Fri, Jul 08, 2016 - Page 8 News List

When a plot by a sneaky neighbor falls apart

By Peng Ming-min 彭明敏

Imagine two neighboring countries, let us call them “Country A” and “Country B” for the sake of simplicity. Country A is big and strong, with a long history of constant warfare and chaos, which has resulted in some of its politicians being aggressive, cunning and greedy. Country B is a small, weak country with a short history and an innocent and naive population. Some of its politicians are ignorant, selfish scoundrels, comparable to those of Country A.

Country A is guilty of the same thing as many other big nations: It bullies smaller and weaker nations, has great territorial ambitions and wants to annex its smaller neighbors.

Country B is close to Country A and is at the receiving end of most of its actions. It would be easy for Country A to invade Country B, but fearing that unprovoked military attack would result in a backlash from the international community, sanctions and perhaps even conflict, it restricts itself to propaganda, threats and inducements in its attempts to make Country B surrender.

However, the results are not what it wants. It changes tack to rely on its financial might to pay Country B’s immoral politicians, babbling academics, greedy businesspeople and unethical military officers to form groups that are close to Country A, and call on the people of Country B to throw themselves into its embrace.

It is just that the people of Country B happen to like their free way of life and are fearful of being ruled by Country A and losing the freedom they have fought so hard for.

Country A is in a rush and unwilling to wait, and so it plots with the groups friendly to it in an attempt to make Country B launch an unprovoked attack on it and give it a legitimate excuse to claim self defense in a fierce “counterattack” that leaves half of Country B in ruins and thoroughly destroys its fighting morale, leaving it without either the capability or the will to resist.

Country B’s military firing a big cannon requires a set of complicated procedures, but the conspirators remove them, one by one, until only the final step remains: using one finger to press a button and fire away. To do that, they find a lowly soldier, not too smart, show him how to press the button and tell him to stand by.

It just so happens that the leader of Country B is abroad on a diplomatic visit, which offers an excellent opportunity for implementing the plot. Everything is in place, the lowly soldier is on stand-by over his launch button and all the other officers have cleared the deck to be able to present an alibi later they were not present.

A simple order is issued, the lowly soldier presses the button with the finger he was taught to use, the cannon really does fire and the lowly soldier is elated. The conspirators cover their ears and hold their breaths as they wait for Country A’s mighty “counterattack.”

However, the missile does not live up to expectations: It never reaches Country A. Instead, it hits a house in Country B and kills and injures some of its own people. In disarray, the conspirators realize that their plan has failed. They hurriedly discuss how to clean up the mess and agree that the launch should be presented as a “mistake.” They then make a big fuss as they rush to punish the lowly soldier and a few unfortunate officers, hurrying to close the case in the hope that everyone will forget about it.

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