I suppose some "Free Mars" members would take offense to that statement... especially considering that the Free Mars movement often had a hard time agreeing on anything. The fact that Mars is still part of the EA at the time of "Crusade" probably shows that more moderate elements prevailed in the end. Well, there's a difference between a) being independent, b) being sulf-sustaining, and c) being a power. Haiti is independent, but it was far from being self-sustaining even before the earthquake. Sweden is self-sustaining, but it's not a power of any kind. So, the question is: Which of the three would an independet Mars have been? Proxima III and Orion VII did temporarily secede from the Earth Alliance, and I suppose they had even smaller populations than Mars. Of course we'll never know how Proxima III had developed without being depleted by an Earthforce blockade.