Part I: A Single Drop of Rain; and the Ocean Rises
In 1895, Japan emerged victorious from the Sino-Japanese War. However, it had not yet achieved parity with the Western Powers. Even in victory, Japan was forced by Russia, Great Britain and France to relinquish Liaotung, a vital strategic point.
OTL, this led Japan to rapidly increase military expenditures, make the Army a central pillar of Japanese society, and distrust Western powers. These eventually led to xenophobic ultranationalism and militarism.
POD: Instead of deciding to focus too much on the military, Japanese leadership decides that the fate of Japan lies in industry and the merchant marine; as the true strength of the Great Powers lies in their economy. One must have an economy before being able to project significant military power. While the military budget is increased as in OTL, the elite are more careful with the influence of the military on government and society.
As OTL, Japan turns its eyes towards resource-rich lands such as Manchuria and the South China seas, but with a slightly altered outlook.
The first visible difference is made in the Philippines.
If Philippine rebels were given slightly more exterior aid from Germany, Great Britain, and Japan, had slightly better leadership, and were slightly more popular, the fate of the modern world could have changed greatly.
At the time of the Spanish American War, Americans knew very little of the Philippines. If the Americans had not happened to seize the land in the war, there would have been little support to annex the territory.
In 1898, Philippine rebels are able to seize Manilla Bay, along with the port. The Philippines declare independence as a sovereign state. When the Americans arrive, they prevent the troops from landing. America does not occupy the Philippines and the senate hears next to nothing of it.
Due to little interest in the region, the Americans do not take Guam and the Philippines in the peace treaty with Spain. The Philippines, increasingly supported by Japan, is able to retain and solidify its presence as an independent country.
The United States, lacking significant colonial presence in the Pacific, does not take nearly as much interest in dominating the region. Its military presence is severely reduced.
Having lost the Philippines, Spain no longer has a use for Guam. Fearing it to be seized by another power, they hastily decide to sell it to Japan, as they do not want it to go to either the British or Americans.
German influence was already important in the Philippines, but Japan quickly becomes an important cooperator in a common effort towards modernization and economic growth. Within a few years, Japan becomes the Philippines most important partner.
In 1905, by the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Japan had won a decisive military victory against Russia. However, Russia initially refused to humiliatingly cede land and pay war reparations to a non-Western country. OTL, the other Western powers, the United States included, used their power and influence to pressure Japan into accepting a peace treaty that did not sufficiently reward Japan. This lead to a sense of revanchism in Japan against the Western powers. Distrust against the Europeans grew. More and more of society came to see the military as their only hope of standing up against foreign imperialism, and thus the roots of ultranationalism and imperialist militarism in Japan were sown.
However, ATL, The United States is unable to project significant military presence in the Far East, due to the lack of major military bases and overseas territories in the region. The American peace negotiators have less pressure to put on the Japanese, and more Japanese war aims are fulfilled. Not only is Korea placed in the Japanese sphere (as in OTL), but Russia also cedes Karafuto(Sakhalin) and pays token war reparations. As in OTL, a humiliated Russia embarks on a campaign to completely re-modernize the military.
Satisfied with the terms, there are no urban riots in Japan, the population does not turn to militarism. Content with their new security buffer, the leadership of Japan focuses more on industrialization and trade than on military growth.
Part II: The Dance of the Tiger and the Dragon
1907: With tighter government control over the Army and Navy, the IJN and IJA are not allowed to begin defining their own opponents. General defense strategy stays firmly in central control, which does not become biased towards making war plans for the sake of increasing the budget share of either the Army or Navy.
Without the military moving towards greater independence and freedom of action, the Siemens Naval Scandal does not occur, and the Japanese inter-service rivalry is prevented. The Army and Navy do not compete for resources.
1910: Japan annexes Korea
The IJA, less concerned with budget growth, allows civil industry to take more priority in government outlays. Instead of the Navy increasing its budget through bureaucratic schemes, naval power increases at a more natural pace, albeit more slowly, in step with the economy and the merchant marine. With less military control, 1920’s Japan is able to pursue democracy, through Komei-style reforms over time. Civilian influence increases over the years, and military leaders end up unable to turn Japan into an OTL pseudo-fascist state. Taisho democracy endures the trials modernization.
1927: The Chinese Civil War starts
1931: Mukden Incident. Japan invades Manchuria, sets up the Manchukuo puppet government. As the invasion was not in accordance with superior orders, many officers are quietly punished for their disobedience. This butterflies away Army officer support for expanded conflict, as they would be punished for taking further independent action. No future preparations for large-scale war with China come to fruition.
1931-’37: Sporadic fighting in Manchuria and around the border. However, with no major Japanese invasion of China, the Second United Front between the CPC and KMT never happens. The Civil War continues, with the Nationalists gaining the advantage.
1932: Seeking to keep China weak, Japan does begin issue limited coastal raids and provides large amounts of aid for the ailing communists.
1938: Japan seizes Hainan and other Chinese islands, and occasionally lands occupation forces to control ports along the Chinese Coast.
1939: A cease-fire is signed between Japan and China. Japan will have military presence in coastal cities and ports, but will no longer attack Chinese forces. Fighting ends, and the KMT focuses on destroying what remains of the communist rebellion.
1940: Chinese Civil War ends. Chiang consolidates his power over China.
1941: Japan agrees to withdraw forces from most coastal occupation points in exchange for trade agreements and recognition of Japanese-controlled islands as no longer a part of China. By the end of the year, only Shanghai and Hong Kong have small Japanese military presences, Hong Kong being shared with the British.
Part III: Hearts of Iron
Spring 1942: Due to submarine warfare, and danger posed to the United Kingdom and other European democratic capitalist states, the United States declares war on Germany and joins the Allies.
The United States, having been preparing for war since 1940, is able to concentrate all of its military might on Germany.
By the end of the year, North Africa is liberated.
1943: Invasion of France. Without significant German military presence in the region, the invasion goes smoothly, with very few losses and huge gains in a short period, as all of the liberated territory enthusiastically supports the Allied advance.
By the end of the year, American forces reach the German border.
1944: Invasion of Italy and Norway. Italy, with American and British troops entering from the west and south simultaneously, surrenders and switches sides. American troops enter Finland mostly unopposed.
The Allies advance through western Germany.
1945: Berlin captured by Allied Forces. Soviet troops reach the Oder-Neisse line by the time that German troops surrender.
The Allies occupy all of Western Europe, except Iberia, all of Scandinavia, apart from Sweden, most of Germany, as well as parts of Czechoslovakia. Prague and Vienna are Divided between Soviet and Allied occupation zones.
Part IV: The Dust Settles Onto Clay
Germany cedes all lands that are occupied by Soviet forces. Silesia and Pomerania go to Poland. Out of East Prussia, New Prussia becomes an independent Soviet puppet. The eastern Polish border is adjusted slightly westward, giving small territorial concessions to the Belorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSRs. The two occupation zones of Czechoslovakia become separate states, the capitals of both countries lie in divided Prague. While the communist state of often referred to as simply “Czechoslovakia”, the western one is jokingly called “Sudetenland”, even though the Germans living there were largely deported to Germany.
The Soviets are in a weaker position than the Allies in Europe, having lost millions in the conflict, but not having reached the German heartland. Stalin accepts less territorial gains for the Soviet Union, but in exchange, Germany must be divided and weakened. The Allies agree.
However, simply nullifying the Anschluss leaves too large a core territory for Germany. After a regional “democratic referendum”, Bavaria, Baden, and Austria are separated from the rest of Germany.
German culture can generally be divided into two major subdivisions: North German and South German. The new South German Republic is generally viewed as the successor state of Austria. Austria (Österreich) translates literally to “eastern kingdom”. Thus a South German state would be named Süderreich, “southern kingdom”. At first, it is only jokingly, but quickly it becomes common practice in official language to call Süderreich “Sudria” in the same way that “Österreich” was translated as “Austria”. At first, the Sudrian capital of Vienna was awkward, as it was immediately adjacent to the Soviet occupation zone of Vienna. By 1946, the Sudrian capital is relocated safely towards the interior, in Munich.
The official names of the German successor states immediately after the war:
Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany) “Germany” Republik Süderreich (South German Republic) “Sudria” Neue Preußen Demokratische Republik (New Prussian Democratic Republic) “New Prussia”
In response to the poor Soviet position in Europe, Stalin expended great effort attempting to increase the global influence and reach of the SU, in an attempt to reach parity with the West. Mongolia was, much to the chagrin of the RoC, peacefully integrated as the Mongolian SSR in late 1945. The communist insurgencies in Turkey and Greece are given large amounts of material support. While the Truman Doctrine succeeds in Turkey, it fails in Greece. The communist rebels seize government buildings in Athens, proclaim a socialist state. Amidst the chaos, Turkey seizes Cyprus, claiming to protect its citizens from the dangers of an extreme Greek government. Greece, fearing a larger counter-revolution intervention, invites the Red Army for protection. Greece becomes a member of the Warsaw Pact.
And thus the Cold War began. -The United States, United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, and the European Community and their colonies collectively dubbed “the West” on one side.
-The Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact, and other socialist states dubbed “the East” on the other side.
However, a third side quickly emerged, -The “Nihonsphere”, including Nihon*, the Philippines, Manchukuo, and eventually Korea (locally “Choson”), which was slowly given self-rule through mostly peaceful processes, a stark exception to the norm of global decolonization.
The rest of the world; the unaligned, usually under-developed post-colonial countries, became the “Fourth World countries” - the future battle-grounds of the Cold War.
*: Starting in 1945, with the signing of the U.N. charter in San Francisco, Japan began to vehemently insist it be respected by being referred to by its autonym “Nihon”, rather than the name generally attributed to it by foreigners. In this TL, pre-1945 Japan is still Japan, but afterwards it is Nihon.
Part V: Viva la Revolución!
Up until the Second Great European War of 1939-’45, the history of the modern world was a history of European global dominance. However, starting in the early ‘40s, European dominance over their African and Asian colonial holdings began to waver. And colonial empires simultaneously collapsed. There are three main root causes that influenced the period of decolonization that followed the War.
The first being the colonial administrations themselves. By educating indigenous peoples in schools and institutions of each colonial administrative region, local nationalisms and leadership formed. These educated leaders would be the pillars of the anti-colonial independence movements, the most famous example of which is the Dutch-educated Sukarno of Indonesia.
The second being the War itself. During the course of GWII, Nazi Germany occupied the metropolitan home countries of European colonial powers, such as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This threw the colonial administrations into state of limbo, as they were now orphan governments. This chaos and political uncertainty gave independence movements the window of opportunity they needed to begin expanding their efforts at achieving autonomy.
The third being the post-war Cold War competition between the three primary spheres of influence; American, Soviet, and Nihonese, each supplying material, funds, advisors, and sometimes direct military aid to various groups fighting for or against independence throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
In 1940, the Dutch metropolitan homeland was quickly overrun, and the government fled continental Europe, setting up a government-in-exile in London. Indonesian independence movements had already been in existence. With the colonial government orphaned by the war, they sprung into action. Japan, seeking Asian economic and trade partners in the region, saw its chance to help create a new Asian nation-state, independent of Western control. They provided diplomatic and indirect military aid to both Sukarno and Hatta’s forces (which later became the Republican Army) and the Pemuda.
1942: A brutal insurrection against the colonial government starts in Indonesia. In fear and desperation, the colonial government reacts to the rebellions with utter brutality.
1944: In a shock to the world, the Dutch East Indian colonial military uses their stockpiled reserves of mustard gas and other chemical and biological warfare agents on towns and villages in regions that have been lost to the control of the guerrilla fighters. The British decide to intervene on behalf of the Dutch. Indian troops are sent to Malaya and Borneo, while Australian troops occupy New Guinea. Japanese and Indonesian agents begin working in Malaysia to inflame the colonial subjects against British rule, in the hopes of causing enough unrest to distract British forces away from the war in Indonesia. Luckily for them, a large portion of the population of Malaysia consists of immigrant workers and their families, originating from India and China. They are seen as foreigners and are not even given the same rights as the Malay people. Japanese and Indonesian agents take advantage of this to ferment local distrust and animosity against the British colonial government there.
1945: The Republic of Indonesia, controlling much of Java and Sumatra, as well as pockets of resistance throughout the Indonesian islands, officially declares independence. Nihon and the Philippines immediately recognize Indonesia.
1946: The Indonesian National Revolution is succeeding, despite the efforts of the British and the Dutch. It is a very violent and bloody ordeal, with many Indonesian civilians suffering from war atrocities. The unrest spills over into Malaysia. The Malays, tired of the raj system, rise in revolt. To their surprise, they are joined by high numbers of Indian and Chinese Malaysians, who are tired of being marginalized as non-citizens. However, the British are a much more formidable force than the Dutch, and without as much Nihonese aid, the revolt draws down into extended guerrilla warfare.
1947: Indonesian leaders proclaim the ideal of “Catursila”, the four main points which unite all South-East Asian Islander people into a single nation. By now, Sukarno is at the helm of a successful, battle-hardened, veteran force with modern Nihonese training and weapons. Indonesian forces infiltrate and occupy points in Malaya and Borneo, drawing out the guerrilla resistance into open rebellion, which joins the ranks of the Indonesian Army.
1948: After a long and bloody struggle, Great Britain and the Netherlands have no choice but to sue for peace. Both the Soviet Union and the United States immediately recognize Indonesian independence. Although much of the British territories in the region are taken, such as the Malay peninsula, British Borneo and Brunei, Singapore remains British. The Indonesians were never able to capture the strategically important city and its surrounding suburbs, which is transformed into a city-state-fortress.
Africa The Soviet Union, and to a lesser degree Nihon were the only Great Powers that openly advocated African decolonization. Their motives, especially in the case of the Soviet Union, were driven by the need to have more friendly-influenced governments, and reduce the position of the colonial Western powers. The Soviet Union greatly increased its policy of aiding independence movements in Africa, figuring that newly created states would be willing partners in trade, diplomacy and eventually military mattes. Italian and Portuguese colonies in particular were the most heavily targeted. Libya and Ethiopia became Soviet-influenced states, while Mozambique and Angola had successful socialist revolutions. The Americans, comfortably sitting in a position of dominance in Europe, did not respond as readily to socialist tendencies in the pro-independence parties of the African colonies. After a string of successful revolutions, the Unites States took a much greater interest in preventing the spread of Soviet Influence in Africa and especially Latin America.
Persia In OTL, the U.S. was seeking to ‘contain’ the Soviet Union by surrounding it with U.S.-friendly states, generally capitalist dictatorships. In ATL, the Soviet Union, nervous of the unfriendly states on its immediate borders, concentrates much more effort on installing friendly regimes in neighboring, resource-rich countries. In 1946, quickly after the deposition of Reza Shah, a coup instals a socialist regime in Iran. However, modernization and secularization efforts become unpopular with the clergy. Opposition to Soviet Hegemony quickly takes a tone of religious radicalism.
A U.S.-sponsored revolt becomes a jihadist insurgency, based primary in the south-eastern mountainous, sparsely-populated region of Iran. However, the islamic rebellion is not successful for two major reasons.
Socialism is not unpopular amongst the Iranians, especially those living in the north and west, which houses the major population centers of the country. Also, the American supply-line through Pakistan, with became the lifeline of the islamic movement, is weakened by the fact that none of Iran’s islamic neighbors support their religious movement, due to the ethno-religious differences between the Iran and its neighbors; Shia Iran v.s. Sunni Pakistan and Persian Iran v.s. Arab Iraq. The islamic insurrection simmers into a localized, low-intensity hotspot, with continued tension against the central authorities for years on end.
Part VI: The Six Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The Indochina Wars were a series of conflicts between the powers attempting to gain control over the Indochina region following GWII. The French Indochinese colonial administration went into instability when the French mainland was occupied by German forces. Although the colonial government swore allegiance to the new Vichy government which ruled France, it was still de-facto orphaned as it had no way of directly contacting the metropolitan homeland. British forces from India quickly moved in in 1941, in order to “reestablish order”. Seeing the colonial powers weakened gave a chance for indigenous peoples to move towards independence. The man at the forefront of Vietnamese independence was Ho Chi Minh. By the end of the war, in 1945, Ho Chi Minh petitioned France for allowing Vietnam greater autonomy. He also asked the United States to help back his independence movement. Both refused. Minor skirmishes occurred in the areas most supportive of Ho Chi Minh, where his Viet Minh operated.
1946: Nihonese weapons flow into northern Vietnam through the bay of Tonkin. Negotiations break down and fighting starts between the French colonial forces and the Viet Minh. The First Indochinese War begins.
1947: The Soviet Union begins shipping weaponry to Vietnam by way of the warm water ports of Iran, through the Indian Ocean, Straits of Malacca, and ports in Cambodia. The French launch Operation Lea in northern Vietnam.
1948: The French-controlled South Vietnamese government is cemented in place around Saigon. It is recognized as the true independent Vietnam shortly afterwards. The United States begins their alliance with Thailand.
1949: The Soviets begin sending military advisors and heavier weapons to the Viet Minh.
1950: The Soviet southern supply route is too unpredictable, as it must pass through much of French-controlled Indochina in order to reach the Viet Minh. The Soviets quickly reach the limit of how much supplies they can put through and begin searching for alternate routs. Without assurance of supplies, general Giap does not end the guerrilla phase of the war and waits. Without a significant Soviet threat to the US, Truman does not authorize large amounts of aid to the French and decides to wait for further developments.
1951: The Soviets make deals with Nihon, to use Nihonese shipping to ferry Soviet advisors, weapons, and supplies to the coasts of North Vietnam, which the French cannot control, and thus cannot restrict. The French cannot stop the Nihonese ships, as Nihon has too much military power in the region, especially from their bases on nearby Hainan. With proper supplies, general Giap ends the guerrilla phase of the war to attack French positions. There is a double-blow dealt to the French forces. They are taken by surprise in the sudden assaults on their fortified positions. Shortly afterwards, French general De Lattre is stricken with cancer and must return to France, temporarily paralyzing French leadership.
1952: De Lattre dies of cancer and is replaced by Raoul Salan. The French attempt a counter-attack but take heavy casualties in Giap’s hit-and-run attacks.
1953: French general Navarre takes command and conducts search and destroy missions with relative success, but Laos and North Vietnam are lost to the Viet Minh, and public opinion in France has turned against the war. Lacking funds and supplies, Navarre is unable to enact his strategy of baiting Giap into a pitched battle. Instead, he fortifies the cities and attempts to clear the coastal areas.
1954: Clearing the coastal areas fails, and the Viet Minh mass troops inside South Vietnam, surrounding the fortified cities. With popular support on their side, the entirety of the Vietnamese countryside is now in Viet Minh hands, with only pockets of heavily fortified positions around major cities remaining. Saigon, the symbol and center of French control, is shelled by artillery in a demonstration attack. Having been outmaneuvered, run out of supplies, the French sue for peace.
1955: The Geneva Conference gives much of the Viet Minh controlled territory to North Vietnam. Only Saigon and the Mekong River Delta Region remain with South Vietnam. Alarmed by the gains of communists in the region, with the support of the Soviet Union, no less, America “wakes up”. The Americans realize that were placated by their success in Europe and have not only let Persia and Vietnam fall into the hands of the Soviets, but also allowed anti-colonial independence movements throughout Africa and South Asia to be penetrated by socialist elements. America begins building military bases in Thailand.
1956: Unable to access Vietnam directly, the Americans cannot cancel the re-unification elections in Vietnam. The South refuses to participate, and with support from the U.S. resists the North Vietnamese. The U.S. sends aid to South Vietnam, but is limited by only being able to use British bases from Australia and Singapore.
1957: Viet Minh guerrillas and propagandists begin working in South Vietnam.
1958: North Vietnam declares a war of national reunification with the South. The Second Indochina War begins.
1959: Guerrilla attacks on Saigon. Laos under the control of communists.
1960: Thailand, with American air support, sends troops to Laos to help the pro-westerners “re-establish democracy” before the Declaration of Neutrality of Laos can be made. The North Vietnamese Army begins their strategy of encircling Saigon. The US sends thousands of advisors and combat troops to Vietnam to protect Saigon.
1961: Large scale bombing operations in Vietnam begin.
1962: China agrees to give assistance to South Vietnam.
1963: Having mismanaged the war, a coup deposes Diem. The South becomes completely dependent on the U.S., the Siege of Saigon is slowly coming into place.
1964: The U.S. begins air raids over North Vietnam.
1965: The noose tightens around Saigon and the Siege begins in earnest. The Americans are trapped and unable to access the countryside. The Chinese conduct bombing runs against North Vietnam and Laos. The U.S. deploys the B-52 in Vietnam for the first time to conduct bombings inside South Vietnam.
1966: The Siege of Saigon continues, the bombing campaign in the Mekong Delta intensifies into one of the most ferocious bombing campaigns ever as the Americans attempt pound every square inch of land that could be used as a supply route for the forces sieging Saigon.
In the Cochinchina Crisis, American warships intercept a Nihonese shipment convoy off the coast of Vietnam, knowing that it contained Soviet-made weapons for the Vietnamese. Nihon, a nuclear power, brought up nuclear submarines to the hotspot. Quickly, the situation escalates to the point where Nihon, China, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were on full alert and ready to go to war at the push of a button. It was the closest the world had ever gotten to global nuclear war, one that would have had all six of the worlds great powers at war with each other, as well as the world's three greatest alliance systems. In the end, the U.S. ships do not block Soviet shipments, in exchange, the Soviets withdraw all support from Cuba. The Soviet Union quickly breaks the promise and returns support for Cuba, but at the time it is enough for the U.S. to stand down while saving face. Nuclear war is averted.
1967: The U.S. decides there is no way to win, and hands over the reigns to South Vietnam in the “Vietnamization” phase.
1968: North Vietnamese offensives begin just as U.S. troops are beginning to leave every part of Vietnam they occupy outside of Saigon.
1969: The U.S. signs a cease-fire with North Vietnam.
1970: The U.S. leaves weapons for the South Vietnamese and evacuate soldiers in Saigon towards bases in Thailand.
1971: Saigon falls, the Second Indochinese War ends. The U.S. moves to secure Cambodia.
1972: Vietnamese forces escalate the conflicts in Laos and Cambodia.
1973: The U.S. enters Cambodia in force to prevent a feared communist takeover. The Third Indochinese War begins.
1974: Thailand begins full scale invasion of Cambodia, to help the Americans secure it, and hopefully retrieve lost territory. The Americans, needing Thai aid, ignore their motives. The communists in Cambodia set aside their differences with the Vietnamese communists to fight off the Americans.
1975: Even with Vietnamese aid towards the resistance, Cambodia is pacified. However, in the peace treaty, the Americans do not allow the Thai to annex Cambodian territory, fearing that they would lose public support in the entire region as foreign imperialists facilitating Thai conquest. Feeling betrayed, Thai relations with the U.S. cool. Thai units pull out of Laos and stop helping the pro-westerners. China fills the power-vacuum as the primary supporter of anti-communist elements in Laos, and sends advisors, weapons, and air support.
1976: Having secured a pro-American government in Cambodia, the U.S. prepares to arm a new Cambodian army and allow itself to exit the country, having contained the expansion of communist influence in the region. The Third Indochina War ends.
1977: The U.S. begins exiting Cambodia, leaving behind a pro-American military regime
1978: A coup in Cambodia destabilizes the government. Vietnam intervenes and military units cross Cambodian borders to install and pro-Vietnam government.
1979: The Sino-Viet War occurs. In response to the fall of the pro-western government in Cambodia and the Vietnamese attempt at replacing it with their own puppet, China initiates a “punitive” invasion of Vietnam, which is stopped just short of Hanoi. The Chinese retreat. The Chinese also withdraw from Laos, ending the Laotian Civil War. Vietnam withdraws from Cambodia, leaving it neutral, but keeps forces in Laos.
Part VII: A Divided Phoenix, Rising from the Ashes
Europe had been devastated during the Second Great European War on an unprecedented scale. Luckily for Europe, much of western and central Europe came under American occupation. Americans were renowned for their relatively light occupation, as opposed to the Soviets, who placed all they came across under their brutal military dictatorship. It cannot be imagined how much the people of Germany might have suffered from Soviet retribution, based on the sampling of mass rape and pillaging the Soviets practiced in the Prussian region of Germany that came under Soviet occupation.
After the conclusion of the war, the U.S. implemented a policy of granting millions of dollars worth of aid for a speedy restructuring of the European economy. However, part of the motive was to placate any radical thought that might emerge from the burnt-out lands. With the Soviets having taken about 20,000,000 casualties and their armies unable to take significant portions of Germany before the surrender, the Soviets were in a relatively bad position. Communism was not an immediate threat to Europe. Thus the reconstruction of Europe took as long as a decade, as American lawmakers were unwilling to pour as much as was necessary into the broken economies.
On the other side of the Iron Curtain, Socialism appeared to be actually working. While standards of living in the West stagnated until the late 40’s and then rose only slowly through the 50’s, the standard of living in the East grew much more rapidly. Poland and New Prussia were the poster-children examples of Soviet-style successful reconstruction up until the early 60’s.
By 1950, the American leadership received a rude awakening that despite their advantageous position in Europe, the great game against the Soviet Union had just begun. As Persia, Indonesia, Greece, and various African independence groups fell into Soviet hands, it became clear that the U.S. would have to rouse itself and directly oppose Soviet efforts at expanding their sphere of influence. This came during the turbulent crises over the island of Cyprus.
With generous Soviet funding and material support, both in weapons and advisors, the communists gained the upper hand in the Greek Civil War. The Greek Communists were adamantly in favor of the idea of enosis - the return of Cyprus from the British to Greece proper.
By 1950, it was too late to stop the communists in Greece. But Turkey could yet be salvaged, and after extensive “anti-communist support” Turkey joined the American sphere of influence. Turkey became an important U.S. ally in the region, especially in actions against the communists of Greece. In 1952, Turkey became a full-fledged member of N.A.T.O.
In 1955, a wave of bombings and attacks against the British government in Cyprus killed hundreds. It became clear that the Greeks were planning on taking back Cyprus, with backing from the Soviet Union. Turkey, with support from N.A.T.O., obtained permission from the United Kingdom to station permanent “peacekeeping forces” on the island. This was in reality a pre-emptive invasion to deny Cyprus from the communist Greeks. By 1960, Britain formally gave Cyprus its independence - as part of the Turkish Republic.
This infuriated the Greeks and drove them more deeply into the arms of the Soviets, who then vowed to take revenge on the Turks and the Americans that enabled them to steal Greek land. For much of the Cold War, the Aegean Seas between Greece and Turkey became one of the most densely fortified, mined, and patrolled coasts in the world.
To support growth and future stability in Western Europe, the European Community was established. It’s founding members were France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Sudria, and Italy. By 1980, the European Union would also include Sudetenland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. The European Union worked wonders towards internal cooperation and conflict resolution between European states. Although their progress was slow at first, by the height of the Cold War in the 1960’s, the West surpassed the East in standard of living and would continue in an upwards explosion towards wealth and power.
Almost the opposite of the West, the Soviet block countries performed miraculously well early on, but by the 60’s had fallen behind and from then on remained stuck in stagnation.
In the Eastern Bloc, people upset with their oppression and undemocratic single-party rule would begin pressuring the authorities for greater reforms and freedoms. At first, such as in the riots of Königsberg and Budapest, they were brutally put down by Warsaw Pact arms.
However the tide was turning by 1980. In Poland, the large independent trade union Solidarity gained political influence over the people of Poland, and although there were extensive crack-downs on Solidarity, it is generally viewed as one of the first successes against Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.
By the late 1980’s the Soviet Union was failing. Reforms were needed. In an effort to revitalize the stagnating economy, wide political and economic reforms were granted. Non-interventionist policies were adopted towards Warsaw Pact politics. Poland, quickly followed by Hungary, Czechoslovakia, New Prussia, Bulgaria and Romania talks began of organizing free elections -elections the communists would not win. Hungary opened their borders to Sudria, allowing immigrants to flow out of the Eastern Bloc into the West. In front of the Prague Wall, crowds were massing. The final economic and political revival of Europe was on the horizon.
Part VIII: The Chosen Hibiscus amid Eastern Winds
For much of world history, colonization and decolonization was a story of violence and upheaval. However, there were some lucky exceptions who escaped the kind of violent struggle that was typical of 20th century imperialism.
Following the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, Chosen would be included in the Japanese sphere of influence, placing it in a position to be annexed by Japan in 1910 in a relatively bloodless move. The swift fall of Chosen to Japanese colonialism meant that it had been defeated before exhausting its military might. Acts of rebellion and resistance grew more and more widespread, but without external support, armed opposition climaxed in 1919 in the March 1st Movement, where it was promptly crushed. The defeated leaders of Chosen fled to China, and attempted to work with various Chinese groups, such as the People’s Liberation Army to increase legitimacy. However, after the collapse of the communist efforts in China and the end of the Civil War there, what little foreign legitimacy they held evaporated.
Through the 1920’s and 30’s, Japan lessened the grip of military rule over the peninsula and instituted reforms leading to a more civilian administration that was much less oppressive. Although the exigences of war meant a partial retightening on the restrictions of personal freedoms in the late 30’s due to high tensions and occasional conflict with China, these were relaxed again by the early 1940’s. Following the reforms of the 20’s and 30’s, colonial policies were greatly relaxed. This is partly due to the stabilization of a democratic tradition in Nihon that lead to the extension of protected rights to Chosen people. Civil rights campaigns resulted in the giving of equal legal status between colonial peoples such as the Chosen and native Formosans and Nihonese people by 1955.
Chosen, being an important region to the Empire, demanded elevated political status as well. By 1958, calls of home rule in Chosen were heard loudly through peaceful demonstrations throughout the Empire. In the late spring of 1959, many Chosen activist groups began large protests for greater reforms towards autonomy. Many students and civil servants joined in on the protests. The protests were peaceful, except for a few isolated cases of hooligans clashing with police. However, the protests grew to such a scale that colonial authorities began to fear for their authority. The largest protest was in Seoul, with hundreds of thousands gathered at Gwanghwamun Square. Military forces were mobilized and quickly surrounded one of the biggest throngs of people. Leading the forward column of tanks and soldiers was Lt. Col. Nakahara. During the rapid deployment, arguments were held at the top levels of the colonial administration and Tokyo. The voices arguing for calm and order were quickly sidelined by nervous politicians who, upon hearing panicked exaggerations from local reports, began to fear that a repeat of the 1919 uprising was under way.
After taking up positions, Lt. Col. Nakaraha received orders from Tokyo to open fire on the protestors. In a popular amateur video recording of that moment, Lt. Col. Nakahara was observed stepping out of his command vehicle to receive the short phone call with the orders. He walked towards the forwards line of men, his hand grasping the hilt of his ceremonial officer katana. The panic of the crowd could be felt, as the military officer was seemingly about to draw his sword and convey decisive orders. In a moment of time on which the fate of future relations of between the people of Nihon and Chosen would rest on the edge of his blade, Lt. Col. Nakahara ordered his men to stand down, and proceeded to walk right into the center of the protests, where the student leaders were located, effectively holding himself hostage in order to enforce the cease-fire.
Shortly afterwards, Nakahara was court-martialed for insubordination and treason. However, the move towards peace had been a huge public relations boost. Probably not unrelated, Nakahara was unceremoniously released from the investigation due to “lack of evidence”. In a separate consecutive investigation he was demoted for a minor offense. The public outcry in Nihon was such that the Emperor Himself requested that Nakahara be presented with a medal and honors, contrary to the demotion. It cannot be stressed that both Nihon and Chosen cultures, especially at that time, were collectivist, non-individualist cultures of strict social hierarchies, strong sense of duty and submission. To disobey one’s orders from such high-ranking figures would be unthinkable to most.
Historically, Nihon, much like the European powers, had a been a country and culture deeply rooted in war and violence. From the Sengoku Jidai, to the invasion of Manchuria. However, Nihon had also handled its two major transitionary periods with relative stability and peace, from agrarian society to industrial society, from colonial imperialism, to decolonized partnership. However it was not inevitable that things turned out this way. It is often the acts of one individual at a crucial point of decision that can influence the fate of nations.
In 1960, negotiations with elected representatives of the Chosen administration yielded a compromise to preserve peace and stability in the region. On January 1st 1961, a plan was declared. Chosen would officially remain part of the Empire for at most 50 years. Until then, it would be gradually given more and more autonomy. After referenda are held, the status of Chosen would be determined, and it could become completely independent on January 1st, 2000. This compromise was accepted, despite criticism from hardliners in both Chosen and Nihon. On new years eve of 1969-70, Chosen was declared an autonomous republic, with the Nihonese Emperor as symbolic head of state. Technically this made Chosen a constitutional monarchy, but in practice it was a parliamentary republic that delegated foreign affairs and military affairs to the Nihonese state. Through the 70’s and 80’s, Nihon and Chosen experienced radical economic growth and were dubbed “The Tiger Economy” by the international community. By the 1990’s, many people became in favor of following the footsteps of the European Union; that equal partnership would be beneficial in the future. In 1999, the referendum on full Chosen independence was narrowly defeated, continued union being the preferred alternative.
Part IX: Out With the Old, In With the New
On December 1922, several soviet republics "joined" together in mutual union treaty establishing the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
After the Russian Civil War, the Soviet Union went through dramatic and brutal changes in order to secure the industrialization and militarization of the fledgling country, preparing for the inevitable German onslaught to come.
By the end of the Great Patriotic War (also known as the Second Great European War or GWII) Soviet power lay astride half of Europe, with the "Iron Curtain" running from the mouth of the Oder down to Trieste, with everything east a dominion of the Soviet Bloc.
However, their control could not last, as the economic policies chosen by the central committees eventually were mired by corruption and inefficiency. Controlled economy had worked wonders for the post-war reconstruction, but had failed to deliver a solid long-term plan. The economy stagnanted. People grew disillusioned. Communism sank in appeal.
By the late 1980's much of Eastern Europe was preoccupied with throwing off the Soviet reigns. It was clear that in order for the Union to survive, serious reforms were needed.
The New Union Treaty was proposed as a replacement for the old Treaty on the Creation of the USSR. The new system of federalization would give much more local autonomy to the republics from Moscow.
In 1991, a popular vote was held in most of the Soviet Republics, with a clear majority, just over 70%, favoring a federalized union state over complete independence. However, older leadership opposed the sweeping reforms, noting that they significantly reduced the power Moscow held over any non-Russians. After an isolated incident involving a few of such old guards, agitators seen as impeding the process were arrested, and released a few months later once the situation had stabilized.
The Union of Soviet Sovereign States was successfully proclaimed. The first signatories were Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, quickly followed by signatures from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and finally Ukraine.
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldavia, Georgia, and Armenia did not sign and became independent states.
However, with the turn of 1992, it became clear that there were several border conflicts that had yet to be resolved.
-The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis was resolved by keeping Artsakh in the USSR, but as a separate Armenian republic. -The Abkhaz and Ossetian secessionist conflict between independent Georgia, and the breakaway republics that wanted to remain in the Soviet Union was resolved after minor violence when Georgia let go of the territories in exchange for a large amount of Soviet economic assistance. -The Pridnestrovian conflict between Moldovia and Gagauzia and Transnistria was stopped when Soviet troops entered Transnistria and permitted the two new republics to join the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, the Moldovans had overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Romania. However, the Romanians were not interested in inheriting a border conflict with the USSR, and forced Moldova to give up its claims as a pre-condition to the reunification process.
Over the years, the USSR gave republic status to several regions in order to peacefully resolve the desires of non-Russian peoples for greater autonomy and self-determination. The USSR grew from its original 10 Soviet Sovereign Republics at signing to about 24 by 1999, after giving republic status to several Caucasian peoples as well as Tanu Tuva and Karelia.
The old Soviet Socialist union had collapsed, replaced by the new Soviet Sovereign union. The fall of socialism brought an end to several other states in Europe as well, in Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia.
The Czech-Slovak government collapsed, resulting in the splitting of the country between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Although the Sudetenland still held many Germans, they would be unable to join Germany proper. The Sudetenland, and City of Prague joined the Czech.
With regionalist nationalism running rampant, Jugoslav republics began declaring independence. With intervention from the Soviet Union unlikely due to their internal issues, Jugoslavia balkanized in a violent manner resulting in several smaller republics; Slovenia, Croatia-Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
The Soviet Union's power had been greatly reduced. Free market economy did not give the immediate relief that reformists had desired, leaving the economy in tatters. Still, the Soviet Union limped along, having barely survived its crisis. Several Soviet-friendly states in Africa, South America, and Asia found themselves suddenly orphaned. Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, and Afghanistan were the only remaining Soviet-influenced states outside of Europe. And by 1999, Greece and Serbia were the only remaining Soviet allies in Europe.
It was now Nihon that rose to the forefront as the second greatest power in the world as its vibrant economy far surpassed that of the entire (now ex)-communist world. Countries that had previously found shelter under the Soviet wing turned to Nihon as well as China and India, as these countries' economies developed and launched them into the realm of developing powers.
Part X: A New World Without Fear
For three quarters of a century, the world had been locked in a state of constant global conflict: the Cold War. Ironically, the tri-polar nature of world power had ensured that this period of confrontation was one of the most peaceful in recorded history, as international wars had become a rarity.
However, disturbances still existed, as passions and interests ebbed and flowed, leading to moments of great tension. The Indochinese Wars and the Tonkin Missile Crisis. The reformation of the USSR and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. By the end of the 20th century, the Muslim world had also gone through great changes, ones that would lead to the third great disturbance of the Cold War era.
Before the end of the Second Great European War, Iran had been occupied by foreign troops and through a coup had a Soviet-friendly government installed. Through the 60's and 70's, local resistance adopted a distinctly religious tone. However, by the end of 80's this resistance had failed, and the last insurgencies against the Soviet allied government had all but collapsed. Uninspired by the failure of islam to take the lead in anti-socialist sentiment. Ideas of jihad and islamic fundamentalism remained the fantasies of handful of aging exiles who had fled to Iraq.
1980: The Soviet-friendly government in Afghanistan had been increasing their cooperation with the Soviet Union.
By 1990, Afghanistan was economically and militarily completely dependent on the Soviets.
1999: With the reformation of the Soviet Union into a non-socialist, democratizing, loose federation, the representatives of Afghanistan petitioned their desire to join the Union of Soviet Sovereign States.
This move was well-supported by the northern regions of Afghanistan, as they were composed of a multitude of ethnic groups, many of which already had large communities in the S.U. However, the Pashtuns were a much more independent-minded group and had a clear dominance over large areas of Afghanistan.
2001: Already restless due to the reforms over past two decades, and with a surge in the population of young men, a Pashtun insurrection began. The government of Afghanistan requested assistance of the Soviet military, which was granted. This resistance quickly abandoned the ideal of a united Afghanistan in favor of Pashtun nationalism. Unrest spilled over the border into Pashtun regions in Pakistan as well. At first, Pakistan was eager to weaken their neighbors to the north and provided arms and aid to the rebels.
However, due to the failure of the previous Iranian insurrection, no charismatic character in the U.S. supported any large amount of covert aid.
Without large amounts of aid from the Americans, the Pakistani government became increasingly unstable, with popular dissent rising due to the neighboring conflicts as well.
2002: The Soviets had secured the entirety of the northern region, but the southern half of Afghanistan seethed. The conflict drew on as the youth of Afghanistan were bled, but had just enough supplies to avoid complete collapse.
2005: Decades of American apathy in the region allowed the Pakistani government's instability to come to a head. A coup d'état deposed the regime. While Pakistan had suffered from several coups before, Pakistan had been able, thanks to American support, been able to quickly re-cement their position. The lack of American interest and intervention in the region had isolated Pakistan.
Pashtuns in Pakistan joined the Afghan revolt and established a de-facto independent government in Pakistani territory during the moments of power vacuum following the coup.
India, taking advantage of the chaos, allowed small border raids on Pakistani positions to occur. The new Pakistani government, not wanted to appear weak, took the bait and issued a counter-attack. A border war ensued in which India gained the advantage and pressed into northern Kashmir.
This in turn set off two chain reactions. The Pakistan-Baloch split and the Chinese intervention.
There was a split in the Pakistani ruling military party between those who favored immediately ending all external conflicts in order to restore domestic order, and those who favored expanding the external conflicts, hoping to incur a nationalist rally-to-the-flag effect on the populace. The peace-seekers accused the war-seekers of recklessly bringing ruin to Pakistan, and that ending the wars, even on unfavorable terms was the path to future stability. The opposite side of the argument accused the peace-seekers of being weak cowards. If the government could be bullied by rebels and Indians, the people would overthrow them for sure, thus they had to stand firm.
Due to the internal division of the regime, most of the military officers who wanted a cease-fire with India and the Pashtun rebels fled to the south of the country, where with the help of Baloch nationalists they established their own regime that promised peaceful resolutions. The war-hawk officers took control over the north and continued to fight the Pashtun rebels and Indians in Kashmir, even though they continued to lose.
In order to avoid a greater catastrophe such as nuclear war between Pakistan and India, China declared to the U.N. that it would lead a coalition to intervene in the border war. Well-trained and well-equipped Chinese armies secured Kashmir. Chinese-led U.N. peacekeepers set up an independent country there that was neither Pakistani nor Indian.
2006: Pakistan claimed both of the new independent countries that were Baloch-Sindh and Kashmir, but could do nothing about them. In Afghanistan, a settlement was negotiated. Afghanistan would become a Soviet Sovereign Republic, but each region was allowed a referendum to decide which state to join, the new Pashtunistan that had been established in Pakistan, or the Afghan SSR. Additionally, many Balochis in the south-west of Afghanistan broke off from the Pashtuns to join the new Baloch-Sindh state.
2008: This time is marked as the beginning of the Arab Spring, as large protests against Saddam Hussein occurred, demanding reforms, democratization, human rights, and an end to poverty. These protests and riots would spread throughout the middle-east. Leading to the eventual overthrow of regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Oman, and Egypt. Violence and large protests would spread to include all of the Arab countries, from Algeria to Iraq, Syria to Yemen.
Waves of revolution and modernization would sweep the middle-east, although the long term-effects of these upheavals are still unknown.
As the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close, political analysts re-evaluate the relative position of the countries of the world.
The Great Powers:
1. Ever since the end of the GWII, the US has stood at solid #1 with a huge economy and overwhelming military with near-global projection. Need we say more?
2. Nihon, though lagging behind in industry and military capabilities until the '60s, has experienced massive economic growth, is one of the richest per capita, and has translated their economic strength and technological superiority into military prowess.
3. China has grown well under the reasonable governance of the KMT. However, Nihonese naval control over much of the trade ways has limited Chinese trade opportunities -constraining the growth of the economy. Despite this (thanks in part to American training), the Chinese do have a military that boasts incredibly quality in addition to quantity.
4. The Soviet Union is a power in decline. Although it is technically one of the three superpowers, most would rank it below China on the scale of Great Powers. While still possessing the largest nuclear arsenal and a powerful military, the poor economy and federalization reforms have left this behemoth as a husk of its former glory. Many feel anxious over the possibility of the Soviet Union losing all of its foreign influence, leading the establishment of a bi-polar world between the US and Nihon.
5+6. France and the United Kingdom are the ancient time-tested Great Powers, though the age of European dominance has passed from living memory, their economies are the record-setters of development, their global deployment of military bases the vestiges of their long-gone colonial empires. Individually, their growing irrelevance as the "old men great powers" places them at the bottom of the list, though if the E.U. were counted as a single entity it could reasonably place above China.