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Monday, Oct 16, 2023 - 22:46 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Le Fardeau Les Bleus

The Team Blue contingent in charge of this Action Round do not seem pleased at their options, with current U.S. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland seeming just a little frazzled, this coming so soon after the Ukraine kerfuffle. They appear to have been counting on that Soviets Shoot Down RA-02795 card snagged by the adversary... uh, there's some commotion at the back of the audience gallery, our African guests seem to be getting to their feet and clapping in rhythm; dearie me, is that a vuvuzela? Haven't heard one since the World Cup in South Africa in 2010! They're stomping in unison now, as random American congresspeople hastily don colourful scarves before kneeling - what extraordinary scenes here - and with the djembe drums beating, they are chanting as one now:

Coup *bam* coup *bam* beaucoup, coup! *bam bam*

Turn 14, Action Round 3 (Team Blue)

Team Blue plays Decolonization for 2 Ops, resolving the Event before Ops.

Wagner's Symphony in Z major
(Original sources: twilightstrategy.com, nytimes.com)

Coups in Africa have seldom been featured in the mainstream news, as explained in the introduction to Twilight Struggle: New Moon last June, and "West Africa" and the "Saharan States" have struggled for relevance in particular, with the many countries covered not even dignified with their names. These two polities happen to largely coincide with two concepts: Françafrique, the cluster of former French (and Belgian) colonies in Africa, and the Coup Belt, a more-recent neologism after recent... freedom revolutions.

With the Western European Scramble for Africa having carved up the continent by about 1914, the extraction of resources and wealth would trundle merrily along for decades, before mutual exhaustion in the Second World War forced the Europeans to divest themselves of their overseas empires - often quite unwillingly. The French unhappiness at losing Vietnam (i.e. French Indochina) would eventually play a part in dragging the U.S. into the Vietnam War, but it was in Africa that their vastest territories resided. A common thread binding this European mass invasion would be a sense of obligation towards "inferior races" (i.e. Kipling's The White Man's Burden), but there was in practice perhaps less civility than advertised. "Nazi" is a label bandied about all too lightly these days, but when amputating limbs for insufficient work output is involved, it might not be an unfair description of the colonials.

Anyway, France for one would try to maintain an association with their former subjects, in similar vein as the British Commonwealth, but other then some scattered islands, the largest part of their remaining Influence would be within the CFA franc zone of central and western Africa. As reflected in Twilight Struggle rules design, Coups are basically a free-for-all in Africa, and they have endured some 214 attempts - about half successful - since 1950. There had been a lull since the end of Cold War I, when then-Team Red leaders the U.S.S.R. gave significant support to local independence movements towards their ideology of global Communism, but the Russians have evidently found it convenient to dig out the old playbook for the second edition, thus the African Autumn.

The latest spate would follow oustings in Mali, Chad, Guinea and Burkina Faso from 2021, and first up we have... Niger, on the 26th of July! Niger, please:

*Happy vuvuzela noises*
(Source: bloomberg.com)

1 Ops: +1 Influence in Saharan States (0/1). There had been an abortive attempt to seize the presidential palace before the President-elect could be inaugurated back in 2021, but if it doesn't work the first time, try and try again. Prigozhin had just done his share of back-slapping at the African-Russian summit that saw 49 representatives attend before his... untimely end, as his Wagner Group would soon be requested to come to the new ruling junta's aid, possibly encouraged by the recent cancellation of African debt by Russia. About this, France might have to explore new sources of uranium now, as Team Red asserts Control in the region with nary any resistance.

1 Ops: +1 Influence in West African States (0/1). It's Gabon's turn at the end of August, removing the Bongo family that had reigned since 1967. Yes, if you're wondering, that doesn't sound very democratic. Unlike most of the others, the stated casus belli for this Coup would not be the civilian administration's failure to manage Islamist Sahel militants, but "poor governance". Well, it's rare to find an established African leader who doesn't engage in a tad of looting, after all...

Troubles elsewhere have sapped the will of Team Blue - and France especially - to respond (as probably calculated by Team Red/Russia), and with Macron agreeing to withdraw their ambassador and troops from Niger as demanded by the coup leaders and apparent popular will, and no action by ECOWAS either, there are whispers that French Influence in Africa is disintegrating beyond repair. There doesn't appear much appetite by the French public to hold on to perceived money-draining liabilities too, and without a response from the U.S., there appears little to prevent Russia/Team Red from extending their Influence in Africa yet further.

Sadly, one can hardly believe that Russia (or other Team Red powers) are operating in Africa solely out of the goodness of their hearts, and other than the usual exploitation of commodity resources, whipping up new migrant waves and fostering Islamist movements would be just two rather evident possibilities. That said, Team Blue can only rue the brutal colonial legacy (and past involvements) that made just about any other alternative feel palatable, as argued by Guinea's junta head before the United Nations in September, and we can only hope that the Africans find their own way forward here.

1 Ops: +1 Influence in Burma (0/3). Still two more Influence to add here, and despite ongoing resistance, the Myanmar junta has retained Control since their 2021 Coup. While ASEAN has made some motherhood statements against violence in Myanmar, it was never as if the association ever cared that much about non-democratic rule, and they seem to be much more concerned about the Team Red/Team Blue reaction. Actually, it's not clear as to whether the Myanmar junta views themselves as closer to Russia (as suggested by their vaccine policies) or China, but with China unwavering in their support in any case, this has to be one for Team Red.

1 Ops: +1 Influence in Algeria (1/2). The French retreat has extended to Algeria, with their pivot to Algeria swamped by continued Chinese investment. Russia has been assisting on the military end too, as Team Red makes their bid for Africa.

This also makes four Required Military Operations claimed by the Reds, with a black-faced Team Blue just happy to put this sorry episode behind them.

1 Ops: +1 Influence in Indonesia (2/2). As the fourth most-populous nation on Earth, behind only India, China and the U.S., Indonesia has perhaps been grossly underrepresented on the world stage - or at least since America helped the Suharto regime to massacre about a million alleged Communists and sympathisers in Cold War I. They do appear quite well-informed of their importance in the brewing Cold War II, and while China got to them early, Team Blue have been sparing few efforts to catch up. Failing which, there's always adding some colour to life. Which reminds us, apologies about the Thailand hints - that was always going to be too obvious.

1 Ops: +1 Influence in the Philippines (5/2). The U.S. has really won Bongbong Macros over in making their former colonial dominion a star ally in Asia, and their alliance has just been deepened with multiple new bases, including a possible port in the Batanes islands less than 200 km from Taiwan. Whether they will be allowed to be put into action in the event of an actual war remains somewhat vague, but this has to be seen as definite progress in getting at least one ASEAN nation firmly on the Team Blue side.

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