With the withdrawal of American ground troops from Afghanistan promised for September 11, 2021, this will mark the end of a twenty year involvement in trying to solve the seemingly unsolvable problem of Afghanistan. We are not the only power that has lost its way in the dry mountains of Eastern Afghanistan or the high mountains that form a ridge along its spine, other powers have lost their way there -- the Greeks in the person of no less than Alexander the Great, the British Raj that lost an entire army in the windy stretches in retreat from Kabul, the Soviets fighting a lost battle against the Mujahadim in the 1960's, and now the United States and its NATO allies this year. This story -- the Rings of Armageddon -- was written in its rough form during my last few months at the Pentagon before I went to work at DRI/McGraw-Hill. It was a way to get some anger that I had about the mistakes that we, OSD, were making in gaming the Congress to get more money out in the form of phantom inflation. As Senior Economist I had protested the error of the indices used to no avail. In my last few months I secretly worked with OMB and the Congress to take the $ 50 billion dollars out of the budget, but I knew it was time to leave for greener and more interesting pastures to build the set of global models for trade and industry that I still work on today. That was in 1985.
In the story I wrote in a hurry during the last few weeks on an IBM double floppy disc (state of the art then) PC using a word processor that never made the grade was flawed, but the concept of a stealth satellite in Polar orbit outfitted with 50 small nuclear weapons of varying sizes and with the command and control lodged in a portable terminal is a very real possibility. It offers the least costly option for MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). With the Russians threatening new super weapons from nuclear torpedoes designed to turn East and West Coast cities into radiation zones and hypersonic cruise missiles, perhaps it is time to bring back our memories of a time before START I and II when the possibility of nuclear war was real.
Half of the story existed in a printed form, the floppy discs could not be translated into amorny word processor anyone knew, so when I was first in Santa Fe, after leaving DC, I decided to revise the story to take into account the current world we live in-- the world after 9/11 -- and before Osama Bin Laden had been found an killed. It was a time when we still were deeply involved in Afghanistan. The revised story has no time period, but much of it takes place well back in the past, during the period when America's involvement in Afghanistan was less obvious, more covert. It was the period when America and the Saudi's trained a cadre of religious zealots to fight the Soviets--the Talibs, or students, who morphed into Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the direct ancestors of these guerilla fighters who had kept Americas and the world's best troops tied up now for 20 long years. This is the story in part of the beginning of this involvement. It is also the story of a weapons system that I don't think exists, but it might just exist, circling the globe every 90 minutes, ready to strike any target on earth in minutes, without launch signature, untraceable...
I will add to ths blog a new chapter in the story every few days. To get a full copy go to Amazon.com, it is available in an ebook or a print edition.