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Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys

During 1917 the French were hurting badly.  They’d won Verdun with massive losses and some parts of their army were in mutiny, while the Russian revolution was sapping the troops morale.  No two sources agree on how bad it really was, but it seemed pretty bad.

Let’s have the French government make secret overtures to the Germans, offering a peace based on the status quo of 1914, at least in the west.  Some Germans would take this as a sign of weakness, but one report had it that Hindenburg was opposed to the ‘Kaiser’s Battle’ of 1918 and wanted a peace in the west, provided that Germany’s conquests in the east were acknowledged.

So, in late 1917, the French announce the peace deal, to general French jubilation.  The Germans get to keep Alsace-Lorraine, provided it is demilitarised.  The French have one month to get the British and whatever American units have arrived out of France.  The King of Belgium remains trapped in his small corner of the country.

The British Government would have been furious at the betrayal, but it is hard to see what they could have done about it, short of declaring war on France.  Some British units could be moved into Belgium, but supply and logistics would have been very bad.  Good enough to keep the Germans back, but not good enough to attack themselves.  The Americans would have been annoyed as well, but they’d be in an even worse position, vis-à-vis Germany.

My best guess is that the British will extend the blockade on ‘war goods’ to France as well, causing some suffering.  Anti-British feeling will grow in France, but the French probably won’t start another war.  Instead, the British will concentrate on the Ottoman Empire, taking most of the Middle East by 1918.  The increased British (and perhaps American) manpower means that the Empire collapses sooner than OTL, with less chance to put themselves together again.  Assuming that Germany allows it, Italy would probably get some of Turkey as they were promised in OTL.  That said, Italy would probably sign a peace deal with Germany before they got crushed.

The British would probably finish off the German colonies and then…what?  Even with American manpower, invading Germany directly would be very difficult, while Germany would be growing stronger though the resources of Russia and perhaps trade with France.  I suspect that – blaming the French – the British will make peace on the basis of the status quo.

Germany will be occupying most of western Russia, which means that the communists will probably not gain as much power as they did in OTL.  At a rough guess, the Germans will pick some Russian noble and appoint him tsar, while slowly converting Russia into the German granary. 

Japan will probably still try to absorb China, which might succeed with British support, or perhaps get bogged down in war.

Britain will have fewer debts to pay off and a harsh attitude to extracting them from France.  It’s not impossible that Britain will seize Indochina in ilea of payment.  I suspect that the British will go back to the traditional anti-French attitude and ignore Germany.



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