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Era of Exploration (1900 - 1912)
The 1900s began with both a dark threat of war looming on the horizon and a bright new future for African-European and African-North American relations. The Africa initiatives put forward by Louis II and continued by Francois I drew the generally isolated Africa closer to world affairs, and the Americans and Europeans followed their example. By 1905, innovation and industrialization were even more rampant than during the Industrial Revolution and new weapons, goods, services, building materials, etc. were being created and manufactured globally using new goods gained African countries such as the Kingdom of Kongo and the Oyo Empire. Even the Ottomans were moving toward exploration with the union between them and Darfur in 1874.
Great Kingdoms War
The Great Kingdoms War came when conflicting interests between the Zulu Kingdom and the German Empire began to manifest themselves throughout a series of diplomatic failures and misunderstandings at the hands of Wilhelm II. Wilhelm II wanted to colonize Madagascar and take advantage of its abundance of vanilla, and began going to war with the native peoples of the island. The Zulus also wanted the resources of Madagascar and had been at war with them for a few days when the Germans invaded as well without warning. The Zulus mistook this for an aggressive act on their people, and cut off diplomatic ties with the German Empire. Eventually, Zulu-German tensions rose to such high levels that a war broke out following the destruction of a German naval ship off the coast of Madagascar.
Following the sinking of the German ship, war was formally declared by both sides, and Germany established the satellite Kingdom of Madagascar on the southern end of the island as a foothold to fight the war. Of course, the Zulus were much less technologically advanced then Germany, which was a major factor in the length of the war. After a few years of fighting it became apparent that Germany was unable to sustain a war of this magnitude so far from home, and Australia, which had similar (yet not entirely identical) goals for conquering Madagascar, and they joined the battle on the side of the Germans in 1906, which led to a significant setback for the Zulus, as the Australians were much closer to Madagascar and could transport troops there more easily. At the same time, the Indonesians declared war on Australia and Germany simply for an excuse to attack their hated southern neighbor, and destroyed much of the Australian navy in the Raid of 1907, showcasing the military might of Indonesia. This again turned what should have been a short conflict into a much longer war.
Indonesia then, using tactics reminiscent of the German Drive to Paris in European War II, invaded Australia and forced their surrender as early as 1909. On Madagascar itself, however, the fight now settled into a stalemate, as conflicts of the 1800s often did. Neither side had a clear advantage, as the Germans were outnumbered, but the Zulus had much inferior technology. Eventually, the puppet state of German Madagascar began to fall to repeated attacks on the government by locals and Zulu guereilla attacks, leading to the dissolution and disbandment of the Kingdom of Madagascar in 1911, followed by a German surrender in 1912 after the outbreak of the Great War, and the Zulus were then able to conquer Madagascar and set up a territorial government.
The Trade Battle
Meanwhile, throughout the western half of Africa, the Kingdom of Kongo, Xhosa Empire, and Oyo Empire began competing for the European and American markets. Kongo offered exotic materials, spices, ivory, and other goods that were not abundant elsewhere, while the Oyo Empire offered diamonds and other precious metals. At the same time, Louisiana began colonizing disorganized territories of the African west coast along the Niger River and western Sahara Desert in 1907, where they found an even larger abundance of diamonds and other resources, and they themselves began selling them to other countries, jetting their economy ahead of much of Europe, nearly surpassing Great Britain. They used this money to develop industries, create infrastructure, build the military, and finance public works projects in order to spur the economy further, which worked seamlessly.
In Europe, however, certain things were changing rapidly. Franco-German relations hit an all-time high during the Great Kingdoms War, since Napoleon IV saw great potential in the German ownership of Madagascar. He supplied the Germans with weapons, normalized trade relations, began getting rid of fortifications along the border, and encouraged travel between the two countries, repairing decades of damage in just a few short years. He also pardoned what remained of German war reparations, a huge leap forward for the two countries. Britain on the other hand sought to trade with the diamond rich Xhosa Empire, which worked very well for them, keeping them just ahead of Louisiana, and giving the two nations a relative monopoly on the European diamond trade.
Italy, Portugal, Spain, Vienna, Russia, and the newly founded Balkan States, formed the Mediterranean Union in 1903, and closed their markets to other European countries, agreeing to only trade with one another. This led to a bit of hardship initially, but worked out favorably in the end once their respective economies adjusted to the change. The Russians had, by this time, become massive trading partners with Louisiana, and opened their markets back up to them in 1909, with the condition that Louisiana also trade with the other union members. Japan opened trade with Russia in a similar fashion in 1910, followed by Louisiana and New Spain.
The Great War (1912 - 1916)
On April 13, 1912, just as many began to believe that relations among the world's powers were beginning to take a positive turn, a tragedy struck, launching the world into the most widespread and deadly conflict it had seen thus far. First, following China's transformation into a republic a few months earlier, a group of Marathi nationalists (still furious over the Spice Wars) infiltrated the inexperienced Chinese high government, and took over, giving absolute power over the great Chinese military and establishing a totalitarian regime (the earliest known application of Fascism). Following this seizure of power, the new Chinese government, which wasn't really "Chinese" in any way (although the public was unaware of this), declared war on Great Britain and France along with Maratha, causing the majority of the nations of the world to be sucked into armed conflict per defensive treaties. The first trace of the conflict came with an engagement of the Chinese and British navies in the Indian Ocean, followed by a small attack on Indonesia. During the course of the war, the United States split in half, the southern states forming the American Confederation, which entered the war on the side of the Chinese alliance in 1914, and was later defeated by the Louisianans and Americans.
The Great War saw the introduction of early versions of much modern technology, including mustard gas, "sea fortresses," tanks, and deadly infantry weapons, all of which were being churned out at astronomical rates as factories all over the world attempted to keep up with the wartime economies, early traces of which were evident in European War II. Four years, trillions of dollars, and 15.3 million horrific deaths later, the war ended in a defeat for the Eastern Bloc nations, the last event of the war being the fall of New Granada and final surrender of Spain.
After the war, the victorious alliance, with France, Great Britain, Louisiana, and the USA at the forefront, imposed harsh terms on the defeated powers in order to allow the victors to maintain total dominance over the defeated and prevent them from drawing the world into another destructive conflict. Of course, the defeated were forced to pay reparations and give up certain land, but they were also required to demodernize their military forces and harsh restrictions on military power were put in place. Emperor Napoleon IV toured Germany in 1916 upon its defeat, and remarked that what he saw "left a dark, dark feeling" with him when he left, and many who were close with him said he was never quite the same after seeing the destruction left by the war.
Disease had ravaged entire countries, thousands were left homeless, others were forced to flee as refugees, nd nearly 1.4 trillion dollars were spent on the war effort by all the powers involved. All in all, the deaths considered to be a direct result of the events of the Great War range from as low as 20 million to as high as 90 million, as no one knows the true answer, but many have suggested it was somewhere towards the latter.
The Rise of "New Nationalism" (1917 - 1933)
The Great War saw the end of multiple empires, notably the German and Russian Empires. Germany was reformed into a republic once again, while Russia fell into a brief civil war, leading to the rise of communism and Marxism, which, when joined with nationalism, led to an extremely violent foreign policy and aggressive tactics toward dealing with the humiliating Treaty of Versailles. Germany experienced extreme economic turmoil and fell into chaos, with riots, widespread outrage, and poverty. Eventually, the empire collapsed and the republic was reformed and then, subsequently overthrown by the Nazi Party, headed by Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.
Once again, the west came out on top, and the eastern powers were now growing not only into extreme nationalism, but a total and absolute hatred for Britain, France, etc. and the new governments of the eastern bloc (except Russia) reflected this heavily. Radical right-wingers, dictators, and military aggressors came to power in Germany, Vienna, Poland and Spain, while the Ottoman Empire fell to civil war, eventually leading to radical reforms and acts of modernization in order to keep up with the European powers, and emerged in a better position than they entered the war in. Greece officially became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1912 and proclaimed a republic, while Italy assumed control of the Illyrian Province.
The Confederation, although it was allowed to remain independent for the time being, was divided amongst the United States and Louisiana into zones of occupation due to their horrific war crimes against blacks. The Confederates blamed the defeat on the blacks, and proceeded to treat them even more brutally, triggering an enormous epidemic of human smuggling into the United States, which was then condemned by the Confederate government as well as a few other Eastern leaders. In China, in 1918, the Chinese regained control of their republic, but Fascists again took control of the government and resumed the affairs of the previous Marathi administration.
Economic Crisis of 1931
Because of the steep costs of war reparations imposed on the defeated powers, the global economy took a dive in 1931, following a decade of prosperity for the west. Louisiana lost its farming capabilities, American wealth was destroyed and fortunes were lost, the British treasury remained intact, although took a hit. The French and Russians were just about the only ones able to escape the crisis, and were then able to assert dominance in their respective spheres of influence. Communism was slow to spread, but the French quickly consolidated western Europe into economic cooperation, although the foundations of many of the countries involved were shaken, and they began moving further to the right to deal with the hurdles of modern issues.
For example, Italy allowed Benito Mussolini, a known National Socialist and Fascist, to come to power and consolidate the entirety of Italian authority in his own hands. He harshly censored people, suppressed dissent, and undermined the democratic process at all costs. Similarly, the United States elected Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, but he was assassinated along with Vice President John Garner by an unidentified group of assassins a few weeks into his administration in the Business Plot, allowing the Fascist Henry Rainey to seize the Presidency and use executive authority to force radical rightist agendas onto the American population, sparking another American Civil War, which would carry on for only a few months before the Louisianans and American rebels were able to retake the country and place Cordell Hull in the office of the Presidency after a quick election. Louis III in Louisiana established closer ties with the United States to ensure that it remained a powerful ally and provided as much economic and military support that it could. The Nationalist Party also won the elections in the Confederation, signalling a continued move to the right for the country. In Germany, Adolf Hitler used the humiliating and chaotic situation, combined with fantastic speeches and rhetoric, to lead the Nazi Party to victory in 1933 and become Chancellor and Führer, giving him absolute power.
The Death Bells of Liberty
Following the rise of Fascist and Hitlerist leaders across the world, the few nations that remained democratic banded together to survive the epidemic of spiteful and totalitarian regimes. However, the Fascist nations began seizing land and conquering nations through both diplomatic means and fabricated border clashes. For example, Italy conquered the majority of the Balkans by 1938 through claims that troops from the nations there had fired on their own or violated their land. Nations fell like dominoes, and the world got a glimpse of the sheer power that Fascism provided to countries that employed it. The democratic powers formed what became known as the "Liberty League" in hopes of containing Fascism, but were inevitably unsuccessful in this endeavor as many Fascist leaders could not be reasoned with and had very glorious ambitions. For example, Adolf Hitler wished to conquer Russia and multiply the area of Germany by about 10x, and Mussolini wanted to reform the Roman Empire through conquest.
While Fascists came to power globally, the newly formed Soviet Union grew to great strength and proved a viable threat to both European Fascists and European democracies, so the world kept its eyes on the growing superpower. The Soviet Red Army was one of the most dedicated and bold fighting forces in the world and had a relatively successful economic situation, which made them very threatening to its ideological enemies in the region.
Now, the German ideals considered Africans as inferior beings, but Hitler saw great value in aligning himself with the Oyo Empire, because it shared similar political ideals and was an enemy of the democratic powers. Japan was a Fascist nation, but despised the Chinese, and the Chinese had aspirations to conquer Japan. Because of this Japan tended to ally with the democratic powers, although tensions were very high among them. Eventually, this buildup of geopolitical issues hit a critical point, and the Second Great War broke out, engulfing the world in conflict once again, on a much larger scale and for a longer period of time.