There are those who challenge your actions by asking why you decide to bomb and invade one ‘rogue’ state before another. This is indeed a difficulty. Since your enemies form an ‘axis’ (with shades of Hitler and Mussolini) or as it has recently been termed an ‘arc’, and cross-infect each other, if you had the resources available it would be good to attack them all simultaneously. Yet this is impracticable because of the cost and the fact that it might simultaneously disrupt your oil supplies and over-stretch your forces. The best you can do, therefore, is to make a ‘wish’ list and start to work down it.
This list has to be compiled very carefully. In order to place a state onto it, a number of inter-secting criteria can be used. The country to attack must be strategically (Afghanistan) or economically (oil rich) important. The dictatorships and human rights abusers in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, are unlikely to be on the list since they do not fulfil either of these criteria.
The state should contain a reasonable sized military arsenal and be on the edge of possibly joining the nuclear club, such as North Korea, Iran or, as you thought, Iraq. Yet it should not already have joined the nuclear powers (as Israel, South Africa, Pakistan, India, China) for they would be too dangerous to attack. There is no point in risking your own civilization seriously. Likewise it should not have too large a conventional military force for if you invade it, you want to be able to crush it dramatically and quickly. So this rules out China, which is a menace but would probably defeat us in a conventional war. Discretion is the better part of valour.
The potential rogue state should have an ideology that is very different from ours. It should show active hostility to capitalism and individualism and seriously propose an alternative world view to your core values. The major two options here are communism and some forms of Islam. Yet this criterion on its own is not enough. Currently you would not attack Pakistan or Indonesia or China, even though they fulfil this test, because they do not fit in other ways.
Of course what really warns us of their rogue status is that their leaders not only refuse to accept our ‘democratic’ and civilized way of life, but actively challenge us and proclaims they do not need us. When Libya did this, you bombed it and applied punitive sanctions. It has come to heel. Cuba is a thorn in the flesh and you tried to invade it, but failed, as did your attempts to use the method of assassinating its President. You have temporarily learnt to forget about Cuba since it is of marginal strategic and economic significance, though no doubt when its leader dies or retires you will prudently interfere.
So you begin to obtain a composite model of who should be on your list of rogue states to attack and ‘regime change’. Middle-sized, oil rich (or useful for oil pipelines such as Afghanistan), ideologically intransigent, militarily quite powerful but not yet nuclear powers with dilapidated conventional forces which cannot stand up to your modern technology. This is, so to speak, the ‘A’ list, and these have already been given a preliminary formulation: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea.
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A well-known technique to help you in compiling your list is known as ‘rogue state profiling’. Terrorist-harbouring states can be discerned by their looks and actions. They are, like witches, often poor and shabby and run-down, places like Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea or Palestine. That much of their misery is the consequence of your own sanctions and trade embargoes is not be to considered an objection. For why would you be punishing them already if they were not havens for terrorists?
They are inhabited by people who look like terrorists, that is to say, with swarthy, bearded, faces or inscrutable Mongolian eyes. They practice ‘fundamentalist’ religions (not Christian fundamentalism, or capitalist fundamentalism of the godly kind you find in the west of course), but fundamentalist Islam or unreconstructed communism. The people often look surly, angry, form into mobs to demonstrate against you, criticize you as hypocrites and imperialists and other gross exaggerations.
The leaders and their manipulated followers tend to be critical of the glories of capitalism, reluctant to accept the domination of your Empires, organized around a charismatic leader who acts in a repressive way to his people. Given his behaviour, it is odd that that their leaders often seem to be more loved by many than you are, despite the poverty that their arrogant rejection of your supremacy has brought. Such countries often have the effrontery to try to arm themselves with weapons. These weapons, to add to the seriousness of their crimes, were often given to them in an earlier period when they were your friends and they now refuse to destroy at your request. Or they come from your very own arms dealers by way of intermediaries, and they have the temerity to say that having paid good money to you for them, they should be allowed to keep them.