Posts Tagged ‘war’

Angst threatened to brim over among the Brotherhood of the Economists. In one evening meet at their favourite joint, the Ivory Tower Tavern, these troubled souls reassessed their situation. There was general consensus about the assumption of their pitiable state. It was a rare instance when the Mavens of Assumption agreed on anything, without a War.

Apart from being the butt of ridicule, generally centered around their love for making glorious assumptions, and finer assumptions about crude assumptions, the Brotherhood felt the recession had undone much of their world view. The world had broken down in their theory, though most non-Brotherhood folk held the opposite view. This did not bother the Brotherhood. The recession had pushed many in the Brotherhood into marginal unproductivity, a state worthy of much despair.

The Brotherhood plotted a fight back. They decided to teach the real world an ideal lesson in the real value of their idealized theories.

On scanning the globe for potential sources capable of spreading widespread strife, they chanced upon Iran. Here was an economy that few liked. Its grand plans of nuclearization was seen as a furtive attempt at militarization. The Brotherhood did not understand, or care about, the finer nuances of Uranium and Plutonium and isotopes, which were classified under Boreium. They decided to assume the existence of WMDs to build their strike against the vile world that disregarded their theories.

The Brotherhood were of a non-violent bent of mind. They opted to deploy a tool in their vast armoury so potent that some in the Brotherhood did what came naturally to them – disagree – with the idea. They were worried, for the Brotherhood had decided to unleash the ogre of Hyperinflation.

The Brotherhood reasoned that if they could trigger rampant and widespread rise in prices, uncontrolled misery would follow. The world would pause to watch a disaster unfold, and would learn to treat the Brotherhood with the respect they so naturally deserved. Not many in the world had experienced hyperinflation. An unknown devil could only be exorcised by a skilled hand. Bad times (for Iran) would mean the beginning of good times for the embittered Brotherhood.

They would encourage the legion of well-intentioned and patronizing nations to impose sanctions on Iran. Iran would be shunned by the international trading community. Partnering would be scoffed at, with the defiant running the risk of being ostracised from the community. Most nations would tow the line, gradually. Iran would be isolated. Payments and financial assistance  suspended.  Iran’s well-oiled economy would come to a screeching halt. Faced with evaporating revenue and cash flow, inflation would rear its unwanted head. The falling currency – the rial – would trigger this end.

Everything proceeded according to plan.

The clogging of Iran’s financial arteries set off a heart attack, causing an avalanche in its currency. Prices began rising at at nearly 70% per month when someone checked. The government tried its bit in artificially propping up the currency, in the vain hope that somehow problems would be swept under the carpet. It didn’t work. People began losing faith in the currency and this set off a new round of depreciation; which caused faith (and the currency) to plummet further. The vicious cycle threatened to cause a complete breakdown. The inevitable inevitably comes to pass.

Their plans had succeeded in stopping Iran on its nuclear tracks, though there were many that weren’t sure if Iran was indeed in the path to begin with. The Brotherhood was a satisfied lot. The world had been dealt a fatal blow.

Or so they thought.

They hadn’t counted that a rapidly dying man wielding a gun had little to lose, in pulling the trigger. Pushed into a corner with dwindling options, Iran decided to reciprocate the Brotherhood in kind and clogged vital oil arteries (passageways) that greased the world trade. Oil prices spiked, and soon many parts of the world joined the ranks of the despondent. A few suggested that the Brotherhood had triggered a serial heart attack across the globe. The Brotherhood’s eyes and ears, as usual, were locked shut.

As tensions escalated, attempts at dialogue went nowhere. Nuclear weapons, tired of idling for years and accumulating dust, were invited to do the communication. Things turned ugly. Economic warfare had spilled over to an unwanted area.

Pandora’s Box had reopened.

Hyperinflation had triggered an unforeseen consequence. The Brotherhood had wanted to teach the world a lesson. They lined up to learn one.

…with their chests (hyper)inflated.

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This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to reality, however dysfunctional, is entirely intentional.

The nuclear age that had taken birth, surreptitiously, in the depths of the last World War, was proving to be a promising financial disaster for countries across the globe, already pulverised by the never-ending financial crisis.

Wisdom had begun to dawn on the handful of nations that were perched high on the nuclear ladder. They realised – after decades of sinking investment in fortifying themselves – that it was essentially a costly experiment in nothingness. Since 1945, despite close encounters and promising starts, miraculously, humankind hadn’t succumbed to unreason. Half a century had passed and the world had witnessed little mass action. No wars were forthcoming. Griping was high, as a result.

Smaller nations were knocking on the door to be part of the elite Fight Club. The Wise Guys nodded sadly, as attempts to pass on the lessons of their folly to these new members failed miserably.

A Council of Nations (CON) had been strung together, amid an atmosphere of healthy mistrust and cordial suspicion. A meeting was arranged and CON Members assembled at an unknown location. The agenda was unclear but many assumed the platform was likely to be used to conjure up a consensus to waging war, and putting an end to decades of collective wasteful expenditure and inaction.

An issue, which had the potential to trigger inclusive disharmony, was the need of the hour. Suggestions were solicited and after brief jousting, Members agreed on the CON Sea. The CON Sea was a sore nerve for years. Everyone thought they owned parts of the Sea but nobody seemed ready to agree. Even to disagree.

At stake were big numbers; multi-billion barrels of crude oil and multi-multi-billion cubic feet of natural gas. Or, so everyone thought. Curiously, everyone’s interest was piqued the moment these hidden treasures were discovered. Financial considerations had a magical way of fathering sovereign interests.

The largest CON Member by size – they called it Big C – immediately jumped into the discussion. It wanted a leading voice and exercised its rights to much of the area, citing history. History was a faithful friend to those particularly gifted in selective perception. Almost all CON Members seemed to share this exceptional gift. To their surprise, Members found that their respective drawings on the map seemed to overlap with everyone else’s.

Tempers threatened to simmer, and then soar. The smaller CON members harboured secret misgivings towards Big C, whose sole reason for existence was to thwart them, or so they thought. They wanted to see Big C out, if possible, but few enjoyed the force or will for a frontal assault. Forced smiles were seen. The meeting went nowhere.

Some smaller CON Members thought of turning to U. Sham, to solicit its wisdom. Sham had a reputation around the world as the Omnipresent Purveyor of Universal Freedom, who had a curious way of landing up, often self-invited, on sensing trouble. Its advice – solicited or otherwise, frequently otherwise – was aimed at quelling trouble when it saw one. Mystically, Sham’s ‘interests’ seemed to span the globe, even in places it had never visited, or heard of, before.

This was fertile territory indeed. U. Sham yearned to get involved, but wasn’t invited. Worse, none seemed keen on extending an invitation. It hoped that someone might invoke the Mutual Defence/Security Treaty that might help it sneak in to the Fight Club. Of course, this could happen only if Big C acted unruly. Big C appeared uninterested, so far. Whether Big C wished to send a message to other CON Members or to U. Sham (or both) was not superficially clear.

Meanwhile, a few more players were in motion elsewhere. Com. Reddie, was seen in conversation with a rather preachy icon known for his pacifist stance, G. D. Ian.

Both seemed a trifle worried at this drama. They thought, not without basis, that CON Sea was really a subtle exchange between Big C and U. Sham. They had to unite, even if temporarily, to avoid being sidelined by either the former, or the latter.

Matters came to a head, soon after. But almost everyone, independently, decided that nuclear arms were an inappropriate tool for warfare as surprise element was non-existent. Something else was needed in its place. They settled for Edible Warfare.

Thanks to technology, the world now produced and ate so much food, inventories were swelling globally. Food rotted, as inefficiencies in the supply chain between inventories and those in need of food were high. It was thought fighting with Food would serve multiple purposes. It would take care of wastage, possibly solve the problem of hunger (socially responsible objectives) and would be a truly surprise element (strategic objective).

The launch of battle was disputed. U. Sham assumed Big C of hanky-panky, Big C duly reciprocated with its perception. Smaller CON Members wished to have the first-mover advantage and assumed that U. Sham would assume Big C’s assumption and would go to war anyway. So they moved pre-emptively. Reddie consulted G. D. Ian, who seemed to be in the default posture of saintly meditation. Stupor was broken, belatedly, and they decided to get involved.

D-Day dawned and bombings began. Food-laden ICBMs flew furiously hither thither. MIGs and F-s downloaded food grains, while submarines capable of carrying vast tonnage of food as payload zoomed underwater. The assault of edibles was so fierce and so much food exchanged that the world paused to wonder. No one had thought there was such a huge stockpile of food on the planet. Gluttony and wastage competed for top spot.

Hawk-eyed observers sensed certain changes as a result of this mode of warfare. Instead of cowering in fear, people began eating more free food. They ate so much that large swathes of populace succumbed to the bear hug of gluttony and obesity. Damage was mutual and widespread.

Both social and strategic objectives were met. But there was no winner.

A gargantuan amount of food was eaten. More was simply frittered away. Edible Warfare had exacted a great toll. There was massive food shortage.

Nobody seemed interested in the barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas camouflaged beneath the CON Sea.

These could not be eaten.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: No ants were harmed for this story. They killed themselves. Sadly, permanently.

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A group of young ants, frolicking with the gay abandon that accompanies the fountain of youth, untainted by experience or memory of dark days; stumbled upon a closet. Out came a scribbled note, reasonably legible but soiled with time, penned by one of their long deceased predecessors; a Fire Ant. As the group waded through the lost chronicle of Ant History, merry ignorance gave way to inspired but misplaced consternation.

For the note read thus.

Fellow industrious pests,

History was, and shall never be, the voice of the dead. So I write, my brethren, knowing not how much of the gift of Time I have left. My dearest friends and nearest kin have perished and I am certain that my end is closing upon me. Stir up your attention, my future generations! For Time is in short supply and the memory of the Great War ought to live on…

All isn’t well in our vast Kingdom. Light and us were never the best of friends, but in the dark precincts of the Underworld, where we dwell, darkness and pent-up strife reign supreme. A disaster of massive proportions has befallen us, mighty Masters of survival.

One of Man’s foremost pests of choice, for centuries, we have been pulling off miracles beyond the capacities of most other organisms. We migrated, worked incredibly hard, decimated crops and wood where we could, conquered almost all of Earth, solved bewilderingly complex problems, withstood the ravages of time, hail and rain, stung fiercely often not caring for our lives, brought down mighty elephants a kabillion times our size, and inflicted inestimable damage on humanity. And, we found the time to multiply extremely quickly.

But I realised, belatedly and after much loss of life, that we aren’t so smart, after all.

A populace of hard workers unschooled in the art of considered thought, eventually fall prey to the stuffy embrace of Slavery or Death. Our fellow folk perished, in a vain attempt at conquering a fiend we did not know much about. Actually, none at all.

We finally met an enemy worthy enough to put us to the test. We went looking for a usual quick decimation; we ended up being decimated.

Man had struck Oil. We had struck a skid pan.

One fine day, the day’s early starters noticed a large Cauldron, in the middle of nowhere. With characteristic nonchalance, a group of 20 soldiers managed to scale the Cauldron’s peak. The last sight that greeted onlookers was of this group disappearing on the other side. Time ticked by. They never returned.

40 young, enthusiastic but rather foolhardy tyros set off behind them, with no particular agenda in mind. They too, my fellow brethren, never returned.

The disappearance of 60 brave soldiers quickly caught the attention of the General. Enraged and intrigued, he ordered 150 battle-hardened jocks to take stock. This group set off, long on bravado and short on information, behind the lost fellow-men. Time gradually ticked by. Not one of the 150 was ever seen again. The other side of the Great Cauldron, as it came to be known, now began terrifying Ant-folk. A wise soul counseled that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Nobody cared to listen. Wisdom seldom found an audience.

The General, a trifle irked, summoned the SW.ANT Regiment, an elite group of warriors specially trained for extreme combat. 300 of these, the entire regiment, were ordered to conquer the nemesis. Murmurs of embarking on a suicide mission were heard but were drowned in the din of jingoistic agitation. A grand send off was arranged. More than a few thought this was a final goodbye. Many in the Regiment appeared to have witnessed the Gates of Heaven. Off they went.

Never to return.

Panic now visibly ran high. The loss of 500 of the very best warrior Ant-folk was an unprecedented loss in Ant history, in one skirmish. The raging General, exhibiting tremendous erudition, sent more on the way in the name of Patriotism, caring not to venture himself. Direction was called for, apparently and he considered himself irreplaceable. My family and best friends perished in this valiant act of blind Patriotism.

By a stroke of miracle, I managed to chance upon this picture, which captured the gory aftermath of the War. I share this, hoping it shall serve as a sobering reminder.

Few kept count. The Great Cauldron of Oil, as it came to be known, had consumed us. Too many of our brethren guzzled too much, only to be snared by Oil’s viscous entrapment. I learnt that Man called it Edible Oil. I’m at a loss to understand why.

This War, my friends, dented us irrevocably. Retaliatory sparring, when the cause is weakly understood, quickly gives way to mindless war. The end is as gory as it is unnecessary.

The General looks set to be overcome by insanity any moment. I write this, from my hide-out, knowing not when I shall get the Summon. I hope, my dear folk, that you learn from the errors of your past generations, who weren’t very smart after all.

But having seen this cycle several times over my life, I’m fairly certain that you, my dear friends, shall never learn.

Soon-to-be-dead,

——x——

Pictures courtesy: HaLin