A comment in another thread here got me to looking for something like this. How would the world change if we USA we no longer considered the most powerful nation? How would your life change ? Below is some speculation, or sci-fi if you will.
Is everybody happy with the way the US is behaving as the world’s most powerful nation? No? Well, when has everybody ever been happy about anything? So let’s think about what other nations might do a better job.
What if Russia had won the cold war? How much do you really enjoy vodka? And do you long to drive a Zil?
How about if China hadn’t decided that military conquest would be too self-destructive and opted to give economic conquest a go? Wish you could dress like Chairman Mao? Or wonder when you look at the rulers in Beijing why you never see a woman? Could there be such a thing as the wonton ceiling?
Now let’s move ahead to the contentious moment in which we find ourselves. Who qualifies as being especially pestiferous? Who else? Iran can. And the leaders there seem to think they have all the right ideas, not only for their own repressed populace, but as the way the whole world ought to conduct itself.
So let’s go with that. Iran is now the most powerful nation of earth. What happens?
First, let’s deal with the response. Nations worldwide rejoice. Even some people in America rejoice. They just love the fact that the U. S. is no longer the title holder.
Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, lounging in the Élysée Palace, attired in a robe with a turban, Koran in hand, expostulated, “Actually, I’m looking forward to becoming a fundamentalist Muslim. All of France is. We’ve had Western Civilization for long time and, to tell you the truth, we could use a change. So out with old – like Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Voltaire, Mozart, Beethoven – and in with the new,” he apostrophized, holding the Koran high, “like my new favorite author Mohammed. I’m just not quite sure how to break the news to the folks in Bordeaux that wine is now forbidden fruit.”
Tony Blair, refusing to accept that Iran has any influence in the UK, addressed Parliament, maintaining, “I don’t care who’s on top in Tehran. In England, we’re going to go on as we always have. That means we’ve still got Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly and, yes, Dickens, too, and I wish you, one and all, a very merry Christmas!”
And on the home front, President Bush requested TV time to address the nation, and said, “It’s my sad duty to tell you that the United States of America is no longer the most powerful nation on earth. We have surrendered the distinction to Iran. Worse yet, a lot of people around the world seem pretty happy about it. But we can be proud. We did our best to defend and spread freedom and democracy. A lot of people seem upset with that. So let me just say, let’s see how much happier they are with Iran running the show.”
Meanwhile, in Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now the leader of the unfree world, gave a speech acknowledging his newfound imperium. It was unexpectedly harsh.
“Welcome to the first worldwide Iranian Empire. Darius couldn’t do it, but Ahmadinejad did. Here are some new rules of conduct. Everybody is hereby ordered to buy a Koran. Start to memorize it. During your period of indoctrination, you are forbidden to read anything else. There will be a test in one year. All those who haven’t committed it to memory will be in danger of losing more than their memory. Next, all fashion houses in France, Italy, and 7th Avenue are henceforth only allowed to design conservative robes and turbans for men and bourkas for women. On a social note, no more dating. All parents must do the matchmaking. No more music. It is forbidden. No more drinking – no wine, beer, hard liquor or the infidel beverages Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. No more bikinis, either. We’re quite repressed sexually and we want you to be, too. More rules as soon as the mullahs who are really running the world give me my marching orders.”
The reaction was swift and Ahmadinejad, who had by now acquired the nickname of Ahmadinejab, because he always seemed to be poking his fist in where it didn't belong, had begun to learn the harsh lessons of empire – mainly, no matter how nice you are, or in his case, not so nice, the underlings will grumble.
Thus the great question came to hang over him like a scimitar. What is better, to be loved or feared? More challenging still, is either manageable?
Even as the most humble servant of Iran's Muslim clerics adjusted to his new role, a few people in scattered corners of the world began to ask, secretly and with fear of being detected even by their fellow fundamentalist family members, the most appalling question of all. Were they better off when the US was the most powerful nation on earth?
Tom Attea, humorist and creator of NewsLaugh.com, has had six shows produced Off-Broadway. Critics have called his writing "delightfully funny," "witty," with "great humor and ebullience" and "good, genuine laughs."
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