The Great Unraveling
(This post is third in a series about how current political trends could lead the nation and the world off the edge of a cliff. Earlier installments are here):
Part 1. Part 2.
As the invasion of Iran really begins to roll, the price of oil breaks $100/barrel. The resultant economic shock in the US causes a recession and the beginning of contingency planning for a rationing system. The US strategy in Iran becomes clear: make no effort to attack or seize Tehran, but go straight for the nuclear sites, with the Navy and USAF bombing Iranian positions in order to keep them fixed in place and unable to counter the US ground attack. After the cross-Iraq border assault has drawn the bulk of Iranian strength into western Iran, a complementary assault into Eastern Iran is launched by US forces in Afghanistan, again aimed toward known or suspected nuclear sites, with the USAF paving the way. In protest of the use of Afghanistan as a launching site, EU and NATO forces begin withdrawal from Afghanistan. Having either destroyed or otherwise neutralized the western Iranian nuclear sites, the forces in the west continue a relentless march eastward in a redux of Sherman's March, pushing toward a linkup with the US forces in the east. In a strategy dubbed "The Road to Afghanistan", the now-joined forces cross the border back into Afghanistan, leaving behind a trail of devastation, suffering, and refugees.
Meanwhile, the departure of US forces from Iraq removes the last inhibition of the Turks, who launch a massive invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, and of the Shia militias in Iraq, who launch a war of religious/ethnic cleansing against the Sunni minority, which heralds the beginning of all-out civil war in Iraq. The inability of Sunni Saudi Arabia to protect or defend the Sunni minority in Iraq leads to massive unrest in Saudi Arabia and a harsh government crackdown, leading to more unrest.
The price of oil breaks $150/barrel.
In the US, the legal theory authorizing the use of so-called "Free-Speech Zones" is expanded into the media, with all critical media restricted to certain times, channels, or websites.
In Northern Iraq, after fierce fighting, the Turks occupy all of Iraqi Kurdistan, followed by the inevitable ethnic cleansing of the Kurds from Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. After the destruction of the Sunnis in Iraq, the Shia governments of Iran and Iraq announce an alliance, while US forces in Afghanistan mass on the border of Pakistan.
Facing huge uprisings and riots, the royal family Saudi Arabia flee the country, after which the Kingdom's security forces lay down their arms in the absence of anyone to defend. The government of Saudi Arabia is taken over by an alliance of Sunni ayatollahs.
US forces in Afghanistan invade Pakistan from the north and west, encircling Waziristan and seizing or bombing known or suspected nuclear sites, as well as bombing Pakistani Army and Taliban positions. In what is now almost an item of minutiae, Osama bin Laden is killed in the fighting.
With Pakistan engaged, India launches invasion of Kashmir, occupies it, and begins ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the region.
The EU and South Korea request the removal of US troops from their territory, and talks on Korean reunification begin, while in Pakistan the fighting continues. China dumps all of it's US debt, causing the US dollar and economy to crash, and then launches a full-scale assault on Taiwan, as the Japanese start crash general rearmament and nuclear-weapons programs, and the leftist governments of South America begin talks of confederation, on the model of the EU. Here, it is Brazil with the secret nuclear weapons program.
In Central Asia, Russia, watching the US Army and able to read a map, invades and occupies the Caspian Sea oil basin.
Oil breaks $200/barrel.
Unemployment, shortages, rationing, and class divisions in the US create unrest, and a severe police response, while in Pakistan, the US completes the destruction of Waziristan, and begins withdrawal to Afghanistan. In Taiwan, desperate fighting continues between PRC and ROC forces. China warns the US and Japan to stay out of it, and threatens Japan further. US troops withdrawn from overseas bases, over 700 of them, begin returning home, to a nation bankrupted and suffering, though militarily still strong.
US troop positions in Afghanistan are destroyed by a Pakistani nuclear weapon, carried by a SCUD missle, and launched from Pakistan. The ensuing US retaliatory strike destroys the launch site and surrounding area with a nuclear warhead launched from a submarine. The President orders the strategic conventional bombing of Pakistan.
Terrorist attack by a domestic resistance group inside the US. Government declares martial law, and begins roundups of aliens, dissidents, and anyone else marked as an "enemy combatant", to be interred at the KBR-built "detention centers". US Army units which survived the Pakistani nuclear attack are encircled and destroyed in Afghanistan.
The dream of every political theoritician from the Enlightenment till now is thus extinguished.