In the 22nd century, resource depletion is a serious problem, as most of whatever we had left has been stripped bare. A large multinational corporation, let's call them Deus X, is searching everywhere for Element X, a naturally occurring metal that they utilize in their weapons industry. Element X has been stripped bare in most of the world - except for a small sovereign nation in Eurasia. We'll call them Haven.

Execs from Deus have met with Haven leaders multiple times to get permission to extract Element X. But Havenites are essentially future hippies and love their nature and their landscapes, and they will not allow a full-scale strip mining of their land, even if it means missing out on economical benefits. Deus does not want the situation to escalate because they're an American company first and foremost, and Haven has allies with strong anti-American sentiments - could lead to a full-scale military situation.

So Deus contacts a rogue biochemist to develop a deadly bioweapon. Their plan is to release a controlled, slow-acting virus on the populace of Haven, which would incubate over a period of a couple of years, and slowly kill a large portion of the Haven population, seriously destabilizing their economy and infrastructure. At this point, Deus would very kindly offer to step in and help the nation economically. This would be their way of essentially grabbing a foothold of the nation at the political level, and then use their influence to remove any roadblocks into extracting Element X.

This is what I have so far. Is this something reasonable that an amoral, unethical corporation could do to get what they want, or is there a better, more efficient way of getting the Element X?

EDIT: The endpoint of this setting is that eventually this virus will break free of the bounds of Haven and cause a global pandemic - but for the time being, I'm just looking to see if this is a good way for Deus to get what they want or if they should explore other options.

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    $\begingroup$ Viruses are pretty much not interested in human concepts such as borders. There is no such thing as a Romanian virus, or a Belarussian virus, or a Kazakh virus. You cannot infect a large portion of the population of Romania, or Belarus, or Kazakhstan without also infecting a large number of people elsewhere, because viruses do not care about citizenship. Hello global pandemic. (And in real life there are very few, if any, mineral resources which are available in just one country; examples exist, but none of them is particularly expensive. And there is no metal available from only one source.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ Funny you should mention a global pandemic because that's actually exactly what I'm eventually going for haha. The infection of Haven will eventually lead to a global pandemic. Good call on that - I'm going to edit it in for future responses $\endgroup$
    – Faz
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget to consider that your "rogue biochemist" will be fully aware of the fact that their project will result in a global pandemic. It will come as no surprise to them. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ "doesn't want to escalate" .... "develop a deadly bioweapon" . I'd hate to see what they'd do if they DO want to escalate... $\endgroup$
    – Nanne
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 10:28
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 16:30

9 Answers 9


Multinational corporations have been in the business of bending unwilling nations to their corporate will to allow for the extraction of resources, for a very long time now.

They have a considerable arsenal of tools at their disposal to bring even the most unwilling nation to heel.

Diplomacy and soft power: It's an American corporation, so surely the resources of the US government can be brought to bear. Element X is needed for armaments. The US defence forces will be their biggest customer.

Funding political parties and factions hostile to the current government. Fostering good relations with Haven's business community. There's more than a buck to be made, so they'll be on board.

Jobs and employment: Make promises of how good this will be for the economy of Haven. Deus X will be lying through its teeth about this. Mining operations having heavily automated in the 21st century. But this can be sold to the government, media, political dissenters, anti-green groups, and the upper classes of Haven.

Mining royalties can go to help fund a better, more laid-back, pro-hippie way of life for Haven's citizens. Another lie, but, hey!, it sounds good. Don't forget to finance economic and business studies that definitely prove mining element X will be good for Haven.

Plain old-fashioned corruption. Grease a few palms and you'd be surprised how helpful some people can become.

Publicity and propagation. The media loves good news stories especially when someone else is sponsoring it. Buy advertising in newspapers, online and on whatever broadcast media remains in the 22nd century.

When all else fails, persuade those nice folks in Washington, DC, that the vile, corrupt, socialist dictatorship running Haven needs to be overthrown and replaced by a more pro-American, business-friendly regime. This should be easy. Being re-elected is an expensive business, any generous donations are always needed. Really! Also, politicians in democratic countries can be bought surprisingly cheaply.

In conclusion, waging biological warfare to overthrow an unwilling government is too difficult, dangerous, and ineffective. The old-fashioned ways of fixing them work best. Besides, most multinational corporations have had a century or two under their belts in doing this. Everything they need is probably already in the corporate handbook. They just need to carry out their time-honored procedures. Shares of the stock exchange for element X will go through the proverbial roof.

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    $\begingroup$ The first few paragraph pretty much describe "Clean coal jobs" campaign president Donald Trump was pushing in the United States. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ "for a very long time" - The Hanseatic League in the 14th-17th century weren't exactly a modern multinational corporation, but they were probably more like that than anything else. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinBonnersupportsMonica Standard operation procedure of the Hanseatic League: League to King: You don't want give us a tax-free port and waive the import/export tariffs? We do hope you realize where most of the food in your kingdom comes from... Would be a shame if anything were to happen to those grain imports.... $\endgroup$
    – Tonny
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ Just as an example, we have cases of smaller governments getting violently overthrown to facilitate the interests of first-world banana exporters; doing the same for a really important resource (Element X probably is comparable to oil in importance) would surprise noone. $\endgroup$
    – Peteris
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ You forgot about using CIA to stage a coup to install pre-bribed government. $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 9:02
  • Obvious naming aside, this is an awful insane movie styles plan. Honestly. The more complicated the plan is the more likely it will fail.

  • Also you can't, not in a million years, cover up something as this. It will be known within a matter of weeks and oh boy are you in trouble.

  • That is also a huge huge diplomatic crisis. Imagine England finding out that an French company was just making a virus that will kill a few million Brits for resources. Yep.

  • How to control the virus? How long will it take? How much to spend? Can it mutate? Can Haven control it?

  • Won't Haven be just a little tiny bit suspicious?

  • Why is that evil company is the only company interested in that resource? Like you just said they have the last deposits. So not only will the evil company be interested. But also every single company. Also: EVERY SINGLE NATION!

Real answers? Boring political maneuvering...

  • A coup is always a popular choice. Set up a military dictatorship supported by your money and you literally bought them. They can survive for a long or a short period depending on the context. But they are a solid choice for the starting evil company. Thought expect a lot of bad publicity especially if your dictator is inclined to the more insane and cruel stuff. But This is just a basic simple idea. There are always an aspiring dictator and military coups are a reality.

  • Another popular choice is manipulating the society. Since you already said they are willing to wait for years they might as will do it right. Buying political figures, buying the media, buying the elected officials, buying the scientists and syndicates, basically putting the important people on the payroll. Then even if 70 of the population are still not convinced. You already control the state and they will pass the laws.

  • Get them to need the darn thing. Then they will be begging you to come mine it and refine it and sell it to them.

Basically anything that does it go into the insane evil corporation plan.

  • $\begingroup$ All these, but taking into account that the non-American opposition's equivalent of Deus X is doing exactly the same thing. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 11:49

A virus is way too risky of a weapon for a corporation to sensibly use. If that virus ends up on American shores and gets traced back to the company, the American government would shut down Deus in an instant.

A much better strategy would be to do what companies do in real life: use their immense resources of money to buy the support of powerful people. Bribery can convince some people in Haven to support their plan, and it can also convince Haven's allies to abandon it. Deus can buy enough politicians in America to push the country into war or sanctions against Haven, at which point striking a deal with the company might seem less painful than the alternatives.

  1. Destabilize. A stable nation is harder to influence. You want some chaos (you don't need to break down society, but you wouldn't mind ethnic or political violence)

  2. Influence. Start investing in media that they consume. Get ahold of the nation's eyeballs and ears.

  3. Proxy. Create proxy organizations within the nation that owe you. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, so it doesn't matter if not all of them are faithful. These are "local" organizations that are not directly connected to you.

Then shake, and stir, and repeat. Your goal is to keep rolling dice until someone who is your proxy gets control of the government. Then use that proxy to get your foot in the door.

They are hippie nature lovers? Some angles of attack.

  1. Back a movement unhappy with the hippie nature loving thing.

  2. Back a movement that says that we should support nature globally even if it hurts nature locally.

  3. Back highly divisive people within the "hippie" movement.

You now have proxies on the left and the right of the mainstream "hippie" party(ies), and you are weakening the mainstream party.

Those are all "direct"; indirect attacks are also great. Suppose there is a gun-rights organization? They'll make great proxies; you can get them to trade permitting mining rights for right to own SAMs. Because you fundamentally don't care about SAMs. Or do they want the right to create clones and copy their memories into the clones? Sure, you'll sell anything for the right to open mines.

Take any niche issue, and shove proxies at it, and undermine the social consensus. Have your "main" proxies be willing to compromise anything in exchange for letting the miners in.

Be dishonest about your plans. Get a foot in the door in an organization that isn't about strip mining to be in position for when the rest of the system falls into place.

Attacking with viruses or the like isn't going to be about "they'll welcome us to deal with the problem". You'd use it to destabilize and randomize their politics more. Discredit the ruling coalition in order to allow a rival one to take over.


The plan is frankly insane, but I can see a way to make it sort of plausible.

Step one. The leader of the corporation was already a sociopath, but Has slipped into both Narcissism and maybe a little paranoia. How dare those hippies deny him. He decides to play a long game, but no longer has the patience for something more sure, sane, and that would take longer.

Step 2. The leader of the corp has gotten a hold of all the data from the old 23andme service.

Step 3. Haven has to be a largely homogeneous population, perhaps like Finland or in Norther Russia up near the Bering Strait. Someplace where nobody goes because it has unpleasant weather. Some other factors to make them hard to get to would be helpful, like natural barriers. In addition, the existence of the resource in that area has to be something very recent.

Step 4. The Corporation's leader decides, after negotiation fails, to use the data from the DNA database to identify markers that are mostly unique to the people of Haven. Since nobody really likes to go there, there is not going to be a lot of the population that does not have the marker in question in that location. The DNA marker is used to be a trigger for the tailored virus. He releases the virus across a very broad area, and it kills a significant portion of the population of Haven as planned, basically leaving only recent immigrants alive (for the time being)

Step 5. Here comes the trope. In the year or two between the virus getting released and Evil corp going in for the new resource, the virus begins to mutate. Just enough to be triggered by a similar DNA Marker. Maybe something that is common across the entire world population This way, anyone who has been to Haven and left would be carrying the virus, even if they don't show any symptoms. It spreads farther and farther and starts your world wide pandemic.

Just make sure the CEO of Evil Corp gets killed by the virus, or even better, by the antidote to the virus he created and kept for himself.

  • $\begingroup$ Alternatively, he might find that the DNA isn't reliable enough but orders his scientists to add something that "makes the d*mned virus activate only in Haven". The best that the scientists can come up with is some climate-specific thing - let's say, contagiousness is good enough only in a pretty narrow combination of temperature and humidity as found in Haven. The virus is released despite warnings (which get suppressed on the way up to the Evil Leader), a few years after distribution some mutation suppresses one of the conditions. Plot ensues. $\endgroup$
    – toolforger
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, pretty much. especially since bringing bad news to the evil leader might get you dropped in the tank that has sharks with freaking Lasers on their heads $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 14:10

Realistically, they would just use money to get what they want. If Haven doesn't want to grant a permit to Deus X, Deus X might just offer a high price for Element X and wait for some domestic Havenite mining corporation to extract the element itself and sell it to them. Or perhaps Deus X might invest in a domestic corporation, or form a joint venture with one, ensuring their access to the supply but having locals nominally in charge. If Haven won't allow ugly strip-mining, then you employ a more expensive mining method that makes less of a mess (again, using money to solve the problem). You also invest in corporate social responsibility initiatives, running commercials about how many trees you're planting, etc.

A few years in, the local communities in Haven will be somewhat "hooked" on the benefits of the deal: new jobs, new technology and infrastructure, export revenue, tax revenue, etc., and at that point Deus X can renegotiate for better terms. Basically, they play a long-term game and gradually shape the playing field to their advantage.


Using Legal shenanigans and Hydraulic Fracturing

First off, the company wants to stay in the legal graces of both its parent country (the US) and it’s potential hosts in the EU. So the first issue to tackle is how does Deus X get the rights to the resources? Here are a couple of options.

  • After World War 3, the country of Haven is created by a “radically peaceful” sect of the EU. They seem peace and harmony with the Earth (or whatever motivations you give them) but respect the prior existing land-ownership policies. Many places around the world handle Mineral Rights and Land rights as separate systems. For example, here in Texas, it’s pretty uncommon for a landowner to own the rights to the subsurface minerals. Assuming the EU has a similar policy in the year 23xx, your company Deus X simply has to purchase the mineral rights from the proper parties. This does NOT however grant them rights to create mines and such on the surface. More on this later.

  • After the 3rd Great War, the mineral rights were entirely overlooked in the treaties that established the new country of Haven. Deus X could make a strong case that the former country(Germany or whatever) was the sole owner of the rights and thereby has the ability to sell the mineral rights to the company in an attempt to undermine(literally) the power of their neighbor.

After obtaining the rights

Now that your corporation has exclusive mineral rights to the land, they will face intense backlash from the public. It will be incredibly difficult for them to find a willing landowner to buy/lease the property for their mine. This is where unconventional drilling and horizontal wells comes into play.

Haven’s hostile neighbor is all-to-willing to lease you all the well pad space that you need. Deus X simply needs to drill down into the area of their mineral rights, and begin drilling horizontally under Haven’s land. Current technology allows us to drill nearly a mile horizontally, but there’s not much of a reason your “Future Technology” can’t extend indefinitely (so long as you have the horsepower at the well pad).

Once you’ve got your big long hole, throw some perforating explosives down there to make some cracks in the rocks, and start pumping fluid and sand in the hole. The fluid gets into the new cracks and expands them significantly, the sand gets into the small secondary cracks and gets stuck, keeping the fluid passageways open. Drain the fluid, and pump it full of an advanced solvent. Maybe a biological and enzyme solvent that targets Element X, leaving the surrounding rock-structure intact. Once the now-saturated fluid is out, you extract Element X and build bombs to your hearts content.

Sorry for poor formatting, typed in a rush on mobile. Will format better later.


Look to Kuwait in the 1980s: they sank oil wells on their side of the border and then directionally drilled under the border of Kuwait. Do the same here, except with mining equipment.


Read the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman [A].

Basically, using your example, the process is:

  1. You want Element X, and Eurasia has it
  2. Contact leaders of Eurasia. Offer to develop infrastructure (roads, railways, seaports). You will make them a first-world country, leading the way into the 23rd century.
  3. They can't afford it, but you're happy to loan them the money. Be sure to set interest at a level that they will be unable to repay.
  4. Sweeten the deal; fly the leaders around the world, to sample the good life.
  5. Build promised infrastructure, and be sure to make some nice roads leading to the mining areas.
  6. Eurasia eventually defaults on loans, and they are to blame... defaulting on a loan is unconscionable.
  7. Foreclose on investment. Possibly appeal to God about how debts must be repaid.
  8. Mine Element X on your new land.

Sadly, this is true.

A. https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/dp/0452287081/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2XPM3VLSIV526&keywords=confessions+of+an+economic+hitman+by+john+perkins&qid=1572963877&sprefix=Confessions+of+an+%2Caps%2C-1&sr=8-2


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