Command Semi-Fiction: Pearl Harbor

Today is a Command Fiction day, but it’s also the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. So, what should I do?

Link back to the old Final Countdown reenactment in Command, of course. And ponder something about the date the movie was made. If it had been made a few years later and/ or been a potboiler book with no need to worry about budgets, would it have been, like the scenario was, a triumphalist tale of 1980 airpower crushing the 1941 IJN with the carrier strike going through? (Given the infamous Japan Inc fears of the time, it might be included just for that purpose.)

Interesting how pop culture can change quickly.

Fleet Actions, Historical and Otherwise

In June 1961, the USN and JSDF prepare a series of provocative moves into the Sea of Okhotsk. Well, in real life they didn’t, but in my Command scenario “The Okhotsk Bastion”, they did. The Soviet forces there are somewhat historical, save for a hypothetical carrier and its assorted aircraft.

The actual scen is very slow (it is after all, an anti-submarine scenario with very limited equipment), but I went to the editor, rearranged the small JSDF task group and the southernmost fleet of subchasers, and got-the biggest fleet engagement since World War II.

To put this in perspective-it was between three Japanese ships and eight Soviet subchasers. The former’s “fleet” consisted of a recent yet still low-end frigate, an IJN-surplus anti-sub vessel, and a coastal minesweeper with a deck gun. The latter had medium and small ships. No ship in the engagement had more than 1,400 tons displacement. None had anything bigger than a 120mm turret.

The JSDF lost the new frigate. The Soviets lost one large and four small subchasers. There were limited aerial engagements.

Book after book would be written on the engagement.

When you have such a small sample size, the data will be obsessed over.

This explains why so much naval warfare has been theoretical-not just since World War II, but since the development of the steam engine. A combination of rapid technological progress mixed with few samples (thanks to both the high capital costs of ships and Anglo-American naval supremacy) has made wargaming and simulation crucial.

So when looking at alternate history Command scens, it’s interesting to see how influential they might have been in their timelines that never were.

 

Gate: Thus The Blogger Analyzed

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There is an extremely silly book-turned-manga-turned-anime. The actual show is a mess of outright goofiness and battles that are as melodramatic as they are one-sided.

The synopsis of the plot thus far goes like this-Gate opens in Tokyo, and out steps a pseudo-Roman fantasy army that pillages and murders-until they get machine-gunned. The JSDF then builds a dome around the gate, and sends a scouting unit led by a goofball nerd who somehow passed Ranger School. You get wizard-girls, elves, and as of the last episode, catgirls, bunny-girls, and medusa-girls. And that after an unironic use of blasting Wagner from helicopters while machine-gunning hapless opponents. Oh, and a princess named Pina Colada. No joke.

Mounting a political and economic critique of such a setup seems as easy an overkill as the actual fighting, but that didn’t stop countless observers (including me) on my favorite forum of Spacebattles from giving a try.

-Japan immediately and officially annexes the entire world on the other side of the gate.

-Then they brag about how rich they’re going to get off the resources there.

-No one else is allowed through the gate.

-China and the US want to go through the gate, and the former wants to settle a third (!) of its population on the other side.

Either the JSDF would back down or see what happens when you pit a gain of totally undeveloped and completely theoretical resource deposits against the damage to one of the world’s most trade-dependent economies. But even if they and not Japan backs down, the “Special Region” could easily turn into a political and economic nightmare even without it.

1: Economics.

-Even if you know the resources exist, getting them is a huge problem. You have to find them, which means extensive surveys. Then you have to build the infrastructure, then you have to deal with the bottleneck of one small gate. This will take years and years and years, and that’s assuming that the costs make it viable at all. (As in, if it’s not just cheaper to import them from other countries on Earth)

Considering that there’s so little else of value there, the raw materials are going to make the Special Region sink or swim. And logically, it’d sink, given all the bottlenecks.

And then there’s the opportunity costs. See, you’ve shackled your country to one so much less advanced that there’s very little precedent. The (not exactly trouble-free) reunification of Germany, with similar technology, only with differences of efficiency, is not comparable. Even a reintegration of much more divergent Korea would be a piece of cake compared to absorbing an entire world or even a much less advanced country. At least North Korea has paved roads, for one.

And this is the best-case scenario, which assumes everyone is completely docile. In any instance with the slightest plausbility, they wouldn’t be.

2: Politics.

Where do I even start?

Ok, first let’s ignore the dubious Sino-American fetish for the gate. The biggest political problem is that the way to endear yourselves to the local population is not to openly view the whole world as nothing but a resources dispenser (which is precisely what the leaders on the other side think about the Special Region). The second-biggest political problem is that by introducing a touch of modernity, you’re going to trigger something beyond your control.

Sure, the people won’t mind if the only paved roads you build are the ones from the mines to the gate. Suure. And they especially won’t want to emigrate to the other side. Sure, you won’t want to go to this world of riches and miracles on the other side, you’ll just keep dirt-farming while the neo-coprosperityists strip-mine that mountain over there.

How many humans (and others) are in the Special Region? I ventured a guess.

-If the Empire has an “average” population density, and is roughly the size of Germany (based off its Holy Roman Empire inspiration), multiple demographics calculators give it a population of around 10.5 million people. But given its more shiny, high-fantasy feel (and ability to send ahistorically large armies), the population could increase to 15 million under the best-case scenario..

-If it’s the size of Turkey (Eastern Roman Empire), population varies from 26 million to 39 million.

So in the lower case, it’s 7 percent of the population of Japan (about 127 million). In the higher case, it’s 30%. I’m being low-end here and only counting the people of that one explored area. Using theorized world population for the 1200-era Middle Ages (350 million baseline, if I multiply it by one and a half its 525 million), that’s 2.7 and 4.1 times the population.

And going to one of the most infamously homogenous countries in the world. Uh-huh. No issues there.