What if…the west armed the women of Afghanistan?

 

It had been the scene of a young Afghan woman being publicly beaten by a tribal elder for talking to a boy on her mobile phone that had done it. There had been those in the administration in DC who had already crafted plans, but the media response to the incident had finally convinced the president, a decent man and father of daughters, to support the plan. 

The military had already selected the site in rural Afghanistan. Effectively a mountaintop fortress, accessible by air, but otherwise protected by sheer cliffs on nearly all sides, and with a ground access that could be transformed into a bloody killzone if needed. It had its own water source, grounds for crops and cattle, good solar power frontage and, the military reckoned, it could house up to 30,000 people if planned properly. 

Its approach was constantly surveyed by drones and its own designated NSA satellite. Female NSA operatives volunteered their own free time to guard over the site.  

It was called Operation Themyscira, after the fictional home of Wonder Woman. The name would become more and more appropriate as time moved on. 

The US president was clear in his address. The US had left Afghanistan. But it was not abandoning the women of Afghanistan. There would be a refuge for them, defended firstly by the United States, where women could flee to, run by women, for women. 

What if…President Trump was convicted and jailed?

President Donald J. Trump

It had been the selection of a jury that had taken so much time. Trying to find twelve jurors plus substitutes who did not have a strong opinion on the former President of the United States took months, because even those who claimed little interest in politics were found to have made some political comment on social media at one time or another. The Trump legal team, funded at huge expense by the Republican National Committee, had even objected to the idea of registered Democrats being on the jury, and the federal prosecutor was not enamored with registered Republicans serving either. The judge, on the point of desperation, proposed a compromise: Each side could submit 20 names, and he would pick, at random, 20 names from a hat. Both sides objected, but he ruled, and told them that if either side refused to submit their 20 names from the available jury pool he would pick names at random to fill that side’s quota. Both sides informed the judge that they would be appealing his decision, which he told them was their right, and set a date for the trial.

Continue reading

Short Story: Moving Day.

America. The near future.

Tom put the very last box into the truck with not a little bit of relief, as it was pretty much the last bit of space in the truck. Molly and the kids were going through the house, supposedly checking to see if there was anything left, but in reality dragging out their departure. There’d been tears from the kids when they’d told them they were moving, and he hardly blamed them. This was the house they’d grown up in. The school they attended was just three blocks over, and they’d trick or treated on these doors with other kids, or attended birthday parties or barbeques in other people’s backyards so many times. This was home. 

It wasn’t the first time he’d had to move house, but this had been different. Of course it had. For one, he’d had to do most of the loading himself, if only because so many of the people who might have helped were busying packing their own families’ stuff, or had already moved. Then there were those neighbours who might have helped in the past, but now just glared through a window. 

As the kids made their final rounds, Tom lowered the US flag that flapped in the light breeze from the pole over the porch. A former marine, he treated it with respect, carefully folding it as per regulation and placing it snugly in the trunk of the car, between two pillows so as to not get creased. There was a lot of talk about new flags these days.

Tom looked at his watch. They were just on time. 

“Ok, let’s go,” he shouted into the house, and the family appeared at the door. Molly was struggling to hold back tears.

Tom gave her a hug and closed the door behind them, and they all got into the car. He was determined not to look back as they pulled away. 

Their appointment was not far away, and it wouldn’t be a disaster if they missed it, but Tom wanted to just move on and get things done. He wanted to be in the new house, and wouldn’t feel comfortable until…well…he didn’t like to think about it.

The appointment was in a Walmart car park which had been temporarily taken over by the army for the purpose. Tom joined a queue of cars waiting. He was reassured to see US Army soldiers and armoured vehicles. Overhead a helicopter patrolled noisily.

“Honey, have you got…” he said to Molly, but she was way ahead of him, and had them in her hand. A soldier with a clipboard reached the car, and Tom rolled down the window. 

“Good afternoon sergeant,” Tom said.

“Good afternoon sir. Can I take your IDs please?”

Tom handed over their United States Citizen identity cards. The soldier thanked him, and scanned each into a handheld scanner, then peeked into the automobile to match faces.

“Good afternoon ladies: we’ll have you ready very quickly.”

He handed back the cards, noted the car registration, and leaned in again.

“You’re with 246. About ten minutes I’d say.”

Tom thanked him, and closed the window. 

Tom looked at the cards again. He still couldn’t quite believe he had to carry mandatory identification, but he understood why. He remembered the night Molly and he had sat down and made the decision, as every American family did.

A soldier stood on the back of a jeep and spoke through a bullhorn. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, could those of you in convoy 246 please follow us. You all have been issued with your emergency hotline number. If you have a problem during the convoy please call it. Do not leave the convoy without calling as we will not be stopping other than at designated break areas.”

Tom checked his gas level again: he’d filled the tank as the kids were bringing down their boxes. They had water, snacks, phones were charged, and he’d make sure everyone had used the bathroom.

The army vehicles roared into life, and pulled out, the hundred or so civilian vehicles following them, a collection of stationwagons, SUVs, rental trucks and RVs. What struck Tom was that all had that overloaded look, like each was packing a family’s whole life into them, which was often true. As they drove through the suburbs they could see state police cars with flashing lights blocking roads to let them pass the agreed route. Occasionally crowds of protestors had gathered to hurl abuse, waving flags. The soldiers on the vehicles in the convoy watched those crowds carefully as they passed. 

They were among the last convoys to leave. After Sunday, it was up to people to make their own arrangements, and whilst that technically shouldn’t be an issue following the Biden-DeSantis Accord, Tom was still glad they had an army escort. There had been stories. People killed, families hounded from neighborhoods they’d lived in their whole lives, militias ordering people to leave states. Yet it was still better than the full frontal civil war that had been brewing. This was the least worst option.

The decision hadn’t been hard. They loved their home, their city, but they could see what was happening. That there was basically one way to think and if you don’t agree you’re one of them. When the website asked them to make their decision, and upload the information, they knew they hadn’t really a choice, because one thing was adamant: you had to choose one. You could not be both. It was one of the few things that even former Presidents Trump and Obama agreed on. Even when it emerged later that President Trump realised the implication for his businesses, but by then it was too late even for him. His daughter and son-in-law recognised it. 

There had been quite a lot of schadenfreude particularly when older white people had made their choice, then realised what they had actually voted for, and tried to reverse their decision. No take-backs, the president said.

Molly and the kids were fast asleep by the time they had pulled away from the final scheduled breakstop, and hit the road again. The convoy slowed to a halt in dense traffic, and the army helicopters circled aggressively, as if to deter would-be attackers. This was the most dangerous part, he’d been warned. Across the freeway he could see similarly loaded cars speeding past from the other directions, full of kids and families, He could see kids cheering in some of the cars. 

As the convoy got closer, the huge structure was visible, with armed soldiers patrolling on top of it, and powerful lights illuminated the whole area. There were more flags on either side of it than at a political convention. 

Tom could see the lead army convoy vehicle wave at the soldier on the barrier, who opened it and waved them through.

“Hey kids, you’re going to want to see this!” Tom said, and the family awoke from their slumber just as they passed the sign announcing “You are now leaving the Constitutional States of America”, and beside it flew the South Carolina state flag, which had a symbol restored to it that would have been approved of by Jefferson Davis.     

What if…a Right-Wing government was elected in Ireland (part 2)

The announcement by the Ceann Comhairle that Eve Hennessy had been elected Taoiseach was met with a wave of shouts and boos from the large demonstration that nearly filled both Molesworth and Kildare Streets. The signs, announcing “#StopTheSteal” and “the election was stolen” gave a clear indication as to the views of the crowd. Ogra Shinn Fein, who made up a significant proportion of the crowd, also held up signs calling for a “republican court” to put the outgoing Taoiseach on trial for collaboration because she announced that she did in fact accept the election result as legitimate.

Outgoing Sinn Fein ministers were abused far more than incoming NDP TDs.  The outgoing FF ministers had all lost their seats to either Sinn Fein or the NDP.

The speed at which the new government moved surprised many, despite the fact that it had all been clearly telegraphed by Hennessy from the election. Over 40 pre-prepared pieces of legislation were placed before the Oireachtas despite massive protests from the opposition parties who attacked the government for “steamrollering” the parliament. Hennessy replied by extending the sitting hours of both houses.

Continue reading

What if…a right wing government was elected in Ireland?

The exit poll for the 2029 general election caused gasps in the studio. Recent polls had shown that the outgoing Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail coalition was struggling but still competitive. The New Democrats, led by former FG TD for Dublin Rathdown, Eve Hennessy,  were doing better than expected. The polls had given the new party a consistent support level in the late-thirties, with her former party struggling to keep about 10%. But as the first boxes opened on the Saturday morning, there was much talk of what was termed “shy Tory syndrome”, where voters are embarrassed to admit to voting for certain (usually right wing) parties, but acting accordingly in the privacy of the polling booth.

Hennessy had been mocked when she had been elected in the disastrous (for FG) election of 2025 which had seen SF come to power. From a wealthy south Dublin family, Hennessy had proceeded to become one of the wealthiest people in the country when she founded the Banshee Group which manufactured both civilian and military drones. She had rapidly become disheartened with FG in opposition, and the prevailing belief that some sort of natural electoral pendulum would restore the party to power eventually. Watching SF in power, she simply did not accept that, and speaking in a debate in UCD (in what the media would call The Belfield Platform) she took no prisoners and outlined a broadly right wing view of how Ireland should proceed.

Continue reading

What if…a right-wing populist was elected President of Ireland (Part 2.)

Previously in the future…

https://jasonomahony.ie/what-if-a-right-wing-populist-was-elected-president-of-ireland/#more-19793

 

A populist right-wing former radio pundit has narrowly been elected President of Ireland, to the shock and disgust of certain parts of Irish society. The Taoiseach has visited the new president to remind him of his constitutional duty to sign new legislation…

The president placed the constitution on the table.

“That says you need my signature on every bill.”

“It also says you are required to promulgate every bill,” the Taoiseach said. Her attorney general had drilled the point into her.

“Whatever promulgate means. But what if I refuse to sign? Are you going to get a few lads in balaclavas to force my hand across the page?”

She ignored the jibe.

“No, article 14 is very clear. If you refuse to carry out any function, a commission consisting of the chief justice, ceann comhairle and cathoirleach can sign instead.”

“Grand, then. That effectively means I can publicly reject legislation without bringing down the country?”

The Taoiseach shrugged.

The following weeks saw the president, a prolific Twitter and Tik Tok user during the campaign, use the social platform for relatively mild observations. It was only when a new hate speech bill was put before the Oireachtas that he stirred.

Continue reading

What if…King Charles III sought a democratic mandate?

The British prime minister brushed her sweeping blonde hair back from her eyes, giving herself a moment to consider what the new king had just asked her. It had to be said: Charles had taken on the mantle of sovereign before her eyes, with surprising ease.

Yes, he had spent his whole life waiting for this moment, as had the country, but the transformation from gangly awkward youth to a more well-filled figure had made him look, quite simply, more like a king.

Continue reading

What if?: The Pro-Life Amendment of 1983: an alternative history.

Wrote this about four years ago.

Please note: this is a work of FICTION.

But for Deputy Martin Faraday, it could all have been so different. The Irish government, pressurised by a politically active Pro Life Campaign (PLC), would still have held a referendum in 1983 to insert an anti-abortion clause into Ireland’s constitution. The 8th amendment to the constitution would still have overwhelmingly passed, declaring that the state would vindicate and defend the right to life of the unborn. Then Ireland would have continued on its “Do as I say, not as I do” way, turning a blind eye to its women leaving the jurisdiction to seek abortions in the UK. The PLC would celebrate their surreal victory as the one pro-life organisation in the world which celebrates not what happens to a foetus, but where it happens. An Irish solution, as it were, to an Irish problem.

The problem, however, was that Martin Faraday was that rare beast in Irish politics, a politician who actually believed what he said. A devout Catholic, the young deputy from Kilkenny was tall, handsome, charismatic, and had led his native county to victory in the GAA hurling championship in 1979. Although socially conservative, Faraday nevertheless had respect on the liberal left for his consistency, speaking out just as strongly on issues of poverty and on opposition to the death penalty. Many spoke of him as a future cabinet minister, perhaps even party leader.

Continue reading

What if…the United Kingdom went to war against Spain.

Let me be very clear: the reason I’m writing this is basically as a response to a certain type of Daily Mail/Daily Express reader and the “Send in the army/navy!” response that seems to appear regularly in those newspapers. In particular, that France and Spain should be careful that the UK doesn’t decide to give Johnny Foreigner what for.

I do not for one moment think the following is likely. It’s purely a piece of speculative fiction.

Just a bit of fun. But what if a far-right government in Madrid decided to take Gibraltar by force…

The news that Spanish forces had taken Gibraltar reached London within an hour of the crossing. The Royal Marine garrison on the rock put up a solid defence of their positions, slowing the Spanish advance, but as the fighting descended into street combat the decision was taken by the marine commander to surrender to avoid further civilian casualties. The Spanish flag flew over the rock within three hours of hostilities commencing.

The Prime Minister and the general military staff met in Downing Street just before the surrender, and the Chief of the Defence Staff outlined their options.

“Firstly, a Falklands-style task force will not succeed. Even if we could get the force down the Atlantic coast we would face serious air opposition as soon as we closed on Gibraltar. Our carrier group would come under attack from the Spanish Air Force, who fly F35s, F18s and Typhoons and would be flying from bases much closer and with air defence support from the ground. They would target our carriers as a priority and have a serious chance of hitting if not sinking them. The Spanish Navy is smaller and less well-equipped than the Royal Navy but still has submarines and frigates with modern NATO equipment, again focussing on our carriers and amphibious landing craft. We could possibly prevail off the Portuguese coast, assuming Portugal stays neutral, but we would take casualties, and if any of our key ships are sunk the operation fails. If we manage to land a force in Gibraltar, or close to it, we’ll be fighting to hold a beachhead against a modern Spanish army with modern NATO armour and support vehicles, with air superiority over us, and that’s without even considering force sizes and supply lines.”

“What do you mean?” the Prime Minister asked.

“We would put a force of less than ten thousand on the ground. Spain has a professional army of 80,000 plus reserves of about 15,000. They also have 80,000 paramilitary Guardia Civil to draw on. But let’s be honest; if Madrid wanted to equip and arm one million volunteers to fight us they could, as could we if foreign forces landed here. Our supply lines would go back through the Straits of Gibraltar where they’d be harried intensely. In short, we’d be fighting a losing battle from day one.”

“What about landing a force somewhere else? Maybe northern Spain? Capture some town to use as a bargaining chip to trade?” the Foreign Secretary suggested, listing her head slightly towards the official photographer who seemed to magically appear every time she entered a room. For the historical record, she said.

The CDS opened another file.

“We have considered that. It would certainly be logistically easier. Shorter supply lines, and our carriers and the UK mainland could provide better air cover without getting too close to the Spanish coast. But the core problems would remain. Our fleet would be under constant attack, and our assault force would face a Spanish counter attack made up of a bigger but equally professionally trained and NATO standardised force. I need to stress this: we are not dealing with Argentine reservists sent on an adventure here. This will be Spanish professional soldiers, as well equipped as we are, who have trained alongside us in NATO, fighting to retake their own soil. Or at least, in Gibraltar’s case, that is their perception.”

“Are you honestly telling us that this country, despite being the world’s fifth military power, is essentially powerless to do anything?” the Chancellor asked, looking slightly out of place in his branded hoodie.

The CDS shook his head.

“No sir, what I’m saying is that whilst we can inflict serious damage upon the invading force, we simply do not have the resources to fight a sustained conflict against an economically comparable country. Not on their home soil.”

“What about Trident? I mean, we are a nuclear power. Spain is not,” the Home Secretary said, jutting her jaw out to underline the statement.

The CDS looked at the fleet admiral.

“We can’t nuke Madrid.”

“We can threaten to,” the Home Secretary said.

“No one will believe us. We’ll look ridiculous,” the Chancellor said, eager to shut down his rival out Johnny Foreigner bashing him.

“What is the point having all this equipment paid for by the hard-working families in my constituency if…”

“The Home Secretary has a point,” the prime minister’s chief advisor suggested quietly. The room went silent. He was not known as being a fan of the Home Secretary. Not only had he voted Remain, but he still defended it.

“You’re not suggesting I incinerate Madrid, surely? That would be very uncentrist of you,” the PM suggested, running a hand through his unusually tidy hair.

“Tell us about Prompt Global Strike, admiral,” the Chief Advisor said. All heads turned.

The admiral shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“PGS is a part of the Trident programme that allows us to use a Trident D5 missile to deliver a non-nuclear payload to a target globally.”

“Could we use it to destroy a designated target in Spain?”

“In theory, yes, but I must advise caution. PGS is not something we use lightly because no country can tell whether a launched ICBM is carrying a nuclear warhead or not. This will show up on Russian and Chinese early warning systems as an ICBM launch.”

“Ok, I understand that admiral. But let me clarify: do we have, at this moment, the capability to launch a non-nuclear Trident missile at a specific target in Spain, and can the Spanish shoot it down?”

“Each Vanguard submarine currently carries 16 ICBMs. Two of them have conventional warheads. No, Spain cannot shoot it down. Nobody can. ”

The room broke into disarray.

“So if we were to identify a key symbolic or economic target in Spain we could destroy it. Say Madrid airport, or the Cortes or the Royal Palace? We could announce this publicly in advance to allow for them to be cleared of people so there needs to be no casualties, and give a ninety minute warning to launch. We’ll inform the Russians and Chinese beforehand, indeed we’ll even surface the submarine just before the launch so that they can verify it. In fact, we could issue a list of key economic targets, power stations, airports, ports, and tell the Spanish we’ll keep hitting them until they withdraw from Gibraltar. That’s global power.”

“The empire strikes back,” the Home Secretary said, slightly breathlessly.

The admiral interrupted the chief advisor.

“We only have two current PGS capable missiles.”

“Can’t we prepare others? I mean we do have four Vanguards, and only one is needed to maintain deterrence patrol. If we hit, say, ten targets in Spain that would do enough damage. I mean, imagine if someone hit all four London airports, Buckingham Palace, the Stock Exchange, and a couple of power stations and railway terminals. We’d be in chaos.”

“That would take a while, to remove and refit the warheads.”

“In fairness, once we did it the first time, provided we picked the right target, Madrid would know we were serious. We probably would not have to do it again,” the Prime Minister said.

He turned to the admiral.

“I want options on this within the hour.”

That night, the Prime Minister addressed the country, with a special Spanish language edition being transmitted directly to the Spanish media. The ultimatum was clear: if Spanish forces were not withdrawn in total in 24 hours, the UK would hit Adolfo Suarez Madrid airport. The PM carefully explained that although a non-nuclear warhead would be used, and therefore there would be no radioactivity, the power of the warhead combined with the kinetic energy of a direct missile impact would destroy a large part of the airport, and so a 10km evacuation zone should be declared around the target.

The PM was inundated with almost universal condemnation from other NATO leaders. The US President was in contact within 30 minutes of the broadcast.

“Whilst we have great sympathy with the Gibraltar situation, mr Prime Minister, the United States cannot condone the use of ballistic weaponry in this way. We strongly advise that you accept the offer of the European Union to broker a diplomatic solution. The spectacle of a NATO member bombing another is grotesque.”

“I would remind you, mr President, that they invaded our territory!”

“Yes, I understand that, but nevertheless this is upping the ante. It’s bad enough that you have isolated yourselves by withdrawing from Europe, and now this…”

“We were invaded!”

“Yes, I get that. Now look, the EU is proposing a joint authority…”

The PM slammed the phone down in a temper.

The calls with the German and French leaders were not very different: it was obvious all three had agreed a joint NATO line.

“Do you know, I think they’d prefer us to invade Spain and go down to a bloody but honourable defeat,” the PM said, as they gather in a Cabinet Office Briefing Room to watch the launch.

All day, scenes from Madrid showed the airport being evacuated, and now it stood empty, its halls eerily displaying hundreds of cancelled flights. The Spanish Parliament openly debated the idea of Spanish fighters bombing Penzance and Falmouth. One over-eager local government official had tested the air raid siren in Truro and caused mass panic.

Despite officially protesting, both Russia and China had accepted the invitation to send naval officers to inspect the missile before launch, and observe its launch from the submarine. France had not been offered as the Royal Navy feared the French, although officially neutral, might tip off their EU allies as to the location of the UK submarine.

As per the agreement with Russia and China, the submarine surfaced off the coast of Scotland five minutes before launching, giving Russian and Chinese satellites time to verify the launch and ensure the trajectory was not a threat to their countries. It then dived beneath the surface to permit launch of the missile.

Across the world, millions watched as the countdown began, a satellite feed from the submarine being directed by military satellite to global media.

When it reached zero, nothing happened.

The admiral listened intently through headphones as the room sat in silence.

“Those fucking bastards,” he said, before pulling off the headphones.

“The Americans have turned off the guidance software. We can’t launch.”

“What?” The PM asked.

“They are American missiles, and they seem to be able to remotely deactivate the guidance system. The chaps on the submarine have never seen anything like this before.”

“But it’s an independent deterrent. Surely we can launch without US permission?” The Home Secretary asked.

The admiral looked at her.

“We can launch alright, but the targeting won’t be accurate. I can’t guarantee we’ll hit our precise…”

“Oh for fuck’s sake: does it matter which part of the airport we hit?” She said, in exasperation.

“Madam, I can just about guarantee we will hit Spain and then maybe Madrid.”

An aide stepped in, holding a phone.

“The president, sir.” The PM put it to his ear.

“I’m sorry we had to do that. You left us no choice.”

“You bastard. We have followed you fuckers through thick and thin, and now you humiliate us like this.”

“Look, my people are briefing that you delayed at the last minute because I asked you as a personal favour. I’m flying to Brussels on Monday, and Paris and Berlin will be there to sit down with you and Madrid to work this out. We had to do this. Madrid has been talking to the Russians since you announced. There’s talk of Russian ABMs in Spain in return for a Russian naval base in the Med and on the Atlantic coast. The Chinese are sniffing around too. We can’t allow it, it’s as simple as that. Paris and Berlin are with me on this. So is the rest of NATO except for Hungary and Turkey. Hungary and Turkey, man. This is simply too important. See you in Brussels.”

The phone clicked dead.

END.