The Turn of the 20th Century

Tired of their leaders’ inability to create any sort of harmony on Earth, the world’s nations got together one day to try to work out their problems themselves. This is an account of what transpired at that meeting.

“Well then,” said Great Britain. “How should we get this business sorted?”

“I found pie,” said Portugal between chews. “Does anyone want a piece?”

Great Britain and France immediately lunged out of their seats and on top of the pie at the center of the meeting room.

“Wait a second,” said Switzerland. “Isn’t that someone else’s pie?”

“Isn’t that someone else pie?” mimicked France while it stuffing handfuls of filling into its mouth.

“Hey! What about us?” demanded Belgium, Germany, and Italy, “We want some too!”

“Ugh, fine,” said Great Britain with a gigantic belch. “I’m full anyway. I think there’s a piece of crust and some icing with a shoeprint somewhere under the table. Come on, France. Let’s step aside and let them have what’s left.”

“I guess,” said France. “I can’t eat another bite anyway.”

Germany, Italy, and Belgium swarmed over what was left while France and Great Britain found their seats. Russia moved a couple of seats closer to the Ottoman Empire.

“Hey!” exclaimed the U.K. “What do you think you’re doing, Russia?”

“Huh? What? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” responded Russia.

“Hmmmm…” responded Great Britain. “I’ve got my eye on you. Keep away from the Ottoman Empire.”

“How about you keep my boot away from your face…” muttered Russia.

“What was that?” asked Great Britain.

“Huh? Nothing. I didn’t say anything,” responded Russia.

“Right then,” said the U.K. with a sideways glance at Russia. “I would like to propose a motion that the European Powers should settle their differences, create harmony between themselves, and become a model for the rest of the world to follow.”

“Well I motion that your petty European squabbles are laughable,” scoffed the United States. It then walked over to the Dominican Republic, and punched it square in the jaw.

“What do you mean?” asked Great Britain, a little taken aback both by the United States’ interruption and the seemingly inexplicable trouncing it just gave the Dominican Republic.

“I mean that all you Old World Powers do is bicker amongst yourselves about who owns what title to what dilapidated castle,” responded the U.S. while violently pulling Nicaragua’s ear and poking its eyes. “I concentrate solely on my own well being,” continued the United States as it gave Mexico a hard kick to the shin. “I do not bother myself with entangling alliances and strutting around the world like a peacock…”

Honduras sneezed.

The United States stopped and gave Honduras a withering glare.

“Did you cover your mouth?” demanded the U.S. tersely.

“Ummm… I forgot,” responded Honduras in a whimper.

Without speaking a word, the United States strode to where Honduras was sitting, squared itself up before the cowering Central American country, and kicked it squarely in the crotch.

“I swear,” said the United States as Honduras collapsed on the floor in pain. “If you don’t teach these countries in a forceful manner, they’re never going to learn. But anyway, I am a new country in the New World. I do not bother myself with the pretention of outdated monarchies. Wait a second…where is Guatemala?”

“I think Guatemala is in the bathroom,” said El Salvador meekly.

“What!?” screamed the United States. “In the bathroom!?”

“I think it said it wasn’t feeling very well…” continued El Salvador.

The U.S. smacked El Salvador in the forehead before it was able to finish its sentence, dashed across the room, burst into the bathroom, kicked down the stall door, and glared down at a very startled Guatemala.

“Were you going to wash your hands??” demanded the United States while pointing a menacing finger in Guatemala’s face.

“Uh…um y-yes,” said Guatemala.

“I don’t believe you!” And it gave Guatemala a gigantic slap across the face. “Wash your damned hands!”

With that, the U.S. walked back into the room, straightened its suit, and continued on its speech without skipping a beat.

“As I was saying, I don’t bother myself with the imperial pretentions of you Old World fogies.”

“Aren’t you being pretentious enough by beating up your weaker neighbors whenever the mood strikes you?” asked the Netherlands.

“I am not pretentious,” retorted the United States while walking over to Colombia. “I simply wish to teach my misguided neighbors how they should behave themselves.”

Colombia had its feet up on a stool while it read a newspaper.

“I like your newspaper,” said the United States.

“Why thank you!” responded Colombia, “It’s quite nice. I’m reading the comics.”

“Can I have it?”

“Uh… no.”

“Why not?” demanded the U.S.

“Because it’s mine…” responded Colombia.

“But I want it.”

“But you can’t have it. It’s mine.”

“Fine!” said the U.S. and stormed out of the meeting. Russia moved three more chairs closer to the Ottoman Empire.

“Well that was odd,” said Germany.

The United States burst back into the meeting as suddenly as it had left while holding a very startled looking young man by the collar. It walked right up to Colombia, ripped the newspaper out of its hands, kicked the stool from underneath its legs, sat the young man on the stool, and gave him the newspaper.

“Everyone,” said the U.S. “This is Panama. Now give me the newspaper, Panama.”

Panama timidly gave the U.S. the newspaper.

“Hey! That’s mine!” shouted Colombia as it rose from its seat in indignation.

“Well Panama gave it to me, so it’s obviously not. Now sit down and shut your damn mouth,” responded the U.S.

Thoroughly cowed, Colombia sat back down.

“Well, I’m glad that’s all settled,” said the U.S. And it sat back down in its chair to enjoy its recently acquired newspaper as Russia moved another seat closer to the Ottoman Empire.

“Shit! Cock! Piss!”

“What the hell was that?” asked Norway.

“Ass! Shit!”

“I don’t know,” said Bulgaria, “Where is it coming from?”

“Balls! Tits! Ass!”

“I think its China,” said Siam.

Everyone turned to look at China as it repeatedly slammed its head into its desk to the tune of a loud explicative every time it made contact.

“Tits! Dick! Shit!”

“What the hell is wrong with that country?” asked Ethiopia.

“Piss! Crap! Bitch!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this,” said Japan as it leaned over and gave China a hard knock to the back of the head. The room became silent.

“Is it over?” asked Finland.

“I don’t know…” said Liberia.

China was dazed by Japan’s blow. Its unfocused eyes stared at the ceiling.

“Well I guess that’s over and done with then,” said Great Britain “Let’s get back to the business at…”

“Nuts! Turd! Ass!”

“Oh for the love of Christ!” said Great Britain. “Everyone queue up. We’re going to beat the shit out of China.”

Great Britain, France, Japan, the United States, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy all lined up and proceeded to give China a tremendous beating. Once they all had their turn, and China was left not knowing which way was up, the countries found their ways back to their seats. In the meantime, Russia had moved three seats closer to the Ottoman Empire.

“Oi! Russia!” said Great Britain. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Ummm… nothing,” responded Russia. “I’m just sitting here.”

“Yeah, and you were sitting way the hell on the other side of the room when this meeting started.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Yes you were! You moved half-way across the room to get closer to the Ottoman Empire.”

“Uh…no I didn’t.”

“Yes you did! Stop lying!”

“Well…it was cold on that side of the room. So I moved over here.”

“Go back to your seat Russia!”

“I’m not moving.”

“Ugh…this is the last time I tell you, Russia. Stay away from the Ottoman Empire.”

There was a loud cry from the United States.

“What the hell is this!?” demanded an enraged U.S. as it pointed to its shoe.

“I believe that is chewing gum,” said Denmark.

“Who the hell put chewing gum on my shoe!?”

“Don’t be stupid. No one put chewing gum on your shoe,” said Brazil.

“There wasn’t any gum on my shoe before. Now there is,” screamed the U.S. “Therefore, someone put gum on my shoe!”

“Listen, don’t be silly,” said Great Britain. “No one put gum on your shoe. I’m sure it was just an accident. You were probably just walking along when…”

“SPAIN!!” roared the United States.

Spain had just enough time to look up from the collection of books it had on its desk to see the United States’ fist flying directly at its face.

“Serves you right!” said the U.S. as it stood over Spain’s comatose body. “And I’m taking your books too!”

“What are you going to do with those things?” asked France. “You don’t even read Spanish.”

“I don’t care,” said the United States as it scooped up the books and walked back to its desk. “I’m taking them with me. They’re mine now.”

“What a crazy goddamned country…” muttered Germany as it pulled out a newspaper and a pair of scissors.

“What on God’s Earth do you think you are doing, Germany?” demanded Great Britain.

“I’m making a sandwich,” replied Germany sarcastically. “What does it look like I’m doing?”

“I don’t know,” retorted Great Britain. “You tell me.”

“Not that’s it’s any of your business, but I’m cutting out paper dolls,” Germany held up a series a completed paper dolls, “See?”

“Wait! You can’t do that!” said Great Britain.

“Why the hell not?”

“Because you can’t!”

“Well screw you. I’ll do as I like.”

“Fine! I’ll make my own paper dolls! And they’re going to be bigger, and better, and prettier than yours!”

Great Britain grabbed its own newspaper and began furiously cutting dozens of papers dolls, quickly outnumbering the ones that Germany had completed.

“What’s all this about?” asked the United States. “Why is everybody making paper dolls?”

“Go away,” replied Great Britain without even looking up from its newspaper. “This doesn’t concern you.”

“Well forget that!” replied the U.S. “I’ll make my own damned paper dolls!” And it immediately set to work.

“Can I join in?” asked Japan.

“Oh please!” interjected Russia. “I bet a monkey like you wouldn’t even know how to make a paper doll.”

“What did you call me?” asked Japan in a threateningly low voice, as the blood rose in its cheeks.

“I said you’re a damned monkey!” said Russia in a louder voice, a wide grin spread across its face. The last word echoed across the room. It seemed to hang in the air.

“Apologize.” Demanded Japan, its voice even lower, but still heard clearly by every country in the room.

“The hell I will!” shouted Russia, its words reverberating across the chamber. “I will call you whatever I like. At the moment, I feel like calling you a monkey. Ipso facto, you are a monkey. What are you going to do about it? Climb a tree and throw feces at me?”

Japan stood up and brushed down its coat. It removed its pocket watch, cufflinks, and tiepin, and placed them upon its desk. It then calmly walked over to Russia.

“What do you think you’re doing you damned mon…” Russia did not get to finish its last word because Japan had grabbed its desk and slammed it across Russia’s head.

“Holy shit!” said France.

Great Britain, Germany, and the United States looked up from their newspapers. Everyone’s eyes fixed upon the two warring countries.

In a complete daze, Russia swung wildly at Japan. Japan easily sidestepped each hopelessly uncontrolled swing and landed a savage kick to the center of Russia’s chest.

“Ah!” yelled Italy. “This is amazing!”

Japan grabbed a chair and broke it across Russia’s legs. Russia fell to the floor. It jumped on Russia’s chest and started savagely beating its face with desk lamp.

“Wow,” said this United States, “Now this is entertainment, but we should probably put an end to it while Russia is still in one piece. Hey Japan!”

“What. Do. You. Want?” asked Japan between down-strokes of the desk lamp.

“Can you please stop?” replied the U.S. “Everyone already thinks you’re pretty great. You can stop smashing Russia’s face in.”

Japan stopped, the desk lamp held over its head. “You think I’m great?”

“Oh yeah,” said the United States. “That’s one hell of a mauling you handed out. It was great fun to watch. But you should probably stop now. The carpet cleaners have more than enough work. We don’t need to give them any more.”

“Ok,” said Japan as it rose to its feet and tucked in its shirt. “But only because you said I was great.”

Russia staggered up from the floor and slowly, painfully made its way back to the remnants of its desk.

“That was a really good thing you did,” said Norway to the United States. “Here, have a chocolate.”

“Well, shit-yeah!” exclaimed the U.S. “I love chocolate!” and it gleefully unwrapped and ate its newfound prize.

“So when is this meeting going to be over?” asked Sweden. “I want to go home already.”

“I certainly believe these proceedings have been constructive enough,” said Great Britain. “Shall we end it now?”

“But what did we accomplish?” interjected Switzerland.

“Well, I mean, everyone got to beat up on China for a while,” replied Great Britain.

“Yeah, that was some good fun,” said Austro-Hungary.

“And the United States took that newspaper from Colombia,” said Great Britain.

“Panama,” corrected the United States. “And it was a gift.”

“Yeah anyway…oh! And I stopped Russia from getting too close from the Ottoman Empire!” added Great Britain proudly.

“Sure, all of those things objectively happened, but did we actually better the international system in any meaningful way?” asked Switzerland.

There was an uncomfortable silence.

“I made paper dolls!” exclaimed Germany.

Another uncomfortable silence.

“So, absolutely nothing has changed then?” asked Switzerland. “Everything is just as volatile, just as dangerous as it was before.”

“Well, come on,” said Germany. “What danger are you talking about? The international system remains stable. Sure, countries fight each other, but the rest of us are not nearly stupid enough to let those conflicts spread wider.”

A grumble of assent traveled throughout the chamber.

“And what if it did spread?” asked Switzerland.

“There’s no way we would let it,” said Great Britain.

“Yeah,” said Italy “We would truly be idiots to fall into that trap.”

Another grumble.

“Gigantic idiots,” said France.

“Monumental idiots!” exlaimed Austro-Hungary.

“You worry too much, Switzerland,” said Great Britain. “We are all reasonable countries here. Such a disaster could only befall a gaggle of bickering, recklessly moronic excuses for states.”

One more grumble.

“We are nothing like that,” continued Great Britain. “We are mature enough to recognize if and when such a conflict were occurring, and we would move quickly and decisively to defuse it.”

"I hope, for your own sakes, that you are right,” said Switzerland.

“Of course we are!” said Great Britain. “Meeting is adjourned.”