Today we'll be talking about one of the pivotal moments in the history of Seria, the Grämlins and even the world itself: Great War 3. Seen by some as a continuation of the Initiative vs League conflict of Great War 2 after a brief cessation in hostilities, and by others as another chapter in the same series, GW3 was the end of the dipolar political world that had existed since well before the foundation of Seria. The attack by the NPO on GATO over allegations including spying and conspiracy to undermine the NPO's political position precipitated a final showdown between the Orders and their allies in the Initiative on the one hand, and the remnants of the League and their friends on the other. In many circles the efforts of 'Aegis' (a name coined by a member of the opposition, if I remember right) were thought of as a last stand against the advances of the imperialistic and amoral Orders, who would oversee a reign of terror if allowed to win.
Nowadays we see Pax Pacifica as a fact of life, almost a force of nature against which it is futile to rebel, as the Red Order and its large collection of allies presents an unassailable fortress of strength. To cross the Continuum is to dig one's own grave – even if you are the Emperor of a Francoist Order, controlling a vast web of allies and a powerful bloc of your own. But at the start of GW3, Legion was No 1 in strength, GATO was a strong power and the NpO was not as strong as it became under BLEU. The allies of GATO were (numerically at least) as strong as the allies of the NPO, and the world had never known a time when one power had absolute control. The idea of 'Pax Pacifica' – always the NPO were credited with the strength and evil will to carry the Initiative, despite the presence of FAN and GOONS – was a prime motivator behind the rallying of alliances to the Aegis cause.
To quote the Serian government of the time (OOC: myself):
This is a sad day ... the NPO claim to have had enough of GATO agitating for war, so ... they declare war? Wtf? We'll all be living under Pax Pacifica at this rate.
The Initiative is killing the game - when the NPO (in this case) says 'jump', everyone does. It's not as if GATO had a problem with FAN, or VE, or any of the alliances that are now going to attack them, but the WUT has enabled the NPO to go on an unwarranted* war of aggression against one of the largest alliances out there.
*: Yes, I read the declaration and Philosopher's post. I don't believe that there is enough for war there, though bad things were done and there ought to be a GATO disciplinary committee on it.
First they came for FARK, but I was not FARK, so I said nothing to help.
Then they came for LUE, but I was not LUE, so I did nothing to help.
Who will be left when they come for us?
But coming to help as an individual nation would just result in ZI, so there's no point
The references to FARK and LUE refer to the beginning (GOONS' attack on the new Fark) and end (LUE's restrictive surrender terms) of GW2, of course.
By the time Seria, and the Grämlins, voted to enter the war to protect our freedom, the fight was already looking difficult. Several Aegis alliances had made a major tactical error: the Initiative war plans were leaked, with the planned match-ups, and the Aegis alliances pre-emptively attacked the same targets that were assigned to them (in Legion's case, breaking a NAP in the process), playing perfectly into the Initiative's hands. Legion was losing unbelievable amounts of strength – even without modern tech-enhanced warfare, faster than Polaris in the recent war. Aegis coordination was non-existent; as military staff, Syzygy, Steelrat and I attempted to locate Aegis central command to offer our assistance and help to plan targets – we never found it. The numbers were beginning to stack up against us. Several alliances who had pledged support decided against making that military support, and even the surprise entrance of /b/ (another economically minded alliance on Green with whom we were making the beginnings of a friendship) did little more than slow down the increase in the size of the strength gap.
Nevertheless, Grämlins do not stand down from their principles, and thus on the 25th of March (almost a week into the war), Grämlins declared war on the Illuminati – an MDP partner of the NPO and already engaged against /b/ – and entered GW3 along with Ronin and Old Guard in defence of the free world. Our military preparation and execution was impeccable; within two days (three cycles of war including the initial quad attacks), not a single nation in range in Illuminati was out of anarchy, and not a single Grämlin was in anarchy. A ceasefire was called, resulting in the withdrawal of Illuminati from the fray. By this point Aegis was clearly a losing prospect morally as well as militarily, as we had received an anonymous drop of several screenshots from the NPO boards (which were forwarded to the NPO; spying is bad whether you're at war or not), and it was agreed that the Grämlins would also withdraw, nukes unfired and mission abandoned.
On a more local scale though the operation was a success. Militarily we had demolished an alliance larger than ourselves, forcing them out of the conflict with minimal damage to ourselves. Diplomatically we succeeded in negotiating a withdrawal from the main war once it was no longer in our interests to be a part of it – whether through brilliant statesmanship or nuclear deterrent will never be clear. Internally the war showed that all of our members were active, loyal and well run nations.
Several days later the major Aegis alliances began to surrender – leaving the NAAC out to dry, given no reasonable surrender terms and forced into disbandment, leading to the beginning of Polaris's domination of Blue which lasted for a year and a half. Legion was humbled, lost its sanction and its credibility; GATO too was destroyed as a meaningful power outside of Brown team politics. LUE was destroyed for violating its GW2 surrender terms. /b/ self-destructed, with a few members taking down the boards with vile postings and hacking the game, and the responsible members realising there was no future and disbanding. The political scene was completely changed in the space of two weeks.
Fortunately, as we now know with the benefit of 18 months' hindsight, the Initiative was not as evil as was made out. They won the war and imposed tough surrender terms on the main alliances in Aegis, and destroyed the NAAC. Shortly afterwards was the Viridicide, probably the low point in 'might makes right' politics (Grämlins were prepared to intervene on behalf of Viridia and Green then, too, but were asked not to). Initiative alliances tech raided with little restraint, and GOONS 'sharked' extreme political dissenters, but after the Viridicide the Initiative did not rule with an iron fist. International relations between non-Initiative alliances was permitted to flourish unchecked. Of course the story has a happy ending, with the Grämlins migrating to the 'Initiative' side, first through TOP and our PIAT with the NPO, and latterly the Continuum itself. Ironically, it was our (often fairly hot) interaction with the NPO during GW3 that caused us to realise how professional, skilled and worth knowing they are.
So, in conclusion, GW3 was Seria's and the Grämlins' greatest military and diplomatic test. But it was also a great show of strength, togetherness and a moment that is looked back to as a triumph – militarily against the Illuminati, and morally as a shining example of acting by our principles.