For All Nails #207: The Dingoes of War
by Johnny Pez
Myron Loy, Governor-General of the Kingdom of Australia, switched off the annunciator on his desk. Now the only people within range of his voice were the two men in his office, Foreign Minister Alvin Parsons and War Minister Arthur Antonelli.
"Basically what we expected," he summarised for the other men. "Peace with Mexico, war with New Granada." Still, Loy felt a certain sense of relief. Nearly five thousand subjects of His Australian Majesty had died in the past three weeks, and another twelve thousand had suffered serious injuries. Those who could be moved had been evacuated to hospitals in Watsonia, FN2 while the RAERA FN3 and other emergency medical personnel were on the scene in Bali overseeing the treatment there. Every day the evening news programmes screened live pictures from Bali, and there was a near unanimous belief in the country that somebody had to be made to pay, and pay dearly, for the death and destruction that had been visited upon the island.
Now, Loy's government would be able to say to the Kingdom's populace, "These are the people responsible for this crime, and these are the steps we intend to take to see that they are punished." All that was left to do was to determine what sort of punishment would be inflicted.
"Mr. Antonelli," Loy addressed his Minister of War, "how do you anticipate that the war with New Granada will be conducted?"
Antonelli flicked the ash of his cigarette before responding. "Naturally, Governor-General," he said, "the details of the operation will have to be worked out in consultation with our allies in London and Taipei. However, I believe I can anticipate with some assurance the broad outlines of the upcoming campaign." The War Minister opened his briefcase and withdrew a map of the Caribbean and New Granada, which he unfolded on Loy's desk. Loy wondered idly whether Antonelli also had a map of the USM in the event that the conference chose to target that nation as well. It would certainly be in character for the War Minister to do so.
"The object of the campaign," Antonelli continued, "will be to gain control over New Granada's atomic weapons plant in Camacho City, here. This will necessitate gaining control of some two hundred miles of the Orinoco River. A necessary preliminary to this will be the establishment of control of the airspace above at least the eastern third of New Granada, as well as control of the Caribbean coastline in the region around the mouth of the Orinoco. This will require the establishment of a base of operations on or near the Orinoco Delta. Unfortunately, the ideal locations for such a base of operations, namely the Caribbean members of the United Empire, have all refused to take part in hostilities against New Granada. That being the case, the most likely candidates for the initial operation are the islands of Trinidad and Tobago."
Loy studied the map. "What Australian forces are available for deployment to the Caribbean?" FN4
"As regards the Army, the 22nd Airborne Division can be readied for deployment within twenty-four hours. An additional five divisions will be available within a week's time, and seven more within 20 days. We can also activate the reserves, which will give us an additional fifteen divisions available within six weeks."
Loy shook his head. "I don't think we need to call up the reserves at this point." Taking that many men away from their jobs would cause a serious blow to the economy, which was already reeling from the aftermath of the Bali bombing. Stocks had fallen by twenty percent, and the Webb Street FN5 bankers were demanding that the government Do Something about it.
"Very good, Governor-General," said Antonelli. "As regards the Navy, we can have units from both the Indian and Pacific Fleets ready to sail within three days. Estimated sailing time from Tillotson FN6 to the Caribbean is four weeks, and from Pago Pago to the Caribbean is five weeks."
"Isn't that rather a long time to go from the Samoan Islands to the Caribbean?" Loy remarked.
"That's the trip time around the Horn, sir," said Antonelli. "The Mexicans don't allow warships to transit the Kinkaid Canal. Except their own, of course."
Loy's brow wrinkled in thought. "It seems to me," he said slowly, "that as long as we're going to war with New Granada anyway, we ought to take advantage of the opportunity to annex FN7 this section here, er, Panama," he read from the map. "Then we could build a canal of our own and let the Mexicans go hang."
Foreign Minister Parsons spoke up. "I'm afraid that would not be feasible, sir. The USM has a treaty with New Granada dating back from the 19th century giving the Mexicans the right to intervene militarily to defend Panama from attack, and the Mexican Navy routinely patrols both coasts. Despite the tension that resulted between Mexico and New Granada following the Elbittar Coup, that treaty has remained in effect. If we tried to take Panama it would mean war with Mexico."
Loy sighed. "I suppose it's too late to call everyone back on the telephone and try to get them to attack Mexico as well."
"I'm afraid so, sir," said Parsons.
"Blast. All right, then, Mr. Antonelli, you can go ahead and start arranging matters with your counterparts in London and Taipei. Mr. Parsons, keep me abreast of any new developments amongst our allies. As for me, I shall be making an early night of it. I'll be up to my eyebrows in bankers tomorrow morning, and I'll need my wits about me. Good night, gentlemen."
Forward to FAN #208: The Merchant of Guadalajara.
Forward to 16 January 1975: When the Going Gets Weird.
Forward to American War: Operation Excalibur.
Forward to Australia: Robots and Empire.
Return to For All Nails.