In 2006, shortly after I left Palestine and moved to Washington, DC, I read a book called Understanding Iraq by Professor William Polk — a Harvard / U. Chicago historian, former member of the Policy Planning Council of the Department of State responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, and a founding director of the American Middle Eastern Studies Association. It had a profound effect on me. I could empathize so much more strongly with what the Iraqis were going through after I had spent time living under occupation myself.
To try to engender some of this empathy in American hearts and minds, I came up with an idea to rewrite American and Iraqi history with the roles of the countries reversed — with America playing the role of Iraq and a fictional coalition of Asian and Middle Eastern countries called Megastan playing the role of America.
Aside from the general interestingness of putting yourself in other people’s shoes, there was vast potential for wordplay and hilarious digs. I couldn’t pass it up, even though it ended up taking weeks of writing, research, graphic design, and web formatting. Here’s an excerpt:
In the autumn of 2030, Megastan elected a new Prime Minister. His name was Malik Henna, and he was the son of the Prime Minister who had carried out Operation: Snow Storm. Henna was a young and inexperienced politician whose history of failure in nearly all endeavors public and private strangely endeared him to large blocs of Megastani public opinion. He was also strongly supported by the Neo-pros, and after Henna took office, Neo-pro ideologues who had openly pined for a “New Pearl Harbor” were placed in positions of great power in the Henna Administration.
A year later, on November 9, 2031, something much worse than Pearl Harbor hit Megastan. An extremist gang of Venezuelan Communists known as Los Quaidos executed a horrific terrorist attack against the Megastani capital of Megadina…
You get the idea. Megastan topples the Cuban regime (which had been harboring Los Quaidos) on its way to crushing the uninvolved Americans, and utter chaos ensues as the invading Megastanis alienate all shades of American citizenry with their insensitivity and incompetence. Predictably, American Anarchists, former U.S. Army soldiers, North Dakota militias, and The Pat Robertson’s Martyrs Brigades fight back, and they prove to be tough fighters and expert bomb-makers.
It’s thoroughly cited with respectable sources, so anyone who has a problem with my facts or history will have to take it up with the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Professor William Polk. My implicit analyses, on the other hand, are wide open for discussion.