EPISODE I: A NEW COMMONWEALTH
â€œThe World Market today wishes to inform Regional Leaders that their actions will no longer be without consequence. In addition to our economic resources and our ability to provide a common marketplace for the trade of goods, we now also have the ability to police the actions of rogue states. We have by far the largest military organization remaining on the planet, and although our objectives are benevolent, should you feel the need to test us, please be aware that we are also a nuclear power.â€ â€“ Geneva, April 9th, 2009.
Patrick Johnson read the press release again. They canâ€™t be serious, he thought. But they were. Shortly after receiving the press release, the World Market had provided proof of their new power by test detonating a nuclear device in the South Pacific. Now world leaders were scrambling to join the new organization.
There was no doubting the World Marketâ€™s influence. Since its formation it had stabilized the worldâ€™s economic slide and restored some measure of economic prosperity. But the cost was high, their demands often came with noticeable infringements on regional sovereignty. They wanted a say in local politics, local laws, social issues, education, and â€œencouragedâ€ reforms of all kinds. But now they were acting more and more like a world government, all the more troubling since its leadership remained as unknown as its ultimate goals.
â€œSo what do you think?â€ she asked. She, former Republican State Senator Mary Lincoln, chairmanâ€¦chairperson, of the Western Pennsylvania Regional Council, She had come been the one to step foreward. She had saved Western Pennsylvania from anarchy in the wake of Governor Rendellâ€™s Partition Act. She was the voice of reason and the rock upon which all of Western Pennsylvania relied during those first tumultuous months.
â€œI think its trouble,â€ Johnson replied. â€œWe donâ€™t know anything about those people, and now they have nuclear weapons and it sounds like theyâ€™re willing to use them.â€
â€œI agree.â€ Turning to stare out the window she remained silent for a long time. Finally she spoke. â€œPat, we canâ€™t go on like this. The Council was a good idea, but Western Pennsylvania needs one voice, one leader.â€
â€œYour just the person for the job Maâ€™am.â€
Turning to face him she regarded him for a moment before easing down into her chair. â€œNo, Pat. Its been decided. We need someone new, someone we can trust. Youâ€™ve been with me a long time. I appreciate that, really I do, but now you need to stand on your own. Pennsylvania needs you. Its time, Governor.â€
* * *
â€œWe are pleased to see that there is now some sense of global community reforming, but we feel it is important to accelerate this. As such, the existing regionalism must end. The methods to accomplish this will be left in regional hands, but be assured that if you do not take this task on yourselves, we can and will impose this objective. While we understand that in many cases this could increase regional tensions, the ends do justify the means! Be advised that as of one year from today, if you have not begun steps to align with your neighbors, we will begin making those decisions on your behalf and backing them militarily.â€ Geneva, January 1st, 2010.
â€œI knew it!â€ Johnson looked up from the file. â€œI knew those bastards were gonna pull something like this!â€ Since assuming office, Patrick Johnson had no greater headache then the machinations of the so-called World Market. From their endless â€œsuggestionsâ€ to their comprehensive inspection of Western Pennsylvaniaâ€™s military facilities, there was no end to their interference.
â€œHowâ€™s Rendell taking it?â€ asked John Chapman. Chapman, an attorney and old college friend of Patâ€™s had returned to Pennsylvania from his home in Ohio to help his friend manage the Western Pennsylvaniaâ€™s new legal system. The new Commonwealth Charter, which acted as a de facto Constitution, was entirely his idea. It reinstated Western Pennsylvaniaâ€™s commitment to Democracy and individual rights while efficiently dividing government power between the various political institutions. An overwhelming majority of citizens ratified the Charter in a special election last November.
â€œHow do you expect? Heâ€™s in favor of reunification now that his machine has political control of the East. He expects us to just lay down and welcome him back.â€
â€œHeâ€™ll never win the reunification vote. Itâ€™ll be close, but youâ€™ll take him.â€
â€œThis wont come to a vote,â€ Johnson replied handing Chapman the file. Turning to stare out his window he said, â€œthat report says it all, heâ€™s preparing for war.â€
â€œThen you should too.â€
Johnson continued to stare out the window, finally he turned looked at his friend. â€œThatâ€™s why I called you here. Iâ€™m appointing you to the Cabnet, Secretary of the Interior. You always wanted to fight a war Chapman, now you get your chance.â€
* * *
By May Pennsylvania was well on the way to a conflict. The East had ample military and economic resources as well as strong bases at Indiantown Gap and Willow Grove. The West had fewer resources, relying heavily on local garrisons and National Guard. In Council Secretary Chapman and General Green, commander of the National Guard, presented a war plan in the event of open conflict with the east.
The state had been divided down the middle, right along the Susquehanna River. Rendellâ€™s forces massed around Harrisburg, and the West deployed infantry and artillery to cover the numerous river crossings near the City. The West also had a single battalion of M1A1 tanks and two battalions of mechanized infantry in old M113 APCs. These they withdrew for training and then secretly redeployed to a holding area north of State College on I-80.
In June Rendellâ€™s forces launched a sneak attack. The initial efforts to cross the Susquehanna failed against the entrenched infantry guarding the heights. However an armored column forced their way across north of the City driving towards State College. The West countered with its newly formed mobile reserves, 2 battalions of LAV-25s carrying infantry. The Eastern thrust was blunted and the river crossing secured. South of Harrisburg, National Guard units and local infantry from the West crossed penetrating as far as Lancaster before stopping.
As soon as war broke out the West activated its war plan. Infantry and National Guard units in Williamsport and Mansfield attacked. They moved slowly along I-80 driving local Eastern garrisons back. The East responded with a counterattack using its battalion of M1A1s. These were met by the West tanks and mechanized infantry speeding along I-80. The East retreated leaving burning tanks in its wake.
By mid June the West had encircled Scranton. National Guard units had dug in along I-81 near Hazelton. The Westâ€™s mechanized units were moving on Scranton from the South, while other Guard units were moving from the north, supported by UH-60 helicopter gunships. Unable to reinforce the City, it fell to Western forces by the end of the month.
The West paused consolidated its positions and resupplied its units, but by July 4th they were moving south along the PA turnpike. Allentown fell on July 12th, and Western National Guard units were probing Philadelphiaâ€™s suburbs by the 15th. National Guard units advanced from Lancaster and seized Reading cutting the last links between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. On the 19th, Western units arrived at Willow Grove Air Base to find it deserted and by the next day they rolled into downtown Philadelphia to the cheers of thousands of local residents. Rendell, however, had relocated to Harrisburg and had taken residence in the old Governorâ€™s mansion.
By the end of July Western forces had encircled Harrisburg. On August 5th they launched an attack on Indiantown Gap and the eastern portions of the city. The next day, the local infantry and Guard battalions that had so valiantly defended the West Shore stormed the remaining bridges across the Susquehanna. They quickly overwhelmed the remaining defenders seizing the former state capital and Governor Rendell and on August 10th, 2010 the East formally surrendered.
Following the end of hostilities, Governor Johnson relocated the State Government to Harrisburg. In special session the State Legislature repealed the Partition Act and ratified the Commonwealth Charter as the new State Constitution. Governor Rendell was indicted for various crimes, but before trial the World Market granted him diplomatic immunity and demanded his release. He was last seen on a plane bound for Boston. Reconstruction went smoothly and by the first of November the united Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was operating smoothly.
* * *
â€œI see Pennsylvania has been resolved.â€
The Director of North American Affairs blanched. Around her were assembled the leadership of the World Market. Not six months ago she had confidently predicted that Eastern PA and its hand picked leader would sweep aside the meager forces of the West. Now she stood again before her fellow board members and its mysterious chairman seated in the shadows at the head of the long table. Beside her was an empty chair representing Australia and the South Pacific, an ominous reminder of the price of failure.
â€œYes Chairman,â€ she replied. â€œMr. Rendell wasâ€¦disappointing. Maryland can and will correct the anomaly. Or perhaps New Jerseyâ€¦â€
â€œVery well. Prepare to move that region to Phase 2.â€
Stay tuned for Episode II: The Mason-Dixon Gambit