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Supposedly one were to amass 1 trillion Euro, how does one bring the most powerful nation in the world today to its knee in the shortest period of time possible? Best answer with the shortest time to shut down the government for good wins.

PS: kindly be reminded to state the TIME frame for your plan and be as realistic as possible within the budget, and be sure to read through all answers to prevent duplicate.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Hohmannfan, March Ho, Frostfyre, MichaelK Sep 8 '16 at 20:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ The most powerful nation is the US, with a population of 320 million. Your €1 trillion is thus only a bit over €3,000 per person, and is unlikely to be enough. They can out-spend you by a factor of 10 or more if the survival of their nation is at stake. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Sep 8 '16 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ @user6760 What do you mean by "gov shutdown for good"? The territory that government used to govern never has a government again? The people it used to govern are never governed again? And their descendants? To how many generations? Or just that particular government is dissolved, which happens all the time in democracies anyway. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Sep 8 '16 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ You don't have to do anything, really. The current government in the US will shut down in 4 months, then there will be a new one. $\endgroup$ – Jörg W Mittag Sep 8 '16 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ This question wasnt tagged with anything to make it realistic so I recommend reading the manga Akumetsu ... all you need is a month or so and a human cloning plant and you can shake the very core of a political nation it seems $\endgroup$ – Mr.Burns Sep 8 '16 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ Note that the USA federal budget alone is already around 4 trillion (2016). The federal + state + local budget is more than 6 trillion. Actually, the federal expenditures of USA, China, Germany, France, Italy and UK are each over 1 trillion. Just to show that the largest 6 counties in the world have a bigger budget than you have... Adding a zero or two might help... ;-) $\endgroup$ – agtoever Sep 8 '16 at 15:42

17 Answers 17

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What you're looking for is not really hard to achieve. You got a trillion euro. Just find a very very very dumb guy, with the worst political ideas ever. You use your money to build around him a strong political party with the best advisors you can find. You then corrupt some people, pay assassins to kill some others and you make that guy the head of state of that country. Then since he obeys you, you just need to make sure he will fire the most competent people in its administration to replace them with the worst you can find. That's it, you managed to put that country on its knees.

Of course that powerful country will still look powerful, but if you choose your stupid head of state wisely, it will ruin the diplomacy, losing its allies one by one, then he'll make some mistakes leading to tensions with its neighbours. Then if because of one of his mistakes a war breaks out, that powerful country would have the worst generals ever to deal with it, thus losing, most likely.

On an economic level the same thing would happen, if that guy is really an idiot and its advisers too, then he'll make the worst political choices ever.

Stuff like that already happened in our history. There are plenty of guys who ruined their countries with bad ideas. For that you need to make sure your guy has almost unlimited freedom for enacting silly policies. Then you need to make sure he can't learn from his own silliness. Perhaps by just switching the idiot in power each 5 years, to make sure it'll always be dumb guys ruling the country. If you don't do that, at one point or another your poor silly guy will learn and try to do good things. And perhaps succeed.

It's a matter of time before people get totally sick of that. Depending on the targeted country it could take a few years or a few centuries before they just decide to get rid of any sort of government. Some can have enormous strikes just when one guy tries to enact a new law, just because it displease some people, in such country it'll not be that hard. In the one where people never reacts when their government do shit, I guess it'll need a lot more time.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the general concept but few governments these days are controlled enough by a single person to really allow this scheme to work, (otherwise the US would be in even worse shape... & Britain & ... well most countries that occasionally or frequently 'elect' a bad Prime Minister/President). Try funding a military coup with your idiot @ it's head. $\endgroup$ – MER Sep 8 '16 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @MER For sure it doesn't work always that way, especially with just one... But repeat it several times and it'll work :p And sometimes just one is enough. Just take the good one, silly enough to have very bad industrial policies, and mad enough to execute half of the competent officers in the army and that's it. Even though some people might think I'm thinking about a certain Trump, I'm mostly thinking of a certain J. Stalin, who did a ton of shit with his country, before somehow managing to do something after learning the "How to rule your Rodina" tutorial for 20 years. $\endgroup$ – Kaël Sep 8 '16 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ How does this answer the question? Sure, it will f*** up the country really badly. But how will it "shut down the government for good"? A messed up country doesn't mean there will be no government. There will just be a much less effective, terrible government, but still a government. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw Sep 8 '16 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaël Ah, Stalin was impressive in his insanity/stupidity. From what I've gleaned over the years he took a country that had the military capabilities to destroy Germany to one that was just OK @ resisting (let alone the fact that he killed around 20million of his own people). I suspect this is much easier for one man to do in a communist government... but in a 'democracy' (read Oligarchy) as most of the western world is, your point plus rinse & repeat should work too. So good point :) $\endgroup$ – MER Sep 8 '16 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ Just find a very very very dumb guy, with the worst political ideas ever. I got one. His name is Donald Trump. Let's take out China! $\endgroup$ – RudolfJelin Sep 15 '16 at 16:55
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Eliminate the need for government

"To summarize the summary of the summary: people, are a problem." — Douglas Adams, on the issue of governing people

There is only one way you can get rid of government and that is if you take away the need for there to be government. We do not have government just for fun. Government exists for the following reason:

  1. We, the people, have certain basic needs that we demand be fulfilled
  2. The resources needed to fulfill our, the people's, needs are finite and scarce, and therefore need careful distributing
  3. We, the people, are a lazy bunch that do not want to do that tedious job of distributing the resources ourselves

If you want to get rid of government, you must solve any or all of the above points. Until you have done that, we will have government.

And if you thought that causing trouble will cause government to go away you are sorely mistaken. Because one of those basic needs that I mentioned in point 1 is "Keep trouble away from my doorstep".

Now if you figure out a way to solve points 1, 2 and 3 with a trillion Euro, kindly let us know. Because both we, the people, and politicians all over the world have been trying that for millennia... politicians in particular, so they can finally go do something more fun with their time instead of being constantly bashed by us, the people, for doing a service that we demand.

So in short I am answering you: it cannot be done, not for a trillion Euro. You asked for a realistic time schedule. Well the time required to achieve what you want is "So far: the entire time span of governed human civilization, and still counting..."

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Sep 10 '16 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Six down-votes now. Care to comment too so I can look over the answer, if needed? $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 11 '16 at 8:36
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Go to the financial sector.

  • Buy most or all utility companies and hire the most inept operations managers you can find. Give them unreasonable profit goals that can only be met by cutting corners and stopping maintenance. Don't allocate any funds for technical training. Sell all spares which are 'surplus to projected requirements' -- that is, all of them.
  • Buy a couple of high-tech companies and transfer their intellectual property to subsidiaries abroad. Then spin them off.
  • Buy a few big, well-connected banks.
  • Buy lots and lots of financial instruments that will bring a profit if the economy goes bust in a couple of months. By itself, that isn't too bad -- if you bet against the target state, someone else is betting for it. But the sudden flurry of interest in these instruments will let the markets notice. They will think that you know something they don't know ...
  • Just before the blackout happens (and you're in a position to predict it) buy lots of credit default swaps with different strawmen. It looks as if the market has lost confidence.
  • Once there is the blackout, have the traders in your banks sell all their assets in the target country. Try and buy foreign currency even at unfavorable rates.

Lean back and watch the panic. Most simplified market theories assume perfect knowledge and rationality by all actors, yet in practice people make profits if they know or guess things faster than other traders.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 because this is not stating how it is meant to bring down the government, nor does it make the people permanently disband the idea of government. This is just aimed at bringing about chaos. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 8 '16 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ Also, usually governments keep a close eye on who owns strategic companies (including utilities), so you'would at least need to disguiss the origin of the funds and proceed very slowly. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Sep 8 '16 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKarnerfors Yup, this is aimed at bringing chaos. Wasn't the question about "bringing down the most powerfull nation" ? It is. $\endgroup$ – Kaël Sep 8 '16 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaël No, it was explicitly about bringing down government "for good". $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 8 '16 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKarnerfors Yeah for sure. Then it's not good enough and that answer definitely deserved to get trashed. It deserved it more than you own answer which just states "no it can't" which doesn't answers the question either. $\endgroup$ – Kaël Sep 8 '16 at 15:07
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50 low grade nuclear dirty bombs, ship them in on your own boat to an unregulated section of cost, give them to your 50 agents, have them then proceed to the 50 most densely populated cities. In the US, this would affect a minimum of 48,000,000 people displacing them.

You then have a government that has 15% of its population on the move which it now needs to feed without its main points of distribution. Also, bonus points you have affected all the major government bases from which they would try to organise from.

This will lead to lots and lots of shanty towns and people turning to crime.

Dirty bombs do not fade quickly dependent on the material used, but their yield and technology required is limited to regular explosives.

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    $\begingroup$ Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. Your plan requires far too many people to be kept secret, and obviously fails if it's discovered in advance. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Sep 8 '16 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeScott easy fix don't tell anyone, buy the uranium in bulk for power purposes, use a small team to build the bomb in isolation, then kill them. Again not telling people why they have been executed. Then don't tell the agents what they're doing, maybe even don't tell them what they're carrying or you could reduce the number of agents and add timers to the bombs, having them visit mutliple cities. $\endgroup$ – Chris J Sep 8 '16 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeScott I am assuming some kind of absolute dictator style regime here $\endgroup$ – Chris J Sep 8 '16 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ You can't make a dirty bomb with uranium -- it's not dirty enough. You need more radioactive isotopes with shorter half-lives that are harder to come by. (I'm assuming here that you mean a bomb that uses conventional explosives to scatter radioactive materials; if you want an actual nuclear explosion than you have many other problems. Just ask Iran.) $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Sep 8 '16 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeScott: You can make a dirty bomb by building a nuke that doesn't quite work. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Jan 11 at 21:36
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Not pointing to any nation here, make your our assumption on which nation is the most powerful.

The naive approach is to kill the leader of the nation. Which will be easily replaced, because there is a succesor in line or a "vice-leader" appointed.

Let's say you kill the leader and all known succesors. The goverment would proably become parlamentary - if at all, for long enough to find a successor or organize elections.

So, at least you have to kill the leader, all ministers, and all members of the congress/parlament/senate. If we can pick the date, we would choose the appropiate time to get the majority of them in session and assault or bomb the location.


There are two treats still: regional or local represantives of the people and the military. There have been historical cases in which the top military leaders take the control of the goverment when the administrative power fails - that also means that if you are the leader of the army, you can do what's mentioned above and become dictator, but we are not talking about that.

What I propose is to play the leaders and the military by destroying infraestructure and keep people busy with local problems for long enough for the nation to effectively split.

You want to destroy main roads (interstate highways or equivalent), so that road transportation is innefective nation wide. The objective is to cause shortage, which they would supply by air, of course, there still airports.

You also want to destroy - if at all possible - all public electric plants. You want national backout! Why? because it is a very effective way to cut long distance communications, so the local goverments (governors and mayors) can't coordinate. Also this means mostly no entertainment, refrigeration ceasing to work for most people, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria! This will push them to get out (Except preppers, there are preppers. They don't go out, they go inside)

Now, we know people, soon enough they will be trying to steal stuff from supermarkets and similar comercial stabishments. And the local govermet and local military will be busy dealing with that.

This is why I imagine they will say, either by emergency broadcast, or just with megaphones on the streets:

People, please calm down! The reason for the lack of electricity was a terrorist attack to the XYZ electric plant. We assure you that the situation is under control. We are investigating the transportits situation. Please remain at home. We don't know when the electricity service will be able to resume. Meanwhile we advice to stock on non-perishible foods. Thank you.

Rebuilding electric plants, bidges and highways can't be done fast enough. And assuming the local goverments manage to keep the situation under control and fix the food supply... they will be operating decentralized. They would be - from an administrative point of view - independent nations. This is what I mean by "split".


As for the time frame... all the destruction must be coordinated as to happen in the same day. But the time consumming part will be preparing it all. You need an small army to deply explosives to tear down the infraestructure across the nation - the bigger the nation, the harder it is - and it will most likely cause enough noise as to have intelligency agencies behind you.


And then international aid comes... How did they now? Well, if the most powerful nation goes off the grid, people notice. In particular international flights will find airports without electricity. Besides there are electric generators and satellites.

And with international aid, people are rallied toghether and a new goverment is stablished (I wonder if it will be a single nation). The End.

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  • $\begingroup$ Its hard to assassinate everyone in the chain. I mean, you could always be a group that goes down the list of people heir to the presidency, to find the only one left is the Secretary of Education, and she might be pretty good at it. And I guarantee you that the Cylons spent more than a trillion dollars would of resources managing that coup. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Sep 8 '16 at 18:53
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Probably Guerrilla warfare. Financing extremist that will cause as much panic and civil unrest as possible. Bombing and denying as much major services as possible, electricity, phones, internet etc. Hiring hackers and buying servers to DDOS important government sites and to spread fear and propaganda. Hiring assassins to directly target government figures.

You should continue until they either enforce more and more strict laws to the point of being police state and people getting sick and overthrowing the government or give them the ultimatum that you will not stop until the government resign.

edit: You can try adding to that corrupting politician and trying to find weapons of mass destruction, not necessary bombs but maybe deadly viruses. With that amount of money you can probably research your own program.

edit the second: It's difficult to make an estimate because there are many variables. But let's say you will need at least a month or two to find the right people. You should not do anything directly and only hire crazy people and pay them a lot of money. Give it another two months to set up as best as possible. Find weapons, bombs set up people in as many places and cities as possible. Then if you go all out with everything you got, try starting with assassinating as much political figures as possible. Then the bombing and all out terrorist attacks.

Now the most wild part depending on how much damage you cause and if you can keep it up as frequent as possible, let's say mass shooting, bombing and spreading misinformation through the media as possible. Six months to a year seems reasonable amount of time before things start getting really out of control for the government. And that is without finding some mass virus and exploiting it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget to sabotage the higher quality media. You can safely ignore hysterical yellowpress and the like (as whey will actually help you spread panic) $\endgroup$ – Burki Sep 8 '16 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ Of course and to spread propaganda against the government and to cause fear among to population to the point where they fell the government is responsible for all the killing you are doing. $\endgroup$ – STARGATEBG Sep 8 '16 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Make sure you state the time needed to accomplish it, give a realistic estimation. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Sep 8 '16 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ Another -1 because this is not stating how it is meant to bring down government permanently. Also this tactic — "Hey, let's be complete b*stards towards the people because that will really make the people hate government and not us" has been tried — and failed — by terror organisations since times immemorial. In 3 days the whole world will be remembering the most spectacular of those failed attempts. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 8 '16 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ If you start financing terrorism operations at a large scale then you're going to get noticed and caught pretty quickly, certainly before you've spent your trillion. $\endgroup$ – Qwerky Sep 8 '16 at 11:20
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Use your money to destroy the government's currency. Most governments these days issue fiat money. This means money that only has value because vendors perceive it as having value. This situation is stable under normal circumstances, but it can be destabilized pretty quickly by events that cause people to doubt the future value of the currency.

By engaging in suitable buying and selling of the currency in question, you can cause an apparent instability in the currency. This may cost a lot, or it may actually bring in more money. It depends.

Once a government's money is destabilized, the destabilization of the government itself will be done by either the people or the power structures within the country. There are a few examples from history, although these were not the result of intentional sabotage.

If this is going to work at all, it should work in less than 90 days.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, just do what Bear Stearns did but bigger. Takes a little while though. $\endgroup$ – Xplodotron Sep 8 '16 at 14:00
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The easiest way to destroy the US is through triggering 3 or 4 things. There is a massive shelf on the african continent that is really close to falling into the ocean. When it does it will hit the US east coast with a massive tsunami. On the west coast, all you need to do is invest in figuring out how to trigger the San Andreas fault line and/or triggering the Super Volcano under Yellowstone.

If that isn't enough for you, you can also blow up a large swathe of the middle of the US by lighting the Butane reserves that are under high pressure and very explosive in the mid south. Doing so would blow a long chunk out of the US expanding the Gulf of Mexico almost to Northern most reaches of the US. Triggering these things, which may in fact trigger each other anyways would eliminate the US as a functional government with no hopes of recovering.

the best case scenario would be that there might not be an instant wipeout of a small area, but that area would have no industrial, economic, military, aggricultural, or any other base to last very long, if at all beyond a very short amount. In a century or 2 the US might be livable again, but probably not.

And I am pretty sure you could do these all for under a trillion Euro, probably under $100k. The problem is the US is a industrial, economic, military, and aggricultural powerhouse and as such people want to prevent this or slowly take it over, not instantly wipe it out, because doing so will only do damage to everyone, maybe not on the scale, but still a lot of damage. Also, these are environmental catastrophese that wouldn't just affect the US. It would kill possibly billions and even eventually the entire ecosystem of the world...

We can 100% do 3 of these things which are more recoverable and less a total knockout than the 4th... That 4th one, I'd think could be figured out fairly easily. It's just we put our research into figuring out how to stop it from happening, not how to trigger it, so we haven't done that research... at least not publicly. I wouldn't put it past all governments to have invested into figuring it out, either as a way to figure out how to stop it, or figuring out how to do it as a strike against the US and the US's allies.

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Nothing too drastic needed. Attack the institution that governs the markets and everything else. The government.

In terms of the USA, use your trillions to put Socialist politicians in Congress. Make sure they are true believers. Eventually, the Supreme Court justices are replaced by Socialists which helps the death spiral. Once the government is under Socialist control, destruction of the government and misery of the people is guaranteed. The people will vote for the politicians that give them the most stuff. Once the Socialists are in power, they stay in power.

The reason this works is that the Socialist ideology works at cross purposes to the benefit of the individuals who must live under it. The more productive people balk, and the government responds by creating a police state.

Foolish financial policy created by agenda-driven politics guarantees complete destruction.

For larger, richer countries, this will take about 60 years. But the destruction of the government is inevitable.

Examples are Venezuela, The Soviet Union, and China. The former is currently burning. The USSR destroyed itself and split apart into its component countries. China was heading there but embraced capitalism for its people as long as the people let the politicians run amok. Counter examples are... None. There are no successful Socialist governments.

EDIT - disasters and military options do not work as the survivors simply re-implement the same government they had before. Sure, we could somehow create tidal wave and then have another country swoop in and kill the survivors, but that's hardly in the spirit of the question. "Kill all 300,000,000 of them" isn't much of an answer.

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    $\begingroup$ For non-US readers, I'm assuming that "Socialist" can be taken to be synonymous with "totalitarian communist", in other words it's a constitutional change? In the meaning of the word used in the UK, the assertion "there are no successful Socialist governments" is difficult to sustain, since various more-or-less socialist political parties are more-or-less successful at different times in different places, and frequently are voted out when their runs of success end. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 8 '16 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveJessop Correct. I am clearly speaking of Soviet-style Socialism. There is a difference between a socialist political party and what I am speaking of, though it is perhaps a matter of degree. I wouldn't include the world totalitarianism because it is redundant; Socialism can only survive in a totalitarian state. $\endgroup$ – Tony Ennis Sep 8 '16 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ Well, everything's a matter of degree when you start looking for it to be one. Some feel that redistributive taxation is the thin end of the wedge, others feel that it's the state issuing a currency ;-) $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 8 '16 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ You need to get 40 people on your side. The president, 5 supreme court justices, and 34 senators. The president can rule by decree, the court can affirm that the president has not exceeded his powers, and the 34 senators can sustain vetoes and block impeachment. $\endgroup$ – Walter Mitty Sep 8 '16 at 14:05
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Homefront(videogame) try that with north korea revolution, to do that just throw a nuke(or advanced heavy radiation machine on a sub-atomic level) every 3 months in space above that country and let them fry all microchips batteries and computers they have; it will generate caos "to its knee" in every civilized country based on digital information and electronic distribution of resources.

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  • $\begingroup$ You miss the time frame, how long until the government gives it up? $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Sep 8 '16 at 19:04
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Two words:

Beltway sniper

Now multiply that by whatever you can afford to pay people with your trillion dollars.

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You clarified in a comment:

gov shutdown for good, it's that simple I don't need casualties if possible but since time is of the essence I don't care about humanity anymore.

For good? You're asking for the most powerful nation in the world to be in anarchy forever? This is simply impossible. In political science, the reason for this is something called a power vacuum. Simply put, it means that the moment you remove one type of government, something else is going to replace it. It may be a nice new democracy. It may be a rowdy bunch of people with rocket launchers, stolen tanks and AK47s. It may be a clever, brutal, well organized dictator. But it's going to be someone.

In the history of humanity, has there ever been a region with a population of more than 1000 people completely without any sort of government? No. Why? Because the moment there is no government, someone (usually someone with weapons, or someone popular) is going to step in and take power.

The country may split into parts, civil war may ravage the nation, hundreds of groups may kill and slaughter each other, but eventually, someone's going to win. And the result is going to be a nation (or possibly, several new nations) with some form of government.

It is utterly impossible to have a large nation left in anarchy forever.

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I think the only possible way to bring that nation down is to cut short their supply as No nation can grow itself without taking any help. Basically the point is to make some sanctions on the Nation so that Nation would suffer financial crisis due to which it'll face Unemployment and would see the high inflation and at last it will come under recession. The country will be doomed in itself no one has to even interfere in that Nation.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. Please note that the OP specifically asks answers to include a time frame in which the method should/would work. If you would edit your post to include this information, I'm sure the community would appreciate it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 8 '16 at 12:11
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It Depends on the Country in Question

More on why your solution depend son the country you want to destabilize in a minute. Before we get into that, I want to make two key points:

Point 1: Force is Out

You will not take down any major government with force. Dirty bombs/terrorism/etc. will not take out any major government - it will, if anything, have the opposite effect. Look at France as a recent example - after terrorist attacks, police power was significantly increased with the full support of a majority of its citizens. When attacked, people dig deeper to protect themselves.

Point 2: Conspiracies Rarely Work Out

Plotting with other people rarely works out. Take a look at this research to see how quickly conspiracies unravel as more people are brought in. So big plots involving 50+ people trying to blow things up or assassinate people are out. You should plan on having to do everything yourself, which likely removes assassinations and any other 'wet work'.

Solution A: Get Yourself Elected (see requirements)

Time Frame: ~5-8 Years

This solution requires that you are a native citizen of the country you wish to take over. Foreigners may be allowed to run in the federal elections of whatever country you are targeting, but you will simply never win. Also the target country can't be China or any other nation that does not have real elections, for obvious reasons.

With 1Tn in reserves this should be trivially simple. The US elections are the most expensive in the world, but the record spent is still just over 1Bn, a mere thousandth of what you can bring to bear.

In advance, you will probably want to buy a number of media companies ahead of time (another few $Bn), then hire a TEAM of the best political planners and you're off and running. The team thing is important, because at the end of the day there are only maybe a dozen or so people that have experience with managing national campaigns... and you could hire ALL of them. That not only gives you a better knowledge pool, it also denies your rivals access to competent management.

At the same time, be sure to start electing cronies to all state/provincial/regional (depending on country) elections. Somewhat slimy people with no real backbone of their own who will just do whatever you say so that you will fund their re-election campaigns in the next cycle as well. Competence is not needed or desired.

Once you have been elected, start making subtle decisions that undermine public trust in other institutions. For example, start selling off significant public assets (ostensibly to pay back national debt, which nearly every country has) - this will reduce the resiliency of the federal system.

Then start a very negative PR campaign that pictures you as the leader that is finally fixing things (an idea that your media outlets are keen to promote). This is where things really stop working, because a government can only function when its citizens believe in it. For example, in the USA one might start calling the IRS a bad idea, state that you have uncovered gross fraud, and do the same with Homeland Security. Then do something nuts like encourage people not to pay their taxes - I bet it would work pretty well. It's obviously harmful to the country, but you have filled any balancing seats of power with your cronies, so you won't be impeached.

At the same time, disband significant portions of the military. Your cover will be that you are doing it because of the "unacceptable military industrial complex" and "people who are making billions of dollars off of it". You won't be required to give any hard proof. But the real kicker here is that when you do this, you fire every general (and on down) that isn't a complete crony. Then you again hire/promote cronies. At this point you have replaced the actual military with one totally under your control.

Next raise taxes on corporations radically - after all, they "don't support the 99%!" - and raise tariffs on goods imported and exported significantly. The economy will begin to crumble very quickly.

At this point you have a government that people don't trust, rampant economic crisis, and a military that you control fully. You ought to be able to affect any type of government change (including anarchy) that you desire.

Solution B: Do What You Can

Time Frame: 8-15 Years

Let's say you can't be elected in the country you want to destabilize - a much harder situation. Using force is out, because people will just entrench (unless you're trying to destabilize a very small country, which is another story). You can't be elected, so you can't make the decisions yourself.

But you can still buy ALL the media outlets active in the country. And you fill them with investigative journalists who probe all areas of the government. You also hire detective agencies to dig up dirt for them that the journalists can't/won't get themselves. This creates a years-long tirade in all the news about how the government can't be trusted. And yes, that would be the case in even the best-run country, because all an article needs to find is one bad worker in the millions of public workers to create a 1-week news cycle... I'm sure you can find a few hundred easily. This undermines public confidence.

As confidence erodes with the main parties, throw your financial support behind the "crazy party". The one that no-one would have voted for when they believed in the government. In the USA that might be Libertarians or Communists. Extreme right- and left-wing parties exist everywhere. Recent elections should show that in many European countries if those parties were better funded they could have won elections in many countries. Plus your detectives are digging up dirt on the other guys :)

Next you need to try to demolish major industries. If the country is heavy into tourism, find out why and attack it. As an example.... have your media outlets around the world begin to publish news of every piece of violence that occurs in the country, and call the political situation "unstable" to discourage visitors. You can also buy transportation companies used by tourists and run them into the ground. Find landmark hotels and fire 95% of the cleaning staff. Let people come in, but make sure they have nothing good to say about their visit. The industry and its feeding businesses will collapse within a few years.

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    $\begingroup$ "you could hire ALL of them" -- you can make them stupid-high offers, but some of them won't take the money because they really do only work for the party they support. Still, "most" will probably do. Or you could maybe hire people to kidnap their loved ones, but that's a high-risk strategy since no amount of money prevents a political strategist who happens to be played by Liam Neeson, taking you down if you rile him. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 8 '16 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveJessop - True, but that doesn't mean you can't tell them what they want to hear so that they will join you. Ask what their key issues are and, as long as there aren't gross conflicts between the group, a good negotiator could probably get all or nearly all of them. Obviously you run on a "centralist/get stuff done" platform to get the people from both sides. And to improve efficacy, any campaign manager that doesn't come on-board will have their dirty laundry aired by investigative journalists, poisoning them for use by political rivals :) $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '16 at 13:20
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Nation-wide electromagnetic pulse. Nobody today has any idea how to run a government, country, business, military, personal life, or pretty much anything without power.

Follow up by de-orbiting those pesky satellites and a few missiles should do for any power stations.. good luck defending them without electricity.

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Assuming the US (though I believe this plan would have a massive world-wide impact):

Attack the Food Supply

Go after farmers directly. Hire them, export them into other countries, purchase their lands and drastically reduce the amount of food being produced. Currently Farms represent about 100 Billion in the US GDP. I am confident if you doubled most of the salaries of the farmers you could convince about 50% of them to relocate to another country and sell you their land. This would cost you 100B of your total and reduce the output by about 50%.

I would target corn farmers in particular as it is one of my crucial crops in the USA. You could also target the beef and chicken industries. Both of the latter would be relatively easy to persuade as they generally are not treated well already. The government has plenty in reserve to counter-act this but it will likely last less than a year.

Arm the population/illegalize purchase of firearms

After 3 months or so start to purchase ammunition and weapon manufacturers. Purchase as much of the gun industry as possible. Lower the costs on the weapons and ammunition to encourage the population to purchase them in bulk. Start a foundation that would organize an anti-gun movement with the funding and backing (through bribes) to be passed. I would guess this portion of the plan would likely take about 200 billion and a year or so.

You now have a lot of extremely upset people with large amounts of weapons and ammunition that are hungry. You've successfully taken away a large portion of their food and their main way to get food.

At this point I would believe that the population would start acting erratic enough to vote the wrong people into the office. If not then you can start grassroots campaigns to overthrow the government. With the amount of tension, the massive stockpile of weaponry and you having possession of a large amount of the firearm industry you'd be able to create a force that could, with the support of the people, start secession attempts from the union and split the country into multiple smaller segments. As pieces leave the union, bring the farmers back and resale them their farms.

I figure it would take about 5 years total for everything to work out. New governments would form and collapse during the split but the old one would fall for good and likely never recoup.

The reason why I believe this would cause a massive world-wide issue is because of the amount of food that is exported from the United States.

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Offer everyone or most critical roles a job, buy politicians, decentralise/centralise the system, fire police men. Make the political system (on city, state and country level) enforce various unpopular decisions and make laws that will force them to do unpopular stuff in times of crisis.

After a few months fire everyone, beforehand make sure that most resources necessary to keep a nation are going to be depleted within 1-2 weeks. No backup of food, coal, oil etc.. Make laws against hoarding. No money to buy those and the companies that deliver them have become government controlled and/or we're mostly outlawed. Distribute some heavy weapons, distribute various conflicting media reports that look authentic with logical explanations why various groups are at fault.

Kill politicians or command police/army to violently strike down protests.

Watch the nation go down in anarchy and disrupt any attempt at rebuilding a democracy. Stage fake votes where politicians that are either extremist or ones that do nothing get elected.

Without any government or structure the economy can never recover and the nation is permanently destroyed.

Timeframe at least 1 year. 2-3 if you want to make sure the plan goes through. The slower you do it the easier it gets.

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