Sunday, January 21, 2007

"December 7, 2008" - Weekend Fiction

The following is a short story sent to me by reader BobF. It's rather long for a blog post, so I'll present it in three parts.

December 7th, 2008
by Raymond S. Kraft

December 7, 2008, began inauspiciously. At 0753 at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the attack that had triggered America's entry into World War II, sixty-seven years before, was ceremoniously commemorated, an honor guard, taps, a 21-gun salute, the bugle's notes and the rifles' crack drifting across the bay to the USS Arizona memorial, where Admiral Arthur Peterson, USN (Ret.), laid a wreath in memory of the sailors sleeping below, one of whom was his own grandfather.

On the West coast it was 1053, and in Washington D.C. it was one fifty-three in the afternoon, 1353 military time. In 2006 America, tired of War in Iraq, had elected Democrats to modest majorities in both houses of Congress. Representative Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House, third in line for the presidency. In the spring of 2007, on a narrow, party-line vote, Congress, led by Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer refused to authorize spending to continue the war in Iraq and set September 30, 2007, as the deadline for complete withdrawal of American troops.

President Bush spoke to the country, to the American forces in Iraq, to those who had been there, and to the Iraqi people, to apologize for the short-sightedness and irresponsibility of the American congress and the tragedy he believed would follow after leaving task of nurturing a representative and stable government in Iraq half done, his voice choked, tears running down his stoic face, a betrayal of emotion for which he was resoundingly criticized and denounced in much of America's liberal media.

The level of violence across Iraq immediately subsided, as the Americans began preparations to redeploy back to the States. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised the new Congress for its clear vision and sound judgment. America's Democrats rejoiced and congratulated themselves for bringing peace with honor and ending the illegal war based on lies that George Bush had begun only to enrich his friends in the military-industrial complex and the oil business, and promised to retake the Presidency in 2008.

"The failure of many Americans, including many of the leading Democrats in Congress, and some Republicans, to fully appreciate the persistent, long-term threat posed to America's liberties and survival, and to the future of Liberal Democracies everywhere, by an Islamic Resistance Movement that envisions a world dominated and defined by an Islamic Caliphate of religious totalitarianism, and which will fight any war, make any sacrifice, suffer any hardship, and pay any price to achieve it, may prove to be the kind of blunder upon which the fate of America turns, and falls."

At 1000 on September 30, 2007, precisely on schedule, the last C-5A Galaxy carrying the last company of American combat troops in Iraq had roared down the Baghdad runway and lifted into the air. Only a few hundred American technical and military advisers and political liaisons remained in-country. The Galaxy's wheels had scarcely retracted when Iraq erupted in the real civil war many had feared and foreseen, and which many others had predicted would not happen if only the American imperialists left Iraq. Sunni militias, Shia militias, and Al Qaeda militias ravaged and savaged the country, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis known or suspected to have collaborated with the Americans, killing Shias for being Shias, Sunnis for being Sunnis, Americans for being Americans, and anyone else who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Iran offered to step in an protect Shias in the South of Iraq and the division of Iraq began without so much as a blink from the international community who were still gloating at Bush's defeat.

By noon, not one of the American advisers and liaisons left behind remained alive. Many had been beheaded as they screamed. Most of their bodies were dumped in the river and never seen again. In the next thirty days more than a million Iraqis died. The General Assembly of the United Nations voted to condemn the violence, and recessed for lunch and martinis. In America, there was no political will to redeploy back to Iraq. And after a few months of rabid bloodletting, the situation in Iraq calmed to a tense simmer of sporadic violence and political jockeying, punctuated by the occasional assassination, while several million refugees fled the country. Only Kurdistan, in the north, which had thrown up a line of its Peshmurga fighters to keep the southern violence away, remained stable and at relative peace.

In the spring of 2008 America began its quadrennial circus of a national election, and in November elected a Democrat, the Junior Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as it next president, to the surprise of few. Her running mate, to the surprise of many, was San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose intelligence, charisma, and reputation as an indefatigable campaigner for gay marriage and the homeless of San Francisco helped solidify Clinton's support among liberal Democrats who only grudgingly forgave her for not openly opposing the Iraq war sooner, and the Clinton-Newsom ticket went to the top with a narrow 50.2% lead over Republican John McCain's 49.8% of the popular vote, despite, or perhaps because of, Clinton's and Newsom's lack of foreign policy and military experience.
America, or a slim voting majority of it, felt it had had all the war it ever wanted to see, and Hillary had led her party to a glorious (if narrow) victory with the unambiguous slogan: "Clinton & Newsom: No More War." Crowds at every whistle stop had cheered and chanted, No more war! No more war! No more war! At victory parties George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice were hung and sometimes burned in effigy, enthusiastic crowds chanted "No more war!" many times more, and local bands cranked up the theme from the first Clinton electoral victory, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow . . . yesterday’s gone, yesterday's gone . . .," and indeed, it was.

President Bush had been a very lame duck since the 2006 election and with a Democratic Congress could do little but veto most of the bills it sent him. The Democrats couldn't override his vetoes, so for nearly two years almost nothing important had been accomplished by anyone on the Hill or in the White House. After the 2008 election it was transition time, flocks and herds of thoroughly demoralized Republican staff began leaving Washington in search of greener pastures, Congress adjourned for the Holidays, Democrats came house hunting, and Clinton and Newsom began the briefings they would get from a fully cooperative Bush administration on the state of the nation and the state of the world they would inherit and have to cope with for the next four years, or eight, and in those last weeks of November both Hillary and Gavin seemed to age rather quickly. The exhilaration of the campaign was over, and the weight of a tumultuous world began to settle on their shoulders.

Back in early October, 2006, North Korean President (for life) Kim Jong Il had announced the detonation of a nuclear bomb deep in a tunnel in the stony mountains of North Korea. The seismic signature had been small, and American intelligence at first doubted whether it had been a nuclear explosion at all. Traces of radioactive emissions were detected a few days later, and the intelligence estimate revised to conclude that it had been a failed test that produced perhaps only 10% or less of the expected yield, only 0.5 to 1.5 kilotons, not the 20 kilotons, at least, that Western intelligence had anticipated.

Kim Jong Il gloated. The deception had worked...
...To be continued. Please stop by tomorrow for Part 2.

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