In The Shadow of CEGA
Few among the people of the Solar nations pay the Earth much attention, regarding it as a poor and primitive place, beneath their notice. Yet, it is the stubborn resistance of the non-aligned nations of Earth that has truly checked CEGA's expansion. The Solar settlements overlook the ever-growing force that CEGA has been able to bring to bear, the technology and resources of the Orbital and Lunar colonies fueling an ever-growing threat. Alone, but unbowed, the non-aligned states resist despite their isolation, working to restore their shattered planet and ensure their children's freedom from both CEGA and Solar domination. Despite being less advanced than the Solar nations, the nonaligned states of Earth make up half of Humankind. The choices they make will help define history.
Earth's people are extremely diverse in culture and background, a difficult concept for the internally homogenous Solar nations to grasp. From Mercury to Jupiter, people had to put aside their differences and work together during the Fall or perish, slowly creating highly integrated communities. On Earth, however, it was the people who fought the hardest that survived. Even within the new nations, people have retained a fierce sense of self-identity, every cultural group striving to maintain its individuality out of pride and a carefully nurtured unwillingness to give an inch of moral ground. Divided and divisive, the non-aligned states are incomprehensible to the Solar nations, who cannot understand why their offers of aid are scorned or why, in the face of the CEGA threat, the free Earth remains beset by internal rivalries.
From the glittering cylinders of the Jovian Confederation to the slick arcologies of the coasts, Humankind seems to have awoken from a long nightmare. For the free peoples of Earth, however, living under the looming menace of CEGA, struggling for edible food and clean water, lacking the technology and resources available to the rest of the Solar System, there is no bright future. The non-aligned states are resigned to the fact that even greater struggles are ahead. Such melancholy defines the independent peoples of Earth, often making them as harsh and bitter as their planet. It is, as outsiders note with some irony, their one truly unifying aspect.
The looming presence of CEGA, unified, driven, and purposeful in the pursuit of Solar and Earthbound conquest, is the dominant political force at play on Earth. Even as Solar diplomats write off the non-aligned states as minor players sure to be swallowed by CEGA, the non-aligned leaders write off the Solar nations as upstarts to be dealt with after CEGA has been defeated. While they might deny it, the non-aligned states' parochialism is driven by CEGA's domination of Earth politics. There is peace only when CEGA wants it, there is uninterrupted trade only when CEGA allows it, and CEGA never lets the non-aligned states forget that it controls the skies above them, disabling their satellites and spaceborne facilities at will.
In the years of peace since the end of the Unification Wars, the non-aligned nations have managed to avoid being completely paralyzed by their well-founded wariness of CEGA. Though they may have a negligible space presence, some nations are as advanced as CEGA and many have restored their environments, rebuilt their industries and reconstructed their societies until their strength is unmistakable, even if overshadowed by CEGA's military and economic dominance. Ironically, it is this common enemy's presence alone that gives the diverse non-aligned states any unity at all. CEGA's military preparedness, environmental failings and militaristic imperialism are the primary issues for the peoples of Free Earth. This is highly unpalatable for many, but the situation in 2210 revolves around the non-aligned states' efforts to deal with what CEGA is planning.
Whereas CEGA must divide its attention between planetary and Solar politics, the non-aligned states exhibit little concern for what goes on outside Earth's atmosphere. Anything not to do with Earth is generally considered unimportant.
For a few states, the realization that CEGA faces possible defeat at the hands of the Jovian Confederation has raised the bogeyman of Jovian or Venusian domination and led them to reevaluate the benefits and drawbacks of CEGA membership. South Africa and China have done just the opposite and quietly started looking into the potential of recruiting Solar allies in the fight against CEGA imperialism. As yet, however, the leaders of these states remain secretive, afraid of negative public opinion and CEGA military retaliation.
Other states have hunkered down behind their defenses, afraid that the Martian conflict will lead to the resurrection of the Unification Wars. Observers note that such disunity is exactly why the non-aligned states could not and cannot defeat CEGA. CEGA has much experience in dealing with the divergent tendencies of the non-aligned states and, even in its weakened state, the Administration is trying to stimulate the differences to woo potential new members as well as to prevent an alliance between the non-aligned.
A serious and continuing political problem is the popularly-held expectation that there will be another war. No one on Earth views the Jerusalem Accords as a permanent settlement. The USE and NAA saw peace as a short transitory period until they had conquered the Orbital Colonies, never envisoning that some nonaligned states would be willing to destroy the Earth rather than surrender. Following the Unification Wars, the Administration dismissed the possibility that Free Earth might become a threat to their new power. The CEGA Council therefore refused to offer equal membership to Free Earth nations within the Council and Joint Service.
The economy of Free Earth is healthy and shows signs that it will continue to undergo sustainable expansion for the foreseeable future. The non-aligned states have, for the most part, built a solid economic foundation through careful eco-restoration, moderate defense spending and free trade. It is one of Earth's great ironies that the divided non-aligned nations have far freer trade between them than the supposedly united CEGA nations. The Asia Trading Sphere is a complete free trade area, so much so that to all intents and purposes it is a single economy. Nor has the ATS tried to become an exclusive economic region; instead, trade agreements are in place with not just the Azanian Compact and ANZAC, but many small independent nations as well. The same positives can be found in the Azanian Compact and ANZAC, though in both cases there is more of a socialist-style intervention in the economy. Despite this, both the southern powers have maintained a healthy balance between central control, welfare and free enterprise, so their growth rates have not been far behind that of the ATS.
Interestingly, this economic cooperation extends even to the more isolationist and backward non-aligned states, including Persia and Ethiopia. In Free Earth there is a history of trade dating back to the South African and Australian trade missions during the Long Winter. These missions brought not just trade, but also business skills and commercial expectations, to the peoples of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Once the people developed a taste for the benefits of trade, it became very hard to stop it. In the interactions between the non-aligned, a trading nation's internal economic structures must be relatively sound or else it will fail to compete successfully. Thus, most non-aligned states have remarkably good domestic economic policies.
There is little trade with CEGA, because the Administration insists that any dealings must favor its interests in all aspects. While presently not a serious problem, it means that to sustain their economic growth the nonaligned states must look to Solar trade. With minimal orbital lift capacity, total CEGA domination of orbit, virtually no contacts even in the Earth subsystem and a basic prejudice against all colonials, this option raises a whole host of political and strategic problems. A wrong decision could mean war and great economic damage to Free Earth. This puts the non-aligned states into an invidious position where they must risk losingn all they have built, let CEGA slowly ruin them, or trade with CEGA at its exorbitant terms.
Environmental conditions across Earth are highly varied, but it is true to say that the majority of Asian and African nations have put significant effort into eco-restoration. These efforts are backed by the considerable technical skills and money available due to restrained defense spending, though the non-aligned nations do not have access to Solar resources to aid their eco-restoration attempts. Regional cooperation in Africa and Asia has also worked successfully to contain many of the larger environmental problems. While many ecological hazards continue to exist, the most of serious hazards have been contained in Asia and Africa, meaning that the majority of people do not face regular contamination risks. However, rising tensions with CEGA are likely to lead to increased military production and thus decreased eco-restoration budgets.
South America's ongoing instability and general poverty have prevented eco-restoration from achieving much of anything. Various nations, including CEGA, have tried to offer assistance, but all such attempts have been frustrated by the rampant corruption and constant violence. A growing worry is that if problems in South America go unchecked, especially in the Mato Grosso Biohazard Zone, they could pose significant dangers to the recovering South Atlantic Ocean. Few in Free Earth see CEGA's interest as anything other than self-serving, however, because the list of uncontained major ecological hazards within CEGA is significant and almost all of these have a serious and deleterious effect on the environmental condition of surrounding nations. After memories of the Unification Wars, CEGA's generally poor environmental record is the most common cause of anger in the non-aligned states, since they do not believe that the North Americans and Europeans are pulling their weight to repair the planet.
CEGA's most notorious problems are the Great Lakes, the Ruhr, Russia and the Southern Counties, which between them are mostly responsible for the ongoing deterioration of the North Atlantic. Contaminants from these toxic regions also get into the upper atmosphere and can affect areas thousands of kilometers away. Yet if CEGA's environmental inaction causes anger, its aggressive industrialization is creating hatred. According to the non-aligned states, CEGA's desire for Solar conquest is leading it to ignore the early warning signs of another ecological collapse. Already, the Maritime League has reduced the North American east coast to a polluted wasteland once again and other industrial regions are on the edge. If CEGA does not desist and the planet begins to collapse again, there will be an unbelievably bloody war of survival.
Generally speaking, the non-aligned states have relatively limited scientific research programs. Despite the CEGA threat, the non-aligned states do not have the resources to maintain the absolute focus CEGA can on military research. Their limited scientific resources are scattered across a wide variety of fields, of which ecorestoration is the most important. Most of this research is backward by Solar standards, except in the biological sciences, where the non-aligned states are highly advanced and highly secretive. This secrecy is related to resistance to the USN-imposed Edicts as well as constant CEGA espionage. Dislike for the Edicts is a sentiment common all over Earth, and few non-aligned states pay the Edicts anything but lip service, claiming the Earth's environmental recovery overrides any other consideration.
This same attitude applies to other research as well. Military research in the non-aligned states is very specifically focused on the needs of planetary warfare and as a result they have almost kept in step with CEGA's developments in this area. As part of this push, research into chemical and biological warfare is widespread, as is work towards more efficient fusion warheads and stealthier delivery systems. Scientific resistance to the Edicts is all the stronger because CEGA has taken to encouraging SolaPol to raid facilities in Free Earth looking for breaches, activities the poor and politically weak non-aligned states have difficulty objecting to or defending themselves from. A few states, however, have broken with the Edicts altogether, refusing all contact with the USN; fears are running high about what nightmares may be developing in their unchecked labs, and SolaPol's efforts to maintain intelligence about such research are among its most strenuous. inevitable conflict.
While non-aligned states popularly dislike the Solar nations for much the same historical reasons as CEGA, there has never been an effort to officially demonize them for propaganda purposes; that degree of loathing is mostly reserved for CEGA. At best, the people of Free Earth are indifferent to the Solar nations; at worst the resentment is almost strong enough to make CEGA a bearable option. For the majority, however, the feeling tends to be that the Earth's ungrateful colonies and CEGA fully deserve each other.
Two recent events have provided signs of movement away from these attitudes among the Free Earth's political elite. The first is the Jovian Confederation's growing power. The second is the need in the next decade or so for the non-aligned states to find new export markets. Only the Asian Trading Sphere (ATS) and Azanian Compact have the orbital lift capacity to even think of trading off-planet, and, not surprisingly, it is they who are making the first delicate moves toward greater Solar participation. CEGA watches warily, hoping to sabotage non-aligned off-planet diplomacy; it needs to keep Free Earth bottled up in order to have any hope of eventually incorporating it into the Administration.
The Forgotten Fallen
There are far fewer nations in the Free Earth of 2210 than there were in the 20th century. This may seem surprising given the talk of division or conflict that pervades discussions about the non-aligned states. Indeed. before the Collapse the United Nations had over two hundred member nations, whereas in 2210, the number of nations on Earth is a tenth of that. Relatwly speaking, therefore, the Earth is actually less divided than it was before the Collapse. However, this consolidation during the Long Winter was due to the genocide of numeruus ethnic groups all across the planet. As civilization collapsed and people reverted back to older forms of social organization, they also breathed life into ancient animosities as they fought over the few remaining resources that meant the difference between life and death.
Some groups such as the Germans, Tutsi, Sri Lankans and Sundanese were totally exterminated, while others such as the Italians, Afrikaners, Pathans, Koreans and Canadians were simply absorbed into more powerful communities and all but lost their separate identities. This same bloodthirsty nationalism has made relabons between the remaining groups more strained than ever before in Earth's history, perhaps a result of the continuing struggle for survival and limited resources. The Earth therefore, is as divided as ever; it is just that there are now fewer groups doing the dividing. Politically. this has the benefit that far fewer states on Earth suffer from internal ethnic or religious problems than was histortcally the case; they all have their hands full with international disputes.