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Sunday, 24 August 2014

What If: Israel lost the 1948 War for Independence?

What would happen if Israel lost the War of Independence?
With Israel dominating the news in recent weeks I will be looking at an alternate history if Israel lost the War fir Independence; also called the First Arab-Israeli War. In our timeline Israel was made independent in 1948 but virtually immediately Arab League members Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq refused to acknowledge the UN partition of Israel and Palestine and declared war with the to preserve the right of self-determination of Arabs across Palestine on May 14th, the same day Israel declared independence. Despite astronomical odds Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion led Israel to victory with an army numbering 100,000 at its height in 1948 but at the cost of displacing around 750,000 Palestinians and Israel occupying a greater area than originally planned.

How the Arab League could have won- Despite being a coalition the Arab League nations were not united militarily. They each fought their own battles and this loose alliance was emphasized with the fact that each nation signed their own armistice with Israel. More importantly Syria and Egypt had a history of bad relations which lasted even after the Arab-Israeli War. This fractured alliance allowed Israel to quickly defeat the Arab League with Israel's army being well experienced from World War Two just three years prior.
A little map showing that Israel was literally surrounded
If Israel was to lose the war the Arab League would have to have had a leader and the most primary candidate was Egypt which was only slightly larger geographically and militarily than the other League members. This Egypt led coalition would only last throughout the war and would most likely collapse when the only thing uniting them was defeated. Israel in our timeline was also lucky as it managed to purchase three B-17 bombers in America off of the black market which they used to bomb Cairo, (I must admit it is better getting planes on the market rather than getting knock-off Rolexs and alcohol that you normally get). In this alternate timeline Israel most likely would not be able to buy the B-17s so they would lose air superiority. With both of these factors combined it should give the Arab League a much needed edge over the superior Israeli army but they put up a fight and in December 1950 Israel falls.

Aftermath- The Arab League after its victory would set up Palestine where Israel should have been with a the victors making a small landgrab like Jordan taking areas of the West Bank and Egypt taking areas of Negev. However, the coalition would quickly disintegrate as without Israel they had no common enemy to unite them and border disputes from the landgrab and dominance over resources would lead to wars between the former allies. Nasser's coup in Egypt and Husni al-Za'im's coup in Syria would be postponed but not averted as the defeat of Israel would keep the public's support for the old regimes for a short while until the internal problems still cause the revolts. Internationally the public would be in sympathy for Jews with the Holocaust and the loss of Israel within the same decade, especially as the fall of Israel would displace millions of Jews who had been emigrating to the area since the proposal of a Jewish state in the 1920s. Any Jews remaining in the area would most likely be segregated in the same way Palestinians are now in our timeline. Although the immigration of Jews from Israel would increase the Jewish population in the Western nations like Britain, the USA and France but not to the USSR, (Stalin was anti-Semitic).
The Cold War would be different in this scenario
The Cold War- In our timeline the Middle East became a Cold War flashpoint thanks to the US supporting Israel which drew the Arab League to the Soviet camp. Although the Suez Crisis of 1956 would still continue as normal the nations of the Middle East would remain more neutral in the Cold War as with Israel wiped out before the US could give them aid nations like Iraq and Syria were more deterred from going over to the Soviets for support although they would be still willing to with the USSR funding the Aswan Dam construction. With no US support for Israel the OPEC crisis would not occur so the Ford and Carter Presidencies would not be as detrimental although Carter will still have to face the 1979 Iranian Revolution who will still be anti-American over the 1953 coup. Most likely instead of the PLO and Hamas some sort of Zionist separatist group would emerge in Palestine but it would depend on the US-Palestine relations about whether they get the US support. Although it is possible that we may never have heard of Yasser Arafat in this new timeline.

Post-Cold War- Both the First and Second Gulf Wars would be more difficult for the US and UK as well as the ensuing war in Afghanistan as in these wars Israel and Saudi Arabia acted as jump-off points for the coalition soldiers so unless the US made good relations with Palestine they would only have Saudi Arabia but nevertheless the Gulf War would easily be won and it is easy to imagine the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would go the same. With initial influence from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon Palestine would have a similar Republic system which would be undoubtedly overthrown in the Arab Spring with its close proximity to revolutionaries in Syria and Egypt as well as the drastic government change in Iraq after the US deposed Saddam Hussein so Palestine would become a teething democracy being propped up by the West.

This is one scenario about how our world would be like if Israel never became a true state. How would you imagine a world without an Israeli victory in 1948? Please leave comments and suggestions for another History in Focus, What If or Comics Explained. Thanks for reading.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Comics Explained: Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians of the Galaxy
As a comic fan eager for the new Guardians of the Galaxy film I'll introduce a new thing where I explain the origins and history of a comic character, item or group starting with the Guardians of the Galaxy. There are actually two Guardians of the Galaxy but to keep with relevance of the upcoming film I will focus on the one that the film is based on; that is the group that appeared first in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 Issue 1 in May 2008 although I will mention the other group.

Origin- The group originally came after the Annihilation: Conquest storyline where a superpowered human named Star-Lord, (Peter Quill), after he helped the Kree after their war against the Phalanx and even acted as Ronan the Accuser's military adviser. He formed the group after the universe went into an extremely fragile state after the Annihilation events so to avoid the collapse of Earth-616, (the Marvel universe reality), he got Mantis to telepathically get Rocket Raccoon, Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot and the new Quasar Phyla-Vell to join. Star-Lord's friend Nova, (whose Vol. 4 ran alongside the Guardians Vol. 2), suggested that the team form a base on the space station Knowhere whose chief of security was an intelligent dog named Cosmo. After a clash with the Universal Church of Truth they met a semi-amnesic man called Vance Astro who comes from Earth-691 and is the a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. The group decide to use the name and the rest is history.
From left to right: Gomora, Rocket, Starlord, Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer and Quasar

Notable events- Briefly the team split up after they found out that Star-Lord had used Mantis to telepathically join the team, each one going on their own separate missions such as Gamora and Adam Warlock going to find out more about the Universal Church of Truth, Star-Lord going to aid the Kree and Rocket continuing the group's original mission including recruiting new members including Mantis and forming a friendship with Groot. Star-Lord at one point was even banished to the Negative Zone for his actions during the Phalanx attack by Ronan the Accuser. The group then reformed during the War of Kings event when the Shi'ar and Kree went to war where they split into three teams: one to handle the Shi'ar, one to handle the Kree and one to stay on Knowhere to act as team coordinators. In the Thanos Imperative the Earth-616 reality is invaded by the 'Cancerverse' and the team take Thanos into the Cancerverse to end the invasion early but Drax is unfortunately killed attacking Thanos. Although the invasion is stopped Star-Lord and Nova are killed as they remain in the collapsing Cancerverse to let the others escape. After again breifly disbanding Groot and Rocket reform the Guardians with Venom and Captain Marvel set to join in the future.
One of the issues from the original Guardians

Original team- The first Guardians of the Galaxy were very different from their modern counterparts. They first appeared in 1969 in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 18 before moving onto their own series as well as having a few crossovers with other Marvel heroes including Captain America and the Thing. In the late seventies they sporadically appeared in multiple Marvel publications; the last being in Marvel Two-In-One issues 61, 63 and 69. In the 1990s Jim Valentino restarted the series which lasted for 62 issues before cancellation. The sixties and seventies volumes had an astronaut, (from the Earth-691 reality), from the 20th century, Vance Astro, waking up in the 31st century where he finds out humans have been wiped out by the Badoon so with no option he joins the Guardians of the Galaxy, a group comprised of the last people of their species who aim to prevent the Badoon and other threats from destroying the universe. Alongside Astro was Martinex T'Nagga from Pluto, Charlie-27 from Jupiter and Yondu Udonta from Centauri-IV although they were later joined by Starhawk and Nikki. In a few issues they even traveled back in time to help Captain America among other heroes.

Thanks for reading and if these Comics Explained segments are popular I'll do more but you decide on the next post about the subject. Either a) a Comics Explained about individual Guardians members, b) a What If alternate history about Israel or c) a History in Focus about the Khmer Rouge. Thanks and leave comments.