle to keep unions or government regulation from driving up the price.
In Quebec, the first vote for secession was fielded, with 68% favoring the start of a separation process. The Canadian government was appalled, and said that it demanded a monitored referendum to determine that secession was actually what the people favored.
Rumors began spreading that the francophone units of the Canadian military would not stay loyal, so Anglophone units were dispatched to 'oversee' the peace.
In mid 2030, a bill was passed in the Quebec National Assembly to become fully sovereign, and as a result, it would take over all francophone units of the Canadian military, and demand the immediate expulsion of Canadian troops from the area. Canada declined, and soon the UN decided to intervene and hold a plebiscite again, though the US prevented the deployment of French 'peacekeepers' into the area.
After the referendum was held, Quebec withdrew from NAFTA. The US and Canada responded by sanctioning Quebec, and seized all Quebecois assets in their banks. American and Canadian business in the area was removed, with Canada offering to pick up the slack and relocate their facilities. Canada and the US both kept troops on their borders to prevent smuggling into the new province. In this manner, they hoped to starve Quebec into submission.
In 2030, South Africa and the OAS voted to commit troops to the Republic of the White Nile, and officially recognized the governments. The CIA, busy with other tasks, handed off its assets to the South African government, and soon Pretoria was moving troops into the nation. This enraged the Alliance of God, but was worried about possible EU retaliation against them, especially by the French, who were eager to keep AoG influence out of the region. The Alliance began recruiting nations in the region, picking up Algeria, much to the anger of France.
The US had once again acted in its 'imperialism of anti-imperialism', as Niall Ferguson had termed it in his early 21st century book. Now, the US supervised in creating a buffer alliance to prevent further Chinese expansion, or, hopefully, eventually integrate China as a democratic, US partner. Thus, the US supervised the formation of SEATO, the South East Asian Treaty Organization. SEATO included Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan. It was bound across somewhat firm principles of democracy and free trade, but its primary goal was to make China's neighbors capable of dealing with any further expansionism.
The Republic of Quebec became a staunch ally of France, a surprising notion. Though they could not always agree on some domestic issues, they both embraced the idea of French nationalism. But with Canadian troops on the borders, Quebec felt the need to arm itself further, and continued buying European arms.
The new Ukrainian Presidential elections were beginning to divide the country heavily. After the collapse of the Russian Federation in the West, there had been a series of internal debates as to the future of the Ukraine. The Western Ukrainians, looking on in admiration at Poland's prosperity, wanted to join the EU, while Easterners found that they were losing power to an increasingly pro-Western government.
The loose 'anti-Orange' coalition (the 'Orange Party' was formed in 2004, though not as successful as in OTL earlier on) were becoming increasingly angered over the new candidates promise to 'Bring Ukraine into the EU'. After the final runoffs, the Orange Party gained controlling majorities in virtually every body up for election.
Belarus, still steadfast after several generations of autocrats, provided assistance and political support to the Easterners as they split off into a separate East Ukrainian Republic.
Political divisions continued to grow between the nations of the European Union, as Spain begins to adopt similar policies as to France, though with less success overseas. Germany, already politically fractured, remains unstable as some Unions begin to attack Polish workers hired to replace those who have gone on strike.
The UK seems to be stepping back from EU commitments, though stops short of full withdrawal in case its allies in Eastern Europe kept EU markets free. Many Scandinavian nations were worried new French policies were threatening possible relations with North America and the Islamic world
The Alliance of God was becoming quite angry after South African, then OAS, and then UN recognition of the White Nile Republic. After the Alliance Council convened, it ruled unanimously to declare war on all those who attempted to support the 'so called nation… created by the dogs of the West to suppress our power'. South Africa responded by continuing to place troops in the Central African Republic and Kenya to supply militias in the White Nile, while South African built Black Falcon fighters began to attack Sudanese aircraft used in suppression raids. The Alliance of God responded by deploying its own forces into the region, and soon a heated, yet undeclared war was underway. Other nations joined with South Africa, contributing their own efforts and funds behind the lines while the better trained and equipped South Africans took on AoG forces.
In April of 2031 crack troops from Egypt arrived, and made significant advances into the White Nile Republic. The South Africans called upon the EU to use their various space observation systems, and France gladly accepted. The EU also started selling weapons to anti-AoG nations to counter the Islamist insurgents in many nations outside the current conflict area.
The EU and South Africa form a pact, and the EU allows South Africa to participate in the development program of new systems if South Africa agrees to provide raw materials for the electronics and continued to put pressure on the AoG.
[The New Space Race?]
The WestPac War had shown the nations of the world that space superiority was no longer an abstract concept in warfare. It could be achieved, and it was vital to the outcome of a battle between two nations. For the rest of the world, that meant developing space warfare programs. Japan's JAXA lead SEATO space efforts, as France, Israel, and eventually South Africa started their own. For the ANG, which enjoyed space control, it was time to find further ways to exploit it.
ANG Space Solar Plants were used as 'jumping points' for a new space initiative: the harvesting of Lunar and asteroid resources for newer projects. Though it was not vital now, getting a head-start would be vital in the future as other nations realized their own space warfare goals. Most NASA projects were transferred over to the ANG, and a timetable to establish a full lunar mining and refinement complex was set, with completion by 2037.
The United States finishes construction of the first urban 'arco-city' complex in Los Angeles. The giant structure was modelled after Japanese counterparts to harbor ever increasing population levels in the cities of the US. Other arcologies are scheduled to be completed in New York, Chicago, and other large cities within the next few years.
The first civilian model powered suits begin to hit the markets, some license-built by electronics and car companies. They are offered to construction and industrial companies, service jobs that require heavy labor, firefighters, and the police. The US was the leader in such technology, though there was much debate over whether they should be sold to non-LE individuals after a team of thieves hijacked several powered suits and raid. The police had to take several heavy machine guns from the local police departments and use them to finally kill the criminals. The 'suit-control' debate raged along with debates on 'info-weapon' programs, and whether possession of one should be considered a crime. Civilian carbon computers were finally available to those with the money, and they were wreaking havoc on businesses that had not updated their electronics. Many older encryption programs were no match for these new systems.
The problem was highlighted in late 2031 when several hackers used their new carbon-based systems to overwhelm security computers in other nations. Banks in Nigeria, Thailand, Ecuador and Indonesia were devastated as the culprits released programs that diverted wire transfer and personal information to 'data-havens', heavily encrypted databases located offshore where US law enforcement had no jurisdiction. Information crime had truly come into its own.
The UP won a major victory in the Presidential rates, and later promised to crack down on 'those who abuse technology', and reduce US commitments that did not involve the reconstruction of China's victims.
The EU parliament controversially passes a measure that puts a tariff on all industrial equipment not manufactured in Europe. Britain is especially angry, as the law conflicts with its ANG purchases. Poland solves this by setting up US run factories inside, but the UK, completely fed up with protectionist policies in the EU and unwilling to contribute EU troops to Africa, withdraws completely and decides to maintain relations on a 'case-by-case basis'.
The EU does carry on with its plans to send troops to Africa, and deploys several units into the White Nile Republic for 'peacekeeping'.
The Ukrainian 'civil war' ends somewhat peacefully, with East Ukraine and Belarus joining in an alliance with the older Russian Federation. West Ukraine applies for entry to the EU, though the Russian Confederation experiences increasing difficulty entering the Union.
Somalia is 'reunited' by AoG troops, and has a government installed that quickly joins the Alliance. The troops in Somalia begin operations against the White Nile Republic, and with the EU offering increasing weapons aid to the non-Muslim nations, it seems another war is imminent.
By now, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt account for the vast majority of the AoG Trade Zone's economy. With oil reserves running low and peaking in the vast majority of the group, securing more resources for AoG manufacturing becomes a vital task. Some consider raising the tax on the Suez Canal, though many worry this may finally spark a war with the west.
SEATO began taking on responsibility for the reconstruction of its member nations, Taiwan and Vietnam. In addition, they established a Joint Defense Network that some theorized would give the group offensive, as well as defensive, capability.
Japan also began reconsidering the use of nuclear weapons. Though Japan already employed E-Bombs, many were reluctant even after Chinese use of the weapons to employ nuclear weapons for themselves.
[Technology Overview: Battlesuits]
When the US first deployed the 'Force Warrior 2025' suit, it was merely a Land Warrior system with an electromagnetic frame. Battlesuits were mainly adopted by Western nations, with smaller militaries and more money to spend per soldier. Each suit generally used carbon-composite frames (With the US being the worlds largest producer of carbon nanotubes and buckyballs), with other materials like Exote to protect against shrapnel and gunfire. Hydrogen fuel cells and rechargeable batteries powered each exoskeleton and its sensor systems. New concepts usually employed in vehicles began to show their presence in battlesuits. Each infantryman in some platoons had EM sensors, IR/NVG cameras on their visors, and enhanced acoustic sensors. With three men, if a sniper fired a shot, the acoustic sensors on each suit (or the visual ones if a muzzle flash was within sight) could triangulate the location of an enemy sniper.
But as battlefields became more deadly for the infantryman, battlesuits became larger. In late 2030 the US army began designing 'clamshell' style suits that turned infantryman into small, walking tanks. Rather than exposing the legs to newer, heavier landmines, the US sacrificed a small profile for heavier protection. The main arms of the suit were given more power by making them independent of the user's. The user's arms were enclosed in smaller 'master' arms, while the larger arms of the suit were 'slaves', controlled through the waldo system. The user's legs only extended partially into the suits, so a landmine blast would not injure the user as badly.
The UP continues to push 'technology-safety' initiatives that limit the use of Data-Havens by US citizens, though use continues at normal pace anyway. The EP and UP do agree to a semi-deregulation of space industry, and soon various aerospace companies are beginning their own initiatives.
The US returns the moon in late 2033 for the second time since the beginning of the 21st Century, and begins the establishment of a lunar base. The UK and Poland also participate and contribute resources to the joint program.
The UP also begins the use of a national identity database, though covertly. It is merely a compiling of legally obtained information, essentially a large national information 'file' to keep track of purchases. The UP did pass laws for gun registries and registries for powered suits for businesses, and added these to the national database as well.
In South America, Brazil and Argentina signed a series of treaties with sub-Saharan nations, and South Africa begins to purchase biotechnology products from Brazilian labs.
Internal divisions continue to grow as Eastern European nations become increasingly sceptical over whom they want to associate with. When Western nations advocate sending more troops to Africa, Eastern Europe opts out. Poland, West Ukraine, and virtually every nation East of Germany and Italy decide to leave the EU (except for Scandinavia), and form the Eastern Europe Customs Union, a free trade bloc.
France, leader of the remaining European Union, begins to advocate a more nationalized union, based on security from 'growing threats in Africa and the Mideast'. A national ID system is issued, and the Union supports tariffs on many goods coming in to the EU to preserve economic integrity.
[Africa and the Islamic World]
As the bushwar between the Alliance and the sub-Saharan nations escalated as South Africa formed the 'African Combined Security Union' with Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, the White Nile Republic, the Central African Republic and Kenya.
In the AoG, internal divisions were beginning to mount. Many Sunni Muslims wanted to bring the AoG under a caliph; indeed, part of the reason for the formation of the AoG was that some Sunnis hoped to create the foundation for a new Caliphate. But Shi'a Muslims disagreed, especially the new Ayatollah of Iran, a radical Twelver. However, the possibility of total war with South Africa and its allies kept the alliance unified for then.
As China's government rebuilt itself, many parts of the population hoped for a change towards a more democratic society. Reform movements began to spread where the government had little influence, and Tibet considered seceding again.
SEATO began to develop more and more elements of military cooperation, and agreed to standardize some logistical aspects. Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand joined as 'observers' of the alliance, and opened a path to negotiations between the organization and the various nations.
In Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan formed their own free trade zone, with the possibility of an alliance emerging later. They sold many space facilities the Russians could no longer afford to use to the Alliance of God and other nations, provided they picked up the tab for the renovations.
India began to grow nervous over the increasing power of the Alliance of God. With a huge Muslim population, India realized it may have to become closer with this group if it wished to continue to exercise national power. India's earlier relations with South Africa became problematic because they threatened Indian relations with the Alliance.
The political fracture between East and West actually turns out to be a success for the European Union in some ways, and a slew of new laws are passed without interference from the Eastern nations. France and Germany announce they wish to bring the EU even farther, adopting the old idea of a European empire as a counter to the ANG nations. The process begins, and the French representatives to the EU hope to have an États-Unis d'Europe by 2040.
The ACSU begins major deployments of troops into Kenya and the White Nile Republic as the Alliance of God orders Mahmoud Abdul-Hafiz to lead a force of Iraqi, Saudi, and Egyptian troops into Somalia, considered the most professional force west of Iran. These troops are the best equipped and trained out of that nation as well, with powered armor and next-generation main battle tanks and men who knew how to use them. Abdul-Hafiz deployed his troops to Somalia; then began an attack into Kenya, using his tanks to smash through Namibian and Kenyan troops, who lacked the experience and technology of their South African counterparts. Within the first week he circled his troops around and cut off supply lines to South African troops in the West Nile Republic, and then began a separate attack with naval support on Nairobi.
This two-week campaign was remembered for its great success and its brutal tactics. After defeating enemy units, non-Muslims were subject to harsh treatment or outright execution. The goal of the Alliance was to 'claim these lands for the prophet', and soon locals were recruited to go into mosques of unconquered territories, and lead campaigns of disobedience until 'The Great Liberator of Islam' would arrive. Abdul-Hafiz attained a cult-like status. Iconic photos were made of him by political connections in the AoG, some hoping to style him for the Caliph. He did not need much glorification, though. Abdul-Hafiz often fought on the front-lines, using a suit of Powered Armor adorned with verses from the Qur'an. In one incident, Hafiz single-handedly destroyed a Kenyan tank attacking his Forward Headquarters with nothing but his suit's hands and a Thermite grenade. However, he was careful not to get himself killed, but some said it was Allah who was responsible for his luck and skill. By the end of 2040 nearly all of the West Nile Republic and Kenya is under occupation by Alliance troops.
Internal strife in mainland China mounts as their depression continues. Many fear a new civil war is about to emerge, as old leaders are swept away by popular opinion. The Chinese middle and lower classes were hit the most by the war with the loss of trade and internal devastation, and wanted a more democratic system. A few Chinese generals still managed to keep them under control, but SEATO began considering funding a revolution to put China under some form of representative rule.
Further southward, Australia announced a Republican referendum. After taking a larger role in the Pacific than the UK did, many Australians felt it was 'time to stand on equal footing' with the other nations of the world. The model for a Republic would be 'direct election' of the executives, a nod to past failures of an 'electoral college' style system.
New UP business laws are passed to deal with American problems regarding the global economic depression, and increase the minimum wage. As a result, American manufacturers reach out to SEATO and ACSU nations for manufactures, where minimum wages are much lower, or entirely non-existent. Angry, the UP begins passing anti-outsourcing laws, which help the economy in the short turn before companies begin to stop offering healthcare due to the costs.
The Republic of Quebec signs an alliance with the European Union/ États-Unis d'Europe to be, angering Canada and some US politicians. The ANG space program continues on schedule, with initial lunar landings completed and several space stations built around SSP platforms for transit service.
France continues pushing its United States of Europe concept and keeps up the EU space program in the meantime. However, the Scandinavian members of the EU no longer appear to be interested, and all leave the Union, including Denmark, feeling France's Federal Initiative does not accommodate their needs. However, they offer to continue good relations with the EU nations themselves. Meanwhile, the EU begins voting on a possible measure to declare war on the Alliance of God if they expand any farther into sub-Saharan Africa.
[Africa and the Islamic World]
Abdul-Hafiz continues his campaign, and uses political connections to buy co-belligerency out of Tanzania, where he prepares to stage another attack into Mozambique, while the AoG seals off the Central African Republic from ACSU support. Hoping to strike a psychological blow against the AoG, South African submarines launch a cruise missile attack against the leading Council, killing most. It is followed up by missile attacks on major capitals and industrial centers.
As a result, the two remaining Council members and the Minister of Defense form a three-part provisional government, though it lacks central authority. Abdul-Hafiz vows to continue war as long as supplies keep coming.
However, political infighting results in the Defense Minister 'eliminating' his two rivals by the end of 2035, and Abdul-Hafiz halts the offensive and orders his men to hold their captured ground. Returning to Baghdad where the Alliance administrative offices are with his trusted elite, he kills the unpopular Defense Minister and vows to 'bring stability to our nation. Because their ruling government is no longer intact, he is also 'elected' by the Saudi government as their leader. Oman, Yemen, Syria, and Jordan all declare him their leader or pledge allegiance to him.
In December of 2036, he united these countries into 'The Caliphate of Arabia'. He pledged to keep the nation within the AoG and maintain good relations with all nations in the Alliance, though said the Caliphate was not closed in scope.
Abdul-Hafiz, while religiously devout and 'backwards' by Western moral standards, was an excellent leader. He instituted a program to revitalize the AoG economy and adopt 'Western economies without Western ways'. Abdul-Hafiz pledged to make the Mideast a net exporter of nano-refined materials, and began to start advanced research processes to exploit mineral wealth. He also planned to adopt a new irrigation system to bring Arabia and Iraq into greener, arable land.
Though the Caliphate ascended fairly quickly, the religious revival was in full swing and many Muslims seemed willing to accept a leader who had fought and defeated the forces of the Western world. Whether or not such stability would remain within the Caliphate and the Alliance was a hotly-debated topic, especially with the scepticism of the Ayatollah.
The new Australian semi-Presidential Republic is approved by a 70% margin, though it promises to remain part of the Commonwealth and maintain good relations with England.
Internal crisis in China intensifies as a series of riots and rebellion wracks the north of the nation, where the military is mishandling the reconstruction of industrial areas. The unemployed are angry they lack any kind of representation, and soon local military units begin sealing off provinces near Shanghai from government intervention. From here, a movement develops not to secede from China, but to unite it under 'more equal and orderly rule'. Advocating a strong central government with some democratic ideals (Election of legislative branch and local government), the movement is popular but has little power outside the east-central China region.
Meanwhile, a socialist coup occurred in Thailand, which was hurt by the East Asian depression. By 2036 a socialist council was in control of the nation, but it rekindled Muslim violence in the South, who felt the new government did not represent their interests and was unfairly exploiting them.
This did not sit well with either SEATO or the West, as Thailand remained a major mineral exporter and a former trade partner. Soon various governments and corporations began preparing to 'defend their interests and assets' in the nation, and by any means necessary. All of these plans were kept in secret; though large US multinationals received a go-ahead from US Intelligence agencies despite UP isolationist policies. With the UP securing victory in 2036 elections as well, it seemed like it would be a long time before the US played any direct role.
[America: The Beginning of the End?]
In the US, the harsh outsourcing laws triggered a new inter-class struggle. Companies were forced to lay off workers after a minimum wage hike, but were unable to turn to cheaper solutions. As a result, the growth of many smaller businesses was halted almost completely. The power of larger corporations began to grow as they took over smaller businesses and used previous surpluses to increase their market shares. The new wave of EP politicians elected in 2036 began to start demanding the end of the 'anti-outsourcing laws', saying jobs that are worth less than the minimum wage done in the US were 'creating false expectations for the American worker'.
But not all companies found it cost efficient to hire new workers or buy others out. GMC announced that it would increase the automation in its new factories by 150%, and cut down on costs by automating much of its other processes as well. Many of the industries doing the strongest in America, like the nano-material factories, also began to diversify into other areas or vertically integrate. Ultimately, they lead to huge lay-offs in the Great Lakes industrial zone.
Soon, riots began in Flint and Detroit as protests were staged. Pipe-bombs were set off near the headquarters of several major automakers and manufacturers in the area, killing 4 employees. GMC in particular responded by hiring a private security force to supplement their own security guards. They were given permission to shoot after warning during any violent intrusion onto GMC office property.
The meaning of 'sabotage' was revisited as workers used their knowledge of the factories to break in and destroy complex machinery. Dealerships were set aflame, and pickets were set outside various dealership facilities.
As violent clashes began to break out between armed guards and gangs, the Police met increasing criticism after the deaths of several rioters. Several districts had their departments fire bombed.
Angry, the Governor of Michigan declared martial law and deployed National Guard troops into Flint and Detroit. Equipped with battlesuits, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters, the 46th Infantry and the 177th MP quelled organized resistance quickly, though the popularity of the governor fell, despite his status as a moderate United Party member.
In late 2037 over one million gathered in organized demonstrations outside Washington from all points of view. Violent clashes were prevented but did not seem far away.
After a failed strike by power-plant workers, several power lines from nuclear reactors that powered the Midwest were destroyed, seriously damaging the nation's industrial capability. The Governor of Illinois ordered the immediate search and capture of the culprits, and in the process arrests over 40% of the union's members. Others are killed as SWAT units and State Troopers break into the homes of union members.
On December 23, 2037 there is an assassination attempt on the EP Illinois governor by an unknown party. He is hit in the leg by a sniper, but vows to continue the fight against disorder. The Midwest and some East Coast cities spend the holiday season under martial law or curfew.
Strangely, the ANG space program completes on schedule, but EP victory is almost ensured by mismanagement of policy by the UP.
The federalization process continues as the EU(E) begins deploying troops to ACSU nations and their allies, while the AoG declares it as a reckless action that endangers lives and the fragile peace between nations.
However, the EU(E) and ACSU begin to demand the immediate withdrawal of AoG troops from Kenya, while the Caliphate vows to keep their troops in until the nation is 'stabilized'. But the EU begins gun running and use of special-forces to disrupt AoG occupation, and many fear war is inevitable.
The EECSU takes over peacekeeping in the Balkans as the AoG tries to stir up violence in the area, hoping to distract the West European nations. Greece and the Confederation of Russia begin to suspect possible political coups in the area, and provide the bulk of deployments. They also begin financing anti-Islamist elements in the Turkish government, hoping to stave off a possible application to the Alliance and increased support to Muslim elements in the Balkans.
Government control continues to break down in rural and east-central China as democratic movements begin to protest in a variety of peaceful and violent means. The democratic groups lobby for intervention by SEATO, but it does not occur. The Republic of Taiwan becomes filled with immigrants to other Southeast Asian countries as internal strife intensifies.
SEATO itself finishes construction of its regional defense land, sea, aerial and space networks during varying points in the year, and integrates them into the C4I of each member nation. Japan becomes the leading arms exporter of the region, and supplies many SEATO and pro-SEATO nations.
Japan also begins experimentation with larger scaled legged vehicles, though not in a government role. While bipedal designs are found to be inefficient for combat, the government does offer a small amount of money for research of a multi-pedal platform with possible applications in jungle or mountain warfare.
The Enterprise Party wins a slim majority over the United Party on nearly all fronts, though mainly due to internal divisions in the UP rather than any significant appeal by the EP.
In the Great Lakes, violence finally begins to settle down, and the EP begins to pass less restrictive wage and outsourcing controls. The EP argues that it will bring business back into the Great Lakes, and a lower wage is better than having no job at all because required wages were too high. To compensate fears about too much 'laissez-faire' policy, the EP vows to keep the Education and Welfare programs intact, though it kills off the UP welfare initiatives later in the year.
The Marianas and Puerto Rico begin statehood referendums. The Marianas referendum fails, but the Puerto Rico referendum votes overwhelmingly for statehood.
In Canada, elections bring in politicians who want to begin good relations with the Quebecois Republic, though by a slim majority. Many Canadians and the US government are disgruntled, but do not raise too vocal a protest. The primary reason many major politicians are angry with Quebec is the idea of a European puppet state in North America.
The EP was concerned about further inroads by the European powers. For years nationalists had been arguing for easing the burden on European families, and for good reason. Within a few years the resurgence in population, Europe's new nationalist-inspired baby-boom, would be reaching an economically effective age. And the EP had no intention of letting Europe expand its power into the New World again.
Unfortunately for the US, Western Europe was well on its way to accomplishing that. Brazil and Argentina, hurt by the loss of Asian trade during the depression, blamed the US for most world economic problems. Their new governments thought the war was an example of how Anglo-centric policy could destabilize the world. The era when American and European interests had been united was over, and now multipolarism was the reigning philosophy. Europe argued that global world improvement would prevent the abuse of power by large nations or organizations, and South Americans who only learned about the 2006 War in history books were quick to agree.
In Suriname, riots broke out between Muslims and the ruling government. Violence soon spread to neighboring Guyana. Most estimated it was a result of growing tensions between Muslims and the EU-Africa-Latin American axis, but whatever the cause the EU was interested in ending the problems. The EU(E) decided that this needed to end. Giving a covert green light to Brazil, the Brazilian army offered peacekeeping services to the small nations, and they were accepted. Brazilian troops rolled across the border.
[Europe and the Islamic World]
In northern Europe, the UK joined a free trade agreement with the Scandinavian nations, hoping to build a more passive cooperative union between nations, rather than France's federal ambitions.
The EU announced that it would be forming a Federal Government the next year, which brought relief to the Caliphate. They believed that the Europeans would not risk damaging their new supranational enterprise with a war against the Muslim world.
The Caliphate used this time to their advantage, fortifying positions in Africa and the Mediterranean. Egypt offered support to the union, along with northern Sudan. In addition, the Caliphate began covertly moving nuclear arms to Syria and Libya.
Israel and the Turkish government began sharing intelligence, knowing of the mobilizations but unaware of their scope or substance. When this program was discovered by the Turkish population, it caused widespread outrage, leading to riots in some areas.
Unrest in China continued, and when protests were squashed with violence, SEATO began to enact sanctions against China, but does not offer any form of direct intervention.
New Zealand, inspired by Australia's success, begins considering a more Republican form of government. However, internal politics makes it a minor issue, with a referendum sometime within the next few years.
The US begins gearing up for the 2040 Presidential election as the EP controlled legislature battles with the UP Presidency. However, a bipartisan agreement is reached over opposing EUE militarization in areas near US, which also conflicts with isolationist doctrine.
In Quebec, the EUE begins joint exercises in the north of the Republic, claiming it provides their troops with valuable winter warfare techniques and that it helps 'cement the friendship' between Western Europe and the nation. The US and Canada are sceptical, but the true outrage comes when the EUE deploys troops into Guyana and Suriname, though alongside Brazil. Many US politicians claim it is a violation of the Monroe doctrine, but the US does not act decisively.
The United States of Europe votes for the legislative and executive branch, despite previous fears about the coming African war disrupting internal politics. European action in South America and Africa receives significant support, with many supporting the actions as humanitarian and befitting of a world power.
In Eastern Europe, the Russian Confederation begins to try and foster good relations between Eastern European nations, especially Poland, which continues to hold an important position in the Allied Nations Group.
However, not all is well. Resurgent violence in the Balkans is quickly followed by internal problems in the United States of Europe. In France, a suicide bomb in the Paris subway kills eighteen. The USE Security Ministry quickly determines that the attack was 'aided and abetted' by the Alliance of God member nation of Libya, claiming the explosive mix was similar to samples taken from a Libyan explosives factory that had also been used in attacks in Africa.
[Africa and the Islamic World]
The EUE/USE deploys a Carrier Battle Group to the Mediterranean, and military planners decide that their war on the AoG over Africa will have to go far beyond Africa itself.
Egypt and Pakistan joined the Caliphate as Muslim fervour swept over the Middle East. Troop deployments were strengthened in Africa, and with Egypt under the Caliphate, the Suez Canal stands to be denied European access.
Both sides bring more and more weapons into sub-Saharan Africa. But the conflict on the continent is hardly contained within the nations occupied by the alliances. In Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other nations with a split population, Islamist and anti-Islamist radicals stir up violence, with black-project aid from those with similar interests.
Chinese Communist Party Rule is in the beginning of the end as protesters march on Beijing. But neither side of the conflict is completely united. Some protesters want a more socialist government as China had in the previous century, while others want democracy and capitalism similar to Taiwan.
SEATO, as the leading Pacific power when combined with observer Australia, begins providing peacekeepers in area not under Chinese governmental control, but at the same time begins preparing for a new Chinese government. At the same time, SEATO begins aiding anti-socialist rebels in Thailand, without any effective oversight.
The Russian Federation begins to institute a planned economy to boost its military power, many speculating that the Russians wished to make territorial gains in Manchuria. The fact was only increased upon as China's pro-Russia government lost power to a more pro-SEATO revolution.
[Society and Technology in 2020-2040]
The 2020-2040s marked the end of petroleum's dominance of the world's energy markets. Though petrol was often mixed in small amounts in alternative fuel mixes, as a stand alone fuel it was a non-factor in the major commercial markets. This was only increased as the late 2020s brought about new fuel mixes that would be useful for aircraft were developed.
Hydrogen fuel cells have become efficient enough to be used for a variety of systems such as powered exoskeletons and motorbikes, and as backup systems for hybrid vehicles, especially in the military where quiet engines can be useful in battle.
Renewable energy is in wide use but is not as a primary source of energy. In the deserts and plains of the world, like the Middle East, the US, and Australia, solar farms are present in significant amounts. Wind power is also used in geographically appropriate areas.
By 2035, there are over 50 Space Solar Power stations in orbit, with a few owned by virtually every major economic power. These giant orbital solar farms beam down their energy as concentrated microwave beams to virtually anywhere on the surface of the Earth with the appropriate receiving facility.
The first commercial fusion reactor comes online in upstate New York in early 2027 as the result of a joint Canadian-US project, though many other nations participate. Fusion reactors are possessed by only the richest nations or blocs, even by 2040. In 2036 the US announces that it has developed a fusion reactor capable of installation on a carrier, though the US keeps the details behind it strictly classified.
The 2023 development by British and Japanese scientists of a commercial-line scramjet engine becomes a major interest to the world. Using advanced fuel-conservation technologies, within 5 years the US, UK, Japan, and China offer scramjet-powered airlines that can bring a passenger anywhere in the world within a few hours. However, scramjets do not overtake the market. Instead, more fuel efficient aircraft with greater passenger comfort remain the norm.
However, the commercial scramjet does boost the space industries of many smaller nations. A US-UK-Polish cooperative effort through the ANG integrated space program gives Poland and its Eastern European allies a substantial space-plane fleet.
The idea of possessing an efficient space program seems more and more interesting as the ANG Space Resource Exploration program shows signs of success. Lunar Helium-3 provides fuel for fusion reactors, and space materials are used to create high-quality industrial products that could not be manufactured on Earth, shipped down by ocean-based Lander-lifters. However, the high cost leads to the ANG discussing other alternatives, including the possibility of a space-fountain or space-elevator for material transport uses.
Nanotech's most important contribution remains as part of materials science. Nano-materials, especially those based on carbon, are vital components of advanced armor systems. They are also responsible for the start of a new revolution in computing technology: the hyper-powered carbon computer based systems.
But nanotechnology is also well established in medical science. Nanotech 'bombs' destroy cancerous cells and unclog arteries, and nanostructures are used to more efficiently repair damaged tissues and structures in the Human body. Brain diseases once incurable can be remedied by nanotechnology components that can be directed to assemble in the afflicted area of the brain.
A first-world nation's industry in the 2020s, the 2040s see the major development of nano-material producing factories in Africa, South America and other areas with growing economies.
Biotechnology and genetic engineering is most commonly used in similar ways as it was at the beginning of the 21st century, though in a much more advanced and efficient manner. GM Crops, Stem Cells, gene therapy, and animal cloning are all commonplace. In 2022, the US began its major organ-growing operations after years of debate, and most other first world nations did the same, if they had not been doing so already. In South America, biotech becomes an industry of interest. Scientists, mostly working out of universities, develop cures for various diseases and new GM crops using biotechnology. In cooperation with governments in Africa and Asia, biotech engineered products help turn the tide of viral and bacterial disease, making them accountable in no small way for the rise of South Africa and its neighbors as powerful nations.
But in the first world, biotechnology has once again reached the ethics debate in 2034, when the first genetically-engineered embryos were birthed. Though modified to eliminate otherwise crippling genetically inherited diseases, many worry if the age of designer babies is finally upon the United States and other first world nations. The US quickly establishes a new bipartisan committee to establish guidelines for 'ethical modification', but that does not stop such designer children from being born completely. The richest of the rich go to wealthy nations without any significant genetics laws, but even then the number of designer children is only a few hundred by 2040 due to high cost and the novelty of the new technology that makes substantial modification dangerous.
[Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics]
The first true AI was developed by the ANG in secret in 2033, and several more soon followed. Kept in careful isolation where they were only fed the information the scientists of the ANG wanted, for the first 5 years it was primarily a 'psychological' experiment to determine if the AI was truly self-aware. One of the most important discoveries (to the relief of the staff) was that an AI constantly wanted to work. Without given a task or a means to perform it, they showed a strange condition bordering between depression and boredom. As a result, AIs were given a variety of military related tasks at first.
Perhaps the most influential of the tasks was the idea of an AI 'evaluating' industrial and software design. An AI could root out the bugs in software that human developers would not notice, and AI's could do huge amounts of simulation on design effectiveness without losing the abstract quality that an engineer possessed. 'Henry', as he was nicknamed, was an ANG mainframe based in an ultra-secure complex in the Rocky Mountain region of Montana. Henry could find design flaws in military designs, rectify them, and send the plans back to auto-factories, which could then pump them out for the ANG militaries.
AI also brought on a more disturbing development by the turn of 2040s. Total Information Awareness as a doctrine had been used before, but there were always missing qualities, as it still required a human to direct the search. However, a sufficiently connected and 'conditioned' AI system could access the open records (those that do not require a warrant') on the world network. Using profile, locate or even discover suspected terrorists. In a secret Congressional meeting, an inter-agency committee was established to 'watch the watchers' and make sure the AI did not violate law and correct strange recommendations or data output. Due to the enormous advantage the ANG, (and later, SEATO) possessed with AI, they were kept extremely secret, though many suspected the United States of Europe had caught on and was developing their own AI system.
The 2020s also brought about the beginning of true 'man-machine interfaces'. Using new technology gleaned from MRI and other medical advances, headgear and clothing was developed that could read 'high resolution' neural signals from the human brain and nervous system without physical intrusion. At first, they were primitive, but once proper training was developed most first-world nations by 2030 had two-way neural interfaces, mainly in a military capacity. Aircraft pilots could have various sensors on the airframe 'feed' their images into his mind, and he could give commands to maneuver or fire the aircraft's weapons with a heightened response time. Though most weapons are not exclusively mentally controlled, it did increase the ability of soldiers to multitask their weapon's systems.
The advance of nanotechnology and man-machine interface did lead to cybernetics as SF authors had imagined it. In 2021 the first cybernetic eye was developed, and by the 2030s disabled veterans were receiving cybernetic implants to do anything from overcome paralysis through spinal implants to replacing lost limbs with interfaced mechanical counterparts. Though in many respects inferior to new biologically grown organs, for large structures like limbs and the neural system (and often due to their cheaper cost), cybernetic tissue remains quite popular.
[The World without a Leader: Culture and Globalization]
Despite continuing Western overall military and economic superiority, the world was no longer a unipolar one. SEATO had the most powerful navy in the Pacific and a group economy above that of the US. In Africa, South Africa had freed itself from client status to India, China, and the EU, and was operating on equal footing with its European allies in the Africa situation.
What this all meant for culture was that it was no longer the Western world dominating what was popular and what was a consumer hit. Though English remained the standard for the Internet and other forms of world communication (more to do with the West's footprint on the world than any current power), other cultures were entering new ages of prosperity. The 'soft power' presented by nations like America and China was no longer unrivalled. A decline of Anglo-centric cultural appeal brought on a revival of French nationalism. This in turn encouraged a 'European' culture for Europe, eventually causing the formation of the USE. In Africa, local industry began exporting rather than importing in large numbers for the first time in the 2030s. While the influence of Western culture was not wiped out, it now faced foreign restaurants, products, entertainment, and other products of 'soft power' both abroad and at home.
One of the most remarkable cases of cultural revival came from the Middle East. In the 2020s-2030s period, the Alliance of God and reforms in the Caliphate area lead to a new, more progressive Islamic society. While still embracing Islamic values, Islamic businesses thrived and native-born cultural institutions and products thrived. Education was encouraged with an embrace of both science and Allah, a parallel to the earlier 'intelligent design' movement in the US. Though it did not catch on universally, the other reforms and improvements of the revived Islamic culture were important to the formation of the AoG and the Caliphate.
The UP loses the election as many Americans begin to believe the US must begin to regain its power. With 'military buildups' by Europe in both North and South America, the new Congress will submit a resolution to form "… a new American alliance… to unite the American people for the coming challenges of the future…" It would form a new super-national government that would allow individual nations to maintain their own laws, but would have regionally (state/province) based voting blocs for seats in the 'American Congress'. A different quasifederal system, designed to make states empowered rather than nations. The Mexican commonwealth joined, and opted to become official US states as well, feeling confident Hispanic interests were represented in US politics.
In Canada, there was more reluctance, and no official response was given within the first year. Some provinces like Alberta threatened to become US states if they did not support the alliance, but many thought this was extremism. Canadians, after the secession of Quebec, were reluctant to give up their 'national identity' (though many pro-Unionists said Canada had none).
Despite the bluster of the American alliance proponents, there was little American action outside its borders. Resistance by local South American governments and the USE kept America out of the Guyanas, but in Chiapas, things were beginning to seem ripe for change. The government was weakening, and as US Mexico thrived, emigration was beginning to become a problem.
Turnovers in government over the last few years had deprived Chiapas of its major backers. The only major power that would have an interest in funding the unpopular government was Europe, but even then the USE did not want to be acting so close to the prized Mexican states in the US.
Of course, the USE did not slow down in South America. Soon Argentina was displaying its support for USE intervention in the Guyanas, and the two nations set plans to hold joint naval exercises in 2041. Argentines also began discussion of reclaiming the Malvinas, banking on the idea that the USE would quickly overpower Great Britain, and the US would avoid war to maintain the development of their alliance.
[The African War]
Unfortunately for Argentina, 2040 was the year the USE declared war on the Caliphate. After Kenya's territorial governor was assassinated, an attempted, USE backed revolution resulted in punitive air-strikes into nearby African nations. The USE and ASCU declared war, and launched a full-out assault on Tanzania from 'allied' Mozambique. The spring offensive reclaimed much of Tanzania, though the Caliphate naval assets in Zanzibar destroyed an ASCU carrier group and launched attacks into USE held Indian islands. And when Caliphate troops began to arrive en masse in Africa, their superior leadership and planning allowed them to retake most of Tanzania and set on into Mozambique itself. Another front was opened in the isolated Central African Republic, where the USE was the main defender, a few pocketed units began fighting to survive while cut off by Caliphate fighters.
It was in late August that the USE decided to open up a Northern Front against the Caliphate. From airbases in Italy, both atmospheric and orbital bombers began to pound Egypt, though attempts to penetrate towards the capital in Saudi Arabia failed. The Suez was completely destroyed, but Red Sea and Persian Gulf ports remained. Being careful to avoid destroying targets in the 'Holy Land', the USE continued to focus on Egypt and Northern Africa. Marines from Sicily made small landings in Tunisia, but the Caliphate responded with cruise missile launchers in Libya and Algeria against the USE mainland. Other Alliance of God nations, especially Iran, made military contributions on this front. Israel, fearing destruction, tried to maintain neutrality. As the Caliphate subs began to engage USE Mediterranean shipping, it seemed the USE had bitten off more than it could chew. This seemed especially so when the Caliphate established dominance over Gibraltar (the British section was finally ceded in the 2020s to Spain), and defeatists espoused claims that an invasion of Spain or Italy was imminent.
By the close of 2040, the war certainly seemed like things would only become more difficult for the ASCU and Europe.
The war did have one positive effect though, it galvanized the European people. Believing they were attacked first, popular support for the war was high, though European Muslims feared that the USE would organize mass internments. But they did not come to pass in 2040; instead, the war industries began to gear up for what seemed to be a long war. This war almost seemed to be a technological setback, as infantry were becoming more important in the rough terrain of Africa, though equipped with powered armor and riding in APCs. The manpower demand was high, and what worried Europe was that they would not have the bodies to compete with the Caliphate in this huge war. The AoG overall outnumbered the Europeans by hundreds of millions. As a result of the discrepancy between numbers of men and equipment, the USE launched a new program to develop weapons and tactics that would close the gap and win the war.
Eastern Europe remained neutral, though they were admonished for maintaining some trade relations with AoG states. But overall, it was Western, continental Europe that stayed embroiled in the war.
The Caliphate's war response was similar to Europe's. With the oil economy basically dead, the war could be positive in cementing diverse, industrial economies into the Caliphate and AoG nations. The AoG quickly began lobbying for Asian financial support, especially in nations with large Muslim populations like India and Indonesia. India, committed to neutrality, refused to budge, but Indonesia seemed eager to help. It would provide financial support at the least, with some radicals asking for war.
In Australia, protesters on both sides clashed, though the government urged calm and promised total neutrality on the behalf of the Republic. Most moderates felt it wasn't Australia's war, and that any involvement would be humanitarian, dealing with the end of the conflict. SEATO agreed, but was glad because they could now operate in China with impunity.
The Beijing government was now competing with a hotbed of pro-Capitalist Chinese seated in Shanghai, as opposed to the Southern socialists, who received little SEATO aid and withered. The central capitalists were not eager to become a puppet state either; they advocated a free-market economy with some regulations for rebuilding, and reuniting Taiwan under a Republic of China.
Russia looked at the decaying government in the North with interest. Russian troops were mobilized 'in the interest of border security', though what many thought would be an invasion of Manchuria. But the fall of Beijing expected still did not come in 2040, though with every move by regional powers, it certainly seemed closer than before.
[East Lindi Administrative Region]
[January 4th, 2041]
Though the rain had ended that morning, the situation for the USE troops had not improved. Once, this area had been a game reserve, full of life. But now, trees and shrubbery were shredded by shrapnel and explosives. Craters, foxholes, and the occasional husk of a vehicle or powered armor suit littered the ground. The ever-resilient tsetse flies remained, at home on a battlefield as they were in nature.
Philippe Breton was just glad he got his suit's climate control working again. With the continuing naval engagements in the Indian Ocean, sometimes supplies didn't always make it to the 32e Division, much less his specific regiment or company. But like everyone else, he'd persevered and used makeshift solutions to keep the more technical equipment going. However, one thing he was tired of was the fact his company had been put on flank again, with major Caliphate movements sighted on the front.
"Nothing but the usual blather on the com-net…" muttered a Parisian kid who was handling the long-range communications gear. He fiddled with the frequencies a bit.
"Hey, knock it off, idiot. You keep frequency-jumping; they'll home right in on you."
The dirt-covered carbon-shell of the suit showed no emotion, but the kid stopped messing with the frequencies. For such a high-intensity conflict, so much of the time was spent like this. Troops hunkered down in their foxholes or APCs, trying not to present much of a profile lest their Islamic counterparts call in some artillery or just pick them off with a sniper's rifle.
Philippe had seen the snipers once, and thought they were thoroughly crazy sons of bitches. They'd lay completely still for days, covered in ghillie-cloth, drinking recycled urine and eating nothing, staring down the scope of an anachronistic looking bolt-action. He wondered how the Caliphate snipers compared. How the Caliphate soldiers compared, acted.
You didn't see anything in these wars, everyone bundled up in technology and armor or plinking away from a few kilometers.
And then a loud explosion shattered his rumblings. He rolled over onto his back, to look rearward to see a tank entrenched, well, what was left of it, burning. He heard the crack of a railgun slug a few seconds after, and quickly matched it up with a wispy trail of vaporized ceramic and other coating materials. His suit's helmet helped cancel out some of the noise, but the Caliphate wasn't looking to stop. More and more guns joined the fray, picking out vehicles and fortifications, especially those emitting electronic signals. Bad news, Philippe thought. That meant they were hitting the jamming equipment that would interfere with 'smart artillery' barrages. Philippe had never been under a full-out barrage without the jamming gear, and he lay in his foxhole, willing himself deeper into the ground.
He checked his rifle, wishing he could do something to stop the Caliphate. Anti-personnel gunfire started up, not rifles but large-bore canisters of flechettes and shot began to rip through dirt entrenchments and dunes. Philippe watched in horror as a soldier running out from the burning hulk of a tank was cut down by one of the projectiles, and then ducked again, knowing he could meet a similar fate.
Then the artillery came. It started out ahead of their position, possibly to trigger mines. Tiny explosive sub-munitions tore chunks of the ground out or exploded in midair. As the explosions intensified, radio chatter indicated that the Caliphate was using a creeping barrage, which meant they had ammo to spare and plenty of tubes. This was not going to be a mere probing barrage to keep them down, it was to keep them out.
But after the longest half hour of his life, Philippe poked his head over the foxhole's brim, surveying the destruction. Medics crawled and sprinted to the positions of the wounded, and what before was merely broken terrain looked more like an alien surface. It reminded him a bit of the great war's battles, where a million lives were extinguished in the course of a day.
The railgun fire remained, but seemed like it was coming from a different angle than before; which meant the tanks they were mounted on were on the move towards the flank, if Philippe was keeping track correctly. With only his rifle and grenades, he could do nothing but watch as the remaining AT crews trained their missiles on the monstrous Caliphate tanks. While the Europeans had been working to make smaller, more mobile designs, the Caliphate had adopted the same strategy that Americans did in the late 20th century, damning air mobility in favor of a giant engine, heavy armor, and a hypervelocity 105mm railgun. Even the kinetic AT missiles had trouble piercing the enemy armor, and active defenses often prevented a crew from manoeuvring into a more favorable condition.
And where the hell was their air cover?
From the modest hill Philippe was defending, infantry weapons finally began to join the fray. Apparently Caliphate troops were disembarking a few hundred meters away, knowing their APCs would draw fire. And now the riflemen could have their revenge. Philippe grunted as he pulled himself to the foxhole's rim and shouldered his rifle, a big German-Belgian-French device with a zooming digital scope he'd ordered on the side. It was a trick he'd picked up from the special-forces… Often off-the-shelf gear was much better than the mass-produced junk the Army issued you.
Peering down the enhanced scope, he put his rifle on the center of mass of a shadowy outline of a sprinting Caliphate trooper. He squeezed the trigger in a double shot burst. The rifle bucked from the kick of the high-density propellant, but the suit autocorrected the aim, and the rifle remained settled on the figure as he writhed.
After the seeming absurdity of the opening barrage, (They're shooting at ME? was a common first-reaction to enemy fire), the French infantry reveled in the ability to shoot back. Though it seemed armor would eventually crush them if air support didn't arrive soon, they could at least fight back now. Laser-like streams of tracers swept across vast expanses of the battlefield in both directions, while mortars and grenade launchers belched explosive payloads towards the advancing Caliphate troops.
Eventually, the firefight seemed to subside, as Caliphate troops pulled back. Philippe cheered, but the excitement was short lived. A quick look around revealed that his line and his platoon was devastated, with a 75% casualty rate. He looked for anyone he could help as the first lines fell back towards the hill, but it seemed there was nobody within reach. The foxholes closest to his were filled with the husks of PA shells, torn open like crabs and revealing the flesh of the man within, or just perforated with bullet holes.
He got up, and ran like hell towards the nearest intact position. The rumble of a low-flying aircraft's engines marked the return of war's symphony, and from the direction of the sound it wasn't going to be piloted by a European.
He slammed into a trench alongside another suited trooper, virtually identical under the carbon shell. Modern war had given the soldier better protection. But Philippe felt as expendable as ever…
[The Great African War]
By 2041, the Old World is in chaos. The January Offensive pushes the USE back to Mozambique again by March, and in Central Africa, the USE troops are slaughtered. Virtually every unit in the area is destroyed or captured by Caliphate forces. Prisoners are shipped to camps in Sudan. The USE Indian Expedition does manage to successfully invade Zanzibar in August of 2041, though continued submarine disruption of supply lines prevents its use as a staging point.
In Northern Africa, during the autumn the USE manages to gain air superiority over Algeria and Morocco. The USE also withdraws its pockets from Tunisia, deciding an amphibious invasion there would be too logistically vulnerable to a submarine threat that continues to pester USE shipping. Instead, an invasion of Morocco and Algeria is listed as the only feasible option, and is particularly attractive because of the Caliphate's failure to break through Gibraltar. Because of Atlantic security, the USE can build up its forces out of the way of the Caliphate Navy.
The assault is launched in October, into Morocco. Heavy bombardment staves of supplies from Algeria, though by the end of the year USE troops have yet to make a significant breakthrough across the Atlas Mountains.
In the Balkans, many speculate that the Muslim areas are being used to help train anti-USE guerillas, or serve as a conduit for arms supplies. A USE study goes as far to implicate the EECU peacekeeping force there as running weapons-smuggling operations for Muslim fighters, with other studies indicating a 'drop' in EECU weapons surplus.
Secret talks between the major combatants and India begin, each side hoping to draw the slumbering giant to war.
Despite the USE being caught up in its African endeavour, the influence of Europe and the rising superpower of Brazil were beginning to cause quite a stir in local politics. Venezuela, its oil reserves peaked, had long been in a state of decay. Once the nation that had challenged a superpower, Venezuela was already staunchly pro-European, both as a result of many Venezuelan's distrust of the US, and by trade deals made with the USE. Colombia, much to the dismay of the US, withdrew from the Allied Nations Group after hegemonic pressure from Europe. No longer the right-wing US ally, American politicians, especially EP members; began to look for allies in Panama and other, smaller nations that did not receive as much USE attention. The Colombian withdrawal from the ANG was a shock to Americans, and was partially responsible for the later success of the Pan-American Combine.
First outlined during the September 2041 St. Louis Summit, the Pan-American Combine would replace federal governments with state governments, though federal entities would exist for the next few years. The Congress would consist of the Popular Senate (similar to the House of Representatives) and the State Senate (equal number for each state, similar to the American senate). An executive branch was not fully hammered out, with some arguing that having one executive might make the US in particular too powerful. A pro-Union Canadian remarked that "For this union to survive, it must serve the interests of all Americans, not just those in Washington DC."
As the meetings and discussion continued, many wondered if the alliance would be brought into force.
SEATO made a landmark decision that it would no longer recognize the Beijing or Southern governments, and deployed 'peacekeepers' from the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan to help stabilize some areas of the nation.
The Beijing capital quickly became a city under siege, as the old government rallied what loyal troops were left to defend the capital. Hoping to end the situation nonviolently, the SEATO troops were ordered not to initiate any aggressive acts, and began negotiating with the Chinese warlords. Demanding amnesty, they were trying to buy time and see if they could turn public opinion in both China and SEATO against a 'bloody intervention'.
But realistically, the old government did not govern much of China. Even the northern, Manchurian provinces were filled with Chinese fleeing to somewhat more prosperous Eastern Russia, only to be rebuffed by Russian troops who feared uncontrolled immigration. Mongolia offered to set up refugee camps, but was also wary of granting any citizenship, knowing that significant numbers could turn politics-as-usual on its head.
In Shanghai, the Taiwanese government met with Chinese National Republicans, discussing the matter of a unified Republic of China. Many in Taiwan and Central China supported this idea, because it would end cross-strait conflict and give China a seat in SEATO, where they could get international support more easily.
The PAC referendum was postponed by the US in hopes of salvaging the campaigns of Combinist politicians for the mid-terms. The UP and EP were both split heavily, and campaigning was vigorous and inescapable. The Southwest and Northeast were expected to vote for the EP integrationists in the Senate, but the House was anyone's guess. Because of pockets of disillusioned nativists in NoCal, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and the Great Lakes, the states expected to bring in pro-PAC senators brought in a significant amount of UP representatives. By the time the election was over, the EP had control of the senate and the UP had control of the House. Politicians and citizens of both parties braced themselves for a brutal two years, at least.
But while the politics were ugly, the voters who brought them in were worse. In California, riots broke out in San Francisco and Los Angeles as voter demonstrations clashed. Rabid UP members and all-around isolationists started the violence, but the reprisal by the EP mayor of Los Angeles was far from quiet. After six were killed, he quashed the demonstrations with power-suited Riot Police, followed by a martial law situation when violence persisted.
Canadian companies in the greater Seattle-Vancouver megacity were attacked by self-styled militias who believed that the PAC was vindication of the still-held idea that the World Government was attempting to take over the United States. Several compounds were raided by the ATF and National Guard troops, in total killing 30 militia members and 3 government personnel.
In the American Southwest, pro-PAC groups disrupted campaigns and UP voters, while in the Mexican states anyone who spoke too harshly of the PAC was blackmailed into silence. Computer warfare attacks were directed against campaign websites, and there was evidence of ballot-tampering in New York and Ohio, two battleground states on the PAC issue.
The early winter breakthrough over the Atlas Mountains is a massive boost for USE morale. With the Gibraltar firmly under their control, supply lines and naval vessels flow through the Straits to devastate Caliphate fleets in the Second Battle of the Mediterranean, where all of the Caliphate's prized North Fleet Carriers are lost. The European forces continue to push into Algeria, destroying major Caliphate infrastructure. The restructuring of the Caliph's reform were swept away by bombs and artillery. Soon the once prosperous 'man made oases' were reduced to abject poverty, forced to rely on an exploitative black market and the mercy of the European troops.
High command had discovered that taking advantage of the artificial infrastructure that sustained the 'desert nations' was an effective means of controlling counterinsurgency. Using control of water pipelines and solar power plants as blackmail, the USE kept the Caliphate territories isolated in every way they could. The same strategy worked brilliantly in Libya, where defense was sparse as troops were called from Arabia to fight off the invaders.
The Caliphate troops rallied in Egypt, but were swept back by USE armored cavalry. The new EMBT-V tank and continued air superiority doomed the Caliphate forces, which after naval blockade and aerial bombardment were having difficulty maintaining their industrial superiority.
As the nearly-suicidal Caliphate loyalists launched attack after attack into the Suez-Nile region, the USE began adopting a policy of total destruction rather than infrastructure control. Every highway and railroad in the region was obliterated. By the end of 2042, there were over 45 million Muslim war refugees.
Within the Caliphate, internal politics are shaky. Abdul-Hafiz decides in December to sign the Peace of New Dehli, which will end the war and have the Caliphate withdraw from Tanzania, Mozambique, and Kenya and the White Nile Republic, while the USE will take its troops out of North Africa, except the Gibraltar, and shipping harassment will end.
The USE was overjoyed with their victory. The ACSU is also pleased, and immediately begins rebuilding of Kenya and the White Nile Republic. Confident that the threat to European power was eliminated, they were eager to pull their troops out of the media nightmare that was the Caliphate. Despite nationalist overtones, the people of Europe retained no taste for guerilla war.
As USE troops left, the Alliance of God began a descent into chaos. Abdul-Hafiz was machine-gunned by a bodyguard who believed he had betrayed God's will. The assailant was killed, though the Caliph was in critical condition. Mass protests were organized close to his hospital in January, and soon riots began breaking out in major cities. In Iraq, pro-Caliph Sunnis and Iranian backed Shiites began what appeared to be a civil war.
While the Americas debated union, Asia began to rebuild China and the victors of the African War licked their wounds, it seemed no nation would attempt to avert the coming crisis in the Mideast.
After being starved out, a significant amount of PRC troops attempted to surrender, in hopes of receiving food, water, and shelter. When attempting to direct the new prisoners out of the area, PRC troops opened fire on both the surrendering men and the SEATO peacekeepers. No dramatic battle followed. The PRC was ground into the asphalt by SEATO aircraft within hours. Over ninety years of Chinese authoritarianism seemed to be over.
Chinese emigrants and SEATO nations rejoiced, and the restructuring of a new, free Republic of China gathered momentum and enthusiasm. A six-year outline was produced, covering a broad spectrum of Chinese problems. A multiregional summit of PRC peoples was held, SEATO architects hoping to avoid internal strife that had caused so much bloody conflict earlier.
In a world where order seemed to be collapsing, Asia seemed to make the most progress in 2042.
The aftermath of the 2042 crisis left a bad taste in the mouths of politicians and citizens alike. In many parts of the country, the anti-PAC sentiment was undermined by the violence of an extreme minority. And some moderate anti-PAC voters and politicians shifted firmly against the alliance after the response by President Desoto. However, despite an attempted censure by UP politicians in 2043, Desoto won his election in 2044, with the extremities of the nation voting EP and the UP consolidating its usual voters in the 'heartland' of America.
However, the specter of internal crisis did not stop the EP from trying to unite and control North America. The Chiapas crisis escalated during 2043, and once his election was secured, in 2045 the United States and Cuba deployed 8,000 troops into the nation for peacekeeping purposes. They found a government in collapse and a population in utter poverty. After 2 years, Chiapas 'voted' (the claims are still disputed) to become an American commonwealth. The final reopening of borders with Mexico did seem to help economic problems somewhat, but many were worried of the EP promoting a new empire.
Another vote was scheduled to be held in 2050 over the PAC issue, with a new law requiring a 2/3rds majority in each nation.
The Republic of Quebec, responding to the threat of a new alliance determined on enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, decided that its only hope of survival was furthering its alliance with the United States of Europe. Weapons trade reached a record high between the two nations, and soon the beginning of the 'New Cold War' was launched when the US CIA claimed to have intelligence regarding Quebecois inquiries on the purchase of nuclear arms after the Republic Navy purchased several SSNs armed with VLS tubes that could fire cruise missiles.
The Quebecois also bought rights to the largest class of Space Solar Power Plants available from the United States of Europe. Satellite Apollo-Eight was bought for an undisclosed sum by the Republic; and Quebec sent its first astronauts in 2047 to inspect and 'refit' the station for their needs.
This new purchase, combined with the trend of increasing arms purchases by Quebec, shocked many Americans and Canadians. Think-tanks and officers warned of the possibility of directed microwave beams being used as weapons against Canadian and American cities, knocking out electronics or being focused into devastating swaths of radioactive power.
The US and Canada organized a unified border plan against Quebec, and new sensor installations kept nearly the entire country under watch.
Trade with Quebec was important in North America, but in the USE it was one of many activities pursued in the postwar world. After the early end of conflict on the 'home front' and heavy investment in war bonds, the USE economy actually managed to grow somewhat in the postwar era. Huge amounts of surplus weapons were sold not only to Quebec, but to Africa, India, and South America.
However, a new dispute was brewing between the USE and the EECU. Long torn asunder, the rise of EECU power and close cooperation with the Scandinavian nations and the UK had lead to tensions with their Western neighbors. After terrorist attacks in Venice in 2046, the USE declared that the EECU had one week to relinquish the 'Peninsular Doctrine', that the Balkans peacekeeping would be performed solely on EECU and Turkish authority. Such demands were not met, and another one week deadline was given as the USE massed fleets in the Adriatic.
Finally, the EECU relented, and allowed USE troops, under 'EECU supervision', to enter the Peninsula in search of the culprits. In 2047 23 members of a Muslim terrorist cell were found, and given a quick court martial in the USE. 7 were given the death penalty, the rest life in prison.
The 2045-2047 years in particular were productive ones for the EECU. In 2045 talks had begun between the UK, Scandinavia, and the EECU on forming a new alliance, posited as an economic one but speculated to be for 'containing' the USE. The 'New European Initiative', as it was called, became a loose group of nations that were more tied by realpolitik interests than treaties.
[The Islamic War]
Internal crises within the Caliphate soon lead to a new council taking over the nation. The new group wrote revisionist history, using Iraqi sectarian conflict as proof the Shiites were out to destroy the Caliphate, and implicated Iran as being in conspiracy with the United States of Europe.
The radical Twelvers of Iran responded by sending several divisions of troops into Iran, and the Caliphate responded with their own escalation in 2046. The Islamic War had begun.
Baghdad was reduced from flourishing city to imperial conquest once again as the Sunni Caliphate clashed with Iran. But the Caliphate, as promising as the nation had seemed in the outset, faltered without Abdul-Hafiz at the helm. Iran was just as advanced, and hardly as warn by war as the Caliphate was.
The East African territories of the Caliphate just drifted away from the government, while the ruling council focused all the remaining energy of the nation on fighting Iran.
It was no help. Iranian airpower used EMP weapons and precision strikes to cripple infrastructure in the Arabian Peninsula, and by 2048, Mesopotamia and Afghanistan were under Persian rule. However, resistance was stiff, especially in Kurdistan, which had declared independence after the Kurdish units of the AoG militaries defected and took with them several long-range missile carriers, according to some with nuclear warheads to guarantee their sovereignty.
In 2045, the ACSU faced a new challenge from an old problem. Survey teams looking at new reserves of minerals and precious metals were hunted down by bandits and held hostage or killed, and sectarian violence exploded in Nigeria once again.
Hoping the Nigerian government could handle their own problems; the ACSU focused on stabilizing the Congo, and sent its battle-hardened troops to pacify the nation in 2046, though many were quick to note the pacification occurred first around the mining sites surveyed…
SEATO and China continued to thrive, and many economists were excited by 'China's new rise'. Taiwan and China were peacefully reunited, and the gigantic economic bloc soon reclaimed its seat as the wealthiest alliance in the world.
India, long content to isolation, began to consider joining SEATO as an observer. However, India did participate in the 'Joint Asian Space Venture', intended to counter ANG and USE initiatives.
Violence did break out in Indonesia, however, and a joint-SEATO force was deployed in 2047.
The Artificial Intelligences of the ANG, SEATO, and the USE were revealed in this period, primarily due to a civilian patent infringement on a patent the NSA had filed secretly for certain AI supercomputer programs and components.
ANG space infrastructure reached record levels as more and more factories and processing plants were set up. The 2045-2048 years also marked the completion of Fury I and Fury II space 'warships'. Really heavily armored space stations with VASMIR drives, the Furies were designed to resist EMP and directed-energy techniques that could possibly be employed by the USE or other nations against US space assets, after they were so candidly directed against the Caliphate and Iran. The Furies contained advanced targeting system, and multiple use weapons pods that could possibly be used to deliver kinetic-kill weapons or even nuclear warheads against surface targets. Their actual specifications were kept under strict secrecy. The USE and India both used time at the UN in 2047 to protest the Furies, and the ANG Lunar Complex Mass Driver (generally used to launch lunar building material to orbital factories, but many analysts said it could be adapted as a weapon).
Of course, no major power could criticize the US Space policy without being hypocritical. Most major nations were interested in catching up with the US rather than attempting to demilitarize space.
The UP retakes the Presidency, shattering the chances of the ratification of the current PAC constitution. The delegates to the convention are sacked and replaced with those who are more conservative in their interest. Though the US economy was strong in comparison to the rest of the world after the devastating effects of the African War, many UP politicians were still resistant to abandoning their protectionist platform. The PAC constitution was reworked into a looser alliance with common currency, reduced barriers to trade, some combined defense forces, new IDs and documentation to help open borders, and a variety of other measures.
A few radical groups in Canada and Cuba suggest joining the US as a way to 'finally integrate the continent', but they are dismissed early on.
The new PAC alliance, for it is no longer anything close to the 'super-state' originally envisioned, is created by referendum in 2051.
The Quebecois will join the Community of Nations in 2052 (To be described later), further angering other American nations, who see European involvement in Quebec as dangerous.
In South America, Brazil, Venezuela, and Bolivia join the Community of Nations, and the stage is set for a new power struggle. Chile, the last strong ally to the PAC in South America, held joint exercises with the US and Australian Republic navies in 2050, and after some quotes by military officials were taken out of context, Bolivia and Peru (Chile's historical antagonists despite nearly 200 years without major conflict between them) began to purchase Brazilian and European weaponry in vast quantities, claiming the PAC and Chile had engineered a plan to wipe them out.
In prosperous regional power Brazil, however, the CN position lead to a new endeavor: The Atlantic Elevator, a massive floating platform that would house a massive space elevator, helping to give smaller nations cheap access to space.
The USE did not react well to the EECU or the 'New European Initiative', and when Bosnia and Serbia went to war in 2051, the USE was quick to deploy combat troops and assert control over the area. Massive amounts of precision-guided bombs were dropped on Balkan infrastructure as the USE tried to contain the war by destroying anyone who attempted to wage it.
The EECU did not react well, and when USE aircraft engaged soldiers in Albania it seemed war was imminent. However, cooler heads managed to prevail, amazingly, but the Albanian Incident would have serious repercussions.
But outside Europe, the USE was gaining powerful connections. In 2049, the USE, in conjunction with the nations of South America and the ASCU nations, announced the 'Community of Nations', a group based on 'maintaining world stability and progress'. But most controversially, the CN suggested that space resources and technologies should be used for global benefit, and that 'dangerous military ventures, unsanctioned by the UN and the community' should be opposed.
The Congo River Dam was destroyed in 2048, a major setback to Africa, much of which still relied on power generated by it. The ACSU stepped up troop deployments to the region, not wishing to lose the supply of raw materials the nation offered.
The ACSU also used its power to try and promote the Community of Nations to the smaller African countries that did not want to join the ACSU, saying it would help bring prosperity without having to join the larger African bloc they remained suspicious of.
In Liberia, American troops were sent into Sierra Leone and other West African nations with the intention of bringing stability to the area. It was a fairly minor operation, but aroused suspicion among some, who believed European, American, and Indian incursions into African affairs were dangerous.
Persia formally took control of non-Kurdish Iraq in 2048, placing it under military rule. Most of the Sunnis were killed by Persian soldiers or fled to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where the Caliphate government remained intact. The infrastructure of the Caliphate however, was gone. Facing the Persian navy and having its own destroyed in the war against Europe, the Caliphate was basically starved to death over four years of bloody fighting. Humiliated and decapitated, the Caliphate collapsed into the nations of Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan.
When Turkish troops attempted to move on independent Kurdistan in 2049, the Kurdish military forces responded by detonating EMP bombs over Turkish cities and officially declaring their possession of nuclear devices for their delivery systems. After the defeat of the Turkish expeditionary force, the Kurds in Turkey went up in revolt, and Islamist radicals shot and bombed much of the Turkish government. The military, considering itself the guardian of a secular government, mobilized, and the nation descended into a low-intensity civil war.
The Russian Federation began massive relocation programs in the Manchurian region, sending ethnic Chinese refugees back across the border into the Republic of China, causing much political and economic distress. SEATO sprang into action to help the poverty-stricken refugees, but at the same time, Federation troops moved into Outer Manchuria, and the Republic quickly responded. Within months of 2050, the border was fully militarized.
The mobilization of Russian troops and the relocation of the refugees was partly a result of renewed Russian nationalism. The dominant parties of the Russian Federation were calling for reunification, while there were significant groups in the Confederation willing to reunite with Eastern Russia, provided that the Federation accepted the democratic safeguards they had implemented.
[The UN, CoN, and Space]
In 2050, the UN released its full report on world resources and space policy. Though the UN itself held little power due to the possession of two vetoes by SEATO (China and Japan), and the US, which had little intention of submitting fully to the UN's resource management or space demilitarization protocols, the Community of Nations intended to enforce them for their own gain. Having come in late on the 'new space race', many Community members were angered by the US and SEATO's reckless 'colonization' of space resources. In 2050, SEATO, the US, and the New European Initiative signed the Lunar Treaty, which divided up significant portions of the moon to the three groups. Though they had long since been extracting small amounts of resources from the moon for development on space, the advent of helium-3 collection facilities and the increasing importance of space had lead to the alliances creating sovereign territory on the Earth's only satellite. Though blatantly in violation of the 2037 Outer Space Treaty II (Which most space-faring nations refused to sign anyway), until the CoN there were few nations intending to enforce it. The USE and ACSU turned their space assets over to the CoN body, which began using 'UN international regime authority' to 'claim' the rest of the moon, including several bases on Mare Tranquiliatas, where major US and NEI helium-3 extraction operations were located.
In 2051 the United States deployed military forces to the moon, a detachment of the United States Space Force (created primarily to resolve Air Force/Navy disputes) which included a specially trained zero/low-G combat unit. The US also announced the development of defensive equipment to protect US lunar assets.
The UP President Lombardi handily wins the 2052 election, though by a slimmer margin than expected. As part of spending his 'political capital', he brings much needed reform to the US education system, especially the tertiary education program. He also decides that with the 'realities of North American integration', that English must be made the official language of the US. However, the law did not apply to the commonwealths of Mexico and Chiapas, though English was firmly established as the 'language of the American Dream' by the 2050s.
Lombardi, however, was widely disdained by many for his foreign policy decisions. In 2053 he brokered bilateral trade agreements with the Republic of Quebec and Colombia that reduced the 'non-market tariff' established by earlier EP administrations. He also cut military aid to Chile, a very controversial decision that was intended to ease tensions in South America, but was seen by many as trying to placate the Community of Nations.
Lombardi's emphasis on 'multipolar stability' and the importation of products from USE allied nations resulted in the EP gaining a significant majority in the 2054 mid-term elections.
In South America, the UN and CoN began the very first 'first-world' executions of the 'Peaceful Market' acts, where all major members of the CoN resolved to ban 'mercenary establishments' and begin 'disarmament' outside the proper military and law enforcement channels. Citing the resurgence of violence in the Guyana Zone and reports of 'US-funded militias' in Colombia and Bolivia, the CoN was quick to reduce gun ownership to a minimum among their populations. When the UN saw the success of these measures, many Americans began to look on with worry, and the NRA restarted their old gun-awareness campaigns.
The CoN also handed over the 'legal jurisdiction' of the Guyana zone to the United Nations, though in reality it was still CoN troops patrolling the area. The United Nations itself now had governance over land, and many conspiracy theorists marked it as the first signs of a CoN lead 'world government' that would take over the sovereign nations of the world.
The Community of Nations establishes their headquarters in Brussels, near the UN building that is slowly growing in influence and importance. As the US and allies begin to show more and more disrespect for UN mandates, many talk of removing the UN headquarters from New York City. Former USE Minister of State Eugene de Lesseps is elected CoN Executive Officer. As a response to the reflare of violence in the Balkans, it was also declared a CoN governed zone. Local firearms and equipment were confiscated by CoN peacekeepers.
In response, the New European Initiative allowed Greece into the fold, and began staging troops in the non CoN occupied Balkan zones.
The issue of the Balkan annexation by the international body of the CoN was hotly debated, despite the veto by the United Kingdom or US in all attempts for the UN to govern territory, the CoN simply took jurisdiction and passed it on to the UN.
In 2053, the de-facto dictator of the Russian Federation, President Aleksei Kerenkov, began stationing troops along the Sino-Mongolian border, arguing that their southern neighbor lacked the resources to provide defense for itself. Tensions were only heightened when new resource explorations yielded greater Russian presence around Sakhalin, angering Japan.
By 2055, when Russian and Chinese troops were routinely engaging in heavily-armed games of chicken and a seeming phoney war on the border, the Russian reunification vote had failed. Citing the increase in SEATO military buildups, Kerenkov called for increased rates of conscription.
The influx of troops to the border did not bode well for Sino-Russian relations. When Russia deployed missile launching platforms to Sakhalin, Japan and SEATO filed complaint after complaint to the United Nations, which acknowledged, some speculate under USE and CoN pressure, that their actions were legal, and offered negotiations. Russia said it would refuse to make any concessions unless Japan dropped their claims.
On a freezing night in November of 2054, Japanese hypersonic bombers penetrated Russian airspace before they had time to react, launching cruise missiles into Vladivostok and the outlying military bases, as well as the Russian military positions in Sakhalin. Within a few hours after SEATO space assets and the ROJAF destroyed Russian air defenses in their aerial blitzkrieg, aircraft brought light mechanized infantry into the islands, overwhelming Russian troops initially, until they were worn down after a week of fighting.
However, the Russians were not passive in this conflict. Theater-range kinetic missiles shook Japan; later China when SEATO assets were pulled into the conflict. A brief naval battle erupted when the Russian carrier forces attempted to launch an attack on the Japanese home islands, but it was quickly quashed by a joint Sino-Japanese task force. Russian soldiers on the Chinese border fared much better, inflicting heavy casualties in their slow retreat, but SEATO had finally proven itself as a cohesive fighting unit, despite doubts over Sino-Japanese leadership.
Bombing campaigns began over major industrial and military centers, and soon the Russian Federation was pushed back from the coast. The war raged on for almost a year, and on September 5th, 2055, Kerenkov and his staff were killed by Russian officers sympathetic to liberal democracy and angry with his conduct during the war that had killed nearly 90,000 Russian soldiers.
Setting up a Russian Confederation backed government, the new nation agreed to hand over the Sakhalin islands if SEATO would agree to joint exploration, and assist the Federation with the construction of peaceful infrastructure and provide humanitarian aid. As the richest single alliance, SEATO agreed.
During this time, India joined the Community of Nations and strengthened its ties with the United States of Europe, and in 2053 it solidified itself against Persia and began supplying military aid to Kurdistan, in response to NEI and US aid in Turkey. However, the Turkish Civil War ended in 2056, with a shaky coalition of military leaders establishing what many hoped would be an interim government.
Persia, during this time, became increasingly agitated with India, who blamed Kurdish uprisings on their support for the 'illegitimate group of warlords and rogues' the rest of the world called Kurdistan. Many were talking of the return of the 12th Imam, and soon the Ayatollah and radical Muslims were stirring the Shi'a into fanaticism; and talk began of taking the Arabian Peninsula.
Egypt and Arabia announced that they had recovered the vast majority of Caliphate nuclear arms during the breakup, and were forming an Arab alliance to prevent Persia or 'foreign interlopers' from violating their sphere.
Israel engaged with a brief, three day conflict with Syria during the tumult in early May 2056, prompting the Persian armies to gobble up the nation as a puppet state. Israel itself also deployed naval assets outside the Suez Canal's Mediterranean passage when a suicide bomber attacked an Israeli freighter in waiting, and adopted a doctrine that assured the larger nations of the world that they would ensure that the Suez would remain open despite the instability in Arabia.
SEATO also had a hand in the events in Southwest Asia. During the early 2050s, the Norinco QZ-38 and various knockoffs had swamped arms markets in the 'Greater Middle East'. Despite the gun's superior manufacturing quality when put next to locally produced rifles with the exceptions of Turkey and Persia, they were often called the 'Kalashnikov of the 21st century', and were a stark reminder of SEATO's 'merchant of death', politically apathetic weapons vending in the unstable regions of the world that so angered the CoN and United Nations.
Africa was mostly quiet, though mainly because of strict ACSU media controls in crisis zones of the Congo and Nigeria. South Africa did formally announce their 'merger' with Lesotho and Namibia as the United States of Africa, following in the footsteps of their European cousins.
CoN power in Africa expanded significantly, with major arms seizures pervading the member nations, with UN funding. Outside of the 'crisis zones', which were turned over to CoN/UN leadership, crime rates were incredibly low, and the post-war economy of the ACSU had come into full boom.
When Somalia and Eritrea erupted into violence, the CoN/UN was quick to jump in with an 'interim' governing body. By 2056, the CoN/UN coalition had added a significant amount of territory under 'international interim governance', on nearly every continent. Some nations facing a lack of stable government in West Africa were even asking for CoN/UN interim rule.
In 2056, the election is splintered by the official 'party' of the radicals being formed, the Prosperity Party. Drawing on the ideas of a progressive, peaceful social democracy, the PP falters early and does not manage to swing any state.
However, the EP does lose some thunder when foreign policy hawk Jacob Howard is elected, the first Jewish president of the United States. Despite losing a few of the evangelical votes, he does draw in many moderate voters who felt UP policy was becoming too isolationist, and promised to reform the Lombardi administration. One of the few ardent supporters of the PAC from the UP, Howard promises that US foreign policy will not be partisan in nature; and instead will be formulated around the best interests of the United States and the Combine.
Howard draws criticism from the 'internationalists' during his campaign when many jump on his anti CoN/UN policies that criticized the UN's plans to reinternationalize space and implement CoN-style gun control onto all member nations. Howard quickly becomes the bane of the CoN and UN, appointing Carlos Gutierrez, a noted pro national sovereignty advocate as UN ambassador.
In 2057, when he takes office, he reapplies the Non-Market Tariff to subsidized goods from Quebec, Colombia, and other CoN nations. He also increases the military budget and formally claims the US occupied portions of the Mare Tranquilatas in a joint declaration with the UK and the nations of SEATO in 2058. The US space forces are mobilized, and angrily but reluctantly, the CoN withdraws their mining equipment and 'international claim' to the Mare Tranquilatas.
With the possibility of space war narrowly averted, on April 3rd of 2058, the Howard Presidency reaches a shocking end.
A carefully laid explosive device is set outside a bipartisan, multinational PAC convention in Chicago. Before exiting his limousine, a pattern of explosives detonates, killing Howard and several secret service members instantly and wounding one Senator Neil Lundberg, who would later recapture his Minnesota seat in a landslide vote.
The perpetrators were found to be a group of radicals, who had served in a variety of mercenary groups and even the Foreign Legion. Their claim was that they had been 'contracted', and were willing to offer 'information about their employer' as part of a plea bargain. Their 'information' was never consistent and shoddy, and those who investigated said the murder was most likely instigated by a 'deep hatred of US policy and tradition', noting memorabilia and literature commonly associated with the 'anti-Empire' cause that the public was reexamining from the US absorption of Mexico and interventions in the 2006 war and China.
They were all executed.
But many Americans during the trials and after were displeased by their findings. Conspiracy theories involving the UN, CoN, secret training by the USE in the Foreign Legion and even a plot to sympathize the US people towards a cause of interventionism were cited as the 'true' causes behind the assassination.
Unfortunately, the remaining two years of the Presidency took a heavy toll on vice President Richard Adams, who after continuing Howard's policies, revealed at the end of his term that he was suffering serious psychological problems that would impede his performance as President, and stepped down from running a second term. Without a strong figure to lead them to 2060 and the presence of the social-democrat oriented Prosperity Party that took votes from the more socially liberal UP members, the EP would retake the White House.
In Quebec, at the news of Howard's election in 2056, the government announced that it would open up its territory to CoN defense forces and once again expand its own purchases in the military-industrial area. Most blamed the rise in tensions of a volatile mix of a non-isolationist US President with a very pro-CoN Quebecois government, and the results did not bear good news for anyone. The assassination of Howard only increased tensions.
In response to the Quebec-CoN buildup, Canada used the PAC Defense Command alert to justify the remobilization of military units to the Quebec border. The fact that the attack had taken place at the convention center, regardless of the intentions of the bombers, did provide the PAC with an increased feeling of unity. The fact that the only US Presidential assassination in nearly 100 years had occurred at the PAC convention was not lost on many.
In South America, Howard's reinstatement of funding to the Chilean government resulted in tensions flaring in South America. The problem was only exacerbated when Peru and Ecuador went into a brief, informal conflict in 2059 over economic and territorial issues.
[Europe and the Mideast]
The USE in 2057, along with assorted CoN supporters, finally decided to clean up their backyard and commit itself to 'repairing' the damage done during the African War. Deploying peacekeepers and authorizing NGOs to move in, a slow reconstruction of the devastated land the Sahara had reclaimed began. After some brief fighting in the coastal regions where the former nations' population centers once resided, the CoN took up governance and began redeveloping infrastructure to turn the devastated Mediterranean Africa into a functioning organization, much to the chagrin of regional power Egypt. However, Israel's influence prevented them from moving in on the former 'disorganized zone'.
The NEI and the PAC formally signed a new Transatlantic Alliance in 2059, which was no surprise to the world but somewhat discomforting to the USE.
The Russian Confederation sent peacekeeping troops to their devastated neighbor, and helped set a plot to reunification for the late 2060s, once the Eastern economy had developed. The Russian Confederation also began dispensing aid, both military and civilian, to Balkan nations under UN administration. NEI members also began lobbying the UN for a 'return to sovereignty' timetable for the Balkan nations.
Persia launched an invasion of Turkmenistan in 2057, which quickly bogged down into guerilla fighting after the major conventional warfare campaign ended.
In 2058 Turkey held their post-civil war elections, and one of the leading Generals from the victorious Republican faction was re-elected, promising a campaign of reform and a partnership with both the NEI and Israel.
Central Asia was thrown into a furor when the Persian invasion began. Realizing they had fallen far behind much of the other regions of the world, many of the remaining countries began to align themselves with other world powers. Mongolia chose SEATO and PAC, as the war in the Russian Federation had eliminated Russian control and opened up the markets once again to investment. Kazakhstan forged better relations with the Russian Confederation, while most of the rest chose the CoN, knowing it offered them the protection of India, which already seemed to be on a collision course with the Persian regime.
In Indonesia, a significant earthquake piled upon bad weather and financial trouble in 2057 planted the seeds for a period of unrest throughout the remainder of the 2050s. SEATO task forces established piecemeal order over the nation, and when elections had finished, Indonesia applied for SEATO membership.
By 2057 the ACSU has reestablished order in the Congo, and an interim government is put in place. Conflict in Nigeria, however, continued through 2060, though on a lower intensity than previously experienced.
In Sierra Leone, the US deployed a peacekeeping force to help stabilize the region, and with conflict spreading in the other countries (mainly due to CoN 'investigations' over arms smugglers who broke the small-arms ban). The assassination of President Howard did not help in this regard, and many reports circulated about close-calls and narrow aversions of war between the roaming special-forces groups in West Africa.
[November 2nd 2060- May 5th 2062: Charging Towards the Brink]
Neil Lundberg, the victorious EP candidate, veteran of the West Pacific War (A tank driver in III Corps) and survivor of the Howard Assassination bombs, was arguably the worst candidate in the 2060 race for the prospects of true negotiation and peace. The EP, party of the middle class and businessmen, was also the party of the military and the corporations that serviced them. Pro-sovereignty (or nationalists, depending on one's political preferences) EP and militarist UP members had provided the biggest boost in peacetime arms funding since 2040, Lundberg's 'Guns and Margarine' Congress (a term popularized by the EP's preference to slim down welfare and boost education and arms spending) had its share of pet projects.
Lundberg continued many of Howard's foreign policy plans. In 2061 he pushed the Pan American Combine to allow the nations of Belize and Nicaragua into the organization, and created PACDEFCOM, the international 'supreme command' body for the PAC to use to organize armed forces for combined operations.
The year 2061 was a good one for most PAC nations, but in the rest of the Americas tensions were high. Despite the completion of the 'Progress' Atlantic Space Elevator by the Community of Nations, Chile was growing irate with the CoN's declaration of mandate over resources in the Andean Mountains in disputed territory. These tensions reached a breaking point in late 2061, when evidence was found of nationalist, right wing Chilean generals providing support to mercenary groups in Santa Cruz who were attempting a coup against the pro-CoN regime that they blamed for 'suppressing their culture and economic development' by use of a 'biased socialist system'. It was nothing new in Bolivia, but going back to what the Bolivian President called "The old, violent, despicable ways that kept South America under the thumbs of imperialists and businessmen" were met with widespread shock throughout much of South America.
And so the South American powers began to mobilize forces, knowing that the war could draw in far more than just South America.
In Quebec, the CoN began to attempt positioning of strategic strike bombers from the USE, supersonic, stealth aircraft that could carry devastating payloads. When discovered by a DoD Artificial Intelligence tasked with analyzing ELINT data, the US was shocked. Invoking the logic of nearly a century earlier, the US demanded the immediate removal of what they claimed were offensive weapons, poised to 'strike at the heart of North American nations'. Popular sentiment backed Lundberg, as many citizens of PAC nations felt that the CoN was becoming 'too intrusive' in the Western Hemisphere. The move by the CoN was intended as a balance of power, no different than the fact that the US still maintained strategic bomber bases in Diego Garcia. But the United States home policy had always been one of hegemonic rule, and having strategic weapons in a nation that bordered the US was disturbing to most.
Negotiations began in New York, but they only piled up into more demands. The CoN wanted US weapons in space decommissioned and the US to rescind territorial claims on the moon, the PAC wanted border demobilizations in the nations surrounding Chile. Quebec wanted Canadian troops off the borders, despite the fact that Ontario was practically on the border.
The PAC responded to all this UN debate by imposing a no-fly-zone for foreign military aircraft over all corridors to Quebec, and extended a similar one to military vessels where possible. At the Combine headquarters in Chicago, PACDEFCOM seemed to be receiving a trial by fire, and the rest of the world was only throwing them more fuel. The American public adopted a new symbol, introduced by protestors outside New York, the Gadsden Flag. An office tower facing the UN was soon adorned with the old emblem, accompanied by a PAC and US flag, a blatant insult and show of defiance to the diplomats who exited the UN building. Some were so angry as to threaten to move the UN general assembly to Switzerland.
However, a Joint Commander of PACDEFCOM, Robert Salizar, liked the emblem so much that it soon became implemented in the unofficial 'flag' of PACDEFCOM. The 2062 elections reflected similar sentiments: the 'spirit of 76' or something akin to it had galvanized the country into a frightening state of affairs. Without the real fear of nuclear war, there was little dampening to prevent the brewing crisis. And so during a period of miserable rain in New England and Canada, May 6th, there was little hope for compromise or cool-headedness to stop the defining conflict of the 21st Century.
[Europe and North Africa]
The deployment of bomber aircraft to Quebec was a symptom of a wider buildup in the USE. However, it was not the PAC that had triggered this development, it was really in response to the growing force of the New European Initiative, which had began joint military efforts and muscling the USE out of some of its traditional 'stomping grounds' in Europe. Bulgaria was returned to local rule, and the NEI accepted many other Balkan states as 'observers' to protect them from any further USE intervention in their nations.
But USE actions were not entirely destabilizing, in fact, significant progress was being made in North Africa. Law and order was restored, and significant funding was put into the construction of infrastructure in the nations. Standards of living were on the increase as the CoN subsidized NGOs to help rebuild the region.
The Russian Confederation welcomed East Russia back, and both the NEI and SEATO worked to help reintegrate Russia and bring the East back to the standards of the wealthier nations. SEATO agreed in the East to use its economic influence to help locals, and connect the East with the world economy.
[Africa and the Mideast]
The Mideast was relatively quiet at first glance, but diplomatically the PAC, ACSU, SEATO, NEI and CoN were competing for influence among local powers, specifically Israel, which held power over the Suez. The PAC and NEI worked hard to secure things for Turkey, which could prove a key ally in a fight against the Community of Nations. ACSU wanted the Mideast reigned in so that the PAC would not use them to force the CoN to divert resources against them, and SEATO was concerned about keeping neutrality so they could keep trade flowing.
Nigeria was slowly quieted by ACSU forces, and with news of the Chilean incident, the Community of Nations began cracking down on mercenary groups in West Africa, some of which they accused of coming from US controlled Liberia and Sierra Leone. The flow of arms was also blamed partly on the US backed nations, which only further aggravated the precipitous global balance of power in the early 2060s.
SEATO tried to remain neutral, hoping to retain the peace between the CoN and PAC. Their economy was powerful mainly because of the trade that dominion over the Pacific granted them, and a global war would likely destroy that. From nation to nation, favorites varied. Japan, Vietnam and Australia were more pro-US, while the other countries were uninterested or pro-CoN. But SEATO itself made no official statements either way, and instead braced itself financially and militarily for the possibility of war, even as many called the idea absurd.
India continued their tough stance on Persia, staunchly supporting the Kazakhs as they helped wage a guerilla war against the Persian invasion forces in Turkmenistan. The greatest worry was that the US would spur Persia into a total war that India would have to fight, something they had striven to avoid in the past.
[May 6th, 2062]
[Over Disputed Waters]
Lieutenant Clemenza shifted in his G-web cushioned seat as the neural and optical displays washed new sensor information over his view. It wasn't from him; the USE aircraft were running active-blind to try and avoid sensor detection. Instead, information was being beamed down from a USE Space-Based Radar satellite that was monitoring the blockade activities of the Americans.
Clemenza could not, under any conditions, reveal his position, for his flight to reinforce CoN aircraft in Quebec would only legitimize the inevitable PAC response. The twelve fighter-bombers from the USE squadron were no ordinary aircraft; they were carrying tactical nuclear weapons that Quebec lacked. Only a few days before, intelligence revealed that the US was making similar moves by sending tactical nuclear arms to military forces in upstate New York.
He looked at the new information again, and cursed. A vector of two PAC interceptors from the carrier Alexander Alvern, were moving at high speed towards his flight. He was sweating profusely now. Their orders were to fire only if fired upon, but what constituted actual firing and aggressive action was completely different now.
His sensor systems indicated that radar waves and LADAR beams were now sweeping over his aircraft, more than what was being generated by the two interceptors. Now the more powerful AWACS systems had been trained upon him, and the three radar systems in conjunction quickly 'burnt through' his stealth. They had acquired him, and now the first radio message was being sent out, by the cold, radio-distorted voice of a female, Clemenza knew not who.
"Foreign combat aircraft, you are violating the Pan American Combine Quarantine Zone. You will turn back immediately, or we will destroy you. Respond now to acknowledge your compliance."
A minute passed like an hour, and the warning came again. They weren't far from Quebecois airspace; if they could make it they were home free. The Americans, for all their bluster, wouldn't dare attack them on friendly soil.
And then they started jamming their communications. The encrypted radio message from the satellite that was feeding them data cut out, and the two PAC interceptors began doing fly-bys, each presumably equipped with the jamming suite. Another warning, drowned out by his blood pounding in his ears.
He would do what he was ordered and what was right. Nobody would start a war over this, and if they did, the rest of the world would win, right? America was a shell of its former self; they didn't rule the world any more. They could act like it, but they never would again. The Community prevented things like that.
His passive sensor system cut out, and like a glass with the tablecloth pulled out from under it, Clemenza and he crashed back to reality and the world of errors and arrogance and illogical rationality. The AWACS was using the AESA array like a weapon, frying every sensor he had. Missile-lock warning and launch tones screeched at him while targeting LADAR beams for direct energy weapons danced over the aircraft's fuselage. Without visual contact, he couldn't know what was going on. And then his LIDAR saw the truth, if briefly. Two of the PAC interceptors that had fled while the AWACS directed its high-power beam were turning back at high speed, opening their weapons bays. It was chicken, just like that. Not enough fuel to turn around now, only a fraction of a moment to push the button to save your life for the next two seconds.
He pushed it and doomed the world to misery.
[New York City]
It was another day in diplomatic hell.
Driving in guarded limousines into the century old complex from which the world had bickered and squabbled and cooperated for over a century, the diplomats and representatives of most of the world's nations were not eager to spend another day watching as the titans of the international stage dueled in what seemed to be a centennial reenactment of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Already the international community was growing irritated with American demands and their quarantine, and the fact that they were heckled by protestors in their commute was of no help either.
America's complaints seemed to have come up as the world's most important issue again.
So when the American ambassador, a well-humored but cutthroat and uncompromising man who many had hoped would have left with the Howard-Adams Presidency, stood up quickly after everyone was seated, many silently cursed that the pissing match would dominate another day.
He was not his normal self. As people fortified themselves for another day of argument, he yelled and security guards took up his cause, people quickly became silent. Hundreds of eyes looked on with a mix of curiosity and annoyance at the grim looking American man standing in the UN assembly.
"Gentlemen, as of eight forty one, Eastern Standard Time, the USE entered a state of war against the Pan American Combine."
A gasp of those who understood his words filled the room, and realization of what had happened traveled faster than the translators could spread it.
"A flight of fighter bombers, all armed with offensive weaponry," a picture of USE aircraft flashed on the screen, taken from cameras from aircraft moving at high speed and from multiple angles, flashed in procession across the main projector screen in the chamber, "attempted to run our military quarantine around the Republic of Quebec. While we attempted to force these strike aircraft down peacefully, we received no response to our warnings, and instead, a missile launch by the USE aircraft."
Now the projector displayed video imagery from one of the aircraft, just showing a few specks highlighted by fire-control symbols. Then there were flashing colors and sounds, and a snake of condensing scramjet exhaust as a pair of missiles flashed towards the camera, followed by imagery of the ensuing dogfight. The ambassadors watched, fixated and horrified, as the entire scene unfolded before them in vivid color. The fight itself lasted only a few minutes, narrated by the sounds of computer warning systems and angry and confused young men and women on the American side.
"We lost one aircraft to that initial attack. We responded with force and destroyed the USE fighters. There was still a hope for peace. But instead, we have detected launches of bombers from the Quebec airfields roughly ten minutes ago, accompanied by cruise missile launches. As of right now, American airfields are under attack, and within a few minutes a USE cruise missile pattern should be impacting in this city."
Many ambassadors were already leaving, the German fellow who represented the USE was red faced, barking orders to his guards as he stormed out of the building. The UN would be reconvened in Geneva later, but for now it was absolute panic.
News reporters had already picked up information, and by the time they had made it out of the UN building, alarms were blaring across the city and the sounds of sonic booms echoed as PAC fighter aircraft raced to stop the incoming missiles.
And the stark yellow of the Gadsden flag presided over the entire scene.
[May 7th, 2062]
"Goddamn good for nothing Quebeckers," muttered Lieutenant Dave MacDougall as he scuttled across the trenches, interspersing curses with fire mission orders. The past seventeen hours, had been long for him, and from the initial strike, they'd wasted the armored command vehicle that was supposed to be his shelter. Instead he'd spent the time moving from hide to hide, thanking God and point defense systems that he hadn't been hit by a shell yet.
He went from gun to gun, checking on the crews cramped up in the bowels of their vehicles. They'd been shelling since the damn war started, even though the Connies were supposed to have stopped advancing for at least ten hours. Now it was just attrition. Every time the enemy shelled Ottawa and the defenses, some sensor bird picked it up and relayed them a fire mission, so the 2nd Royal Horses were as shelling as often as the Connies were. He wasn't sure what unit in particular, but it didn't matter to him. From what he knew, he was attacking grid coordinates displaying unusual frequencies on the electromagnetic channel.
The guns were firing again, steam billowing from where intermittent rain contacted hot barrel. He ought to have the crews check the barrel casing when they had the chance; getting water in an electromagnetic coil was never fun stuff to deal with on the battlefield.
MacDougall poked his head above the trench's edge and surveyed the scene before him. Ottawa was still burning. There was nothing they could have done to prevent it, he mourned, and it seemed that street fighting was still going on. He felt bad for the poor bastards there, especially the supplementary reserve guys that were given some old Yank surplus PA that probably was obsolete by the Forties, and sent up against front line Connies.
The Seven was a mess, from what he saw. It was a still life study of a gridlock, empty, rain-soaked and ash-coated cars from the EMP blast, a few burning and mangled from where munitions hit. Using the zoom function on his suit's sensor helm, he watched as the cruciform airfoils of artillery-launched mines were scattered over the highway. Command was committed to making a mess if the Connies tried to push down the Seven for Toronto, because if Toronto went then the Peninsula went and if that went then Chicago and the American Midwest, a center of Yank gear production, was shit out of luck.
The little mines settled on the road among the cars, their stabilizing 'petals' still unfolded while they sat on the ground. For some reason he thought about Flanders Fields (perhaps the only thing the 2nd had been known for up until this war, maybe, if anyone knew who they were at all now), and then a video feed window popped up in his visor. Clearing his throat, MacDougall began to call in another fire mission.