A possible near future we can but hope to avoid. 1.8k words.
The sounds of celebration on the street below are muffled by the double glazing, but I've no intention of going down to join in. The truth is that at the moment I feel ashamed to be a member of the human race.
Margaret Thatcher's emphatic Rejoice! is the word on the majority's lips at this hour, for victory is ours (even though 'we' played no part in it, other than offering post-facto moral support: The deed was all but over and done by the time President Trump presented his fait accompli to the British government as well as NATO) Still it's 'our' side wot won it, and we should all be at least relieved, if not glad it turned out this way. In any case the cheering isn't about the declared end and the result of the war, but the government's announcement of a partial relaxation of the UK State of Emergency decree, though we're still exhorted to remain vigilant, just in case of an attempt at some asymmetric retaliation...
In truth my senses - along with those who've not allowed their critical faculties to be swamped by this tsunami of Anglo-American chauvinism - are still reeling at the speed at which the world has been turned upside down, and how the lunatic now occupying the White House actually dared to press The Button, as well as getting away with doing so. But this is only the latest in a series of unconscionable recent events which have been difficult to absorb.
I hate to say I told you so, but I did. The warning signs were plain to see from the moment when The Donald won the republican nomination and then the Electoral College. (Even now, we outside the USA looking in are still nonplussed how it is possible for candidate in a supposedly 'democratic' election to get the most votes but not win.) But we all chose to dismiss Trump's more outrageous statements as gauche inexperience bound to be tempered by the realities of office weighing on him; and how we were proven wrong!
It's so typical of the new President's flip-flopping policy style that he decided to prove his virility on the world stage by grabbing Kim Jong Un, whom he had previously considered engaging in talks over hamburgers with, by the pussy. Of course it was easy to escalate the latest of the Dear Respected's attention seeking tantrums into a proper casus belli, and launch an unexpectedly successful nuclear decapitation strike against the DPRK leadership. Wham, Bam, Thank you ma'am and goodbye Pyongyang, along with a few other places. Out of consideration not to unnerve the financial markets any more than was necessary the operation was timed to be launched after Wall Street had closed. Having been utterly Trumped, the Supreme Lard-er - as one of our knuckle dragging tabloids described him - joined the other two deceased godheads of the North Korean trinity in commie heaven, raptured there with an incandescent mushroom cloud singeing his arse.
It's not that the juchebag (a word coined by a paper which should have known better) will be missed by more than a few fellow travellers: Mine, and the international peace movement's revulsion is at the cavalier manner of the regime change, and those hundreds of thousands of innocents killed or grievously injured dispassionately counted as 'collateral damage' in the process of achieving it. There's also a disgust at the eruption of a crowing jingoism best exemplified by the shamelessly unrepentant NUKED YA! headline published by the You Know Who.
Events should have taken a different course. I don't agree with Trump's justification that Pyongyang's ambitions were getting out of hand, and it was better to deal with the DPRK now rather than later when they were stronger. Given time, even if it took decades, the North Korean leadership would have realised their best course of action would be to follow the road taken by the Chinese to global engagement as well as rapprochement. But instead of taking that route, the points have been irreversibly switched and now we're all on a different route; unwilling passengers on a runaway train being driven by a maniac engineer at full speed for the buffers. Our destination is a nervous world; one where both China and Russia are on maximum hair trigger alert, both warning if the US dares to intervene anywhere else Washington DC will be wiped from the map. Beijing in particular isn't bluffing, announcing a crash expansion of their armament programme as well as reinforcing the South China Sea artificial island bases with everything they can send to or cram on them.
Iran and Russia have also swiftly agreed an alliance, with 'guest' Russian air defence units established around key Iranian nuclear sites just in case the US or Israel attempts to impose their will a second time. As a result oil prices have risen to way over $200 a barrel, with more contracts being paid for in Euros, Roubles, or Yuan. The adverse economic effects of this price spike have yet to work their way through, but there is no doubt they will soon.
Stock markets are still down 30% from their overblown highs. Having recovered from the shock of the strike in their sphere of influence, China's displeasure has been expressed by imposing restrictions on its rare earth and microprocessor exports, while the US have reciprocated with trade sanctions of their own. I doubt if you'll be updating your smartphone this year...
But these facts simply don't register with the morons on both sides of the Atlantic chanting YEW-ESS-AY! YEW-ESS-AY!... The pop-up fascists believe America is well on the way to being great again, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Like their leader the neocons strut cockily on the world stage and the streets, as well as online. Their cyber-followers and 'bots run riot around the internet, deleting or flagging everything they disagree with, allowing only their bizarre fake news version of reality to prevail.
That's the reason I'm writing this and publishing it now. We - an Anonymous inspired cyber collective - are fighting back against the rewriting of history even as the ashes cool. We're determined to preserve the truth, even though doing so is becoming more difficult. Despite numerous automatically generated accounts and supposed dark web anonymity our members are being found out and taken offline at an increasing rate.
But despite the risks we persevere: They must not - shall not - prevail; not after what they've done. I'm currently on several social media spaces and checking the portions of YouTube assigned to me. As expected that particular video has been removed again, but no surprise given it's so poignant.
Taken before the war it's a tourist coach's eye view of the Pyongyang streets: Accompanied by a haunting Korean song it shows scenes of mundane everyday life played out against a backdrop of brutalist high rises painted varied shades of ice cream pastels. Pedestrians walk purposely; long trolleybus queues form; while the iconic Traffic Ladies perform their functional robotic ballet at the intersections. An ersatz utopia lent an additional creepy ambience by the soundtrack. But what gives the video its stomach punching effect is the way in which the original footage was edited soon after the attack; now it is interspersed with clips of the aftermath, the scenes filmed by the US and ROK 'special weapons' detachments who arrived shortly after the armistice was declared, the blackened broken toothed stump of the Ryugyong hotel, the patients in the mass casualty centres, the columns of displaced people, the refugee camps, the mass graves as well as those living dead radiation victims soon to occupy more of them. YEW-ESS-AY! YEW-ESS-AY!...
Even though the internet appears to run much more slowly since the one-sided war, it doesn't take long to upload the replacement file again from my offline storage. Unnamed, uncounted, innocent victims of this outrage, we will try to keep your memory alive for as long as we are able; we can at least do that as a woefully inadequate form of penance. Although the way things are going I think we may well be joining you before very long.
Having let the nuclear genie out of the bottle it will be a hard job to force it back in again; from Russia's european borders through to the Siachen glacier, Jammu-Kashmir where India and Pakistan are rattling their sabres at each other, then on to the western Pacific where we wonder if in slaying a small dragon a far larger one has been angrily awoken, a world spanning tectonic fault of tension been created. The question is not if, but when and where the next earthquake will strike. Not that it seems to bother the Alt-Right; they'll just put the uncomfortable portents out of mind. Their willful ignorance even extends to trying to ban the old Tom Lehrer song 'We Will All Go Together When We Go.'
I've done my bit for the moment, it's best I should drop of the grid for a while. I can also sense a subtle change to the celebratory racket outside as well; a nastier edge developing to those raucously out of tune, barely remembered, lager slurred choruses of 'Rule Britainia' or 'There'll Always Be An England'. It'll be only a matter of time before one of the few remaining independent corner shop's windows gets broken, someone with the 'wrong' skin colour is singled out for a good kicking, or the pathetic faux 'patriots' decide to vent their triumphal exuberance on the local mosque. If England means as much to you as England means to me... A sentiment which will pass the jubilant brain donors completely by.
I wonder what it will take to break through the mob's collective euphoria. Will it be when the flow of cheap Chinese made goods begins to dry up? Or the newly revised and rushed into print Preparing For Emergencies booklets begin dropping through letterboxes? Perhaps our national mood of self delusion will persist up until the moment normal programming is interrupted and emergency text alerts arrive on our phones? Maybe then, and only then as the sirens sound will it finally sink in just what we in 'The West' have by our action or inaction allowed to happen. Yes we all will go together when we go...
Here's a link to the video featured in the story which sparked the idea. (You'll have a hard time forgetting that earworming music!)
May it never have to be adapted in the way I describe.
And Tom Lehrer's song.