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Thread: The United States: 'Prophets of a New Order'

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    Field Marshal TC Pilot's Avatar
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    The United States: 'Prophets of a New Order'

    1915-1920: The End of Balance

    On Friday May 7 1915, a torpedo prematurely exploded several meters off the starboard bow of RMS Lusitania, a British passenger liner en route to England. Captain William Turner was quick to realize a German U-Boat was lurking in the area and had dared to open fire on a civilian vessel. Throwing caution to the wind, Captain Turner pushed Lusitania to full speed through the fog off the Irish coast. Lusitania escaped unharmed, arriving at port to report the incident. President Woodrow Wilson, incensed by the incident, ordered Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan to dispatch a formal protest to the German embassy. The response from Berlin was muted; Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg refused to send any formal apology, nor did he offer guarantees that unrestricted U-Boat warfare would cease in the immediate future. Faced with a prevailing desire among the American public to remain neutral in the conflict tearing the continent of Europe apart, Wilson had no choice but to back down from any continued demands regarding Germany's U-boat policy. Secretary of State Bryan was decidedly opposed to even the original protest, and the matter was quietly forgotten.


    An exaggerated artist's depiction of the Lusitania Incident


    Had that German torpedo not malfunctioned and indeed hit its mark, the fate of the nearly 140 American passengers, and of the United States' foreign policy, could have turned out differently. Ultimately, though many continued to complain of the breaches in neutral rights unrestricted submarine warfare represented, it was not enough to push for American involvement in what most considered to be Europe's war. The United States of America would, ultimately, remain neutral.

    With or without American involvement, the Great War continued to rage on unabatted for nearly four more years. In 1917, the Russian Empire withdrew from the Entente alliance against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire and quickly dissolved into revolution and civil war after the Tsar Nicholas II abdicated. With its eastern front now safe, the German Army could finally turn its full energy against the allied French and British armies in northern France. General Erich Ludendorff, de facto dictator of Germany alongside the war hero General von Hindenburg, conducted a massive offensive aimed at the French capital Paris codenamed Operation Michael beginning in late March 1918. Casualties quickly soared against the heavily-entrenched Entente, but steadily gained ground. Demoralized from the mutinies following the cataclysmic Battle of Verdun, the French Army at last gave way at the outskirts of Compiegne in early June, opening a miles-wide gap in the Entente line. Assured of success, Ludendorff pushed ahead determinedly on Paris. With their French allies disintegrating before their eyes, the British Expeditionary Force retreated to Calais and Dunkirk, resigned to abandoning the continent. By July 15, the German armies were fast approaching Paris, and the capital was declared an open city. Two days later, Paris fell, and the war was all but over.

    With France fallen, Britain's sole remaining continental ally, Italy, could not hope to stand for long on its own. Determined Austrian offensives, backed by veteran German troops rushed in from their victorious French campaign, easily broke through the Italian line and pushed all the way south to the Po River, capturing Venice and most of the northeast in short order. Abandoned by Britain and without any hope of relief, Italy quickly followed France in approaching the Central Powers for terms of surrender. On January 19 1919 ('Nineteen-Nineteen'), Germany issued a joint-armistice with France and Italy. For the first time in over four years, the guns fell silent in Europe.

    Britain continued to hold on in spite of the inevitable, hoping against all odds that a pro-war party might emerge victorious in the chaotic Russian situation, or that America might at long last stir from its neutrality, but to no avail. With Britain incapable of mustering the army to gain a foothold, and Germany incapable of overcoming the Royal Navy, the two countries at last came to terms six months later on June 5, 1919, almost on the anniversary of the breakthrough at Compiegne.

    Germany emerged from the Great War the clear military victor. Originally faced with the combined forces of Britain, France, and Russia, the German Empire had crushed its enemies and now stood undisputed master of the continent. The old balance of power established at the Congress of Vienna after Napoleon's defeat was gone forever. No other European power could muster the men or the industry to match its strength. But it by no means came away unbloodied. In over four years of fighting, Germany had sustained a ghastly 2.3 million deaths and twice that many wounded, often horrifically. Added to that were another half million civilian deaths, totaling 7.1 million casualties in all; only Russia could claim to have suffered such obscenely high death tolls. The prolonged mobilizations, war economy, and the Entente naval blockade had wrecked the country, reducing millions to near-starvation levels of rationing, while most industries were desperately short on raw materials or had simply ceased functioning. National debt and rampant inflation also wreaked havoc on the already-suffering German population. The war had also badly undermined the political edifice. The Kaiser Wilhelm II had been relegated to the sidelines, and remained virtually powerless until the Treaty of Berlin in 1920 ended the war and the Ludendorff-von Hindenburg military junta stepped down.

    Though deeply scarred by the traumatic events of 1914-1920, the German people were not willing to let their soldiers' sacrifices be in vain. Russia was in the throes of revolution, France on the threshold, and Britain teetering precariously between recession and total economic collapse. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, escaping only ruin by virtue of German troops, were impotent to take advantage of the vaccuum rapidly opening up. Only the United States, unmarred by war and possessing the world's largest and strongest industrial arm, could hope to oppose global German hegemony. But the electoral victory of Republican candidate William Borah in 1920 ensured that, for the time being, the United States would remain idle in the face of Germany's ambition.


  2. #2
    Lt. General Brad1's Avatar
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    I really like this so far

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    Dad of two Korppi's Avatar

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    I like it also.

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    Field Marshal yourworstnightm's Avatar
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    Interresting

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    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Oh, that bloody kaiser Billy...
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    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Well, he's certainly less bad than a certain moustached austrian.
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    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    This looks very interesting!

    More Updates!

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    Saver of the World robw963's Avatar
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    I like the introduction...I'm anxious to read more.

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    Amazing how much one torpedo dud could change history....
    More spam, you die! Horribly, horribly!

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    Lets see how this goes.

    Go asutria-hungary!

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    Ooohhh! An American AAR comrade! I am impressed by your plausible presentation of a German victory in World War One.
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    1920-1936: Creeping Decline – Part I

    Many American politicians and industrialists in 1920 worried that the German victory in Europe would result in blatant land-grabs and power politics, as of a victor lording it over his defeated opponent. Democratic presidential candidate James Cox took up this argument, stressing the importance of American involvement, lest they find themselves pushed out of the continent and deprived of a share of the increasingly German-dominated trade. Unfortunately for Cox, the Treaty of Berlin signed in September revealed a German peace noteworthy especially in its moderation. German territorial acquisitions were paltry compared to the unprecedented death toll, including only Luxembourg and Belgium up to the Meuse River. France remained untouched, as did Russia, or rather what was left of it. German moderation was the price Berlin had to pay for bringing an end to the British blockade that had caused so much suffering. Antwerp, Prime Minister David Lloyd George insisted, must remain free. In this respect, the Treaty of Berlin deprived Cox of his most potent political ammunition against isolationist Republican Bill Borah, allowing the Republican candidate to win the election by a comfortable margin.

    Free of any chance of American interference, Germany launched itself on a decade-long imperial adventure in reshaping a world order rapidly crumbling in its favor. By 1923, France and Italy were gripped by revolution, and incapable of defending their empires. Unimpeded, Germany proceeded to absorb its erstwhile enemies' colonial holdings. French and Belgian territory in Africa was grafted with Germany's own to form the colossal 'Mittelafrika.' Japan – unfortunate to have sided with the Entente – was chastised by a massive display of the German naval might and forced to return the Pacific islands and Shandong Peninsula.


    Germany bounded to global 'superpower' status in the 1920s, carried by its dreadnought fleets.


    But the German Empire was only catapulted into a true globe-spanning empire in 1925. Britain’s economy had been struggling after the Treaty of Berlin. After the syndicalist revolution in France, the economy nearly collapsed, resulting in the resignation of Conservative Prime Minister Bonar Law. Despite all odds, Liberal Henry Asquith managed to defeat his discredited rival Lloyd George and once again became Prime Minister. For the unfortunate coincidence of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Asquith would become the Liberal Party's last Prime Minister. On March 21 1925, with the syndicalist victories in France and southern Italy all but assured and their combined war debts still unpaid, Britain defaulted on its loans to the United States. Great Britain practically went bankrupt overnight. The London Stock Exchange plummeted, thousands desperately tried to withdraw their savings in bank runs across the country, and labor unions from Scotland to London threatened a general strike.

    With Britain practically a non-entity and the London Panic having few repercussions in Berlin, Germany smelled blood in the water and swooped in for the kill. Malta, the Suez, Crete, Malaysia, Ceylon, Hong Kong, and all of Britain's African and Pacific holdings fell like dominoes. Within a year, Britain was gripped by socialist revolution and the Empire on which the sun never set imploded. The Royal Family and many of the wealthiest British elite fled across the Atlantic to Canada. India broke apart into competing pro-British, nationalist, and French-backed socialist. British holdings in the Western Hemisphere were combined together under a Caribbean Federation, while South Africa cut all ties with the Commonwealth.

    The reverberations of the London Panic were felt hardest in the United States. Following the precipitous drop in food prices in 1921 and decline in war exports to the Entente, the American economy entered into a protracted recession. The situation only grew worse as Germany extended its global empire; resenting America's lopsided support of France and Britain during the war – with nearly ten times as many exports to the Entente while Germans had starved – Germany steadily muscled America out of one foreign market after another. By 1925, the United States was almost completely dependent on trade with Britain and Canada. Trade with Mexico had ceased following the victory of Emiliano Zapata, and the 'Open Door' with China was shut due to the restoration of the Qing Dynasty around Peking and the colonization of most of the Chinese interior at the end of a German bayonet. The 1926 socialist revolution in Britain was a further blow, but hardly had the crippling effect as in London. Though badly shaken, the New York Stock Exchange limped on, and the American economy slipped still further into recession.

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    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Go Germany!
    And the US just waits till the doom comes... or the syndicaslists, hehe.

  14. #14
    This is really good, dude keep going!

    Have any plans of liberating Great Britian or France?

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    Darkest Hour Team & Lead GFX Inner Circle's Avatar
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    it seems that more and more Kaiserreich AAR´s are popping up in these times...

    Good Luck!

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    Fat Cat Public Servant Sir Humphrey's Avatar
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    Very nice indeed.
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    Very interesting
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  19. #19
    Field Marshal TC Pilot's Avatar
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    Merlowe: Me? Plans? Not at all; you'll have to ask the President that.

    Zauberfloete/Inner Circle: Not quite Kaiserreich. I did a little editng to make the US actually playable, and as time goes on I will undoubtedly mod in some more flavorful events to match developments over time.

    I have also taken the liberty of writing the development leading up to the Kaiserreich scenario in a different and, I feel, more realistic manner.

    Sir Humphrey/GeneralHannibal/Enewald: Thank you, sirs.

  20. #20
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    1920-1936: Creeping Decline – Part II

    Times were tough as the United States lumbered along. By the election year 1928, the United States was in its fifth year of recession. Trade with Europe had effectively ceased. Only six European countries: Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden were willing or able to trade, albeit even this cumulative total was all but insignificant. Germany dominated every foreign market, often through illicit or thuggish means, as in the case of China. Japan was still a willing trade partner, as was Canada, but it was not enough to keep the massively bloated American economy moving at a sustained pace. President Borah, now on his second term, only made matters worse by insisting that Canada was now responsible for Great Britain's war loans, a bill the exiled royal family had neither the means nor the will to repay.

    After eight years of a Republican presidency many Americans were rightly sick of, and the Democratic candidate Alfred Smith of New York had good reason to expect an electoral victory, despite his Irish, Roman Catholic background tainted by the infamous machine politics of Tammany Hall. His campaign, however, was helped greatly by bickering inside the Republican Party, which surprised all sides with the nomination of Charles Evans Hughes, who had narrowly been defeated by President Wilson in 1916. Cozy to big business, Hughes was regarded as a safe, middle compromise between Frank Lowden and Herbert Hoover. The intent was to capture Lowden's penchant for anti-corruption and Hoover's calls for "economic modernization" with limited government interference in the economy. The fact that he was from the vital state of New York and a former governor was an added bonus, the plan being to nullify Al Smith's New York background.

    The plan backfired, and Al Smith won the election with slightly over 55% of the vote, a good indication of the growing discontent among the electorate over the interminable recession gripping the nation. President Smith's administration quickly proved a disappointment. Smith's budget cuts and heightened tariffs only made matters worse; faced with hefty import duties, most Latin American countries turned instead to Germany. Any further attempt at reforms or economic relief were dashed in 1930 when scandal struck the Smith Administration with allegations that the President had authorized the Secretary of the Interior to allow Sinclair Oil Company to tap a Wyoming oil field ostensibly set aside as a naval reserve for a quarter million dollars in interest-free loans, essentially bribes.


    The Teapot Dome Scandal proved pivotal in the 1932 election.


    Investigations in the Teapot Dome Scandal dragged on for over a year, and Smith was never conclusively linked to the deal, but the damage had been done. His reelection bid in 1932 was crushed by Republican Herbert Hoover, who managed to win every state but New York and, ironically, Wyoming. Few gave it much thought at the time, but the Socialist Party candidate James Maurer of Pennsylvania made substantial electoral gains, the party’s voter turnout nearly doubling since 1928. In the solidly Democratic South, too, there had been much discontent over renominating Smith, preferring William Murray of Oklahoma, whose nationalist and blatantly racist platform drew large numbers of supporters.

    The Hoover Administration proved to be an unmitigated disaster. Hoover's promised government intervention never materialized. At first, things were promising. Hoover managed to lower national interest rates and tariffs by nearly half, sparking a surge in corporate investment. However, the Administration foolishly responded to the looming budget deficit by raising taxes on the lower and middle class brackets. With unemployment hovering at approximately twelve percent, domestic consumption nose-dived and stock prices plummeted as countless new businesses quickly declared bankruptcy, with banks now stuck with the insolvent loans. Unemployment sharply spiked as more businesses went under, as did the number of home foreclosures in rural regions due to the massive ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl wreaking havoc on the Great Plains.


    The Dust Bowl ravages the American heartland.


    By 1934, the Hoover Administration was practically impotent. Congress remained deadlocked as both parties squabbled over reciprocal allegations of corruption and finger-pointing for the sudden, sharp economic downturn. Unemployment had capped at twenty-five percent and banks began to go under with increasing rapidity. Huge numbers of dispossessed farmers began flocking from the dust-choked Midwest for California; the West Coast was one of the few areas not seriously hurt by the pronounced recession, chiefly as a result of trade with Japan, lured tens of thousands with promises of jobs and economic opportunity. Unrest was growing, and radicalism soon appeared on the scene. In the 1934 congressional midterms, it was apparent just how far the situation had deteriorated. Both Democrats and especially Republicans lost ground to independent candidates. From the industrialized Midwest came several Socialists and avowed syndicalists, while the Deep South and rural Great Plains brought ultra-nationalists authoritarians and populist demagogues into the fray. With the domestic crisis growing day by day, the 1936 presidential election took on a whole new importance.

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