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The Fury of the Tsar – Bonfire

The Fury of the Tsar – Bonfire

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The Fury of the Tsar – Bonfire

Lunghezza:
532 pagine
5 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 1, 2019
ISBN:
9786156072023
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

“A controversial, thought-provoking, insightful, yet entertaining book. A new Tom Clancy is born.” Dario Quintavalle (Limes)


“I ignored meetings, calls, and impeachment hearings to devour this book. For any reader who values history, enjoys fiction, and follows East-West power politics, this book is a mesmerizing tour de force. Part intelligence briefing, part cinema verité, it’s a powerful, unnerving ride.” Victor Gaetan (The American Spectator)


There is Russian meddling and there is American meddling.


There are Russian killers and there are American killers.


This unique book is about both illustrious groups. It leads the reader into the grey
realm of geopolitical competition; past and present battles of unimaginable cruelty
waged behind the scenes.


In The Fury of the Tsar, we enter the heart of the Kremlin and the military-industrial complex of the United States, all wrapped into the fire of Eastern European history. This is a world of iron-hearted politicians, serving their nations without remorse, but not without vanity, and hot-headed nationalists who live for glory. A huge mosaic both in time and space, from the 1980s until today, from the frontlines of Ukraine to the chaos of the Balkans.


Step by step, the truth is uncovered, and it becomes clear why the Tsar of Russia is furious and what he is capable of doing when cornered. And he is indeed in the corner. Things are not going well in Ukraine and Belarus for Russia, and a new economic crisis is at the door. The Russian populace is already restive, and huge Romanian gas and oil discoveries on the Black Sea endanger the only successful segment of the Russian economy: energy exports.


Patrick Tanner is a former American black operations soldier, who is responsible for the cold-blooded massacre of almost seventy civilians in Bosnia. Tanner, who just moved to Budapest, Hungary, finds himself in the middle of the storm, and soon realizes, that not only the Russians are working to plunge Eastern Europe into ethnic war, but his own former colleagues are as well.


Not that he is surprised, for he knows all too well, that there are American killers, too.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 1, 2019
ISBN:
9786156072023
Formato:
Libro

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The Fury of the Tsar – Bonfire - David Autere

David Autere

THE FURY

OF THE TSAR

Bonfire

"We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think
our country’s so innocent?"
Donald Trump

Published by

2019

Published by Reakció Kiadó Ltd.

Edited by Ákos Gergely Balogh

English editor: Lester Kramer

Epub coding by DT Pro LP.

Dr. Attila Demkó (David Autere)

All rights reserved.

ISBN 978-615-6072-02-3

Check out The Fury of the Tsar’s Facebook

page for related news and insights:

http://facebook.com/thefuryofthetsar

Follow us on Instagram for the author’s exclusive photos

(from the frontier of East Ukraine to the roads of Iraq):

http://instagram.com/thefuryofthetsar

Listen to the music and poetry of the book to get the feeling:

https://thefuryofthetsar.com/music-and-poetry

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the world.

SIR HALFORD JOHN MACKINDER, GEOPOLITICAL THEORIST

The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. (...) We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

THE WOLFOWITZ DOCTRINE, ORIGINAL VERSION, 1992

What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term, it means one single center of power, one single center of force and one single master. (…) The United States has overstepped its borders in all spheres – economic, political and humanitarian – and has imposed itself on other states.

VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Words hammer continually at the eyes and ears of America. The United States has become a small room where a single whisper is magnified thousands of times.

EDWARD LOUIS BERNAYS, THE FATHER OF SPIN

I.

BONFIRE

Although NATO and the EU have forced Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia to make friendly arrangements, this is not a true friendship, on the contrary. (…) The cause of the conflict is the Treaty of Trianon (…) the Hungarian Triangle (Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania) may become the next powder keg of Europe. At this moment, the spark has not yet come near the bonfire, but the dry wood is there.

Richard Holbrooke, American diplomat, father of the Dayton peace treaty between Bosnians, Serbs and Croats.

March 10th

The Day of Szekler Freedom

None of the attackers wanted it to end this way. Not even the most bloodthirsty, whose hearts were full of sincere hatred. No, this horror was not on their minds. They just wanted to punish the young upstarts. Crush their little fire.

At most, beat them a bit to remind them not to straighten out their spines. But the boss in Bucharest said, do no serious injury. Then the news would travel past the nation’s borders, which would not be good. Nobody needs an international uproar.

Intimidation in silence!

The winning formula. It has been going on for a hundred years.

It is not as if the world was interested in what was happening in this abandoned little corner of Europe, wrecked by the spreading misery of the latest economic collapse. It was already a very bad year. In Russia a new, powerful protest movement had begun, discontent reaching the Army and the state apparatus for the first time. Once mighty Western European countries had reached the state of permanent civil conflict. Banlieues rebelled in France again, from January till March Paris was encircled by a ring of fire. In Ukraine hunger and deep freeze ruled, hundreds had died in their unheated homes during an unusually harsh cold spell in January. The North Pole itself drifted down to Eastern Europe, proving again to any doubters that climate change is real. In the South, during the first days of March, thousands of migrants stormed the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in a coordinated action. Three large waves broke Spain’s sovereignty in these towns. Europe was pushed out of Africa for the first time in half a millennium. As a dark backdrop, terror continued on the streets of the Old Continent, Islamist terror and anti-Islamist terror alike. Beyond Europe, things were even worse. Be it in Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, the world was sinking into barbarism at a rate unseen for almost a century. Crucified or beheaded people sell better in the media than a bleeding forehead, a broken jaw. Thousands massacred in so many places. What’s in the news nowadays? The slaughter of a defenseless minority group in Ethiopia?

But it’s better to be cautious, thought the mastermind in Bucharest. A few broken bones, slashed skin do not make international headlines. However, the message is duly delivered to whom it is intended. The people who have fires burning inside and dare to light these irksome bonfires.

The Szeklers.

The leader of the attackers, a slim man in his forties, knew the Szekler-Hungarians. This group of Magyars were the most stubborn and rebellious of a stubborn and rebellious people. They were an ancient Magyar tribe who had been border guards to a mighty Hungarian Kingdom for centuries. Famous archers and light cavalry men, Szeklers were known for their bravery. Their land, once situated on the eastern edge of Hungary, now lay in the middle of Romania: a large ethnic enclave surrounded by high mountains and centered around a dormant volcano. Borders had changed, the Szeklers stayed. The leader knew all too well the red-hot lava of discontent that ran though the souls of these people beneath their calm exteriors. Small in number, but enormous in ego, they were a perpetual thorn in Romania’s side. Rough like their cold, rocky land, they resisted all efforts to assimilate them. Six hundred thousand people still lived like they were in Hungary, resisting Romanian language, culture and customs. They needed to get the message, for their own good, the leader believed. The message about who was master and who was the tolerated minority, and the message that it would remain forever so. The land would never again return to Hungary, and those who couldn’t accept that fact were free to leave. In fact, that was what the attackers wanted. To tell the bloody Magyars loud and clear: go away, the road is open to the West. Follow the more than half million who’ve left since the glorious days of 1918 when Romania had finally awakened from its thousand-year nightmare and retaken Transylvania from the Magyars.

After the beating, the young ones would think it over, for sure.

Twenty or so Hungarians were standing around the bonfire. Brazenly, they had even raised two flags, but not the flag of the state that tolerated them on its land. They didn’t suspect anything. They collected wood, which was wet because the snow of the long winter had just melted away from an early spring warm front—the weather had changed with unusual abruptness from icy to Mediterranean across the region.

Only two or three of the protesters were more than thirty years old, most were twenty-something youngsters, even a few high-school kids. Boys, girls mixed. They talked and sang in their strange language, which was so different from anything in Europe. The music from the speakers was rather sad and slow, but the otherworldly melody of the Hungarian tongue irritated the attackers’ ears terribly. The loudspeakers bellowed: To tell you how great that we are here… The leader of the attackers understood the meaning of the words. He felt sadness, but it evaporated in a moment.

The attackers were dropped off by bus in a clearing a few miles away. Sixty men or so with brand new baseball bats. The clearing was served by a road which led to a Romanian village in Neamț County, not to a Hungarian one in Hargitha County. This was the border region of Eastern-Transylvania and Western-Moldova. The guides were local mountain-men from Neamț, the rest were from all over the country. One squad of four particularly huge men had come from abroad. One of them was a real giant, almost seven feet, pure muscle. A colossus. The others called him The Hulk.

They had two escorts from the Bucharest organization. The Hulk told the group in his comically deep voice, using quite tolerable English, that they came to build an alliance, as they have a common enemy. The Magyars. Today they will prove that they take it seriously. One of the escorts acted as a translator, a mediocre one, but there were no major misunderstandings. For a while. The four Slovaks were dressed in black from head to toe, and when they took off their jackets on the bus, what was revealed shocked some of the Romanians. The black shirts were sporting huge shields in red-blue colors, with a white double cross. This was known as the Two-barred Cross of Hungary, at least to the Romanians. They recognized it and disliked it. There were a few questions, but when they saw the complete and honest outrage on the faces of the Slovaks, they calmed. It was not the symbol of the enemy—more precisely it was, but a stolen one. Stolen from their wonderful new Slovak comrades. Fellow victims of the thousand-year-long Magyar oppression. Well, at least they had learned something new, the leader of the Romanians thought. The intricacies of the wider neighborhood were mostly unknown even to its inhabitants. History was deep and dark here—very dark.

They drank to the confusion. Cujka, the pride of Romania, for the first round. The 45-degree alcohol went straight to the heads of the troopers. Then they drank to their new friendship. The borovicka was from the cool valleys of the Northern Carpathians. Good stuff, liked by many in refined Vienna and Prague too, 40 degrees strong. The large dose of it hit them hard. Then they had one from both, to their impending victory. The atmosphere was getting better and better on the bus. The alcohol fired the men, and soon they were all singing. Then they listened to the Slovaks. It did not bother them that the language was Slavic and they didn’t understand a word. If the HQ said that these people were friends, it was to be accepted. Their courage grew with each passing minute. They were not afraid of any problems. There were many policemen in the province nowadays, more and more as the tensions grew. But they knew that the police were with them. They would dispose of the bats in the fire after they were used, no proof would remain even if they were stopped on the way back. Well, they had just taken an excursion.

The secret services had not only looked the other way, they had provided support and encouragement. Yes, they, the true patriots are needed again! After so many years of treachery, when Romania was forced by the European Union to be tolerant—at least on the surface. Once this outrageous outside interference was over, everything would be controlled from Bucharest again. Romanians would decide the fate of the country, the fate of anyone who is not loyal enough. It was time to start the intimidation of Szekler provocateurs!

A generation ago heroes like them had done such deeds, and none of them had been punished.

The weak spring sun had disappeared behind a snowy peak minutes before. Darkness came fast to the valley. They approached in silence. Then the leader of the Romanians strode into the clearing. He looked at the massive fire dosed with petroleum. The commander then stared hard into the eyes of an approaching Magyar, knowing well that with his vision accustomed to the light, the other could not see his features. When the man was only a few yards away, he calmly put on a black balaclava and gave the sign to his men.

The onslaught began with a wave of fury. Run, bozgor, run, the attackers shouted, along with some sharply honed obscenities. Bozgor meant a man without a country, and in Romania, all Hungarians were bozgor.

Run, bozgor, run!

The raiders advanced from three sides, so the youth would not be completely surrounded. ‘We must leave them an escape route,’ the leader of the Romanians had explained to his troops. A little beating and some humiliation are enough, for now, topped by throwing the Hungarian and Szekler flags into the bonfire.

They will make a nice video of it. In the beginning, the Romanian commander thought the youngsters had no chance. He watched the huge foreigner with awe. The Hulk kicked a boy in the belly, sending him flying. The leader envied the pure brute force. Then he joined the action, striking two boys with his bat, careful not to break bones. The young protesters were brave and tried to resist. They picked up the firewood and began hitting back. There was also a large adult male who neutralized two attackers. He was soon surrounded by half a dozen men and was systematically beaten. The commander saw that his men were kicking the large Magyar even after he gave up defending himself. He had to stop his men, some of them still quite drunk, from killing the guy.

Perhaps it was not such a good idea to have the cujka and the borovicka!

Because of the melee, he didn’t follow the giant Slovak for twenty seconds, and then, then it was too late. The trouble was caused ultimately by the girls. They hadn’t run away, which encouraged the boys to fight. They persisted, against all odds. In addition, from the other end of the clearing, reinforcements had arrived. A dozen or so young men, who joined the fight on the side of the Magyars. The commander knew that they still far outnumbered the Hungarians, and it was only a matter of time before the youngsters realized they had no chance for victory, but the unexpected resistance had unleashed the raider’s passions.

What are these young bucks thinking? How can they dare to hit back? Their job is to run scared! Run, bozgor, run!

The giant took it especially hard. He was hit in the forehead with a beer bottle, blood flowing down on his face. He took out three boys in a few seconds’ time. But then two girls boldly attacked. He threw one of them to the ground and punched the other in the stomach, who then started to vomit. The other stayed on the ground, having visibly given up. The Hulk was still angry, looking for a new target. The commander had a very bad feeling. He began to move to stop The Hulk, a brave decision indeed, but he was too late.

There was a third girl, too. A tiny creature. She wore a white jacket, with a matching white cap. Her long brown hair curled over her shoulders. The commander thought she must not be older than 18. The giant lifted his bat and walked towards her. She might not have been as brave as the other two, because she turned and started to run. Men were still struggling with each other behind her. There was only a small gap between them and the bonfire. Beyond that, she could see the escape route that the attackers left open.

The commander later told himself over and over that it was just an accident. Unintentional. We just wanted to frighten them and make them flee! He saw it in slow motion as she sprinted for the gap between the fighting men and the fire. The giant caught up to her in three steps and swung the bat. Blood was spilling into his eyes, the alcohol raging in him. The Hulk was pure aggression, as though his cartoon version. But he was very real. The commander saw that he put all his strength into the strike, which hit the girl’s left shoulder. In the first moment, it seemed fortunate because such a blow to the head would have been lethal. But the heavy bat’s momentum was passed on to the small body. Time stopped for a few moments. The commander hoped that the worst would be avoided. But then the girl made a pirouette and fell directly into the blazing pile of wood. The man felt the terror through his whole body. The Hulk stopped and looked stunned. The bonfire lost its stability and burning pieces of wood fell on the girl. A moment later, only the boots were visible. The small white boots.

The leader waited for her to get up, but in vain. There was no movement there. The huge guy just stood, and lowered the bat, with panic in his eyes. He was also watching the boots. The fighters in the vicinity must have sensed something, as they stopped beating each other and separated one after the other. Perhaps they saw from the corners of their eyes what had happened.

The commander reached into his pocket. They had agreed to mark the retreat with a long whistle, which he blew with full lung power. Most of the gang did not understand why they had to retreat. They were winning. But when they saw that their leader was rushing toward the forest without looking back, they followed. What is it? The police? The gendarmerie? Perhaps the army? Better not to find out.

The commander looked back finally, from the edge of the forest. He saw two young men pulling the small body from the fire. He heard the horrified cries. He understood each word. It is hard to forget one’s mother tongue. He felt that there would be serious consequences.

He was not mistaken.

II.

FRAGMENTS

If someone is willing to reconsider the results of World War II, let us discuss this. But then we will have to discuss not only Kaliningrad, but also the eastern lands of Germany, the city of Lvov, a former part of Poland, and so on, and so forth. There are also Hungary and Romania on the list. If someone wants to open this Pandora’s box and deal with it, all right, go for it then.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation

October 17th, 1986

General Nieven

NS Norfolk, United States of America

Brigadier-General James Nieven was not checked at the gate. The driver rolled down the window to show his ID and his orders, but the guard, a young black soldier, just looked at the one-star insignia on Nieven’s shoulder and saluted. Then he waved and the other guard opened the gate. They were free to go. He must have seen many flag officers arriving that day, Nieven thought, somewhat angry at seeing this laxness.

NS Norfolk, Naval Station Norfolk, is the world’s largest naval base. Being home to the United States’ Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Ocean fleets, it is far larger than its more famous cousin, Pearl Harbor. A few miles from Hampton, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach, it occupies a strategic spot at the estuary of the James River. The first successful English pioneers of America landed here in 1607, and the most important naval battles of the American Revolution and the Civil War were fought nearby. Then, during World War I, the core of the base was built. In a few decades, it became the largest complex of the U.S. Navy and the region became the heart of the American shipbuilding industry. The land is flat here, with large swamps, hundreds of waterways, and thousands of small bays. One can have a modest lake behind the house, with a terrace overlooking a bay. Most of these bays are too shallow for large warships, of course, but Norfolk has some very well-protected natural ports. And the weather is much better than in Washington; there is almost no winter, snowstorms and hurricanes are rare. Too far south for the wrath of ice, too far north for the threats of the Tropics. The ocean never freezes. It is an ideal environment for the Navy and the Air Force. General Nieven had frequently visited the region, as the Atlantic half of the Navy Seals, the famous naval commando unit, is based in Virginia Beach. With them, he had far more missions than with the Navy itself.

But he wasn’t there today to organize a strike against bad guys half a world away. He came to attend a reception. Well, as a General, he must get used to receptions and politics. He didn’t like the idea, but a Great Man had invited him: Caspar Weinberger himself, the Secretary of Defense.

The car slowly proceeded down a wide road, first between buildings and storehouses, observing the strict speed limit, before they reached the beach. It was a splendid view. There was nothing to hide the greatest fleet on Earth. The grey steel giants greeted General Nieven in silence.

Frigates and destroyers.

Cruisers and amphibious assault ships.

And of course the mighty aircraft carriers.

He welcomed the old Forrestal class giant, the USS Saratoga, as a good friend. The Saratoga was the one which had recently hit the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, so hard in the Mediterranean. Nieven had a small role in that affair.

Pier after pier, giant after giant.

The Nimitz, the Eisenhower, and finally the John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Everything was dwarfed around them. They were small towns with a nuclear power plant that could run them for a quarter of a century without refueling. Their air wings had more strength than the air forces of most other countries. Stunning beasts. There were also submarines somewhere, out of the view. Actually, just the ships currently in the port were stronger than the whole of the Soviet fleet. The US dominated the seas as no Great Power before. Not even the British Empire.

General Nieven’s heart was filled with pride.

America is great!

Finally, they reached a large single-story building, the venue of the reception. In the distance, over the grey water, a military helicopter was flying to an unknown destination. Nieven felt that he would rather be on it. Thrilled by the noise and vibration, waiting for a new mission! As with so many times in Vietnam. The big silver star on his shoulder truly meant this was forever over. Generals are kept away from danger even more than Colonels. With the silver eagle,¹ he could still be on the ground, on rare occasions.

His driver got out and tried to open his door, but luckily he was faster. He refused to be like that, playing the big shot was not his style. A tall captain was waiting for him. The reception had already begun, but he had called ahead that he would be late, so he wasn’t worried in the slightest. The Air Force had flown him from California to the nearby Oceana Air Base, but in its own pace. The Herc pilots were among the few immune to his new rank. They would not change their schedule for a one-star Army General.

The captain led him through a profusion of white, green, and blue uniforms. The Navy wasn’t stingy—in addition to the usual sliders and hot dogs, the tables were piled high with steak sandwiches and laden with bowls of shrimp salad. The officers were athletic and clean-cut, with disciplined and attractive wives. There were around three hundred people in the room. The captain politely but firmly cut through the wall of uniforms, which was not difficult because of the star on Nieven’s shoulders. Again, that bloody star. The officers gave way with respect. Then they reached a smaller, special hall. Even more luxury, but fewer people. Many of them less athletic and tidy than the officers in the larger hall. In the middle of a group, he recognized the Great Man, who noticed him almost immediately.

‘General, come, let me introduce you to these distinguished gentlemen!’ Cap shouted to him with a friendly wave. When they had met in Washington a few weeks back, the Secretary told Nieven to call him Cap when they were not at an official venue. A highly unusual gesture.

The General was not the type prone to being easily overwhelmed. Quite the contrary. But in this company, it was difficult to overcome the feeling of awe. He was among the demi-gods of the gigantic American military-industrial complex.

He looked around and saw immense power everywhere.

The presidents of Raytheon and Northrop, talking to each other. The Northrop man was said to be the father of the next generation of bombers, a UFO-looking stealth aircraft. Next to them the head of the development arm of Boeing was listening in. Then the CEO of Grumman looking at the other three aerospace big shots with clear disdain. Next to Weinberger, a bunch of two, three, and even four-star Generals from the Pentagon, and finally a couple of figures, all of them civilians, whom he didn’t recognize immediately.

The Lords of the Free World! Or, as President Eisenhower called it, Nieven reminded himself, the military-industrial-congressional complex. Men churning with billions of dollars and accustomed to writing history.

The Secretary of Defense put his hand on his shoulder. He spoke with a strong voice, but in a friendly tone. Almost too friendly.

‘Gentlemen, please allow me to present you Brigadier General James D. Nieven. He is one of the brightest stars of our armed forces. From the thirty-eight brigadiers appointed this year, he was the youngest at the age of 41. He was colonel for only four years. He deserved to be promoted like no one else. He was first introduced to me in ‘82, after an operation in Lebanon. He saved many of our good men. His earlier exploits in Vietnam are legendary today.’

For the next few minutes, Nieven shook hands.

‘We need such generals! You are not spending your time in offices, I see,’ said the Boeing official, a fat, small man, who was exactly the opposite of the tall but thin Nieven.

‘America’s youngest general ever, Galusha Pennypacker, became a one star at the age of 20…’ said a self-important civilian, showing off his knowledge, ‘but in today’s world your results are very noteworthy.’

‘Thank you, Mr. Assistant Secretary!’ said Nieven, nodding rigidly. The Assistant Secretary of Defense answered with a confident smile. Apparently, he felt that he was due a pretty high level of admiration. He had intelligent dark eyes, greying hair and features hinting at a Middle-Eastern origin. He was called the Dark Prince by many, Nieven recalled, as he was the hardliner of hardliners on most issues and had some unearthly powers of persuasion. His influence in the Pentagon was way stronger than usual for an assistant secretary.

‘You’re wrong Richard, the youngest, LaFayette, was only 19 years old,’ said a third civilian in a dry, low voice. ‘But this shouldn’t bother you, General Nieven. Age is not important. Eleven of our generals became presidents, but Pennypacker and La Fayette were not among them... Of course, Eisenhower was the last. I guess it would be good for the nation to be led again by someone who knows what war is. Anyway, I’m glad to meet you. Call me Paul!’

Nieven didn’t recognize him for a second, then he realized who this fellow was. Well, he should rather be called Wolfy. He had left the Pentagon a few years back and now worked for Foggy Bottom. Ambassador to somewhere, maybe Malaysia? Or Indonesia? What are they looking for? Cap and Paul—thought Nieven. Is this a test? Now he was sure it was.

After a few more introductions he found himself feeling accepted into the crowd of high fliers. The usual power plays were underway. The sharing of nasty rumors, the sneaky attacks on opponents and friends alike, who happened to be somewhere else, and then on to the game who is the smartest fellow in the room? Paul stood in the middle of the crowd and played the role of Mr. Clever pretty well. People started to gather around him. Apparently, he was the one who always feels he is the most brilliant in any company. Even here, among far higher ranking heavyweights.

‘Few people see it, but the Russians are pretty much finished. They cannot compete with us in the arms race and the cost of the war in Afghanistan is killing them. The low oil price is killing them even more. Soon a new world will begin, with no bi-polar confrontation, as one of the poles, Moscow, will be badly weakened. I bet it is gonna be hard for them to keep Eastern Europe, let alone Afghanistan, or their costly colonies in Angola and Somalia. But this world could be more dangerous than the one we have now. In the Middle East dictators and terrorists are plotting against us and Israel. When the Iraqi-Iranian war ends, and it will, unfortunately pretty soon, two of our great enemies will return to the stage of history. And of course, China is rising. Don’t underestimate them—today they are still a joke, but their sun is rising fast! We should think about stopping them after we have dealt with the Ruskies. And of course, it is a question of how Europe will evolve when they no longer fear the Reds. Where are the French going? They are losers, but still, Europe is a potential problem for us. What will happen to Germany? Yeah, that is even more important! On the other hand, there is the CNN effect. Even though we can manipulate the media, we can defend our interests less openly than before.’

This was the moment when the Assistant Secretary, the right-hand man of Weinberger, pulled Nieven away from the crowd to a silent corner. Politely, but firmly. He handed the General a Budweiser. A beer Nieven truly hated. Receptions are awful, he thought again

‘Good speech. Paul is a genius, a good friend of mine. That is exactly what the situation is. We have to prepare for the new challenges. The press is sniffing around, getting bolder and bolder since Watergate. A shame. We need to get them back into line. We need clever people who know how spin works. Then, of course, we have the naïveté of our opponents. Many Democrats are living in a fantasy—they would gladly disarm America after the end of the Soviet menace. World peace is coming, Hallelujah! Well no, the real dangers are directly ahead of us. It is mainly terrorism—you know this very well from Lebanon. How many good Americans were killed by the Reds, and how many by the Arabs? This is a new kind of enemy and we need new tactics and tools to fight it. There are some things we cannot leave to formal structures, like the CIA or the Pentagon. Big fine machines they are, but react too slowly and their hands are tied by our awful political process. Bureaucracy and politics. Rules. Terrible brakes on meaningful action. Weak-willed leaders. Everybody is afraid to do things.

We already have trouble, I cannot tell you what it is, but it’s serious indeed.’

The Assistant Secretary paused for a moment, and nodded sadly.

‘Serious indeed… All this will make our lives harder. And the lives of all Americans more dangerous. When we are finally able to make a decision to strike, the enemy is already far away. Or has destroyed Pearl Harbor. We have the strength to strike, but if we want to lose less American blood, we have to strike preventively. And of course, we have to use tricks that our wise Congress would never accept. For that, some things need to be contracted out. Gentle touches to promote the cause of the United States. By a group which is outside the institutional structures, but still within.’

Gentle touches...

A metallic taste came to General Nieven’s mouth as he comprehended the message. Good God! The Assistant Secretary dictates a very fast pace, he thought. He knew these tricks, and the magicians who dreamed them up. Some tricks were pure hallucination, some were extremely cruel but effective. He had cooperated with the White House, with a Lieutenant Colonel called Oliver North in 1983, to avenge 240 good Americans killed by Hezbollah. North, the Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs, had had the ear of President Reagan and had been more important than many four-star Generals. The operation in Lebanon had turned into a nightmare. The explosives had been handed over by his team to the CIA, who had given them to a bunch of halfwit locals. They had killed eighty people. A gentle touch. None of the Hezbollah masterminds had been among the dead. It was a dirty game. Ollie North had no more magic tricks; he was nearing his end as the Wizard of the White House, and it would be an ugly end, Nieven was sure.

‘We are a nation at risk in a dangerous world. Sometimes it is necessary to do radical things to avoid greater tragedies. Little sacrifices for the greater good,’ he replied diplomatically.

‘Correct, correct, the greater good is what we have to see! The bigger picture. There is evil in this world. A lot of evil. I see you understand! We shouldn’t be ashamed that we are the good guys. The cowboys in white hats. We must act, it is our responsibility because we are strong. We have to fight evil by all means. For the sake of America, and generally for a better world. You have already shown how tough and radical you can be. And trustworthy. This is what really matters. You come from an old Republican family and you have a lot of admirers. One even said that you have a heart of iron.’

Nieven disliked his back being patted by the Assistant Secretary of Defense but tried to show his appreciation with a nod. The man continued in the same breath. ‘Why don’t you come over to my office in the Pentagon to keep talking about this and…?’

A loud roar interrupted the sentence.

‘Gentlemen, gentlemen!’

Some people enthusiastically started hushing the room. ‘Quiet, quiet!’ The roar came from the Secretary of Defense himself. Weinberger had a wide grin on his face.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, as I have just been informed, in the next few minutes we have a Soviet spy satellite, a Zenit 8 passing over us. Let‘s take a group picture and wave to our friends in the Evil Empire! Come on, let’s go down to the beach. We must remember this day because we are rarely able to get together like this.’

The Zenith 8 was of course unable to recognize faces. It was interested only in the military and industrial facilities of Norfolk, Newport News, and Virginia Beach. It was an exercise in futility, the Soviet Union had lost the naval race initiated by Admiral Gorshkov years ago. Actually, the Russians never really had a chance with their pretty weak naval industry and lackluster naval tradition. The great Soviet fleet, always far smaller in numbers and far inferior in quality compared to the American fleet, were left to rot in harbors, badly maintained.

‘Come on, General!’ The Assistant Secretary had a keen sense of always following his boss. The group of around thirty walked down to the parking lot. The wind was still pretty hot, but autumn was in the air. The American flag flew high and proud over the building. The helicopter was still circling over the grey water. Nieven looked at the sky, forgetting about all the important people around him. Clever Wolfy, who looked like a fox, the fat Boeing guy, the Assistant Secretary nicknamed Dark Prince, and even the roaring Weinberger. Who doesn’t want to transform history? Is that the reason they made him a general? Because they thought he was prone to non-conventional solutions?

Yes, they had reason to believe it. He had participated in many black operations. And he hated the bickering of politicians. The backstabbing in Congress. The whining of those idiots on the Hill who had never seen combat. Yes, they never saw the blood of Americans spilled in vain in faraway countries. They were responsible for the crime of withdrawing from Vietnam when America was so close to victory. So many had died for nothing. His friends, his comrades.

These powerful bigmouth high fliers were different. At least they seemed to be on the side of action. He had no illusions about them. They are aggressive bastards, whose friendliness disappears faster than light when they smell resistance. For them, he is a tool. But at least they want to do something. It was a seemingly close-knit circle of friends, and he realized that indeed, he was in a new world. He had seen the outlines of it from afar before. He heard rumors, how things are, and how the idea of a new America is on the rise. An America which will never again fight half-heartedly, an America which will protect its position as the strongest nation on Earth against all contenders: Russians, Chinese, or even the Europeans, should they manage to grow balls. Not only for her own sake but for the Greater Good of Mankind. Of course.

‘Come on, General, don’t miss the picture! Come on, we won’t wait for eternity!’

The voice of the Secretary of Defense was impatient. While he was thinking, everyone took a position, the closer to Weinberger the better. The photographer was ready and was only waiting for him. He reacted quickly, jogging to the very edge of the group, modestly.

A month later, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Laurence North, the Great Wizard of shady operations, was removed from the White House. General Nieven received an invitation from Weinberger to a Christmas party in December. Delicate subjects were not discussed, just banalities, but he felt he was being observed. Every word of his, even his body language. Then some meetings were arranged in January, a full tour of the Pentagon indeed. A lot of questions were asked. What is your opinion of the Arabs? How do you see Israel? The Russians? What can be done for America and what is not acceptable even for the greater good of the nation? Sometimes he had guessed what kind of answer they expect from him, sometimes not. Anyway, he didn’t care, he replied honestly to everything. Finally, in the spring of 1987, he was called to the Pentagon by the Assistant Secretary of Defense. The dark-eyed man told General Nieven that he would leave office soon to organize a larger project. He offered Nieven a job in that. Not an Ollie North type of job in a formal structure. Not at all. Something far more interesting and creative. Beyond rules and bureaucracies. Nieven would receive a new assignment of course in the formal structures. In the newly established United States Special Operations Command.

‘You go down to

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