World leaders are a dodgy bunch. Even those who aren’t corrupt fat cats or power-mad warlords seem to end up acting with their own interests at heart while enforcing arbitrary and illogical laws that serve only to make the lives of their people miserable.
Ever thought you could do a better job?
Sensa Nostra speaks to His Excellency President Grand Admiral Colonel Doctor Kevin Baugh, President of Molossia, Protector of the Nation and Guardian of the People.
Molossia is a micronation, a tiny, self-declared nation located on half a hectare of land in western Nevada, USA. Just like all nations we have our own flag, government, currency, stamps, military, customs, holidays, laws—everything that a larger nation has, in a small package. Essentially we have our own private country.
We meet all of the basic requirements to be a sovereign state as set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States: defined territory, government, stable population, and the ability to enter into relations with other nations.
Molossia was founded in 1977 when my friend James and I saw the old Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse That Roared. It is an amusing film about a tiny European country that goes to war with the United States, expecting to lose and thus gain foreign aid, and instead wins by capturing a rather powerful bomb. We were stuck by the humor, imagination and creativity of the story and immediately set about creating our own nation. Back then there was no internet, so everything was on paper: our laws, money, even immigration forms. James was King and I was Prime Minister.
Eventually King James moved to other projects, but I stayed with it, developing ideas throughout the years and guiding our nation from a kingdom to the current Republic of Molossia via a brief stint as a communist People’s Republic in 1998. When I bought land here in northern Nevada it was only natural to raise our flag and declare it to be the home of our nation. Since then, and with the help of the internet, the Republic of Molossia has become fairly well known. We have many tourists visit us from all over the world each year and we sell our stamps and money worldwide.
It’s actually great fun being the President of Molossia, but it’s a lot of work as well. It’s fun having one’s own nation and coming up with various ideas and activities to keep it interesting and make it as real as possible. But it also keeps me very busy, answering emails from other micronations, answering press inquiries, hosting tourist visits, and carrying out general maintenance of the nation. I may be the President, but I’m still the one who waters the trees!
We have our own time zone: UTC -7 hours, 21 minutes, so it’s 39 minutes ahead of Pacific Time and 21 minutes behind Mountain. We did this just to be different, and right after we did, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela adopted his own time zone—where do you think he got the idea?
We have our own money; it’s called the Valora and is based on cookie dough. One tube of cookie dough is worth about five Valora. This is called the ‘cookie dough standard’. As a sovereign state we don’t pay tax to the US government, but we do contribute an exactly equivalent amount in ‘Foreign Aid’ to the United States to help support their nation.
We also have our own measurement system, the Kokintz System, the basic unit of which is the Norton. One Norton is equal to the length of my hand, about seven inches, which is also a simple way to measure things when you’re out and about without a measuring tape. We have unique systems for all of the other units of measurement as well, but the Norton is the most commonly used.
The Molossaphone is our National Musical Instrument, chosen largely because none of us here in Molossia can play a real instrument. Our previous national musical instrument was the wind chime, symbolic of the wind that constantly blows here in Molossia, but they can’t really be played, so the Molossaphone—which very closely resembles a kazoo—was chosen as a replacement.
I consider myself to be a fair and easygoing ruler. Yes, I’m a dictator, and I expect things to go my way, but things usually tend to go my way anyway—which keeps me happy. My citizens support me in whatever I plan or decree for my nation, even if my plans seem a bit odd to them. It helps to have easygoing citizens as well!
Of course, the development of every nation can be fraught with turmoil and we have had our share of conflicts. Our ongoing War Against East Germany is of particular note. In the distant days of 1983, I was stationed in West Germany with the US Army. As is customary in the military we frequently had ‘alerts’, where we would be required to get up in the middle of the night, jump in our tanks and rush off to a staging area to prepare for war. In November 1983 my sleep was disturbed with one of these many calls to defend the frontier against possible Soviet aggressors. As usual it was a false alarm and the outcome was peaceful, but I nevertheless decided enough was enough and declared war on East Germany. And then I promptly forgot about it until a few years ago when I discovered the old war declaration. I then looked into it and discovered that East Germany technically still exists in the form of Ernst Thalmann Island, given by Cuba to East Germany back in the 1970s. Because the island is uninhabited and unapproachable we cannot travel there to seek peace. Thus the war goes on, likely forever, with a country that is long gone.
Molossia maintains a fairly neutral attitude toward other micronations. We used to be heavily involved in diplomacy between our nation and others, but that policy has evolved to one of informal friendship with whomever contacts us. It’s just too complicated to keep track of all the micronational comings and goings. We do not engage in treaties, embassies or alliances, but we always offer friendly advice to new micronations when asked.
There are literally dozens of micronational versions of the United Nations. The profusion of these is such that we tend to refer to them as YAMOs, for Yet Another Micronational Organization. A micronation UN sounds like a good idea, but it has little practical value. After all, most micronations lack the resources to come to the aid of other nations or to do similar UN-type activities. After officers are elected from a new YAMO they tend to die on the vine, for lack of purpose. Molossia has been lightly involved in a couple of organizations over the years, but, like formal diplomacy, we avoid them now.
We held the first Intermicronational Olympic Games in 2000. It combined real events, such as shot put (using a tennis ball), discus (using a Frisbee) and the 100 meter dash (using feet), along with several online games for the more sedentary citizens of other nations. Because of the distance between micronations the physical events were held in each individual nation, with results posted to a message board. The Olympics were a complete success and are repeated every couple of years.
I’m not sure we really have a message, except perhaps that small is good. Some nations are gigantic and thus their citizens can fall through the cracks. Not so in Molossia. I know every citizen personally and see most of them every day, so I can easily address their needs. I think the other takeaway from Molossia might be our sense of humour and our relaxed attitude. We have fun with our nation and truly enjoy being Molossians.
We have a couple of plans for the future. Firstly, we are constantly seeking new ways to promote our nation. Getting our name out there is a regular task. We would like to expand the size of our nation, although it will probably be another enclave separate from our current territory. We don’t have plans for a Crimea-esque land grab; we’ll probably buy some land, like normal folks. No need to upset the already edgy US authorities.
Some people claim that Molossia is not a real country, but I think that is a matter of opinion. Molossia has everything a larger country does, in a small package. We are small, and we lack much in the way of self-sufficiency, but we are working on that. In the meantime, we are what we are, a tiny nation making our own mark on the world.