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Clausewitz Lives!

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Clausewitz Lives is an alternate timeline in which the 19th Century Prussian military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz does not die in 1831, but lives for another 25 years, allowing him to finish his great work "On War" and so changing the way that work is read and interpreted by the generals and politicians of Europe in the coming decades.

Introduction

Carl von Clausewitz was a leading Prussian intellectual and soldier, whose great work, "On War" has greatly influenced subsequent generations in the way they fight wars and conduct politics. Clausewitz argues powerfully that war is a political act, but that it only happens, ultimately, when those political means break down. He also argued that "total war" is nothing more than an "ideal", and can never be truly attained, stating that states who dedicate themselves to such pursuits must have assured superiority in every way over all their enemies before they can do so - a precondition he dismisses as "impossible" at great depth.

A Brief History of the World

Following Clausewitz's death in 1856, Prussia sought to incorporate his thinking within their grander strategic aims. The recent Crimean War had left Austria without meaningful allies, and so the Prussian General Staff began to plan a war with Austria, to allow them to assert wider control over the German states. However, they were unwilling to try and fight such a war without support from abroad. Alliances were sought with a large number of German states, such as Hanover, Hesse, Saxony and Baden, in preparation for a likely war with Austria over domination in Germany.

At the same time, the Minister-President of Prussia, Prince Carl Anton, a man who had known Clausewitz well, decided that the best way to implement his thought was to try and reduce the number of potential enemies Prussia would face in the continent through diplomacy. He therefore conducted a series of meetings with the French Emperor Napoleon III, in an effort to secure French support for German unification. The meetings prove successful in laying a strong groundwork of support between the two countries.

In September 1864, Prussia moves suddenly - against Denmark. Prussian troops move up to the border with Denmark and the Danish government, worried that they will be crushed by the invading Prussians, agree to release the areas of Schleswig-Holstein that were majority German, while retaining the Danish areas. The new Prussian Minister-President, Otto von Bismarck, had hoped for such a solution, and quickly worked to patch up relations with Denmark. By 1866, Denmark had entered into an alliance with Prussia, giving Bismarck the secure northern flank he desired to make his next move - to eliminate Austria as a major competitor for influence in the German Confederation.

The subsequent Prusso-Austrian War of 1866-1868 saw all the German states, save Bavaria, side with the Prussians, and the Prussian-Danish-Italian forces press as far as the gates of Vienna. The Austrians, who believed they were stronger than their opponents and so refused to give up until it was almost too late, became victims of a Clausewitzian "disarming war", instead of just a "limited war". The death of Emperor Franz Joseph I during the shelling of Vienna left the Empire without a stable centre of government, and, by 1870, there was practical civil war in the eastern regions as the government in Vienna tried desperately to re-assert authority.

As Austria withdrew into herself, bitter from her defeat and with only Bavaria to console her (Bismark considered that Bavaria was "intractable" in this matter and left her alone), Prussia turned to the French for support against a new threat. The Russians were alarmed by the decay of Austria brought on by the war with Prussia, and sought to restore their old friends to their former position of strength, even if it meant war with Prussia. Bismarck met with Napoleon III at Sedan in 1871, at what was to become one of the most famous conferences in history.

The Sedan Alliance, as it became known, cleared the way for the German states to unite under Prussia, whilst forbidding them to wage war on France. Luxembourg was to be left independent, as was Bavaria, as a means to placate some French fears that a united Germany would be -too- powerful. In the end, Bismarck got what he really wanted - the French alliance - at a minimal cost, and so could turn to the East, where the Russians were proving to be restive.

For the rest of the 19th Century, there gradually emerged 2 rival power blocs in Europe. On the one hand, Bismarck gathered together Germany, Italy, France and Denmark into one bloc. On the other, the Russians - who sent troops into Austria to restore order and support the young Emperor Franz I - allied closely with Austria, and later, in a pragmatic move, with the Ottoman Empire in an effort to further counter-balance the strength of the Prussian-led "Central Alliance" as it became known. The Russian group was termed the "Imperial Alliance".

Towards the end of the Century, the question of Spain was raised. In 1888, the Spanish army overthrew the King, Alfonso XII, and replaced him with their own candidate, a minor noble they crowned as Charles V. It soon emerged that the coup had had powerful backers - the Russian government, who feared Alfonso was going to make the country both more liberal, and more pro-Central Alliance as a result. Charles V was quick to align with St Petersburg, causing alarm in Paris and Berlin. However, the issue also began to unsettle the British - their key base at Gibraltar was now threatened with involvement in a future European war. In an effort to try and balance out the Imperial alignment of the Spanish King, the British government entered into talks with the Central Alliance in 1890, which led in 1897 to the "Diamond Alliance", wherein Britain undertook to support the Central Alliance in a war with the Imperial Alliance, but only if Spain entered on the side of the Imperials.

The Spanish Question and the subsequent Diamond Alliance led to the European power blocs beginning to look overseas. When, in 1899, the United States declared war on Spain after a number of clashes between their customs vessels near Cuba, the Imperial Alliance found itself virtually unable to render any assistance to it's beleaguered ally, whilst the British could help the Central Alliance support the pro-independence Cuban rebels and thereby nurture the beginnings of an alliance with the United States. The Spanish-American War led many in the Imperial Alliance to begin to question whether they had read their Clausewitz properly - and so, in 1901, the year of Queen Victoria's death, the Alliance began to cultivate alliances with Japan and a number of Latin American countries - especially Peru, Columbia and Ecuador.

The resultant shift in the balance of power opened up whole new fronts in the clash between the alliances. In 1902, the Japanese annexed the fading Kingdom of Korea with Russian support, using the combined might of the Japanese navy and the Russian Far Eastern Fleet to deter interference from the Central Alliance. The move left China ever more exposed to outside pressures and influence, and it would be here that the foundation for future conflict was laid, though the spark would come from another time and place.

In April 1903, the Japanese moved troops onto a number of islands in the Yalu River, in opposition to Chinese claims of ownership over those islands. When China formally protested, the Japanese launched an assault on China, to secure even larger stretches of the country, and also to help the Russians assert control over Mongolia and Manchuria. However, this war would quickly become much more global. The British, who had massive vested interests in China, particularly in the Yangtze valley, were unimpressed by this war, and dispatched a fully-fledged battlefleet to Shanghai, with three divisions, to warn off the Japanese. British garrisons at Hong Kong, WeiHaiWei and Peking are all significantly re-inforced by the fleet as well, and the Chinese receive arms and other supplies from British companies.

The Japanese initially dismiss these moves - but when the British Fleet shadows the Japanese cruisers attacking Chinese merchant shipping, and even interfere in these actions, they are forced to re-think their situation. Unwilling to allow a fully-fledged war between the Japanese state and Britain - even with Russian backing - the Japanese cabinet backs down and orders the Japanese troops to retreat back to the Yalu. The August 1903 Treaty of Peking awards Japan some of the contested land, and gives Russia greater influence over Mongolia, but walls them out of China, where Britain in particular now wields greater power. The cost of sending such a massive force eastwards troubles the British, who begin to strengthen their Eastern Fleet and China itself, in an effort to build a bulwark. However, wounded prides in Moscow and Tokyo will now be looking for a means to strike back at the British, and the Central Alliance as a whole.

For the next 6 years, the situation oscillates gently between the two parties, each one quietly trying to gain the upper hand. However, in 1909, the British decide to up the race. For years, since the Spanish-American War, Russia has been building a vast new battle fleet to try and establish a greater presence on the high seas.

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