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The Fashoda Incident was the climax of imperial territorial disputes between the British and the French in Africa. In 1898, a French expedition sailed over the White Nile in order to control the Upper Nile, which led to a dispute over the Sudan. Both countries got on the verge of war. The dispute was settled diplomatically, with Britain being more or less victorious. This alternate history, however, looks at a world in which the incident led to a full-scale war between the two major powers, culminating in different world wars and an alternative cold war.
Point of divergence
The first and most important point of divergence in this world is the Fashoda Incident itself. While the Fashoda Incident in OTL was solved without any bloodshed, a small battle is fought at Fashoda between both forces. The incident ends with a mutual ceasefire, but the diplomatic conflict between the two powers gets worse and worse, while the citizens of both nations demand retribution. This results in a full-scale war between both superpowers. When French ally Russia joins the war, the Triple Alliance joins on the British side, and the First Total War is a fact.
The war ends in 1901 with an Alliance victory. In the Treaty of The Hague, Russia and France lose many territories, while France loses all of its colonial empire. While the Russians depose the tsar in a revolution, the French Orleanist monarchy is restored under Philip VIII. The peace is tense and fragile. France becomes a so-called pugnatic dictatorship under Philippe Pétain. The ruined Moscow Republic collapses under economic problems, after which the pugnatic Kulak, under Lider Grigory Rasputin, rises to power. When both countries start to violate the peace treaty, Rasputin overplays his hand and invades Finland in 1927, leading to the Second Total War.
The Second Total War is far more horrible then the first. The Order of Steel, especially the Russian Kulaks, are ruthless in their yearn for revenge. The war defenitely turns in their favor when the Japanese Empire, whose imperial ambitions have grown strongly aggressive, joins their side. By 1931, the Order of Steel has beaten its enemies overwhelmingly.
The Treaty of Copenhagen turns Japan and Russia into superpowers. The British Empire and its European allies lie in ruins. Russia, France and their allies expand insolently, while the remaining parts of Europe are not much more than puppet states. The remnants of the British Empire, known as New Albion, form an alliance with the until-then isolationist USA, the Democratic League. On the other hand, distrust between Japan and Russia grows, leading the Japanese to look for new allies. When the Russians and French force their satellite states into the Circle of Europe, the negotiations pull through and the USA, Albion and Japan form the Pacific League, soon to be joined by other nations. Tensions rise once again. In 1952, espionage proves a Japanese missile base in Algeria, enabling the PL to attack France easily. In retaliation, Russian grand governor Felix Yusupov orders a missile attack on Japan and starts the Third Total War. The Circle turns out to be poorly prepared for the war, but manages to keep the PL at bay for almost five years. Yusupov turns out to be a poor strategist and makes a few huge mistakes, leading to a PL victory. The Treaty of Dublin removes the Kulak from power and punishes them for their war crimes and genocides. Since then, a slumbering conflict between the Japanese and Americans emerges, due to their respective ideologies of a militaristic monarchy and a liberal democracy prove incompatible. For decades, a cold war between both powers goes on...
Parallels and opposites to OTL
- In the Fashoda Timeline, the French president puts emphasis on the Fashoda Incident, in order to derive the public attention from the Dreyfuss Affair.
- 19th century nationalism put emphasis on race and ancient heritage. In this light, an alliance between the UK and Germany seemed likely, since the English were also supposed to be part of the Germanian race.
- Similarly, the British were unlikely to become allies with the French due to colonial disputes in Africa, or with the Russians because of disputes over their spheres of influence in Persia and Afghanistan. In the Fashoda Timeline, these disputes play a strong part in the First Total War.
- The Netherlands remained neutral in OTL World War I, but had severe problems with the different trade embargos and the treat of war going with that. In the Fashoda Timeline, this is what causes the Dutch to become part of the war.
- In the Fashoda Timeline, the Chinese join the First Total War in hope of getting the Russians out of Manchuria.
- The Treaty of The Hague, being very harsh on the losing side of the first war, is a parallel to the Treaty of Versailles. While Germany lost all of its colonial empire in OTL, it's France that suffers this fate in the Fashoda Timeline. The winning side expands and the losing party is obliged to make huge payments. The demilitarisation of east France and the Russian border is similar to the demilitarisation of the Rhineland.
- While in OTL the multi-ethnical empires of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire started to crumble in the 19th century, only to be ripped apart after World War I, the First Total War in the Fashoda Timeline led them to expand their power and territories.
- A Frenchman nicknamed Laurent d'Arabie plays a role very similar to Lawrence of Arabia.
- The deposing of the tsar and creation of the Moscow Republic is similar to the deposing of the German emperor and the creation of the Weimar Republic. As the kaiser fled to the Netherlands, the tsar flees to Sweden.
- The Congress of Nations is similar to the League of Nations, but is based in Luxemburg instead of Geneva. Like the League, the Congress fails miserably.
- The Gallic Union is similar to the Fascist Party of Italy. Instead of fasism, the ideology is called pugnatism, derived from the Latin word pugno. Pétains role as a totalitarian premier under a weak king Philip VIII, is similar to Benito Mussolini under king Victor Emmanuel III.
- The communist revolution in Italy is similar to the OTL October Revolution in Russia. Similarly, the communist country is met with distrust by the outer world, leading its former allies to be averse from any action against the neighbouring, right-wing dictatorship.
- The Crash of London Stock Exchange happens in 1920 in the Fashoda Timeline, instead of the Crash of Wall Street in 1929. Due to the crash, left-wing and right-wing movements rise in Russia, similarly to the effects of the Economic Depression in OTL.
- The Russian Kulak ("Fist") in the Fashoda Timeline, is similar to the Nazi Party in OTL. Rasputin takes on a role similar to Hitler, with his title of Lider meaning as much as "leader", similarly to the German Führer. Both parties are antisemitic.
- In the Fashoda Timeline, Rasputin gains dictatorial powers from Russian president, general Romanowicz, after Rumanian communist Alexandru Iliescu bombs the Kremlin. In OTL, Hitler gained special powers from the German president, general Von Hindenburg, after a fire in the Rijksdag, for which Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe was blamed and executed. Like with Van der Lubbe, in FT, Iliescu's guilt is very doubtful.
- In the Fashoda Timeline, the Spanish Civil War erupts in the 1920's already, with the communists gaining power.
- In OTL, Hitler demanded Sudetenland and got it through a conference in Munich. After that, he encouraged a Slovakian accession and annexed the remnant of the Czech Republic. In the Fashoda Timeline, Pétain demands Nord-Pas-de-Calais and gets it through a conference in Orléans. After that, he encourages a Flemish accession and annexes the remaining Wallonia.
- In OTL, World War II started when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. In the Fashoda Timeline, the Second Total War starts when Kulak Russia invades Finland.
- The first months of the Second Total War are actionless, known as the Silent War, similar to the first months of WWII in OTL being known as the Phoney War.
- Sweden annexes Iceland and gets into war with Denmark, similar to the Soviet Union in OTL attacking Finland.
- The Order of Steel is similar to the Axis in OTL.
- Denmark joins the Order of Steel, in order to get revenge on Sweden, like Finland allied with the Axis powers to get revenge on the USSR.
- The quick Russian invasion of Europe and the conquest of Berlin are similar to the German Blitzkrieg and the German conquest of Paris.
- In the Fashoda Timeline, Japan attacks Hong Kong without any warning or excuse, similar to its attack on Pearl Harbor in OTL.
- Contrary to OTL World War II, the Second Total War ends in a victory for the agressors, after which the world history takes a very different direction.
- In OTL, the Czechians and Slovakians seceded from Austria-Hungary as Czechoslovakia, while seceding Slavik nationalities joined with Montenegro and Servia into Yugoslavia. In the Fashoda Timeline, Czechoslovakia is known as Grand Bohemia, while a country similar to Yugoslavia is called Servocroatia.
- In the Fashoda Timeline, the persecution of Jews by the Kulak party and its allies reaches its peak after the Secont Total War. They are deported to Siberia and Mongolia.
- Rasputin dies in the Fashoda Timeline in 1941, officially from a bleeding ulcer, although some historians speculate about him being murdered by his own secret service, led by Felix Yusupov. In OTL, Joseph Stalin died officially from a stroke, with some sources speculating that he was poisoned by Beria, the head of the NKVD. Where Beria tried to grab power but was ousted and executed by his fellow party members, Yusupov becomes the new head of state of Russia.
- After the Second Total War, many European countries are satellite states of Russia, with France being a more independent ally. In OTL, the USSR allies in Eastern Europe were not much more than puppet states, except for Rumania.
- The Pacific League builds a missile site in communist Algeria, like in the OTL Russia built a missile site in communist Cuba. Where the Cuban Missile Crisis was solved diplomatically, the Algerian missile crisis leads to war.
- Yusupov turns out to be a poor, clumsy strategist, like Adolf Hitler in OTL.
- The Fashoda Timeline Cold War is more or less the opposite of the Cold War in OTL. In OTL, the struggle between the two superpowers was most visible by the "partition" of Europe, while in FT, the superpowers face each other in the Pacific. In both cases, the American ideology was the one of the free market and democracy. In OTL, however, this was opposed to left-wing communism, with the US taking a conservative direction. In FT, the American ideology opposes a right-wing nationalist dictatorship, with the US taking a more progressive direction.