Here’s a bedtime story.

Imagine China is the world’s biggest superpower. (It will be one day anyway.)

Imagine one day the Chinese government decides it doesn’t like the way America is being run. It decides that capitalist so-called democracy doesn’t suit its vision of the world. Imagine it’s annoyed with the way the American government interferes with its economic plans and its trade ambitions. It quite likes the look of America’s assets, the wealth and resources of that country. It likes the geographical location too, the way it provides easy access to the resources of Canada and South America.

Imagine China doesn’t believe in America’s god. (It doesn’t.)

Imagine it starts a propaganda campaign in China to win over the people. It tells them all about America’s human rights abuses – every country has some to pull out of the bag – and whips up patriotic Chinese fervour for what it claims is China’s superior, freer way of life. It points to a recent terrorist atrocity in China, done by some extremist Westerners as revenge for what they think is brutal Chinese foreign policy in Christian countries, and it claims that this was undertaken by a powerful organised network of Christian fundamentalists. Despite the fact that all Western countries condemned the attack, including the countries the Western terrorists came from, the Chinese people believe this version of events. It tells the Chinese people that Christian fundamentalism is the biggest ever threat to world safety. It warns the world that unless it takes action, Christian terrorists are going to destroy everyone. It tells the Chinese that Christian fundamentalists hate them because they are free.

Imagine this expansionist project meets great resistance from the rest of the world, but China uses its vast size and influence to intimidate some countries into joining in. It uses its sophisticated media and diplomatic channels to decry and deride those nations who refuse to get involved, calling them part of an axis of evil, or spineless, or disloyal, or ungrateful for past help. It embarks on trade restrictions and economic blackmail, or thinly veiled threats of attack, to those countries who do not offer help.

Imagine it enlists those allies it has managed to win and invades America. It bombs the American people into submission, removes Bush from power, imprisons him and installs a puppet leader who will run the country and its terrified people exactly as the Chinese government order. It drops leaflets on Americans, in English, explaining that the Chinese are liberating them and that they must make no attempts to resist if they wish to live.

Imagine some outspoken American people say “We weren’t happy with Bush, that’s true. He locked people up without trial in Guantanamo Bay. He allowed torture to be a legitimate military technique. He imposed draconian new laws to restrict civil liberties. He changed our constitution to restrict states’ rights to govern themselves. He cut taxes for the rich, lost us jobs, increased our national debt, squandered our money on weapons of mass destruction and reduced access to welfare. Hell, he wanted to reverse some women’s rights and he imposed his religious beliefs on all of us. But you Chinese people can’t just march in here and take over our country. That’s not freedom. That’s dictatorship.”

Imagine that plea has no effect. The Chinese government says “This is for your own good. Comply or you will be destroyed.”

Imagine the Chinese military campaign devastates rural areas and cities alike with aerial bombs and expensive weapons systems, killing hundreds of thousands of American citzens, destroying buildings, hospitals, water supplies, and bridges. It sparks a wave of American fury but doesn’t care. It insists it is liberating ordinary Americans. “We are not your enemy”, it says. “We are freeing you from Bush’s evil grasp. You should be grateful.”

Imagine the Chinese war machine keeps going until it dominates the whole country. All except a couple of cities. Imagine one of those cities is Chicago.

Imagine that almost all of Chicago has evacuated in fear or been killed. A hardcore 10% of the population either refuse to leave, or can’t because they’re old, sick or incapacitated. Those remaining who are able-bodied decide they aren’t going to stand for the Chinese aggression. They are going to fight back.

Imagine the American resistance fighters in Chicago try everything they can to defend their city against the Chinese takeover. Some of them manage to steal some weapons and bombs while the Chinese army aren’t looking, and mount attacks on Chinese soldiers. These Americans are dying in large numbers but still refuse to give up. They intend to fight to the death for the cause they believe in, for American freedom and autonomy to run their country the way they see fit. They refuse to recognise the new Chinese-authorised American president and vow to rid America of their violent invaders.

Imagine they are so desperate they resort to suicide bomb attacks on Chinese soldiers. They are so maddened by the drive to save their people and city they’re prepared to guarantee their own deaths if it’ll take out just one or two or three of these violent occupiers in the process. Imagine how desperate a person has to be to consider that a worthwhile sacrifice.

Imagine the Chinese government pulls a few international strings, twists a few arms and secures extra troops from one of its allies. It plans an enormous campaign to devastate Chicago and crush the American resistance. It tells the world media “These Chicago insurgents are terrorists. These terrorists are using Chicago as their base. We need to rid the country of these evil terrorists so we can free it. We need to kill these terrorists to protect the American people. We need to destroy Chicago in order to save it.”

Imagine Kofi Annan, the leader of the UN, intervenes at this point, telling the Chinese government to cancel the invasion of Chicago, that its plans are inadvisable and destructive. The Chinese government replies “But we’re just following the orders of the new American president.” The world knows this is ridiculous, as the new American president is nothing more than a figurehead put in place by the Chinese themselves. But the world media don’t dare to speak out, because they’re owned by multinational corporations who have a vested interest in maintaining Chinese hegemony. So they report it from the Chinese angle regardless of their own misgivings, calling the American resistance fighters “terrorists” and “rebels” and “insurgents”. They say the Chinese soldiers are “just working to make America a better place, to guarantee the safety of the elections next spring”.

Imagine a large number of Chinese soldiers aren’t happy with the orders their leaders are giving. Whole regiments are convinced that they have been sent to fight an unjust war, that they are being used as pawns in the economic games of corrupt rich men. They watch their Chinese friends dying, watch American civilians and children dying, feeling in their hearts that the killing they are being asked to do is wrong. Great numbers of them become convinced they’re being lied to by their leaders, but have no way of refusing to act out their orders. So they have to go ahead with the campaign despite these misgivings, but they are deeply distressed about it.

Imagine the Chinese army bombards Chicago with bombs, bullets and bayonets. It even invades a Chicago hospital, tying up and blindfolding all the staff who surrender and killing anyone who doesn’t. The Chinese army turns off the Chicago power and water supplies for days at a time, to wear down the few surviving Americans. Disease and suffering is rife. The American leader imposes a curfew so no man between 15 and 55 can leave their homes between certain hours, effectively permitting the Chinese soldiers to shoot on sight any man they see walking outside, regardless of whether he poses a threat.

Imagine the Chicago resistance still refuse to give in. They keep fighting until they can’t fight any more. They do this because they believe they are fighting for America, for freedom, for Jesus, for their families, for what they believe is right. They refuse to give in until the Chinese occupation leaves their country, even though they know they don’t have a hope in hell of beating 20,000 troops. They are prepared to fight to the death.

Imagine all this is happening right now. Imagine this is real.

Are these Chicago citizens terrorists? Or freedom fighters?

Before we go to sleep tonight, let’s reflect on this and be glad it’s just fiction.

And be grateful we aren’t spending the night in Fallujah.