The first law of history

North Korea didn’t usually send poignant emails to other people, but it seemed appropriate when that other person just signed a nuclear arms deal with the United States of America.


Congratulations on your deal with the devil. Or, Great Satan, to use your preferred insult.

Even though you are a dirty, imperialist puppet state (don’t take it personally, I call everyone that), I respect you. That is why I’m not actually writing this to congratulate you, but to warn you. Sorry, that sounds more threatening than intended. Consider this message friendly advice, from one despotic rogue state to another.

This deal does not give the United States more reasons to trust you, it gives him more reasons to not trust you. Opponents of the deal will trust you even less. I did not cheat the Agreed Framework as much as America wants to believe that I did, I just found another route to nuclear weapons because I am smarter than he wants to believe I am. You’re smart too, aren’t you?

I wish I could sit here and tell you that I’m okay with all of this. I can, however, sit here and tell you that hearing the news pissed me off a little bit. But then I remembered who you are and what you are and I had to ask myself: did they play you, or did you play them? Then I laughed.

You accomplished something quite remarkable, but I don’t t know if remarkable here is a good thing or a terrible thing. I haven’t felt isolation unwillingly in a long time. I guess the real congratulation lies in that you were able to make me feel a little more lonely. I think I even shed a tear. Haha, jokes.

For the record, I’m not angry, I’m just unsure. But ultimately, I will be fine as long as you continue to buy missiles from me. Seriously, I need the money.

Let me leave you with this thought: Nuclear weapons are power, but only because not everybody has them. How do you think countries like us will fare when the world is nuclear?

From one friend to another, I want to be able deal with my problems before it comes to that.


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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To dust? No, to gold

They were the empires and kingdoms who sought riches and conquered worlds. Whose fall from divine power broke their thrones but did not crush their will. Who in their decline gripped their swords and made their last mark on history. Whose name and glory did not die with them.

They were the ones who fought empires in battle and principle. Who were shoved and manipulated by those with more power and money. Who looked Goliaths in the eye and did not flinch but picked up a stone. Who stood amidst the wreckage and havoc in the aftermath of war and raised their flags. Who lost innocence but earned freedom and a name.

They were the heroes and the villains. Who became incredible things and accomplished amazing feats. Who vanquished their demons and grew stronger. Whose ambitions turned them into monsters and taboo legacies. Whose fingertips grazed greatness but whose folly tore their hand away. Whose quest for power and grandeur ended in disillusionment and defeat.

They were the ones divided but not shattered, driven out but not erased, devastated but not destroyed. Who looked at the world around them, in all of its beauty and all of its savagery, and decided that their life and their identity and their honor were worth fighting for. Who survived and overcame and triumphed.

They did not always do the right thing.

They did not always win.

But they will always be remembered.

Friendly gestures

Brazos River
Photo by TexasExplorer98 / CC BY 2.0

The United States and Mexico shook hands for the first time somewhere along the Brazos River on a warm October afternoon in 1821.

“Do you always come this far into Texas?” Mexico asked, squinting into the sunlight.

“Sometimes,” America said after adjusting his hat. “Actually, I wanted to congratulate you on your independence.”

Mexico inhaled and a sense of pride, the kind many new countries felt after a hard fought struggle for sovereignty, filled his chest. “That means something, coming from you.”

“You mean that thing with Britain? Ah, that wasn’t… that was nothing. Actually, it was something. It was a big something.”

Mexico shook his head but kept a half-smile on his face. “Mine wasn’t as quick as yours, was it? But I’m here, now. I’m Mexican, now.”

“Yeah, we’re.. we’re it. Whatever it is. I don’t think things get any easier from here. At least, that’s what the Europeans are telling me.”

“Think they might be right. This time.”

America looked up from the grassy bank that he’d been softly kicking with his boot. “You know, Britain still has territory above us and around us and I don’t feel especially inclined to trust them.”

“Me neither.”

“So… we should stick together, right? When they see two strong, independent–and intimidatingly attractive–countries working together… they won’t want to conquer and divide parts of North America anymore.”

“Know what? That sounds pretty good.

A little over a decade later the two would be caught in a battle over Texas and another decade after that they would go to war. The next time they would shake hands would be before a “friendly” quick draw that a certain Canadian had to interrupt before someone got hurt. Disappointed but alive they would walk away to prepare for the next battle or war, as neighbors often do.

Holiday aftermath

A continuation of this July 4th story.

North Korea was idly watching the city below from the balcony when China found him. He didn’t move or look back when he spoke in something of a distracted voice. “Enjoy the party?”

China leaned against the railing and talked to the back of the other’s head. “I give him the same present every year,” he said. “A framed dollar bill. Written on it is the current, up to the day, US debt to China. It’s all in good nature,” he assured. “He smiles and swears he loves it, but I know he burns it in the fire pit later that night. Not just the bill, but the frame. too.” North Korea made a small noise, which might have been a laugh. China stepped forward. “I brought you something.”

This made the Korean turn around finally, but then he scowled at the paper plate in China’s hand and the tin foiled wrapped over it. “I don’t want dirty, American, sympathy cake.”

China raised an eyebrow and gave him a knowing look, and for a moment they were locked in a stare. The fire in the Korean’s eyes, the sweat beginning to bead on his brow, and the intensity of his scowl told of a raging internal war that was tearing apart every fiber of his psyche. Through perseverance China did not look away–did not falter. At last, after immense metaphorical bloodshed, the conflicted soldier caved in and asked in a quiet voice, “What kind of cake?”


“How much frosting?”


North Korea reached out, slowly taking the dessert. “You didn’t see this.”

“See what?”

It’s the Fourth of July

Photo by wesleyhetrick / CC BY-NC 2.0

Loud music about partying and patriotism played through speakers all over the house while guests–mostly Europeans who sort of didn’t want to be there but sort of did–drank, danced, and tried to talk over the tunes. Hissing and exploding fireworks added to the auditory clutter, but at least they were pretty to look at.

Inside, America was filling his plate with hamburger sliders when he noticed Russia chatting up Canada near the punch bowl. He watched them with scrutiny for a few seconds, then decided to ruin the moment–but not before grabbing a couple of patriotically decorated popcorn balls.

“What’s up, guys?” He asked, trying to sound chummy as he somewhat obnoxiously interrupted their conversation. “What’cha talking about? Russia, you’re not trying to turn my sister against me again, are you?”

“What do you mean?” Russia asked with a lilted voice and a grin, but immediately leaned into Canada. “You know where to find me,” she whispered. Then, after making sure to meet and hold America’s gaze for for long enough to acknowledge his displeasure, she bounced off to find someone else with whom to mingle (and probably make uncomfortable).

With a half smile, Canada shook her head. “We were talking about dogs.”

Continue reading “It’s the Fourth of July”

MAD 4: We need a war

To see previous  chapters of this series, click here.

“The United States of America has just been destroyed by an all-out nuclear attack.”

“What?” America screeched. He paused before screeching louder. “What?”

“Wait, wait. I’m sorry, everyone…” Germany adjusted the podium mic with an apologetic smile. “That was, ah, that was the wrong one. My mistake.”

“Who the hell even submitted that one?” America gawked with the sudden urge to shoot an incriminate glance toward the Middle East.

“The appropriate follow-up scenario will now be read now.” Carefully, Germany flipped through a few pages in the little notebook he was holding. Upon finding the right page, he began. “An ICBM was detected heading for California, but failed to reach its intended target and instead landed off the coast in territorial waters. The source of the attack is presently unknown.”

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Buzzed confessions

Sometimes, they would drink together. Some nights, this was enjoyable if they did not argue effusively over hockey. Other nights, America would say some crazy shit.

An empty bottle of beer slamming down against the coffee table caused America’s drinking partner to jump in her seat.

“I have to stop China.”

Canada sat at the opposite end of the couch with a glass in her hand. The unbridled conviction in her brother’s voice caused her to slowly set her beverage down and raise brows at him. “What?”

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