I was, I'll admit, cribbing ideas from some of my favorite Science Fiction writers at this point…and starting to feel like I was channeling Warren Zevon's Character in "The Envoy".
Thing was, desperate times come for desperate measures. And I could see no other way that could get us to a peaceful solution – OK, a relatively peaceful solution – except to take Iraq off the Map, and give the Sinai to the Palestinians…and that could only work with the help of both the US and the Japanese. If I could get the French on board, so much the better.
If I could get the Soviets to just not torpedo the whole lash up, that would put the icing on the cake.
I was praying to the Father of All that night, and wondering if I could find a rabbit and a good steel knife before the next full moon.
In the morning, hell only a few hours later, we reconvened in Director David's Conference room. I was surprised to see Prime Minister Eshkol there. I looked in askance at Director David.
"He has the whole story, Kenichi" he said. "Go ahead."
I nodded. "Thank you for coming, Mr. Prime Minister." I said gravely.
"Thank you for your assistance. Mr. Takano." He said joylessly. "Although Mr. David says we would have done well in the other world, your assistance has aided us in doing better in this world." He said flatly.
"And – you take no joy in that?" I said.
"I take no joy in the deaths of so many fine young men. Neither the Israeli men and women that defended us, nor the Arab men and boys that lie out there or even now struggle to safety." He said, waving an arm at the window. "And Director David tells me that the Conflict was still going on in 2012, with hardly a respite." He continued.
"Yes" I said simply. "I would like to propose some ideas that would possibly make it possible to end these problems now. We have a rather unique opportunity that did not occur in my world."
"I find that difficult to accept, Sir." Said the Prime Minister. "Your world." He shook his head "You speak of it so calmly – as if it were England or France, and you could just get on a plane or boat and go back there."
"Eh." I waved my hand. "Not quite. In one sense, I may have changed the future, so that that world – no longer exists – Schrodinger's wave function hypothesis. Another theory is that there are multiple Universes, like pages in a book, and I fell from one page to another – or maybe out of one book, and onto another edition, to use the metaphor correctly."
"I…see." He said, pensively.
"My head hurts." Said Stavros plaintively.
"Anyway, he's certainly not insane." Said David. "The stuff he has come up with – the Electronics, the bandages, the guns, the tactics – they all work, do they not?"
The Prime Minister shook his head like a man shaking his head at a bothersome fly, "Yes, they do – which is why I have to accept the rest – either he's an insane genius who knows how to do and make all this wonderful things, and rationalizes it all with this talk of an alternate future - or he is who he says he is – a merely very smart man, who has fallen into our time from the future – a future – an alternate future."
I looked at a newspaper that someone had brought in. The US Senate had ratified the War Resolution, as had the House. This was not a Police Action, nor a War Powers Resolution. The US was at War again, as we had not been since 1941…and with the same country we had gone to war with in that other Universe, just a bit earlier. I shuddered.
Mr Eshkol looked up from his tea. "Are you alright, Mr Takano?"
"Just reading the News" I said, holding up the English language edition of the Jerusalem Times. "Looks like the Yanks are Coming." I said.
"Yes they are." He agreed.
"Any idea HOW they are planning to do this?" I asked.
"Ambassador Lodge was supposed to be joining us in a few minutes." Said Director David. "He is supposed to be in a phone conversation with somebody, possibly the American President, right now."
"Good." I said. "Last time, we spent six months building up forces in Kuwait and the UAE, and then drove hard up the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley." I told them.
"The time before that" I said, "was when they took Kuwait, so our whole objective was to get it back. We only invaded Iraq to "left hook" and envelop them in Kuwait."
"I forget that you've a lot of experience with military operations in Iraq." Said the Prime Minister.
"That was in '90-91 and then we had some "Snap-Count" situations two or three times between 95 and 2000, where we almost invaded, but didn't, then we did invade again in '03 and took out Saddam and his Baathists."
"This Saddam fellow – he took over from General Amer?" asked the Prime Minister.
I looked at Director David. He nodded imperceptibly.
"Eventually, yes, Sir." I said.
He looked at Director David. "Eli, we might want to consider sanctioning this Saddam fellow, a bit early."
Director David was seized by a coughing fit. "Yes Sir." He said. "I've already spoken with Mr. Takano about a number of future Iraqi people and others – that might become problems to us – with what he can remember of where we might find them, BEFORE they cause problems to us."
He smiled at the Prime Minister. "If it looks like, in this world, they will indeed, become the sort of people that they were in Mr. Takano's original World, then we will Sanction Them with Extreme Prejudice."
"Good." Said Mr Eshkol. "That seems like a fine idea."
I looked at Prime Minister Eshkol. "How are the Soviets taking all this?"
"Right now –" he said, staring into space. He looked at Director David with a sudden grin. "What was that American phrase, Eli?"
"They don't know whether to wind their watch or take a dump." Said Director David, with some satisfaction. "One of their client states militaries is in ruins, another is about to be, since it was foolish enout to unilaterally attack the US – and formally declare WAR, no less! – hocken a tcainek!" he said. "What a bunch of meshuggenahs!"
The Prime Minister looked at him disapprovingly, and he stared back at him defiantly. "I don't care Levi! For some things, Yiddish has more satisfying words. Hebrew just does not have the right emotional content. Ganzer Machers is good description of those fools."
"In the other world," I said carefully, "the Soviets were repainting the aircraft is Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, and putting many of their Mobile Sam launchers in those Republics onto Black Sea Ships, for delivery to Egypt. The idea was to immediately backfill the combat losses in Syria and Egypt – and the planes were combat loaded, so that they could fight their way in, if need be."
I looked hard at Prime Minister Eshkol. "It was another reason you ended the war quickly, Sir." I advised him. "That way the Soviet Volunteers did not take part in the air combat."
"Good point" he said. "I would not want to see this develop into a direct confrontation between the US and the Soviets."
"No." I said. "Looking at the map. "Not with Har-Megiddo so close by."
"The significance is obvious." Agreed Director David.
"Of course." I said, "The key to negotiation is giving people what they want." I grinned. "And sometimes, the best negotiations, is when you give somebody want, and it is something they already have, but do not know that they have."
"Oho." Said the Prime Minister, his face lighting up. "Speak on, Boy, for you interest me strangely."
I pointed to the map. "In the other world, Sir, you took the entire Sinai, and held it until 1979." I tapped the map. "It was a tough place, and Israel had a hard time with it, especially in the 1973 War."
Their faces fell. "Another War?"
"The 1973 War – The Yom Kippur War – was a near run thing." I gravely said. "There was a lot of rumors that Israel had nuclear weapons, and got ready to use them as a last-ditch defense."
The Prime Minister's face was ashen. "That close?"
"That close." I agreed. "Israel defeated her enemies with conventional weapons, but it was an ugly, near run thing." I looked at them all. "The days after this war are heady, but after that, it is a slogging, ugly, wearing thing."
I smiled. "What I propose is crazy, but it does have a chance – and if it works, it might avoid that ugliness."
"So, in a choice between ugly and crazy, let's see what crazy looks like." Said the Director.
"Here's my first idea," I said, flipping up a sheet of butcher paper on an easel. "The Republic of the Sinai."
"Huh." Said the Prime Minister. "How's that an improvement?"
"Ok." I said. "First up. The Egyptian Army stays on their side of the Suez. Any basing or deployments of anything other than UN Peacekeepers in the Sinai Republic is tantamount to an act of War."
"Ok" said the Prime Minister. "But it's a wasteland, with little to support much of a population."
"Right now it is." I said. "Here's the thing." I said. "Right now, the future is being made in electronics – and what are electronics made from?" I asked.
They looked at me blankly.
I smiled. "Silicon."
"So?" asked the Prime Minister. Director David smiled, as he realized what I was saying.
"What does the Sinai Desert have lots of?" I asked.
"Sand – Oh." Said the Prime Minister. "Now I get it. Sand is Silicon Oxide. But you have to break it chemically to get pure silicon, no?"
"Ah," I said, "which is expensive, in terms of energy, unless you use solar collector arrays – which require sunlight"
"-Which the Sinai has plenty of." Said the Prime Minister.
"Which require unskilled labor to clean, but the Palestinians can supply that, as well as – if it is theirs, their fellow Arabs will not likely bomb and destroy those fragile mirror arrays, the way they would if they were Israeli Arrays."
"But those are expensive." Said the Prime Minister.
"Which is where we get some folks with money talking." I said. "I've already pre-prepared some talking papers back home, which are going out now. I was hoping things would happen this way. Certain men and companies will be offered shares in a possible backing company – companies, corporations, consortiums – to bankroll the Sinai Republic. We don't want this place to fail for lack of capital. Not when so much is possible."
Prime Minister Eshkol looked at me appraisingly. "You don't think small, do you?"
"He fears too much, his desserts too small, who will not put it to the touch, to win or lose it all – Montrose's Toast, Prime Minister." I quoted. "I know what happened before, when they let it happen by pieces. Let us dare greatly, and see if we cannot pull off a miracle of Peace and Plenty, instead of Misery and Hate."
"What about Iraq?" asked the Prime Minister.
"A good Question, Sir." I said. "A large part of that depends on what the Americans want to do in this time line." I looked at him. "I know what we did, and how badly that turned out in the end. I know what I would prefer to do, this time around – but this bunch of crazy Texans…" I smiled.
Director David looked at me with suspicion. "What is that smile?"
"Just the odd realization." I said. "In my timeline, when the US went to War with Iraq, we had a George Bush, a fellow from Massachusetts, who had made his fortune in Texas, and the next war with Iraq, was his son, a fellow who had grown up in Texas, and here I am in this world, and the US is going to war with Iraq, and the President is another Texan." I shook my head. "Just a coincidence, I guess."
"But, I said, afterwards, I would suggest, the Shia-dominated portions of Iraq go back to Iran. Ethnically, they are Iranian, anyway, so that is better for them." I said.
"The Kurdish regions, should be their own nation." I said. "Perhaps we can persuade the Shah, and the Turks to cede some of the ethnic Kurdish lands to them, or we might have to threaten them to not incite violence in those areas against their rulers – but an independent Kurdistan would seem a smart idea."
"The Sunni Arab lands" I said – "they should go to the Hashemite King of Jordan, especially if he is smart enough to shut up about the West Bank of the Jordan, which was supposed to be Israel, anyway."
"You are certain the Americans can beat the Iraqis?" said the Prime Minister.
I looked at him with incredulity. "Puh-lease, Sir. It is their war to lose." I laughed. "The American Forces can deploy into Iran, and, for that matter, Kuwait, if the Emir has the brains God gave a goose, and run straight up the Tigris-Euphrates into Baghdad."
I looked at the map. "I don't know if the runways at Diego Garcia or Akotiri on Crete have been lengthened yet, but if they have, well…B-52s operated out of Akotiri have something like a three hour flight to anywhere in Iraq."
I considered. "Nah, The Soviets would get too upset with B-52s on Crete. But Diego Garcia is still good – or maybe somewhere in Iran – I keep forgetting that Iran is friendly country in this timeline." I considered the map. "Too many political considerations with using Israel as a staging area for too much. Probably gunships, though, and Special Operations Missions, though."
"Thing is," I said, looking back at them, "both Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and for that matter, Iran, will also be able to qualify for some of that development money I was talking about."
I looked at them. "Civilization runs on Energy, and right now, energy is fossil fuel. Except that there is only so much fossil fuel in the ground, and when it runs out, it runs out. So, what happens after we run out of fossil fuels?"
The Prime Minister looked dazed. He had come in here to discuss a war that was raging less than a hundred miles away.
"I had not thought that far." He said.
I chuckled dryly. "Not many have, Mr. Prime Minister." I said. "Thing is, as fossil fuels get more and more scarce, wars like this" I waved at the wall, "will become more common."
I looked at them. "We – the whole human race – need to get off the fossil fuel thing." I looked at my sheet. "Working on Solar power and other renewable energies takes us in the right directions, so we are not scrabbling like mad dogs over oil."
They stared at me then, with a strange expression. It was the Prime Minister who broke the silence first. "I suppose…" he said in a strange tone, "that must be what the elders of the Hebrew felt like, as they listened to that young fellow Moses and HIS radical ideas…"
"Or," said Director David, "that radical young rabbi from Nazareth, Yeshua Bar Joseph."
"Eh." Said the Prime Minister. "Let's not start that discussion."
"Hell, no." I said, shocked to my core. "I'm not even Christian, but that comparison bothers me."
Director David laughed dryly. "I won't repeat it anywhere, but you certainly seemed to have a lot of fire going there, young man."
Ambassador Lodge came in, with the news that he had been on the phone with Johnson, and they were discussing the Iraq Invasion.
He looked at me with a strange look. "I talked to him about what we had discussed earlier…and he is taking it up with his planners. Basically, they think everything you suggested is the right way to go. Now they need to figure out how to do it."
"I hope you didn't mention me." I said with some alarm.
"No" he chuckled. "But LBJ now thinks I'm some sort of military genius…I get the feeling I may be going up with the Military Commander when this thing kicks off."
"Who's that?" I asked.
"Not sure, yet." He said. "Probably Creighton Abrams."
"Good" I said. "This is going to be a tank war, and Abrams is an Armored guy from way back. This is a job for a treadheaded turtle, no doubt about it."
The US war against Iraq was handled almost as a separate play from the War against Israel, right from the start.
The Arab Coalition started falling apart right away.
That afternoon, June 8th, we got the phone call I had been expecting. We got on a Learjet and headed for Palermo, Sicily – Ambassador Lodge, Deputy Director Stavros, the Israeli Foreign Secretary Abba Eban and myself. In the Officially published photographs and records, of course, I am never mentioned, and I don't think I've ever seen a published picture of the event that includes me.
Which is, of course, fine by me.
I think, the biggest surprise was when we got to Sicily. The meeting was supposed to happen at the Naval Air Station at Sigonella. Now the request had been moved to a French Airbase on Corsica, Solenzara Air Base, on the South east corner of Corsica.
No reason was given for the change in venue, which annoyed the other members of the group, but I smiled.
Ambassador Lodge looked at me. "What are you thinking?"
"Think we'll get Gromyko, or a flunky?" was my reply.
Abba Eban gaped at me a second, then his face cleared. "OK, that makes a lot of sense."
I rubbed my hands and said "Ex-ce-lleent" – not that any of these guys would understand my Mr. Burns impression, but you gotta love it when a plan come together, don't you?
I leaned back in my seat and considered how to present this plan.Chapter 12 Insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, and expecting different results
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