Embrea 101: War, Peace, and Trade

When I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun.
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Embrea 101: War, Peace, and Trade

Postby Preston » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:45 am

Following conversations on IRC regarding the (lack of) knowledge and work done on the practical side of what Embrea actually is in relation to the broader world, I've decided to put together this brief primer to answer the pressing questions of where we fit into everything in the Wallasean sphere.

So, what is Embrea anyway?
The Embrean Confederation is a state composed a patchwork of several cantons, which were themselves feudal states under the Burgondian Empire in the medieval period. In the late 15th and early 16th century a few of these states become rich from trade and rebel against the Burgondians over *mumblemumbletaxesorsomething*, winning their independence. The Embrean Confederation is born, but spends most of its early existence as primarily a military alliance: the polities on the Embrean peninsula don't make up any unified culture, some speaking Zegoran, some Quiberic and some Flamaguayan, and the only thing that really binds them together is that they're now independent and have a shared interest in not being subjects of anyone else. When threats arise, or conflicts brew between them, they meet together in Congress to marshal up the army or talk it out, but aside from this they mostly do their own things.

While government structures have evolved, and centuries of living together have built a more cohesive melting-pot culture, the Embrean mindset is still very much provincial. The average Embrean, while engaged in the political life of his city or canton, doesn't much care for what goes on outside of it, be it at the Confederal Congress in Evora or in terms of international affairs; what is far away is unimportant, in the grand scheme of his life. Confederal government is tolerated as long as it keeps the lights on and the trains running on time and the army fed and clothed and armed, but there is not the strong desire for central government that exists in Quiberon or Zegora, for instance.

When an Embrean wants a law changed, he doesn't write his representative, he drafts a petition and gets his community to sign it. Enough signatures and it goes to a vote; enough votes, and it's Law, without ever involving the political class. When a fugitive needs apprehending, the police might do it in large cities, but if you're living somewhere in the countryside a bailiff of the court might summon you to the posse comitatus along with the firearm you're required to keep for this and other purposes. When the man is apprehended, the trial might be held in a conventional sense or it might take place in the town square, with the townsfolk serving as jury. A Questarian or Praetonian, on holiday to the Embrean countryside, might well think he's found a place after his own heart, and to some extent he's not wrong. No hanging, though: Embreans aren't quite so barbaric.

None of this is to say that Embreans aren't patriotic, however. Embreans, broadly speaking, are proud of their nation and its independence, not only in terms of absolute political sovereignty but in regard of their culture and peculiar institutions which seem, to an outside observer, to blur the lines between conventional statism and Common Law.

This pride is mixed, subconsciously, with the insecurity of a small country beset on all sides by powers who would gain much in control of the Embrean Peninsula: if Quiberon or Cockaygne or Zegora wants to conquer Embrea, there's little Embrea alone can do except delay. And of course, we all know what happened to Flamaguay, when that band of crazies they call The Structure got hold of it. Above all, the Structure, with its revolutionary ideology and demonstrated willingness to commit more-or-less genocide in its pursuit, is most hated and feared.

Foreign Relations, Trade, and All That Stuff
Embrea is a signatory of the Reims Agreement and contributed troops to Quiberon's efforts in the Great War, when Cockaygne made its greatest gains into Quiberic soil. This move proved controversial as Embrea had hitherto tried to avoid entanglement, but reflected a sort of cold calculus that still rings true today: Embrea is a small state on a critically important tract of land, and it's either stand with someone or fall to anyone. Quiberon, by nature of being a constitutional state, is the most logical ally if not necessarily a match made in heaven. In whispered conversations and backroom frank talk, Embrean politicians know that if push came to shove, if Quiberon felt Embrea couldn't hold its own against the Common Law forces or felt that its allyship was in question, that would probably be the end of Embrea. For this reason Embrea tries to keep cordial relations with Quiberon, without being totally joined at the hip. A good analogy is that Embrea sees itself and Quiberon as roommates occupying a decently sized apartment, where Quib probably sees the situation as more of a father-son dynamic, bolstered by the fact that ethnic Quiberonnais account for a decent number of Embrean cantons along the border.

Relations with the Zegorans and Polacekians are similarly cordial; while there are ethnic Zegorans among the cantons of that border, there isn't much fear or thought of Zegoran revanchism or the like, given that Zegora isn't quite the power that Quiberon is. During the War of the Taps, Embrea gave diplomatic support to Zegora against the Structure but the war concluded before anything else could be done. Mutual distrust of the Structure underpins a commitment between the countries to work together on matters of regional importance.

Relations with Common Law polities take on a slightly unconventional flavor: as Common Law polities are not states, do not have defined borders, and do not recognize concepts such as diplomatic immunity, relations are conducted through a legal fiction, the Confederal Development Corporation, chartered in Haversham and staffed by members of the Embrean foreign affairs ministry with training and background in Common Law administration and culture. CDC offices are established in Haversham, Muckclog, Jacksonville and throughout the Questarian subcontinent, charged with maintaining business and diplomatic contact with local polities and associations, providing legal and general aid to its nationals in the area, granting visas and travel documentation for locals wishing to visit or immigrate, essentially everything an embassy would normally do. The government's attitude toward Common Law as a whole is one of containment: it has no inherent issue with Common Law, so long as Common Law is kept to its current boundaries and doesn't attempt to expand into Embrea.

Embrea trades fairly liberally with its neighbors and beyond, only maintaining an embargo against the Structure and being a net importer with Quiberon and Cockaygne as its largest trade partners. The latter is a significant source of grain, and this trade being key to Embrea's overall health (economic and otherwise) gives Embrea a vested interest in peace prevailing between Cockaygne and Quiberon and between Common Law and Constitutionalism more generally.

The Confederal Armed Forces consist of the Army, Navy and Flying Corps, and number about 150,000 in total. The Navy and Flying Corps are professionally staffed, while the Army maintains a professional core and a conscription role with men being conscripted at age 17 for a term of 18 months in active service; upon completion of this term, conscripts are demobilized to their canton's Cantonal Militia where they serve as a reserve force under usual command of Cantonal authorities but capable of being activated under Confederal government by a general mobilization in time of war or national crisis. Nominally, reserve commitment lasts til age 34 but a number of exemptions (e.g. marriage, children, assumption of certain careers, illness/unfitness for continued service) exist and most do not remain on the reserve for their entire term.

Embrean military tactics operate on the assumption that any war fought will be primarily defensive and that Embrean forces will be outnumbered; tactical execution therefore emphasizes asymmetrical and unconventional warfare and relies upon an officer class with the ability to think independent of overall objectives and adapt their resources to an ever-changing battlefield situation. The ultimate goal of Embrean tactical thinking is to deny lines of supply and attrit enemy movement, aiming not so much to win the battle in the field as to demoralize the enemy and wear upon its will to prosecute an offensive war. The extent to which the military will go in this regard is something of an open question and would depend upon the enemy faced: a hypothetical invasion by Quiberon or Zegora, while undesirable, would likely result in a conventional occupation in which existing state structures are preserved more or less intact and the economic disturbance is short-lived and minor in scale, thus it makes little sense to turn the entire country into Stalingrad in such scenarios. A Common Law invasion, by contrast, is likely to be resisted more fearsomely by the military, political class and public in general given the higher stakes involved (as Common Law victory would result in the disestablishment, for all intents and purposes, of the Embrean state and likely a purge of the Embrean political class).

Reservists in these tactics are envisioned as being mobilized to defend their cantons or the surrounding areas (bearing in mind the Embrean parochialism discussed earlier) rather than being amalgamated into central movement elements; various operative plans exist for contemplated invasions by Quiberonnais and Common Law forces but are substantially similar in their overall execution. Given positive relations with Quiberon, Embrean high command currently envisions the latter as the more likely scenario, though still unlikely in terms of raw probability. War with the Structure is similarly considered unlikely following the rise of the Slow Clique, though Abolitionist ideology is still distrusted and contingencies exist for the possibility of an unconventional war or limited ground conflict as in Zegora's War of the Taps.

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Re: Embrea 101: War, Peace, and Trade

Postby Questers » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:41 am

Nothing you wrote is bad imo. The historical concept is especially good.

But you don't totally answer the most important question. Who are the Embreans?

We often say you have to pick a country you think is fun. But the main thing is really to pick a country you think will be fun in one, two, three years. All iterations of your country are proto-iterations relative to today. We have the power to edit history, so the countries we make constantly develop and improve and adapt nuance. So where is Embrea going to be in a year? What will you have developed for this country in that time?

How your state behaves doesn't depend on its surroundings, or necessarily its history. It depends chiefly on its people. Even the bureaucrats who operate the state work this way, unless they're seditious aliens (which is a fine dynamic!!) Who are Embreans? What's their religion? How do they organise themselves? What is useful here are a few demonstrative or signal institutions that may or may not relate to politics. Conscription is one, obviously, but you might need some more. They should be distinct and clever (not necessarily unique.)

Incidentally - Confederal is a really unusual adjective, although it's not strictly wrong. While Switzerland itself is a Confederation, it refers to central institutions as Federal. The difference between a Confederacy and a Federation are very minor, so don't feel the need to use the form Confederal (which is nearly never used for anything in English.)
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Re: Embrea 101: War, Peace, and Trade

Postby Preston » Sat Sep 15, 2018 3:16 am

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

You're an Embrean man, 19 years old, and today is the proudest day of your life.

Eighteen months ago, your parents saw you off at the train station on the military special, your father giving you a firm handshake and a nod, your mother crying and doting and fretting as mothers always do in these situations. Her boy, today one step closer to being a man. The sergeants beckon you and the others aboard gruffly; they've seen this a hundred times or more, their sentimentality eclipsed by duty. You comply, and climb aboard a spartan rail car that looks like it would've when your grandfather rode it, and spend a night's journey in uneasy sleep, your mind fluttering between eagerness and anxiety. Not that that's any change: you turned 17 before most of your class, and for five months you waited, as senior school and leaving exams finished, and your peers had their birthdays and got their letters, took their trips down to the cantonal capital, St. Mors, a city of 75,000 and the largest you've ever seen, to have their medicals before they too boarded this train to do their duty.

That was eighteen months ago but it seems like an eternity. Eighteen months of drilling and marching, learning the glorious history of the Confederate Armed Forces, battles and generals and great men and the great things they did and why they did them. Learning how to wear the dress uniform, the work uniform, the field uniform, and being able to put them all on at 4 AM with an hour's sleep while a sergeant screeches at you through a bullhorn. Learning other things too: how to shoot, clean and maintain your rifle, the heavy machine guns, sometimes the anti-tank weaponry. How, where and when to lay mines. Sitting awake, in a trench in the hills as the rain pours down at some ungodly hour, scanning the treeline for an enemy that may or may not be there. The important lessons they don't teach you in senior school: the things that, Oswin willing, will carry you and your buddies one day to save your country.

Eighteen months of that, coming to a close today. You're back in St. Mors again. The boys you went off to service with, now men, and you as well. Taller, leaner, stronger. Without realizing, you walk a bit taller and hold your head a bit higher, speak with a bit more authority and carry yourself with a bit more dignity. Today is your day. Dressed out with your battalion in the grey dress uniform, unchanged for the better part of two hundred years, you strike a resplendent and imposing force. Thank Oswin, the weather is mild, about twenty degrees centigrade; the thick cotton is nearly unbearable in anything hotter than this. A thousand of you, give or take, march in column down the high street toward the town square. A scene unchanged through history, except for the arms the men carry. Crowds line the road, watching, cheering. An occasional young lady casts a rose in your column's direction, but your gaze remains locked forward, your body on autopilot as you keep step with your rank.

Finally, you arrive. A few sets of bleachers have been set up in the surrounding areas of the parade square; your parents are in one. You do not look for them. Your eyes remain locked ahead, as they should. The commander gives the order. "Ba-tallion, by the fourth, form, ranks." You move as you are commanded, as you've drilled. Your comrades do likewise. In a matter of a few seconds, you form into four ranks, fit neatly into the square, just as you should. The brigadier in command takes up a position at the head of the formation; the call to present arms goes up and a thousand barrels snap to salute in unison. "Order, arms!" A thousand rifle butts come to ground, as ramrod-straight as the men bearing them.

Now, the brigadier speaks, a speech formulaic but no less solemn for it: "Your appointed term as citizen-soldiers of the Embrean Confederacy has come to a close. Your term being so concluded, you will now be disposed to the authority and command of the Militia of your Canton, for the security and defense of the Citizens thereof, in accordance with Law. Further orders will follow in due course. Your Confederacy thanks you for your service; may Oswin guide your endeavors." The brigadier exchanges salutes and ceremonial words with the commander of your Cantonal Militia, but he will not address you today; your orders will come later, without fanfare. The flag is raised upon the flagpole, the anthem played by the battalion band as those in attendance render their salutes.

Finally, you are dismissed. You find your parents, and your father greets you again, this time not with a handshake but with salute. You are his equal now, as a member of the militia. What comes next, in service and in life, is unknown and likely unglamorous. But what comes next doesn't matter. What matters is only Today.

Today, you are a Man.

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