|World War II (Joe Steele)|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Leon Trotsky|| Adolf Hitler†
The Second World War or colloquially, World War II, was a worldwide military conflict, the amalgamation of what had initially been two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 with Japan's invasion of China; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. While the so-called Axis powers were extremely militaristic and repressive, notorious for their war crimes and violations of human rights, the war propelled two equally repressive regimes to global preeminence: Joe Steele's United States and Leon Trotsky's Soviet Union.
Prelude[edit | edit source]
Adolf Hitler had risen to power in Germany in 1933, in part on promises of restoring the national honor, but it wasn't until 1936 that Hitler began to act substantially. In March of that year, he remilitarized the Rhineland, in violation of the Locarno Treaties of October 1925. France and Britain made no effort to intervene. While President Joe Steele was very loud in condemning Hitler's move and France's failure to respond, Hitler faced no repercussions, save for the few barbs he shared with Steele in the month after the remilitarization (both leaders shared a mutual loathing).
The year 1938 proved to be momentous. In March, Hitler ordered the annexation of Austria to Germany, and immediately began making claims on the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. Steele and Trotsky hated each other at least as much as they each hated Hitler, but both were unified by their fear of what Hitler might do if left unchecked, exhorting Britain and France to fight. Instead, France and Britain brokered a deal in which the Sudetenland was granted to Germany in September 1938. Six months later, Germany's annexed the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and created the independent Republic of Slovakia, which positioned Germany to move on Poland.
Hitler now turned his attention to the Polish Corridor. Leon Trotsky, realizing that France and Britain could not be counted on, sent his foreign commissar, Maxim Litvinov to Berlin to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Litvinov's German counter-part, Joachim von Ribbentrop. (Some found it ironic that the Jewish Trotsky had sent the Jewish Litvinov into the "world's capital of anti-Semitism.")
Steele and his administration realized quickly that the U.S. was too far away to influence anything beyond publicly pleading with Britain and France to stand firm against Germany, while condemning both Germany and the Soviet Union, to no avail.
Germany invaded Poland a week later, prompting France and Britain to declare war on Germany, setting off World War II in Europe. Britain and France did not attack Germany, however, leaving Poland to basically fight on its own. The Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east a few weeks after that. With no help coming, Poland surrendered. Upon Poland's capitulation, Hitler and Trotsky met at the new frontier.
The United States did not enter the war. President Steele instead gave what came to be called the "Plague on Both Your Houses" speech, which promised that the U.S. would not enter into Europe's "latest stupid war".
War[edit | edit source]
Germany achieved substantial successes from September 1939 through May 1940. When Germany defeated and occupied France, and forced British troops off the Continent, President Steele realized that now only Britain stood between the U.S. and Germany in the Atlantic Ocean. He decided to supply Britain with arms and money, and pushed legislation through Congress to authorise the sales. The American people accepted this plan, although they were still wary of entering the war directly. Winston Churchill, who'd become Britain's prime minister earlier in the year, responded to the aid by saying "If the Devil opposed Adolf Hitler, I should endeavor to give him a good notice in the House of Commons. Thus I thank Joe Steele."
In early 1941, Germany expanded its military operations by invading North Africa, Yugoslavia and Greece in order to save Italy's floundering efforts. Japan continued to advance in China, and were making advances into Indochina with Vichy France's tacit approval.
This move concerned both Churchill and Steele, as both the UK and US had interests in the region, and Indochina would make a viable launching pad for Japan to attack those interests. In response, Steele decided to stop selling Japan scrap and oil, and to freeze Japanese assets in the U.S. While he commissioned Charlie Sullivan to write a speech designed to mollify the Japanese government, Steele's actions instead increased the tension between the two countries.
Five days after Steele made this decision, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Steele immediately called a conference of several generals, during which General George Marshall predicted the Russians would last six weeks before falling. While Marshall argued a German victory would be a deadly danger to the whole world, Steele delighted in the idea of "dead Germans floating down the river, each one on a raft of three dead Russians." However, the Soviets were still in the war more than six weeks later, confounding expectations.
As Russia was fighting for its life, Steele met with Winston Churchill for the first time in Portland, Maine. Churchill had wanted to meet in Canada or Newfoundland, but as Churchill was the one with hat in hand, Steele demanded the Portland meeting. The two actually met aboard a Royal Navy destroyer off the coast. Churchill's first request was that the U.S. extend aid to Trotsky as it had with the U.K. Steele initially refused Churchill's request, but Churchill grew insistant, reminding Steele that the U.S. was as much a prison state as Trotsky's Soviet Union. He also argued that compared with Hitler, Trotsky was reasonable. That evening, after some cagey behavior, Steele acknowledged that he'd start sending aid to Trotsky, to Churchill's delight.
Steele tried to keep the aid quiet for fear of provoking Germany, dealing through the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, but Churchill, in an effort to rattle Hitler, announced the deal to the world. While Hitler decried the deal, he did not launch a war with the U.S. as Steele had feared.
While the German advance did see the capture of Kiev and Smolensk, the fall rains reduced Russian roads to mud, effectively halting the advance. Japan was able to completely occupy Indochina, enraging Churchill and Steele. After Steele insulted Japan publicly, the Japanese government sent Foreign Minister Saburō Kurusu to Washington to hammer out a deal.
Kurusu demanded the U.S. unfreeze Japan's assets and to begin selling scrap and oil again. However, he refused to accept Steele's demand for Japan to withdraw from China, claiming Japan was entitled to an empire. Privately, Steele and his cronies dismissed the threats, based on estimates that without the oil and scrap, Japan would grind to a halt within the next year. This assessment was filtered through the prism of racism, and everyone in the administration was convinced that Kurusu would soon come back on bent knee.
Instead, on December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. Steele ordered an investigation into Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short, the military leaders in charge of Pearl Harbor. The next day, Steele gave a speech asking for the declaration of war. In his speech, Steele called on the entire population of the U.S. to rally against the Japanese threat. He also announced the creation of a National Committee for Defense. Despite this stirring speech, the vote for war was not unanimous: two Representatives and one Senator voted against it.
The Philippines continued to fall apart. General MacArthur followed doctrine and had his garrison and Filipino forces retreat to the Bataan Peninsula to deny the Japanese the use of the Manila harbor. Unfortunately, the attack on Pearl Harbor damaged and sank too many U.S. ships preventing MacArthur's forces being relieved which was also part of the planning. In the end, the islands fell, and MacArthur was ordered home, where he was promptly arrested, tried, and executed.
Throughout 1942, the U.S. and its allies made some important advances on several fronts although not without cost. Admiral Raymond A. Spruance defeated the Japanese fleet at Midway. The Soviets met German forces] at Trotskygrad, held them, and were able to cut those forces off in the fall, prompting Steele to commend the Soviets on striking the Nazis a heavy blow. A few days later, U.S. General Omar Bradley led a landing of US and British troops in North Africa, driving the German forces out of Egypt through Libya. While the plan had called for a complete capture of German troops, the Afrika Korps were able to fall back to Tunisia.
Things continued to go better for the Allies into 1943. The remaining German troops in Trotskygrad surrendered. However, the German military decided to let the Soviet advance exceed its supply line, and launched a counter-attack, again putting the Soviets on the defensive. In the Pacific, the Americans under Dwight Eisenhower and Chester Nimitz took the Solomon Islands and pushed into New Guinea. Privately, Steele and his administration was pleased with the course of the war.
As Allied victory seemed more likely, Steele, Churchill, and Trotsky met for a conference in Basra, Iraq in October 1943. This marked the first time Steele and Trotsky met in person. Their interactions were cordial but frosty. 
The public statement coming out of the conference declared independence for the captured countries of Europe and the Far East and punishment for the German and Japanese leaders causing the war. It also promised the creation of an international organization strong enough to make a lasting peace. Private agreements were also reached where the Soviet Army would help the U.S. invade Japan when it became feasible. Trotsky also had wanted hegemony over all of Eastern Europe and the Balkans but Churchill convinced him to yield influence over Greece to Britain.
In 1944, the end of the war was in sight. Omar Bradley oversaw the successful invasion of Normandy, thereby opening the long anticipated second front in Europe. Paris fell to the Allies quickly thereafter. The Soviets' drive prompted Finland and Bulgaria to exit the war, and Romania to change sides. While Germany was able to overrun Slovakia and Hungary, and to hold a line in Italy, the writing was on the wall.
Germany continued to fall back through the remainder of 1944 and into 1945. With two armies bearing down from either direction, Hitler committed suicide in April 1945. Germany surrendered a few days later. They attempted to surrender to the Americans and British only, but Steele ordered Bradley to tell them they would do it the Allies' way. Steele celebrated the victory in a radio broadcast, but reminded the American people that Japan was still fighting. Steele promised to rain destruction on Japan until it surrendered (Tokyo had been firebombed extensively the month before). In the meantime, U.S. forces continued its island hopping campaign, pushing Japanese forces closer and closer towards the Home Islands. This included a bloody fight for the island of Okinawa, which finally fell in mid-1945.
In November 1945, the U.S. launched Operation: Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu. Concurrently, the Soviet Union finally went to war with Japan, attacking and pushing Japanese forces out of the Asian mainland (taking the time to establish a puppet government in Korea), and invading Hokkaido, the northernmost Home Island.
Despite this pincer attack and months of bloody fighting, Japan's government refused to yield. In March, 1946, Operation: Coronet began: the U.S. attacked Shikoku and Honshu from the south, and the USSR attacked Honshu from the north. While Prime Minister and General Hideki Tojo died leading Japanese forces trying to drive the Americans off, his death did not lead to a Japanese surrender. Instead, the Japanese, both military and civilian, fought as hard as they had on Kyushu. About a month later, however, Emperor Hirohito was killed by a U.S. air attack as he and a convoy fled from Tokyo to Kyoto. A cease-fire came shortly after (the Japanese general who ordered the cease-fire committed suicide shortly after).
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
Immediately, Steele and Trotsky began establishing new governments in their respective parts of occupied Japan. The Soviets held Hokkaido and northern Honshu, and established the Japanese People's Republic under Fedor Tolbukhin with some Japanese Reds acting as his puppets. Similarly, the U.S. established the Constitutional Monarchy of Japan in southern Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Hirohito's twelve-year old son, Akihito, became the new emperor, although it was General Eisenhower who actually ran the country.
In the late summer of 1946, Steele met Trotsky one last time in Wakamatsu. This conference was purely between Steele and Trotsky; Churchill's successor, Clement Attlee, was not invited. Relations between Steele and Trotsky were no less frosty than they had been at Basra. Nonetheless, each side recognized the new Japanese states created, with a three-mile demilitarized zone along the Agano River. Trotsky was actually more easy-going here than in Basra. When Steele pointed this out, Trotsky responded that he'd seen the war in Europe as one of survival. The war against Japan had simply been "a war". With that, the world was effectively divided between Steele and Trotsky, and the stage was set for future conflicts.
Literary comment[edit | edit source]
The above pertains to the version of the war found in the novel. The version of the war presented in the short story isn't terribly different, although it is described in broader strokes. In the short, Dwight Eisenhower leads the D-Day invasion in 1944 as he did in OTL. Hirohito dies in December 1945, when his train is hit by an incendiary bomb.
References[edit | edit source]
- Joe Steele, pg. 87, HC.
- Ibid., pg. 159.
- Ibid. pg. 196.
- Ibid., pg. 202-203.
- Ibid., pgs. 205-207.
- Ibid., pg. 212.
- Ibid., pg. 213.
- Ibid. pg. 214.
- Ibid., pg. 215.
- Ibid., pg.
- Ibid., pg. 216.
- Ibid., pgs. 223-224.
- Ibid., pg. 234.
- Ibid., pg. 234.
- Ibid., pgs. 234-235.
- Ibid., pg. 235.
- Ibid. pg., 236.
- Ibid., pgs. 237-239.
- Ibid., pgs. 239-240.
- Ibid., pgs. 241-242.
- Ibid., pg. 242.
- Ibid., pg. 243.
- Ibid., pgs. 243-244.
- Ibid., pgs. 244-245.
- Ibid., pgs. 246-247.
- Ibid., pg. 248.
- Ibid, pg. 256.
- Ibid, pgs. 257-260.
- Ibid., pgs. 265-267.
- Ibid, pg. 268.
- Ibid., pgs. 270-271.
- Ibid. pgs. 276-283.
- Ibid., pgs. 282-283, HC.
- Ibid., pgs. 290-292.
- Ibid., pg. 295-296.
- Ibid., pgs. 299-300.
- Ibid., pgs. 301-302.
- Ibid., pgs. 307-313.
- Ibid., pg. 314
- Ibid., pg. 315.
- Ibid, pgs. 320-322.
- Ibid., pg. 323-325.
- Ibid., pg. 325.
- Ibid., pg. 326.
- Ibid., pgs. 324-328.
- Ibid., pg. 328-329.