Old map lost to the vagaries of imageshack reposted by request.
Weeell, said I was going to do some original stuff, but I just ran into an old map of Mathuen’s for his “The Flag of Our Union” TL, https://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/search.php?searchid=13823192
and next thing you know, I was working away. Just had to get ‘er done – I get compulsive about these things at times.
This is a world where there is an ongoing cold war, only about a couple decades old, not between Capitalism or Communism or between Democracy and Fascism, but between secularism and theocracy. Various divergences dating back to the 19th century allowed for an earlier rebirth of Christian evangelism as a political force, while Communism never really got off the ground (although there are leftist economies, and a form of *syndicalism prevails in several nations, the notion of a world divided between radical socialism and capitalism is for most people as obscure as the arguments of the Physiocrats.
There was a world war, although it did not break out until 1924, in which the US and a UK gone “genteel fascist” in the Fight and Be Right mode (with extra muscular Christianity on the side) ended up on opposite sides, allowing the Germans to prevail in Europe in spite of a better prepared Russia and the lack of an Ottoman Empire (it had collapsed before the war through a combination of foreign pressure and internal religious revolt against premature *Kemalism – in fact, arguing about the resulting mess was one of the reasons war broke out). President Roosevelt (not our Teddy, but an ATL *cousin with equal drive) made sure the US picked up –all- the marbles in the Caribbean area.
A state of Israel was established, under circumstances somewhat different from OTL but with some continuities – the German high command, like the British elites of OTL, wanted to get the International Jewish Conspiracy on their side, and they cared even less about what the Arabs thought.
Iberia, unified under a vigorous modernizing dictatorship, joined forces with Germany in the 30s to squash the radical leftist regime which seized power in France, and divided it into spheres of influence. Too late did the Germans realize they had eliminated a vital buffer when they were jumped by vengeful Russians and Italians and treacherous Iberians (Austria wasn’t in much of a shape to help at this point…). The use of crude first-generation nuclear weapons by both sides made the aftermath of the Anti-German War particularly nasty. (The fighting remained confined to Europe, so the first Great War is still considered the only one).
An era of instability, global economic woes, the coming to power of a radical clerical-fascist regime in Italy, an ambitious Pope made the Church an equal partner with Party – and in time, perhaps the dominant partner. The bloody Post-Austria wars, the Orthodox rising and the Russo-Roman nuclear standoff, the rise of the first Preacher Presidents in the USA. The Iberian Hegemony melted down when certain elements in the ruling Party attempted to turn Iberia into a “true Christian” state on the lines of Greater Italy. Civil war followed. France revolted again. Rome nuked Paris. The Millenarians got their preach on, noting the rise of the “New Roman Empire” as being apocalypse gold, while radical-liberal, anti-religious movements emerged in reaction to the excessive god-bothering.. Another reshuffling took place of the various regions into which China had been divided by the international “intervention of 1916.”
And then things went very, very bad in the Middle East, with an Israel supported by the US religious element getting into an extended struggle with an Arab coalition, which came to a disastrous end when the Arabs moved to an aggressive use of chemical weapons – which the Israelis countered with atomic weapons, killing several million Arabs. Things went rather batshit for a while, and the religious kook wing soared high. The takeover of much of the radiation-burned Middle East by a new Islamicist movement (democratic, in its own batshit way - among other things, they decorated the streets of Riyadh with dangling Saudis) didn’t help at all.
But things didn’t _really_ hit the fan until certain millenarian elements in the US armed forced decided the victory of a moderate non-theocrat was clearly the work of the devil in alliance with a corrupt supreme court (the theocrats had cheated so outrageously that even the Supremes were forced to concede the election to the liberal guy) and nuked the inauguration… (a small nuke, really. A baby one, almost). Unfortunately the surviving top of the chain of succession was one Secretary of State George Freemont, an atheist and social Darwinist (what the equivalent of Randites are called in this world) who established marshal law and essentially declared war on Fundamentalist Christianity.
A quarter century later, things are tentatively stable in the US Second Republic, although much of the Bible belt is still essentially occupied territory. Outside of the “Free Practice Zones”, organized religion is banned and teaching religious “truths” to children too young to know better is considered a form of child abuse. Officially a non-religious state, the government is fairly tolerant of deists or the woollier and vaguer form of mysticism, but organized religion – especially Abrahamic, one-truth, go-to-hell-if-you-don’t-dot-all-your-I’s, organized religion – is heavily suppressed. The US is one of a number of “Freemontist” nations, nations where religion is seen as an enemy of democracy and freedom and suppressed to varying degrees. The British revolution was also strongly anti-religious, and the Anglosphere in general tends to be very secular, although the degree to which religion is suppressed varies.
Secular humanism isn’t just a Republican bogeyman/scarecrow in this world: it is in fact a well organized and thought out atheistic philosophy for the Good Life, and possesses considerable mass appeal in Freemontist nations.
The US in turn leads the “Ulsan Pact” (named after a city in Korea) which is united for defense against aggressive dictatorships and _religious_ dictatorships in particular, united for mutual aid in scientific research and development, united in the common goal of building a better, more rational world. It’s a fairly inclusive organization; you do not have to be an atheist-dominated nation to join, just have a secular government and a strong dislike of what the Abrahamic states are selling.
The Anglophone Union, successor to the old British Empire, is a major portion of the Ulsans, and is headed by a Britain gone republican (missing Northern Ireland, taken over by Eire with Roman help while things were all wibbly-wobbly across the Irish Sea for a while). Germany has reemerged as a Power, and is busy projecting power into nearby Black Zones (Areas of Extreme fucked-up-ed-ness.)
Japan is probably the second strongest member of the Ulsans (unless you take the Anglosphere as a unit, something even the Australians lack the chutzpah to claim is the case). Having been good buddies with the US since they fought on the same side in the Great war, they have been forgiven for their youthful flirtations with colonialism in Korea and elsewhere, and their economics have been aided by both the Ulsan common market and demographics somewhat less painful than OTL (a combination of a later demographic transition and a greater willingness to integrate immigrants – ones who look Japanese, anyway).
Opposing the Ulsans are the “Abrahamic Nations”, the Catholic Romans, the Sunni Islamic Union, and the Liberians (something of an odd man out). They of course do not like each other, but like the Freemonstist opposition to all religions even less. Even collectively they’re not that strong, but they have enough nukes to make taking them down a very nasty business, and they have agents and infiltrators in every Ulsan nation (except possibly Japan, where there never were many Christians or Muslims to begin with).
A note on Liberia: President Friedman, a mid-century Reaganesque figure combining cornpone, praise of hard work and self-determination, hatred of unions, evangelical religious fervor and superior ability to keep on script, has been determined by the evangelic Christians of Liberia to have been sent by God with a true vision of what America should be, and is considered a literal saint by many Liberians (his assassination by a Dirty Pinko – or so they say – in his 7th year in office has helped consolidate this view by granting him the crown of martyrdom). The cult of St. Friedman is pervasive, and although it’s not exactly a state religion, ones chances of political success in Liberia after badmouthing Friedman are essentially zip. Liberia has benefitted by the immigration of a great many conservative blacks whose pleasure with the Second Republics liberal economic policies were more than counterbalanced by their dislike of its suppression of their churches. Many Liberians consider themselves to be carrying on the True Faith of America, and some hope to return to a humbled and re-Christianized US some day.
All three Abrahamic powers are quite expansionist, and support religious revolutionary movements world-wide. Rome currently has high hopes for Switzerland, where Church agents have heavily infiltrated the Catholic religious establishment and are pushing a radical agenda. If Switzerland breaks up as a result – well, omelets, eggs, right?
South America is generally a bit on the sidelines, its Catholic population mostly either trying to ignore the more aggressive commandments of Rome or following the conveniently puny anti-Pope in Rio. The generally lefty government trend secular, and Rome is cautious in its efforts at subversion, lest the governments are frightened into Ulsan hands or come down firmly on the side of the anti-Pope. (Local churchmen are often less restrained: bloody street battles between Pope and Anti-Pope clergy are not unknown).
Russia has turned inwards and taken an essentially neutral stance in recent years, its ability to project power hampered by increasing decentralization and a population virulently opposed to further military projects after the Troubles of the 70s and 80s (mass forced Russification didn’t work out well at all). A number of outlying regions have been allowed to depart peacefully in the last 15 years. Russia is now a democracy, if a richly corrupt one: it’s a fairly religious society, but the religious parties have never done well enough at the polls to take over the government, and nowadays have largely abandoned the notion of turning Russia into an Orthodox theocracy on the Roman model. Russia is still huge and possesses reserves of strength, so other powers generally avoid poking at it, although the Islamic Union really can’t help itself when it comes to Central Asia.
India, the other “big neutral”, seems to be headed for a meltdown sooner rather than later. The British monarchy in exile managed to set themselves up as Rajahs of India, but their willingness to buy off resistance with concessions and tendency to favor the old Indian nobility has made them enemies of the Hindu political parties (although the left-secular parties and the right-theocratic parties of course dislike them for rather different reasons), and the New Peacock Throne is looking rather shaky. Meanwhile, the Islamic Union, it’s expansion in Africa slowing, is looking with interest at the possibility of detaching the Islamic regions of India and incorporating them into the Union (perhaps not directly: there are, after all, an awful lot of them).
Israel is politically isolated, bristles with atomic weapons, is surrounded by endless minefields and is dominated by a coalition of religious parties. It would make a great Abrahamic Pact member, if it weren’t for the fact that they and the Arab Union hate each other’s guts. With no US aid, it is a poorer place than OTL, but the Israelis have made a virtual cult out of self-sufficiency, a sort of Yiddish Juche. (Given the circumstances of their founding, the Israelis of this world have mostly stuck with a sort of German-rooted language.) Israel makes extraordinarily cheap and sturdy nuclear reactors, which it exports widely.