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Previously in "Saecula:” An elite Republican
cabal conspires to fix the
2008 presidential election, but its plans
to embezzle money from the RNC
are uncovered and lead to murder.
Democratic congressman Jack Stibik
and his mentor, Professor Gar Reynolds,
reunite. Martys, Jack's twin brother
and Delta Force veteran, visits Annapolis.
Congressional hearings begin on
the disasterous Islamic war.
Today’s star witness was L. Robert Perkins, the pretentious, insufferable
Secretary of State. When Colin Powell left
the administration to cleanse his soul following the 2004 elections,
the White House determined it wanted no more
“loose cannons” in Foggy Bottom. Powell had stuck a stick in the spokes
of its plans to invade Iraq when he insisted
on taking the proposition to the U.N. The Secretary of Defense and
the Vice President were apoplectic. Friction
between State and Defense was legendary going back to Thomas Jefferson
and Henry Knox fighting over Indian treaties.
In this case, the animosity was palpable.
Perkins was the third Secretary in as many years. The first died of
heart failure after just a month in office. Wags claimed it
resulted from his learning of the real reasons the administration took
the country to war in the first place. The second resigned
after refusing to accede to the President’s decision to increase the
number of troops in Iraq from 140,000 to 250,000, as a
result of the actions of the democratically elected Sadr government.
The Secretary argued the U.S. had gotten exactly what
it set out to accomplish. Iraq was a stable, democratic nation, whose
policies it could best defuse by reducing its detested
presence there and throughout the Middle East. More troops would further
aggravate the situation. Perkins, on the other
hand, whose moods ranged from oblivious to indifferent, could care
less if the United States invaded Canada, as long as
he had the title and perqs to go with the office.
After the Republicans lobbed several softballs for Perkins to belt out
of the ballpark, it was Winnie Scott’s turn. Following
several preliminary questions, she went to town.
“Mr. Secretary, the United States has now been fighting in the Middle
East and throughout South Asia and North Africa
against Islamic Jihadists since 2001. First, we invaded Afghanistan
to dislodge the Taliban and destroy al-Qaida. We entered
Iraq the following year to overthrow Saddam Hussein and find his fictitious
weapons of mass destruction. Let me review for
you just what has been accomplished in those six years.
“Instead of creating the beacon of democracy for its neighbors that
administration officials claimed would result, the incredibly
inept handling of the post-war Iraqi reconstruction, AKA occupation,
created the only aspect of the administration’s case for
war that came true. Iraq provided sanctuary for terrorists. Of course,
they weren’t there until the U.S. removed the person
who was responsible for keeping them out, Saddam Hussein.
“Jihadists have convinced governments in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Malaysia
and Pakistan, among others, to ‘reexamine’ their arrangements with the
West. Afghanistan, surrounded by fundamentalist-led nations -- Iran on
the west and Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan and Pakistan on the north and east -- has, for all intents
and purposes, disappeared as a country. It is essentially
shrunk to the besieged capital of Kabul, with the countryside controlled
by remnants of the Taliban and regional warlords
who have reestablished Afghanistan’s preeminence as the world’s leading
“In southeast Asia, Indonesia is teetering. In non-Muslim nations, groups
loosely aligned with al-Qaida, such as Jemaah
Islamiyah in Thailand’s Narathiwat peninsula and Abu Sayyaf in the
Philippines’ southern Mindanao region led revolts to
establish breakaway Islamic states. Even in totalitarian China, Uighurs
in the northwest Muslim province of Xinjiang, at the
eastern end of the ancient Silk Road trade route linking China to Central
Asia and ultimately Europe, demonstrated the
breadth of Islamic reach in successfully revolting against Beijing.
“On the horn of Africa, Djibouti, home to the small CIA counterterrorism
task force headquarters, was overrun by
neighboring Somali tribesmen. Together with the newly hostile governments
of Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden, and Egypt,
they have essentially eliminated Red Sea ports for American naval ships
and oil tankers.
“After six years of shedding American blood, we’re barely managing to
cling to Kabul, Basra and Jakarta. The only major
Muslim country still intact and considered safely on the side of the
West is Turkey. Although its government under Recep
Tayip Erdogan is despotic and corrupt, at least he’s our despot. We
have 150,000 troops stationed in eastern Saudi Arabia
to protect what oil fields are left. Nearly 250,000 more troops are
in the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey, Kurdistan and
Oman to stabilize those governments and battle insurgents. And, we’ve
been abandoned by every traditional ally except
Great Britain and Israel.
“This committee has heard testimony and intelligence analysis over the
last three weeks that lead me to conclude from every
indication that we are losing this war. How can that be, Mr. Secretary?
We clearly have superior force; we control the skies
and the sea lanes with massive airpower and naval forces for which
American taxpayers have been paying for years. I ask you,
how can that be?”
Perkins responded with all the predictable nonsense the administration
had been dishing out since 9/11. The Jihadists are
resentful of America’s democratic values and its affluence. (Although,
there was less and less affluence for them to resent.)
Their state-controlled media distorts American intentions, which are
only to punish those who would do harm to this country
and to support democracy for the benefit of Afghanistan and Iraq. America
will not permit rogue states to open their borders as breeding grounds
for terrorists. It’s not the United States that seeks conflict. It has
no choice but to protect itself and its friends.
It was exactly the response Winnie had expected and was waiting for
to nail this pompous charlatan. “Mr. Secretary, isn’t it
true the administration has been approached by an intermediary with
an offer of a truce? That if we were to halt hostilities
and develop a plan to withdraw our forces, there would be no further
threats against the United States?”
The hearing room erupted. This was the first anyone had heard of such
a deal in the works. The array of photographers seated
on the floor in front of the committee table began snapping pictures
of the telltale mixture of shock and venom on Perkins’ face. Reporters
paged their newsrooms using the acknowledged code to hold space for a major
breaking story. But it wasn’t the first
time a ceasefire had been proffered and ignored. In a taped message
on Al-Jazeera television before his death, bin Laden
promised to “leave alone those countries that do not carry out an onslaught
against Muslims or interfere in their affairs.”
That was when war fever in America was still raging, and the public
offer was quickly rejected and forgotten.
“Senator Scott, I am unaware of any such proposal. And, even if one
were to be proffered, what faith could the United States
put in the words of terrorists and killers? What is to prevent them
from exploiting a truce as a pretext to regroup and strike our homeland
as soon as our troops are withdrawn? Besides, as you well know, there is
no central command. Even if one faction
were to accede to something like this, what assurances would we have
that others would abide by any agreement? I’m afraid
Madam Chairwoman, it’s pure poppycock!”
The senior senator from Vermont was not about to be deterred by this
bag of wind. When Winnie had learned about the deal
three weeks ago through back channels, she was annoyed that State hadn’t
briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
chair and ranking member, as they were required to do. But, it turned
out to her benefit. If she had been briefed, she would
be prevented from disclosing her knowledge publicly. Since she had
received the information independently from a source in
the Canadian Foreign Service, who worked in the office of the intermediary,
she could use it to her advantage. She knew.
And now Perkins knew she knew.
“Mr. Secretary, let me help refresh your memory. A top representative
of an allied nation met with you, the Vice President and
the Secretary of Defense on Tuesday, September 18th to bring you this
proposal from the Joint Islamic Command. Yes or no?”
It was clear Scott was onto this. The administration had immediately
rejected the proposal, and in fact had intensified attacks
in Arabia and southern Iraq to demonstrate its disdain for the offer.
It was well aware of the growing public disenchantment
over the war and the nearly 10,000 American deaths. If even a hint
of the truce proposal got out, support for continued
fighting would drop even lower.
Perkins did a quick Washington two-step, called plausible deniability,
admitting to the meeting which probably could be
confirmed by the media with a little digging, but denying its content
that couldn’t. There was a leak somewhere. He just
couldn’t imagine where. The three principals involved knew full well
the implications of disclosure, and had agreed to not
share it even with their top lieutenants. They didn’t tell the President,
knowing his response would have been the same
as theirs, to protect him from culpability if word of the offer ever
Scott continued to push Perkins about the meeting and its agenda, but
without disclosing her source, which she had promised
not to do, she was unable to break his story. Instead, she went after
Perkins’ second point over the lack of credible assurances, referencing
the separate agreements the European Union and Russia had reached with
the JIC. The coalition of Muslim
governments, Afghan, Philippine, Indonesian and other nationalist insurgents,
and Jihadist freedom fighters had interceded and negotiated a truce in
the 18 year-old Russia-Chechnya War. The agreement allowed Russia to claim
the establishment of a face-saving “federation of brotherhood” with its
former Islamic province, but in essence created an independent nation.
The European Union, minus Britain, but including former Iraqi war partners
-- Spain, Poland and Italy -- that had refused to
join the U.S. when it reinvaded Iraq, had not seen a terror incident
since signing a peace accord with the JIC over 20 months ago.
As part of the settlements, European and Russian negotiators were required
to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the
history of western imperialism and commercial exploitation their countries
had imposed upon the Muslim third world going
back two millennia. That didn’t sit well with the xenophobic American
right wing that continued to believe America was
God’s creation on earth and could do no wrong.
However, the stipulation the administration refused to discuss, but
if truth be told, the one they really feared, was Europe’s,
and to a lesser extent, Russia’s accession to fair and just trade parameters
with Muslim countries. The United States had no
problem participating in pseudo-independent arrangements such as the
North American Free Trade Agreement, or the
World Bank, where it got to set the rules. But, the administration
and its multinational corporate partners were not about to
commit to a treaty that would ensure a fair shake for the populations
of third world countries.
The deal was to be overseen by an autonomous International Court of
Trade. The Court’s job would be first to serve as a
forum of last resort to equitably settle trade disputes between western
and Muslim nations, and second to ensure that proceeds, especially oil
revenues, were reasonably distributed to citizens throughout the recipient
nations. That stipulation essentially made superfluous the international
oil cartel’s 90 years of wining, dining and bribing Middle Eastern royalty.
It would dilute the vast
fortunes the ruling families had accumulated over nearly a century
of corruption, torture, murder and pilfering their countries’ resources.
The problem of disparity between oil rich and dirt poor Muslim countries
remained a sticking point, but Jihadist
leaders were determined to never again permit the accumulation of massive
fortunes and imposition of absolute power by
a few at the expense of their people.
After all, it was ultimately “the oil, stupid.” If Kuwait had been producing
olive oil instead of crude oil, does anyone sincerely
believe the Gulf War would have been fought? The West had grown fat
exploiting the resources and labor of Latin America,
Asia, Africa and especially the Middle East. American patronage and
weapons had secured the thrones of the Pahlavis in Iran,
the Sauds in Arabia, the Husseins in Jordan and the countless emirs
in the Peninsula’s minor sheikdoms. Along with tyrants
such as Turkey’s Erdogan, Egypt’s Mubarak and Pakistan’s Musharraf,
corporate largesse and Swiss accounts recompensed
for the sweetheart deals for cheap Arabian oil and big buck construction,
technology and agriculture contracts.
The Gulf War, at least in Osama bin Laden’s mind, had desecrated Muslim
sacred land. In turn, it precipitated his fatwa
against the United States, igniting 15 years of terrorist activity,
including the 1993 and 2001 Trade Center attacks, the
‘96 Khobar Tower and ‘98 African embassy bombings, the 2000 attack
on the USS Cole, and the 2006 boarding and
massacre on the Queen Elizabeth II.
Perkins toed the administration line in use since the Madrid commuter
train bombings in 2004. Spanish voters tossed out
the pro-war party of Jose Maria Aznar who had joined the American coalition
in Iraq in favor of the socialist candidate,
Jose Luis Zapatero, who had run on a platform of withdrawing Spanish
troops. Voters were vehemently opposed to their government’s participation
in the coalition in the first place, and took the opportunity to exercise
their democratic franchise
-- the same right America was presumably attempting to instill in Iraqis.
Predictably, the administration argued that it was
a “cut and run” policy that would only lead to more terrorism. Even
though Russia and Europe had experienced no terrorist
attacks or even thwarted attacks since signing the accords, the 35
percent of the American public that will go to its graves
still believing Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was implicated
in 9/11, considered them cowards and fools
for trusting the Jihadists.
By the time Scott finished with Perkins, it was nearing lunch recess.
Following the break, it would be Jack’s turn at the
Secretary. Whatever he had to say would be overshadowed on the evening
news shows and tomorrow’s papers by Scott’s assertions anyway. He was as
surprised -- and to tell the truth, somewhat irked -- at the disclosure
as anyone in the hearing
room. He had a special relationship with Winnie, and not just in plotting
strategy to fend off Republican malevolence.
Winnie, Jack and their spouses were close social friends, unusual in
a Congress in which Senators, relishing their exalted
positions, tended to look down their noses at their “commoner” lower
house colleagues. They vacationed together each
summer in Cape Cod, where Winnie’s family had had a beach house in
South Chatham since the1920s. During session,
whenever Alex visited from their Rutland home, the Stibiks would host
the Scotts in Annapolis. He would definitely scold
her for not tipping him in advance to her shocker.
Next in "Saecula:” Democratic Senator Winnie
Scott scuttle administration strategy
with a blockbuster disclosure.
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