Memo to: The President
From: Department of Foresight and Alternatives
As you will be aware, your decision to remove Cuba from the List of States Supporting Terrorism leaves a depleted List, consisting of only three countries: Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
The reduction in the number of States Supporting Terrorism is, of course, a praiseworthy achievement of this and earlier administrations. However, these very successes may now raise problems.
We note that the anticipated agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program is likely to lead to the removal of that country from the List. Further, whatever we are able to cobble together from the mess in Syria left to you by the previous administration is likely also to require that country’s removal from the List. Alternatively, should Prime Minister Nottonyernelly proceed with his plans to annex Syria to Israel, that would also require the removal of Syria from the List, since the state of Syria would no longer exist.
Such a scenario would leave a List with only one name – a contradiction not likely to be noticed by the illiterates of the usual media but one almost certain to be picked up and made a fuss about by troublemakers like Chomsky and Pilger (what has gone wrong with the drone program?).
The inclusion or non-inclusion of North Korea on the List seems fraught either way. A List of either 1 or 0 is equally ridiculous.
1. Leaving the List as it is (or may become)
The disadvantages are indicated above. The advantages are that it requires no action on your part. Is it a sign of our times, of a developing crisis of perspectives, that the most practical exercise of our power is not to use it?*
2. Expanding the List
There are a few governments around the world that have been getting a bit uppity lately. It might pull some of them back into line if they saw one of their number put on the List. For example, would it seriously disrupt our plans for Europe if Germany were added to the List because Merkel told the world that we were tapping her phone?
3. Reconceptualizing the List
Since a country’s being included on the List doesn’t seem to have much effect on that country’s international reputation (it may be they have noticed the only countries we put on the List are those we’re having a dispute with), it may be appropriate to change inclusion on the List to represent approval instead of disapproval. We could then put the United States at the top of the List and include close allies in a subordinate position, perhaps sometimes allowing their diplomats to observe our Terror Tuesday deliberations.
The change could be implemented under the slogan, “We’re number one! Get out of the way or get droned!” This might be expected to create a healthy fear in certain capitals. It might also cause various foreign governments to stop accusing us of hypocrisy.
* This sentence was written by a staff member who immediately resigned and left to enter a monastery in Tibet. We have left it in this memorandum mainly to obviate the possibility of charges of religious discrimination. (Note by the Head of the Department)