Timeline 191 - Would the US inherit the remains of the British Empire?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Cire, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    Towards the end of "In at the Death" the English cities of London, Brighton, and Norwich are destroyed by superbombs, and whatever remains of the British government then sues for peace with Germany.


    However, what would have happened to Britain's overseas colonies, and where would the governments running these newly independent states turn for manufactured products, including military hardware?


    Presumably the governments in these newly independent states would be faced with both internal and external threats; such as India possibly fighting a civil war with Muslim insurgents who wish to split the country into two, Australia which is concerned about the Japanese Empire to its north, and whatever remains of the British colonial governments in East Africa trying to deal with revolts and tribal conflicts amongst the local population.


    I was thinking that since Confederate military hardware seemed to largely be a copy of British designs, that the US would collect all of the CS munitions and equipment it captures at the end of the war, and would sell it off to the newly independent former British colonies who are desperately in search of military supplies.


    Once the supplies of surplus Confederate equipment begins to run out, the US could simply
    restart defunct munitions factories in the defeated Confederacy, and then sell the military products from these factories to former British colonies as a means of at least partially subsidizing the cost of the military occupation of the defeated Confederacy.


    Initially, the production cost for manufacturing military hardware could partially be offset by using disarmed Confederate soldiers as forced labor in the factories, there by increasing the US government's profit margin. Additionally, there should be plenty of ruined military equipment from both sides scattered all over the defeated Confederacy, and this wrecked material could be collected by forced laborers and fed into smelters in order to produce new CS military hardware to be sold to former British colonies.


    I think that such circumstances would help to also set up the US Dollar as the new benchmark currency used in international trade, replacing the British Pound, and would by the early-1950s make the US the economic hub of the West.


    I don't think that most former British colonies would officially become US territories, but maybe they would become economically and culturally bound to the US following the loss of Great Britain as a world power?


    Alternatively, if CS civilians are used in the US run munition factories instead of disarmed Confederate soldiers, then perhaps the wages earned by the civilian workers might provide one of the few economic bright spots in the occupied Confederacy, as most of the CS languishes in near famine conditions during the first few years after the war.
     
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  2. Nathan Bernacki Well-Known Member

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    I think as far as influencing the former British Empire goes, I think the US would stick to it's backyard, so influencing the Bahamas, British Guyana, etc. As for Canada, I don't see it's occupation lasting forever, so I see the US ending the occupation, but installing an US-sympathetic republican government in Toronto, but keeping the provinces bordering the Republic of Quebec and region of New England. The US could use the Canadian client state as a dumping ground for old Confederate equipment.

    As for Africa, I think that would be Germany's domain. Then again, In At the Death kept hinting at a possible cold war between the US and Germany, so maybe the US could try and influence former British colonies in Africa.
     
  3. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    But would the former British officials in East Africa rather deal with the US or Germany? Also, I agree, the US would have to pull its troops out of Canada, create a puppet government up there, because the US desperately needs as many troops in the defeated CS as it can get.
     
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  4. Nathan Bernacki Well-Known Member

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    I don't doubt that the East Africa would rather deal with anyone else than the Germans, but I think it's been established in the book series that the US is more insular than in our timeline. I don't expect that to change just because the Confederate States no longer exists, or if it does start reaching out, it's focus is on the Pacific and Japan. What stake would the US have in East Africa?
     
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  5. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    The US simply wants to earn money to finance its occupation of the defeated Confederacy. It really doesn't care how the former colonies in East Africa govern themselves.
     
  6. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    the US just defeated the CSA and put down a rebellion in Canada... they have their hands more than full at the end of the war. Anything that goes on in the old world is likely to be ignored...
     
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  7. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    True, the US had its hands full at the end of In at the Death, but what would the situation be like two or three chapters into another book following In at the Death?


    For example, how likely are the Canadians to continue their rebellion knowing that there is no longer anyone in the outside world willing to supply them with weaponry, or grant them diplomatic recognition should they somehow manage to throw the US out?


    Also, the world order seems to have been turned upside down towards the end of In at the Death, and with the British and French empires no longer in existence, it seems as though there would be a huge vacuum left on the world stage, and that someone would have to fill it. I'm not saying that the 191 version of the United States would deliberately set out to fill the vacant spot left by the demise of the British Empire, but they may inadvertently be drawn into such a role during the postwar years as they attempt to secure the situation on their own home-front.


    For example, the US might not only sell weaponry to former British Colonies, and turn a nice profit in doing so, but the US may also find itself entering into treaties with overseas countries in an attempt to track down Confederate war criminals who have escaped with billions from the now defunct Confederate treasury.


    At the end of In at the Death, the occupation of the defeated Confederacy was going somewhat badly for the US with very little light at the end of the tunnel. I imagine that there might even be some debate among US government officials about granting the people of the defeated Confederacy some sort of limited autonomy as a means of reducing casualties among US occupation troops. However, I think that the discussion among top US officials might go something a little like this:

    "If we are to grant the Confederate States some form of independence, then we are likely to see a honeymoon period between the US and the CS which will last between twenty to twenty-five years at the most. However, by the early 1970s there will be an entire new generation of adults in the Confederate States who do not have any memories of the War, and by the middle of the 1970s relations between the US and the CS will predictably begin to sour. Due to the fact that the CS is smaller than the US it will always have an inferiority complex to contend with, and in attempt to show the citizens of the Confederacy how powerful their country is, the leadership of the CS will begin entering into military alliances with whatever world power may be emergent at that time, simply as a means of thumbing its nose at the US. By the middle of the 1980s a period of full scale antagonism will once again exist between the US and the CS, with the honeymoon period following the end of the Second Great War long forgotten. By the late 1980s the US and CS will once again find themselves in competing military alliances, but this time with nuclear weapons thrown into the mix. Therefore, our best long-term strategic forecasting predicts an all out exchange between the US and CS using sun bombs in the range of 10 - 50 megatons no later than 1991. This conflict will no doubt spread to other members of the alliances to which the US and CS will belong to at that time, and the resulting configuration is expected to kill up to 90% of the Earth's human population. Because of the advent of our latest generation of super weapons, a future war with the Confederacy might not only destroy human civilization, it may also wipe out all life on the planet as well. Therefore an independent Confederacy must be prevented at all costs!" (Okay, maybe a little sloppy and melodramatic, but you get my point.)


    So, I think that the US would be willing to do anything, up to and including mass-murder and genocide in order to prevent the Confederacy from ever becoming an independent nation again. - I think that the world political situation as it was at the end of In at the Death would have to rapidly evolve in the year and months coming afterwards.
     
  8. David bar Elias Well-Known Member

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    Outside of North America (and the Pacific, where the Empire of Japan is an ongoing concern) I don’t think that the USA will necessarily seek to expand its influence - mostly due to the fact that there are two other great powers (Germany and Japan) with territorial ambitions of their own that the US will have to consider. Don’t forget that by the time the series ends in 1944, the Germans have a substantial empire in Africa, while the Japanese have switched sides and moved against the British in Malaysia, Singapore, and likely Burma as well.

    I do think that the US would seek a new military alliance with Australia and New Zealand based on mutual concerns about potential Japanese expansion, and that there are at least two other non-Western Hemisphere nations (Ireland and Liberia) that the US will maintain close military and economic ties with. However, I don’t think that the US would seek to challenge its historical ally (and fellow superbomb wielding great power) Germany in any region where Berlin views as part of its sphere of influence - anymore than the Germans would seek to challenge US influence in countries such as Mexico or Quebec or Texas.

    For at least the first generation after the SGW, the US also isn’t likely to undertake any military ventures against Japan unless significantly provoked - and in any case, the US has to concern itself with rebuilding (and bringing into the Union) the Canadian territories and the former CSA.

    To put it another way, while I do think that the US would eventually develop into the single strongest of the world’s great powers, the US will not enjoy the same overwhelming international power out world’s US did immediately after the Cold War.
     
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  9. Michael B Doomfarer

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    There is also the French and Dutch Empires on the table. What is most likely to happen is that the USA and Germany will take what they want and leave the rest well alone. After all the USA is tied up with hostiles in North America and Germany absorbing gains in East Europe and making sure the French can not rise up on a hundred years. Depending on what support it gets from the old Raj element India could remain as one country, being partitioned into two as per OTL or disintegrate into a series of smaller states as groups like the Sikhs and Rajas carve themselves a kingdom.

    In the case of Africa and the Pacific Britain may tell many of her colonies "You are now free to yourselves" then depart. One or two coups later and these countries are ruled by a strong man a la OTL.
     
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  10. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    I see your point, but I was thinking that by the end of In at the Death, that the nation of Japan has been in a state of continuous war since before the start of the First Great War, without the Japanese people seeing any real benefit to these continued military conquests carried out by the Japanese military elites who are running the country. In our timeline, the book "Flags of Our Fathers" outlined the situation in which top Japanese military commanders considered their soldiers who died on be half of the Japanese Empire to be worth "One Yen and Five Rin" - the cost of sending a postcard to the dead Japanese soldier's family to notify them of the soldier's death.

    So given the ongoing losses among the Japanese civilian population (loss of husbands, fathers, sons, brothers and so on) political dissidents used as forced labor in mines and factories, and there ever declining standard of living for the average Japanese person, I think that cracks would begin to appear in Japanese society, and that the Japanese Empire of the 191 universe would reach an imperial overreach stage in which they are no longer able to hold onto all of the overseas territories they've gained, and still be able to deal with worker's riots and and other upheavals occurring in the Japanese industrial centers.

    Perhaps all of this is not too far fetched when you consider that the Japan of our timeline had a sizable Marxist movement at the end of World War II, (even though most of its leaders were in prison camps) and that during the post World War II years Tokyo experienced at least one major Communist uprising. So I think that if things were skewed slightly differently in the 191 universe, that perhaps the Japanese military would be face with the prospect of having to withdraw troops from outlying territories in order to deal with an eventual full scale civil war breaking out by 1950 or so. I think that life in the 191 version of Japan would be similar to the harsh conditions in the novel "1984" but without the telescreens the government uses to spy upon people, and that plus underground Japanese worker movements would drive the people to rebel, and then the Japanese Empire would crumble.


    Also, I think that the US would be reluctant to become directly involved in events in the Western Pacific, and would for the first few years attempt to get the Australians to deal with at first Japan's aggression in Malaysia and Indonesia, and then after 1950, the rise of Mao's Red China. However, I could imagine the US considering the possibility of taking over defunct Japanese military bases in the Philippines by the middle of the 1960s or so.


    I think that the US and Germany would not see one another as competitors for roughly the first four or five decades following In at the Death, and I think that is is possible that the US and German governments might for many years view one another as the only two sane governments in a world that has gone completely mad following In at the Death. So, I don't think that the Germans are going to mind very much that the US is selling slightly obsolete CS weaponry to former British colonies scattered around the world. I think that maybe by the middle of the 1990s a rift might begin to develop between the US and its North American allies, and Germany and its European vassal states, but it is not really like the cold war of our timeline.

    I was imagining that Russia might go "Red" sometime around 1947, the RSFR is ruled by fanatical Trotskyists who attempt to invade and liberate Europe from capitalism, the Trotskyists fail, but in aftermath an Iron curtain is created roughly where the eastern Polish border exists in our timeline. However, by the middle of the 1980s more moderate rulers come to power in Russia, and by 1987 relations between the US and the RSFR soften a bit and trade begins to occur between the two blocks. The Russians and Germans still maintain hostile attitudes towards one another due to the war they fought in the late 1940s and early 50s, and the Germans are somewhat jealous of America's success in breaking open Russia to the outside world. As a result, Germany (the EU) makes overtures to the People's Republic of China which is now ruled by Mao's widow and her "Gang of Four" and eventually the German centrist version of the EU is able to open diplomatic relations with Red China.

    Well, that is the post In at the Death world as I see it, but as Kyle Reese said in the first Terminator movie, "The future is not set".
     
  11. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    But, where are these newly independent colonies going to get their manufactured products from, including military hardware? Part of the problem with being a colony is that you have to send your raw materials back to the mother country in exchange for manufactured products, so with Britain gone, are the white rulers of Kenya, Rhodesia, Burma, and Malaysia simply going to let their realms go back into the stone age, or are they going to try and hold onto their realms by force?
     
  12. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    Japan is an interesting case... at the end of the series, it's noted that Japan is likely to turn on it's former allies and seize territories from French/British/Dutch colonies. Japan might be a lot more self sufficient, and the US has no desire to stop them...
     
  13. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    But in our timeline Imperial Japan had to import oil, coal, tin, iron, copper, along with other resources from its overseas territories (along with slave laborers). Also, do Japanese commanders really have an endless supply of young men to feed into their war machine? Maybe, but probably not.
     
  14. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    they don't really need an endless supply.... if they can seize B/D/F colonies in eastern Asia, they won't have to import so much, and can stop their endless war...
     
  15. bguy Donor

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    They've already got the Dutch and French colonies. (It's mentioned in The Center Cannot Hold that Japan had already acquired Indochina and the Dutch East Indies.)
     
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  16. Allochronian Well-Known Member

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    I have a few ideas here and there, but I developed the impression that the British Empire's hold over its colonies decreased a lot faster than OTL.

    It's never explicitly stated, but my head canon after the end of the First Great War is that British colonies in North America were surrendered; Some became independent decades before they did OTL or were incorporated into the United States with some kind of differing levels of territoriality. Perhaps the idea of a "Compact of Free Association" was developed earlier in TL-191. In Africa and Asia, they did lose some territory, but still held most of their colonies. In the case of Canada, it's plausible for them to be an occupied territory but it seemed counter-intuitive to keep it like that for a long time. I can see Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I, and Newfoundland becoming US states a lot faster than Mainland Canada due to being cut-off from the results of extreme Canadian nationalism.

    By the time the Second Great War ended, I tend to imagine Britain losing nearly every colony they have and the results are the creation of newly independent countries or assimilation to the German Empire. Maybe there were a few colonies that chose to remain with Britain, I don't know.

    As I mentioned before, India could gain their independence a few years earlier and serve as a (potentially strong) buffer state against Japan. Germany and the USA would want to be on good terms with the new nation. Same thing for Australia and New Zealand.

    However, I do share a similar viewpoint that the USA would not be as internationally involved in the affairs of other countries as much as they did OTL. They would be primarily focused on governing the conquered Confederacy and assimilating the Canadian provinces as soon as possible. If they do decide to look beyond their borders to influence the world, they could look into Africa, Asia, and some parts of Europe and try to establish strong diplomatic relations within the continents, perhaps out of moral guilt due to a lack of action against the Population Reduction and to encourage immigrants to settle into the sparsely populated region of Canada in exchange for American loyalty.

    A fun little peculiarity: I like to entertain the idea that Britain was divided into three countries (Republic of Scotland, Republic of Wales, and the Kingdom/Republic of England). It's a bit of a nod to the proposed real-life Morgenthau Plan. If we really wanted to add some more parallelism, they could re-unite in the future.

    Here's an example of a divided Germany.
     
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  17. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    I generally agree with your posting, but if the US has its hands full trying to manage the defeated Confederacy, then wouldn't Germany also have its hands full trying to govern the territories it has captured from Russia and Ukraine, and also deal with its defeated enemies, France and Great Britain? It seems that postwar Germany would also find itself trying to occupy hostile populations, and thus wouldn't have extra resources available to occupy Britain's former overseas territories?

    Also, since many of the former colonies still have large English populations, how friendly are the former colonists going to be if the Germans arrive and say welcome to the German Empire?


    For me, alternate history isn't so much about trying to accurately predict what would have happened, because nobody really knows, and for me alternate history is a little bit more about trying to tell a story which people find both entertaining and interesting.

    One final thought on this topic from me. I think that Turtledove made a little bit of a mistake the way that he spun the 191 universe, because people living during the 19th century were much more willing to lay down their lives and fight to the death, and I don't think that the US would have given up that easy as they did in How Few Remain. In other words, even if the British Ambassador would have threatened Lincoln with war, I think that Lincoln would have said "Bring it on" and that the US would have still won the war anyway, but it would have cost them a lot more in blood.

    I think that the only way that the CS could have ever maintained its independence would have been if the British offered to grant the US huge swaths of Canada in exchange for Confederate independence. That is just my two cents, and this is all make believe fun anyway.
     
  18. RaspingLeech Active Member

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    I'm not particularly convinced that a true cold war like OTL would be inevitable really anywhere. There'd be an uneasy peace most likely but Germany and America have no real reason to antagonize each other and Japan doesn't have global ambitions or influence.

    More than likely each of the three would just stick to their own spheres of influence, America's I see including Australia and New Zealand but not much else outside of the Americas.
     
  19. TripleCitizen Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn’t America still try to go after Japan? Wouldn’t both Germany and the US not want an East Asian nation having any sort of significant sway on the world stage?
     
  20. m0585 Well-Known Member

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    Probably just the Caribbean would go to U.S.; which it really de fact possessed since 1917 (not counting the 1941-1943 period that the British re-established a presence there). The other parts of the British Empire would either fall under Germany (Africa) and Japan (Asia), lean toward the U.S. (Australia/New Zealand), or break out into open conflict (India).