austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And some wise men and some fools, and I believed it too

Let me return to the action in my Hearts of Iron II game. When last left, in 1939, war had broken out over the Sudetenland and, after Germany annexed Czechoslovakia and Poland, turned into a battle between the Axis powers (Germany, Rumania, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, and Bulgaria) and the Comintern (Soviet Union, Mongolia, and Tannu Tuva), which turned into a stalemate on a line running roughly from Odessa to Minsk. Meanwhile in the far east Japan has overrun all of China except for Sinkiang, in the northwest of mainland China, and the Communist Chinese. My United States have joined the Allies, but as of 31 December 1939, we are not at war.

1940 opens with the United States ``gearing up for war'' again, a game event which makes the country a little more interventionist, a little more hawkish, and more willing to sacrifice consumer goods for war production. And ... that would be about as much military work as the nation would get into this year, as developments could not have done a better job at ignoring the Allies if they tried. The long stalemated front from Odessa to Minsk saw a brief breakthrough in April, as Germany occupied Smolensk and the Soviets took Korosten, but they traded the provinces back soon enough. The occasional trades of territory and fighting over Kiev prove that the armies of the Axis and the Comintern are clashing at all, but from outside the war it doesn't look like they're accomplishing all that much.

That isn't to say there weren't changes in national boundaries during the year. On 5 September 1940 Rumania, bowing to German pressure, accepted the Hungarian claims for Transylvania and ceded that block of territory to its Axis partner. Three days later, Rumania accepted further the Bulgarian claims on the Constanta territory. While Rumania hasn't been beaten by Comintern forces, despite being on the front lines what with its proximity to the Crimean peninsula, it suffered a pretty big losing year and it's not clear to me what it's gaining for all this partitioning.

The most singularly alarming day of the year was the 16th of July, 1940, when militarist coups d'état happened simultaneously in Ecuador, Paraguay, Siam, Mongolia, Bolivia, and Japan, although in the latter three cases one might wonder how one told the difference. Such a sudden and simultaneous out break of chaos would in reality suggest an incredible conspiracy, although in this case I believe it just reflects the game allowing certain events to be triggered by preconditions being met and not being sophisticated enough to spread out too-similar events triggered simultaneously. Despite the suggestions of a nation undergoing a ``sudden change of government'', none of the alliances or protection agreements (all Latin American nations have their independence guaranteed by the United States, as well as mutual non-aggression treaties) were affected.

With the unexpected collapse of Nationalist China in 1939 I had to start up my espionage operation in Sinkiang as the only non-Communist Chinese power left on the block. They're tiny, un-industrialized, and remote, but then I have industrial capacity to spare and can throw money and supplies if they'll supply the armies, and fighting industrial Japan in territories that don't know what roads are is not necessarily a hopeless cause. I told myself that through to the 30th of July, 1940, when Japan overran and annexed Sinkiang. The only remaining native government in the Chinese territories was now the Communist faction, which had been neutral so far.

On the 14th of August, Japan, and puppet states Manchukuo and Mengkukuo, declared war on Communist China. Well, better supporting the Chinese Communists than doing nothing about Japan, and the support being sent Chinese partisans doesn't seem to be producing a lot of results. Of course, that sort of thing probably takes time too. The Communist Chinese are in a more accessible place than Sinkiang, but are also slightly better industrialized, and they're just taking on Japan with almost all of China's territory with no direct aid from anyone. I can't honestly say I expect this to be a long-running battle, but I didn't expect Nationalist China to fall completely either.

In political news, Franklin D Roosevelt won the Presidential Election of 1940, bringing with him such ministerial talent as J Edgar Hoover as Minister of Security, William J Donovan as Minister of Intelligence, George C Marshall as Chief of Staff, and Henry H Arnold as Chief of Air. Had Wendell Wilkie won (the choice was up to me, the player; I believed that in the circumstances here --- a Europe at war but with not the slightest peril to the popular western European nations --- Roosevelt would probably be the preferred choice) we would have seen Edgar Hoover as Minister of Security, William J Donovan as Minister of Intelligence, George C Marshall as Chief of Staff, and Henry H Arnold as Chief of Air. (There were differences in Head of Government, Foreign Minister, and Armament Minister. I am aware that these titles are inauthentic to the United States cabinet, but the game uses a simplified and somewhat generic cabinet system to represent the leadership of major war-related departments for every nation.)

On 10 November 1940 I got the news bulletin that the United Kingdom's government reports ``The Great Pacifier Passes Away''. I think this is meant to indicate that Neville Chamberlain died although as far as I can tell it's not possible for me to get any more specific detail than that. I note that in this timeline, while Chamberlain wasn't able to get the Sudetenland question settled peacefully, the British Empire has been kept out of the war, through at least to 31 December 1940.

And in scientific developments, the United States is taking the lead in developing rocket technologies, and has got its nuclear weapons program in motion. I'm fairly sure that whatever happens, it will be better if I have intercontinental ballistic missiles before anyone else does. Also I finally got a clear explanation of what having larger rocket test ranges does (it speeds up development of all rocket-technology-based research projects, which includes things like units that use bazookas).

So while it was a hard year for the people fighting in eastern Europe and in China, it was a strikingly peaceful year for the United States, and for the Allied powers of the world. My armament program, building up the navy, then the air force, and finally the army, is proceeding fairly well and over the course of 1941 I should have units capable of at least holding off an attack deployed in key Pacific islands and along the Maginot Line. I hope those are the right places to fortify; it'd be embarrassing to have to invade the Soviet Union by surprise.

Trivia: Pete Conrad made his bet, regarding whether he would be allowed to pick his own First Words on landing on the Moon, with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, whom he had known since 1964. She had bet $500 that he would not say what he did. Source: A Man On The Moon, Andrew Chaikin.

Currently Reading: The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale Of Genius, Deceit, And The Birth Of Television, Evan I Schwartz. Huh. So Farnsworth really was working on fusion power.


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