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Decades of Darkness #185: All Under Heaven

“Half of Asia – China, Nippon, Tibet, Bukhara, Khiva, Persia – belongs to us if we want... Lay new roads into Asia or search out old ones, if only in the tracks indicated by Alexander the Great and Napoleon, set up caravans, girdle Asiatic Russia with railroads, send steamships along all of its rivers and lakes, connect it with European Russia... You will increase happiness and abundance across the entire globe.”

- Mikhail Petrovich Pogodin, Russian journalist and historian, 1854

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Excerpts from “The Long Road: A History of the Taiping Revolution”

By Professor Andrei Samokhval

Translated by Sally Turing

(c) 1973 Heavenly Publishing Company, Xinjing [1], Russian Federation.

The Taiping Revolution never completely succeeded, yet it has a legacy which the heirs to their revolution continue to grapple with down to the present day. Before the Taipings, China had been united for centuries, and focused in on itself. The Taipings were the first and bloodiest product of foreign ideas penetrating into traditional Chinese society. They failed to completely control China, then collapsed into internal struggles. In so doing, they created a political vacuum which foreign powers were quick to act on. China became part of the broader world, but at the price of disunity...

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From: “Shards, Spars and Stars: New Perspectives on Colonialism”

Edited by EA Crowley

(c) 1952 New Cambridge University Press

Sydney, Kingdom of Australia

Used with permission.

Chapter 4: Rethinking the Chinese Question

By William C. Chou, Jacques R. Lavoisier and Michael W. Olsen

Colonialism marked the first time of true worldwide communication, in the linking of all of the disparate peoples of the globe into a common set of ideas. The progress of technology had reached the stage when meaningful contact could be established amongst all of the world’s inhabitants. It is testimony to the attitudes of the era that colonial interests quickly followed contact.

During the height of the colonial era, virtually the whole globe was engulfed in the influence of European-descended colonialism. The inhabited continents were settled directly, claimed as formal colonies, or brought under some other level of foreign control, be it protectorate, client state, or informal sphere of influence. Of all the myriad peoples who lived beneath the same sun, only two nations completely escaped colonial control [2]...

The nations of the Far East were among the staunchest holdouts against foreign colonialism. Protected by their own technological prowess and large geographic separation from the heartland of the colonial powers, they remained largely free of colonial influence even while many other peoples around the globe were brought under encroaching colonial control. Nippon resisted completely, to the point where it became a colonial power of its own. Choson succumbed only to Nipponese colonial control, not European influence.

Yet of all the nations in the Far East, the one which most interested the colonial powers was China. In an era where world communication had not yet been conceived, the Chinese Emperors had maintained the fiction that all the world honoured the universal mandate of heaven. When regular, long-term contact was established across the globe, the nature of this fiction became self-evident, but it would take China too long to adapt to the new reality.

China offered a more tempting target to the colonial powers than any other nation on earth. Since the days of the Romans, the wealthiest trade routes on the globe converged in China. Porcelain, silk, satins and precious stones had flowed out of China to the rest of the world. While these trade routes declined in relative importance over time, the spread of industrialisation meant that the colonial powers sought to export their manufactures to the entire world. China, the most populous nation on earth, was perceived as the greatest prize.

While willing to trade on its own terms, China at first staved off the encroachments of the colonial powers. The Portuguese were permitted to establish a trading post in Macau during the sixteenth century, but the Dutch were driven out of Formosa in the following century. During the first part of the nineteenth century, the growing technological advantage of the colonial powers meant that China suffered defeats and was forced to open its ports to foreign traders. Even then, China resisted direct control from colonial powers, until it lost its own political unity.

The Taiping Revolution and the internecine warfare it brought offered the colonial powers the opportunity they sought to assert their influence in China. Russia was the first colonial power to act, intervening in the last stages of the revolution to preserve the Qing in Manchuria. Russian military advisers, and later soldiers, were sent to aid the Qing reconquer more of China. This step was crucial, since the other colonial powers now determined to seize direct control of China. They first extracted more concessions from the Taiping rulers, and then always sought for more.

When Taiping rule collapsed and Chinese political rule dissolved into warlordism, the colonial powers were now presented with what they termed the Chinese Question: how should they deal with the nation which had been christened ‘the sick old man of the East’? Each nation sought its own answer, with some variation in the forms, but the essence of their response was the same: they wanted to increase their own colonial influence. This caused considerable friction between the colonial powers, as Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, and Nippon sought to extend control over China. Tensions were roused on several occasions, at times bringing the colonial powers to war. Some of the colonial powers were removed from the race, with France and Portugal both being driven out. Yet the Chinese Question remained. The tension between Russia, Britain, Germany and Nippon about how to control China was one of the contributing factors to the outbreak of the Great War, and would continue to drive the strategies which these nations pursued in the Far Eastern theatre...

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“We must build a united revolutionary government for all of China. Anarchists, socialists, federalists, democrats, educators and patriots, we must all strive together for one goal: that of a free China. But although our government should be united in purpose, that does not mean that it should be united in location. China is invaded, it is divided against itself, it has returned to a period of warring states, made worse by foreign intervention. We must first rebuild new democratic governments for each province, and then build a federated government which encompasses all of China.”

- Chen Jiongming, Chinese warlord and revolutionary leader, in “Principles for a New China,” 1921

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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

Pre-war Russian strategy in the Far East required them to balance a variety of competing goals. Russia did not want to directly control the immense population of China itself, or even the northern portions which were under Qing rule. That had the potential of becoming involved in an endless quagmire. Even if China were successfully integrated into Russia, that would give immense influence to the new Chinese-speaking citizens of Russia. Instead, Russia’s colonial policy had been to detach the thinly-populated non-Han areas of China into separate states under direct Russian rule, while supporting the Qing within the heartland of northern China.

Before the war, this meant that Manchuria, Mongolia, and Ice Jecen [Xinjiang] were ruled as separate territories. As part of its war objectives, Russia sought to wrest control of Tibet from Britain and add it as another region of historical China which was under direct Russian rule. For the rest of China, Russia was determined to maintain Qing rule, despite ongoing Chinese distrust of a dynasty which they saw as foreigners [3]. Russia had invested considerable manpower and military aid in safeguarding the Qing throne during the Fist Rebellion of 1925-6, and started a program of reforming and training the Black Army after the rebellion was quelled.

Nonetheless, while Russia gave lavish military aid to the Qing, it had never been their intention to allow their Qing puppets to reunite China. That would give the Qing too much power, and make them too difficult to control. A divided China was in Russia’s own interests. It meant that the Qing needed to rely on Russian support.

With this end in mind, Russian diplomacy in the lead-up to their entry into the war did not require Germany to cede any part of German China. Nor did it demand any part of British China. From the Russian perspective, having post-war southern China divided between German and British sections would be the ideal result. Neither of those nations would be likely to cooperate with each other, and with the distance between China and Western Europe, neither of those nations would be able to make much use of their colonial territory as a base to attack Russian soil.

Instead of demanding concessions from Germany, Russia focused on planning what could be seized from Nippon. Unlike Germany or Britain, Nippon was seen as an immediate rival for control of the Far East. Russian military planning envisaged driving Nippon completely from mainland Asia, along with Sakhalin. Their plans for the war therefore involved joint operations between Russian and Qing forces into Nipponese and British-occupied areas of German China, and a separate Russian invasion of Choson.

As is so often the case, the pre-war Russian military and diplomatic plans did not survive first contact with the enemy. Russian planners had not given proper account of a number of factors. Nipponese military resources and technological prowess had been systematically discounted. While Russia had the best strategic bomber in the world, the Pobyeda [4], they had overestimated the effects of strategic bombing on destroying a nation’s morale and capacity to sustain a war effort. Russian planners had not anticipated that Australia would assert its own foreign policy in China, rather than following British expectations. And last but by no means least, Russian military planners had no expected that Black China [i.e. Qing-ruled China] would rise up in full-scale rebellion within days of Russia declaring war...

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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

The Russian operation to invade Choson had originally been planned to start in August 1930. This was delayed due to the outbreak of revolution in China, with many Russian units, especially skycraft, being diverted to support operations against the guerrilla forces. While Russian strategic bombers struck at cities in Choson and the Home Islands, no ground assault started until May 1931.

The plan for the invasion of Choson was formally code-named Operation Solidarity. It became known both popularly and in most post-war histories as the Sonck Offensive, after Lars Sonck, the commanding general of Army Group North-East. The course of this offensive, and the subsequent campaigns in Choson, have become much-studied by military historians since the war, as they represent the only direct engagements between Russian forces and those of another Great Power during the war. There is still no consensus on whether the original offensive was well-planned or an ineffective use of Russian resources, although most sources agree that the Nipponese resistance was both stubborn and well-equipped.

The main thrust of Operation Solidarity was to cross the Yalu and advance down the western side of the Choson peninsula. The bulk of the Rangrim Mountains prevented any large-scale thrusts through the eastern side of Choson, and Nipponese fortifications there were largely ignored during the early stages of the offensive.

Solidarity opened with a massive pre-dawn artillery bombardment on 18 May across the Yalu, followed by an infantry assault supported by sky strikes. While Nipponese defenders inflicted substantial casualties on the attackers, the weight of Russian attackers quickly made itself felt. Army Group North-East had total forces of approximately one million men, more than could be committed to the front at any one time, but which allowed for sustained pressure and large numbers of reserves which could be deployed to exploit any breakthrough or weakness in the line.

Over the month of June, Russian forces gradually pushed south toward the Taedong River, which had been turned into the core of a new defensive line, which Nipponese forces nicknamed the Chrysanthemum Line. Nipponese forces there fought off the Russian attacks for nearly two months. Supplementary Russian attacks during this time forced the remaining Nipponese soldiers in north-eastern Choson to withdraw, with the last of them being evacuated from the port of Songjin [Kimch'aek, North Korea] in mid-August.

By the end of August, sustained Russian pressure had seen their forces advance across the Taedong. Now into territory which did not have prepared fortifications, Nipponese forces were forced to make a fighting retreat along most of the peninsula...

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24 September 1931

Aboard HMAS New South Wales

Off Inchon, Choson (Russian-occupied)

General Arthur Coles had always hated the sea. No matter that it was necessary for anyone who wanted to travel away from Australia, but he still detested being on something so unstable. Wherever possible, he travelled by sky rather than by sea, but that was not possible here. He had to be with his men, although he was glad not to be among the first ones ashore.

“This had better work,” he muttered. The New South Wales had some big guns, but they had stopped firing some minutes ago. He took that to be a good sign, since surely that meant that they did not have any important targets left to fire upon. He did not bother asking any of the sailors on the bridge, though; no point to disturbing them from their duties. He just hoped that the Australian marines and their Nipponese allies were doing well landing outside a port which was meant to be only lightly-defended...

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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 Allied landings at Inchon on 24-29 September caught the Russian forces completely by surprise. Inchon possessed formidable natural defences, but it had been only lightly-garrisoned. While the Russians had been alert to the possibility of an amphibious landing, they had expected it to be further south around Boryeong. The small Russian defensive garrison was swept aside, and the Allied forces advanced quickly west across the peninsula. The main weight of Russian armour and elite forces were deployed further south, trying to break through the last Nipponese defensive lines, and could not redeploy effectively to counter the new attack.

For a time it appeared that the Russian spearhead might be completely encircled. Seoul fell with only minimal Russian resistance. But the Russian forces were able to effect a rapid retreat which saw them retire back to the River Taedong. Here they established new defensive lines, and the Choson campaign bogged down into trench warfare similar to what had been seen halfway across the world during the North American War a generation before...

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Taken from: “The Illustrated History of Sky Power”

(c) 1948 by Kathryn Atwater

Star Standard Printing: Esperanza, USA [5]

The war in the Far Eastern theatre saw some of the most noteworthy innovations in the history of sky warfare. Russia began the war with a large flotilla of strategic bombers, who did their best to rain down destruction from the skies on Nipponese and Chinese cities. As the British discovered over Germany, Nipponese fighters proved capable of shooting down unescorted Russian bombers in large numbers when sent out in daylight. For a time, the Russians confined themselves to night bombing. Unlike the British, however, the Russians continued to experiment with methods of extending the range of their fighters. Their development of effective drop-tanks allowed them to send escorted daylight bombing raids over Nipponese cities...

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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

By the start of 1933, both the Allies and the Russians were exhausted in the Far East. The rebellion in Black China had been reduced to a few straggling bands of guerrillas, but the need to suppress it tied down a considerable amount of Russian and Qing manpower. Russian invasions further south into China had largely proved a failure. The logistics in China made it difficult to support operations by large numbers of soldiers. The railways were few, often did not run in the best direction for invasion, and vulnerable to sabotage by a local Chinese population which was much more sympathetic toward the Allied forces. The Allies had more effective river gunboats, which prevented the rivers and canals of eastern China being used to support Russian offensives. The Choson campaign had settled into a bloody stalemate, where both sides were losing men and machines without making any substantial gains.

On the Allied side, both Nippon and Australia had suffered considerable casualties in a war which they had now come to view simply as a defensive struggle. Yet any peace negotiations would require considerable delicacy, since the two nations had differing views on what would be appropriate post-war borders, particularly with regard to China. Australia had inherited control of the former British and German Chinas, and had already established consultative Chinese assemblies which had a say in local government. Nippon had found it necessary to establish similar assemblies within its own sphere of China, but these were bodies with only token involvement. Nippon also had a keen interest in the precise border for post-war Choson, and over Sakhalin which had first been occupied and then recaptured late in 1932.

In the end, Australia was the first nation to offer peace. The Australian ambassador in Sweden was sent on a diplomatic mission to St Petersburg to negotiate an immediate ceasefire, with a more permanent peace deal to follow based on other negotiations. The ceasefire went into effect on 14 February 1933. The formal peace negotiations dragged out for months, but neither side was interested in returning to the battlefield.

The post-war borders were largely decided by which side was in occupation of territory at the time of the ceasefire. In China itself, the Russians agreed to withdraw from the western regions of former German Yunnan and Sichuan in exchange for Australian recognition of Russian control of Tibet. In the rest of China, the borders stayed where they were at the end of the fighting. Russia refused to yield control of those parts of Choson which it still occupied; the border in Choson largely followed the ceasefire line [6], with both sides trading only small areas of territory to produce a more defensible post-war border. In exchange for keeping parts of Choson and the restoration of northern Sakhalin, Russia agreed to recognise Nipponese control of southern Sakhalin, the Kuriles, and Formosa...

The post-war disposition of southern China was one of the most contentious questions of the peace negotiations. In accordance with the policy it had pursued during the war, Australia announced that it would grant independence to those regions of China which were under its control. Russia expected Australia to seek to maintain colonial control, but did not seek to interfere with this new announcement. The dissension came from Nippon, which was loathe to yield control of Nipponese China. In the end, they agreed to cede the territory, with the belief that it was better to allow China to develop as an ally rather than try to hold onto the territory against future Russian intrigue...

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“This is a time for celebration, for joy, but also for caution. China has taken the first step on the road back to full national reunification. We will always be glad of this triumph, but we must not forget the challenges ahead.”

- Chen Jiongming during his inauguration address as first President of the Republic of China, 1934

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[1] Xinjing is OTL Beijing, China. Xinjing means “new capital.”

[2] Nippon and Abyssinia both escaped colonial control during this period.

[3] The Qing Dynasty were originally Manchu invaders who conquered China during the seventeenth century. Although they have been mostly assimilated into Chinese culture, they still retain a few distinctive elements, and are still perceived as foreigners.

[4] The Pobyeda (Victory) formed the mainstay of the Russian strategic bombing force during the Great War. It had an operating radius of up to 5000km, depending on its bomb load. The Pobyeda is a four-engine bomber which is slightly superior to an Avro Lancaster.

[5] Esperanza, Sonora is located approximately at OTL Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Founded in 1866 as a new city and port at one end of the South-Central Pacific Railroad (New Orleans to Esperanza – the other main spur of the railroad connected to San Francisco), Esperanza is a major agricultural and tourist centre, as well as the site of Fernan Cortes University.

[6] The Russian-Nipponese border in Choson runs from Anju on the west coast roughly east to the Taedong River. From there it follows the line of the river for most of its length, until it runs east-south-east toward the eastern coast. The OTL cities of Hamhung and Hungnam are part of Nipponese Choson, just south of the border.

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Decades of Darkness #186: Never-Ending Road

“Do not ask who has won the war. Ask who shall win the peace.”

- Australian Prime Minister Lane, addressing reporters before his departure for the Dublin Conference, 1933

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13 June 1953

Macquarie St Cinema

Eden [Auckland], New Zealand

Kingdom of Australia

Danielle Warner shifts in her seat, distracted from what she is meant to be seeing on the silver screen. “Life in the Fast Lane” has been advertised as a biographical epic of Australia’s greatest prime minister, both in the loud war which made his reputation and the silent war which cemented it. If this movie had done a decent job of showing that, Danielle would have sat entranced for the entire course, unmindful of the people around her, whether it went for two or even three hours. Instead, what it has shown so far is a mish-mash of inaccuracies, misconceptions, and unrealistic drama.

She focuses back on the screen, where Lane is meant to be meeting with the German ambassador to discuss terms for ending the war. Never mind that Lane never met face-to-face with any German diplomatic representative until the war was over. The ambassador looks convincing enough, but she is willing to bet that the conversation will be an unbelievable depiction of how any diplomatic negotiation would be conducted.

The ambassador says, “Germany will consider no peace terms until you have restored the East Indies and all of our occupied colonies.”

The screen view zooms slowly in to show the smug grin on Lane’s face as he answers. “If you want them, come and claim them.”

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“For centuries most gracious, our mother country of Britain has been liberty’s bastion. Modern democracy, the practice of parliamentary government, was the Island’s gift to the multitudinous peoples of the globe. Britain has always stood unyielding against tyrants, and her armies and navies have been dispatched across the globe to aid her fellow men to defeat dictators and murderers who wear the guise of governments. In the Old World and the New, Britain has fought bravely and championed freedom.

“Now, word comes to us from across the waves that Britain has yielded, that Germany has stabbed her through the heart after New England first stabbed her in the back. Now the Germans boldly demand the restoration of their colonies that we have liberated. Schulthess declares that with Britain found weak, now Australia must bend to Germany’s will, and abandon those nations to whom we gave granted freedom. More fool him! Britain may be in a time of winter, but her legacy blooms in her kingdoms across the seas. Australia recognises none of Germany’s claims made on behalf of a puppet British government it has established. Sovereignty comes from legitimacy, not from bombs and bullets. Australia, its fellow Kingdoms and our steadfast ally Nippon will not yield to German bluster. If Schulthess wishes to make a just peace, we will listen to his terms. If Schulthess wants to make war, he will find out what Australian courage means.”

- From a funk speech given by Australian Prime Minister Lane after Britain requested a ceasefire with Germany

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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

With peace secured between Russia and the Allies, large-scale combat in the Far Eastern theatre was over. While the United States remained at war trying to enforce its will in South America, peace had now been concluded between all of the other major combatants except for Germany and the Allies. German arms had triumphed in Western Europe and North Africa, including the occupation of the British homeland, but Britain’s overseas Kingdoms, other colonies and Nippon remained defiant.

Citing the terms of its peace accord with Britain and France, Germany demanded the restoration of its own colonies, and control of most of the British and French colonial empires. Yet it could not enforce its claims. The much-battered Krijgmarine could deploy forces to Britain and within the Mediterranean, but it could not project power across the oceans. Desultory fighting continued in West Africa, with both sides struggling with poor logistics, but the military logic of the situation demanded that both sides seek what they could find at the negotiating table...

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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

Despite much posturing on both sides, leaders in Frankfurt, Nowra and Tokyo had quickly realised the essential truth of the peace negotiations: both sides would retain what they currently held. The Allies lacked the resources to drive Germany from its existing holdings, but German naval weakness and war exhaustion meant that their government could not maintain an indefinite struggle to reacquire its occupied colonies...

For Germany, the negotiations were largely a litany of concessions. German loss of control over former German China had already been accomplished, since South China had already been created. Conceding the loss of Madagascar, Mozambique [1], Indochina and recognising the restored Siam was only slightly more troubling. The East Indies had been a German possession for centuries, and contained valuable strategic raw materials in petroleum and rubber, but again Germany had little choice but to yield them. This concession was easier to make since German wartime exploration in Libya had revealed a new source of petroleum which was much less vulnerable to interdiction. Likewise, Formosa had been the bastion of German military pride in the Far East, but the island’s occupation by Nippon had to be conceded. For their part, the Allies had to make formal diplomatic recognition of Germany’s acquisitions in North Africa, of the German annexations on continental Europe, and of the new nations created from the former France, Italy and United Kingdom.

The two most contentious areas during the German-Allied negotiations were over the fate of West Africa and of German Somaliland. Both of these were regions which Germany could conceivably reconquer if it returned to the battlefield. The German motivation for pushing for restoration of West Africa was largely as a face-saving exercise so that it could claim some concessions of its own during the negotiations. German Somaliland, however, offered a valuable strategic base for projecting German naval power into the Indian Ocean. German-Allied negotiations came close to breaking down twice over these areas, and the final fate of those two regions would not be resolved until the negotiations became part of the broader Dublin Conference.

The fate of West Africa was resolved via the mediation of the new American president. Allied forces withdrew from French West Africa and Senegal, which were conceded to Germany, while Portugal was granted German West Africa, British Equatorial Africa, and was restored to its former colony of Portuguese Equatorial Africa [2]. Resolving the fate of German Somaliland was even more contentious. Eventually, the Allies presented Germany with a fait accompli. Troops from Russian-backed Abyssinia were invited to German Somaliland, and then the Indian Army withdrew, leaving Abyssinia to occupy the region as a protectorate and then later annex it...

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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 fall of the British Empire and the occupation of most of Germany’s former colonial empire meant that the remaining Kingdoms were in a position which they could not maintain. Australia and South Africa had assumed de facto responsibility for the administration and defence of a colonial empire which they could not afford to preserve even if they had been willing to do so, but which they could not abandon for fear of Germany re-asserting control, or Russia intervening in the political vacuum...

The political compromise reached was that Australia, South Africa and Ceylon would form the core of a new defence pact, customs union and political federation in the post-war era. A new unity would be reforged from the shards of the British Empire. Australia would assume a certain primacy as the most populous and wealthiest Kingdom, and the seat of government, but all members would preserve their fundamental sovereignty. As sovereign Kingdoms, Australia, South Africa, Ceylon (and later Ireland) were admitted as members of the new empire. The other former British territories and occupied German colonies would see a transitional period in which local governments and institutions were established. At the end of the agreed timeframe (five years for existing British colonies, and eight years for former German colonies), the nations would be offered plebiscites on their future. They could choose full independence (except for any military or political ties with Germany), Kingdom status within the renewed empire, or in some cases union with Australia or South Africa.

During the interim period, responsibility for security and administration would be divided between the three core Kingdoms. South Africa assumed responsibility for Madagascar, Mozambique, British East Africa, Central Africa [3], British Somaliland, and the Indian Ocean islands (except for the Maldives). Ceylon assumed responsibility for Burma and the Maldives. Australia assumed responsibility for the Arabian protectorates, Malaya, Indochina, the Philippines, Sarawak, Maguindanao & Sulu [4], the East Indies, Timor, and most of the British Pacific islands.

A few areas were under theoretical Australian-South African control at the war’s end, but were not included in the restored imperial structure. Based on requests from the local population, Australia opted to transfer responsibility for the Sandwich Islands protectorate to Nippon. Siam had been an independent nation until recently, and full Siamese sovereignty was restored in 1934. Even if Australia had wished to hold it, India was too populous, too volatile and too determined to find its own place in the world to be constrained by the standard five-year timeframe. The subcontinent forced a much quicker resolution of its future...

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“Oh Britannia!

My heart cries out for thee!

But far away in fair Australia,

There remains a land for the free...”

- Taken from “New Lands, New Times,” a poem written by the noted British poet Dafydd Jones after he went into exile in Australia, 1951

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[1] German Mozambique consists mostly of territory taken from Portugal, it includes OTL northern and central Mozambique, and extends further inland into OTL Zambia and DR Congo.

[2] To put this in OTL terms, Germany has been granted control of West Africa from roughly OTL Senegal to the Ivory Coast. Portugal now has control of territory stretching roughly from OTL Burkina Faso and Ghana through to Gabon and the Republic of the Congo.

[3] Central Africa was formed from parts of OTL southern Sudan, southern Chad, Central African Republic, and northern DR Congo.

[4] Maguindanao & Sulu comprises most of western Mindanao and neighbouring islands in the Sulu Sea in the OTL Philippines, and most of the modern Malaysian state of Sabah.

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Decades of Darkness #187: When True Night Falls

“The lights are going out all over South America. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

- General Oliveira, Caudilho of Brazil, on the day of the United States’ declaration of war on the Amistad powers, 11 November 1929. Oliveira stood on his balcony watching the evening lights come on in the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

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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

Once the numerically superior American naval forces defeated their Amistad rivals, they were free to strike on land. As had been demonstrated time and again on the fields of France, the U.S. Army was ill-equipped to fight against a well-equipped modern army. Yet in South America, they found opponents who also lacked the most modern military equipment...

The main obstacles to American invasion of South America were logistical. The United States was trying to occupy a continent, which aside from its own geographical expanse was separated by long sea lanes from the main American supply centres. American forces had a technological edge in most areas, or at worst equality, and the United States as a nation had a greater weight of industry and population than its opponents. But it is one thing to have power, and another to project it. The vast terrain and the natural barriers of jungle, mountains, and rivers were formidable. Combined with often poor roads and non-existent railways, this ensured that American military operations would often be hampered or ill-supplied.

During the first year of their involvement in the war, the United States tried to focus on several regions at once. This meant that they had some success in conquering Peru, which was their nearest and most vulnerable foe, but that they became simultaneously bogged down in Brazil and Chile. American forces only began to make progress when they decided to focus their efforts more effectively...

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“In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads to progress, civilization, and refinement. Fortunately for the United States, she has found races adapted to that purpose at her hand.”

- U.S. Senator James H. Hammond, 1858

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14 January 1931

Sao Luis, Maranhao

Republic of Brazil (internationally recognised)

Empire of Brazil (proclaimed)

Ayrton Tavares nodded at the man who had just entered the room. The American General-in-Chief Alvar O’Brien carried a great reputation before him, but in appearance, he looked nothing much to match it. A man in advancing middle age, with a walrus moustache with a few hints of gray, but who had kept himself in fighting trim. A man of clearly Latin descent, which was rare amongst prominent Americans, but hardly unheard of.

Still, what appearance could live up to the reputation which came with such a man? In so much as any single man could earn such credit, O’Brien deserved it for winning the North American War. He had defeated guerrillas in New Caledonia after the war’s end, using methods which seemed to shock so many Americans but which were perfectly understandable as far as Tavares was concerned. White men were superior to the other races, but rebels were rebels above all else, and deserved punishment regardless of their race. The success of his methods were plain enough, but O’Brien had still been forced out of military life as a result. Apparently he had done extremely well for himself even as a civilian, working as a planter and industrialist and becoming an important man in his home state.

Now O’Brien was back in a military career, and he was back in Brazil. His appointment as General-in-Chief had been loudly proclaimed in America, and word had reached Brazil quickly enough. So had plenty more American soldiers, landing in several of the northern provinces and securing several of the important ports, including Sao Luis. That could hardly have been just O’Brien’s planning, since he had only just taken command, but the strategy which followed would surely be shaped by this man.

Which was why Tavares had come to this room. He had to know what the future held for Brazil. The Americans had been friends once, but were they back as invaders or liberators? They had proclaimed the restoration of the monarchy under Dom Gustavo, but how genuine would that be?

Tavares had seen both honour and greed from the Americans in the past. He had been a general once, in command of the Castelo division which fought alongside the Americans during the same war which won O’Brien his reputation. He had kept command of his division, and added others to it, during the war which tore Brazil apart and eventually ripped the Empress from her throne. Tavares had remained in the country after the war was over, unlike so many of his high-ranking compatriots who had fled to Portugal. He had calculated, correctly, that the Republicans would think that killing him would cause them too much trouble. Provided, of course, that he kept well out of public life ever since.

So he had withdrawn to Sao Luis, to live out the rest of his life in not quite calm retirement. Until the tides of fate brought war between American and Brazil, and he had gone into hiding rather than risk being killed as a liability. And now the Americans were in Sao Luis, and he had wanted to find answers. O’Brien had been willing enough to meet him, although Tavares reminded himself not to be too trusting of anything which this man said.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet me, General,” Tavares said.

“Given your reputation, I could hardly do otherwise,” O’Brien said.

“Thank you for the recognition, but I prefer not to dwell on my past achievements,” Tavares said. Mostly because in the end, he had failed, so they should not really be considered achievements. “What concerns me is the future. Brazil’s future.”

O’Brien nodded. “The Caudilho declared war on us, and we want him removed.”

Tavares said, “What do you want of Brazil once Oliveira is gone, though? You have announced the restoration of the Emperor, but the streets are awash with rumours that this is merely a gambit to divide Brazil as a prelude to annexation.”

“Not at all,” O’Brien said. “The United States government has recognised the Emperor, and that is not a step we take lightly.”

“It won’t stop you annexing Brazil later, if you wish it,” Tavares said.

O’Brien said, “We do not attack our friends. The United States has never attacked a friend, even when it has been within our power to do so. The Nephi Free State has been in our power to annex whenever we want, but we have never even contemplated it. The Empire was our friend once, and we hope it will be again. Better to have a friend than another enemy to hold down.”

Tavares said, “I do not believe that America will take no Brazilian soil in this war. I note that nowhere have you Americans said that the Emperor will rule all of Brazil.”

“We will take some parts of Brazilian soil. This is in part because the American people will accept nothing less. But there is a more fundamental reason. If we created Dom Gustavo as the ruler of all Brazil and then left, how long do you think it would take for a second civil war to start?”

Tavares considered the situation, then nodded. “Republican sentiment is too strong in much of the country, especially the south.”

“And that is where we will annex parts of Brazil, although it is premature to draw up exact borders.” O’Brien shrugged. “I expect that we will have to leave the Republic in control of much of the interior, too, provided that Oliveira meets a just fate first. But in the north, we have already recognised Dom Gustavo as ruling territory from here to Amapa. We will restore more provinces once we have liberated them from the Caudilho’s rule. In short, we do not want to conquer all of Brazil, and could not hold it down even if we wanted.”

Tavares was silent for a time as he contemplated that vision. Brazil divided. It had nearly happened in the past. The north-east had tried to break away as the Confederation of the Equator back during the early days of Brazilian independence. It nearly happened again during the civil war; the north-east remained independent-minded. “So, you would create an Empire which does not control all of Brazil, with an Emperor who is an American puppet.”

O’Brien shrugged. “Look at the Nephi Free State. They have complete freedom in internal affairs. Likewise, we would not tell Dom Gustavo what to do in his own country.”

“So, you would call this Empire a free state?”

“Subject to certain restrictions, but we have never tried to hide what those are. Respect of our property rights for any of our inhabitants who flee to here. Although imperial citizens who have held that citizenship at the end of this war, or who have been born into it after the war, would be treated as your citizens, regardless of their race. And we would require the Empire to follow a foreign policy friendly to America. That as all we would ask, and beyond that we would not care what you do.”

O’Brien sounded sincere in what he said, although who could say whether the rest of his country would follow what he declared? If he spoke the truth, well, what could that mean? Tavares needed to decide whether he preferred a divided Brazil under the just rule of an Emperor but with veto by unjust Americans, or a united Brazil ruled by an often capricious, sometimes vicious government under Oliveira or a successor who would surely be a man of the same ilk.

“I see. Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me,” Tavares said, then stood. Whatever he decided, he wanted time to think about it, and time to discuss matters with some of his countrymen.

--

“The path of progress is strewn with the wreck of nations; the hecatombs of inferior races are the stepping-stones on which the white race has risen to dominate our new world.”

- U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis Caden, 1931

--

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

Throughout 1931 and most of 1932, the bulk of American forces were engaged in the occupation of Brazil. While some were detached to secure parts of Chilean territory, the focus remained on Brazil and the challenge of occupying the largest country in South America.

American strategy in Brazil is mostly credited to General Alvar O’Brien, who received most of the credit for the outcome of the war. In truth, the core of their military strategy had been developed before the war started. O’Brien and his staff may have added a few refinements, such as ensuring that they had arlacs and skycraft suited to Brazilian, rather than European conditions, but the military fundamentals had been developed well before his involvement in the Brazilian campaign. Still, while O’Brien may not have devised the military strategy, he undoubtedly developed the political strategy which eventually allowed America to defeat Brazil...

American military operations in Brazil relied first on forcing naval confrontations to gain control of the seas, which was largely accomplished in a series of engagements in the first half of 1930. Some Brazilian capital ships remained, but they were outclassed by the U.S. Navy, and this allowed the U.S. Navy to begin amphibious landings. Their first two attacks were the attempted seizure of Macapa and Fortaleza in November 1930. Macapa fell, but the rushed preparations meant that the attack failed to capture the far more important port of Fortaleza. This humiliation was one of the motivations for bringing O’Brien into overall command of Brazilian forces, but the apparent turning point in American military fortunes after his arrival was due more to the greater time to move in supplies from the American mainland.

During December 1930 and the first few months of the following year, the United States made more landings along the northern coastline of Brazil. In this part of the country, the geographic expanse of Brazil worked to American advantage. The Brazilian armed forces were dispersed in trying to defend many key cities, and the road and rail links between those cities were poor. American forces were able to concentrate and capture Brazilian coastal cities one by one...

The success in capturing the northern coastline of Brazil allowed O’Brien to implement the political part of his strategy. American forces proclaimed the restoration of the Brazilian monarchy, although they did not claim that the restored monarch would have control of all Brazilian territory. The call for the monarchy won a cautious welcome in the north and north-east of Brazil, where considerable support for the old imperial crown remained. This support was tempered by considerable mistrust of American sincerity and a reluctance to fight against their compatriots in yet another civil war.

Enough support remained for the monarchy for the Americans to raise collaborator Imperial armies. Given the potential for Brazilian spies within their ranks, the Imperial soldiers were seldom used in combat against regular Brazilian forces. Their main role was as garrison troops to occupy conquered territory, and in this task they usually performed adequately. Particularly when operating in the north, this let the Americans preserve their main forces for advancing further into Brazilian territory, rather than occupation duty...

American forces found operating in the south of Brazil to be more difficult, particularly when moving inland. The level of support for the monarchy was much lower, and the south of the country had better rail links. The American forces still found it easier to move troops by sea than the Brazilians could do by land, which let them capture and hold a few ports, but progress beyond those ports was difficult in 1931.

When the German-American ceasefire went into effect in December 1931, the United States began to transfer many of its ships and men to Brazil. This was a massive boost in resources, particularly in terms of skycraft. Combined with the increasing numbers of Hearst arlacs, this let the United States capture the key remaining ports of Brazil, and begin a drive inland. The advance into Brazil was only along the rail lines, which meant that the U.S. forces were often hampered by raids and sabotage, but they were able to concentrate enough forces to maintain an advance...

The Brazilian government became increasingly faction-ridden during the war, particularly after they had to flee the capital at Rio de Janeiro. The new capital was established at Ribeirao Preto, which was a substantial metropolis in its own right, but also located at the junction of key rail lines with both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. American forces drove on Ribeirao Preto, and captured it in June 1932.

This would be the last major battle of the war in Brazil. The Republican government fled further inland, but by now it had limited credibility, and limited unity. Several prominent generals and political figures had already switched sides, and some of the remaining military officials decided to take matters into their own hands. Oliveira was deposed by coup on 7 July, and the new junta started to explore terms for ceasefire with American forces...

At first, the peace negotiations in Brazil were expected to be swiftly resolved; General O’Brien had been quite open in announcing his preferred terms since shortly after his arrival in the country. O’Brien’s formula was for the Brazilian monarchy to be established in the north-east, the United States to annex the southern coast, and the Republic to remain in control of the interior. This formula would eventually be the one which the American negotiators settled on at the end of October, but O’Brien would no longer be in Brazil to see the peace deal struck [1]. His political enemies in the U.S. Congress had him recalled to Columbia within three weeks of the ceasefire being signed, on the grounds that he had achieved the military goals but diplomats should negotiate the peace terms...

--

“The only good American is a dead American.”

- Bernardo Escobar, President of Chile, 1932

--

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

In the South American theatre of the Great War, Chile had the advantage of great distance from the American heartland, and formidable desert and coastal mountain barriers to protect it own heartland in the Central Valley. American forces could make no easy progress. Their northern advance slowly ground its way along the northern plains, while its armies established beach-heads in coastal ports in 1932 but faced a long, bloody advance inland...

Chile held out far longer than any other South American nation. With Brazil’s capitulation in July 1932, Charcas’s government entered in discussions for a negotiated surrender soon thereafter (although the precise date is disputed), and Paraguay invited Argentine annexation as preferable to American invasion. Yet Chile fought on, defying American forces even as they ground ever further inland, and the Chilean government did not officially surrender until April 1935, long after the Great War was considered over in the rest of the world...

--

Jefferson Caden should have learned his lesson from the failure of his efforts to interfere with my conduct of the war in Brazil. He always thought he knows best about everything, and now he thinks that he has deprived me of my moment of triumph in Brazil. All he has done is free my hand. With Porter not standing for a third term, the Democratic presidential nomination will surely fall to Caden. He thinks that will give him the election too, but I’m going to race him to the New White House.

- Diary entry for General Alvar O’Brien, 26 July 1932

--

[1] In terms of OTL Brazilian state borders, the country has been divided into three parts. The restored monarchy has established the Empire of the Equator, consisting of the OTL Brazilian states of Amapa, the northern part of Para, most of Maranhao, Piaui, Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, and most of Bahia. The American military territory consists of the south-eastern corner of Bahia, the north-eastern and south-eastern parts of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, most of Sao Paulo apart from the north-western corner, Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. The United States has also separately annexed some of the northern portions of Roirama and Amazonas. The Republic of Brazil consists of Tocantins, the south-eastern corner of Maranhao, Goias, the western portions of Minas Gerais, north-western Sao Paulo, Matto Grosso and Matto Grosso do Sul, Rondonia, Acre, most of Amazonas and Roirama apart from the northern regions, and most of Para. Republican Brazil also includes parts of OTL Paraguay and Charcas.

--



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