In the 21st century, war was still waged over the resources that could be acquired. Only this time, the spoils of war were also its weapons: Petroleum and Uranium. For these resources, China would invade Alaska, the US would annex Canada, and the European Commonwealth would dissolve into quarreling, bickering nation-states, bent on controlling the last remaining resources on Earth.”— Fallout intro
Resource Wars is an umbrella term referring to over 25 years of devastating conflicts that engulfed the world as shortages of resources caused nations to resort to war in order to obtain what they desired.
The roots of the Resource Wars lie in a globally unsustainable economy that heavily relied on petroleum and uranium. The former provided not just fuel for vehicles (gasoline, diesel, and other forms of refined fuel), but also plastics, fertilizers, medicine, and countless other applications. The latter was an essential ingredient for nuclear fission, which provided a substantial amount of electricity worldwide. When demand outstripped supply, the situation started to deteriorate rapidly, leading to a resurgence of nationalism and protectionism. The United Nations soon proved powerless to stop hostilities, as the United States invaded Mexico in 2051, after a string of economic sanctions destabilized the country. Citing political instability and pollution as a threat to national security, the United States' intervention ensured that petroleum would continue making its way north, at Mexico's expense.
In hindsight, this was the first in a chain of events that engulfed the world in war. Ironically, it did little to prop up the economy of the United States, with the energy crisis hitting the nation hard, entering the popular consciousness after a television documentary revealed withered husks of Texas oil fields sitting idly, with no oil to pump.
The European Commonwealth followed United States' example when it replied to price hikes by oil exporters in the Middle East with military action. Long dependent on oil imports, European military units deployed to the Middle East in April 2052, starting an almost decade-long war for control over the region's oil deposits. The war caused oil prices to skyrocket, bankrupting many smaller nations, and caused the United Nations to implode just three months after the European Commonwealth declared war on the Middle East.
The war would rage on for the next years, with nuclear exchanges that occurred in the Middle East after Tel Aviv's destruction in December 2053 provoking a global nuclear scare and raising fears of global thermonuclear war. The United States government initiated Project Safehouse in order to construct great underground Vaults to protect its population, although the project was rife with embezzlement, corruption, and mismanagement, starting with the method of financing them (junk bonds) and ending with the number of Vaults constructed (just 122, capable of protecting less than a tenth of a percent of the United States' government).
The War would come to an end in 2060, when the Middle Eastern oil fields ran dry. Both sides were reduced to ruin, with the Commonwealth fragmenting into bickering nation states, fighting over what resources remained within its reach.
The end of the war did little to stabilize the international situation. Gripped by the resource crisis and the New Plague, the United States closed down its borders in 2052 and started taking ever more desperate steps to prop up its economy, as well as pursuing numerous promising technologies that could provide a solution to the problem, including advanced robotics (artificial intelligences such as ZAX, used to crunch numbers and process data by the Department of Energy after it was created by Vault-Tec Corporation), alternative propulsion systems (with REPCONN Aerospace, Mass Fusion, and Chryslus Motors beings three notable examples), and of course, nuclear fusion. In its desperation, the United States government also started to strip national parks of their protected status, allowing unrestricted mining in landmarks such as the Grand Canyon. From May 2057, the Canyon was closed to the public indefinitely.
The military enjoyed extensive funding throughout the period, used as a sword and shield to protect American resources. In 2059, the Anchorage Front Line was established to protect Alaska against foreign invasion, with the blue water port and its surrounding region rightfully expected to become a battlefield in any future conflict, due to its importance in exporting oil. The increase in military presence in Alaska caused rising tensions with Canada, with the United States demanding the right to station troops on Canadian soil to provide protection for the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, starting the long erosion of Canadian sovereignty that would lead to its annexation.
By 2060, the situation was dire. Traffic worldwide ground to a halt, with petroleum becoming too precious to waste on personal automobiles. Alternatives such as electric and fission-based cars appear on the market, but in limited amounts due to the ongoing crisis. Fusion research accelerated, though with no apparent solution in sight. The only consolation prize was that by 2063, most Vaults would be complete, with drills starting.
Nuclear fusion would finally appear in 2066, as an offshoot of power armor research projects initiated by the United States military in August 2065. With generous funding and near limitless resources, the first crude fusion cell would be unveiled to the world shortly after the United States declared that it would not trade fossil fuels with any foreign nation. This was considered an insult by China: The great communist power was heavily dependent on fossil fuels and oil exports from America could have alleviated its energy crisis, preventing its collapse.
As the United States began incorporating fusion power into its infrastructure and economy, the desperate Chinese leadership decided to play everything on one card: Instead of accepting collapse, they decided to invade Alaska and seize the United States' oil reserves by force. In December 2066, China invaded Alaska, turning the Anchorage Front Line into a true battleground. Reeling from the blows, the United States was unable to respond in kind. Canadian reluctance to permit U.S. military units to cross its soil and airspace hampered the ability to reinforce their front line units. Canada eventually backed down, setting the stage for its annexation ten years down the road.
However, countering Chinese forces proved difficult. To bolster its units, the military ordered its defense contractors to produce any working power armor. West Tek was the first to achieve success, with the first suit of T-45 power armor deploying to the front in 2067. The stopgap model lacked mobility, but was capable of carrying heavy weapons into combat as small arms, greatly increasing the firepower of a single soldier. China rushed to create its own versions, but was many years behind the United States.
However, the power armor did not become the trump card the U.S. hoped for, and the war would degenerate into a decade-long war of attrition, plagued by inclement warfare, trench warfare, and countless atrocities on both sides of the conflict, up to and including the use of biological weapons. Others became collateral damage in the titanic struggle, especially Canada: By 2069, it became Little America to many U.S. citizens, with its natural resources liberally exploited for the war effort with no compensation provided and protests going unheard.
Reduced to a colony of the American empire, Canada attempted to resist. By 2072, the rampant devastation of Canadian ecosystems culminated in rioting across Canada and an attempted sabotage of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. The United States swiftly responded with military action, setting in motion the annexation of Canada. Over the next five years, Canada would become an occupied territory under military government, exploited for its resources and strategic location.
The aggressive use of biological weapons by China would also prompt a response from the United States, taking the form of the Pan-Immunity Virion project in 2073, meant to create a general immunizing agent against enemy biological weapons. The project would eventually lead to the creation of the Forced Evolutionary Virus, one of the most important mutagenic factors in the history of the world.
However, the most important element of the escalation came in 2074, when the United States invaded China, hoping to destabilize its war effort by opening a second front in Asia. However, long supply lines and adverse conditions on the mainland quickly end the hopes of American commanders of forcing a swift resolution to the conflict. Fighting in Alaska and Asia would bring no conclusion beyond mounting casualties for the next two years. The situation would steadily degenerate on fronts domestic and foreign, with civil rights eroding in the face of seemingly endless war. In 2076, the annexation of Canada would culminate in total occupation of Canadian territories and open violence perpetrated against protestors and resistance fighters as American units swarmed across the nation.
The completion of the T-51 power armor that same year helped turn the tide of the war, with its superior performance and combat efficiency putting immense pressure on the Chinese forces, causing it to crumble on all fronts, with resources and supply lines from annexed nations stretched beyond the breaking point. However, the United States suffered from a deteriorating domestic situation, with food shortages leading to riots across the nation in August. The situation was further aggravated by the deteriorating labor situation, especially in Appalachia, where automation displaced thousands of workers, leaving them unable to support their families. The government and the military retaliated by declaring a state of martial law, turning the United States into a de facto dictatorship.
Anchorage Reclamation and path to oblivion
The path to the Great War started in January 2077, with the completion of the Anchorage Reclamation on January 28. Troops were swiftly redeployed to China and across the nation to contain the riots and enforce the order. In other words, veterans of Alaska were sent into the fray once more or turned on the very citizens they were supposed to protect. Suffering from depleted manpower, the United States was forced to shutter many of its mainland bases, turning them into automated defense forts and sending their garrisons into the meat grinder in Asia. Desertions also mounted, particularly among troops sent to contain the riots. By March, the Last President of the United States retreated from the White House, along with dozens of other future members, to a Poseidon Energy oil rig near San Francisco in order to prepare for the impending doom, and to create what would become known as the Enclave.
The society unraveled steadily, aided by the greed of the military-industrial complex. In Appalachia, already reeling from the widespread automation enforced by local companies, the heavy handed behavior of Atomic Mining Services and Poseidon Energy led to violence between workers, corporate enforcers, and the National Guard. The Automation riots that engulfed much of West Virginia demanded the opportunity to work and were mercilessly crushed by a combination of National Guardsmen and private security, in a dark echo of the Coal Wars more than 150 years earlier. In the New England Commonwealth, specifically the Massachusetts region, martial law, food riots, and paranoia plagued the area. The Columbia Commonwealth fared not much better, only having food riots to worry about.
Finally, by October, it seemed to many that the United States had entered a war it could not win, with the Boston Bugle deeming the situation the "Atomic Ultimatum", citing that billions of dollars, millions of lives, and countless resources had not only been used, but wasted, over the course of the last decade. The Riots coincided with the final offensive of the United States against China, which brought upon an end of the Resource Wars. In the face of military units closing in on Beijing and the United States' unwillingness to negotiate, China launched its nuclear arsenal, bringing bout the Great War on October 23, 2077.
Behind the scenes
A pre-Fallout "Resource Wars" game set in collapsing Europe (during the U.K.'s invasions of the Middle East) is one of the games that J.E. Sawyer would like to make if he could do any game, regardless of money and developing time.
- Fallout intro
- Fallout Bible 0 Timeline repair: Second strike: "2051 Seeking to protect business interests and their oil supply, the United States begins to exert increasing pressure on Mexico, citing the political instability and pollution stemming from Mexico as a threat to the United States. Various economic sanctions serve to destabilize Mexico, and the United States military enters Mexico to keep the oil refineries running and making sure oil and fuel continue to make their way north across the border... at Mexico's expense."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2052 A television documentary into the withered husk of the Texas oil fields brings the oil shortage into the American households, and reveals how deep the energy crisis runs."
- See respective articles for references.
- Tour bot dialogue file from Van Buren
- Tour bot dialogue file from Van Buren
- Mentioned only in the Fallout Bible timeline.
- In articles found on the computer terminals in the Capitol Post offices in L'Enfant Plaza (Fallout 3).
- Fallout Bible 0: "2060 Traffic on the streets of the world stops moving. Fuel becomes too precious to waste on automobiles, so alternatives are explored - electric and fusion cars begin to be manufactured, but factories can only make limited amounts. Pressure on fusion research increases."
- Mentioned in the Fallout manual
- Fallout Bible 0: "2067 The first suit of Power Armor is deployed in Alaska. While lacking the full mobility of future versions, this Power Armor is incredibly effective against Chinese tanks and infantry. Its ability to carry heavy ordinance becomes key in various localized conflicts, and it has the power to destroy entire towns without endangering the wearer. China rushes to create its own versions, but they are many years behind the United States."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2069 Canada begins to feel the pressure from the United States military as the US draws upon Canadian resources for the war effort. Vast stretches of timberland are destroyed, and other resources in Canada are stretched to the breaking point. Many Americans refer to Canada as Little America, and Canadian protests are unheard."
- Boston Bugle building terminals#Article 4
- Massachusetts State House terminals#Public Order
- Boston Bugle building terminals#Article 3
- Capitol Post terminals#Food Riots Rile Feds
- Boston Bugle building terminals#Article 2
- RPGDot interview with J.E. Sawyer