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In my universe, planets function like nations, and although travel is possible between them, the number of people who travel between planets is fairly low. Additionally, while broadcasts from other planets exist, most citizens of a planet do not generally preoccupy themselves with the status/news of other planets.

The current problem is that a nation, Nation X, has begun to perform secret takeovers of governments on other planets. This takeover project has been in place for around ten years. Methods of takeover have been to first gather information on governments and government leaders, then to either coerce the current leaders into bending to their will, or if failing, imprisoning or killing leaders and replacing them with individuals from Nation X. Citizens in nations that have been taken over are unaware of a takeover, and only notice that their travel and communications seem to be more restricted.

My question is, what would be a motivating factor for Nation X? Why would Nation X do this?

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    $\begingroup$ Bananas - they may seem trivial but history shows nothing more sophisticated is needed. $\endgroup$ – Adrian Colomitchi Mar 29 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ It's much less expensive than a physical invasion, and they can then hand Nation X better trade deals. Perhaps for bananas. $\endgroup$ – NomadMaker Mar 29 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ All nefarious conspiracies of this sort tend to come to light rapidly...it's always in somebody's interest to betray the puppeteers. Except, of course (eyes narrow and shift side-to-side; voice lowers to a conspiratorial whisper), when the puppeteer is Major League Baseball. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Mar 29 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ Banana republic. United Fruit Corporation. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 29 at 7:15
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The exact details are up to you as the writer of the story.

  • Military Strategy
    They want a "friendly" refueling and repair base somewhere. Overtly sending troops (either as conquest or as "military aid") would betray that there is a base.
  • Galactic Public Opinion
    There are interstellar news and public opinion matters, e.g. when it comes to trade and diplomatic relations to third parties. Conquest gives a planet a bad name, but having their political and social system emulated "voluntarily" impresses people. Think back to the Cold War, and the various backwater dictatorships which claimed to be Communist or Capitalist when it was all a raw power play.
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Money, Power & Resources

Exactly like what happens on Earth now

China is the modern example. They buy politicians in any country they can to represent their own interests. They "loan" money for projects and buy up infrastructure. People who speak out against them get repercussions. False stories are spread via the media to be pro China and against anyone anti China

America and Russia are no better and in previous times it was England, France, Spain and Portugal.

The more we change, the more we stay the same.

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