Previous, Next, Numerical Index, Chronological Index.
For All Nails #207: The Dingoes of War

Melbourne, New South Wales, Kingdom of Australia [1]
14 January 1975

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, [2] while the
RAERA [3] 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.  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?" [4]

"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 [5] 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 [6] 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 Kincaid Canal."

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 [7] 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."

Notes:

[1]  OTL Sydney.

[2]  Roughly, the northern half of OTL Western Australia.  Named after British
Prime Minister Lewis Watson.

[3]  Royal Australian Emergency Relief Agency.

[4]  IMO this line alone is justification for the whole FAN project.

[5]  Melbourne's Webb Street is the financial center of Australia.

[6]  OTL Perth.  Named after British Prime Minister Lord Thomas Tillotson.

[7]  "Annex" in this instance is shorthand for "detach from New Granada and set
up as an independent state with a safely pro-Australian government", and is
understood as such by those present.  These days, there is no need for anything
so crude as _de jure_ annexation to the Kingdom of Australia.