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This TL has numerous PODs. It is meant to illustrate the many twists and turns that history can take. What if the Russian Federation itself fragmented after the Soviet collapse in the early 90s, after a nuclear warhead was detonated in Moscow? What if European integration were further along? What if numerous wars in the Middle East yielded different outcomes, like Iraq achieving its aims in the Iran-Iraq War? What if Israel expanded its borders further through its numerous wars, becoming far more powerful than in OTL in relation to its neighbors?
What would the world look like if these events took different turns?
Former Soviet Union: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the numerous wars that gripped the crumbling Eastern Bloc created fractures within the Russian Federation itself. By 1989 the Russian Republic, albeit still fairly large, was reduced in size to around an eighth of its former size, the final nail in the coffin being a nuclear detonation in Moscow by Chechnen terrorists. The rest of the federation had either declared independence or been annexed by neighboring nations, from Finland to Mongolia.
United States: On account of the circumstances surrounding the end of the Cold War, the United States has turned more inward, out of fear of befalling a similar fate as Russia. It still is the largest economy in the world, yet refuses to send its troops overseas on combat missions, instead using its arsenal of advanced weaponry to project its power, from unmanned bombers to tomahawk missiles. All exertions of power, however, are covert and anonymous.
Middle East: After a decisive victory in the Iran-Iraq War, thanks to the Iran-Contras deal never occurring, Iraq gained the territories of Khuzistan, the Kurdish regions of Iran, and the islands of Abu Musa, and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. Iraq is the dominant Arab state, its only real rivals in the region being Israel and Turkey, all American allies.
Europe: The old European colonial powers fought to keep their colonies after WWII, supporting the efforts of one another. In spite of this, most colonies were lost-but not all. Portugal, Belgium, and France all managed to hold on to their colonies long enough for the borders to conform to the wishes of the native populations. A close relationship between the former colonial masters in Europe and the associated states of Africa developed, leaving the two more economically competitive in the world. Eventually, however, with the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, much of the OTL chaos of the late 80s and early 90s ensued in the former Warsaw Pact nations; however, much of the military hardware was held onto by the Eastern European nations-including nuclear weaponry. These states formed an economic and military alliance and began pushing eastward. The threat of a powerful new bloc in the East led by Poland led to a closer integration of the European Union nations of the West. NATO was re-organized and merged into the EU's structures, giving it a powerful military. The UK decided to grow closer with its former colonies, namely Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Nuclear Weapons: In the aftermath of the chaos that engulfed Eurasia as the USSR and its power base collapsed, many nuclear physicists found work in regimes around the world, from Taiwan to Argentina, all seeking to secure their national security from the perceived threat of a sole superpower, the United States, or some neighboring belligerent. Nuclear weapons are in the possession of anyone who has the industrial capacity to develop them, and the non-proliferation movement has turned into the US trying to balance nations by giving as many as possible nuclear weapons.
Africa: The impoverished continent is even more fragmented than in OTL because of the American preoccupation with other parts of the world, leading to the loss of funds to nations dependent on American aid. Sudan broke apart early on, as did the Congo, Somalia, and many other states, creating new nations, like Biafra, Darfur, Somaliland, Katanga, and many others.
Southeast Asia: The Vietnam War takes a surprise turn when the 1964 Race Riots in Singapore inspire Western politicians to pool thir efforts in the region to balance rising Soviet-aligned powers. A plan is hatched to form a Southeast Asian variant on the EU, a personal union between South Vietnam and the Federation of Malaya, intended to contain the Domino Effect in Southeast Asia with a Right-Wing puppet regime. The new nation, known on paper as the M-V Project for "Malaya-Vietnam," would become known as the Malay-Vietnamese Republic, or more commonly, the MVR. This nation would, as intended, dominate trade through the Strait of Malacca and into the South China Sea, generating considerable wealth domestically. But it would also grow into a pariah state, cutting its links with the Western powers and growing quickly into a prosperous rogue state. It would push forward a Third Way bloc of any nations in need of a patron against regional adversaries, funneling cash into their pockets, as well as supporting separatism and violence in Indonesia so that people would continue using the Strait of Malacca the MVR depended on for its wealth. Kampuchea, Burma, and the MVR formed ASEAN in 1967 to pool their collective resources toward development projects, one of which included a clandestine nuclear program.
Global Trends: The multipolar world that emerged in the aftermath of the Cold War has made the world an incredibly more complex and elaborate place. Every power wants its time in the light, and the UN reflects this now more than ever. It has become more of a forum for squabbles than a place where action actually gets done. This actually allows the US to worry more about domestic affairs and rely on supporting regional powers against one another. These regional balances of power have become the primary means of controlling the world.