War? was a World News article published by GAZE on August 22, 2003. It discussed the refugee situation as well as the rising tensions between the FCU and Erusea, which appeared to be building to all-out war.
Stonehenge, the railgun that has protected the continent from the threat of Ulysses—a massive project borne of the hopes of all mankind—is coming to the end of its former role. The political consideration which overshadowed all others associated with this project—the site of construction, the time it took to complete, capabilities, management, budgetary allocation, the ratio of project member nationality—has been the apparent danger of misusing this meteorite interceptor cannon as a weapon - a weapon now under Erusian control.
It's been four years since the impact of the Ulysses asteroid. The scars that it left on this continent have yet to heal, with each country striving to restore order and recover from the damage. Erusea grasped at a chance to do just that when it invaded San Salvacion. They have commandeered the former meteorite interceptor cannon located within that country. While every nation has been occupied with domestic problems, the failures of STN management have been frequently pointed out. A new international management framework was being explored, but before anything was decided, the situation very quickly became drastic.
At present, most of the management and staff remain at the facility. According to an announcement from the Erusian side, they are in good health and "under the protection" of Erusian troops. Erusea has not only secured the facility, but also the knowledge and manpower to operate it. However, we have not been able to ascertain the state of the twelve aircraft under UTO command assigned to defend Stonehenge, and the welfare of security personnel is a matter of some concern.
What should concern us most is what Erusea will do now that it has possession of Stonehenge. The peak of the intense meteorite falls has passed, and over the past few years, the use of Stonehenge has steadily fallen. Additionally, due to the fact that one of its eight turrets received a direct meteorite hit, the attack power of the facility is unclear. However, were this facility to fire another round, we can be sure its target wouldn't be a meteorite.
International Opinion Plummets
In response to the Erusian invasion of San Salvacion, heads of state have issued a public declaration, stating "The symbol of our peace has been trampled. This cannot be allowed." Their comments have all sharply criticized and protested Erusea's invasion, and military tensions on the continent have escalated rapidly. Even the well known moderate president of the Central Usea Treaty Organization (UTO) raised his voice in anger at the recent occupation of the railgun facilities:
"It's a mistake to bring judgment on oneself. Erusea has turned the entire continent's opinion against them. The members of the Continental Nations' Economic Alliance have no option but to react militarily in some capacity."
The Continental Nations' Economic Alliance is full of small nations, but their combined military strength is numerically comparable to that of Erusea. If the continent does not intend to cede their interests to Erusea, then there must indeed be some manner of response from the alliance.
The president of the FCU declared that in the event Erusea does not withdraw from both San Salvacion's territory and the Stonehenge facilities, the FCU and allied nations will commence retaliatory operations, setting the deadline for withdrawal to September 14. Various FCU military units have already begun deploying to the outskirts of San Salvacion, and the possibility that this situation will lead to war has grown very large.
Friction Arises from the Refugee Crisis
Friction has arisen within the international community on the backdrop of Erusea's reckless occupation of the meteorite interception facilities. Millions on the Usean continent had been displaced by the fall of the meteorites, and at the time the largest host country for refugees was expected to be Erusea. However, in April 2000, the Erusean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a sudden tightening of visa application requirements. This was a de facto rejection of refugees. According to the ministry's explanation, 200,000 people had entered the country all at once, and the acceptance of additional refugees was impossible. The world, however, was unconvinced by this and was united in condemnation.
Even after the announcement, refugees expecting acceptance to resume continued crossing the border. Erusea had called for refugees to be relocated to other countries through state-owned aircraft, buses and the like, but such efforts were ignored by some NGOs and the haphazard transport of refugees continued under the guise of humanitarian airlift programs. Erusea opposed this, condemning it as grossly irresponsible manslaughter. In any case, crime and plague have begun spreading in the refugee camps due to the unceasing influx of refugees to them.
Inspecting the refugee camps formed near Erusea's borders, Commissioner Guggenheim of the United Nations said, "These camps are unsanitary to the extreme. We have an acute overcrowding crisis on our hands." At this time the number of people who have crossed the border is somewhere in the range of 600,000. Food and protection from the elements were quickly obtained by way of relief supplies sent from on and off the continent, but that too has begun to dwindle. "The refugee crisis should not be left to a single nation. The international community must offer assistance to save these people who are condemned to a life of misery." The commissioner requested that the other nations of the Usean continent expand their acceptance rates and expedite the evacuation process, but few countries answered this call.
"We have done all we can, as a nation and as individuals," Erusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Frederick Updike said in his interview with us. "Ten meteorites large and small fell within Erusea, tens of thousands perishing from the meteorite which fell near the capital Farbanti in particular. Our country today is not a comfortable shelter with soft beds and hot food waiting for you. I would like the people to know that our land suffered the most damage and chaos of the entire continent."
The minister is an impressive man with a large body and gentlemanly attitude, but when the subject turned to the international opinion against Erusea's anti-refugee measures, he began to frown. "[Other nations] boycott our products in fair weather, but they always unilaterally foist the costly international problems onto our country. We absolutely cannot accept a million refugees. What really ought to be criticized is the warped perspective of the smaller nations."
He notes that this is just his personal opinion. However, there can be no mistake that his emotional reply reflects the opinion of the Erusian people.
Nations Unite Against Erusea, ISAF is Founded
FCU president Robert Sinclair held a press conference announcing the emergence of ISAF (Independent States Allied Force) from the Continental Nations' Economic Alliance, building strong military partnerships besides their economic ones.
According to his explanation, ISAF is a collective defense mechanism whose founding members are the eleven signatories of the Continental Nations' Economic Alliance, the aim of which is to promote stability on the Usean continent, and furthermore to preserve its peace. There are currently 16 signatories. A military attack on one member state is considered an attack on all, and they will come to each other's assistance by way of collective defense in accordance with the application of either individual or collective rights to self-defense.
The need for a military alliance with the aim of collective self-defense in the face of Erusian military threats has been discussed for quite some time between the FCU and its allies. However, the view that any connections more than those of the economic community would antagonize Erusea more than necessary prevailed, and while theoretical investigations continued on, concrete measures such as joint exercises had not been enacted until now.
The timing with which this multinational force has come into being can be ascribed to the FCU's desire to integrate all the various nations under a single chain of command, preparing for the event of full-scale war breaking out with retaliatory strikes against Erusea. Naturally, the core will be the FCU military.
ISAF's fighting strength is said to be comparable to Erusea's. However, in the event of an actual conflict, both parties must expect equal expenditures and damage. When the question was raised if ISAF truly intended to go to war with Erusea, the President said this. "We'll absolutely be victorious. You can be as sure of that as you can that the sun will rise tomorrow."