I've done some research on the question and found this, but unfortunately those questions refer to a Cold war.

This war in my question is very hot indeed, a stalemate that's lasted over a decade with both sides fighting on the same front lines since the war began. Casualties are countless and neither side is willing to surrender.

Background Information

This world is Earth in the year 3000. SEDA is the first faction, GRP is the second.

SEDA takes up most of Asia and Oceania, and the Western half of South America.

GRP takes up Russia, Africa, and the Eastern Half of South America.

New Venice is a neutral third country, located in what is now Hawaii.

Abandoned areas comprise Europe and North America, as neither faction lays claims to these lands for one reason or another (resistant locals or large amounts of radiation)

These two factions take up most of the world. Each of these is made up of a number of smaller nations, but effectively they function as a single political entity.

The Question

It would be in the interest of both factions to claim the nation as their own, adding the island's production and manpower to themselves and utilizing it as a potential jumping-off point for any future invasions.

However for whatever reason they choose leave New Venice completely self governing. I've looked at real-life instances of neutral countries being left alone by a hostile force, but so far the reasons I can find that resulted in them being left alone don't really apply to my world.

A good example is not wanting to antagonize the rest of the world. In this scenario, there isn't a rest of the world to antagonize. Both sides are at total war, and the relationship can't degrade past that.

The solution doesn't have to be permanent, it just has to last for at least a decade.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Sydney, it's been proposed that "Why would someone X?" questions are off-topic as either too broad or POB. These kinds of questions are difficult to answer because they're often a function of plot and not a rule of worldbuilding. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ Where are those "front lines"? As far as I can tell, they are fighting mostly in South America, and the utterly insignificant islands of Hawaii are firmly in the ocean controlled by SEDA. The GRP cannot even reach Hawaii. Ah, and BTW, the GRP consists of two disjunct pieces which cannot communicate. Since "Europe" is abandoned, and 80% of the population of Russia used to live in Europe, the rump of Russia which belongs to GRP consists mostly of empty land rich in natural resources; how come SEDA did not grab it? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I think I made the same mistake as is brought up in the post you linked me to, which was thinking this was a valid question under the "Limited List" type, when it's actually a far too specific version of Limited List. Feel free to VTC if you feel this question needs to be closed. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ maybe you should just refine the background of the question (see AlexP comment). The question itself seems legitimate, and has a valid strategic answer. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 5:00
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    $\begingroup$ "but so far the reasons I can find that resulted in them being left alone don't really apply to my world." That should tell you something... :) Switzerland has been left alone because #1 it's surrounded by high mountains, and #2 offers something of value to all sides. Hawaii was not left alone because it's a really strategic location right in the middle of the biggest ocean. (It's also why Hawaii became a US state instead of remaining a territory.) $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 5:03

15 Answers 15


Throwing away the shame of the international community, which in your case consists only of the enemy and the invaded country, I think the explanation lays in the strategic equilibrium: new Venice is small, but adding its contribution to one of the parties involved would resolve the war in favor of the alliance.

Let's explain this concept with some numbers, and assumptions:

  • the side with higher score wins. Equal score cannot be decided
  • the score of an alliance is given by the sum of the scores of the components

If A and B are superpowers, let's say they score 100 each, and are thus in equilibrium. Now the third small country C is just a feeble 3.

Any attempt to attack C, from either A or B, will result in C joining the other side and breaking the equilibrium. Since both A and B are aware of this situation, they respect the neutrality of C to prevent the country joining the other side.

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    $\begingroup$ While the simple math example here is correct, you could argue that this fallout does not occur if (A/B) is able to completely take C before any repercussion can mobilize (A/B) takes C, adds their value to their own side, then wins the war. However, if there were many other neutral countries (D, E, F, G, H, I, J), upon seeing C captured they are likely going to join the other side thus still swinging the war in favor of whoever did not attack C. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 13:11

New Venice is a tax haven, and the leaders of both sides have got their corruptly gained money stashed there in numbered bank accounts. Neither of them is going to risk invading, and losing their money or (worse) having the banking records made public.

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    $\begingroup$ May want to rename the Islands into new Switzerland ... $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Daniel, Venice was a banking city long before Switzerland $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ Venice was a superpower, controlling most of the Mediterranean (wasn´t neutral). Switzerland remained neutral trough two world-wars and kept the money of individuals from both sides safe ... $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Daniel Switzerland consists of large areas of mountain ranges, which are hard to conquer and keep in control. The military system allows citizens to take their military rifle home after basic military training, serving as militia in case of necessity. Most access points like bridges, tunnels, roads, rails are preparated to being blown up and the mountains have been caved with room for whole divisions to fit in. All of this let Switzerland keep its neutrality. (independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/…). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 11:57

I'm missing one point that was quite a significant reason during WW2 for leaving Sweden neutral: both sides keep contact with them so it might be of a use for throwing some offers to the opponent (like temporary cease fire, exchange of POW or spies etc).

It might be also easier to use neutral country to pass spies through it. You're definitely interrogating anyone crossing the border with the neutral country but if someone crosses the hot red front line, he's simply shot without asking too much questions.

There might be some very scarce but critical resources that are available each only on one side of the front line. The conflicted nations won't trade directly, but then they can trade with the neutral country putting a blind eye on an actual source of the resource (and since the one I buy is critical to me I can trade the one that is critical for the other side even knowing where is it going to be sold).


Sometimes it's good to have an intermediary who is neutral for being able to keep limited diplomacy, trade, prisoners exchange etc.

  • $\begingroup$ Austria played this role to a certain extent during the Cold War as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 13:51

There could be several reasons and you could pick your poison of choice.

Firstly New Venice is far. Pretty dam far from SEDA and GRP. Its main advantage would be as a staging point to launch an attack on Oceania or South America but that would require a significant investment. Your fighting should be focused around or near South Africa as that seems to be where the land between the two nations is closest together. If you wanted to use New Venice as a stage to prepare for an attack you would need to move your ships and aircraft across the entire world and that is a lot of manpower that has been removed from the front line which could cause your front line to fall apart. At best New Venice would be a very small base that could be used to supply a ship or two for scouting or minor harassment however the cost to capture the island, develop the infrastructure and regularly ship weapons and fuel to New Venice would quickly outweigh the benefits of minor harassment along a heavily defended coast.

Its also a stalemate for a reason. Both sides are equal. Diverting manpower from the front lines could break this stalemate and once your opponent gains momentum or a advantage you quickly start to fall apart. Small squads might not be powerful enough or well resourced enough to take control of New Venice and its always possible that both sides have active agents in New Venice but they just undermine each other, rather than trying to take control. Aka, they are simply preventing the other side from capturing New Venice and hence it never falls under either of them.

New Venice could have some military might. If you wanted to take New Venice you would require several ships which could be better used else where. You might suffer losses which would be important to maintaining the stalemate and even worse, your opponent might just be waiting for you to suffer losses from New Venice so they can wipe you out and take it over without as much risk.

Finally New Venice needs to have something that can justify the cost of capturing it. As a fairly small island its going to be hard for it to have the resources and manpower necessary to justify an invasion. Even if it had valuable materials, if they were to destroy the machinery that gathers it, then you are also at a loss and risk losing the war.


New Venice is too costly to invade and develop due to distance. It diverts important resources from the stalemated front line onto a small island where you probably won't get any return and will more than likely suffer losses if you take the initiative to attack. Even after you occupy it, it doesn't offer any special resources or attack routes that significantly weaken the front line without you heavily investing into it first.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, the following situation: Due to the travel distance, the enemy can easily detect your invasion force, and send their own. Your army arrives, fights the natives. Then the enemy army sweeps in, defeats your weakened forces, and takes New Venice and starts reinforcing their position. So, launching an invasion/attack essentially gives New Venice to the enemy... Much better to leave it neutral! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ As well as the cost of capturing it, there's the cost of holding it, which could be much greater. There were both plans by the Nazis to invade Ireland as a springboard to invading Britain and by Britain to forestall that possibility. It wasn't the cost of invasion itself but the possibility of then having to re-fight the War of Independence in order to hold the territory put both off that idea. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ "Pretty dam[sic] far"?? Hardly... English and American ships were sailing all over the Pacific 150 years ago. But it is central and has a great port. It's why the US Navy has had an important Naval Base there for 125 years. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 12:39

There could be several reasons it's possible The if either one Attacked new Venice they would face a war with the other superpower, As taking of new Venice would disrupt the balance between them. Alternatively if the new Venice army is powerful enough they could fear That their forces could do enough damage to either super power to render them weak enough to be destroyed by the other super power.

Another answer could be some form of nuclear weapons or other weapons mass destruction. New Venice could still be smaller and have weaker military yet have enough nuclear weapons to whipe out either superpower. In this case attacking new Venice could result in Mutually assured destruction.

  • $\begingroup$ They are already at war. Please read questions before answering. $\endgroup$
    – WGroleau
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 12:27

I'm surprised this hasn't been brought up:


This is a very long story, but to keep it short the bullet point are:
- Swiss neutrality is a product of a congress of Vienna, where the superpowers of the time, war-weary, were looking for ways to maintain peace. Thus the idea of buffer states was born, and Switzerland was one of those, namely between France and Austria-Hungary (and also part of the buffer zone between France and German states). The same, in a way, happens here: because of geopolitics you presented, neither party can afford the other to control Hawaii, as well as several other islands on the Pacific. The only reasonable, stable solution is that neither control them.
- Swiss supported their neutrality by economical means, mainly their superb banking system. The New Venice does the same, only instead of banks, they do that by supporting strong and safe Pacific ship and air trade. Noone wants to disrupt that, it is simply too costly.
- Swiss has maintained incredibly strong defense posture for the last 200 years. This is a material for a book on its own, suffice to say that they put every penny they could, and in a smart ways to boot. Again, New Venice does the same, only instead of mountains they have an even better thing: the ocean. Surface fleet, submarine fleet, airpower, sea mines, you name it. So sure, either superpower could conquer them - and pay such incredibly high price in money, man and equipment, that this would leave them vulnerable to the other superpower.

  • $\begingroup$ A buffer was the first thing I thought of when I saw the question. I did Ctrl-F and there it was. $\endgroup$
    – johnny
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 12:42

Here's one option: maybe New Venice has some sort of religious significance.

If both empires adhere to a certain religion, and New Venice is seen as a holy place, then they may resist the idea of "desecrating" it with military might. You could even make the history part of the background. It seems like you're going for the nuclear apocalypse/dystopia approach for the story. Perhaps the nuclear weapons were launched from Hawaii and now the place has taken on a mystical aura of danger and evil. Alternatively, perhaps it was a peaceful place during the war, and now it is a sanctuary. Breaking the thousand-year-peace would be unthinkable for many.


New Venice is a society of merchants. They sell absolutely everything. And they buy even more, particularly intel.
For years they have attracted scientists, mercenaries, spies, defectors, entrepreneurs, inventors.
Because of that, both factions became dependent of the island. Most of their technology come from New Venice and their intel is acquired thanks to the merchants.

But, here is the catch. The merchants of New Venice have designed a protocole to send the wholeness of their knowledge in case of an attack. In mere seconds, everything they know, every plan, every blueprint, every insignificant rumor will be broadcasted to the opponent of the aggressor.
Of course, both factions tried to design plans to try to take the island subtly, but the merchants's technology is too advanced, their spies too well informed, and they rigged too many gears of both societies to be really worry about the possibility of an attack.

Because of New Venice indubitable superiority, both side of the war are too afraid to try anything against the glorious city !


Due to its location, having control over New Venice would give the controling side a big advantage - so big in fact, that it would probably cause that side to win the war.

Because of this, both SEDA and GRP are permanently targeting New Venice with some kind of weapon of mass destruction. Both know this of each other and both know that as soon as they invade the island, the other will destroy it.

So the reason for both SEDA and GRP to leave New Venice alone, is that invading it would be a pointless (because once you've taken the island, the enemy will just destroy it completely) waist of resources.

To make an invasion even more of a bad idea, you could say that it would likely trigger a MAD scenario - after all, if you've just nuked that nice little island I got, I can't let that go; I'll have no choice but to nuke something of yours.


There are massive political advantages in having a neutral party, and they far outweigh the small strategic or economic advantage of conquering them.

The advantages include a neutral ground for meetings and exchanges on all levels of the political hierarchy including the secret services, military intelligence and other "deep state" elements.

They also include economic and technological exchanges which, despite the state of war, might continue. American companies sold oil and trucks to Nazi Germany during the WW2, through Switzerland. This might not be in the interest of military or political leaders, but the people who profit from it may be influential enough to protect the neutral state from being attacked.

In the end, the disadvantages of conquering the neutral state simply need to outweigh the advantages. And especially if the war is hot, diverting forces from the frontline to an adventure that doesn't yield a strategic advantage in the main war is something that even if the leaders want the invasion would be postponed again and again. After this campaign. After that defense. When we have restocked. When the fleet is back...


New Venice, as distant successor of the American Empire has inherited the launch codes for the Automated ICBM silos and KIW satellites that still orbit the globe. Now, no one, not even they know how many are actually functional. It's tough getting there to check what with the radiation and the being in space, but those Americans built to last.

Whichever side gets hit is going to be rolled up pretty quick, if there's anything left to take.


The third country is being used to fight a proxy war.

The two superpowers realize that any direct conflict will lead to huge losses of life and devastation of their economies. This situation is not in the best interest of either side. However, they still want to prove their dominance over one another. They do this through turning a civil war in the third country into a proxy war.

Specifically, Superpower A sends funding, training, military intelligence, and weapons to the government of the neutral country. Superpower B provides the same benefits to the rebels in that country.

It is in the interest of the government and the rebels in the neutral country to accept help, because they want to win the civil war. It is in the interest of the superpowers to send the help, because it is a way for them to prove their superiority without risking the lives or wealth of their own citizens.


The current leader of New Venice would rather die on his feet than live on his knees.

He has sunk New Venice entire nuclear arsenal several miles underground, warheads spread evenly across the island. If a singel Grunts boot touches New Venice sovrien territory he will sink the island to the depths of the sea.

No one dares question his resolve after he sunk the offshore artifical island airport when a single SEDA aircraft landed without permission.

If either side tries to invade they will lose all resources invloved, tipping the balance of the overall war and gaining nothing in return.

The 10 year limit clause: The king of New venice is a vertan of the last war. Now an old man he has seen what happens to "allies", how thay are used and are first to be sacrificed, he will not allow such a fate to befall his beloved people.

He is a natural leader and much admired by his people, they feel his totalirian position on mutual destruction is somewhat extreme but trust in him enough to follow along believing he sees the bigger picture.

His son the Prince has grown up in times or relative peace, the MAD scenerio leaves New Venice effectivley untouched by the war. He is more naive, more willing to listen to the SEDA and GRP envoys and willing to open a dialogue.

When ill health takes the stoic king (at the 10 year mark) and the prince takes the throne both sides see the oppertunity to move knowing he lacks his father resolve to follow through and sink the island.


Here are a few thoughts that might spark ideas:

Plague Ship: there is some sort of incurable disease endemic to the island. The islanders have immunity but an invading force would risk infecting the rest of the world - their faction first.

Blackmail: similar to the banking/trader suggestions above, New Venice knows something that each side doesn't want known. The bank accounts work, the trading knowledge works. Maybe New Venice has a great spy network. If either side invades, New Venice will provide intel to the other side that will allow them to break the stalemate. Maybe, years ago, New Venice demanded or took hostages in return for trade privileges.

Scorched Earth: New Venice provides something that both sides want or need. New Venice knows that they can't win a war with either side but has rigged their island with nukes. If it looks as if an invasion is about to be successful, BOOM! The entire island goes up destroying the entire invading force and denying both sides the valuable something.

Porcupine: This is covered a bit in some other answers. New Venice is too weak to be a threat but it is remote enough and well-armed enough that it would be too costly to be worth invading. Particularly when both sides have all available troops devoted to maintaining the stalemate.

... and it doesn't have to be just one answer. Several of these factors could come into play making the overall cost/benefit analysis come out negative.


The easy answer is that, geopolitical considerations gone, the cost of invasion and occupation is more than the island's worth as a source of manpower, resources, and as a base for further invasions.

The even easier answer is that New Venice has nukes. Given that the two superpowers haven't wiped each other out yet in a hot war, it is assumed that at the very least, they have developed countermeasures to the nuclear triad to render MAD obsolete. I assume that they didn't just dismantle all their nukes or they're just mock fighting 1984 style, because there is close to no rationale for the former(they would still have nukes considering China and Asiatic Russia are still around) and the 1984 population control scheme isn't mentioned in the question.

While nukes couldn't have been used to directly dissuade opposing powers to stand down at costs to their population centers, it could be a force multiplier to wipe out any potential invasions, making the cost of invasion far too high. After all, it's really hard to shoot down a nuke when it's already in place when the invasion starts.

If you're asking "how did they get nukes?", think about the huge nuclear arsenal of America. Given that Hawaii is the only state of the U.S that wasn't bombed to death, where else would the American nuclear sub fleet go? In addition, I'm willing to bet that in a wartime scenario, there would already be nukes stationed in Hawaii.


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