1032 April 9th, 2020 CE
The Committee on the Occupied Countries (COC). In order to not repeat the mistakes of the Middle East, a temporary committee had been set up by the President to plan what to do with the Bem Kingdom and Mach Imperium. Democratization was a very important and heavily discussed topic in most of the committee’s past meetings.
A few months ago, they had planned for a thorough study of the occupied countries. Secretary of State Katerina Clifford was starting the meeting.
“I have talked with the President and received the reports from the researchers that we have sent. So far, our modernization campaign has gone without any major issues.”
During their first meeting, which was many months back, they had discussed how to fix the infrastructure that had been destroyed during the war. It had been decided that in addition to repairing the infrastructure, it had been decided to modernize and upgrade them. That job had been delegated to multiple American companies which were to be paid using money from the treasuries of the Bem and Mach. Countless meetings happened afterward to discuss the politics, the entrance of other US companies, trade, and democratization. Democratization was an issue that had spanned multiple meetings.
The people in the room nodded. The committee of advisors, political scientists, military leaders, and a few other government officials were all sitting and looking at her. Katerina continued.
“From our interactions with and surveys of the people of the Bem Kingdom, they are generally supportive of becoming a republic. And from our investigations, there are no worries of any ethnic, cultural, or national differences. The nobles are of course hostile to this idea however they are few of them and from our understanding, lack any significant popular support.”
Katerina paused to see if her colleagues of the committee had any opinions. Colonel Jackson Ollie started first.
“Should we make plans to arrest the nobles?”
“We will strip them of their titles. Arresting them seems to be going a bit overboard. They haven’t done anything wrong so we can’t charge them for any crimes.”
Jackson leaned back. A political scientist on the committee went next.
“We had been discussing plans for a referendum. Will we be going ahead with that?”
“I have decided that we can skip the referendum.”
The political scientist started arguing back.
“I still believe we should go ahead with the referendum. Give the people a feeling of what it is like to vote. We don’t want it to be a mess when they start the vote for their leader.”
“We are concerned that the nobles will get in the way of the referendum. They may try to use their wealth and influence to change the vote. Then it will be no better than the country still being controlled by the nobles.”
“Then get rid of them before the referendum.”
“The purpose of the referendum is to see the will of the people in order to get permission to change the system. Changing the system before the referendum even starts doesn’t make sense.”
“We are the governing power now, we can do whatever we want.”
Katerina looked a bit bewildered at the shocking statement. One of the advisors interrupted their see-saw conversation.
“He has a point there. We don’t have to turn the country into a democracy to get rid of their nobles. The current king that we placed on the throne can do that. Just make him get rid of all the nobles. See, no change to the system.”
The others in the room who had watched them as they went back and forth all nodded at that. Katerina rubbed her chin.
“Hm. Ok, we will prepare a referendum. I will pass on to the President the suggestion of stripping the nobles of their titles and the lands related to said titles before we begin the referendum. We will also have to confiscate a majority of their wealth. Agreed?”
No one in the room showed any complaints or disagreements.
“Onto the next thing. The Mach Imperium on the other hand is… problematic. Because of their size, we are unable to conduct a thorough survey. However, from what we have gained so far, there seems to be 50% support for a republic. However, we will have to redraw borders.”
Katerina clicked on the remote she grabbed off the table. A map shows up on the TV. The colored map of the Mach Imperium seemed like the end result of a toddler getting their hands on many different color paint cans.
“There are cultural differences. We will have to split this country up. The Emperors held their country together through the use of nationalism and the end of a gun. In addition to this, we have hundreds of nobles that are extremely hostile to the idea of a republic. Moreover, from our calculations, they are capable of raising an army of rebels totaling about 500,000 to 1,000,000. Possibly even more.”
“Can’t we apply what we did to the nobles in the Bem Kingdom to the Mach Imperium?”
Katerina shook her head.
“There are too many. Unlike the Bem, some of them even have popular support and a large backing.”
“I still say that we should force democratization. It is our duty. We always establish democracies in our occupied countries. They are an empire, right? Can’t we do what we did with the Japanese?”
“That won’t work. Japan had things that we could take advantage of. Namely the fact that they saw their Emperor as a god. If we had gone ahead with your past suggestion of making the Mach Imperium a democracy the moment we were able to, the Mach Imperium would have made the Middle East seem like the room of a person with OCD.”
“So what do we do now? You can’t just let them stay a monarchy.”
“Technically we could force democratization, we have the technological edge and our military analysts predict that we may be able to win within a few months… not accounting for them using modern guerilla tactics or any other factions that may rise up.”
A few of the people in the room snickered at his suggestion. Katerina sighed.
“We have a history of propping up more authoritarian governments than democracies. Sure we have changed our stance, but that doesn’t mean we have to make every single country a democracy. We can leave some be.”
The room devolved into multiple arguments afterward. Some supported the idea of finding a way to democratize the Magus Imperium. Others were fine with the way it is as long as it meant that the US won’t be dragged into an endless anti-insurgency war. Katerina sighed. In a few minutes, she packed up her things and left after things got nowhere.
0622 April 9th, 2020 CE
0611 Sun 9th, 196 AE
Aginport, Bem Kingdom
Wybert Holden stood outside of the building. It looked extremely alien when compared to its surroundings. The Americans had changed Bem a lot. The most obvious was the street lights and the paved roads. Originally, there were also American soldiers everywhere with their weird vehicles but they were mostly gone now. Occasionally, there would be massive US military planes in the sky coming from the nearby airport the Americans had constructed. This building was also something that came from the Americans. He could see inside because of the glass that surrounded the bottom of the building. There were a lot of people inside. A few feet away by his side was a giant tower with a yellow “M” on top. He hesitated at the door. His friends had suggested it but it felt so foreign. He rarely went out to eat. A good place was always extremely expensive. The cheaper ones served mediocre food. It was better and cheaper to eat at home. He still wanted to try it though. His friends had come back with a strange wonderment to their eyes. He opened the door and walked in. It looked nothing like the taverns. The floor seemed to be made of some sort of marble. Instead of the color of brown wood that he was so used to, everything was a clean white. Even the tables and chairs weren’t wood. It seemed like a place that only the rich could afford to eat at. He waited in line and before long, walked up to the counter. He stared around in confusion. The worker who was standing behind a weird box spoke up.
“Welcome to McDonald's. First time?”
“Yes. So… uh… how does this work?”
The worker pointed upwards towards a wall of lists behind him. Some of the screens were changing. He would have probably called it witchcraft if the Magus didn’t have something similar. There were a few screens that stayed static and had words and pictures.
“You can select your order from the options listed above. Pay the price indicated, we will give you the receipt, you can go find a table, and when we call the number on the receipt, you can come up to pick it up and bring it back to your seat.”
The options looked surprisingly cheap when compared to the aesthetics of the building. It was half the price of a full meal at a cheap tavern. 10 burls for a…
“Ummm… ok… what’s a Big Mac?”
“It’s a burger. Sauce, vegetables, and a slice of meat in between two soft pieces of bread. A Big Mac is a larger one. It’s basically two burgers on top of one another.”
It seemed interesting and hopefully it was worth the price.
“I will get that.”
He continued looking.
“What's this Coca-Cola?”
“A very sweet drink, also bubbly.”
“Sure I will take that too… ummm… medium?”
It was only about 2 burls.
“Ok. Actually, are you interested in a Big Mac Meal instead?”
“For only 12 burls, you get a Big Mac, a medium Coca-Cola, and a medium box of French fries. French fries are sliced, fried, and salted potatoes. They are a common side to a burger.”
He paid the price, found a seat, sat down, and waited. He still felt hesitant. It just felt too cheap. It wasn’t long before his number was called. It now felt too fast. Wybert hoped they didn’t undercook it. He didn’t want to deal with a stomachache. He walked up to grab the tray. A different worker was there and handed him multiple small packets.
“These packets are called ketchup, you can open them and squeeze them on the French fries.”
He carefully carried his tray back to his table. A delicious aroma rose up from the Big Mac box.
Wybert walked out of the store with a heavenly satisfied look on his face. The Big Mac felt unexplainably good. Wybert corrected himself. The entire meal was heavenly. And at that cheap of a price too. The materials that packed the food also seemed to be high in value. He took the bag of empty containers along with him.
McDonald’s was one of the first few companies allowed to begin operations in the Bem Kingdom. As a test, they were only allowed one restaurant in the Bem Kingdom. Naturally, it was placed in the capital. McDonald’s themselves decided to change some things to the way this McDonald’s operated. They took out the self-serve soda fountains and also linked the building to an electric generator since the infrastructure of the Bem Kingdom was spotty. The business was now booming. Luckily, it didn’t stifle all the restaurants around it. That was a condition from the US government in order to protect small businesses in the Bem Kingdom. If that single McDonald's caused all restaurants around it to close, then that would have caused major damage to the Bem economy.