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The Age of Independence refers to the period after the second world war when several countries gained there independence from their former colonial masters. It also covers the cold war between the North Seas Alliance and the Algiers Pact. Alongside growing independence movements this conflict was to dominate Anglo-Dutch history for the next half a century before the Ottoman and Spanish Empires collapsed.
WW2 saw the largest allied empires suffer a crushing humiliation. Even the Union and The USA who had avoided the large losses inflicted on the other allies were war-weary and had in the Union's case suffered a moral defeat when their homeland was occupied for only the second time in its history. Unlike the traditional imperial powers the Spanish and Ottomans avoided the crushing moral defeat and loss of life and wanted to take a lead on international affairs.
As the war came to a close the allies clashed over the fate of the postwar world. The old powers wanted to limit the Ottomans and Spanish area of influence but they wanted to expand their influence to areas that they considered to be in their natural interests. As the war came into its final months and the French and Austrians collapsed the allies arranged to meet in the occupied Russian capitol of Moscow. The Moscow conference hoped to prevent a third world war between the former allies, The conference decided to divide the world into areas that the powers could agree on, The former Anglo-Dutch Empire would remain under Imperial domination as would the parts of the German Empire that supported Rommel during the war, the Germans would also get what they had been dreaming of since the rise of Prussia, Mitteleuropa would be firmly under German control. The USA also got what its imperialists wanted, Full domination of the Americas (Excluding the Anglo-Dutch areas) would be theirs, Even the Japanese were granted control of most of Asia.
All these gains paled into insignificance compared to what was offered to placate the Ottomans and the Spanish. Ottoman influence was extended over almost all the Muslim world, its influence extended from North Africa to Xinjiang in China. Not only was this a majority of the world's Islamic population allowing the Ottoman Sultan to proudly claim that he was the Caliph of all Islam, it also far more importantly on the geopolitical sphere allowed the Ottomans to control the vast majority of the worlds oil production. The Spanish did not gain as much as their Ottoman comrades but got an equally large material compensation as they were allowed to extend their influence over much of Africa and consequently gained control over much of the world natural resources, Thus while the old Imperial powers held much of their old territory the new powers of Spain and the Ottoman empire could call on larger resource stockpiles and a greater population. The stage was therefore set for a confrontation on a global scale.
WW2 had had another impact on the old empires however. Desperate for resources and conscripts the old empires were forced to draw on the supplies of their empires. Parts of the populace that had never been drawn from before were called upon to act in the defence of a system that they had not been treated well by, White European and American troops found themselves fighting alongside black Africans and African Americans as well as Indians and Japanese. These races had long been seen as inferior by the ruling white elite in America and Europe but the success of those troops resulted in a massive upswing of public support in those areas of the population for the right to govern themselves. Although they were still in the minority at this point this was not to remain the case for long.
At the end of the second world war the two power groupings still remained formally allied in the form of the Imperial Alliance but this came to an end in 1944 when Spain and the Ottomans signed the Algiers Pact. This created a separate group to the other countries who remained the Imperial Alliance, However the Imperial alliance was becoming increasingly obsolete, the only signatory's who remained were the Germans and Anglo-Dutch and the other nations were tied together by a patchwork of alliances that were similar to post WW I Europe.
This became increasingly infuriating to the nations that had once been on the fringes of the Alliance but were now firm allies of the Anglo-Dutch or the U.S.A. It was for this reason that in 1945 Germany, the Union, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan signed the North Seas Alliance. The USA was conspicuously absent from the NSA however as President Robert Taft was under public pressure to prevent American involvement in another war, something that he himself opposed.
These two pacts first came into conflict in the first French crisis. The NSA had created a self governing French parliament in its zone in 1943 and with growing calls for independent government led by Vincent Auriol the NSA secured a promise from him to ensure democratic elections and allowed the creation of The French Federal Republic or as it quickly became known North France. This led to an uproar from the pact members and a demand for the transfer of American held Cuba back to Spain as an excuse for war. The NSA adamantly refused this and was in uproar itself a few month later when not only did the Spanish create the French State in the south of France but an armed uprising in Cuba led by Fidel Castro resulted in a withdrawal of American troops.
The small crisis that arose over the issue of the Spanish zone in Paris was dealt with quickly as the new government of the French State was practical enough to realise that holding on to an isolated and mostly ruined zone served no major purpose and agreed to give up the zone in exchange for the remaining half of Corsica. Russia was also a point of early conflict between the two groups, The Ottoman Grand Vizor Josef Stalin felt a strong attachment to the former Russian Empire. His homeland of Georgia had bordered the Russian Empire and he spoke fluent Russian. He was determined to unify all of Russia under his rule and quickly established a militant puppet regime under Khasan Israilov that became Ottoman Russia.
Israilov launched a massive guerrilla campaign in the areas controlled by the NSA but this was countered by both local police forces and NSA troops drawn in from other areas. These guerrillas had a surprising amount of public support because the NSA was viewed as the traditional powers that sought to control the Russian people. The Germans and Japanese were the first to realise the danger that Israilov's campaign posed, His claims to represent the only government that supported the Russian people were increasingly being supported by the Americans and other countries. To deal with this the Germans and Japanese merged there zones together and created Northern Russia. To lead this union they needed a charismatic leader, They could not find one in their own zones but a Russian Political exile and novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn agreed to return from Norway to lead the new Nation. The Russians, now presented with a credible alternative to Israilov flocked to Solzhenitsyn's government and the two states were formed.
The Cameroon Crisis
The Territory of Cameroon was divided between German, Spanish and Anglo-Dutch colonies. The Anglo-Dutch and German colonies were surrounded on all sides by the Spanish with the exception of the coast meaning that they relied both on supplies by sea and the occasional convoy allowed through by the Spanish authorities. This made the colony especially a risk to a blockade.
Combined with the fact that the local black population was one of the most vocal places for opposition to the colonial powers made it the perfect place for the Spanish to flex their muscles. General Franco made it clear that he wanted the Cameroon's under Spanish control and Stalin also believed that if support from the colonial powers was cut off the local blacks would rise up in support of the Spanish.
Therefore in January 1948, the Spanish cut off overland convoys and the Ottoman and Spanish fleets imposed a blockade off the coast. The Union was furious and dispatched its fleet to force the issue. The Spanish and Ottomans refuse to back down and the two fleets now faced of against each other. While this was going on there were riots amongst the local population and food was becoming a major issue. To solve this and prevent the riots from threatening imperial control the Germans and Anglo-Dutch organised both food flights and smuggled food past the blockade in submarines.
The Spanish were aware of these two ways of smuggling food in but were aware that the only ways to stop them would provoke the Anglo-Dutch into war. The dilemma that faced Franco then was clear, He could either force the issue and risk war with a country that was not only more powerful than his nation but had a larger nuclear stockpile and could destroy his nation at comparably smaller cost to itself. The Anglo-Dutch might lose Britain and the Netherlands to nuclear war but they could outlast the Spanish hiding across the Atlantic in the Americas and would still remain a major power. Or he could lose face and retreat, Franco backed down and a major conflict was avoided.
The Space Race
Following that short period of direct conflict between the two powers the cold war lapsed into a period of intense technological conflict and political manipulations to gain control of the few remaining unaligned nations. This began in 1947, before the Kamerun crisis had even begun when the Anglo-Dutch launched the first manned space flight using a design that was in part based on the French V (Victoire) rockets.
August Deibel became the first man in space and made the infamous broadcast "Wat heeft de mens gedaan dat hij kan op de aarde zien als alleen onze Vader in de hemel is bedoeld om" (What has man done that he can look on the earth as only our father in heaven is meant to). This broadcast was heard by every major listening post in the world and shocked the Spanish who had been preparing to launch there own rocket and manned flight. Shocked by this perceived insult Franco and Stalin famously declared that they would beat the Imperialists to every step into space, that they would win the Space Race.
There was a period of about three years between Deibel's first space flight and the next major development in the space race. Despite the Anglo-Dutch Empires early lead the Spanish had launched there first astronaut merely two weeks later. The Empire had become lapse in the space race however preferring to develop its rocket technology into weapons development and this gave Franco the chance he needed to give Spain an advantage. Using a new rocket with three stages the Spanish astronaut Andrés García La Calle made an orbit of the Moon observing possible landing sites for the Spanish.
Just as Deibel's flight had galvanised the Spanish into accelerating their space program Le Calle's launch forced the Union to accept that the Spanish program was not only more advanced than theirs but that in the eyes of both their population and the global opinion it looked like the Spanish were advanced in other technological areas. The Union knew that this was not the case but in order to save face they needed to show the world that they were still the more technologically advanced power. Like the Spanish they used a three stage rocket with a lander and return capsule, It took five years of testing and dummy launches before the Union would agree to a manned attempt. The twenty two year old pilot and amateur scientist Anthony Llewellyn volunteered to lead the mission with the support of two other Union pilots. Llewellyn's mission went without a hitch and in 1955 he and his crew landed on the Moon, The space race had been won by the Union and the Spanish program folded a few years later.
The Cuban Crisis
After Castro's revolution had seized control of Cuba in 1944 he had established a firm relationship with his country's former controllers receiving Spanish minerals, food and arms in exchange for sugar and an Island that was in perfect position to strike against the Union's industrial and economic powerhouse in North America as well as being within striking distance of the USA's capital in Richmond. The Anglo-Dutch had remained cautious of the Cuban problem but left Castro well alone. This changed in 1953 when the Spanish, Threatened by the Union's base in Gibraltar decided to ship Nuclear capable ballistic missiles to Cuba.
This was a step too far for both the Union and the USA, The Union and USA had been at loggerheads in the years before as their differing ideologies had led them to fight each other. However the two countries were willing to put aside their differences in order to form a blockade of Cuba and prevent the Spanish ships ever getting near the island. The Spanish decided at first not to force the issue and instead shipped equipment to the Cubans by air. However, while they managed to still supply Cuba with food and minerals they could not supply the missile technology without naval transport. Thus the Spanish decided to force the issue by sending the Atlantic fleet to meet the USA and Union off the coast of Cuba. The USA and Union both responded, They set up a blockade line two hundred miles off the coast of Cuba and made it clear that they would fire on any ship that crossed the line.
Franco was not quite willing to drag his country into war yet and ordered the Spanish fleet to halt three miles away from the line. However he suspected that the Union would not fire on a civilian vessel and ordered the commandeered French bulk carrier the MV La liberté d'entreprise to cross the line. Three Union and two American corvettes responded and escorted the vessel back across the line. To Franco this was confirmation of what he had previously suspected and he ordered the Spanish transport ships to cross the line. Union and American ships attempted to respond peacefully but it became clear that they did not have the numbers to deal with all the ships crossing the line. Thus they set up another line at 100 miles, Franco ordered his transport ships to cross this line as well but this time when the ships crossed the line a Union cruiser fired 12 warning shots ahead of the ship's bows. Franco ordered his ships to turn around, aware that the Union might not be willing to back down after all.
A series of letters and conversations between the Ottoman and German leaders led them to put pressure on their allies to back down and end the crisis. The two countries initially refused to back down but a diplomatic solution was found. The Anglo-Dutch agreed to remove their missiles from Gibraltar as well as removing a large percentage of the military forces there. In exchange for this, Franco removed the missiles from Cuba and agreed that there would never be a Spanish missile base on the Island.
The Italian War
Throughout the remainder of the 1950's the two sides remained locked in conflict over a variety of issues. The most pressing of these was the up and coming need for a resolution to the growing unrest in Italy. Unaffected by the turmoil of WW-II Italy had at one point appeared to be one of the new breed of Superpowers that were poised to stand up against the Union and the USA. Italy was a major military power and it had the third largest navy in Europe behind the Union and Spain as well as the second most advanced air force in the world and as such was courted by both the major powers. However, Italy's military power was based on a bedrock of economic instability and tensions that dated back to Garibaldi's unification.
Italy had avoided the destruction that WW-II had inflicted on the other major powers but it had also avoided the economic boost to armaments and industry that had been generated by it. The Italian armaments industry was based around the government run factories whose unions held the government to ransom. There were strikes every three months and the government was powerless to do anything about it. A series of Communist and Nationalist governments had failed to prevent Italy's continuing slide into debt. Thus in 1952, a more moderate and fiscally conservative politician called Benito Mussolini launched an election campaign based around a campaign to reduce Italy's debt and restore the country to its former glory. Mussolini won the 52 election and immediately began his program of debt reduction scraping Italy's mighty navy and grounding its advanced air force. Although these actions angered some nationalists the majority of the populace saw them as successful and Mussolini began a small program of tax hikes to slowly decrease Italy's debt. In 1956 he stood again and promised to deal with the massive problem of government debt.
Mussolini won the election in 1956 and he promised to deal with the Unions who he believed were detrimental to the country's economic growth. He announced an immediate 4% pay cut to all government workers including the arms manufacturers. The unions immediately announced a series of massive strikes but Mussolini refused to stand down. The strikes went ahead and a series of crippling protests and strikes paralyzed the country. Mussolini tried to restore public order but by late 1956 it was clear to the outside world that Mussolini's plan had failed. He left the country on the 2nd of January 1957 in a cloud of shame leaving the country without a leader. King Umberto II appointed the Christian Democrat Amintore Fanfani to run the country. Umberto and Fanfani established an effective dictatorship from Rome and slowly extended its control over northern Italy. Their control was rapidly beginning to be challenged in the south by a Socialist dictatorship established in Sicily by Palmiro Togliatti.
This de facto separation of Italy into two separate states led King Umberto II to beg the new UN to intervene and decide who had the legitimate claim to rule Italy, The result of this was the Berlin Conference held in July 1957. There it was decided to split Italy into two separate states, the North would remain a Kingdom under Umberto but the south would be a republic under Togliatti, This solution was not favourable to either party and both initially rejected the deal but both sides agreed to accept it in its current form in the absence of a better option. However the mild acceptance gained was based entirely on the mutual fear and respect that Fanfani and Togliatti had for each other.
However, their under minsters and military generals both urged the leaders to go on the assault and attack their opponents. Although held back by the two leaders those men went behind their backs to allow them to take advantage of the power vacuum that would follow their inevitable death. Regardless of the peaceful motivations of Togliatti and Fanfani the two did both seek backing from external sources, Togliatti went to Franco and Cemal Gürsel to get support for his regime. This amounted to a loan of 60 million Pesetas with which to build industry as well as enough Verdeja 2 tanks to equip eight tank divisions as well as enough small arms and APC's from the Ottomans for ten mechanised and six infantry divisions. The NSA was much more reluctant to offer Fanfani support, fearing that if they provided him with tanks and small arms his more militant generals would use the equipment to launch an attack on the south.
Thus when Togliatti died his successor Giorgio Napolitano had great difficulty in his attempts to maintain the peace as his work was consistently undermined by his Commander in Chief Giacomo Carboni who wanted the Italian Socialist Republic to launch attacks north in a move to overthrow what he considered to be the oppressive and undemocratic regime. Napolitano was determined to stop any aggressive action and remained Carboni's most persistent opposition. Thus in March 1960, Carboni staged a coup overthrowing Napolitano and placing himself as the President of the Republic. He made intense preparations for war and stationed the entire might of the Republican army along the Border with the Kingdom of Italy.
Then on the 31st of December 1960, while the rest of the world was preparing to welcome in the new year, Republican troops crossed the border and launched their invasion. Within an hour the Republican flag was flying over the King's palace and Fanfani had been captured. The King himself only escaped by virtue of being at celebrations in Milan. The Royal Army was in disarray, its only truly effective military division, The Royal Guards were stationed in Northern Italy at the time and the rest of the pitiful army struggled to make a difference, barely managing to hold of the Republicans for even a few hours. A week later the Republicans were in Florence and it appeared that there was nothing anyone could do to stop them.
Then on the 10th of January the Anglo-Dutch army delivered four infantry divisions by air and one armoured division by sea. The tide suddenly changed and the Republican Army that had once seemed invincible showed that, in fact, when faced with a competent enemy it was in fact pitifully week, The Republicans had a majority of 7:2 in combat capable tank divisions, 9:1 in mechanised divisions and 6:5 in infantry divisions, It should have been an easy victory for the Republic but the Anglo Dutch proved themselves to be more than capable of overcoming the numerical disadvantage although their own lack of numbers caused the war to become a stalemate, neither side having either the skill or numbers needed for a breakthrough. It remained this way through both 1961 and most of 1962 with neither side capable of gaining an advantage.
This changed in late 1962 when Carboni organised a new Army group solely for the purpose of breaking the stalemate and taking the new Kingdom capital in Milan. Consisting of the Republic's finest tanks and soldiers, the ten divisions assigned for the task were going up against 36 divisions of the Kingdom and the NSA. Carboni knew that for his men to stand any chance of breaking through the NSA's lines he would need a major tactical advantage. This was the genius of his plan, just as the first Republican offensive had taken place on New Years Eve this one would take place on Christmas day when the NSA's troops would all be celebrating it their barracks, The Republican army launched its offensive at 1am on Christmas day and around twenty thousand NSA troops were either killed or incapacitate when Republican troops set fire to their barracks and most of the Anglo-Dutch armies heavy arms and tanks were destroyed siting in their armories, The Republicans pushed the attack and captured Milan and the King. With both Fanfani and King Umberto in their custody many believed that the Kingdom would capitulate but Princess Maria took over as regent with Giovanni Leone as Prime Minister.
However, the Republicans had made one crucial mistake, Their attack on Milan had brought them close to the border with Germany. The Germans, who had been reluctant to get involved, suddenly found a hostile Republican army almost on its border. One hundred and twenty thousand German troops crossed the border into Italy, mostly in 11 of the German Armies mighty Tank divisions and the rest in five mechanized divisions. They smashed past the Republican troops recapturing Milan by September 63 and Rome by January the following year. The German's re-established the old demilitarized zone and maintained a stalemate around Rome. This allowed for peace negotiations to finally take place and in 1965 Carboni finally agreed to a peace treaty, ending the war.
End of Empire
In 1945 the Anglo-Dutch and German prime ministers had promised that their respective empires would be disbanded. However by 1965, twenty years after their promise only five countries had gained their independence from those countries and all of those had done so at least fifteen years before WW2 had even begun. The politicians insisted that the lack of progress was a result of the cold war but by the late 1960's the tide abroad was changing, colonies that had once happily accepted rule from London were beginning to rebel and questions were being raised in Parliament over whether it was appropriate to maintain Anglo-Dutch rule over unsustainable colonies.
The key example of this became the protectorate of Bechuanaland, Although it had valuable diamond mines it also had an increasingly independently minded populace who were conducting civil disobedience. In an attempt to stave off independence the Anglo-Dutch parliament authorized the creation of a Parliament of Botswana in 1965. The first election was won by a moderately pro-Union party and this appeased some worries in parliament. However in the following elections the radical pro Independence leader Seretse Khama was elected and demanded Independence. This gave the union a dilemma, if they refused they would act against a democratically elected government something that they foresaw would not go down well with the populace, afraid of the repercussions they granted Independence.
This opened the floodgates however and a large number of other colonies petitioned for Independence. To forestall violent Independence movements the Union arranged for referenda to be held in every colony over their position in the union, The vast majority of the colonies voted for independence with the Queen as head of state with the exception of those in the Americas who chose to remain part of the Union and those in West Africa who favored a more close relationship with the British government. Shocked by the wholehearted rejection of the Empire by most countries the Union agreed to a rolling program of Independence proceeding with a limited number of countries gaining independence every two years.
The Union's successful peaceful transition scared the other colonial powers who felt that their own colonies could soon demand independence in a less forgiving manner. The Ottomans were the first to relinquish control, giving independence to those colonies that had always hated rule from Istanbul and the other colonial powers slowly followed suit with the last peaceful dissolution taking place in 1977 (The remaining Ottoman colonies would violently declare independence in the Civil War of the mid 90's)
End of the Cold War
Although few knew it at the time, the Italian war marked the highpoint of global tensions during the cold war. A scant two years later the Ottomans had open elections for the first time in 40 years (Though participation was still limited to Muslims only). This had little impact at the time as Cevdet Sunay was a Grand Vizer with views not dissimilar to Franco or Stalin but it did lay the seeds for the later appointment of a moderate grand vizer.
The Italian war had scared all the major powers by making them realise how close the world was to a nuclear war. The net result of this was the first Treaty on Nuclear Proliferation which committed the major powers to reducing their nuclear stockpile. The treaty was noticeably different from its later drafts because the stated reasons for disarmament came about from the view that the powers had a duty to guard the other countries that looked up to them from the dangers of a nuclear war. Still embracing the fact that a nuclear conflicts between themselves might still be a necessity at some point in the future.
Although diplomatic tensions and an arms race of sorts continued between the two major power blocks during the 70's the threat of an actual war decreased substantial as the two powers shifted off a war footing and turned their attention to internal problems. Then in 1979 King Juan Carlos resumed the throne of Spain and proclaimed a new era of relations with the Union. He unilaterally disbanded the Algiers pact and ordered the Spanish to share their technology with the Union. This effectively ended the Cold War between the Spanish and the NSA.
The end of the Cold War and the Reunion of France in 1982 brought about internal tensions in both the Ottoman Empire and the Union. In the Empire these resulted in Turgut Özal's Freedom and Openness programs and in the Union they resulted in increasing gaps between the old ruling Religious Democrats and the youth support behind the Conservative Union and the Socialist Coalition. These two groups came to support the two obvious candidates for Succession to the throne, the ultra traditionalist Prince Juhan and his leftist daughter, Princess Beatrix, who had been for a time a Labour Party Member. When Queen Juliana stepped down due to illness in 1991 the tensions between the two groups became irreconcilable and the civil war broke out.