A More Perfect Union: An Alternate History of the Land of the Free

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by HeX, May 22, 2019.

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  1. Goldwind2 Well-Known Member

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    Will there be another eccomic downturn in the 1930 or 40 just not as bad as the deppersion of the 1910's. or will ther be a war in the 20 and the 30's become a boom time
     
  2. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    Spoilers...
     
  3. Threadmarks: The Greatest Generation, Part Two: Under Pressure

    HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    [​IMG]

    The Ottoman Empire was the Sick Man of Europe. It was an unfortunate title, but it applied to no one better than they. The Ottomans were the successors to almost thirteen hundred years of Islamic history, and their leaders claimed a direct delineation from the Prophet Muhammad himself in much the same way the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church followed in the footsteps of Saint Peter. But in the recent centuries, as the Muslim world's prestige and power declined and the Christian European states took charge, they had begun to fall apart at the seams. First, it was the Greeks, turning republican and revanchist. Then, it was Crimea, swallowed whole by the Russians. Next, it was North Africa, absorbed by Britain, Sicily, and France. Now, it was the Balkans. Slumbering forces of nationalism mobilized themselves, and just like that, it was time for a revolution.

    The Balkan Wars were a messy, confusing, and drawn-out affair, perhaps even more so than the perplexity of the later Falcon Uprising. The conflict was also the second-to-last stop on the "Prelude to the Grand War," a succession of wars and major events stretching from the Guan Li Rebellion that brought an end to Entente imperialism in mainland China through to the aforementioned Falcon Uprising in the United States. Though the Balkans under Ottoman rule had been a troubled region, wedged between the American-aligned Germany and British-aligned Russia, nothing of note on a global scale occurred until the Balkan Summit of 1898. Meeting in Belgrade, the capital of one of the few independent Balkan states, Serbia, representatives of the Bulgarians, the Rumanians, the Albanians, the Bosnians, and the Montenegrins assembled to discuss the future of Ottoman Europe. Also in attendance were speakers for the Greeks, the Hungarians, the Serbs, and the Dalmatians, all peoples in close proximity to the lands of unrest and interested in helping out, the Greeks especially, who looked to liberate the rest of Ottoman Greece and possibly Macedonia. Nothing official was supposed to go down--it was merely a meeting of the minds--and nothing did, until September 19. That day, two weeks into the summit, Bulgarian protesters in Adrianople were fired upon by Turkish soldiers, wounding four and killing one. As the Boston Massacre and the Murders of Shanghai had shown before it, just about the worst way to control a crowd--and the ideas that drove the crowd to form in the first place--is to shoot bullets into it. The shootings occurred at seven in the morning, and, thanks to the modern telegraph, news of them reached Belgrade just a few hours later. Suddenly, the Balkan Summit had meaning, as the denizens of Ottoman Europe clung to their every word.

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    Propaganda of the Balkan Wars of Independence, Symbolizing the Brotherhood between the Nations of the Region, ca. 1900s

    What happened next was muddled, to say the least. For a month, the delegates of the summit (some of whom included future Bulgarian president Aleksandar Malinov, former Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić, and the Republic of Greece's sitting Speaker for the Pnyx, Eleftherios Venizelos) debated back and forth as to what should be done. The German Empire, Kingdom of Hungary, Republic of Greece, and the Republican Kingdom of the Two Sicilies all pledged to support the Balkan rebels, should they choose to fight for independence. The Ottomans requested aid from Russia and Britian. In the meantime, riots began to sweep the region. Knowing they had to act fast, the Balkan Summit of 1898 became the site of the declarations of independence of Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro. After much debate going back and forth between the Boule and the Pnyx (Greece's two houses of its Ekklesía, or National Assembly), the oldest democracy on Earth declared war on the Ottoman Empire, seeking to gain majority-Greek lands. Rumania and Serbia followed suit a few days later. The Balkan Wars of Independence had begun.

    The major fronts of the Grand War each had their own antecedents to be found in the Prelude. China and Japan had faced off in the War of Honor, the United States would soon find itself facing another great internal conflict in the Falcon Uprising, and the German Empire found itself playing its hand in a proxy war against its European neighbors. The League and the Entente didn't just ship supplies into the Balkans, they shipped units, whole battalions armed to the teeth and raring to fight for king and country or Revolutionary Spirit, depending which side one was on. The Americans largely stayed out of the conflict, too, giving Germany a controlled environment in which to devise new doctrine and strategies. What they learned proved invaluable in the coming years. In general, the British and French troops, who usually worked as a whole, were far more fanatical than their allies. These two empires had drilled it into the skulls of their people that the League was unequivocally evil, bringing the curse of unhampered democracy in their wake, an ideology supposedly one step away from anarchy and resulting in a mad scramble for power every other week. The British and French troops (and the Spanish and Portuguese, for that matter) were also the most put-together and organized troops, following almost any order with no argument. Shipping off for war was still seen as a glorious thing in those days, and the soldiers who left their families to go fight in some godforsaken corner of a continent became heroes of legend. The other major Entente power that played a large role in the Balkan Wars was Russia.

    Oh, Russia. Even in the 1900s, the great polar bear to Germany's eastern flank was already showing signs of cracking at the foundations. In sharp contrast to the Western Europeans of the Entente, the men who served in the Tsar's army were sluggish, disinterested in fighting unless there was a gun to the back of their head, and oftentimes flat out insubordinate. And who could blame them? They were fighting for by far the most oppressive nation around, at least in regards to how the government treated its own native people. While serfdom had ended in Western Europe in the distant past, it was still nominally practiced in Russia. Peasants, like the African-American sharecroppers of the 1850s, slaved away for little pay or reward, all to the benefit of the Romanovs in the Winter Palace. Being torn from their homes and sent away to die in a trench somewhere between Dobruja and Constantinople wasn't exactly the type of vacation the serfs wanted, either, especially when the reward for coming back in one piece was… more oppression. The Russians, then, were far less fierce a fighting force than their Entente counterparts. Despite their seemingly endless numbers, the Germans, by the end of the conflict, routinely sliced through their lines and captured huge numbers of prisoners. It was decided, then, that in case of a war with the Entente (which was looking more and more likely every day), the German Empire would focus on holding the line in France and Belgium while it swept through Russia, most likely with significant help from their local allies and rundown ethnic groups like the Finns, Poles, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians. It certainly wasn't foolproof--especially with the Russian military reforms of the 1910s--but it was the best idea they had.

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    A Captured Russian Division--Still Carrying Their Unloaded Rifles--March Disheartened to a German Prison Camp, 1910

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    Bulgarian Forces Await a Joint Anglo-French Charge, 1906

    Back to the Balkans. From 1898 to 1904, things were going badly. As in, very. Despite all the aid coming in from the League, the rebels were floundering. Serbia and Rumania were doing okay, but the Ottomans had made great gains in Thrace and Thessaloniki. Enter Pavlos Melas. Born in France but raised in Greece after his parents fled there during the Franco-German War and the chaos that followed, Melas was a young officer in the Hellenic Army when the Wars of Independence began. He was a military genius, alternatively called the second coming of Ares, Leonidas, Julius Caesar, William the Conquerer, George Washington, or Napoleon Bonaparte over the course of his storied career. He made a name for himself at the Battle of the Aliakmonas, where, on July 19, 1905, Lieutenant Melas and his platoon of thirty-nine men staved off two successive British assaults on a critical bridge connecting southern Greece to the north. Pavlos Melas slowly rose through the ranks as the years went by and the war turned in favor of the Balkan states, and achieved the status of lieutenant colonel in 1911.

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    Pavlos Melas
    (b. 1870 -- d. 1958)

    One of the main issues with confusion during the Balkan Wars was the fact that half the time, no one knew what was going on. The Turks couldn't be everywhere at once, and foreign aid only went so far, meaning that they relied mostly on local loyalist forces to fight for them. It was easy enough for one Bulgarian to tell which camp another Bulgarian hailed from, but for just about everyone else, that was not a simple task. Civilian casualties were disproportionately high compared to most traditional wars due to this fact, with foreign soldiers shooting innocents and thinking them to be the enemy. But by 1911, the tide had irreversibly turned. The Ottomans were in financial ruin following the Stock Market Crash of 1909 and most foreign aid had left the conflict for that very same reason. A coalition of Greco-Balkan forces, commanded by Generl Panagiotis Danglis, won a string of victories over the Turks at Edirne, Kirklareli, and Tekirdağ during the Spring Offensive. With enemy soldiers closing in on Constantinople and the Ottoman Navy soundly by Rear Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis in the Battle of the Marmara Sea, Sultan Mehmed V saw no option other than surrender.

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    The Battle of Tekirdağ, 1911

    The Treaty of Budapest, officially signed December 10, 1912, was utterly humiliating for the Ottomans. Four new nations (Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia) were formed and three preexisting countries (Greece, Serbia, and Rumania) all took on new territory, with Greece expanding the most, adding Macedonia, Western Thrace, and the Dodecanese Islands to its borders. Soon after, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Serbia officially joined the League. For the first time in almost six hundred years, the Ottoman Empire had little influence over mainland Europe. It was also this event that pushed them over the edge, for the Ottomans, just one week later, joined the Entente Powers.

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    The Balkans Ripping Apart Ottoman Europe at the Treaty of Budapest, 1911

    The world was getting smaller. It was getting more intertwined, more complex, and above all, more dangerous. There was one stop left on the train ride through the Prelude to the Grand War. After that… well, you know what happens next.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019 at 8:27 PM
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  4. SavoyTruffle I am the modren man

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    The million dollar question: who holds Istanbul?
     
  5. Cryostorm Monthly Donor

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    Looks like the Ottomans for now but who knows how it will end after the Grand War. The ethnic make up of the Balkans and Anatolia are still heavily intermixed since the population transfers haven't happened yet. I remember reading that it wasn't till after WWII that Turkish people were the majority in modern Turkey, they were the largest plurality though.

    Oh and Hex, do you mean Western Thrace? Or is that considered part of Macedonia?
     
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  6. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    The Ottomans do. FOR NOW!

    I'm not entirely sure the population transfers will happen in as large a manner as IOTL. The post-WWI idea of the ethnostate (or the idea of having one nation unite all of the members of one ethnicity) isn't really in the spirit of this TL, so while there will definitely be a lot of migration, it won't be quite as overt.

    Yes, I meant Western Thrace. The Ottomans still have Eastern Thrace and Constantinople/Istanbul. I'll change it now.
     
  7. Cryostorm Monthly Donor

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    Yeah, it might not be forced but regardless of which side wins there is going to be a lot of bad blood between the Turks and Greeks which would result in ethnic sorting for at least one side.
     
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  8. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Just wondering, but why is Pasic the ex-PM of Serbia and not the ex-President? Is it because of how the Serbian/Yugoslav monarchy IOTL was from the native aristocracy as opposed to a foreign princeling?
     
  9. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    Yes. I figure if the people want a monarchy, they can have one.
     
  10. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    Aight people, another question: would you find Greece achieving the infamous Megali Idea plan (or at least most of it) to be totally inappropriate for a TL of this manner? I'd say that since Turkey/the Ottomans will be "bad guys" for the next couple of decades, it would serve as punishment for them (especially given how poorly they treated their minorities IOTL), but it's also a bit cliché and perhaps too in line with ethnocentrism.

    Here are some accompanying images:

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  11. Philosopher Jaden Smith Who gave this moron a computer?

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    It’s possible. However, about 1/8 of the population would be Turks. I wouldn’t take more of Anatolia than Ionia and Marmara.​
     
  12. Cryostorm Monthly Donor

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    It is very possible depending on how strong Greece's showing is in the Grand War, probably add on Cypress as well. Population wise I could see most of the Greeks in Turkey, especially the Pontic Greeks, move to Constantinople or Smyrna if the Ottomans are as bad as OTL. Might see a more punishing Treaty of Sevres go through.
     
  13. Knightmare Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, maybe do it, but then play up the consequences. Make it so Greece is always facing unrest from the local population, along with some unpleasant pressure from the US (Yeah, a minority putting pressure on the majority, that'll go well), and a growing discontent over the price it's costing.

    Show Greece that the Megali Idea isn't some utopian dream for them.
     
  14. Tethys00 Mod of r/imaginarymaps Donor

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    I am infuriated by the lack of Tsarigrad
     
  15. SavoyTruffle I am the modren man

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    I mean Russia never held Constantinople IOTL not for a lack of trying. So why should they get it?

    As for the Megali Idea, if it weren't for TTL being more idealistic (but not necessarily happier), why do I get the feeling the Armenian Genocide counterpart will have a different set of actors?
     
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  16. KolyenuKS not a farmer I think

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    I'd give them most of the land in the latest map, but also make the straits an international zone
     
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  17. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Can someone say "independent Kurdistan" here
     
  18. Raiyleigh Active Member

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    Greater Armenia, bigger Georgia, maybe a Lazistan, Assyrian autonomy.
     
  19. Tethys00 Mod of r/imaginarymaps Donor

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    No, Bulgaria
     
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  20. Born in the USSA Well-Known Member

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    My absolute favorite could-have-been state
     
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