In 1981, on this day a motion to acknowledge the Nordic origin of the northern archipelago of Islands was put in front of the devolved Edinburgh Parliament by the Members of the Scottish Parliament for the Shetlands and Orkneys.
Return the Islands! by Ed and Jackie SpeelThe name "Orkney" dates back to the 1st century BC or earlier, and the islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years. Originally occupied by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes and then by the Picts, Orkney was invaded and forcibly annexed by Norway in 875 and settled by the Norse. It was subsequently annexed to the Scottish Crown in 1472, following the failed payment of a dowry for James III's bride, Margaret of Denmark.
Humans have lived on the Shetland there since the Mesolithic period, and the earliest written references to the islands date back to Roman times. The early historic period was dominated by Scandinavian influences, especially Norway, and the islands did not become part of Scotland until the fifteenth century. When Shetland became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 trade with northern Europe decreased, although fishing has continued to be an important aspect of the economy up to the present day.
For years a small but vocal minority of the population had called for the islands to be "returned" although the current proposals went no further than the teaching of the Norwegian language, culture and history in the classroom. Nevertheless, the Edinburgh Parliament feared that even a small step threatened to break-up Scotland as a unified nation. Unspoken was the unthinkable terror that claims would also be made for the parts of the lucrative North Sea Oilfield.
In 2010, John Reilly wrote ~ the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 was one of the great dramas of the 1930s. I use the word "drama" advisedly, since the debate and propaganda campaigns about the war became the substance of much of the political and intellectual life of the West during the years the war was fought.
If the Loyalists Had Won the Spanish Civil War.....In the progressive literature of the period, the war was a morality tale of good defending itself against evil, of fascism against democracy, of the Enlightenment against Catholic obscurantism. The war became a counter in the political struggle between the international communist movement and the more loosely organized cause of fascism. In the publishing industry and the better magazines, the Loyalists won the propaganda argument, but on the ground the Nationalists won. In this note, I would like to suggest some ways that history, and particularly the course of the Second World War, might have been different if the Loyalists had won.
A new post by John ReillyA full description of the origins and course of the war is unnecessary here. The questions involved are also still controversial. Suffice it to say that, after a decade of seesaw election results, a Popular Front government finally came to power in Spain, but with a very narrow majority. The Front sought to be inclusive of the Left, from Anarchists to Social Democrats. The Front, however, was more and more controlled by the Communists. In any event, having achieved a narrow victory, the government undertook a radical land redistribution. Elements of the Front, particularly the Anarchists, began some spontaneous redistribution of their own, and the government did not attempt to protect life and property. Clerics and Church property were particularly subject to assault. These events caused the Spanish African Army under General Francisco Franco to stage a revolt. The rebels became the Nationalists. The legitimate government refused to yield, however, and the conflict became an elaborate civil war. The Nationalists received aid from the Italian Fascists and the Nazis, including some troops and airmen. The Loyalists received material aid from Soviet Russia, but on ruinous financial terms. They were also assisted by volunteer legions from many countries. The resources of the two sides were not terribly unequal. However, the Nationalists had most of the experienced officers. Also, the Communists in the Popular Front carried on a small-scale version of the purges then occurring in the Soviet Union, directed against the other Leftist parties. This degraded the fighting capacities of the Loyalist armies, which were organized along political lines. The Loyalists were overwhelmed a few months before the Second World War started. Generalissimo Franco surprised everybody by remaining neutral in that conflict.
A Loyalist victory is not hard to imagine. Franco was a competent rather than a brilliant general. The accident of a military genius on the other side might have altered the outcome of the war. So might have more generous support from the Soviet Union. The Communists might have deferred their own political agenda until after the war was over. Neither side had any difficulty obtaining arms they could pay for; France, which had a Popular Front government too in the 1930s, might have offered arms on credit. Alternatively, an effective League of Nations embargo would have redounded to the Loyalists' benefit, since they controlled most of the country's manufacturing capacity. So, let us assume that by the end of spring, 1939, the Nationalists are forced to finally surrender, and Franco goes into exile in Argentina.
One thing that I think would have been inevitable is that the Soviet Union would, in effect, have a colony in the Western Mediterranean. The front-and-purge policy the Communists used against their rivals in the Loyalist camp was not very different from the one they used in Czechoslovakia just after the Second World War (except, perhaps, that it was much bloodier). Stalin was at all times of two minds about what he wanted to happen in Spain. While he wanted to humiliate the Italians and the Germans, he also had doubts about whether another Communist state so far from his borders was a good idea. He knew that such a state would be difficult for him to control, and that it would offer an alternative focus of loyalty for Communist parties around the world. The Soviet Union's subsequent problems with Yugoslavia and China show that these fears were well founded. However, it would have taken years for a rift to develop. The Spanish Communist Party was devotedly pro-Soviet. The new state would have needed Soviet material support. With the growing threat of a Fascist war, a near-term split with Moscow would not have been in the cards. Spain would become for the USSR something like what Cuba became in the 1960s and Nicaragua in the 1980s.
The French would not have been pleased by this turn of events. French governments have traditionally alined themselves with whatever regime ruled Russia in order to counterbalance the powers of Middle Europe. They would have found this harder to do, however, if the Russians acquired a base adjoining French territory. The advantage to a Russian alliance, after all, is that Russians are too far away to be a menace themselves. There was no way the French could have thrown their support to Germany. It would have been politically impossible, and it would have been strategic suicide. However, the proximity of Soviet Spain would have made France much more reluctant to engage in any major war, anywhere. It is not just that Spain could eventually become a military threat. The Communist Party in France would have been so emboldened by their southern colleagues' success that would have started looking for revolutionary opportunities. A lost war, or even a stalemated war, would do just nicely. Knowing this, the French government would have been much less likely to declare war on Germany in 1939 after the invasion of Poland. Indeed, it might not have been possible to do so, since the Hitler-Stalin Pact was in effect, and the French Left would have made quite a fuss about entering the war, even if they hoped to benefit from the outcome.
Thus, one result of a Loyalist victory could have been that Hitler would not, at the outset, have had to fight a war on two fronts. If the French did not declare war, the British could not have, either. Where would they have put their army? In his pre-war alliance negotiations with Mussolini, Hitler seemed to be contemplating a general war for 1942 or 1943. He would have been able to pick a fight in the West at his leisure, probably much better prepared than he was in 1939. In this war, the desperate French might have accepted an alliance with Soviet Spain, provided Stalin relented. Certainly Spain would have been a reasonable base for the French to retreat to, after losing Paris. Even if Soviet Spain had chosen Franco's policy and attempted neutrality, it is unlikely that Hitler would have accepted it. He could not have. His goal in World War II was the conquest of Russia, something he could not have accomplished with a Soviet ally in his rear. The conquest of Spain could have been part of his initial western campaign, or it might have waited a year or two, but it would have been inevitable.
A Nazi campaign would have had several things working against it. For one thing, the supply lines were long enough to create formidable logistical problems, never the strong suit of the Nazi military. Assuming the English were still in the war, Hitler, like Napoleon, would have found just how accessible Spain is from the sea. On the other hand, the Spanish Soviet government would have been unlikely to be very popular by this time, assuming it had continued with the process of Stalinization. If the Germans concluded their campaign by taking Gibraltar, whose British base was (and is) a long-standing affront to Spanish pride, the Germans could have been accepted as liberators. The loss of Gibraltar could have cost the British effective control of the Mediterranean. The resupplying, not just of Egypt, but of India and Australia, would have become immensely more difficult.
In sum, then, a Loyalist victory in the Spanish Civil War could have lost the Allies the Second World War. I, for one, find this conclusion paradoxical.
Any other ideas?
[If you liked this piece, you might also be interested in taking a look at a revew of The Last Crusade, a history of the Spanish Civil War from a Carlist perspective.]
By 1936, the Spanish Civil War had raged for two and a half months, though the political confusion went back decades. In 1873, the experiment with the Spanish Republic began, but it crumbled to give a return to monarchy under Alfonso XIII fourteen years later.
Mola named Jefe del Esanto for Spain Military dictatorship kept the monarchy propped up for over forty years, but, in 1930, another overthrow gave birth to the Second Spanish Republic. A new constitution came in 1931, and a flurry of reforms gave relief to the great numbers of poor who had suffered under laws created in feudalism. With the election of 1933, the Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right won a near-majority of seats, but President Alcal´-Zamora ignored their political significance, instead turning to the Radical Republicans. The government seemed hijacked, and tension gave way to hostilities, which gave way to violence. Hundreds of assassinations, general strikes, bombings, and fires by arson crippled the country.
A new story by Jeff ProvineElections in 1936 changed the government to a coalition of gradual reform under President Azaña. Extreme rightists refused gradual reform, calling for revolution and an end to Azaña, who had weakened the Spanish military with budget cuts. On July 17, a coup under monarchist and figurehead General José Sanjurjo began with Emilio Mola as its second-in-command. They called themselves the Nationalists and hoped to achieve a strong, central government like the fascists that had transformed Italy and Germany. While outlying areas such as the Canary Islands and Morocco fell quickly, the Republicans managed to contain the rebels and control the south, especially the major cities. In other areas, anarchists armed themselves, killing just about anybody who tried to subdue them.
With the coup botched, Spain descended into civil war. The Republicans, aided by Mexico and the USSR as well as international volunteers including some 2000 Americans, fought against the fascist Nationalists, who found support from Germany, Italy, Portugal, and major American companies such as General Motors, Ford, Firestone, and Texaco. The Nationalists convened in Burgos to determine a leader. Sanjurjo had died in a plane crash on July 20, just three days into the coup. Much attention was brought to Francisco Franco, and it looked as if he would gain official command after being named commander-in-chief on September 21. Hitler had named his support for Franco, but behind-the-scenes politicking established Mola as the leader of the Nationalists on October 1. Some had blamed his ineptitude for the failure of the coup, but promises he made to Hitler trumped the Fuhrer's trust in Franco. The power would thus be divided between Franco militarily and Mola for public affairs.
The arrangement seemed a success. Mola achieved great strides in propaganda, such as his creation of the term "fifth column" to describe the additional shadow-soldiers of Nationalist-sympathizers complementing his four columns of official soldiers. Franco, meanwhile, led the armies in a siege of Madrid, taking the city at the end of October. Announcements claimed that the war would be ended by Christmas.
In reality, the war dragged on through the winter and into the spring. Most of the Republicans had been dug out of cities in the southwest, but bitter guerrilla warfare slowed the Nationalist march through the countryside and, especially, mountains. Still, victory seemed inevitable, especially with the German Condor Legion bombing suspected Republican outposts.
On July 3, 1937, Mola died in a plane crash on his return to Vitoria. Franco inherited the mantle of Head of State, but Mola-supporters were suspicious. When evidence of assassination arose (though disputed), civil war broke out among the fascists. Hitler and Mussolini offered to mediate, but both sides refused to speak to the other without major conditions met. Finally, the Fuhrer and Il Dulce grew impatient and decided to back Franco. He managed to retake control of the Nationalists by force in 1939, but by then Italy and Germany had gone into their own war against the Allies.
The Republicans regrouped while the fascists had turned to in-fighting and gained material supplied by covert operations from the Allies. In their first campaign, they retook Madrid, causing Franco to call for help from Vichy France. As the French came into the war, so did Britain, the Soviet Union, and, later, the United States. Using Spain as a beachhead, the Allies stomped out the Nationalist soldiers in 1942 and moved through France toward Germany and across the Mediterranean to Italy.
After the war, Spain would solidify in its republic and achieve great prosperity with the rebuilding of Europe and 1960s. While still known for leftist as well as rightist fanatics, Spain serves as a model among the EU for republican brotherhood and regained glory.
In 1949, on this day in the north-eastern city of Changchun, the Chairman of the Communist Party Mao Tse-tung (pictured) proclaimed the People's Republic of China. Whilst the partition was a devastating setback for the Nationalist Government in Peking, responsibility for the reversal lay not with General Chiang Kai-shek himself but rather with his American allies who had struggled to grasp the full context of the conflict.
America loses Northeastern ChinaThe Soviet Union had invaded Manchuria (and later Hokkaido) to defeat the Japanese, and this intervention provided a security buffer for the Chinese Communists. When the Soviets withdrew, Kai-shek's second "Northern Expedition" had been on the brink of victory. Having advanced into the outskirts of the city of Harbin, the Nationalists were on the verge of seizing the security key to the North.
Instead the "loss of north-eastern China" like so many setbacks for the country was entirely due to foreign meddling in the form of the unwelcome intervention of US Secretary of State George C. Marshall. Alarmed at the prospect of World War Three breaking out should the Soviet's intervene, he had convinced Chiang Kai-shek to agree to a ceasefire.
Marshall's actions might have headed off World World Three, but they created a conundrum for the United States. And the problem of "two Chinas" would vex American foreign policy until the mid nineteen seventies when both of the principles would die within a year of each other. By then Manchuria had been devastated by Mao's programmes which included the Great Leap Forward and also the Cultural Revolution. His successors would be forced to flee to Hokkaido, seeking refuge with the Communist Government of North Japan.
In 2009, as expected the International Olympics Committee (IOC) confirmed that the Games of the XXXI Olympiad would be co-hosted by the cities of Kabul and Baghdad. The acceptance of the bid was predicated upon advanced investment plans underwritten by the World Bank.
Olympic SpiritUntil the millenia, the location of the Games had been determined by infrastrusture readiness, a chicken-and-egg argument that disadvantaged the capitals of developing nations, who of course most needed the regeneration investment.
Much of the credit for this keynote decision was attributable to Great Britain's progressive Prime Minister, Mr Bryan Gould (pictured) who, alongside Princess Diana, had spearheaded a global anti-poverty campaign since taking office in 1997. One of the key outcomes of that campaign was to secure a pledge from the IOC not only to locate the Games in developing nations, but also to encourage the formation of international teams of specialists from around the world to work on the necessary infrastructure projects. Rather than develop plans at a national level, this pooling of international resource would add an extra dimension to regeneration efforts across developing nations.
In 1969, the American people received a wholly unexpected broadcast from the Oval Office on this day. Just eight weeks after announcing that Americans had landed on an alien world, US President Richard M. Nixon announced that "some time back" aliens had landed in America.
Coast-to-coast PanicPresident Eisenhower had been on the verge of such a press conference in 1954. Ultimately, however "Ike" had determined that the timing was wrong. The American people were not yet aware that Nazi scientists were working on the US Space Programme; the knowledge that a UFO Crash in Nazi Germany had enabled alien technology to be reverse engineered in the first place would be shocking, perhaps inducing a coast-to-coast wave of hysteria.
The armed conflict in New Mexico Nixon had swept aside that veil of silence. Because at Dulce Air base, "Grays" had seized a number of human scientists to ensure continued co-operation in their monstrous gene-splicing research. Crack Delta Force troops had been sent through the tunnels to rescue the scientists, creating hundreds of human casualties. The Secret Government now made the alarming discovery of how little control they actually had. And thats when the fighting spilled out into the cities of New Mexico, and onto the TV screens of America. The coast-to-coast wave of hysteria had begun.
On this day in 2002, Iraq held its first democratic elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Longtime Iraqi National Congress chairman Ahmed Chalabi narrowly won the balloting to become the country's new prime minister; voters also ratified a new Iraqi constitution and approved a series of legal reforms meant to eliminate the human rights abuses which had been routine police and court practice under Saddam's rule. Chalabi's first official act as new Iraqi prime minister was to arrange a summit with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
In 1951, the jury in the trial of Lee Harvey Oswald found him guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
|Lee H. Oswald|
His defense attorneys, convinced Oswald had been railroaded, immediately appealed the verdict; the original ruling was upheld, however, and Oswald would remain in prison until 1963, when he was killed in a shiv fight with a fellow inmate.
On this day in 1971, Japan's Emperor Hirohito disappeared.
On this day in 1919, the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers finished the regular season still tied for first place; for the tiebreaker game being played the next day, Chicago elected to start ace Claude "Lefty" Williams while Detroit countered with 21-game winner Hooks Dauss.
In 1960, on this day preacher and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "Do Not Forget Harlem" speech in which he urged federal and state authorities to bring Harlem's share of post-hurricane recovery aid closer in line with those being received by predominantly white sections of New York City.
|Martin Luther King|
On this day in 1939, the New York Knights, who had started the Major League Baseball season in last place, completed a historic comeback by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on a two-run homer by outfielder Roy Hobbs to win the National League pennant.
Twelve years later, Hobbs would play a critical role in another famous comeback drive as third base coach for the Leo Durocher-managed Giants team that overtook the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League championship.
|New York Knights|
On this day in 1944, British troops and Greek anti-Nazi partisans liberated Athens.
In 1992, a federal report tracking the progress of the 'urban enterprise zones' set up in a number of cities since passage of the Urban Empowerment Act is leaked to the media. The report notes some successes, but documents that removing 'oppressive' taxes and regulation does not seem to be enough inducement in most cases for outside businesses to come into the UEZ's, which generally have serious non-economic problems, such as high crime rates and the absence of what it calls a 'commercial culture.'
The same obstacles, the report adds, tend to hinder efforts by local people to start up and expand business enterprises of their own, despite the inducements offered within a UEZ.
President Kemp, who had been given an early look at these disappointing findings, is furious that they have been leaked. He believes it was done to influence the upcoming presidential election. Furthermore, he still has faith that the enterprise zones will eventually have their desired effect; he believes it is only a matter of time, and fears that partisan politics may sink his program prematurely.
In 1990 : there are now 180,000 U.S. troops in the Gulf, along with 20,000 Britons and 10,000 French soldiers. Increasing numbers of troops from Gulf nations are joining them, bankrolled in particular by the Saudis, who fear that if Iraq is allowed to seize Kuwait, they may be next.
President Kemp repeats his demand that all Western 'guests' of the Iraqi regime be freed and that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait.
In 1804, the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase are organized into the Territory of Louisiana and the District of Orleans. Both will eventually become states, although Orleans will be renamed New Orleans before that time..
In 1801, Congress finally elects a new President: Alexander Hamilton, who narrowly defeats Thomas Jefferson. Under the terms of the Constitution, Jefferson will become Hamilton's vice-president. It is an awkward arrangement. Hamilton is the leader of the dominant faction of the ruling Federalist Party, while Jefferson had actually co-founded the anti-Federalist Republican Party in opposition to the Constitution in the 1790s before reluctantly accepting the new charter. In addition, Hamilton is a Northerner and an outspoken advocate of the abolition of slavery, while Jefferson is a slaveholding Southerner.
In 1975, Nevada Governor Mike O'Callaghan, a Democrat, appoints his former lieutenant governor Harry M. Reid to fill out the unexpired Senate term of Paul D. Laxalt, who has been tapped by President Nelson Rockefeller for the vice-presidency following Rockefeller's succession to the presidency in the wake of President Ford's assassination. The Governor's action angers many Republicans, who had demanded that Laxalt's replacement, like him, be from the GOP. Some conservatives charge that Governor 'Callaghan is exploiting Laxalt's departure to overturn the will pf the voters. Reid, considerably more liberal than Laxalt, had challenged the departing Senator for his seat in 1974 and lost by fewer than 600 votes.
In 1938, Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany following Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland. Hitler had rejected out of hand the suggestion of Benito Mussolini that a conference be held to settle the Sudentland Crisis.
In 1914, 'From this day on the British Empire recognises the right of self determination of the Flemish people. And we invite these people to sent her representative to our nations capital!' With this statement the prime minister opens the session of the lower house. In the following debate the prime minister answers on a question of the opposition if 'We are now recognising every German puppet state to be set-up?', 'If that has to be what it takes to restore peace in our world we might consider that, but the Flemish people have clearly stated there opinion on this issue.'
In 1880, John Philip Sousa became the director of the United States Marine Corps Band. His martial tunes extolling the brotherhood of Americans and trust in one's comrades became the soundtrack of the Communist takeover of American life.
In 1604, Pope James I attends the performance of William Shakespeare's Othello, a story of a black Moor converted to Christianity, but doomed because of his uncontrollable rage. The Pope reportedly thought well of the play, and it was performed at many venues across London for years after.
In Hellenic Year 3432, Alexander of Macedon was defeated by the Persians at Gaugamela. Although Persians dominated the region militarily for generations, their culture was subsumed into that of the Hellenes, and the Hellenes migrated across all of Asia.
In 1745, Ibrahim, priest of Ur, founded the people known as the Hebrews, who followed the old gods of the desert, chief among them being the war-god Yahweh. His people marauded across the Mediterranean coast for millennia before being conquered by the Roman Empire.
in the Central African city of Malabo mourned the passing of President Francisco Macias Nguema
who died of natural causes aged eighty on September 28th. For twenty long years after independence, Equatorial Guinea was a desperately poor Spanish client-state until Oil was discovered in 1993. Foreign investors rushed to plant claims in EQ, and Nguema mades the most of it. The oil began to flow, and everybody from the Fang tribe gets to live well on it.
Of course, the Fang have no freedom of speech, and the Nguema family held all government jobs. Ethnic minorities and guest workers are treated badly. The state is officially very devoutly Catholic, with strict Blue Laws and bans on anything deemed 'blasphemous.' But in reality, the old gods are still worshipped in a lot of places, and the Nguemas indulge in any vice they please, from prostitutes to cocaine.
But the Fang majority is happy, because they have the highest standard of living in Africa (outside South Africa), a cradle-to-grave welfare state, peace, and little crime. Foreign investors are happy, and (due to a pro-Western foreign policy) most foreign governments are happy. In short, a Catholic version of the United Arab Emirates.
In 2007, the Farcebook website had the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites with over 42 million active members worldwide, expected to pass 60 million users by the end of the year. This explosive growth in usage had only started on February 4th 2004 when Mark Zingerberg, a former member of the Harvard class of 2006 and former Ardsley High School student founded this new social networking website, restricting access to students of Harvard College. Hundreds of millions of people sent each other pokes, nudges, insults, look-at-me's. Either cries for help, or one-up-manship, as the mood took you. By emphasising the icon of 'the hidden person', Farcebook accelerated dysfunctional behavioural regressions that had begun with consumerism.
In 1963, John F Kennedy was prescribed the stiff canvas shoulder-to-groin metal framed brace that would deflect an assassin's bullet at Dallas, saving his life less than seven weeks later. 'Kennedy may have been saved . . . by his sexual excesses and compulsiveness,' Hersh wrote in the Dark Side of Camelot 'He severely tore a groin muscle while frolicking poolside with one of his sexual partners during a West Coast trip in the last week of September 1963. The pain was so intense that the White House medical staff prescribed a stiff canvas shoulder-to-groin metal framed brace that locked his body in a rigid upright position. It was far more constraining that his usual back brace, which he also continued to wear. The two braces were meant to keep him as comfortable as possible during the strenuous days of campaigning, including that day in Dallas.'
on this day sentencing occurred at the Nuremberg Trials. A guilty charge was found against Commander of the British Eighth Army Colonel T.E. Lawrence
and subordinates Bernard Law Montgomery, Archibald Percival Wavell and Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck and all four were shot the very next day. Granted a last request, Lawrence wrote a short letter for Winston Churchill who - along with the remnants of the British Royal Navy - had withdrawn to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands
. Thanking Churchill for his confidence in the Command appointment, Lawrence blamed his defeat upon a group of Egyptian officers, headed by Gamal Abdul Nassar, and Anwar el-Sadat, who secretly sided with the Germans, ridding North Africa of Britain's presence. In a final, chilling paragraph, Lawrence entered a biblical quote from the Book of Proverbs, 9:1: Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars
In 2007, ex-Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis criticised the biopic movie of his life, Control (so-named with heavy irony). To portray the disintegration of his soul was a wild exaggeration. Wife Debbie added that
the depiction of an alleged 1980 suicide aged 23 was sheer fantasy, love would not tear them apart.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.