Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Guest Post: The Fat Boy Drops Early

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History.

"We - the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war. We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction." ~ OTL Potsdam Declaration

June 15, 1945 - Nationalist China is saved by Fat Boy

In early 1945, the progress of the Manhattan Project was rapidly accelerated by the strategic choice of Uranium Implosion over easier but inefficient impact detonation. This bold decision was taken despite many leading scientists expressing deep concern that the design was far too theoretical to implement.

The benefits soon became clear. Less than a fortnight after the fall of Berlin, one atomic weapons was ready for immediate deployment and enough uranium was available to rapidly build four more. This compressed timing of the deployment schedule was highly significant because the tentative plan had always been for the Soviets to declare war on Japan within three months of victory in Europe. With the Red Army occupying Eastern Europe, the Western Allies suddenly had an opportunity for victory on their own exclusive terms. Such an outcome would transform the post-war landscape, having profound affects not only for Japan, but for Mao Zedong's Communists also.

The detonation of the world's first atomic bomb would be a supreme expression of American authority. Although many other Allied nations might profit from an earlier victory over Japan, the main beneficiary would of course be US hegemony. In the long-term, history would draw a straight line from Admiral Perry's arrival in Tokyo Bay through Theodore Roosevelt's mediation of the Russo-Japanese War and onto VJ Day. Despite this contemporary perspective, explosive experts from the United Kingdom had played a major part in the breakthrough. As a result of this decisive contribution, the UK would gain a third part of the arsenal and become the second atomic weapon-state.

The detonation of the "Fat Boy" device over the Japanese city of Hiroshima was insufficient to force the Supreme War Council to capitulate. However, the subsequent threat of further bombs - and critically the assurance that the Emperor could rule as a figurehead under Allied Occupation - was enough to swing Foreign Minister Togo into the peace camp. Despite the rising threat of insurrection, Japan would issue a declaration of unconditional surrender before the end of June.

There would be a very high price to be paid for victory. For example, Manchuria had been an independent nation prior to 1931. The Japanese Kwantung Army was undefeated in the field and many Japanese colonists in Manchuria had suddenly become stateless citizens. Moreover, it was improbable that the Soviets would fully accept this status quo even though the UN Security Council was stacked with capitalist victor powers. Once Eastern Europe was under control, the Soviets began to clandestinely support liberation movements across the Far East in a determined attempt to undo American influence. The inevitable consequence was a huge commitment to post-war Asia.

Many political analysts confidently predicted that Chiang Kai-shek's National Regime was doomed anyway. These unresolved concerns for the future would overshadow the peace settlement even though Britain, France, and the Netherlands would quickly move to reoccupy the territories in their Asian Empires. Of course, because the French and Dutch were not yet nuclear powers, they did not have the chance to threaten guerrilla armies with the atomic bomb. By the time that France had the capability to do so, the war in Indochina was already lost.

Author's Note:

In reality, the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation would set the stage for the Chinese Civil War and the triumph of Mao Zedong. President Truman would be accused of "losing China." In this scenario, we imagine the possibility of a region-wide Vietnam scenario.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Guest Post: Day of Infamy

This post originally appeared on Today in Alternate History.

"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan". ~ FDR's OTL "Day of Infamy" Speech 

December 7, 1941 - On this fateful day, the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, was destroyed by an atomic discharge.

This terrifying weapon was developed by the Empire of Japan as a result of technology espionage arising from a chance meeting six years earlier in Nazi Germany. The founding father of modern physics research in Japan, Dr Yoshio Noshina, had travelled to the Max Planck Institute in Munich. It was there that he met a Jewish researcher called Lise Meitner, an Austrian-Swedish physicist praised by Albert Einstein as the "German Marie Curie". Needing to escape Nazi harassment, Noshina convinced Meitner to return with him to Japan to continue her work.

Whether Meitner later developed misgivings is unclear; however, in the medium-term, her work convinced the Japanese leadership to throw national resources at weaponizing the project. This huge programme included the mining of uranium in eastern China as well as the close cooperation of the Armed Services (not easy as much inter-service rivalry had plagued Japan for many years). By the outbreak of war in Europe, Noshina's team had overcome the major technical obstacles and were rapidly in the process of developing the world's first atomic weapon.

The expansion of the Co-Prosperity Sphere had been challenged by what the Japanese saw as a series of unnecessary provocations from President Roosevelt. Although they fully understood that America was expanding and desired greater influence, they believed that it was still possible to expel Western interest from the entire region. Their leadership realized that due to the industrial might of the United States, it was unrealistic to expect that the Japan could ever prevail in a long drawn-out conflict. What they needed then was a knock-out blow that would force the Americans to withdraw from Asia Pacific before overwhelming resources could be brought to bear.

But they had misunderstood the Western mindset because FDR was even more aggressive as a result of the atomic discharge. He was encouraged by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's words - "What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?" From their bellicose reaction to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, it was abundantly clear that Britain and America were more than willing to fight on no matter what, despite the imbalance in technology. The next phase of the war was even more frightening, with biological weapons being deployed by Japan in the form of a deadly virus sent over the American West Coast in air balloons.

Despite their many victories and occasional high moments, the Axis Powers never had the overwhelming capability to occupy the vastness of North America. With American and exiled British forces subdued but undefeated, the War dragged on for almost a decade. Finally, a long-running stalemate on the Eastern front led to a Soviet-Nazi armistice. This slowdown of military action triggered a general uneasy peace settlement that left Western Europe in German hands, and the Japanese preeminent in Asia Pacific. But the rivalry continued unabated as the Great Powers continued to develop even more terrifying weapons that would allow them to resume, and then win, a continuation war in the near future.

Author's Note:

In reality, the attack was a surprise military strike with conventional weapons by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. Disputes about the status of the Japanese Atomic Bomb Development project remain unresolved to this day.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Guest Post: Roswell UFO Recovered

This post first appeared on Today In Alternate History.

"It was not anything from this Earth, that I'm quite sure of... I was familiar with just about all materials used in aircraft and/or air travel. This was nothing like that...It could not have been." ~ RAAF Major Jesse Marcel

 July 8th, 1947 - Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut issued a press release stating that personnel from the field's 509th Operations Group had recovered a "flying disc," which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell.

As reported by a foreman called William Brazel, the debris was spread over a wide area on the J.B. Foster ranch. A thorough investigation by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) determined that the "flying disc" was an unmanned probe of extraterrestrial hardware. Although the individual components were vastly superior to human technology, the fundamental sub-system design was recognizable. The two notable exceptions were the "intelligent" exterior metal that looked like aluminum foil but had the startling ability to return to its original shape and also the anti-gravity sub-system.

But from a political perspective, the bigger concern was the crash site - being so close to the location of the atomic bomb program. Non-aligned members states of the United Nations claimed that American doomsday technology had irresponsibly drawn the interest of extraterrestrial threats to the human race. With the Cold War getting fully underway, there was even a cynical suggestion that the USAAF had intentionally shot down the probe. By international agreement, a UN team selected members from six countries (US, USSR, UK, Republic of China, South Africa, Iran, and Brazil) that represented all continents apart from Australia to meet in Roswell and inspect the probe. The team subsequently reported that based on the available information, the crash was due to malfunction rather than malicious intent.

The investigation restored good faith between nations while the extraterrestrial threat continued to focus minds and, to a surprising degree, create a new unity of purpose. The internationalization of the Roswell UFO Incident proved to be a significant step forward in human development. Mankind had orientated itself towards the opportunities and threats in outer space. Even though the USA, followed by USSR, were the first space-faring nations that landed men on the lunar surface it was decided to divide the moon into international zones. This arrangement was undertaken in a similar fashion that was later adopted for the Antarctica territory.

The two decades between Roswell and Apollo 11 were insufficient to fully take advantage of the technologies present in the craft. However, the emergence of microchips and anti-gravity technology would continue to be developed under the auspices of the United Nations. By the third decade of the twenty-first century, there were increasingly loud calls for a truly international space program that could exploit the Roswell technologies and take mankind forward more quickly. Cynics have suggested that a second alien crash is the breakthrough needed to force such a change.

Author's Note:

In reality, Roswell has been described as "the world's most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim."


Provine's Addendum:

Confirmation of an advanced alien civilization, although little more could be learned about it, made a radical impact on human culture. The adapted technology alone presented a world straight out of Jules Verne. Anti-gravity devices provided for flying cars, which experienced rough takeoffs in the 1970s with the Ford Flier models before the efforts of the DeLorean Motor Company showed how effective travel without roads could be. Flying cars were commonplace by the 1990s with microchip-driven safety features, while long-distance travel took place in luxurious airliners that arched into low orbit for fast intercontinental travel. Cold-fusion reactors emulating the UFO's power system generated clean energy that became the world's leading power source after the Oil Crisis of the 1970s left the petroleum industry as a shadow of its former self.

Beyond technology, many humans were shaken on a spiritual level. While churches re-envisioned their perception of Earth being a unique creation, New Age cults were built around the largely indecipherable symbols from the UFO. Fears of a coming alien assault through the 1950s directed the West and Communists to organize territorial disputes as old empires unwound, ending with the division of North and South China and the controlled de-colonization of French Indochina. The Iron Curtain would eventually rust out, leading to experiments with capitalism zones in Eastern Europe and Asia.

For a time, humanity became captivated with space. Travel with the alien anti-gravity technology was easy enough, and the U.S. and Soviet Union competed briefly with improved craft while captured German rocket scientists gave the Russians an early lead on flight control before the Americans' ion-drives dominated with speed. Expensive military outposts were established in orbit and on the Moon while expeditions send manned missions to Mars and three Jovian moons. As the observatories failed to return any further evidence of alien incursion and crop circles were revealed as hoaxes, however, budgets were cut thin to maintaining a few token research stations. Without any real economic incentive to colonize, space remained a novelty. Some have suggested renewed nuclear tests on the moon to attempt attracting another alien observation probe, but no one in leadership seems genuinely interested.

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