Current Events Foreign Policy Short Stories

Casus Belli

By Sean Dempsey, 6/24/23

His people were anxious. That much couldn’t be denied.

Every day it seemed his power was threatened as social unrest swelled to new crescendos.

One morning the Emperor concocted a bold plan. He knew his tenuous grip on power was fading, but by keeping the people focused on an external enemy he might be able to maintain his title just a bit longer!

With great fanfare and patriotic speeches, The Emperor rallied his nation to support a great and massive war effort. He claimed that it was a fight for freedom and justice—a noble cause worth sacrificing for!

The people, desperate for hope and a glimmer of purpose, fell under his spell. They rallied behind their leader, waving flags and chanting slogans. “For God and for Country!” they chanted in the streets.

Flag pins were seen on the lapels of every suit jacket, and the radio blasted patriotic tunes. Even the schools had children taught by their teachers how important it was to support the war effort—for the enemy might snatch them in the night if they did not.

The ruse worked! The people felt purpose once more. The Emperor sighed a breath of relief; he never imagined his scheme would be so successful! All concerns about retaining power faded with the din of deafening war chants. The people ignored any local issues or the injustice around them; they became fixated on their enemy abroad.

The Emperor insisted their Enemy was a savage: barely human—that they had no regard for the dignity of life or liberty. He spread fear of how they loved to torture babies and even eat the skin of their enemies.

The people were afraid. But they overcame their fear with their raw hate—they hated their enemy with a fierceness that emboldened them and made them forget their own hardships.

As the noble conflict raged on, the nation’s resources were squandered on military endeavors. Schools crumbled, healthcare systems deteriorated, and the economy plunged into further chaos.

The Emperor, however, reveled in the chaos. He knew that as long as the war persisted, the people would remain distracted from their own hardships. He cared not for the lives lost or the destruction wrought upon the land, for his own power was all that mattered. In fact, he redoubled his propaganda campaigns…

His most successful media blitz hit the population during a period of especially hard inflation and economic hardship. The slogans that seemed to work wonders to distract the denizens were: “Unity Through Victory!”, “Secure Tomorrow, Fight Today!” and “A Battle for Freedom & Justice!”

The Emperor made sure TV commercials, radio advertisements, and all forms of public media pushed these ubiquitous slogans.

Years passed.

Caskets carrying dead soldiers back from the war effort poured in every day. Heroes, all!

Great fanfare was given to their televised funerals. The Emperor was always there to comfort the weeping widows or pat the heads of the children who would never see their fathers again. The Emperor cried harder than anyone. And the people loved him for it.

Any wealth the country created was going to the war effort. The country’s citizens suffered greatly as a result. Food grew scarce. Only the Emperor’s friends and top-level leaders in business whom the Emperor supported had any money or power.

Unbeknownst to The Emperor, the enemy he had conjured to keep the people’s minds off their suffering slowly grew stronger. Their resolve hardened, their numbers swelled, and their tactics became more ruthless. The senseless war had birthed a monster that now threatened to consume them all.

As the war spiraled out of control, bombs dropped hourly; cities were reduced to rubble, and families were torn apart. Orphans wondered the streets looking for their mothers. Pets belonging to dead masters became feral and wondered the vacant, blood-stained streets.

Ultimately, the war The Emperor had orchestrated to distract the people from their hardships devoured everything in its path. The nation lay in ruins, its people either dead or displaced.

Finally peace talks were brokered. The battles ceased and the bloodshed stopped. The war was at an end!

Over the next several years, the Emperor grew old and fat inside his mansion. He died many, many years later.

The imperial cemetery sat besides a large pile of rubble inside the impoverished and ruined Capitol. A large and ornate tombstone was placed atop his grave. The epitaph read: “Here lies The Emperor, great leader and war hero to our country.”

Sean Dempsey
Sean Dempsey moved to New Hampshire as one of the first 100 ‘Free Staters.’ He unabashedly believes in the US Constitution and the message and principles enshrined by its founders. Sean believes the country in which we live needs to re-examine what Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and Adams believed (and were willing to die for). The message of freedom is not a tag line or something to be embarrassed by, but is sacrosanct and more important than ever!

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