19 December 2014

Friday Flag - New Belize (2002-2013)

Finally getting back in the swing of things. Starting off a bit on the silly side with this week's flag; an alternate Belize where things didn't work out so well:

In 1987 the Coca-Cola corporation formed a subsidiary called Coke Belize Enterprises, Ltd. This new entity was responsible for developing the supplies of raw materials for Coke products. It started with a 500,000 acres of land for citrus development. Over the years activities would expand in the small Central American nation.

1990: Coke Belize Enterprises expands operations into sugar production. Large amounts of land are purchased from the state and local farmers. Wages in the country are steadily increasing with the increasing number of jobs on the farms and in construction.

1994: NAFTA gives an incentive to further developments in Belize.

1999: To combat negative press about operation in Belize there are further investments and increased wages of workers. High inflation is now gripping the nation. Corporate influence in national politics gives Coke Belize Enterprises de facto control over the government.

2000: The Caribbean Highway is completed. It allows for easy transport of product to port. Late in the year an agreement is reached with Guatemala to allow them low tariffs to use the highway.

2002: A new national flag is introduced (see image above). It is nearly universally despised. Hyper-inflation, corporate control of their country, and massive immigration is causing long term residents to become increasingly angry.

2004: Rebels begin missions to disrupt and destroy Coke Belize Enterprises operations. The military seems unwilling to combat the rebels. Foreign mercenaries are brought in towards the end of the year to spearhead the counter-insurgency.

2008: Violence begins to increase in Belize as the economy begins to suffer more. It becomes clear to some that central planning for a nation by a corporation is little better than central planning by a communist dictator. Coke Belize Enterprises is attempting to find a way to cut their increasing losses and end the violence. They turn to the United States for help.

2010: After the mid-term elections in the US the President tries to boost his sagging poll numbers by working on a plan to eventually bring Belize into the United States as a new state. When details of this plan are leaked there is general outrage, particularly from the UK. There is also a spike of violence in Belize.

2013: US Troops and counter-terrorism assets arrive in Belize for peacekeeping operations. Operation: No Deposit, No Return begins; it includes drone strikes on insurgency bases in Guatemala. Towards the end of the year a vote his held to determine the fate of the country. With a large number of citizens unable to vote due to 'terrorist ties' and other irregularities, Belize 'chooses' to become a territory of the USA. The territorial flag is changed back to the original flag of Belize.

11 November 2014

Kazakhian War - Overview

During Maius 2595 AUC the land of Kazakhia, a Chinese vassal at the time, fell into rebellion. The native Kazaks were unhappy with Chinese domination and desired more freedom. Violence steadily escalated during the month until 26 Maius when Chinese advisors opened fire on a large protest in the Kazakhian capital.

Open rebellion resulted from the violence. Kazakhia had long ties with China as well as regular contact with Rome. As a vassal of China driving deep into central Asia Roman governments considered it a potential threat. By late Iunius 2595 AUC the Fourth Roman Republic recognized Kazakhian independence and began mobilizing legions to be sent to support them. The Kazakhian War was the result of this escalation. The two powers had been living in relative peace with each other for decades, only minor border skirmishes on occasion. Now they were at war.

Despite two global powers with long common borders being at war the conflict itself remained mostly confined to Kazakhia itself. Neither side wanted to escalate to a broader, global war. A few naval skirmishes across the world’s oceans were the only exception.

When the war started firearms had been in service of both sides for some time including revolvers and bolt action rifles. However new developments at the beginning and during the conflict brought more deadly weapons to the field. This was the first large scale industrial war.

Machine guns were of major importance. In a fortified position they could keep large enemy forces at bay. Mortars, poison gas, and aeroplanes were other innovations taking the field of battle for the first time.

One of the main challenges in the war was keeping the large armies supplied. Rome had more developed railroads in the region so had an advantage in this regard. China had a more difficult time getting supplies and munitions to its troops.

Kazakhia was 25,661,000 concentrated mostly in the southern portions of the 3,500,000 square kilometer nation. The armies and support forces from both major powers during the four years of the war added, on average, 6.5 million additional people, at any one time, to the region. This stressed the local infrastructure.

At times troops would spend more time building roads, trenches, and extending rail lines than they did in combat zones. The costs of supplying these forces and paying for the construction projects were a major drain on the budgets of the Fourth Roman Republic and Chinese Empire.

Most combat took place around major population centers or strategic terrain. Large armies had difficulty crossing the unfortified steppe of central Kazakhia. The semi-arid conditions of the steppe made it impossible to easily supply large marching armies with water.

In the first six-months of the war Rome quickly captured a number of border cities, including Oral-Chogan, Tobolnay, Samarkand, and Karakalpak.

In 2596 AUC reinforcements by the Chinese lead to the sieges and major bloodlettings of Simkent, Ak-Mechet, Semey, and Pavlodar. Semey was still in Chinese hands at the end of 2596.

2497 AUC saw major offensives by both sides as many cities change hands multiple times. This year also saw the worst consequences for native civilians with famine and disease sweeping the lands killing several million.

The last years of the war were a bloody grinding as Rome again pushed from settlement to settlement forcing Chinese forces back to their border. The high costs in both blood and treasury caused the Chinese to finally withdraw.

15 Aprilis 2599 AUC saw an end to the conflict as the Chinese government was on the verge of collapsing. Kazakhia would host Roman legions who were there supposedly to ensure the peace and to guarantee repayments of debts owed to Rome. On 1 Augustus 2601 AUC Kazakhia was made a Roman province. Isolated rebel groups would be contained and eliminated over the next 40 years.

The economic and social consequences of the war shattered the Chinese Empire. Eventually five major independent regions would evolve. It would take nearly a century and a half for the various regions to reunite.

The global depression that started in 2604 AUC can be traced back to the war. The spending and distortion of markets by military production led to a drop in industrial production. The returning soldiers reentering the workforce needed jobs and many needed specialized medical care for wounds. Such infrastructure did not exist at the time. The disintegration of central Chinese authority also caused major disruptions to international trade and crippled numerous supply chains, adding to the forces driving the depression.

The Republic’s economy would be stagnant for over a decade. Interestingly some of the now independent regions of China actually had vast economic growth during the same time period.

17 October 2014

Friday Flag - Confederation of Europe 1972

With the victory of the Central Powers in the Great War (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Italy, Bulgaria) Germany dominated European politics. Over the next half-century Europe, and the world, went through a series of great changes. By 1972 Germany was able to forge a new Confederation of European States to maintain peace and stability in Europe.

The initial members of the Confederation were: Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luxembourg. Each member state was represented by a star on the new flag. The Confederation would continue to gain members, welcoming its 24th member in 1999.

05 September 2014

Friday Flag - United State of the Ionian Islands

Flag of the United State of the Ionian Islands 1815

During the Congress of Vienna the United Kingdom wanted to gain rights to 'protect' the United State of the Ionian Islands. This group of seven islands off the coast of Greece had a number of ports that could be of use by the British. The Austrian Empire was not thrilled at the prospect of continued British expansion into the Mediterranean so they unexpectedly pushed for more rights there themselves.

With the numerous more important issues to be handled at the Congress, it was quickly decided that the British and Austrians would form a condominium over the islands. It quickly became apparent that the two powers would be unable to cooperate. This allowed the Ionians to exert much more control over their own territory. In late 1815 Ioannis Kapodistrias became President of the United State of the Ionian Islands. He became adept at playing the two powers against each other and advancing his own ends as they squabbled or ignored the islands.

While many inhabitants preferred British laws to Habsburg they desired their own freedom as well. Taking the best each culture had to offer and taking inspirations from ancient Greek city-states and modern American political innovations the tiny new nation tried to create its own identity.

In 1864 the British pushed to have the Ionian Islands annexed into the Kingdom of Greece. Luckily a half-century of relative independence allowed them to resist annexation. With Habsburg involvement now almost non-existent the Ionians turned to Imperial Russia for help. Turning to the Tsar to ensure their freedom was bizarre, but worked. By allowing Russian access to some of their ports they were able to get the Tsar to support their independence.

Again the United Kingdom had other more important interests to deal with and eventually let the matter drop.

04 September 2014

Great War 1912 - Mobilization

The Chairman of Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire, Pyotr Stolypin, having survived an assassination attempt in 1911 continued his duties. He would attempt to steer his nation away from war in November 1912 but fail.

The Balkan War was in full swing. Bulgaria was leading Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro on successful campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. Germany and Austria-Hungary were remaining relatively uninvolved in the conflict. The Kaiser was still upset over the overthrow of his friend, Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1909. Germany would follow a policy of "free fight and no favor", allowing the conflict to play itself out. Despite Serbian gains in the area, including gaining access to the Adriatic were threats to Austrian power in the region the Austro-Hungarians did not mobilize and enter the fight.

Seeing the lack of Austrian involvement as weakness, Russian Minister of War Vladimir Sukhomlinov saw an opportunity to move against the Turks and have a chance at finally seizing Constantinople. Russia could not afford to allow the city to fall into Bulgaria's hands. On 22 November 1912 Sukhomlinov prepared plans for a 'partial' mobilization of Russian forces from Warsaw through Kiev and all the way to Odessa. They could move into the Balkans and either 'aid' the Bulgarian faction and claiming Constantinople for Russia, or they could crush the Balkan armies and seize the city anyway.

The next day, 23 November, the Tsar called an emergency meeting of his most important ministers. There were to discuss Sukhomlinov's plan and other options available. Chairman Stolypin warned against the mobilization. He felt that the Austrians would see it as a direct threat and mobilize themselves. At that point war with the Turks, Austria, and even Germany would be a real possibility.

While a number of other ministers were in agreement with Stolypin's position he was growing increasingly unpopular due to continued pushes for reforms. The same unpopularity that led to the attempt on his life a year earlier kept enough ministers from siding with him to defeat the Minister of War's plan. In a narrow decision the Tsar and his ministers decided on a partial mobilization against the Ottoman Empire and possibly Bulgaria.

Russian mobilization began 24 November (7 December 1912 Gregorian Calendar). The Austrians would react. Mobilizing their military forces to deploy against the Bulgarian alliance and to reinforce border regions with Russia, in particular Przemyƛl Fortress. It would not take long for war to spread.

Information on the historical figures can be found on Wikipedia or by using Google, Bing, or whatever search engines you like. I used a couple books as reference when plugging away at this timeline:

1) The Russian Origins of the First World War by Sean McMeekin
2) Blood on the Snow by Graydon A. Tunstall

22 August 2014

Friday Flag - Hussite Army 1437

On 6 July 1415 Jan Hus was murdered at the Council of Constance, King Sigismund of Luxembourg the ruler of Kingdom of Hungary having betrayed him with promises of protection. Hus was a religious man but saw faults with the Catholic Church. He attempted reforms from within only to be excommunicated. After his martyrdom the rising nationalism in Bohemia combined with religious unrest led to rebellion.

The Hussites were a very effective fighting force. Many new tactics were developed including war wagons. These helped play an important part in winning an independent Czech kingdom after numerous crusades against them. Finally a decisive victory at the Battle of Lipany in 1434 allowed them to finally get peace with King Sigismund in 1436.

The five failed crusades against the Hussites helped to spread their message of reform across Europe. The Church ended overt attempts to destroy them and changed their strategy to isolate the new Czech Kingdom and minimize the spread of what they considered the Hussite Heresy.

The flag above became the official flag of the Hussite armies after the end of the wars. It combined elements from a number of popular flags during the wars.

08 August 2014

Friday Flag - Amikejo

In 1816 a quirk in decisions during the Congress of Vienna created Neutral Moresnet. This area was about 1 square mile and contained a zinc mine neither the Netherlands nor Prussia wanted the other to control. For nearly a century the small territory survived the turmoil around it never being attacked or invaded. Even after the zinc mine went dry the town continued to boom as new enterprises grew.

Refugees, exiles, and adventurers from across Europe, and from as far as the United States and China, arrived in the territory boosting the population. This growth and new ideas helped to expand the economy of Neutral Moresnet. A lack of central authority and the option to use several different law systems to settle disputes also added to the uniqueness of the land.

In 1908 the territory had become a gathering point of speakers of Esperanto. Soon the territory declared its independence as Amikejo, a word in Esperanto meaning 'place of friendship'. The World Congress of Esperanto that met in Dresden declared the settlement the world capital of Esperanto.

Its neighbors were unsure what to do with this territory since both Belgium and Germany neglected for decades their obligation to oversee it. Neither wanted to cause a diplomatic situation on the others border. By 1920 with the German Empire more concerned with monitoring wars in the Balkans and failing Ottoman Empire paid less attention to its borders with Belgium and France. This allowed Amikejo to continue to prosper as a free trade city and through smuggling.

Amikejo would eventually gain recognition by other nations. Once this happened it became a small free state not much larger than Monaco.

(For more information on Neutral Moresnet see Peter C. Earle's short book A Century of Anarchy: Neutral Moresnet through the Revisionist Lens.)
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