This map is based on a Russian book titled “Foundations of Geopolitics.” I have yet to find a copy in a language I understand, so my interpretation is based on the Wikipedia entry and the English translation of its table of contents. I’m not saying I understand the project at all, but when I visited Seoul and stumbled on a unification fair, there was a tent that was displaying children’s school books smuggled out of the North. One English language book (why North Korean children are learning English is already puzzling) was very interesting in its first lesson vocabulary: Revolution, glorious, patriot, etc.
When taking notes on this project, I felt a bit of deja vu.
“Foundations of Geopolitics” is a nearly 600 page book written/compiled by one Mr. Aleksandr Dugin. The book is, if reports are believed, popular among Russian military, elites, and even the Top Dog himself, President Putin. Does that mean that Dugin is making policy decisions and is the shadow master behind the Eurasian project?
No. Obviously not. I say “obviously” because there’s already political happenings and decisions taking place that go against Dugin’s strategy. At least as many (like China) that act counter to actions where his strategy is clearly being implemented (Ukraine). If I were to make a serious conclusion about the influence of Dugin’s book, it is more like a strategy guide than an ideological purity test of international focus. Were the goals Dugin lays out to actually be achieved, they will most likely take a different course of actions than what we see in the book. Think of the Bible, if all Christians listened and followed every word it said exactly, we’d still have slavery and no banking industry (story for another time).
This map (with no year decided but I had imagined it being 7 October 2052, Putin’s 100th Birthday) takes Dugin at his word and portrays the world as he would like to play Russia if he was suddenly given the keys.
I won’t rehash the English sources on the book (they’re either quoted directly above or portrayed directly on the map) but I will need to explain the parts of the map that are extensions of Dugin’s logic but not explicitly described.
The two areas he doesn’t seem to touch are Africa and South America. Reasonable since access to them precludes unrestricted naval access, Russia’s perennial problem (outlined by Admiral McMahon and portrayed often by Tom Clancy). While they’ve been gunning for access to the sea at least since St. Petersburg was built, and arguably was a motivation behind the First World War, domination of the sea trade and market access still eludes Russia in the ways that other countries (like the dual ocean United States) has just fine. Dugin’s main idea tries to turn this naval strategy (called by the euphemism “Atlanticism”) on its head, and make a united Eurasia to combat the influence from oceanic power. Dugin insists that conventional military strategies haven’t really worked for Russia in the past, so expansive espionage, subterfuge, and propaganda campaigns should be favored instead.
The German sphere of influence (with France as junior partner) is “all of Catholic and Protestant Europe.” This basically summarizes most of the EU today, which Russia would certainly want to keep for shopping vacations and a market place to sell all of that Natural Gas. The ultimate goal is “Finlandization,” keeping Europe weak and out of “Atlanticist” hands. This means that, like in the world before 1500, the Atlantic Ocean will become a relative backwater. Russia knows what pirates did in the Aden Gulf, and the ultimate victory here would be to make America and her allies uncomfortable in to sail here. In this world, there’s a rise in old, rogue, Soviet-era captains with aging, retired, or stolen ships that prowl the general lawlessness of the Atlantic.
This Russia would need to do with China what it did to Europe. In this world, (colored purple because they’re neither an ally nor enemy of Russia… picture Austria’s relationship with Germany 1850-1900), Russia made sure to dismantle the least Chinese parts of China and absorb them into “the Eurasian Project.” She now has access to the Sea via Manchuria but it’s a shaky position at best. While Russia will insist that the American settlers of Alaska and Hawaii were Russian, and seek to annex them, she’ll also want to encourage China to be their proxy power in the Pacific, encouraging and helping them get that pipeline in Burma, in securing the Spratly Isles, and in gaining exclusive mining rights in Australia.
Iran “as a key ally” and Islam in general as allied to anti-Atlanticist ideology, is another key here. Russia will draw lines of battle not against Christian civilization and Islamic civilization, but as the mystical, romantic east (of which they are a part) versus the rational, overly logical west (there’s a lot to say here, but this is not the place for that…). These two prongs – a naval China, and an Islamic bloc – is how Russia, now the master of Eurasia, will expand into Africa and South America, serving as the endgame of their world strategy: the conclusion of geopolitics.
Now hold off on that polonium. I didn’t make this map out of some commentary on Putin’s politics, or to serve as a warning of the dystopian future that awaits if Russia becomes the sole world power. Actually, I would expect stability, high market access, increased consumer goods, higher standards of living, and a Eurasia of many cultures to be one that is generally prosperous and beneficial for its denizens, regardless of the political structure that got it there. Imperial China wasn’t always bad, and neither was the century of Pax Americana. While Dugin is an honest-to-God Fascist, he’s only human, and plans, even if they succeed, have a way of getting out of hand. This time line sees a world where Russia, and by extension Russians themselves, rise exponentially on the world stage. Some places may be falling by the way side, some old infrastructure will crumble, some politicians bought off, but I guess what I’m getting at is that this version of earth (taken as a whole) isn’t a dystopia. No more than ours is.
Artistic notes: The flag of Eurasia is a “North Koreanized” version of the current Russian flag. No, it’s not a political choice. They come from this thread (www.reddit.com/r/vexillology/c…) by u/Driver3 and only because I love most of those flags. My personal favorites are Bhutan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, and… well, frankly, I prefer most of them to most of the maps we have in the world currently.
Tibet in our timeline has a complicated history, but then again, who doesn’t? Tibet’s history doesn’t get any more complicated than the short time she flirted with independence from its declaration in 1912 to the seizure of her sovereignty by the People’s Liberation Army in 1950. In order to secure Tibet (aided by hostile maneuvers from the British, Sikh, and Nepali Empires, and furthered by the declining fate of the Manchu Dynasty to which Tibet owed fealty) a place for herself among the international order an alternate historian ends up with a tough job: deal Tibet a good hand, and then trust that she can play her cards right.
In this scenario, to vastly oversimplify, we can dump that responsibility on four Tibetans and two Brits.
In our time line, Ernest Shackleton was fascinated by exploration to the far corners of the world, eventually zeroing in on the navy and Antarctic exploration. In this timeline, he prefers land-based exploration, is stationed in Darjeeling and is put on Younghusband’s expedition to Tibet in 1904, meeting Ugyen Wangchuk (the soon-to-be First King of Bhutan, on the mission as a translator) and, once the British enter Lhasa, Thubten Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (who in this timeline does not flee to Mongolia at the advice of his Buryat advisor, Dorjiev).
The relationship between His Holiness and Shackleton, who is stationed in Tibet, and records his experience into a very popular journal, becomes instrumental in developing British (and future Indian) policy towards Tibet. In 1906, at the behest of his journal’s publisher, Shackleton is encouraged to run for the 1906 General Election. Instead of the 13% of the vote he received, his journal and thrilling exploits of planting the Union Jack on the Roof of the World propel Shackleton to 40% and a seat in Parliament. One Mr. Churchill will run in Dundee in 1908, but the seat will remain in Liberal Union hands.
The man that Shackleton passed by on his way out of Tibet, Sir Charles Bell, meanwhile is meeting regularly with the Dalai Lama. The Qing Ambans are upset about this whole arrangement the British seem to be setting up for themselves in Tibet, but there’s little they can do. The Forbidden City has their own problems, so anything on the other side of the world is going to have to wait. “Butcher” Zhao Er Feng still goes on his rampage through Kham, and the Revolution in both Tibet and China still happens in 1911, but a new level of groundwork is laid out by Shackleton and Bell concerning British interests on in the Land of Snows.
The revolution in 1911 sees His Holiness escape to Sikkim with Sir Charles, where they are able to prosecute the War in Lhasa and Bell helps the legal aspect, funneling funds and weaponry to the Lhasa War Council to make sure the brutal Lhasa Revolution goes even better than in our time line. In 1913, His Holiness returns to the Potala, and his first act as the reinstated spiritual and temporal leader of his nation is to issue the Tibetan Declaration of Independence from China. (All according to plan…)
Tibet’s legal difficulties aren’t fully cleared up yet. In our time line, Tibet, China, and Britain met in the Indian hill town of Simla to bang out a deal regarding where exactly the borders of Tibet were, and what the relationship between the three countries would be. Naturally, China assumed Tibet was very small, and under the full control of Beijing. Tibet, on the other hand, believed Tibet was very large, and basically independent. Britain tried to walk a tight rope between securing themselves an insurance policy in Tibet, while not offending the Chinese. Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa (author of the quite detailed Tibet: A Political History), known to history by his title Tsepon Shakabpa, was the finance minister of the Tibetan government and a member of the Simla Delegation. The Chinese delegates went to Simla confident that they would simply collude with the British about the border between their country and India while the Tibetans were put in their place. The Tibetans, carrying volumes of tax and tribute payments going back centuries were able to prove that outlying areas of the Tibetan Plateau (most contentiously in Kham/Sichuan) had owed their allegiance to Lhasa and not Beijing. With their intense documentary evidence and a small groundwork laid out by both Shackleton and Bell, the British offered the Chinese some territorial concessions, and began to discuss the concept of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet. This results (as IOTL) in the Chinese walking out of Simla. The final copy of the Simla Treaty is signed by the British and Tibetan delegation, now with an added clause (thanks to Bell and Shakabpa) that confirms Tibetan sovereignty and the unmarked eastern frontier in the absence of a Chinese signature.
The legality of Tibetan statehood now finalized, Tibet now has to go about keeping it. Tibet’s infrastructure is nearly non-existent, and her social fabric is ancient. His Holiness declares his intention to modernize the country, especially making full use of the newfound alliance with Britain. He tasks Tsepon Dorje Tsegyal Lungshar with finding a class of eight boys and two girls (in our time line, it was only four boys and no girls) to take to Britain to receive modern educations. In 1916, a second class of boys and girls will be sent to England, and in 1917, the experiment will be copied, but with a group of youths sent to Japan. Tibet would continue to send classes of students to Britain on even years, and Japan in odd years.
When the Great War begins, Tibet offers Britain to send a thousand soldiers to the battlefields of France (as in our time line). As opposed to telling them “Thanks, but we’re good for now,” Britain accepts the offer, and a thousand of Tibet’s new modernized warriors are shipped to the French countryside in 1916. They’re mostly put to work for recon and surveillance, but in their years in Western Europe, the Tibetan soldiers learned a lot. Upon returning to Tibet, they become the core of Tibet’s new army.
In the 1920s, the Russian Revolution hits and Tibet’s collusion with Russia (rumors of which poisoned Tibet’s relationship with Britain in our time line) is formally at an end. Most notably for inland Asia is the bloody, meteoric rise of Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, so called “The Bloody White Baron.” The man, whose biography makes for some… interesting reading, was fascinated by mystical strands of Buddhism, combining them with his pre-Fascistic, pro-Aristocratic ideals that led him to rape and murder thousands in a bloody trail from Austria-Hungary to Mongolia. He allied with the Mongol Khaan, killed many a Communist, many a Jew, and before the Bolshevik Revolution hits Mongolia, he flees south to Tibet where he becomes the Vlad the Impaler to the Thubten Gyatso’s Pope Pius II.
The Tibet that the Bloody Baron arrives in is significantly improved from our Tibet c. 1930, or in this world’s Tibet just a few years earlier. She’s experiencing the first early benefits from her Study Abroad candidates: Lhasa has its electric light infrastructure set up, it has a British-trained, Tibetan-born legal scholar beginning to catalog and codify a Tibetan common law system, and Tibet’s vast area and natural resources are being surveyed. Just to name a few. Tibet’s army, modeled after the British, engaged on a campaign shoring up their eastern border in Kham and makes extensive (controversial) use of von Ungern and his irregulars to shatter the Ma Clique, and take control of Amdo.
By the end of 1933, the “Great” Thirteenth Dalai Lama is on his deathbed. He gives a warning to his countrymen: China is in civil war, but never lose sight that the Chinese will come for them. He dies on December 17, having secured not Reting Rinpoche and the Conservative faction, but Tsepon Lungshar and the Modernists. Lungshar keeps his eyes, keeps the Tibetan Army in top shape, makes peace with Shakabpa (the new leader of the Conservatives in the Tibetan Kashag), and keeps the study-abroad programs going (until war in the Pacific makes trips to Japan untenable).
Tibet continues this path of growth, development, and connection, rather than stagnation and decay. Some of the Tibetan women who experienced British modernity have infected Tibet with a whole new vocabulary of social progress, equal rights, emancipation, and suffrage. Printing presses and modern concepts on the goods of literacy and sedentary agriculture are all the rage in Lhasa (not so out in the periphery, and certainly not in Shigatse).
Outside Tibet, dramatic things are taking place. World War II erupts as scheduled and the United States passes Lend-Lease soon enough. The difference here is that a “Defeat Japan First” policy is adopted instead, leading to the early defeat of Japan (with the Soviets jumping on the Tokyo train in 1944 rather than at the eleventh hour), the development of a strong supply train to Chiang Kai-Shek, and the continued bleeding of Russian blood in the Ukraine. By the time the Allies land in France, the Nazis and Soviets are bleeding dry and the drive to Berlin is so easy, the Allies make it all the way to Warsaw where they shake hands with the Red Army.
The Tblisi Peace Conference (feat. Prime Minister Shackleton, Stalin, and President Roosevelt), made just prior to the French landings, sees the Soviet Union making the same gains she’d agreed with under Hitler, and the agreement to create a string of “Neutral” Eastern European nations: Poland, Hungary, and Romania. As for Asia, Japan and Korea will both be cut in half (given that Russians had invaded Japanese soil) along the 38th Parallel, with a Russian occupation zone of Tokyo carved out. Stalin, miffed that he’s been negotiated out of Europe decides to hell with Ice Man and Professor X and gives the Red Army the go ahead to just take all of Korea. At the time, no American ships were nearby, so they took Jeju Island, set up their own government, and called it fait accompli.
Now almost completely surrounded and contained, the Stalin regime decides that its only strategy for expansion is one of subversion and espionage. The United States goes on the defensive, developing three broad alliances to contain Soviet influence in the three spheres of anti-Communist global defense: an Atlantic Ocean Defensive Organization, an Indian Ocean Treat Pact, and a Pacific Ring Defense Pact.
Tibet is keen on joining the new world order now embodied in the United Nations. An admission that is supported by Britain and rejected by the Republic of China: now in control of all mainland China, most islands, and half of Inner Mongolia. Manchuria under the Communist dictator Mao Zedong, ironically has positive relations with the State of Tibet (anything to piss of Chiang). She seeks to make herself known as a state that can carry its own, but also as a peacemaker. Tibet, unable to join the UN, still makes her presence known. For example opening personal relations with Eleanor Roosevelt while she was touring Latin America in support of the “South American Human Rights Council.” (Former First Lady Roosevelt was found murdered under mysterious circumstances when helping Peruvian lawmakers draft anti-business legislation. OSS involvement is still under “independent” investigation.)
India under goes a much smoother transition from Raj to being split into eight states: Baluchistan, Panjab (with a passage to the seat) Rajastan, Marathastan, Greater Tamil Nadu, New Magadha, Assam and Burma. The former seven, plus Afghanistan and Nepal, are joined into a Subcontinental Customs Union. Bhutan, Sikkim, and Tibet soon grow interested in joining, but are worried that more economic ties to India amidst their own currency issues and India’s (though not quite so bloody… still bloody, but not quite so) Balkanization, might push China to invade.
While the Chinese Civil War never really ended (OTL Panmunjeom got nothin on TTL Beijing) a nervous cease-fire was established, two central Asian states become Soviet puppets, and one – huge – dominant player is allied with the United States. That leaves Tibet with two scary options: ally with the Soviet Union, risk being overtaken by the Communists, and see their way of life crumble beneath the fires of Bolshevik Revolution, or move to the other side, be subsumed by the Republic of China, and watch Modern Confucianism and pro-Colonial Chinese general swallow their country, as they had tried to in 1908 under the Butcher Zhao.
The Dalai Lama’s reincarnation was located in the late ‘30s, and going into 1950 was due to be enthroned in Lhasa. Lungshar, old, but still in control, is much like a Tibetan godfather. He leads the Dalai Lama’s education, making sure he has a healthy dose of modernity and a love of the West. It is under Lungshar’s insistence, and the young Dalai Lama’s first taste of politics when he declares that slavery and serfdom (different from Western forms, and known in Tibetan “Zap” and “Drap”) are anti-Buddhist and sins, breaching the Precept that a good Buddhist must “not take what is not given.”
This will lay the groundwork for complete emancipation in the future, but there won’t be time for that in the ‘50s. The event makes sure the Panchen Lama can’t return to Shigatse as his supporters engage in brawls with supporters of the Dalai Lama. The Panchen Lama, already having fled to China, takes this time to call upon Chiang Kai-Shek for help in returning him to Tashilhunpo. Chiang hasn’t been to war in almost a year now that the situation to the north has settled into an uneven truce. And the Republic still claims all of Tibet. On October 1, Chiang sends a messenger to Lhasa to issue a cease-and-desist to His Holiness and the Kashag. The Dalai Lama (/Lungshar’s) response is simple, “We’ve done nothing. The Panchen can return at any time.”
Of course, this is just a ruse. The Republican Army has already crossed the Tibetan border in five locations…
Artistic Notes: This map is illegal in the (actual) People's Republic of China for two reasons. (1) It displays the Tibetan National Flag, which was an artistic choice of mine, not a political one. And (2) it's alternate historical, which isn't REALLY illegal, but it's KIND OF illegal. For exactly this reason (it might present a world in which the PRC isn't nearly as glorious, dominant, or powerful ). The side image is a painting from the Norbulingka (Summer palace) in Lhasa of Tibetan peasants building the Jokhang (Tibet's first Buddhist temple). The silken fabric usually reserved for hanging thangkha paintings were from a thangkha painting of Guru Rinpoche. The flags of Xinjiang and Mongolia were taken from Victoria 2's deep files (they have so many fantastic interpretations of potential flags!) and the red seal below the title is the red seal used by the independent Tibetan government in Tibetan, Khotan, and Phagspa scripts in use IOTL until 1959.