The March of Time - 20th Century History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Karelian, Mar 8, 2013.

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  1. Oldbill Well-Known Member

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    OH, and the Austrians showed up! I wonder where this will head now...:)
     
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  2. kung Zog Headache utilizer

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    I fear a stab-in-the-back myth building up here.

    Norwegian partisans?
     
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  3. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    If you need someone to pursuit power and personal glory without any real regards for the wider international risks involved, look no further: Yevgeni Ivanovich is your man.

    To the hills, high courts - and Venezuela.

    The Concert has everything under control, just like in Macedonian vilayets.


    "Yes, we started this war as a reckless foreign policy adventure for reasons of slighted and insulted royal prestige, and for the fear of a more universal suffrage."
     
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  4. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

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    A more likely myth among the swedish royalist is the idea that the Wilhelm had promised Oscar II aid but were thwarted thus showcasing what damage will befall Sweden when the will of royalty is denied in europe. Bit convoluted sure, but its really the best they've got.
     
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  5. kung Zog Headache utilizer

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    "Our glorious march on Kristiania was thwarted by foreign agitators that has infiltrated and mislead our Swedish workers. No, it was not stopped by our dismal diplomatic performance, no!"


    (Fear of Russian migrants was very strong within the army and establishment, "sågfilare" and Jewish migrants were especially feared)
     
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  6. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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    Denmark as a German vassal - true but the Danes have also seen that it is possible for a small nation to defend itself till the Cavalry arrive!
    If Denmark have no mountains and forests it has water barriers and with the building of the Jeune Ecole Navy this will be kept going and new long range (as long as possible) artillery to defend the straits would be in the cards.
    Even if 1864 was viewed as a military disaster it may be turned on its head with a plea for giving the Generals and Admirals the means to fight the war and let them fight it! Whichever the enemy it may be the southern or an eastern..
     
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  7. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    This was the historical British view to the Danish position - the Danes themselves had different views: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-century-history.272417/page-19#post-12438924
     
  8. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    Ah yes, "laukkuryssä", as the East Karelian peddlers were known in Finland. Incidentally their appearance in 1810s to Grand Duchy of Finland and Sweden proper reflected a wider change in regional economy, when the developing infrastructure of Mariinsk Canal System and the growth of Petrograd created a reliable supply of import grain and giving the local traders access to goods that could be resold for profit at the Finnish and Swedish countryside.

    In a more general level every major combatant in OTL WW1 had their own versions of the stereotypes of shirkers, foreign spies, and the enemy within.

    The interpretation and narratives of the war will certainly be the key issues in Swedish politics, and they are bound to have an impact elsewhere as well.
     
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  9. kung Zog Headache utilizer

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    If I remember correctly Sweden started with immigration controls around 1900 (possibly 1905) because of an influx of Russians and Eastern Jews. Wartime condition will most likely increase that fear.

    edit: immigration controls ofc
     
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  10. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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    It all boiled down to how and when do we get Sønderjylland back! Would it be possible somehow to invoke article 5 of the Prague Treaty. ;)
    So in effect a German Vassal though the Danes didn't like to think of it that was the situation.
    Another possible was the effect of 1864 - the great national defeat. Somehow in the past Denmark had been able to rise from the ashes but that had been such a psycological shock and the politicians well knew, even Monrad, that a united Germany was too big an adversary.

    However the Danish view of the Norwegian - Swedish conflict was that it would go to war and Denmark was ready - at least the minds of the politicians - to ally to the Norwegians according to Dansk Udenrigspolitiks Historie bind 3 - fra helstat til nationalstat 1814-1914. Sweden almost declared war on Denmark during the September negotiations due to Denmarks siding with Norway. ITTL this might well have been the case. :)
     
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  11. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    Thus the information from the conference of ambassadors will be really depressing news for Danish diplomats - if Britain is seemingly willing to write them off (as per OTL), that narrows their diplomatic breathing space considerably. Especially since other major powers have their own plans.

    This would have most likely indeed been the case, but the Danish politics, already strained by the international dispute of the Norwegian succession, are now embroiled in a major scandal. since in TTL the tense situation in Norway and the political tension towards Denmark leads to a situation where a mid-level anonymous clerk decides to act against Alberti to bring down the Danish government before it can either go to war against Sweden or "sell Denmark to Wilhelm II and his Prussians."
     
  12. Threadmarks: Chapter 132: And now for something completely different - A Venezuelan interlude!

    Karelian Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    John and Fritz are at it again, Part I: The Venezuelan Crisis

    "Germany views our refusal to build up a large navy as a sign of weakness...in a few years they will be in a position to take some step in the West Indies or South America which will make us either put up or shut up on the Monroe Doctrine."
    US Vice President Theodore Roosevelt in a letter to Henry Cabot Lodge in 1900.

    "If any South American States misbehaves towards any European country, let the European country spank it; but I do not wish the United States or any other country to get additional territory in South America...I told him [the German consul general in New York]...that...I have a hearty and genuine liking for the Germans both individually and as a nation;...that I was delighted to see South America kept open commercially to Germany and to the United States on an equal footing; that if a big German-speaking community in a South American state could not stand misgovernment, and set up for itself, there would be in that fact by itself nothing to which I should object; but that I did not desire to see the United States gain any territory in South America itself, and that...I would do all in my power to have the United States take the attitude that no European nation, Germany or any other, should gain a foot of soil in any shape or way in South America."
    US Vice President Theodore Roosevelt commenting his discussion with the German ambassador von Holleben in 1902.

    "Castro is an unspeakably villainous little monkey."
    Theodore Roosevelt, 1905.

    To understand the wider geopolitical context of Great Power relations regarding Scandinavia in autumn 1905, one has to keep in mind the previous instances where the Powers had been able to put aside their differences and act together. While the Boxer War is the most famous example of this development, the Venezuelan Crisis of 1902 was another event that postwar world would look as a sign of things to come. The way Germany and rest of the Concert of Europe interacted during this formative years of the 21st Century had a lot to do with the persons of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his loyal Chancellor, Prince Eulenburg. For Chancellor Eulenburg, the years at the beginning of the new century had been marked with his worries about the deteriorating state of the Anglo-German relations. The Navy Bill of 1900 had gone through after Tirpitz and the German navalists had worked hard to gain enough support at the Reichstag. Meanwhile Holstein at the German Foreign Service still felt confident that there was no need to hurry regarding initiatives towards Britain, since London would ultimately have to align herself with Berlin in any case, and time was on the side of Germany. Eulenburg disagreed, but for the time being could do little to outmaneuver the "monster of the labyrinth" while at the same time keeping Wilhelm II in line without alienating His Majesty.[1]

    Appointed to implement Weltpolitik, he viewed his primary domestic task as patching together workable coalitions from the fractious groups that vied for power and influence in Wilhelmine Germany to cement the personal rule of Wilhelm II. His approach to this goal was based on his own extensive client networks and behind-the-scenes approach. In foreign policy Eulenburg wanted to avoid continental coalitions against Germany at all costs. He maintained Bismarck’s alliance with Austria-Hungary, and sought to improve relations with Russia and France. Yet Russian focus to the Balkans was forcing Eulenburg to wooing Britain as a counterbalance to the rising power of St. Petersburg.

    At the northern side of the Channel Joseph Chamberlain thought that some sort entente with the Germans could be useful, at least in order to avert the threat of a wider anti-British Continental coalition. Wilhelm, with his mixed love/hate-relationship with Britain, found the idea quite attractive. The however, the anti-English tone of the German press coverage of the Boer War had outraged the British. The German press magnates kept the Boer War in the headlines since the public outrage was selling well, just like their French and Russian counterparts. The matter culminated when Chamberlain’s October 1901 speech, comparing the conduct of British forces in South Africa to the actions of German soldiers in the war of 1870 was soothed over by Eulenburg, much to the dismay of German nationalists.

    It was at this moment that Venezuela came to the fore. Nothing unites like a common foe, and Caracas had managed to raise the ire of London, Berlin, Rome, Paris and Washington - a no mean feat by itself. The handmark of Eulenburg and his attempt to steer a new course to German foreign policy in uneasy, but working cooperation with Holstein is clearly seen in the way the Germans approach the situation of Venezuela, a country that was mired in internal unrest and civil conflicts since 1896. The sinking prices of coffee, the main foreign export, would have been bad enough even without any internal unrest. But with new loans contracted in London in 1881 and Berlin in 1896 being lost to corruption and fiscal mismanagement, the reign of military leader, formel congressional deputy, lawyer, journalist and local strongman Cipriano Castro was on a collision course with the international debtors. Ruling with the support of the military and his urban middle-class client network from Táchira province, Castro was widely loathed for his lavish lifestyle and disregard of the foreign claims and complaints about the internal situation of Venezuela.

    From the point of view of Venezuelans and especially Castro himself, the foreign powers were hypocrites of the highest order, and he had every right to defend his position and the national prestige of the people of Venezuela by standing firm. After all, he had done so before.
    After the rights to the rich Guanoco Lake asphalt concession had been contested by Warner and Quinlan of New York in 1900, the old monopoly of the Asphalt Trust and their power in Venezuelan economy had suddenly been put a risk. The influential New York and Bermúdez Company reacted by joining forces with the French Cable Company in the clandestine funding for la Revolución Libertadora, a revolt that the wealthiest man in Venezuela, Manuel Antonio Matos, had set up against Castro after he had paraded Matos through the streets of Caracas when he had refused to loan money to the government. Castro had just crushed this uprising at the cost of twenty thousand deaths in November 1902, when new trouble was already on the horizon. Warner and Quinlan representatives contacted Castro, and provided evidence of the support that their competitor, Bermúdez, had provided to Matos. Castro seized their properties, and began actions against them in the Venezuelan courts.[2]

    What Castro failed to take into account was that the second vice president of Bermúdez, General Avery D. Andrews, was a friend and associate of President William McKinley and his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt. When Warner and Quinlan realized that the U.S. Legation in Caracas would therefore not support their interests in the country, they quickly enlisted the support of a few Congressmen from mainland US. Bringing the matter to Congressional attention made it a point of interest to President McKinley, who would have otherwise preferred to avoid further costly foreign adventures at the region.

    Meanwhile matters were moving ahead in Europe.
    "The principle at stake is of the first importance", the British Foreign Office stated in a report regarding the behaviour of Venezuela in violating the rights of the British citizens and the negotiations about the $15m debt that Venezuela had defaulted. News of German initiative in the Hague arbitration afford made the Chamberlain more active, namely in order to avoid a situation where Germany - or perish the thought, Italy - defended the rights of their citizens while Whitehall idled. Thus British Foreign Office approached the German ambassador about the possibility of “common action.” Lansdowne was interested in improved relations with Germany, and eagerly told the ambassador in Berlin to sound out the Wilhelmstrasse about German intentions in Venezuela. Thus the joint action was well under way after the end of the Boxer War in January 1902. The German chargé Pilgrim-Baltazzi and British minister Haggard in Caracas acted in concert, and had actually lobbied their governments for cooperation for some time.[3]

    The elephant in the room was the attitude of the United States.
    Chamberlain, firmly aware how Willian Lindsay Scruggs had used his political and press connections to lobby the Cleveland Administration to intervene as an arbitrating power in the border crisis of 1895, treaded lightly. Luckily for the European creditor nations, the way Castro had challenged the power of the US-based companies of the Asphalt Trust had made President McKinley nominally supportive to the Europeans. The President urged Castro to make a good-faith effort to repay his foreign loans, while Secretary of State John Hay publicly stated that the Monroe Doctrine was never intended to shield “wrongdoing states from justice.” Vice President Roosevelt took a harder stance, and conveyed his views to the German consul general in no uncertain terms.

    Eulenburg reacted with caution. After the issue of Samoa had been put to rest, there were no major disagreements or direct confrontations between Berlin and Washington. Wilhelm II had actively courted US during his whole reign, but the McKinley administration mainly focused on domestic issues, putting little attention to foreign squabbles or the shifting alliance systems, enjoying just the kind of splendid isolation that was becoming increasingly difficult goal for Britain. Several key US politicians, especially vice President Roosevelt, viewed German ambitions in the Western Hemisphere with suspicion. Desperate to find ways to please the whims of his erratic Autocrat while at the same time maintaining working relations with the United States, Eulenburg sought support from London. Luckily for him, it was forthcoming.

    1. In OTL Bülow wanted to unify the nation through Anglophobia, while cultivating relations with Russia to gain an offensive alliance directed against Britain, so that Germany could expand her influence in South America as Wilhelm II envisioned! Thus Bülow sabotaged all negotiations with London in 1900-1901 and actively supported anti-British sentiment at the press circles at home as a means towards achieving national solidarity. Meanwhile he wanted to play a waiting game, maintaining “a free hand” between London and St.Petersburg.
    2. In OTL they made this move a bit later. Here news from Europe alert them to act earlier.
    3. In OTL Disputes between British colony of Trinidad and the disagreement over the sovereignty of the island of Patos were only making matters worse. In OTL Haggard managed to argue that the island, "a little better than a mass of rock" as a hydrographer attached to the Foreign Officer reported, had strategic value. In TTL Chamberlain is more cautious due the different diplomatic position of Britain.
     
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  13. Threadmarks: Chapter 133: Treading lightly - the cautious approach of Chancellor Eulenburg

    Karelian Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    John and Fritz are at it again, Part II: The Blockade
    "We consider it of importance to first of all let the Government of the United States know about our purposes so that we can prove that we have nothing else in view than to help our citizens who have suffered damages...We declare especially that under no circumstances do we consider in our proceedings the acquisition or pernament occupation of Venezuelan territory."
    Ambassador von Holleben in a memorandum delivered to State Secretary Hay on July 1902.

    In a marked fashion of Eulenburg, Wilhelmstrasse was exceedingly cautious regarding the crisis at Venezuela. Estimating the expected reaction of the US in every major piece of correspondence on the Venezuela affair was a policy approved by both Holstein and Albert von Quadt, the ambassador in Washington. Ambassador Holleben expressed doubt. Tirpitz was reluctant to volunteer for any unnecessary endeavour before his fleet had been built to the full strength. Wilhelm was cautious, but Eulenburg was able to talk him over despite the Kaiser’s doubts that the British would not be reliable allies. He scrawled permission to explore joint action with the British “only if we can be sure that they would not take advantage of these approaches in order to place us in a suspicious position with the Americans.” Only the “iron-clad” agreement forged in Sandringham soothed the mind of the Kaiser. Once he was certain that the alliance was firm, Wilhelm welcomed it. The ability to use British ports in the region for recoaling and resupplying would reduce any risk to the German ships, while partnership with London would reassure Washington. Italy was vexed in as well, when the British ambassador managed to link the question of Somaliland together with the Venezuelan case.[1]

    Rear Adm. Henry Clay Taylor, the new chief of the Bureau of Navigation and the senior uniformed naval adviser to the President wrote a memorandum, stating that the powers would likely bombard port facilities and invade custom houses. In a case the Powers would then demand indemnities to cover the expense of the conflict, and “Castro could then offer nothing but territory.” With Venezuela located to the key approaches of the Panama Canal, a German naval base or even an active colony would be a clear and present threat to the US prestige and interests in the region. Vice President Roosevelt was fuming, as McKinley viewed the trouble at Philippines as a warning proof of the burgeoning costs of foreign engagements. For him, the European blockade against Castro would be little different than the matter of Guatemala in the previous year, when Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Belgium delivered a joint protest to Guatemalan government to collect the debts they were owed. Europeans were otherwise active in the region as well - in June 1902 the French cruiser Suchet had already seized a Venezuelan gunboat.[2]

    Dismayed by the course of events he attributed to the passive attitude of the current POTUS, whom he had privately referred as having "no more backbone than a chocolate éclair", Vice President Roosevelt hosted a private dinner for a small group at his residence to honour Baron Speck von Sternburg, his old friend and the German diplomat in Washington. Using this channel of personal diplomacy, Roosevelt conveyed his intentions and views to the German administration in no uncertian terms. Roosevelt made a particular point by inviting Admiral Dewey, who was known for his strong distaste of Germans after his tense standoff with the German flotilla in the Manila Bay. Unable to convince McKinley to take a more active stance, Roosevelt regardless reminded von Sternburg what his own view to the matter was, and made it known that the US naval circles had already ordered the Culebra Island, a thickly wooded, six-mile long islet sixteen miles east of Puerto Rico fortified and turned into a forward operating base. This message was heard loud and clear.

    The European blockade plans wanted to avoid infringing on the Monroe Doctrine, and instead opted to seize the gunboats of Venezuela. Hay, the US Anglophile Secretary of State, regretted “that European Powers should use force against Central and South American countries”, but added that the US “could not object to their taking steps to obtain redress for injuries suffered by their subjects, provided no acquisition of territory was contemplated.

    The acceptance of McKinley Administration was achieved by an old hand at the Foreign Office, Julian Pauncefote. Having tactfully handled both the Venezuela-British Guyana boundary dispute and the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty regarding the Panama Canal of 1901, he was a well-respected voice for detente between London and Washington after a century of tensions and distrust.

    Francis Villiers, first to establish official contacts on January 1902, had convinced Lansdowne that the other European creditors stood behind London, and that the United States would also raise no objections. Lansdowne, however, had consulted Washington just in case after Selborne, First Lord of the Admiralty, had warned him of the possible consequences of a British operation in the area covered by the Monroe Doctrine. Selborne referred to a report drafted by the Colonial Office and forwarded to the Colonial Defence Committee, the War Office and Admiralty for comment. Raising questions about the defensibility of British possessions in the Western Atlantic in the event of a conflict with the United States, the Admiralty had compiled a response, entitled “Strategic Conditions in the Event of War with the United States”, expressing doubt that “it would be possible to dispatch a sufficient naval force to maintain sea supremacy” in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean “if at the time of the outbreak of war uncertain or hostile relations existed between this country and a European power.” The US would be in a position to “stop our supplies from Canada”, and to secure all food import from the US itself, cutting off two-thirds of the food supply of British Isles. Maintaining good relations with the United States was thus a necessity. Armed with this information and supported by courteous diplomacy of Pauncefote and von Sternburg, the European powers went ahead with their plans on 7th August 1902.

    Commodore R.A. Montgomerie commanded the ´Particular Service Squadron´, an international fleet where Germany had only tertiary importance after Italy. As Venezuelan students marched in the streets with banners that called for the United States to uphold la doctrina Monroe, Castro reacted by ordering the imprisonment of all male British and German citizens and the seizure of their property. On 9th of July the Venezuelan gunboats, vital for Castro in his attempts to keep the foreign arms smugglers from arming local revolutionaries, were seized by the European warships. Castro quickly chose U.S. Minister in Venezuela, Herbert Bowen, to be arbiter for Venezuela, immediately agreed to all demands, and authorized Bowen to sign protocols to that effect. Pleased with the swift humiliation of Castro, the Powers accepted, with Commodore Montgomerie commenting that the Germans “ran straight as far as we were concerned.[3]

    This positive experience from Venezuela was a strong factor in the negotiations at London three years later, when the Powers were finding solutions to the postwar order in Scandinavia.

    [​IMG]


    1. The TTL deal is essentially similar to the OTL Sandringham treaty, but signed earlier in the summer due lesser mistrust from both sides.
    2. Both incidents are OTL. In TTL Crête-à-Pierrot does not capture the Markomannia, avoiding the incident that drew ire in the US press.
    3. In OTL Bülow and Wilhelm II were hoping to use the crisis to gain a toehold of Venezuelan territory, and rejected this first offer arbitration. Here Eulenburg manages to convince Wilhelm II to accept as a gesture of goodwill towards "his good friend Roosevelt", and the whole affair ends rather smoothly. Roosevelt, however, is not amused.
     
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  14. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    So, tl;dr - Eulenburg coordinates the German foreign policy bit less confrontationally than von Bülow in OTL.

    President McKinley is also alive and popular (mr. Czolgosz has to wait a bit longer for an inspiring regicide in TTL).

    Without Entente with France and with Chamberlain and Eulenburg pursuing their own agendas the British and German relations (where Edward has less influence due his injuries from the assassination attempt at Belgium) are less tense than in OTL. Although strained by the Naval Law of 1900, the British are in good enough talking terms with Berlin to proceed quicker than OTL when Venezuela defaults.

    With Julian Pauncefote still alive to handle the diplomatic approach, McKinley handles the issue like the Guatemalan intervention of 1901 instead of turning it into a regional crisis.
     
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  15. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

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    Oct 22, 2009
    I love this timeline, and I have faith in your writing no matter what, but I hope this isn't going to be yet another timeline with a British-German entente.
     
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  16. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    Like you said, there are already quite many of those. What irks me the most in those TLs is the way everyone just lives happily ever after from the moment the ink is dry in some deal or another.
     
  17. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

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    Yes. It's one of the more minor irritations of TL-191- the alliance system apparently stays set in stone from the 1880s. The fascinating thing about this period is that year by year a contemporary observer would find it hard to predict who'd be allied to who a decade in the future.
     
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  18. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    And this is the guideline I've been following.
     
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  19. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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    You really did think of everything - didn't you.. :D
     
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  20. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    The good side of a TL proceeding with the pace of a bog fire is that one has time to anticipate things a bit.
     
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