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Decades of Darkness Interlude #8: Kingdom of the Empty Throne

Credit for this post about the future of England in the DoD timeline goes to Ed Thomas.

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Taken from:

Federal Intelligence Agency: The World Factbook – England (1953 edition)

Introduction

Inhabited since prehistoric times, England has been invaded and settled by a series of peoples, first by Celtic tribes, then by Romans, and finally by Anglo-Saxons. England emerged as a unified state in the 10th century, and emerged as the birthplace of parliamentary democracy. England took control of Cymru in 1282, and in 1707 unified with Scotland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain. As part of Britain, England was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and for most of the nineteenth century was the dominant industrial and maritime power. Eclipsed by the emerging superpowers in the 20th century, troubled by nationalism, and eventually invaded by Germany, the United Kingdom collapsed in 1932. England was re-established as a separate state on 7 December 1932. While England is formally a parliamentary monarchy, since his appointment in December 1932, the Lord High Steward, Field Marshal Sir John BLACKWOOD, has steadily consolidated personal power through semi-constitutional means. England faces a persistent national security crisis due to significant socialist resistance in London and some northern parts of the country. Government restrictions on freedom of speech, of the press and of assembly continue.

Geography

Location: Western Europe, island in the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Ireland, northwest of Germany and north of Brittany and Normandy.

Area (claimed, including inland water): 131,245 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly larger than North Carolina

Land boundaries: 154km with Scotland, 258km with Cymru (disputed)

Note: Although England administers Monmouthshire, its status is disputed with Cymru, which also claims the county [1].

Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate: temperate maritime; temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast

Terrain: mostly rolling hills, generally more mountainous in the north and larger areas of flatter land in the south and east.

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: The Fens, -4m

highest point: Scafell Pike, 978m

Natural resources: coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land

Land use: arable land: 23.23%

permanent crops: 0.2%

other: 76.57%

Environment - current issues: water pollution

Geography – note: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from continental Europe and linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters

People

Population: 37,391,000 (January 1952 est.)

Nationality: noun: Englishman (men), Englishwoman (women), English (collective plural) adjective: English

Racial groups: English, Celtic, Black, East Indian

Religions: Protestant 76.1%, Catholic 19.4%, other 4.5%.

Languages: English (official), Kernewek

English is universally used, Kernewek is spoken by some in Cornwall.

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99%

male: 99%

female: 99%

Government

Country name:

Conventional long form: Kingdom of England

Conventional short form: England

Government type: Parliamentary monarchy.

Note: England is officially a kingdom, but in practice the throne is empty and the Lord High Stewardrules on behalf of the absent monarch.

Capital: Winchester

Administrative divisions: 41 counties; Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, County Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, County of London, Middlesex, Monmothshire (disputed), Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Westmorland, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire.

Independence: 1 January 1933 (from United Kingdom)

National holiday: St George’s Day, 23 April

Legal system: Based on common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

Chief of state: This office is notionally held by the monarch, but the throne has been empty since the restoration of England. The effective chief of state is the Lord High Steward, Field Marshal Sir John BLACKWOOD (since 7 December 1932)

Head of government: Prime Minister Edward WILKINSON (since 8 January 1944)

Cabinet: appointed by the steward on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Elections: no executive elections, the role of monarch is hereditary, and the Steward’s succession is unspecified by law. Following legislative elections, the head of the majority party is sworn in by the steward.

Legislative branch:

Bicameral Parliament (Witenagemot) consists of the House of Lords (309 hereditary peers, 12 Law Lords, and a varying number of life peers, currently 413) and the House of Commons (410 members elected by popular vote to serve seven-year terms unless the House is dissolved earlier).

Elections: House of Lords – none. House of Commons: last held 14 March 1945.

Election results: House of Commons: National Party 372, Anmódnes [Unity] Party 19, New Liberals 15, Mebyon Kernow [Sons of Cornwall] 2, Independents 2.

Judicial branch:

House of Lords (highest court of appeal; Law Lords are appointed by the Steward for life); High Court of England.

International organisation participation: Greater European Economic Union (founding member)

Diplomatic representation in the USA: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Charles STRICKLAND

Diplomatic representation from the USA: Chief of Mission Ambassador Laurence LOPEZ

Flag description: red cross (St George’s cross) on a white background.

Economy

Economy - overview: England’s economy is in transition from its former position as a leading trading power and world financial centre to its current role as a member of the GEEU. The nation is still a major (although declining) trans-shipment point for many goods between Europe and North America. Over the past two decades the English government has greatly expanded public ownership of companies and has attempted to rationalise industry. Exports remain the primary driver for economic growth, and England is economically dependent on its continued membership of the GEEU.

Labour force: 17.2 million (1952 est.)

Unemployment rate: 6.1% (1952)

Currency: English pound

Military

Military branches: Home Army, Coast Guard, Sky Command

Military service and obligation - 16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service. Conscription is not permitted under the Geneva Accord.

Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 8,341,440 (1952 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 7,978,235 (1952 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 357,491 (1952 est.)

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[1] It has long been a matter of dispute whether Monmouthshire is in Wales or England; all Acts applying only to Wales until 1956 referred to “Wales and Monmouthshire.” ITTL, this is more of a pressing issue...

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Decades of Darkness #189: Shards Of A Broken World

“The greater powers of our time have come to the same place, but they will never stand on the same side.”

- Australian Prime Minister Lane, speaking on the first day of the Dublin Conference

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Taken from: “Wars That Changed The World, Volume 1: The Great War”

(c) 1948 by Prof. Isamu Hayashi and Dr. Berndt Chou

Keio University, Tokyo, Empire of Nippon

English Translation by Kathryn Warner

Chapter 48: Legacy of the Great War

Of the defeated members of the Bouclier, none would be treated more harshly than France. Such was the inheritance of long Franco-German enmity and, paradoxically, the strong sense of French unity. Morocco and Aragon were distant and survived by accepting German overlordship. Britain’s own internal divisions meant it broke apart before it suffered full occupation. While the successor nations to Britain were subject to treaty restrictions and German forces permanently based on their soil, they still retained part of their sovereignty. Italy, the first member of the Bouclier to fall, lacked a strong sense of national unity and dissolved into civil war after military defeat. This meant that while Germany eventually intervened to impose a peace on the feuding factions, they found it more convenient to maintain a partitioned Italy than to sustain a costly occupation [1].

France, however, maintained its internal unity and sense of nationalism throughout the entirety of the Great War. While militarily defeated, the sense of French nationalism had persisted, and continued during the occupation period when Germany divided the former France into military districts. Resistance to German occupation, both violent and peaceful, began almost immediately after the defeat of France, and has continued at a lower intensity to the present day. For these reasons, Germany imposed partition on former France, although the governments of the new states have been plagued by perceptions of illegitimacy and subordinacy to Germany [2]...

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“If I advance, follow me. If I retreat, kill me. If I die, avenge me.”

- Raoul Salan, co-founder of Solidarité Nationale Française, 1933

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Excerpts from: “End of Empires: A Short History of the Great War”

(c) 1951 by Ronald Bunton

Eagle Eye Publishing, Richmond [Brisbane], Kingdom of Australia

The Great War started, in large measure, over Germany’s wish to retain a de facto empire over Central Europe. The question of the future of the Verein was put in abeyance for the duration of hostilities; within Hungary and Croatia themselves, German and allied forces sought simply to maintain order rather than re-establish full political control...

Victory in Europe brought Germany great pride, but it also brought with it great problems. The old Verein could not be restored in anything resembling its present form. The Hungarians and Croatians were willing to continue as friends of Germany, but they had not lost their underlying resentment of German primacy or of its financial systems. Courland had been lost to the Verein, a price which Germany had been willing to pay to buy Russian support, yet the tensions over that bargain would be long remembered. Most troublesome of all, Germany now had to determine how to rule the formerly hostile nations which it had defeated in the war...

There had never been any question that the Verein would continue as a free-trade zone. Too many corporations and people in too many nations relied on the trade links between the nations of Europe for there to be any serious discussion of abandoning the trade barriers. The critical issues in the negotiations were how the restored Verein would set broader fiscal policy, and how the traditional methods of military and political control could be adapted to the changed geopolitical reality of the new Europe.

The result was, inevitably, a compromise. The Grosseuropaische Wirtschaftsverein, the Greater European Economic Union, was formally created on 1 January 1935 and the old Verein dissolved. The name was chosen to represent the supposed Europe-wide structure and economic focus of the new body, but even on the day of its creation, few Europeans had any illusions that the GEEU was as much a military and political body as an economic forum.

From its inception, the GEEU was intended to function as much as a military alliance and vessel for German control of Europe as it was meant to be a free trade region. This was evident from the structure of the two main intergovernmental bodies in the GEEU; the Economic Council and the Security Council. The Economic Council had representatives from member states appointed on a weighted representation of population and economic strength, and had responsibility for co-ordinating economic and other non-security issues of common interest.

Within the Union, however, true power was vested in the Security Council, which had responsibility for common defence and any other matters which were deemed to affect the security of the GEEU or any of its member states. Nowhere was the purpose of the Union made more clear than in the formation of the Security Council. The body had nine seats. Three of those were permanently allocated to Austria, the Netherlands and Prussia, and those representatives also had the right of veto over all motions of the Security Council. The remaining six seats were allocated to all full members of the GEEU on a rotating basis. Four smaller German states [3] were also including in the rotation of seats on the Security Council...

Membership of the GEEU was divided into full and associate membership. Germany had automatic membership as a single nation; while some of its member states had separate representation on the Security Council, their representation on the Economic Council was assigned on a German-wide basis, not divided amongst the member states. The other full founding members of the Union were Poland, Hungary, Croatia, North and South Italy, England, Scotland, Cymru and Denmark. Associate members of the GEEU were part of the free-trade zone, but were not part of the military alliance. Associate members were permitted to send one observer to the Economic Council, who could speak but not vote, but they could not take part in any debates in the Security Council. There were initially three associate members: Albania, Montenegro and Aragon...

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“The War of the Giants has ended; the wars of the pygmies begin.”

- Clement Churchill, describing the chaos of post-war Europe, 15 January 1933

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Taken from “The New Oxford Historical Dictionary”

(c) 1949 New Oxford University,

Liverpool [Melbourne], Kingdom of Australia

Used with permission.

Dublin Conference (1933). The peace conference which is usually considered to mark the end of the Great War, although some sources consider the Great War to have continued until 1935 [4]. Held in Dublin, Ireland between 7 August and 14 November 1933. Attended by the heads of state or government of most of the surviving powers of the war and some nations which had not taken part: Germany, Russia, the United States, Nippon, Australia, South Africa, Ceylon, South China, Palestine, Ireland, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Albania, Montenegro, England, Scotland, Cymru, Portugal, Aragon, Greece, Serbia, Castile, Abyssinia, Liberia, Sweden, Denmark, and New England.

In many instances, the conference simply ratified the separate peace agreements which had been reached between individual powers in the war. The main areas of contention were the unfinished negotiations between Germany and Nippon and the former British Empire, and the delineation of spheres of influence between Russia and Germany. The German-Allied negotiations were resolved through American mediation, while Russo-German negotiations came close to breaking down but were eventually concluded without the involvement of other parties. Both sets of negotiations saw the establishment of buffer states. Portugal occupied a buffer position in West Africa, while Russia established Syria and Lebanon as protectorates [5], and Palestine and Rashidi Arabia were recognised as neutral territory.

The other main outcome of the Dublin Conference was the establishment of the Council of Nations (q.v.), based in Dublin, as a forum for permanent communication and resolution of disputes between nations. All of the attendees to the conference joined the Council of Nations as founding members, and Rashidi Arabia was also invited as a founding member under German sponsorship. The disagreements between the attending powers meant that the Council of Nations had few specific powers except as a forum for discussion; the Assembly could hold debates and pass motions commenting on any aspect of world affairs, but these motions were not deemed binding on any member state. The Council Charter included a process for mediation on international disputes before either party should declare war, but there was no meaningful way of enforcing this clause...

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“I admire the Council [of Nations], but I do not believe in it.”

- Russian Chief Minister Konstantin Kazimirovich Korovin, 1933

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Taken from: “Wolves At The Gates: The Story of the Great War”

(c) 1951 by Noel Browne

Trinity Publishing: Dublin, Ireland

Russo-German cooperation had always included an element of tension during the war, but these strains became exacerbated during the concluding days of the war. In terms of external affairs, this was reflected in Russian diplomatic leaks of the terms of the Warsaw Accord, particularly the concession of Courland, which weakened German relations with its allies. The increasing tension would later be reflected in Russia retaining the new republics of Syria and Lebanon as protectorates, rather than allowing German control, and in Russian support for Abyssinian occupation of the former German Somaliland.

In internal affairs, the strains between the two emerging superpowers required them to amend their plans for the post-war world. Germany was forced to change the pre-war Verein structure into a new form which addressed the grievances of Hungary and Croatia. The new Union which emerged in Europe still preserved Germany primacy in defence and foreign affairs, but the other European nations were granted a meaningful voice in setting economic policy.

For its part, Russia found it prudent to formalise and extend the federal structure which had been developing before the war. Finland, Courland, Bulgaria, Thrace & Marmara, Bokhara, Khiva, Tuva and Tibet were recognised as ‘states in federation with Russia.’ Individual decrees specified the level of autonomy which each state possessed. Finland and Courland had almost complete control of all foreign affairs, to the point where they could set separate economic and tariff policies if they chose and maintained separate armed forces, while the other states had lesser levels of control. In time, more federated states would be added...

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“Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language, another war is in the making. Only one language do they understand: ‘How many divisions have you?’”

- Werner Wolfgang vom Rath, then German Minister of Industry as part of the NLPP government [6], when attending the Dublin Conference as a member of the German delegation, 1933. (He would be elected German Chancellor in 1941, as the head of the United People’s Party.)

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Taken from: “Wars That Changed The World, Volume 1: The Great War”

(c) 1948 by Prof. Isamu Hayashi and Dr. Berndt Chou

Keio University, Tokyo, Empire of Nippon

English Translation by Kathryn Warner

Chapter 48: Legacy of the Great War

... Like the Council of Nations, the foundations of the Restored Empire were laid during the Dublin Conference, but unlike the Council, the Restored Empire did not formally come into existence until the following year, and most of its membership would not admitted until 1939. The Restored Empire was a creation both symbolic and significant; many of its institutions were given titles and roles to suggest continuity with the vanished British Empire, but at its core it contained the functions needed to ensure that it survived as a meaningful alliance and economic pact.

The driving force behind the formation of the Restored Empire was the desire to maintain existence for the shards of the British Empire and the former German colonies which they had acquired. Australia and South Africa were the two principal powers who founded the Empire, but from its beginning the Empire was intended as a pact amongst equals. As the senior monarchy amongst the founding members, the King of Australia was established as the Restored Emperor, yet this was purely a symbolic office. The re-creation of the rank of emperor was not to give primacy to Australia, but as a symbolic act of defiance against Germany. The further symbolism of the restored imperial office was as justification for the military alliance of the Empire; since every acre of imperial soil was part of the Restored Emperor’s dominions, then an attack on one member state of the Empire was automatically treated as an attack on every member. Another principle which carried over from the old British Empire was for free movement of all imperial subjects within the Empire.

The principal purpose of the Restored Empire was to act as a defensive alliance, and to encourage trade and commerce amongst the member nations. Unlike the GEEU (which is sometimes cited as inspiration), the Empire was not a full free trade zone; member states were free to set their own tariffs and other economic policies, although free trade was encouraged. All member nations retained their national sovereignty, with the right to leave at any time of their choosing. While an Imperial Parliament was created at the founding of the Empire, this institution has largely become a sinecure, not a major forum for discussion between member states. A few initiatives are sometimes started in the Imperial Parliament, but in practice most important negotiations amongst the member states are held in yearly meetings of heads of government...

Most former British and German colonies would eventually opt to join the Restored Empire by the end of the decade. Siam opted to maintain cordial relations rather than become a formal member, Jamaica was never invited due to American attitudes, while South China was likewise never given the opportunity to join [7]. Bharat was far too populous and focused on independence to accept the proposed five-year transition period which had been instituted for other former colonies. Bharat had initially intended to go its own way entirely, although the chaos within the subcontinent would soon force amendments to those plans...

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“Our founders made many wise choices when creating the Empire, but they made one glaring mistake. They chose as our motto ‘one empire, many peoples.’ They should have said, ‘one empire, many arguments.’”

- Attributed to Andrew Kelvin (later Baron Kelvin), junior member for Macquarie in the Imperial Parliament, 1946

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16 November 1933

Providence Military Hospital

Outside Harlow [8], Essex

Kingdom of England

Dr Hans Asperger toured the ward of Providence Hospital, as he had done several times a day for the last month. This time, he had an English counterpart with him, a young medical graduate named Dr Eric Dax who had been assigned as liaison while Asperger treated the sick and injured prisoners of war.

We’ve been far more generous to these English than they deserve, Asperger thought. The treatment of the sick and injured was his life’s work, and he was as glad to treat ill English as ill Germans. Almost as glad, at least. Yet the way the occupation forces treated the English civilian authorities was far too generous, in his opinion. Dr Dax seemed to think that he had more right to be in this hospital than Asperger. The same generous attitude had been carried across to all levels of the occupation, as far as he could tell. That should not be the case. These English were the ones who had bombed defenceless civilians, who had broken the laws of war by using gas, and whose “home defence force” had murdered German prisoners of war during their uprising in support of the late, unlamented Neville Wood. They should be receiving the same treatment which was now being meted out to France.

Still, for all of his arrogance, Dax was astute in matters medical. He followed Asperger through the ward, and his occasional questions were to the point. Asperger came to the rooms set aside for the African recruits. England had used a couple of divisions recruited from their colonies in tropical Africa, and those soldiers had fought well, by all reports. They had honoured the ceasefire, when so many of the local English militias had not. Now they were prisoners of war, waiting for a decision on whether they would return to their homeland, or whether they would be granted citizenship. Some of them still got sick, of course, and Asperger treated them willingly enough, although with some communication difficulties since many of the African soldiers had only limited English.

Asperger paused before entering the first of the Africans’ rooms. “Do you know whether these Africans will be allowed to stay here?” These recruits came mostly from what had been British Equatorial Africa, which was now in Portuguese hands. He doubted that many of them wanted to accept the rule of a country which was the one voluntary Jackal ally.

“If they want to, they should be,” Dax said. “We should not forget those who fought alongside us.”

Asperger bit back a snide remark. The English had forgotten the Scots and the Welsh – Cymry, now, he supposed – who were still fighting alongside them when they abandoned the war. “Good. Let’s find out what maladies they have, then.”

Few of the prisoners of war had injuries sustained from the fighting itself; most of those were long since healed or dead. The occasional injuries he treated were usually the results of accidents. More common were various sicknesses which the prisoners had acquired from one place or another. The prisoners were well-fed, unlike what the English had done to the Boers they took prisoner in South Africa, but they still became sick at times.

They toured the Africans’ rooms in relative silence, asking only brief questions of the patients. No point discussing diagnoses in front of patients, of course. The patients included many who had caught influenza or other sicknesses which were common outside the prison camps, too. Some, though, had more puzzling illnesses.

Once they had left the Africans’ rooms, Asperger said, “What did you notice about those illnesses?”

“Influenza, mostly, and some other sicknesses I’m not sure about,” Dax said.

“Some with tuberculosis, but several other illnesses which aren’t usually seen,” Asperger said. “Quite a few of these African recruits have died of minor maladies, things to which no healthy man should succumb. I’ve conducted some autopsies, and heard about others. Toxoplasmosis, pneumonia caused by a yeast-like fungus which I’ve only seen before in a couple of very young and malnourished children, others with moulds infecting the respiratory tract, and some other illnesses I still don’t recognise.”

“I’ve heard of a couple of cases elsewhere, all amongst Africans,” Dax said. “Not as many has here, though. It’s strange. No one disease seems to be the cause.”

“None at all. There’s a number of distinct infections. I’ll probably find more, too,” Asperger said. “The only common link I can find is that these are all illnesses which should only afflict people who are already unhealthy.”

Dax said, “Odd. These soldiers should all have been in good health, or they would never have been recruited.”

“Indeed. The only possible explanation I can find is that perhaps these Africans have been weakened by living in such an unfamiliar climate.”

Dax looked thoughtful for a moment. “Perhaps, but then the French recruited soldiers from West Africa, too. Some of them fought here and in France, and I’ve heard nothing about similar sicknesses troubling those soldiers.”

“Neither have I,” Asperger said.

Dax added, “Besides that, we had Africans migrate here from the Caribbean a generation before. They had some minor health problems, but nothing like this.”

“This is quite the puzzlement, then,” Asperger said. He shrugged. “Nothing to be figured out for now, though I’ll keep an eye on it.” He started walking to the next room to continue his round of the ward.

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17 November 1933

Dublin

Kingdom of Ireland

Edward Windsor [9] suspected that he would spend the rest of his life with a faint but irremovable sense of guilt for the fall of the United Kingdom. Still, he thought that he could forget it for a time, once he had other things to worry him. Such as now, with the difficulties he had faced residing in Dublin but not being permitted any involvement in the peace conference that had been held here.

Of course, he had occasional consolations. Another exile had recently come to Ireland from Britain-that-was, a man whose acerbic wit and boundless cynicism offered a new perspective on everything. Edward extended his arm, and shook hands with what had to be the least idealistic man alive. “A pleasure to meet you again, Clement.”

“Likewise,” Churchill said. “Here we stand, two exiles from a country which preferred that we grace her with our absence.”

Edward said, “Me for failing the State, you for being a gadfly on the rump of the State.”

Churchill chuckled. “An unexpected turn of phrase, coming from you. I think I’ll borrow that phrase for another time.” He paused, then added, “Of course, I’m glad to be exiled, since I wouldn’t want to live in what England is becoming. The good men of England lie buried under stone in France, while in England the little men have come out from under the stones.”

“Where would you want to live, then?” Edward asked, more to hear how Churchill phrased his reply than for any other reason.

“Anywhere that life calls,” Churchill said. “Perhaps here, perhaps Palestine.”

“Not Australia or South Africa, where so many of our countrymen are fleeing?”

“The safe life is the boring life,” Churchill said. “And where do you want to live, Your Majesty?”

Edward held up a hand. “I’ve renounced that title.” He could still be wearing a crown if he really wished, but the Scots did not really want him to come there, nor did he really want to remain anywhere in Great Britain. Scotland would be too close to England, to close to the memory of the country which had fallen apart. He preferred to let the Scots establish their own commonwealth, as they were calling it – a republic without being a republic, so far as he could tell. All the Celtic nations had to make an accommodation with the new world. Cymru and Scotland were dependents of Germany, Ireland was independent and the Isle of Man its semi-sovereign dependency.

“You could find another. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, but the head that says it wants no crown merely lies.”

Edward considered for a moment, whether he could take Churchill into his confidence. At length, he said, “As it happens, I have another throne in mind. One of the shards of the Empire which needs a new protector. Jamaica.”

Churchill’s eyes narrowed for a moment, then he grinned. Acerbic he might be, but he had never been a fool. “You want to take the crown so that the Americans will treat with you, when they would never speak to the Jamaicans themselves.”

“Precisely.” Jamaica was the one nation where his pursuit of a new crown would do some good. That was the last remaining fragment of the British Empire in the New World, and full of black men who were nothing but slaves in American eyes. As the monarch, he would be someone that even Americans could accept dealing with. “Only that will keep the island safe from the Americans’ depredations. Nothing else will, now that the Germans have won the war.”

Churchill let loose a sound which was as much bark as laughter. “You think that Germany won this war?”

“As much as any nation did,” Edward replied. “No nation got everything they wanted, after all. Germany triumphed in Western Europe and North Africa, even if they lost in the rest of the world. The United States has driven most foreign influence out of the Americans, but they have failed to stop Germany. Russia has obtained sweeping influence in the Middle East, but was checked in India and failed to break Nipponese power in the Far East.”

“Germany did not win,” Churchill said. “They lost the war in the moment they signed an accord with Russia, even if it will take them years to realise that fact.”

“Germany now rules all of Europe west of the Russian border,” Edward said. “I fail to see how you can consider that a loss.”

Churchill said, “Germany has not won anything except an endless quagmire. They have won the responsibility for trying to hold down a hundred million Europeans. They will now need to hold down Europe, while they have all the might of Russia on their eastern border. To match Russia’s strength, they will need to draw on all of Europe’s men and industry. Which they cannot achieve if half their armies are needed to garrison Western Europe. Russia can stir up endless trouble in German-ruled territories, far more than Germany can return the favour. The only way in which Germany will be able to match Russia is to treat all the nations of Europe as equal partners, not as conquered subjects. And if they need to do that, then they have not really won anything from this war, have they?”

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[1] The relatively short-lived Italian Civil War resulted into the division of the country into two new nations. The Republic of Italy consists of the OTL Italian regions of Tuscany, Lazio, Molise, Abruzzo, Marche, and Umbria. It also includes part of the OTL Italian region of Emilia-Romagna; the provinces of Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena and Rimini are part of the Republic of Italy, while the provinces of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena were annexed to Germany. The Kingdom of Italy consists of the OTL Italian regions of Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia, as well as the island of Corsica (in OTL France).

[2] Germany annexed northern and eastern France, roughly everything north of the Seine (except for Rouen) and east of the Saone until that joins the Rhone, and then all former French territory east of the Rhone until that river reaches the Mediterranean. Germany also took Lyons and its environs west of the Saone and the Rhone. Paris and its environs were not annexed, but created as the Special Administrative Region of Paris. The remainder of France was divided into a number of puppet states which were based on historical (medieval) divisions of France: Normandy, Brittany, Maine, Anjou, Berry, Poitou, Gascony, Languedoc, Auvergne, and Burgundy. The borders of these new states do not always correspond with the medieval divisions.

[3] Bavaria, Hanover, Wurttemberg and Elsass-Lothringen.

[4] This is because the United States remained at war with Chile until 1935.

[5] The division of Syria and Lebanon was conducted for religious reasons; Muslims were the majority in Syria but non-Muslims formed the majority in Lebanon (only because the Russians considered the Druze as non-Muslim).

[6] The NLPP (National Liberal & Peoples Parties) is the main party in what was then Edmund Schulthess’s coalition government.

[7] The members of the Restored Empire aren’t particularly keen on being automatically committed to a war with Russia, particularly for a nation which has such a long and difficult-to-defend land border.

[8] TTL’s town of Harlow is what is called Old Harlow in OTL; the new town was built post-WW2.

[9] Similar to what happened in WW1 in OTL, the British royal family found it prudent to change the name of their dynasty to Windsor during the Great War. In OTL, the British monarchy was of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. ITTL, the British monarchy remained of the House of Hanover (since it continued in the male line instead of through Queen Victoria), but this was still considered too German-sounding a name during the Great War, so Richard IV changed the family name to the House of Windsor shortly before his death.

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Decades of Darkness #190: New Horizons

“Your violent and chaotic society, even when it calls for peace, when it seems to be in a state of calm, still carries war within itself just as the slumbering thunder-cloud contains the storm.”

- Australian ambassador Wiremu Panapa addressing the United States Congress, 1947

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1 September 1932

*

Columbia City, Federal District

United States of America

Senator Plutarco Bautista willed his face to composure. This meeting promised to be one of the least pleasant experiences of his life. He had conducted only one private meeting with Alvar O’Brien in his entire life, and he had never thought that he would need to agree to another.

“Remember, stay calm,” said Faith, his wife. She was not even looking at him; her eyes were focused on the door. After eighteen years of marriage – where had the time gone? – she usually knew what he was thinking without needing to look. As he did with her, come to that. “Too much depends on this choice.”

This choice between the devil and the dragon, Plutarco thought, but he held his peace.

The knock at the door was firm, but not overly loud. Precisely calculated to be just at the right volume, Plutarco thought. Everything about O’Brien was carefully calculated, carefully weighed and planned. A great pity indeed that none of that calculation included listening to the still, small voice of his conscience. He raised his voice. “Come in, General.”

Alvar O’Brien did not formally hold the rank of general any longer, of course. Better to use that title rather than any alternative, though.

O’Brien entered the room in a measured pace. More calculation, of course. He gave a short bow first to Plutarco, then to Faith. Clever of him. He must have known that Plutarco would refuse to shake the hand which had signed the order to enslave white men.

Plutarco had to think for a moment what he wanted to say. He could not say that O’Brien was welcome, since that would be blatant hypocrisy. Only at Faith’s absolute insistence had he agreed to the request for a private meeting, and even then he had demanded that Faith remain as a witness. “Would you like some tea?”

“Thank you, but no,” O’Brien said. “I don’t believe that either of us wants this meeting to last any longer than necessary.”

“It would be a long meeting indeed, for you to convince me to support your bid for the presidential nomination,” Plutarco said. The Unionist delegates met in less than two weeks, and O’Brien was the frontrunner.

“I’m not here to ask for your support,” O’Brien said.

Plutarco raised an eyebrow.

O’Brien said, “I do not ask for your support. I ask only that you agree not to oppose me or speak out against me during the nomination and the election.”

“You expect me to forget what you’ve done?” Plutarco said, but he could understand why O’Brien had made the request. Jefferson Caden, that most notorious backer of the fire-squads, the man who had dragged the United States into the Great War, had effectively won the Democratic nomination. O’Brien had more votes than any other Unionist contender, but not a solid majority. Plutarco was the most senior Unionist Senator not to express his support for any candidate, and many members of the party were waiting for him to commit to a candidate.

“If you speak out against me, you will split the Unionists. That is in your power,” O’Brien said. “HP Long would welcome the excuse to run an independent campaign. You will then hand the presidency to Caden. Do you want that man as president?”

“Do I want you, either?” Plutarco said. “I have not forgotten what you’ve done. I will not back a man who made slaves out of white men.”

O’Brien said, “I know what I’ve done, and I make no apologies for it. I did what I deemed best to save American lives and to protect my country’s interests. But regardless of what you think of me, do you deny that Caden would be worse?”

Plutarco thought about Caden, a man who had endorsed the fire-squads as a legitimate government policy. Indeed, Caden had spoken of them as being useful as a common tool, not even a method of last resort. What would that man do if given control of the United States and ultimate responsibility for subduing South America? Still, he could not make himself say aloud that O’Brien would be a better presidential candidate than anyone.

O’Brien waited for his reply, then eventually said, “I do not ask for your friendship. I do not think that we could ever be friends. I ask only that you agree that I am less of an enemy than Caden.”

Plutarco paused for a long moment, then he eventually nodded. He said, “If you win, expect me to dog your every move as president.”

“Of course. I would expect nothing else,” O’Brien said. “And if I lose, I expect that we will both dog Caden’s every move, if for different reasons.”

*

Federal House

Hartford, Connecticut

Republic of New England

Shane Mullins, President of New England, remembered times of fear in the last war. Times of hiding in dugouts in trenches for days on end, never knowing when an artillery shell would land near enough to bring the end of life. No man could live through those times and not know fear. Yet what he faced now was a different kind of fear. Not quite the same fear of imminent death. Rather, fear that everything he had built in New England was crashing down into ruin.

The war was over. Formal terms had not yet been announced, but they amounted to Yankee soldiers staying in Ireland to protect it, while Germany was left to finish crushing Britain. The peace deal was in effect a return to status quo ante bellum; neither side would demand reparations or anything else. In theory, this war was a draw.

Except that it was a defeat, and he saw no way to portray it otherwise. Not even Terry’s genius at public relations [1] could conceal that. He had led New England into this war expecting a share of the glory and of the rewards of victory, but Russian betrayal and the incompetence of his allies had seen his country cheated of its gains. Now he had spent so much of New England’s blood and treasure, and he had nothing to show for it.

Well, everyone made mistakes, even if he would never admit any of his errors publicly. He needed time to set things right, time to get New England back on track to its proper future. He may have been betrayed once, but he would be ready next time. There would be more opportunities, of that he was sure. Some fools were already speaking of this as the “war to end war,” but he could see the seeds being planted for future conflicts. The United States was trying to hold down South America, Germany was trying to hold down Europe, Russia was trying to hold down Asia, and all of them would want to meddle in Africa. With their inevitable disagreements would come opportunities. Mullins would make sure he was ready for those opportunities.

If he could survive politically, that was. The next few months would be critical. The people were feeling angry, and he had to make sure that they blamed the right people. England deserved its fair share of the blame, for its incompetence and its unconscionable decision to use chemical weapons. Wood should have known better. Russia would get its share of the blame too, for not honouring its alliance with France, although that was old news.

Yes, there were opportunities. Of course, there were decisions to be made too. Foreign players would take their share of the blame, but should he launch a cleansing of some of his own government members? Charges of incompetence would be easy enough to make, and some of them would even be genuine. There were advantages to keeping a few incompetent people around; they would not become a threat, and it meant that they could be removed at the proper time. Was this the proper time to clean house?

No, Mullins decided, after some thought. Removing incompetent people might be popular, but it might also start people thinking that perhaps he should be removed, too, if cleansings were to be made. Besides, the people could be controlled, one way or another. His greatest fear came from his own party, since they controlled the government. If they became too concerned by the cleansings, they might try to remove him out of desperation. Better, for now, to present an image of unity and camaraderie. And then make sure that this image lasted until the next election.

The next presidential election, in fact. That had long been arranged. No meaningful opposition existed, after all, and whichever candidate he named would win. The Constitution forbade him from standing again, but that was easily worked around. He was assured of re-election to the Senate, where he would remain as Majority Leader, and be nominated as President pro tempore. That would make him third in line for presidential succession. Since the new president and vice-president would both be resigning on inauguration day, he would be returned as president in short order.

Yes, he decided, there was still hope to rebuild New England. He would have to be careful for the next few months, and have Ingersoll keep a very close eye on the Army, but the future was not without hope.

--

4 March 1933

*

Puerto Covadonga

Antarctic Peninsula

Cold blew the wind, with the hint of ice never far from its breath. Sunlight glimmered above the horizon, but for how long would that last? Colonel William Walker had never been anywhere this far south in his life, and rarely anywhere as cold. The Jaguars could be sent almost anywhere, but given his choice, he would rather have been sent somewhere warm.

Of course, when the President-elect asked for you by name, then you went where you were sent. Besides, this mission was an honour which no other American soldier would ever be granted. Symbolic, of course; the Chileans and Argentines had both made vague claims on this God-forsaken stretch of ice and rock, but neither had bothered to base any military forces here. Yet symbolic or not, sending soldiers here amounted to a claim which would never be forgotten.

Walker unfurled the American flag himself. Other soldiers and sailors stood nearby, but no-one else would share this honour with him. When he planted it into the soil of this land, he claimed it for the United States. Apart from his fellow Americans, only penguins and petrels were around to hear him, but he still enjoyed being able to utter a few words. “America now stretches from Pole to Pole.”

*

Lone Star Vineyards

Near Packer, Washington [Branson, Missouri]

United States of America

The sun beat down in what was unseasonably hot weather for the early days of spring. Amber Jarrett ambled past the rows of grapes toward the great house which had been her childhood home, but which now seemed like a lifetime ago. It had been only three and a half years since she had left home, firstly imitating her brother as a soldier in France, and then living in hiding with distant friends on Cuba until the war was over. She could have come home before, if she had really wanted, but she had wanted to see the world.

The United States was now officially at war only with Chile, some people seemed to think that peace would soon come. Her own father was among them, judging from his last letter. She knew better. Even once the last South American resistance had been subdued, there would be another war. There would always be another war. “There will always be wars, so long as men are men,” she murmured.

--

Columbia, Federal District

United States of America

Oliver Bird, Industrial Commissioner, stared once more at the neatly-typed title of the document in front of him. It read: “Application for a Machine to Automate the Picking of Cotton.” Hardly the most imaginative of titles, but then it didn’t need to be. Not if it was genuine.

“You’re going to approve this, I take it,” he said. You’d better be going to approve it, his tone added. His time was too valuable to be wasted with any more of the dozens of failed attempts for mechanical cotton-pickers which had been lodged over the years.

The patent clerk nodded. “I’ve watched his machine. It works, all right. He’ll sell every one he can make, and still have orders for five times the number. Cotton-picking will never be the same again.”

The U.S. economy will never be the same again, you mean, Bird thought. The clerk did not see the implications, or not well enough. No point educating him; there were much bigger things to worry about. Still, a hint wouldn’t go astray. “Might be a good time to sell any slaves you own,” Bird murmured.

“Commissioner?” the clerk asked, obviously not catching his meaning.

“Never mind,” Bird said. His thoughts were elsewhere. A machine to pick cotton had been the holy grail of planters for the better part of a century. Reaping wheat was easy, but cotton had been another matter. Which had been very good news for anyone who owned slaves. Cotton made money, lots of money, and growing it needed slaves. For all the boll weevil had made things more expensive, for all that insecticides were needed now, for all that fertiliser needed to be obtained, for all of the long price decline, cotton had still been a solid way to make money. Solid enough to set the reserve price for slaves; they would only be bought by people who could make comparable money off their labour than those who would be planting cotton. And that limit, in turn, had set peon prices, since peons could not be made to work in cotton, and could not be worked as hard even in other areas... but were still available for other forms of work.

Now, that whole system teetered on the brink. How many slaves would the new cotton-pickers replace? Five? Ten? Twenty? Slave prices would fall, and fall hard. Worse, this came at just the time when America’s latest conquests would start to bring in peons and slaves from South America. How much would be a peon be worth in a year or two?

Despite the warmth of his office, Oliver Bird, architect of the American economy, shivered.

*

Hartford, Connecticut

Republic of New England

James Ingersoll, Secretary of War, should probably have been more concerned by what was about to happen in the United States. A new president was being inaugurated today, one who would write a new chapter on foreign policy in an already troubled world. The ramifications of that would touch New England, as they always had; no matter how much good Yankees tried to forget it, their country was shaped in part by the tides moving from the United States.

Yet he could not make himself care. Much larger things were afoot. Thing set in motion a little over a month ago, when Mullins carried out his plan to make himself the eternal president of New England [2]. The Chief had complied with the letter of the constitution, but Pickering would be turning in his grave.

He glanced up at the clock. Five minutes past eleven. Terry Rundle was due to arrive five minutes before, to discuss what reaction should be taken to events south of the border. Those orders used to come direct from the Chief, but these days Rundle acted as the conduit for most instructions from Mullins. Ingersoll had not been able to work out if the Chief did that to mark Rundle’s elevation in status, or as an implicit demotion by turning him into a messenger boy. It said much about Mullins’ approach to government that it could be both of those things at once; the battle for primacy amongst Mullins’ subordinates was an ongoing one, and the Chief liked to keep people guessing.

“Strange for him to be late,” Ingersoll muttered. Rundle was usually punctual to a fault. One of his many faults. He opened the door to his office. “Mary, have you heard-”

He stopped at the sight before him. Armed soldiers were hardly an uncommon sight in the War Department offices, but armed soldiers with rifles lowered and aimed at people were another story. Five men waited in the lobby. Four soldiers carrying rifles, two guarding the outer door and two waiting for him to leave his office. The fifth man was also a soldier, this one in the uniform of a three-star general.

Lieutenant General William Donovan had a fatherly appearance to him, as he always did. He had recently turned fifty – Ingersoll had been at the celebrations – but he had probably had the same fatherly manner for decades. The pistol resting in his hand looked incongruous with his usual manner, but Donovan knew how to use it.

Ingersoll ventured a small smile. “If you wanted to see me, general, you only needed to ask for an appointment.”

“Your secretary said you were busy,” Donovan said. “But my business was most pressing.”

“Of course it was, but it took you long enough to organise it,” Ingersoll said. “I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever get around to this... although I did think that you’d come in person, Bill. You always knew that you owed me that much.”

Donovan raised an eyebrow. “You knew this coup was coming?”

Ingersoll shrugged. “Of course I knew it was coming. You think I don’t know what’s happening in my army?”

My army, now,” the general said, with a slight wave of the pistol. “I think I know bluster when I hear it.”

“You know nothing of the sort,” Ingersoll said coldly. “Do you know how much work I had to do to ensure that all news of your plans was reported to me instead of directly to the Chief?”

“If you knew, you would either have stopped us, or helped us. Don’t think that you can sweet talk me into sparing you.”

Ingersoll said, “Nothing do I expect from you, general, except to turn into the next Blackwood.”

Donovan’s eyes narrowed, and his voice contained a hint of anger for the first time. “Do not mistake me for that power-hungry maniac. I do what I do because I swore an oath to uphold the constitution and defend New England against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.”

“And once the Chief has been deposed, you will be the only one in a position to rule in his place,” Ingersoll said. “As Duvalier has done and Blackwood will do.”

“Nothing of the sort,” Donovan said. “I’ll be handing power back to a civilian government as soon as one is stable enough to stand on its own. Then I’ll be leaving New England, and likely never return.”

“You really plan to just go meekly into exile?” Ingersoll asked.

“That’s the only way I can fulfill my oath to New England,” Donovan said. He sounded sincere. “So long as I live here, no new civilian government will be secure. No-one would feel safe under the rule of law. Our country has reached a place where the regular law has failed us, and I needed to work outside the law for a time, but I want the rule of law to return. Which it will not, while I abide here.”

“I swore an oath, too,” Ingersoll said. “An oath of personal loyalty to the Chief. I would not raise my hand against him. I knew what Mullins was doing to New England, but while I could make myself stand aside, I could not work against him. If that means you kill me... Well, if I have no honour, then I am nothing.”

“For now, you are under arrest. Your ultimate fate will rest with our new government, not with me,” Donovan said.

“And the Chief?”

Donovan’s smile did not reach his eyes.

*

North West River

Labrador Territory

Republic of New England

Leroy Abbard, former Senator, former presidential candidate, former head of the Christian Socialists and then the Socialist Alliance, and current inmate of the badly-misnamed liberty camp of North West River, could not remember the last time he had had a full stomach. Or a taste of true liberty. Imprisoned on manufactured charges, left here to watch while his most valued political ally David Rubin and fellow inmate wasted away into death, he had long felt numb inside. He existed, nothing more; he felt as if all hopes and fears were likewise placed on hold.

So, then, why this summons to the camp commander’s office? Kendall Weston was a thug, nothing more, and he had probably offended someone important in the vitalist hierarchy to be sent here. Although he usually reserved the main demonstrations of his anger for other inmates; he probably feared that overt violence against Abbard would rouse too much anger.

Abbard was escorted into the commander’s office, and the guards withdrew.

Weston did not turn to look; the commander’s gaze was fixed out the window.

Abbard waited for a few moments, then said, “You asked to see me, commander?”

Weston keep staring out the window. “Only thanks to external request.”

“I don’t follow you,” Abbard said.

Weston sighed. “This camp has been surrounded. By soldiers under, well, I’m not sure who their local commander is, but they’re operating under orders of General Donovan. They’ve offered me and my men safe-conduct and transport to Iceland if we surrender peacefully, with certain conditions.”

The sense of numbness returned. For a long moment, Abbard could not gather his thoughts. “You’re leaving this camp?”

“Yes. Leaving it under your personal control. That is one of the conditions for the safe-conduct.”

“The army has risen up?” Abbard said. He’d never dared allow himself to hope for something like that.

“Details have been sketchy, but I know that Donovan’s forces control the streets in Hartford, New York and Boston.”

“And what does the ‘Chief’ have to say about that?”

Weston spoke softly. “Mullins is dead. Shot while resisting arrest, according to the reports.”

Mullins dead? No proper Christian should show glee over a man’s death, but he could not keep the grin from his face.

Abbard settled into the chair so recently occupied by Weston. He remained in the office while Weston left, remained in place while the camp guards evacuated and men in soldiers’ uniforms came into the camp. He remained in place when they came up to the door.

When the soldiers came into the room, they saluted him. Abbard managed to speak, then. “Soldiers shouldn’t salute civilians,” he said.

Their commander, a corporal from his uniform, grinned. “Soldiers should always salute their commander-in-chief... Acting President Abbard.”

--

“Think carefully of what you say and do in these chambers. Your task is to shape a new constitution, and a new nation. Our founding fathers wrote a constitution which they hoped would guide our nation forever. It is not our constitution which failed us, nor our founding fathers. It is we as a people who allowed to remain in office those who violated the spirit of the constitution while upholding the letter. It is our solemn duty to write a new constitution which embodies the continued wisdom of our forefathers, but where the spirit and the letter have both been buttressed into a fortress which will protect our nation until the end of days.”

- Acting President Leroy Abbard, as he then was, addressing the opening of the New England constitutional convention, 19 July 1933. Abbard would be elected unopposed as the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth of New England on 4 June of the following year.

--

4 March 1933

Columbia City, Federal District

United States of America

How many men and women crowded the ground between the Capitol and the Washington Monument? Half a million? Three-quarters of a million? The President-elect could not tell, and right now it hardly mattered. Celebrations were already underway from Philadelphia to Quito. A new era dawned. The election had been close, but he had never doubted the result.

He placed one hand on the Bible, and placed the other over his heart. He allowed the Chief Justice to speak the words first, and then he repeated them. “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He paused for a moment, then added, “So help me God.”

The cheers went on for a long, long time. He waited in silence until they subsided, and then stepped up to the podium. He knew he should have a long speech ready, but most of the crowd would not hear it, so why bother? He knew what he wanted to say. He knew what needed to be said. Anything further would have been vanity or insanity.

“Let’s get this country working,” said President Alvar O’Brien.

--

[1] Terry Rundle, the New England Secretary for Public Relations (i.e. propaganda).

[2] New England’s presidents are inaugurated on the last Tuesday in January in the year following their election; Mullins was re-inaugurated as president on 31 January 1933. This was a result of the Third Amendment to the New England constitution. Prior to that, New England’s presidents were inaugurated on 4 March, a date which is still maintained in the United States.

--

P.S. And that’s all, folks!



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