Look to the West Volume VIII: The Bear and the Basilisk

GWS! Good to see the Matetwa kicking colonialist ass, their distance from Russia and the apparent Protocol dominance in the Atlantic and Indian oceans had me concerned.

the great serf-worked factories of Yapon


EDIT: Is this the typical model of Russian industrial enterprises? If not, European Russian and other Vitebsk Pact industrial workers and companies must be annoyed by the stream of cheap goods coming out of Yapon. Russia has been a major industrial power since at least the 1890s, so it has a lot of them...
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I recall Tickell and myself both giving worried glances towards Maradun-sahib as Bloem ranted about how the blicks were ruining everything
I recall an ancient page on the AH.com wiki on the Villainous South African menacingly going to someone “...because you’re blick!” I’m showing my age recognizing this potential in-joke...


Thanks everyone - I think it's going to be put back now regardless because I've got my Covid vaccination coming up (yay) but I'll update you if and when there'll be any delays.
They may have aluminum/aluminium settled, but what about the worse illuftium/elluftium dilemma?
They may have aluminum/aluminium settled, but what about the worse illuftium/elluftium dilemma?
I hadn't really thought about that much before, but that's got to cause so many problems especially in Anglophone countries.


Part #283: All Greek to Me

“Demonstrations today in Alexandria were suppressed by State police using water cannon, leading to condemnation from the ASN as being in conflict with Article One. Ezekiel Beauregard is our Near East correspondent. Mr Beauregard, can you tell the folks at home what’s going on?”

“Yes I can, Miss Jaxon. This is all about decisions made by the government of the Free City of Mecca concerning the upcoming Hajj, the annual global Muslim pilgrimage to the city, which is due to start at the end of July this year. There are claims that the Federation has, allegedly, unfairly got its way over certain organisational matters at the expense of the State, and its people are not happy. Our younger viewers may not remember, but twenty years ago there was an attempt to resolve disputes by setting up a ruling Council for Mecca that would have representatives from Muslim nations across the world, the Ummah as their community is known.”

“Yes, Mr Beauregard, I don’t remember that.” (laughter) “So if the Council was meant to resolve disputes like this one, what’s going on? Why isn’t it working?”

“I’m glad you asked that, Miss Jaxon...the Muslims themselves, those who do not blame each other of course(!) lay the blame squarely at the feet of what they describe as the ASN’s constant interference with the Council making it unworkable. The ASN’s representatives, for their part, say they are merely defending Article Two and blocking attempts by the Council to resolve disputes by harmonising different interpretations of the Islamic calendar and dating of holy festivals. But Muslim critics claim that the ASN is simply irrationally prejudiced, suspicious of any other body that features representatives from multiple nations collaborating for a common goal...”

– Transcription of a C-WNB News Motoscope broadcast,
recorded in Waccamaw Strand, Kingdom of Carolina, 22/03/2020​


From: “A Short History of Modern Europe” by Anders Liljekvist (1980, authorised English translation 1986)—

Following the classical period and centuries of Roman rule, Greece had essentially won the subtler culture war through her language and culture dominating the continuing ‘Byzantine’ remnant of the Roman Empire in the East. As previously recounted in chapter 4, the Greek identity would be confused for the four centuries following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Ottoman Empire was a successor to Byzantium and Rome in terms of cultural diversity and the concept that holding to language, values and creed counted for more than racial background. By the eighteenth century, Phanariot Greeks were able to rise to significant positions of power as diplomats and administrators (notably in the Romanian principalities) while retaining their Orthodox faith. This was in contrast to the rural peasantry, who were often distinguishable from Orthodox Slavs in the Empire (as opposed to those Slavs who had adopted Islam) only by language. Attempting to draw a line defining the ‘Greek’ parts of the Empire would always be a fool’s errand, for reasons that had existed long before the first Turk arrived from the steppes. When Rome was merely a small upstart republic, centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks had colonised southern Italy, acculturated the peoples of Asia Minor and (under Alexander the Great) spread their culture as far as India. The name ‘Greece’ itself in English stems from the Latin name for the southern Italian Greek colonies, not Greece itself (‘Hellas’). In many ways, the glory that was Greece existed more in heads and hearts than in a readily definable ethnic group.

Portions of the Greek-majority parts of the Empire would be ruled by foreign Christians for periods. Notably Crete was held by the Venetian Republic for more than two centuries after the fall of Constantinople (and had been controlled by it for two centuries before that) before it finally fell to the Turks in 1669 following the longest siege in history, the Siege of Candia (1648-1669). Less impressively, the Peloponnese peninsula comprising much of the south of Greece (then also sometimes called the Morea) was ruled by the Venetians for a few years around the turn of the eighteenth century. Venetian rule had not been particularly popular, and the Ottomans had recaptured the Morea by 1718, keen to do so as it was a rich tax farm usually under the control of the Valide Sultan (the powerful queen mother).

This context must be borne in mind when understanding what came later. A few minor rebellions later, an independent Greek state finally broke away during the Ottoman Time of Troubles of the 1810s-20s, taking advantage of Ottoman division and public opposition to high war taxes. European support for the Greeks was often lukewarm, influenced by the writings of men like John Byron and Henri Rouvroy, who had been unimpressed with the latter-day claimants to the heritage of classical Greece. It was the Hapsburg Kingdom of (North) Italy whose intervention was most crucial, and in 1821 Archduke Joseph, younger brother of King Leopold, was crowned King of Greece following his conversion to Orthodoxy.[1] The initial Greek state consisted mostly of the Morea and the Ionian islands, with the majority of Greeks remaining under Ottoman rule, though many of the latter would flee to free Greece over the ensuing decades. Hapsburg influence through King Joseph upset the Russians, who regarded themselves as the heirs to Byzantium and the natural protectors of Orthodox peoples among the Ottomans’ ‘captive nations’. But though the Russians had made substantial gains at the Turks’ expense during the Time of Troubles – taking Moldavia, Crimea and much of the Caucasus – they were in no position to aid the distant Greeks until after this territorial change was completed, by which time the famine of 1822 had made fighting grind to a halt anyway.[2]

The Time of Troubles ended with the division of the Empire into the weakened, Rumelia-based ‘Janissary Sultanate’ and a continuing Empire under Abdul Hadi Pasha elsewhere, a division that would leave lasting memories later on. In 1837 a dispute over a confiscated Greek ship led to renewed war between the Sultanate and Greece. During this war, the Greeks successfully took Attica, the island of Euboea and many of the Cyclades.[3] This was despite King Joseph not having much support from his Hapsburg relatives; he had burned his bridges by favouring the Greek public view during the ‘Hapsburg Fracas’ a few years earlier and diplomatically not sending many Greek soldiers to a conflict they cared little for. This was the beginning of Greece charting a more independent course, being closer to Danubia rather than North Italy in years to come, and with a large expanse of Rumelia still separating her from Danubia...

The Greek-Janissary war ended in 1842, with the Sultanate collapsing and being re-amalgamated with Abdul Hadi’s Empire a few years later. King Joseph had opposed trying to take the de facto independent Ottoman-ruled Crete (theoretically Janissary-ruled but attempting to stay neutral), but Greek freebooters had landed there at the end of the war. Reluctant post facto support from Joseph led to only the western quarter of the island being freed from Ottoman rule, with the rest becoming a new vilayet of Abdul Hadi’s Empire, soon the only remaining faction.

King Joseph died in 1851 and was succeeded by his son Charles, who rejected pressure from some factions at court to join the so-called Euxine War of 1861-1864 between Russia and the Ottomans. Some hoped for an opportunity to claim further Greek-populated territories such as Thessaly or the remainder of Crete, but Charles (likely rightly) believed this would not lead to support from others (Danubia had remained determinedly neutral in the conflict) and risked Greece losing independence altogether if left alone before Abdul Hadi’s rejuvenated empire. The border between Greece and the Ottomans seemed fixed at a line drawn roughly between the Ambracian Gulf in the West and the Malian Gulf in the east.

King Charles died childless in 1874 and was briefly succeeded by his brother Leopold for four years, before Leopold’s own death led to the longer and more stable reign of his son Joseph II. Frequently compared to his namesake in terms of good governance, Joseph II, however, more resembled his uncle in terms of a disinclination towards war with the now-modernised Ottomans. He allowed limited representative government of the people, but was able to retain substantial power by playing off factions against one another. As a small nation with divided ancestral loyalties, Greece was subject to its elected politicians being influenced by multiple foreign powers. The writer Evangelos Katsouranis joked in 1890 that the majority of Greece’s economic production came from collecting all the bribes from powers such as Danubia, United Italy, Russia, Persia and even the Ottomans themselves – which all cancelled each other out in terms of influence anyway. The reality of such corruption, well known to a cynical and apathetic public, gave Joseph the licence to dismiss any prime minister he did not like on a whim and replace him with another – who was, of course, just as corrupt.

Despite (or because of) this dysfunctional government, Greece in the second half of the nineteenth century enjoyed a new cultural flowering known as the Anagennisi (‘renaissance’), of which Katsouranis was one of the ringleaders. Greek literature, theatre and (to a lesser extent) painting became popular throughout Europe, spreading to the Novamund and (perhaps surprisingly) to the Ottoman Empire, which had many educated people who could read and write Greek (even many without Greek connections themselves). The Anagennisi helped mend Greece’s image in the western world, although it sparked an argument (both inside and outside Greece) over whether it should be regarded as a continuation of the glory of Ancient Greece, or something new altogether and worthy in its own right.

Joseph II’s cautious course was epitomised by his positioning in the leadup to the Pandoric War, in which he rejected the Pressburg Pact alliance of the Danubians and Germans and instead, like the Italians, joined France’s Marseilles Protocol league of armed neutrality. The policy was probably motivated by the fact that joining either side would have starkly divided Greece in terms of loyalties, given there were many Russophiles in politics but ancient Hapsburg ties could not simply be cast aside so starkly. Regardless, the policy was seen as the right one in hindsight. Whereas Danubia betrayed the Orthodox Christians of Servia by abandoning that province to the Ottomans as a blood price for their entry into the war against Russia – which failed to turn the tide regardless – Greece remained intact under French protection and her economy continued to grow as a neutral trading nation.

Joseph II died in 1912, and with him died Greece’s new golden age. His son Constantine might have been given a hopeful Greek name rather than a traditional Hapsburg one, yet he swiftly became unpopular with the people as he struggled to cope with the economic collapse of the Panic of 1917. In the end he was forced to flee the country. He was bailed out by the Russians and returned to power by the Italians. It was the Russians’ longer-term aid that made more difference, as control of the purse-strings meant that they were able to attain more influence over Greece and force the severance of the ties to France over the Marseilles Protocol. Some historians, however, argue that Constantine or his ministers successfully manipulated the Russians into doing this, and that they had been looking for an excuse to break with France as it became increasingly likely that a French-led bloc would not be neutral in the next war.

Indeed, when war broke out in 1922, Constantine focused on attempting to preserve Greek neutrality in the face of pressure from all sides. The Russians attempted to call in their debts from their economic rescue, but while their rhetoric might speak of Orthodox solidarity, what they wanted from the agreement made such claims ring hollow even in the eyes of many longtime Russophile Greeks. Rather than promising Ottoman-ruled territories to Greece, the Russians wanted the Royal Greek Navy to prey on Italian ships in the Mediterranean.

For once, the Russians did not seek war with the Turks, wanting to keep the Ottoman Empire neutral in their conflict with Persia. Not only would Constantinople joining the war add another front (when Russia was struggling to maintain those she already fought on) but the Ottoman army could take the Russians in the flank as they slowly, grindingly advanced south through Persia, resulting in the collapse of the only front on which she had made gains thus far. Indeed, if it had been diplomatically feasible, the Russians might even have tried to bring the Ottomans into the war on their own side. Though this was unthinkable for political reasons, the fact that Russian interests did not align with Greek ones was becoming increasingly self-evident. The Tsar seemed perfectly willing to sacrifice Greece on an altar of causing problems for Italy and the Protocol in their own backyard. His primary goal seems to have been to delay Italy’s Prime Minister Orsini sending a fleet through the Sinai Canal to India, in response to France clamouring for help after the defeat at Ceylon by the Russo-Belgians. Paul seems to have badly overestimated the extent to which recent economic aid and Orthodox solidarity might outweigh Greece’s historic ties to the nation that had done more to free her than any other – not Russia, but Italy. Idealistic monarchists also regarded Italian valour as having played the more important role than Russian funding in restoring Constantine to power.

Conversely, however, France and the Protocol nations (again, particularly Italy) were pressuring Greece to formerly rejoin the French-led alliance, which made even less sense for Greek policy. It appears this pressure from the Protocol was more intended to counterbalance Russia’s attempts than coming with any serious expectation that Greece would declare war on Russia, but it had the unintended effect of making Constantine and his ministers feel surrounded on all sides. Constantine still sought to maintain Greek neutrality as his first principle. With this in mind, he turned back to his now-distant Hapsburg relatives in Danubia. Danubia was a state still powerful enough to stand up to Russia in armed neutrality when Roderich Kreuz had sought asylum there. Though Archking Leopold III was increasingly dependent on Pacifist Societist support in the four Volksdiets, he was still Greece’s best shot at a protector in the midst of this conflict...[4]


At this time, Lectel rumours of the Plague ravaging the East began to edge their way into newspapers, and the first case in the Novamund was being recorded in Cometa, California. If the shaky status quo had lasted just a little longer, it is quite likely that the disruption caused by the Plague might have prevented a new front of the war opening up, a front that would change world history forever.

The governments of France and other western powers are frequently criticised in hindsight for failing to understand the motivations of the Ottoman government at this time, which is a fair but exaggerated criticism to make. There had been recent shifts in Constantinople with the death of Said Izzet Pasha from scarlet fever and the ascendancy of the faction of the Valide Sultan, Mehveş Sultan, with the appointment of her brutish but dynamic favourite Ferid Ibrahim Pasha as Grand Vizier. In the middle of a war, it is no surprise that the significance of these obscure shifts was not noted. The French and Russian governments both saw any political developments in the Empire only through the lens of their own conflict; would the Ottomans intervene on France’s side or not? (The idea of Constantinople backing Russia, though arguably a possibly advantageous pragmatiste move given the situation in Persia, was not seriously countenanced for political reasons). What neither Paris nor Petrograd considered was the fact that the Ottomans regarded themselves as the centre of the world, lords of the horizons, the heirs to Rome, and not merely another puzzle piece in a complicated alliance system based elsewhere.[5]

In the eyes of Constantinople, the eyes of The City itself, history was a long game. The Ottomans had ruled their empire for five centuries, and regarded themselves (to some extent) as a continuation of Byzantium under new management, which had in turn been a continuation of Rome. Some institutions of the empire dated back, at least on paper, to times when the Franks had merely been an upstart confederate tribe in the north, and the Rus a big question mark just above Scythia on the map. The Ottomans did not have the existential thinking of the Greeks, or even the Germans, the idea that their state could be swept away altogether by the horrors of modern war. They thought in terms of an old empire that might trade away Mesopotamia or the Caucasus to Persia after a lost war for a couple of centuries, then win it back again and carry on as though nothing had happened. Nothing was ever truly settled, there were no natural borders – and if there were, they represented all territory that had ever paid homage to the Sultan in the past. This attitude had been reflected in 1861, when the Ottomans had shocked France by moving in with their brand new navy and regaining Algiers, putting it under direct rule for the first time in centuries. In the eyes of an empire that had put Candia under siege for two decades, the heirs to a tradition whose bureaucracy had managed blood feuds between families that lasted longer than most nation states, those centuries were an irrelevance.

This was a system that frequently puzzled and frustrated European and Russian observers, who often pronounced the empire as being clearly sickly and in decline, yet it seemed to defy their expectations every time and carry on regardless. Nonetheless, increasing nationalist realisation was a significant threat within the empire, just as it was to the Hapsburgs. Some historians paint the Valide Sultan’s views as being influenced by the idea that Greece represented a successful execution of the nationalist imperative and therefore an affront to the Ottoman way. However, this is likely Diversitarian hindsight. Mehveş Sultan likely did see Greece as an affront, but merely because it was territory that had not yet been reclaimed. So what if it had just celebrated the centenary of its independence? In her eyes, it was no different to the time Venice had ruled the Morea for a couple of decades. Venice was now gone as an independent state, but the empire continued; the empire always continued, and its temporary reversals would always be undone eventually.

Any awareness that these assumptions might need revision had been badly undermined by Danubia’s desperation during the Pandoric War, when Archking Ferdinand had actually said yes to Abdullah Seyyid Pasha’s demands for the return of Servia in exchange for a declaration of war against Russia. That war had gone poorly for the Ottomans, who had lost Trebizond, but the principle had been upheld. While the French and other observers in 1922 imagined that the Ottomans might be champing at the bit to attack Russia and reclaim Trebizond, the Valide Sultan so no real difference between a war to reclaim territory lost twenty years earlier or territory lost a century earlier. Conversely, the peace party under the late Said Izzet Pasha had called for a focus on regaining influence in southern Araby, which had declined from the 1870s, or exploiting Societist-driven unrest around the Moon Lakes to take control of the Kingdom of Kitara, thus claiming new frontiers which had never before been Ottoman. None of this was regarded as being an existential threat in the same way that Germany losing Bohemia had been, and nor was the loss of any region accepted simply because it had taken place out of living memory.

In October 1923, then, as the Plague reached California and as the Russians finally approached the gates of Shiraz in their long war, Constantinople caught the world offguard by acting without warning. A fleet of steerables crossed the Aegean Sea at the same time as a smaller aerodrome force attacked from bases near Selanik/Thessalonica. Careful to avoid the same bad press as the Russians, the Ottomans did not strike civilian targets (on purpose) but made a surprise attack on the Greek Navy in dock at Salamis. This was swiftly followed up by the Donanmasi’s own naval forces attacking the damaged and outnumbered Greeks. Two thousand four hundred and three years earlier, an outnumbered Greek naval force had defeated the Persians in the great naval battle of Salamis, an illustration of the same vast depths of time that informed the Ottomans’ attitude. But this time, through technological change or the whims of fate, their descendants failed to match the achievements of Eurybiades and Themistocles.

The Ottomans may have been old-fashioned in terms of geopolitical attitudes, but they had demonstrated the effectiveness of a surprise aero attack in devastating enemy ships, something which strategists elsewhere – notably in the Novamund – would take note of. As the shocked Greek government clamoured for help from any and all sides of the war, soldiers of the Ordusu – the Ottoman Army – crossed from Thessaly into the territory of free Greece...

[1] See Part #109 in Volume III.

[2] The key difference to OTL is that the Russian conquest of the Crimea (and therefore gaining a Black Sea coastline) was considerably delayed in TTL, so unlike OTL the Russians could not aid the Greeks except in the most indirect way, whereas the Italians could sail a fleet to Lepanto and beat the Balkan Party Ottomans.

[3] See Part #168 in Volume IV.

[4] In the aftermath of the Pandoric War, the Hapsburgs were forced to allow higher levels of representative government for the Four Folks (Austrogermans, Hungarians, Austrovlachs and Austroslavs) than the weak assemblies formerly permitted under the Rudolfine system. The generic term ‘Volksdiet’ is an exonym, as the Hapsburgs themselves would describe each one by a unique name in the local language, and if any generic inclusive term was used it would be in Martial Latin, not German.

[5] There is a bit of orientalist bias from this writer in this regard, for reasons we will glimpse shortly.


As said in the footnote, the author of the previous segment has an orientalist bias and makes the Ottomans' move sound rather random - it will be looked at from a different perspective in the next segment.
I think I finally understand why the Societists Ottomans will use the name Eternal State when they take power.
Really powerful wording in this chapter for how the Ottoman Empire sees and does things.

I’m also gonna call it and say that the air attacks at Salamis are TTLs version of the pre-Pearl Harbor air attacks that inspired the more famous TTL Pearl Harbor attack(s).
Great, a new player has joined the game. That's bound to generate even more chaos.

Can someone remind me if the Combine has actually gotten involved by October 1923, or is it still limited to “liberating” areas in Africa and Nustrana?

We know for a fact that it’s gonna fight with the ENA, and it seems like the transition from Ottoman Empire to Eternal State takes place in the Black Twenties and their aftermath if this latest update subtly implies. Anything else likely?
I think I finally understand why the Societists Ottomans will use the name Eternal State when they take power.
Really powerful wording in this chapter for how the Ottoman Empire sees and does things.
As someone who is a big fan of Toynbee's "universal state" concept and the more recently-developed "civilization-state" concept, the Ottomans taking up the Roman Empire's traditional definition of those is BIG to me. I didn't think the Ottoman dynasty or Turkish people themselves took being the heirs of Rome (as they did see themselves in OTL) so big that they thought in terms of "centuries" though.
I think I finally understand why the Societists Ottomans will use the name Eternal State when they take power.
Really powerful wording in this chapter for how the Ottoman Empire sees and does things.

Agreed, and I think the idea of what this "Eternal State", as a "Societist" entity, is will be interesting. Orientalist tone aside, it seems that it would eschew any kind of artificial language or *Universal Church, because "Constantinople is the Universal City and therefore the natural leader of the world."

Curious to see more!