Solve long-running historical international disputes in the most effective manner: by renaming the countries involved!


Many international border disputes in the modern era have persisted for 70+ years, and show no signs of resolution.

This is a relatively new phenomenon, in the grand scheme of human existence: it was not possible in, say, 50,000 B.C., for members of the Leaf-Eater clan to remember that in 67,000 B.C., their island villages had been illegally annexed by the Ocean Bear tribe.

However, thanks to the invention of writing, it is possible for groups of people to hold inter-generational grudges for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

The issue:

These long-standing grudges have negative impact for the prospect of continued peace (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: Thanks to history books, the people of Cobrastan (right side of map) know that 2,500 years earlier, pirates from Discordia annexed the East Swamp Islands. Now, in the modern era, nuclear war threatens to break out between the two countries over claims to these islands that no one even really wants (but it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing!).


Since it is infeasible to roll back the invention of writing, we can simply make it more complicated for people to remember which country or group they had a historical grudge against by periodically renaming all countries.

The effectiveness of this idea is indisputable: no one in a modern nation holds grudges against “The Akkadians” or “The Sumerians“ or “The New Amsterdam-ians”—even though there are many people today who are the descendants of people who were once part of these regions.

In order to prevent countries from basically just picking the same name again (e.g. “Japan → Japan_2” or “Australia → New Australia”), candidate country names will be written down on slips of paper by U.N. delegates (one suggestion per country), and then those names will be drawn out of a hat.


By doing a periodic “rebrand” of a country, we can wipe the slate clean, erasing historical rivalries that no living person actually participated in first-hand. Everyone wins!

PROS: Would greatly increase the amount of work for historians. Counterintuitively, this is in the “PROS” category: think of the additional grad students who could find employment with this task!

CONS: Depending on the maturity level of the U.N. delegates, some countries might get ridiculous names like “TestName” or “Dumb country for idiots!!!11,” or an unpronounceable emoji. That’s just the price of progress.