white russian houseSuppose that some time in late 2000, Russian and Chinese leaders, with the covert support of some other national leaders, were convinced that the US election results had been materially altered by a small right-wing clique, and that as a result the US was in fact no longer a democracy, and its weapons of mass destruction, now apparently in the hands of an unelected, psychopathic and illegitimate group of radical religious extremists, posed an imminent threat to world peace.

And suppose that as a consequence Russian and Chinese forces were sent to quickly and decisively intervene to bring about ‘regime change’ in the US and return the country to stability.

And suppose that as a result these forces used secret new weaponry to remove this illegitimate government, dropping weaponized anthrax as a carrier for smallpox (the stuff that mysteriously disappeared from Siberia after the breakup of the Soviet Union), to inflict ‘Shock & Awe’ on this dangerous clique and subdue any supporters it might have across America. Suppose that, day after day, waves of planes dropped tons of these deadly chemicals on alleged ‘strongholds’ of the illegitimate regime all across America, continuing long after most members of the government and the military and any of those close to them had been eliminated by the deadly and fast-acting toxins. And suppose that, in their zeal, the patriotic coalition fighters sometimes got carried away and replaced the flag of America with their own liberating country’s flag.

And suppose that inexplicably the usurping ‘President’ and ‘Vice-President’ of the US and a few other members of the inner circle who had seized power illegally were not found. The invading force therefore had to remain, on the chance that these psychopaths, or some other extremist group, might seize power again before law and order and democracy could be restored.

And suppose that, this being a very costly war, the invading force decided to confiscate America’s most profitable assets, and put their own people in charge of them, to pay for the cost of the war and incidentally take some of America’s vast wealth for themselves.

And suppose that the situation in America quickly degenerated into chaos and anarchy, with people rioting, and looting of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress and the now-abandoned, chemically poisoned mansions of the obscenely wealthy Americans who had allegedly supported the illegitimate regime. So the invading coalition, not receiving the heroes’ welcome they had expected for liberating America from the illegitimate government, had to send in an occupying force to try to re-establish order, and they selected a Chinese general to run the country on an indefinite interim basis.

And suppose that the arrogant, swaggering Russian and Chinese leaders warned their own people that this would be a long and drawn-out entanglement, but that, as justice and the true will of the people had finally prevailed in Vietnam, so would it prevail in America. And suppose the Russian and Chinese media meekly acceded to these arguments and presented their own leaders’ smug and cynical lies as unquestionable truths, and assailed independent evidence of Sino-Russian excesses as ‘treasonous’ attempts to demoralize the liberating forces.

This is of course a highly improbable scenario, and an unfair analogy. Before you flame me, please note I’m not making an argument of equivalency here, moral or otherwise. My purpose is simply to get you, dear reader, to put yourself in the position of someone in a certain mideastern country who is in precisely this situation today.

So just suppose that all of the above had happened. Now picture yourself in ‘post-war’ America, six months after the end of ‘major combat operations’, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Would you want the occupying Sino-Russian forces to remain in America until law & order and democracy could be restored on their terms, or would you prefer them to leave quickly so Americans could sort out their own mess, come what may?
  2. Would you welcome a UN Administration, essentially run by foreigners, to run the interim American government, the police, and the most profitable enterprises for a protracted period of time, at least until the majority of the UN decided America is once again ready to be run by Americans?
  3. Would you resent the seizure of American assets to finance the war and to profit the friends of the occupying nations, and the inability of the occupying force to deal with rampant crime and corruption?
  4. If support for the Sino-Russian invasion back in Moscow was fueled by an utterly discredited theory that the illegitimate American government had somehow been behind previous attacks by Chechen terrorists in Moscow and St. Petersburg, what would your opinion be of Russian conservatives and media that continued to use this fraudulent theory as the primary justification for the attack on America?
  5. If you lived in this ghastly situation, where your economy was in ruins, the war had cost you your life savings, your job, many of your loved ones, and you lived in constant fear for the life and safety of your family, what would you say and how would you behave if young Sino-Russian troops who spoke no English pounded on your door looking for ‘sympathizers’ of the deposed American regime?
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  1. Rayne says:

    Too bad your thought experiment will never make it through the bastions of “screeners” that surround the one person who needs to read through this the most.

  2. Dr. Omed says:

    The ability to put yourself into somebody else’s shoes is not a Republican virtue–they want to steal your shoes, and lease them back to you, not walk a mile in them. Putting empathy in a rational framework, posing it as a hypothetical scenario, won’t work, either. Like their allies, the creation “scientists,” the neocons are not interested, really, in being reasonable; they are only interested in appearing reasonable. They are not interested in thinking things through, they only wish to justify their foregone conclusions, and in having an arsenal of “facts” and statistics with which to dazzle the rabble. If they were any good at thinking things through, or creating scenarios that were good for anything but selling the con job, Lady Liberty would not have her tit in the wringer right now.

  3. Lee Bryant says:

    Absolutely. Why don’t people in the US see this? Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes – empathy – is always a good way to get another POV, and in this case it lays bear the evil that is being done in the name of the USA.Thanks Dave!

  4. NTodd says:

    Anybody remember that miniseries back in ’86 called “Amerika”? Big ensemble cast including Sam Neill, Robert Urich and Kris Kristofferson. Tt was about a future US (1997) occupied by UN and Soviet forces who came to “help” America. The show sucked, but it certainly is an apt illustration of your “reverse thought experiment”. Anywayz, great post!Y’all might be interested in something I posted at Open Source Politics today: I wrote a little about a “reverse reverse reality” when Lithuania kicked out the Soviets in ’90/’91.

  5. Evan says:

    Please, don’t take this as any kind of support for the stupid war, but in fairness, to get a full impression of how it would feel, we should suppose that it’s 2030 and the right wing cabal that took over in 2000 has been in power for thirty years, torturing and killing people who opposed it.I am *not* saying this makes the war okay. It doesn’t; it wasn’t. I’m just saying it makes a difference to the gedankenexperiment: I might feel differently about the events you describe if the America I love were already long dead before the invaders arrived.Also–what’s the anthrax/smallpox a metaphor for? DU? I wasn’t sure.

  6. judith says:

    and suppose that Diebold voting machines were the only way to vote in the 2004 USA presidential election… a good read – David Pogue’s article on Diebold’s voting machines:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/13/technology/circuits/13POGUE-EMAIL.htmlan associated read – the Stanford University Law Clinic filed a temporary restraining order last Tuesday against Diebold, Inc., in an effort to bar the corporation from making legal threats against two Swarthmore students who published internal Diebold memos on their Web site:http://daily.stanford.edu/tempo?page=content&id=12377&repository=0001_article

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Evan: You’re right, that would make it a fairer analogy. I did initially write this in the future tense but it got very complicated, very improbable and started to detract from the point of the story, which is not cautionary, but rather a POV-shifting exercise. The future gets very abstract, and there are reasons to belive the 2000 election was ‘stolen’, so that’s what I went with. As for the anthrax/smallpox, it was the only way I could think of to have a foreign army quickly overwhelm the American powers-that-be; it’s not really a metaphor for anything except new, fast, frighteningly-effective military technology.

  8. Philip says:

    Conventional means would be just fine. In this scenario you make it seem as if the US used a biological weapon against the Iraqi population which as we know is not the case. Also a weaponized smallpox would more or less wipe out North America not selectively pick off our leadership. I understand the point you are trying to make it just isn’t done in a way that makes me want to side with it.I was totally against the war. I demonstrated several times against it. Wrote to my congressmen about it, talked amoung people in my community. It was rammed down our throats by Bushco. The fact is we (the US not Canada) are there, on the ground, uninvited. We have taken on the screwed up karma that the deposing of the Iraqi government brings with it. We will most likely screw it up further because the idiots running the show don’t know what to do when the fantasy blows up in their face.What needs to be done: The US needs sufficient forces to invoke and enforce Martial Law. The Iraqi border needs to be effectively closed. The Iraqi society must be demilitaried all weapons found and removed. A population capable of democratic rule will need to be educated. Saddam Hussein needs to be caught and or killed. Bathist party members and sympathizers will need to be identified and rehabilitated or removed from the Iraqi society as the Nazi’s were in post war Germany. Institutions dedicated to the welfare of the Iraqi people need to be created, funded, and staffed. Infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. It is going to take time and fortitude and too many American lives. What will get done… Bushco will call it a victory in time for the Troops to come home, parade and vote. If reelected Iraq has some problems and we go back in to consolidate/protect American Bidness interests repeat until Jeb ascends to the throne.

  9. NTodd says:

    we should suppose that it’s 2030 and the right wing cabal that took over in 2000 has been in power for thirty years, torturing and killing people who opposed it.Actually, that’s an excellent thought experiment as a precursor to Dave’s. The fact of the matter is, nobody likes to be “liberated” by invaders/occupiers. Don’t forget that we killed 9000 Iraqis in our little endeavor, which would translate to about 105,000 Americans in Operation American Freedom. How would we feel if so many of our citizens were killed to liberate us, even if we had been oppressed for 30 years?Heck, take it back 2 centuries: how would we have felt if the French had invaded the Colonies, instead of offering us support when we revolted against King George? Democracy and freedom is something we must seize for ourselves. Any imposition from the outside destroys our dignity and lessens our ability to truly achieve to goals of liberty.

  10. Dave Pollard says:

    Philip: I’d like to re-stress that I’m not drawing an analogy here, but simply trying to get people who don’t live in Iraq to be able to imagine what it must be like. If you read Demon in the Freezer weaponized smallpox wouldn’t necessarily cause that much damage — I only used this in the story because I think a conventional weapons attack on the US bringing it to its knees before it could respond is just too unbelievable and would undermine my point. But please don’t take it too literally — it’s just a POV-shifting exercise.NTodd: Excellent points, especially your last sentence.

  11. Evan says:

    Actually, that’s an excellent thought experiment as a precursor to Dave’s. The fact of the matter is, nobody likes to be “liberated” by invaders/occupiers. Don’t forget that we killed 9000 Iraqis in our little endeavor…I wholeheartedly agree, and I did and do regard the war as immoral, despite feeling that Saddam Hussein was a bastard of epic proportions. Nonetheless, I think it would make a difference to my feelings. If we’ve already got people being gassed, disappared, and tortured, and furthermore if we’ve already been through two wars with thousands or millions of people dying, our airspace has been shut down and bombs are falling more or less constantly and sanctions are killing our babies, and *then* the Chinese and Russians come along and occupy us, I think maybe I regard that as just another in a long series of horrors. I’m pissed off at the Chinese and Russians and want them to go away and leave my country alone, but I’m not shocked senseless at the sudden utter devastation of reality as I knew it–which is how I’d feel if someone conquered the United States *now*.I was just pointing out that the analogy is inexact. That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with its conclusions.

  12. NTodd says:

    I was just pointing out that the analogy is inexact. That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with its conclusions.No worries, and it’s good to try making the thought experiment more realistic. I think Dave’s initial point, shifting our perspective, still applies either way.It is interesting to note that many Iraqis appear to have the nuanced opinion that you expressed, Evan: Saddam gone = good; crappy occupation = bad. The pro-war side seems to be unable to grasp that.

  13. You know that is a great bit of writing. Shoe on the other foot thinking. My family has been and are still true blue for our country. They were in the Revelutionary War, Civil War, World WarII. I don’t know what the answers are, I think only the Lord knows.Looking at it as if it were my home. Ummm. Think about it. America has been telling other countries how to run the store since we finished up the Rev. War. It is also all about money/power.

  14. David Jones says:

    The US is not, and has never been a “democracy.” It is a republic.

  15. Jon Husband says:

    Personally, I probably wouldn’t be averse to being one of a group of guys that got hold of a shoulder-managed rocket launcher and aimed it at an Americamn helicopter.Geez ! Why can’t the US leave other countries and people alone, instead of cloaking intervention in the mantle of morality and nobility.Again personally, I imagine Saddam might bnot have been quite the force of darkness everyone unconsciously agree he is if he did not have to put up with a ruthless US-led embargo for the last decade.And, I also believe there’s lot’s of evidence that Iraq was quite a progressive state despite the difficulties embargo-wise they had to put up with.There are, currently, worse and more vicious heads of state operating with some degree or other of US sanction.

  16. Stu Savory says:

    Very well written Dave; it’s a shame though, that you are preaching to the converted.Stu (blogging from Germany)

  17. David Tremblay says:

    I hope US will keep alive democracy because right now they’re failing. They sent canadian citizen inSyria where torture is legal to get information from them. US authorities are illegaly keeping, against all international laws, foreign citizens in Guantanamo. Please don’t let the terrorist get their points…

  18. Fiona says:

    War is not the answer.

  19. Philip says:

    For all you fans of thought experiments here is one that is currently circulating. Now how do you like that one?

  20. Geoffrey says:

    Can we also assume the radical group was filling mass graves with it’s opposers? Can we also assume that the vast majority of the US citizens were helping the Chinese and the Russians? Can we also assume the only people that were fighting the Chinese and the Russians were loyalists to the radical group, many of whom were the ones that were filling the mass graves, and Canadian terrorists?

  21. Dave Pollard says:

    Philip: The scary thing about Byron is not his cowardly ‘hypothetical’ advocacy of ruthless violence and bloody suppression of any ideas other than the extreme right’s, but that a lot of his readers, and probably a lot of his dimwitted, brainwashed students (the guy’s a teacher at a redneck religious college) think what he’s advocating would be a really good idea, and ‘God’s will’. I think we should get O’Reilly to invite this guy on his show, so he (O’Reilly) can see the kind of people his show attracts and provokes.

  22. Dave Pollard says:

    Geoffrey: Let me repeat, this is not an analogy, and I am not trying to make any argument of moral equivalency. I explicitly say this in the post. It’s an exercise to get us to take ourselves out of our mindsets and put ourselves in the shoes of the average Iraqi. Why is it than whenever someone says ‘we should find out what average Iraqis think of foreign occupation’ everyone jumps up and down suggesting he must be pro-Saddam?

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