Saturday, October 31, 2015

Superpowers: The List (Part IV)

“France. The one country that only has nuclear weapons pretty much because everyone else does, and because they have the resources for a program. Theirs is the most secretive and fickle, however, what with them refusing to report numbers, supposedly constantly switching facilities, and rejecting a healthy amount of international law. The only reason they’re allowed to go on as they do is because they don’t actually do anything wrong. They get along with the rest of Europe, and the majority of the Confederacy. They don’t go around starting wars, and the amount of foreign aid they provide is surpassed by no other nation.”
“All is as your opinion dictates,” replied Ambassador Tamboli of India.
Governor Stockton continued, largely ignoring the ambassador’s remark. “It is for this that the nuclear disarmament of France is the trickiest. Pakistan was the most dangerous, since we had done nothing like it before, and it required the most troops of mine. China’s taken the longest so far, and the most resources. And Russia was just violent and stubborn about the whole thing. But it is France that will ultimately give us the most trouble, because they’re smart, and we will never really know if we’ve gotten all of them. Following the events of Pakistan, they immediately modified their tactics for their nuclear arms. They quickly developed an impressive strategy of compartmentalization. I knew they would do this, which was why I haven’t relied on intelligence that I gathered before the mission, but I also spent months debating whether I should start with them instead of Pakistan. In the end, I could not, because the backlash from such a thing would have been too great. I had a number of parties interested in disarming Pakistan. Even though these parties were not outwardly happy with having been lied to about the specifics, they were secretly relieved. France, on the other hand, belongs to a collection of extremely powerful allies. Disarming them will be considered an act of betrayal.”
“I should say so.”
“And because of all this, I will not be able to continue alone. I am forming a new alliance; one loyal to our cause. Only non-nuclear nations will be allowed into this alliance, and the list of potentials is large, so I will need help whittling it down to a manageable size.”
“I would imagine that the more the better.”
“One might think so, but it would actually benefit the cause to have fewer, tighter allies, than dozens of countries who each feel marginalized and misrepresented.”
“I suppose that makes a certain logic. Are you asking me to assist you with your special list?” Ambassador Tamboli asked.
“I am,” Stockton answered.
Tamboli sighed heavily. “That’s all you had to say. Don’t know why you felt the need to go into such a huge speech.”
“You’re a diplomat. Aren’t speeches your drug of choice?”
Now Tamboli ignored him. “Let us see the list.” She looked over the sheet of paper that Stockton handed her. “Why is India not on here?”
“I can’t picture a world where you are not part of this glorious alliance. I didn’t put you on the list, because I didn’t want to risk you crossing yourself from it.”
“You know that I’m just the ambassador, right? I’m not the avatar for the entire nation of India. You can’t flatter me into joining you.”
“Yes I can,” Stockton nodded.
“I am also happily married.”
He shrugged. “We’ll see.”
Tamboli sighed again and set to work on that list. She took a pencil and quickly drew squiggly lines through countries one by one, as if she had ruminating on the matter for days. “There.”
“I’m surprised you kept Sweden.”
“Their historically precarious relationship with the United Kingdom should prove useful to you. They have always been against nuclear weapons, and are only staying out of this conflict because they are terribly afraid of World War IV.”
Stockton nodded again. “That makes perfect sense. See? This is why I need you.” He looked back down at the list. “Why did you remove Switzerland? Do they not have the same stance on nuclear weapons as Sweden?”
“They do, but they also exercise a level of isolationism. Of your list, they are the most outspoken against your interference in the business of independent states.”
“I hadn’t noticed.”
“Have you been paying much attention to countries that you’re not currently focused on trying to disarm?”
“No, you’re right. I haven’t. Good point.” He looked to the list once more. Good points all around. I will not ask you about the others. I can clearly trust your judgment, sight unseen.”
“Again, no need for the flattery.”
“Your modesty knows no bounds.”
She laughed.
Governor Stockton spent the better part of a year cultivating relationships with the remaining nine countries on Tamboli’s list. While the first few stages of his mission involved relatively quick and decisive action, the next few nations needed to be dealt with delicately. The important thing about the alliance was that it needed to appear as if those were the nations who were agreeing to become part of it, rather than a set of enemies against other alliances. It needed to be more of a council, and less of a coalition. Instead of trying to use the alliance to make a play against France, he was actually intending to romance them into joining up and disarming themselves, much like India had. And it worked. It took a very long time, and as Stockton had pointed out in the meeting with Tamboli, they could never really be sure that they had cleaned them out entirely, but it did work.
France had a number of conditions, not the least of which was that they would act to destroy their stockpile on their own, rather than simply handing them over to Federama. The fact that Federama now controlled over 50% of the world’s nuclear armament had the potential to cause more problems than it was promising to solve. Federama, and the rest of the new alliance, insisted that they oversee France’s safe destruction of their bombs. Stockton’s plan relied on him having as many of the weapons to himself for a period of time, but Russia had probably provided him with more than enough to get his point across. And it just wasn’t worth bullying France into giving up on that condition.
When all was said and done, Stage Five of the mission was successful. Once everything was over, France as a whole seemed almost to smile, like an addict ceremoniously burning their drug stash. People were more surprised than they thought they would be about how good it would feel to be free of the burden. They didn’t feel vulnerable. They felt ready to move forward; excited for a future of peace and happiness. Stockton had succeeded in not only disarming another country, but in swaying the public opinion. No more were people angry about their interference. Though the governments of the UK, Usonia, and Korea showed no signs of relenting, the majority of their populace was in favor of it. And after enough time, that would be all that mattered. Yes, things were going well, but they were about to get bad. As Korea threatened nuclear war with Usonia, knowing that no one would be able to stop them, Usonia and the UK were only strengthened in their resolve to keep armed.

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