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If I Ruled the World

By David Flin


I’ll have to be honest with you. I don’t rule the world. I have, however, read about a lot of history, and seen some attempts by various figures to rule the world. I’ve learned a lot from their efforts. What I’ve mainly learned is what NOT to do.

I’ve learned, for example, that Real History has one big advantage over Alternate History. If an Alternate History were to include genuine actions and decisions that were taken in OTL, it would get laughed out of court. Well, as an antidote to those serious, plausible, logical alternate histories we write, I’ve collated a list of some genuine historical examples from OTL. For your delight, delectation, and potential amusement, I’m simply describing the event. There will be the prize of a round of applause for the first person to successfully identify every example. Remember, these are all genuine historical events.

  1. The enemy launch a major amphibious attack. This requires a quick response to release forces to catch them while they are still struggling on the beaches. However, because the Would-be World Ruler (hereinafter called WBWR) was asleep, the news isn’t delivered until later.

  2. The WBWR has a financial embarrassment. He can either pay his soldiers, or build massive statues of himself. He chooses to build massive statues of himself. Then he displays these statues to the soldiers, so they can see where their pay has gone.

  3. The WBWR has an army very strong in melee potential, and very weak in missile potential. The army facing him is very strong in firepower, but is distinctly inferior in close-quarters. The WBWR has the opportunity to choose the ground. Over there are mountains and narrow passes, in which his forces could close with the enemy before they could fire a round. However, he chooses to fight on a peat bog (slowing movement to a crawl, meaning his men can’t close quickly) without a scrap of cover (meaning that the other side get clear shots while his men are trying to close).

  4. The WBWR is commanding an army, and wants his cavalry to attack some guns. He orders his cavalry to charge the guns, neglecting to mention which guns.

  5. The WBWR has a small force, and comes upon a very large enemy base. Because it’s a large base, he decides to divide his force so they can attack from different directions. Unfortunately, there was no way for the divided elements to communicate with each other, and one group got delayed. Nonetheless, the WBWR decided to launch a headlong attack against the enemy base, without preparing a line of retreat.

  6. The WBWR is proclaimed ruler of a country. He gives a speech. A very long speech. The longest first speech ever by a ruler of this country. He did it outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. He did it without wearing coat, gloves, or hat. He caught pneumonia. He died of pneumonia within a month.

  7. The WBWR has an army 80,000 strong. The enemy force numbers 200. The WBWR is confident. He leaves his camp, taking 5000 men with him. He gets drunk. He goes to talk to the enemy. The enemy capture him. He gives them gold to let him go. They take his gold. Then they kill him.

  8. The WBWR has a powerful neighbour, possibly the most powerful neighbour in the world. The neighbour sends traders. The WBWR kills the traders. The neighbour tells the WBWR to apologise, or else. The WBWR refuses to apologise. The neighbour sends ambassadors. The WBWR kills the ambassadors. The neighbour sends an army of 300,000 and wipes the WBWR off the map.

  9. The WBWR is in command of a fleet. The fleet consists of eleven ships in two lines, one of six and one of five. The lines are 1200 yards apart. The WBWR orders the two lines to reverse course by each turning inwards. The ships have a turning circle of 800 yards. The WBWR subtracts 800 from 1200, and concludes there is room. The WBWR neglects to consider that the other line will also be turning. 800 plus 800 is 1600 yards. 1600 yards is greater than the 1200 yards separating the lines. The lead ships in each line collide, and one of the battleships sinks as a result.

  10. The WBWR is in charge of resupply of an amphibious operation. The troops ashore request rifles and bullets; their rifles were lost overboard in heavy water, and they had had to swim ashore. The WBWR packs bullets and rifles onto two boats, in case one gets sunk or lost. He packs bullets in one, and rifles in the other. One of the boats is sunk.


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David Flin is the author of the SLP books How to Write Alternate History, Six East End Boys, Tales from Section D, The Return of King Arthur and Other Alternate Myths, and Bring Me My Bow