Political Debrief no. 4

Welcome to Political Debrief, where the news isn’t really news. But sometimes it’s got news in it.

This week around the world:

China accidentally hacked into the Pentagon while trying to shop for bath robes online. The United States was very impressed, but also very angry.

Wales reported watching TV when she heard a loud thud from the bathroom and England swearing vehemently. England reported hearing hysterical laughter coming from the living room.

North Korea made bitter, vague comments on his blog and it’s still up for debate over who they’re about. His use of the word “friend” definitely narrows it down.

Twitter back and forth between North Korea and China

Germany had a glow stick accident. He’s not giving any specific details, but he won’t be able to jive for weeks. He received many Get Well Soon wishes–except from Switzerland, who sent him a congratulatory baby shower card. In his defense, Switzerland claimed there had been a “serious misunderstanding.”

Australia lamented that this morning when applying deodorant, the stick popped out of place and fell to the ground. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

India is offering free sandesh as an incentive to anyone interested in buying weapons and ammunition from him. This plan backfired, however, when people started calling in wanting to buy just the dessert.

India's Craigslist ad

Russia wrote a personal letter to Mark Zuckerberg endorsing the ‘dislike’ button. When asked why, she responded, “To destroy everything America loves using his own flawed, consumerist system.”

Earlier this week, Canada received an eye injury from her computer mouse. Without thinking, she turned it over to turn it on and the violent “on” light got her like a laser and had her seeing spots for hours.

In an inebriated state, France confused a laundry detergent pod for candy. His mouth has been tingling ever since.

France tweets about the detergent tingling

Check out Behind the Scenes for a fun explanation of this story’s historical and political references.

An open letter to weeaboos (from Japan, with love)

Dear “Weeaboos,”

There is a problem.

It occurred to me when America walked into our meeting earlier today wearing a kimono. He asked me if I was ‘daijoubu.’ Oh, I thought, he must be interested in learning my language. “Nah, I can learn all the Japanese I need to from watching anime,” he said, dashing my hopes and heightening my anxiety.

He talked about Jrock and cherry blossoms throughout the meeting. He offered me Pocky. “Please get serious, America,” I told him. My worst fears were confirmed when he invited me to his ‘Nartuo viewing party’ and said he’d be serving only ramen and mochi ice cream.

I don't even like pocky.
I don’t even like Pocky.

Upon further research, I was appalled.

I understand and fail to be surprised by your interest in my language, traditions, and cartoons. However, your cultural fetishism makes me… uncomfortable, at best. Imagine this scenario, if you will:

An extra-terrestrial lifeform visits you. You share glimpses of your culture with him, and he likes it. He picks up on specific things–slang, fast food, and old Western films. He starts injecting words like “swag,” “dude,” and “bro” into all of his sentences even when they don’t make sense. He refuses to eat anything other than McDonald’s and apple pie. When out in public, he always wears a cowboy hat and boots and greets everyone he meets with a very try-hard, “Howdy y’all!” He won’t shut up about how cool rap music is, and listens to it loudly while driving (and this really annoys the other drivers).

Okay, the pie does look good.
Okay, apple pie is good.

He ends up forgetting that you’re a person. That you’re more than a fun language or a kind of TV show or a type of food. He doesn’t honor the struggles you’ve been through, nor the historical accomplishments of your people. Therein lies the problem.

To end in a language that I know you will understand,

~nyaaaa ^-^ Please respect my culture XDD arigotou gozaimasuuuu!!! ~

Sincerely,
日本

Check out Behind the Scenes for a fun explanation of this story’s historical and political references.

Allison Speaks: Let’s talk about purpose

Hey everyone, author here. Doing something a little different today. By different, I mean earnestly spilling my heart (just a little bit) to you incredible readers. And by spilling my heart, I mean talking about the purpose of P&P and fantasizing about the future of this blog. I also want to know what you want to see from me, so stick around for a little bit more on that.

Why do you blog?

P&P isn’t an edgy political blog that’s supposed to shock you with topical jokes and gritty, one-liner social commentary. Serious political topics should absolutely be discussed, but they also deserve more respect than a lighthearted humor blog can give. Rather, the goal of P&P is to make international relations relatable. Because they are relatable–we just have to think about them in the right context.

Every one of our relationships is a story, and that does not change when it comes to the bonds between countries. That’s what I want to show people. I want to show you that international politics is just as complicated and ridiculous as the personal relations between best friends, ex-friends, lovers, and family members who hate each other but still visit on holidays.

That’s why I blog. Well, that and the desire to be successful one day (but that sounds much less poignant).

If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like?

I’d have five-hundred million followers and be making $100 per day. Per day.
In all seriousness, my answer is a little complicated. Right now I have between 30-40 followers, probably get on average 5 views per day, and have 1 Twitter follower (at the time of writing this). If I could double those figures within six months, awesome. If I could triple them within a year? I will have exceeded my wildest dreams. And from there I’ll have to dream of something even wilder.

One day I’d like to look at my readership see creative people drawing their own versions of the characters and using fiction as a means of exploring IR and politics for themselves. I want a community that fosters discussion and laughs, because I love both.

What do you want to see on Prejudice & Politics?

Nothing is more important to me than writing stuff you want to read. That’s why I want your suggestions! Tell me what you’d like to see. Maybe it’s more of a series I haven’t written for in a while. Maybe you’re really interested in the relationship between Country A and Country B and want a little story about it. Maybe you think Russia is a delight (you’d be right) and you want to see more of her in future stories. Whatever it is, use the comment section below to let me know. Though I can’t make any promises, I’ll read all of your thoughts and ideas.

Uncertainty

“It’s done. Now, we shake on it.”

It was 2015. After months of grueling diplomacy and awkward trips to Switzerland’s, The P5+1 (but mostly the United States) had just finalized negotiations for an Iranian nuclear deal. Seeking out Iran in private, America wanted to go over the fine details personally one last time before making what would either be a really good decision or one of those occurring-way-too-often, really not good decisions.

“Now, we shake on it…” Iran repeated slowly, lifting his extended hand to urge the American.

Time stopped.

It was then, as he stared blank faced at the Iranian, that he finally felt the weight of the historic moment. Nuclear nonproliferation hung in the balance, and if this deal wasn’t going to work out…

Suddenly there were flashbacks from the Cold War–memories that he swore he’d repressed years ago. Images of North Korea’s face began swirling around in his head like a carousel. An evil, communist carousel.

He looked into Iran’s eyes.

Then to his hand.

Back to his eyes.

Back to his hand.

The corner of Iran’s mouth twitched as he smiled uneasily. He began to sweat.

America looked away. His gaze caught the ceiling. Then the window. Then the wall. Then the bobblehead doll of Ricky Martin on Iran’s desk. What?

North Korea’s laughing countenance was still stuck in his brain, and there was a screech in his throat that begged to be let out but America kept his lips shut tight. Finally, and once again, he met eyes with his uncomfortable counterpart and just stared–face pale and body paralyzed by unspeakable hesitation.

He stared.

Iran swallowed.

“Now, we… shake… on it…”

Read Behind the Scenes for a fun explanation of this story’s historical and political references.

America’s diary

Photo by anyvanille / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by anyvanille / CC BY-SA 2.0

It was safe to assume that everyone has a secret diary. So if everyone has one, including conniving and suspicious characters like Russia or North Korea, America needed one. That was his rationale for buying the little leather-bound journal. He needed to bridge the diary gap.

This particular journal had prompts for those who couldn’t think of anything to ramble about. “What do I like?” It asked for him.

-Freedom

The obvious first answer.

-Traditions, but also trying new things.

Because just writing down ‘traditions’ would have made him sound old (like England).

-Texas

-Grilling

-Eagles

-Explosions

But that was quickly changed to ‘fireworks’ (to be on the safe side).

-Shotguns

-Cherry Coke

-Roller coasters

-Winning

Now he was beginning to dig into his inner psyche.

-How attractive I am

-Being the best

-Having money

-Doing things that would have made George Washington proud

Things then got a little real.

-Hegemony

-Pissing Russia off

-Laughing at the delusion of China becoming a superpower

-Saying something really stupid just to fluster Canada

-Beating Japan at a video game

-Complaining about N. Korea together with S. Korea

America paused to look over his work. Pleased with the robust list, he jotted down one last item.

-Toby Keith

Read Behind the Scenes for a fun explanation of this story’s historical and political references.

Word games

“If you could eat anyone here, who would it be?”

Security Council meetings weren’t always productive. Nor were they usually fun. America decided to change that.

England looked up from his notes after a pause to bore a narrow, scrutinizing gaze into the American.

What?”

“If you could–no, if you had to–eat someone in this room, like in a survival situation, who would it be?”

England promptly went back to looking through his notes.  “Nobody dignify his question with an answer.” But Russia did.

“China,” she said. “Then England. Then France. Then America.” Nobody felt like telling her she’d broken the rules because they knew she wouldn’t care.

“I wouldn’t eat any of you,” scoffed France.

England scoffed right back. “And what makes you think anyone would eat you?”

China had been quietly struggling with himself about whether or not he’d participate in the game. Then he gave up. “Russia.”  

At this, the Russian nodded a few times knowingly. “Because I stand in the way of his world domination.”

“For me it’s easy,” America said, swiveling his chair obnoxiously. “China. Don’t have to pay him back if he’s dead.” The groans from around the table weren’t going to bring him down, and he flung forward in his seat. “Hey, hey, hey,” he shot off rapidly. “Let’s play FMK.”

Continue reading “Word games”

Realism

Canada stood on a rusted helipad and stared down into the ugly green waters of the North Sea. Its placid dreariness reminded her of the Hudson, and suddenly she felt very disappointed.

Sealand sat beside her, legs swinging lightly over the edge of the helipad. “So?” She asked, looking to Canada with expectant eyes. “What advice have you got for me? Oh, please tell me it’s better than America’s advice.” She lowered her voice, exaggerating both her tone and hand gestures. “If you want to be taken seriously, you could always do what North Korea does and threaten to blow shit up.” Canada smiled and shook her head.

“Here’s the thing,” she started, smile fading as she looked to the young micronation. “Everyone’s an asshole.”

Sealand nodded. “I realize that more and more every day.”

Canada continued. “History is made up of assholes. But so is the present, and the future will be too.” She paused, pursing her lips. “People hurt each other. We do it all the time. It’s not always on purpose. Sometimes it’s just…” Eyes narrowed as she pondered her words. “Sometimes treating people badly is considered an ‘oh well, can’t be helped.’ Like… a necessary evil in the conquest for power.”

“Power,” Sealand said quietly. “Makes the world go ‘round, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah. It seems that way. Not everyone wants to chase it, but… most do. Can’t really blame them, eh?” A pause. “You know, I used to wonder. Why will we do terrible things for money or resources or an advantage over someone else? I think that–I think that we try to be the strongest and richest and most influential so we can live as safely and as comfortably for as long as possible. We want to enjoy life to the fullest even if that means making questionable decisions. Because we’re all too aware that we won’t last forever. You know what they say. Even Rome–”

“Even Rome fell,” Sealand said along with her and Canada nodded.

“When we fight and lie and hurt each other, when we do anything and everything for power, we’re really just buying time–just a few more minutes to enjoy temporary glory. I’ve wondered… what good does that do? In the end, we all end up stories in history books. But… I guess some people don’t want to die as just a memory. They want a legacy.” She shook her head. “I dunno. Maybe there’s more to it than that. Maybe I just don’t get it. I might never be able to think about power the way America does.”

Quiet settled between them as they both stared at the green-grey water now gently splashing beneath them. After some time, Sealand cocked her head toward the other. “Are you an asshole too, Canada?” The North American looked to Sealand and tucked wind-whipped bangs behind an ear while shrugging.

“Only during hockey season.”

Read Behind the Scenes for a fun explanation of this story’s historical and political references.