What if…China intervened in Gaza?

The People’s Republic of China task force departed the huge naval base in Djibouti just as the Chinese ambassador began to speak at the UN Security Council. The People’s Republic, he said, was no longer willing to tolerate the suffering of the people of Gaza. China was going to intervene directly in the conflict.

The global response was predictable.

Those states opposed to Israel, deftly sidestepped the novelty of China taking the high moral road and endorsed the audacious action.

The United States and some of its European allies condemned the announcement, and the US Navy put the Mediterranean fleet on standby.

In Tel Aviv, the Israeli cabinet met in crisis session. The far-right elements of the cabinet called on Israel’s defense forces to attack and destroy the Chinese task force before it entered the canal. The Chief of Staff (COS) of the Israeli military was less than enthusiastic about the proposal. He pointed out that satellite images provided by their American allies showed the Chinese task force was a very significant military force, centered around the People’s Republic’s newest aircraft carrier.

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What if…Ireland elected a socialist government?

Finally. A People’s Government!

It was a combination of global events that swept so many governments from power. The global economic meltdown, the war in Eastern Europe. The invasion of Taiwan. The ruling SF/FF/FG coalition just didn’t have the ability to see beyond “business as usual” and ended up with 40% of the Dail between them as the loose Coalition Of The Left took the majority under its charismatic Marxist leader.

To the surprise of the new opposition parties, the new government moved to introduce legislation immediately.

A right to occupy unoccupied buildings that hadn’t paid their vacancy tax was rushed through in days, as was a bill to nationalise all vulture fund holdings in Ireland.

A bank run started on the night of the election result, with everything from credit union accounts to Prize Bonds to State Bonds being cashed in or transferred out of the jurisdiction of the state to the extent but by the time the new government temporarily banned money leaving the state it was already too late, with the banks and the credit unions and other institutions in serious shortage of liquid cash.

The new government also introduced legislation to nationalise all childcare facilities across the country under a new national child care service which would provide free childcare to all who needed it.

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News from the Future: My best friend Kirk Douglas and the coming AI addiction.

24/7 your good friend Kirk Douglas will be there for you, making sure your bills are paid, your medication is taken, and just for a chat during the long winter nights. Welcome to the future.

Maureen is 80 years old. She lives on her own, is visited by carers and her daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer works long hours, and her mother gets quite lonely, so recently Jennifer downloaded a new app onto her mother’s smartphone. It’s called FameFriend(tm) and is a very advanced AI application which will act as a friend and advisor to Maureen. In this case, Jennifer selected the actor Kirk Douglas, whom her mother has always been a huge fan of, as the interface for the app. An AI generated version of Kirk Douglas will talk with and listen to Maureen, and learn more about her the more she interacts, as it is designed to self-learn. More importantly, the app is integrated with her banking, medication, utility services, online purchases, social media and any subscriptions she has. If she has a fall the app calls for help, guides in the rescue services, and keeps her calm.
The genius of the app is that everything is smoothly accessed through, in this case, Kirk Douglas. He appears on Maureen’s phone, watch and television. He wishes her a good morning, reminds her to take her medication (or if she has taken it already), tells her about today’s appointments or any TV show or movie she might like to watch. The interface is incredibly smooth, a deepfake backed up by the actors biography and pretty much every interview he ever gave, and that’s the part that makes FameFriend the world’s leading brand. Sometimes Maureen just has a cup of tea and chats with Kirk (It was originally Mr Douglas but Kirk insisted he call her Kirk. After all, they were friends.) When she has the rare visitor Maureen even introduces them to Kirk, who makes jokes about their initial awkwardness but always leaves them thinking they must look up the app themselves. If they have dinner together Kirk eats on screen with her, and sometimes they watch a movie Kirk will throw in the odd quip or anecdote about one of the actors onscreen.
Watching a murder mystery on TV they even try to work out the murderer together before the big reveal.
It isn’t a cheap app. You get it free for the first six months, and the company is accused of being like a drug dealer, taking advantage of lonely people and hooking them on it, and holding their “friend” hostage. The self-learning aspect of the software means that by the time the free period ends, the app knows an awful lot about the subscriber and so is much more intimately involved in their personal life. This is one of the great ethical areas of debate about the technology: it is effectively manipulating the subscriber with all it has learned. But it’s not a secret: the subscriber knows this and has in fact consented to it, and can delete all that data if they so wish. But that means effectively deleting their online friend. Already some mental health specialists are calling it an addiction. Is the addiction better or worse than loneliness?

FameFriend is far more popular with older woman than any other demographic, and the company is now working on a more adult services orientated version for men, although concerns have already been raised about the effect such a product will have on isolated young men with socialisation issues.

Jennifer knows all this, and pays anyway, because she sees that her mother is genuinely lonely, and the app helps. She knows it’s not real, something which some clients of the app struggle with. It makes sure her bills are paid and prescriptions are refilled, and on the lonely winter nights she’s seen Maureen chatting and laughing very comfortably with Kirk Douglas by the fire.

As a fee for assuaging her guilt as a busy daughter with a career and her own family to care for, she can live with it.

What if…Ireland became a fascist state?

The shots which rang out had been expected. The sound of the execution of the leaders of Sinn Fein, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Labour Party echoed out across the courtyard of Dublin Castle, as a confirmation that the National Order government was serious.

The firing squad had been made up of members of the Celtic Guard, the party’s uniformed paramilitary wing, as they had not trusted the remnants of the Garda and the Defence Forces to carry out what was a political act.

Ireland had not been the only country that descended into extremism after the great economic collapse of 2030, triggered by the electromagnetic pulse terrorist attacks in New York, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Hong Kong which had crippled the global economy and brought such chaos. The Second American Civil War was in its third stalemated year. Great England’s Lord Protector ruled over that nation and its dominions with an iron fist. The communist regimes in France and Italy squared up against the AfD government in Germany. China continued to struggle after Taiwan’s surprise nuclear attack just when it looked like the invasion of Taiwan was about to succeed after months of fighting.

As with so many other places, it had been a well-resourced and charismatic figure, Sean Connolly, who had led the far right to victory. The collapse of the global trade system had overnight turned the Irish economy into a pale shadow of itself, with the establishment parties rotating in a series of elections leading to rapid collapse as each new government failed to confront the reality that the Ireland of the early 21st century was gone.

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What if…terrorists targeted the mega wealthy?

The assassination of The Richest Man In The World™ (TRM) was the biggest story in the world. The clip of a bullet passing through his skull, caught on a bystander’s phone as he exited a building in San Francisco, instantly became one of the defining images of the 21st century. He was dead before he hit the ground. Interestingly, it was not even to be the most startling event of the day.

That came exactly two hours later, when a handsome AI generated man in a video took credit for the murder. He informed the rapidly increasing number of viewers that an email containing information about the murder had been sent directly to the FBI and would confirm his claim to be the voice of the assassins.

He then introduced himself as George, after “another great revolutionary” and said that he spoke for The 99, an organization dedicated to addressing the wealth imbalance between the mega wealthy and everyone else. He stressed that he was neither on the far right or far left, and that this was not an ideological matter. This was a simple matter of wealth transfer. The murder of TRM, he said, was a statement of intent, a proof of concept as to their seriousness. But no one else need die.

He then published a list of the world’s 200 richest individuals, and offered a deal. If they transferred 10% of their wealth to a stated list of popular banks and micro finance charities across the world, and ordered that the money be distributed equally among every account holder with less than $1000 in their account, they would be safe for one year. As would their families.

George finished by saying that they would act again soon if the individuals did not respond within 72 hours.

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What if…Ireland abolished the Dole?

USSR Soviet Russia Vintage Poster In the name of peace Classic Canvas ...

It was Ireland’s first left-led government that carried out the dirty deed.

To be fair to them, they hadn’t exactly abolished Employment Assistance as much as suspended it during a time of near full employment, and it had been the heretofore socialist minister for housing who had first concluded there was no alternative.
“Here’s the reality,” he told his cabinet colleagues.
“We are in a national housing emergency. We desperately need to boost housing supply. We have the funds, we have the land on which to build. What we don’t have are physical builders. Plumbers, bricklayers, plasters, electricians. Nor can we import them from the rest of Europe because there is nowhere for those workers to live. On top of that, we are losing existing indigenous construction skills to the Von Der Leyen Plan and the rebuilding of Ukraine. In short, we must create more construction skilled people from the existing population. We have successfully recruited from immigrants and we have created large apprenticeships and training programs to meet our needs. What we don’t have are willing bodies. We do, however, have 116,000 on the live register who say they are available for work.”

“You’re suggesting we force people to build houses?” another minister asked incredulously.

The housing minister shrugged.

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What if…NATO invaded Ireland?

Here’s an awkward reality. Whatever your attitude to neutrality, it’s fair to say that the chances of Russian or Chinese boots on the ground in Ireland is pretty slim. Air incursions yes. Getting bombed? Maybe. Naval meddling with infrastructure in our sovereign seas? Almost certainly happening already.

But actual physical invasion? Very very unlikely. Geography is our greatest weapon in the same way it was the UK’s in May 1940.

Except for NATO forces. The likelihood of NATO forces engaging in an offensive landing here is actually higher.

Consider the following scenario.

The Russians have launched an invasion of Finland and the Baltics. The Third World War has begun, and the United States is mobilising large quantities of personnel and equipment by both air and sea across the Atlantic to bolster its European allies. Ireland declares its neutrality and calls for the United Nations to something something something.

Those reinforcements come under immediate attack from Russian planes and submarines in a new battle of the Atlantic, and NATO commanders announce that the use of the airports of Shannon and Knock are deemed vital to the defence of Europe. The US president speaks directly to the Taoiseach requesting permission to use the airports. It is not the usual fluffy conversation between an Irish leader and an American leader, full of bromides and winks.

The Taoiseach is asked bluntly: will she openly permit, within hours, NATO use of the airports. NATO commits as part of the arrangement to deploy US aircraft to defend Ireland from the definite Russian retaliation.

An emergency vote in the Dail fails.

Within hours, US forces are landing in large numbers in both airports, having been secured by rapidly deployed special forces seizing control of the airport towers. Due to the lack of military radar, the first the Irish government knows of the attack is clips on Twitter and TikTok of US troops on Irish soil.

The Irish army is deployed a day later, with clear instructions not to engage US troops, and leaving a wide zone around both facilities. The US general in command invites his Irish counterpart to a hearty breakfast in Shannon to agree rules of engagement and ensure there are no misunderstandings. The Irish government also agrees that the occupying forces can source food and other products from local suppliers. The US agrees to pay all Shannon and Knock employees to stay at home.

Large numbers of left wing protestors turn up, and are warned by Irish security forces that once they cross into the “control zone” they cannot be protected, and US forces may use deadly force against them. They protest the US invasion, and charge the perimeter, but are repelled by non-lethal microwave weapons which cause great discomfort. Solicitors letters fly towards the US military like HIMARS projectiles.

The Russian government condemns the Irish government for permitting the invasion under the cover of sham neutrality.

“Why did Ireland, one of the richest countries on Earth, not detect the incoming US planes with its military radar and shoot down the planes with its fighter planes? Why are Irish forces not fighting right now to liberate occupied territory from NATO forces? Why are the Irish not defending Irish neutrality? A mere 5000 US troops are occupying a country of 5 million people? Well, Russia will strike in defence of Irish neutrality if the puppet government in Dublin will not.” The Russian ambassador declares.

A number of Russian bombers attack Ireland, with a large number shot down by US and RAF fighters, but with bombs landing in both Shannon and Knock, killing 50 people, both US and Irish.

Two Irish MEPs support the Russian “liberation”.

As hostilities draw to a close in Europe following the Russian defeat and withdrawal, the US announces that NATO forces will withdraw from Ireland shortly, and that the US will fund repairs to both airports.

Local suppliers and politicians call on the Dublin government to lobby Washington to prevent withdrawal, as local businesses have become used to the US military spend.

Continuing the great Irish tradition of elected Irish politicians passionately discussing areas outside their actual area of direct responsibility, Clare County Council passes a motion for Clare to join NATO. Dublin City Council writes to Cuba seeking Cuban forces to intervene.

Ireland goes to war? A hypothetical scenario.

NATO tanksOriginally written in 2015.

1st December 2017: Russian forces enter Estonia, Finland and Poland, taking NATO by surprise. Resistance in all three countries is stiff, and US, UK, French, German and Italian aircraft all provide air support.

In the Dail, the Irish government condemns the invasion. Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein call for the United Nations “to act”. They are not specific on detail.

2nd December: it is now clear that a full Russian invasion is underway. Media briefings in Moscow clarify that the purpose of the “pre-emptive defensive action” is to secure the Baltic states, Poland and Finland as neutral states outside of NATO. President Putin goes on TV to explain the action, and, speaking in fluent German, pledges that only those countries are combat areas, and that Russian forces will not invade other European countries.

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What if…Ireland elected a Right-Wing Government?

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.

“…It is time to be blunt about it. The people who get out of bed to go to work, who do overtime, who save money to get a nicer car, or bring their kids to Disneyland, are national heroes. They, through their taxes, carry the country, fund the welfare system and should not have to apologize for wanting to keep some of their own money. It is their money.”

“…it is a liberal value to want to walk the streets without fear of attack, and yes, someone with a string of previous convictions should have those convictions taken into account, and put into prison, and that means that yes, we build more prisons. And if judges can’t understand society’s need for violent offenders to be jailed, then let’s get new judges. They are, after all, just public sector employees.”

“..I believe in the welfare system. I am a European, and I believe in the social safety net. What I don’t believe in is the “social leaba”, that those capable of working simply choose not to and put the lámh out. Let me give you something to ponder: what would happen if we restricted the dole, in a time of labour shortage, to 18 months? What would be the effect?” Continue reading

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.

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