So now on to the important stuff: I got Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday installed on the new computer and could resume my game from the end of 1951, where I had left it. The game really flew by. Part of this was the speed of the new computer, which is much faster than mere clock speed increases suggest. Part of this was because when last we left the great threats to liberal democracy had been destroyed one by one, and peacetime is always faster than wartime what with having fewer events and less need to respond swiftly to them.
In fact, most of what passed for political development amounted to the changes of heads of state: the United Kingdom saw King George VI pass away on 7 February 1952. Lebanon endured an event curiously described as ``Sudden Change Of Government'', with which apparently they faced some choice since they selected ``OK'', according to an intelligence briefing that left me no wiser, but at least also no stupider, than before. On the 17th of March Bhutan's head of state died, although the intelligence briefing there didn't think to tell me who that was. Venezuela suffered a militarist coup d'état on the 16th of May. And so on.
For the 3rd of November the United States had to select a new president and keeping with the preprogramming that's dependent on how previous elections were decided and not a thing else, the race was between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. I had to give the win to Eisenhower (and, yich, Nixon) even though the whole soft-on-Communism and we're-losing-the-Cold-War fears would be utter gibberish in this timeline. But twenty years is a long, long time for any party to be in charge, and I think the United States's electorate has proven sufficiently ungrateful to the victors of recent wars that nothing would have returned any Democrat to the White House that election except a sudden unprovoked attack from a foreign power.
There were some minor domestic political turmoils: a March 1952 protestation of the defense policy that amounted mostly to moving the country towards a standing army and the ``dove lobby'' which seems quite sensible in the circumstances. In late November 1952 the economic policy was attacked by the opposition, a matter of timing which shows that the game engine, trying to provide a generalized government model for all 200 nations of the world, doesn't quite get the quirks of the American model. That'd be a lot to ask, anyway.
As opposed to this frantic activity 1953 was a tranquil year. Early April saw a movement to ban the Fascist Parties, which I rejected because I don't like banning political parties and, boy, is that move ever a pointless one. Some events the game just likes to trigger is all. In late April the first three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (one of them the USS Intrepid) went into service and due to a slight oversight it would be only three months later that air divisions were assigned to the carriers.
In October 1953 a ``Great War Demonstration'' brought the public to greater acceptance of the need to intervene, in the words of the intelligence briefing, ``against the oppressors'', and that ``this country will never again accept such acts of evil as those that took place during the last year''. This may sound like a stock event firing for no good reason, what with how it went on to explain ``the Head of State also spoke, telling the people to rally behind the Government and to support the necessary measures designed to restore peace in the world and defend democracy'', but boy, if there were any evil out there, I'd be set for it. December saw some kind of protest of America's constitutional policy; personally, I'm in favor of having one.
So who were the great sources of evil for this 1952-53? About the biggest perils would have to be Poland, created as a Stalinist state out of the ruins of the German-Soviet war and the successful invasion from France; and Yugoslavia, a similarly constituted Social Conservative power. They took the Allied-Soviet war as the chance to expand into Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and the like. As a result Poland had become a regional power, with about half the economic might of Germany and two-thirds that of the France-Italy union. Possibly more interest to them was being about three-quarters the strength of the Russian Republic (mind, one with much less territory than our Russia has), although separated from it by Byelorussia and Ukraine. Yugoslavia, working from tougher territory, had about half the industrial might of Poland, but if those two countries really pulled together they could make life very unpleasant for all Europe, or Turkey.
Plus there were all the territories on the Black Sea which had formerly been Balkan states, and which the United States had taken over. If I'd had some of the Yugoslav or Polish-occupied territories I could constitute them into new independent puppet states of Bulgaria (etc). But I didn't have them, and in game logic couldn't get them except by conquest or alliance. I don't care to conquer and Poland and Yugoslavia were not up for alliances.
So I settled the territorial problem here in what I think a classically American fashion: I gave the territory away to some local power who could do what they wanted with it. Specifically, I split the territories between Byelorussia and Ukraine, Ukraine mostly getting the southern sections and Byelorussia the northern. If this strikes you as unnecessarily discontiguous --- Byelorussia would have to be separated from the Balkan provinces anyway, but Ukraine could take adjacent territories --- well, yes, it is. I was taking as my model the Schleswig-Holstein division which did so much to bring peace between Prussia and Austria. It'll give them (and I imagine the United States, too) a nice little crisis to whip up anytime one is needed.
Similarly on the far eastern rim of Siberia were a bunch of territories that the United States had occupied and couldn't do anything with. Some of them I transferred to the Siberian Republic. The rest I divided between Russia --- so it still reaches from Finland to the Bering Strait, albeit more northerly than in our timeline --- and Manchuria, which surely deserves some cis-Kamchatkan holdings, doesn't it?
The big winner of all this territorial shuffling must be Tannau Tuva, which ended up getting a block of central-western Chinese provinces I couldn't do much of anything with. Despite a considerable extent and hugely developed air force bases they're still not an industrial power, but then they've only been an allied country a few years. I'd give them time, but the game ends on the 31st of December, 1953.
And so that's my timeline. I don't believe I made any hugely ahistorical moves in it, but this was the most wildly divergent timeline I've experienced. I'm glad I started recording it; if I were the sort to write alternate histories this is definitely an intriguing setting for one. Even the simple points like how exactly the Allies ended up at war with Germany are the kinds of historical mysteries that great if slightly academic controversies would be made from.
Trivia: The neutralization of the Black Sea, regarded as a prime consequence of the Treaty of Paris (1856) settling the Crimean War, lasted fifteen years. The independent state of Romania, formed as a buffer state from Danubian provinces between Russia and Turkey at Austria's insistence, survived to 1941. Source: The Struggle For Mastery In Europe, 1848 - 1918, A J P Taylor.
Currently Reading: Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, Stephen Puleo.