The purpose of a neutral nation has always been to establish a state free of foreign influences and/or interests. In RL we have seen the Non-Aligned Movement, established by Josip Broz Tito, Jawaharlal Nehru and Gamal Abdul Nasser as one of the best examples of nations maintaining themselves outside of aligned spheres. In eRepublik, neutrality is a much trickier and more difficult creed to run by and often enough, fails to work altogether. This has been observed over various eNations and economic alliances that could have, but didn't succeed.
One of the first nations to push for a true neutrality stance within Europe was eGermany, a nation I had the honor to work with for it's initial six and a half months of independence. During that period of working within the administration, I had served under many roles such as heading and creating the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND - eGermany's Federal Intelligence Service), running the MoFA department and working as an Presidential adviser on many occasions. From this position, I was able to take part in much of eGermany's foreign affairs and help devise what was to be the implemented strategy for a strong neutral eGermany. I along with others, obviously failed.
To understand the effects, one must look back at the causes and so we will dwell into the past. eSweden had conquered ePoland and eGermany at the behest of their respected governments back in July of 2008. This was done due to the ePolish take over the eGerman government after eGermany had conquered ePoland and as such, appropriations for V1 were made to allow both nations to once again be created. DKN, whom was the representative ruler of eGermany at the time made a secret deal with eSweden. This deal effectively stated that eGermany would be granted independence, however would allow eSweden to retain SH, a high grain region that they desperately needed. There was also a portion of the deal that allowed eSweden to region swap eGerman lands during Operation: French Toast.
By November 19th, eGermany had begun its Independence War, with the complete backing and support from eSweden. This landmarked the day that eGermany was once again allowed to exist within eRepublik. DKN was voted in as President of eGermany and thus began mine and many others work in the administration. One of the largest questions during the start of the administration was revolving where eGermany would place itself diplomatically. eGermany was home to pro-Atlantis, pro-PEACE and pro-neutral groups and all of them wanted to push their spherical view forward. At the heart of the discussions though, neutrality was the winning argument and at the end of the day, was the deciding factor for future eGerman politics.
The first mistake eGermany made was destroying the trust eSweden and eGermany had from Operation: Burning Spirit. DKN on January 11th gave the operation the green light, conscripting hundreds of PEACE tanks to take back regions held by eSweden. This maneuver was done without notifying the vast majority of the eGerman government and was the key focus towards why eGerman neutrality failed in future events. Regardless, the operation was more than a success, it was a work of art. PEACE soldiers flooded eSwedish hospitals as their media was swamped with falsified articles declaring, "eSweden Returns all eGerman Regions!". The media trick managed to recruit a good deal of Atlantis soldiers into fighting against their own nation or allies.
Now many of eGermany look to this event as a victory for the full-sovereignty of eGermany, however considering the deal that DKN made, this was only a backstabbing maneuver towards eSweden. PEACE had their own tactical gain from this as well, they didn't do it for the people of eGermany. OBS forced eSweden out of Operation: French Toast and they lost their high grain region, hurting their economy further. Within the administration we celebrated our 'victory' before throwing a embargo against eSweden, which was nothing more than adding insult to injury. The sad truth is, we expected peace and for everything to continue back to normal afterwards.
The eGerman administration was still pro-neutral, even though we had just hosted a large PEACE operation within the nation that regained our old regions. We held peace talks shortly after, making extortionate demands that were simply unacceptable by eSweden even though we held very little power over their heads. I headed the talks for the eGerman side and having to work with these demands were impossible, in the end nothing could truly be made other than what's done is done. eSweden was willing to look past the event had we given back SH, however our eNationalistic pride over the region forced a 'complete and non-perverse' map of the nation.
At the end of DKN's administration, Isy began a new era of eGerman politics. He promised transparency [Don't they all...] and accountability, however the outcome was far different. I do not blame him alone though, for he was only a part of the declining eGerman state. In DKN's administration the BND was tasked with many counts of espionage and 'networking' throughout the eWorld, from there we had caused some regional instability in favor of eGermany, along with being a key factor in directing future eGerman Expeditionary Forces throughout the eWorld for training. Although a neutral nation, our government's infrastructure was considerably hostile and very closed to the people. Corruption was rampant as Congress had anonymous voting powers, granting non-congress members votes and the administration had their pre-vote on everything.
By the time I left the BND, it was merged into the MoFA Department which was under the MoD. That's right, our military wing ran our foreign affairs. The whole overview of the eGerman government was built from the get-go to be a hostile environment for other eNations and to have one simple focus, how can we use other nations to benefit eGermany. At this point I was an advisor to Isy under one of the many 'paper-thin' titles. To keep the administration filled with the 'Old Guard', titles were created so as to maintain this group. Although there is nothing wrong with keeping a decent administration, the fact is that this group, myself included, were granted rights that we should not have had; in other words, we were the shadow government. We were unelected officials with no accountability and a 'x' paycheck and within that sub-forum zone, eGermany was run.
Suffice to say, the whole men in a dark room, smoking expensive cigars isn't quite what happened. If anything, the administration was filled with decent people and to that, Isy was often very wise in his choice of those whom surrounded him. It was the absence of accountability that caused the real harm and because of that the eGerman government did not represent the people. Now how does this all focus to eGermany's neutrality? Simply put, the corruption and attitude of self-serving needs made us use the spheres for our own gain and the fact is, you can only throw meat at two hungry tigers for so long.
One of the unsung heroes of the time was a trade and anti-PTO movement named the European Social Alliance (ESA). The intentions of the alliance were good and eGermany was a heavy supporter of its development as it would be a central hub for creating relations between Atlantis and PEACE members within Europe. Sadly, it was struck down due to the large rivalries and statements by major nations such as Romania and Hungary. Romania had stated that it would be fine with the alliance existing, however it made absolutely no change in their government policies. Hungary stated that the anti-PTO portion conflicted with their PTO policies.
The ESA was eGermany's attempt at re-affirming neutrality, a policy often left forgotten but placed down under false pretenses. Even with Romania and Hungary making very clear statements and much of Europe simply uninterested, it would have been a defining point for eGermany's stance in the spherical eWorld. Even though the ESA failed, it laid the groundwork for future alliances of the sort, such as Sol. Regardless, although the ESA was filled with good intentions, it's development ended with the Austria-PEACE Resistance War.
eGermany had for some time made plans for expansion, be it military or diplomatic. Much of this was geared in with the BND's operations and the MoFA department, in the sense of eAustria though, it was a mix of planning and luck. Near the end of February, eGermany was leaning very much towards PEACE. There was a large pro-PEACE group somewhat headed by Justin Tyme, we had been in a PEACE operation and we were becoming good friends with eAustria, a predominantly PEACE nation. When talks opened up over creating a Union between eGermany and eAustria, the administration had been geared to make it happen, no matter the cost. eAustria joined with eGermany under the period of neutrality, Hungary gained Burgenland and PEACE was given hints as to having eGermany joining their ranks.
This however, did not happen. The truth is that the administration had no interest in joining PEACE, we were much more focused on neutrality, even though our actions stated differently. When push came to shove, PEACE was annoyed with eGermany and they had a right to be. In order to calm the masses, several votes on joining Atlantis, PEACE or remaining neutral were made. During this period, many of the administration were becoming pro-Atlantis, be this from concerns of PEACE or from the fact that the majority of us had past experience with the Atlantis group.
During this period the Administration began operations to develop further relations with certain key nations, Russia, USA, Canada, UK, Japan and Sweden. eGermany had excellent relations with France and the Netherlands, however we were making fairly obvious moves towards befriending Atlantis states. As time moved on, the 'friendly' nation list had been alienated towards those within Atlantis and the argument of 'friends' ended up being the sole cause of the several votes for the spherical alliances. It was no wonder that eGermany ended up voting for Atlantis after 5-6 or so repeated votes, half of which were done in the administration long before going to congress.
Before joining Atlantis though, eGermany had struck a deal with eSweden. Misho approached a handful of eGermans with a proposition for ending the SH debate which was too good to let up. I spoke with then Swedish President, Algaroth over the details. Effectively eGermany would make acceptable payments to the region [Mostly in conjunction to repay the stolen DS that was built there] and would join Atlantis. Algaroth and Misho had no intentions of invading eGermany and the offer itself was indeed genuine for the time. This, was the key factor for eGermany joining Atlantis.
As you can imagine, it wasn't exactly supported by PEACE, we had just betrayed them for our own personal gain. Again. This forced the Austria-PEACE Resistance War and ended any hopes of the ESA. That was the day eGerman neutrality died.
After joining Atlantis, the administration used Hungary's holding of Burgenland as the excuse for joining Atlantis and the 'move' against PEACE. With the majority of the population having mix feelings, eGermany began operations with Atlantis, fighting on many fronts and against former friends. We dug our own grave and it came back to destroy everything we had built. Regardless, we were loyal Atlantis allies, this I will not denounce, say what you will, we were loyal until the end.
The sad truth is that the best President of eGermany was handed the worst set of cards. Starkad Rorlikson was a pro-neutral President to the core, supportive of complete transparency and made efforts to clean up the administration. In a sense, he cleaned up corruption in a week, our country was open and relative to the people's views for the first time since creation. We had some of the best members working within our government and a overhaul of the military was underway. Chicco, taking over from Mortenlond after he resigned created one of the easiest logistical systems for an armed force in the game in a very limited period of time. Regardless, it mattered very little.
Kalle Holm ran for President of eSweden with the promise to invade eGermany. He made it very clear that unless unreasonable demands were met, eGermany would be invaded. In truth this was being done to create an active eSweden, which was dying. The majority of Atlantis was against it, however eSweden, still remembering the constant insults and injury done unto them by eGermany was in full support of Kalle Holm; not to mention Romania's and Poland's pledge to wipe eGermany off the map. As Kalle was elected the administration and President Starkad realized that there was absolutely nothing that could be done, Atlantis could not budge and would not trade eSweden for eGermany.
Support did come from members of Atlantis though, eUK, eCanada and some from the eUSA. However it wasn't enough and eSweden quickly ran through eGermany. As we were being crushed, we then were PTO'd by shoot and we 'surrendered'. During that period of the conflict, the eGerman government was in constant communication with PEACE and we ended up coughing hundreds of gold to have them move in and liberate eGermany, which inevitably cost much more than what was payed.
So what is the lesson in all of this? The above history is how not to run a neutral nation. Considering how most neutral states have small population and little industry, there is an importance in establishing a state that is not dominate on creating it's own sphere. eGermany acted big but had very little, truth be told it was only strategic at times, but for the most part worthless. We had no true unity in politics and were always very split up over how to regard foreign affairs. In a neutral state, the local government must be unified in its interest for neutrality. eGermany often got involved with Spherical issues for its own gain, forcing both sides to take an active interest in the nation, a once again terrible concept for the neutral state.
Most important of all, in any form of government, even more so in an neutral one, the government must be accountable. If the people's interests are neutrality, then the government itself must be very easily seen. The majority of eGermany's problems came from behind closed doors and in backhanded deals, there was no true transparency or accountability until the end, when it mattered very little. Neutrality demands that the people are much more active in government and the choices voted upon as there is little else to do. For eGermany, a vast majority simply had very little to do, there was no focus on creating a interactive government and most of the people that were elected or appointed were 'Old Guard'. New players hardly had the chance to take any action in their government.
In closing, although our attempt to create a neutral state failed, the legacy does remain. In alliances such as Sol does the original planning and intentions of a independent neutral state exist. As long as the nation does it's best to not make the mistakes we made in eGermany, there's a very good possibility it will succeed. Governing is about trial and error, although many may feel I was critical in some regards, I know the majority of us in the Administration back in 2008 and 2009 were attempting a concept that wasn't accepted at the time.
Just my wee bit of history and two cents.