Friday, August 13, 2010
America must support Israel
Much has been said about Israel's relationship status with the United States, but this time it is too much talk and not enough support.
This IS the critical time in the Middle East. The next several decades will see Oil exports from the region to the rest of the world dry up completely. It then follows that this is the moment for Iran's nuclear ambitions to be realized, and with it their influence world wide as well as among their neighbors.
What really stands between us and a nuclear armed Iran?
Israel has proved to be the best friend the U.S. could possibly have hoped for... and they remain the only true democracy in the Middle East. The Palestinian issue is small potatoes compared with a nuclear armed Iran. This is THE MOMENT for American support of Israel to be demonstrated as clear and unwavering. Iran is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power. That this is unacceptable does not need mentioning... this must simply not be allowed to come to pass.
If ever the U.S. needed Israel, and it is now more than ever, Israel needs the U.S. even more. To allow a nuclear armed Iran to exist is to sow the seeds for the destruction of BOTH countries. There are no guarantees in this world. Even a stable, liberal democracy like Israel could make a strategic mistake or military error, and in believing they were under nuclear attack make the first move in the final act for civilization.
Which brings me to my book... I have taken to writing a fiction of a possible future in the aftermath of a Middle East nuclear exchange. Herewith is Chapter 2.
There were no means with which to confirm what the provocation was. Confirmation wasn’t really necessary. Israel and the several Persian Gulf nations had experienced a nuclear event. Israel, Iran, and Pakistan each had been the sight of a nuclear explosion(s), with loss of human life estimated in the tens, and perhaps hundreds of millions.
Within hours of the news, and not knowing what had happened or what city would be targeted next, people began to poor out of the world’s major cities. New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Sao Paolo, and Moscow were in the beginning throws of anarchy. People with nowhere to go were trying to get away from the one place they belonged. Within 24 hours the various regional and state governments in the United States declared martial law and put a stop to the “unauthorized travel” of civilians. But martial law does not work as well in a country filled with armed civilians, and a police and National Guard unwilling to ruthlessly repress their own neighbors - and 24 hours gave many people time to flee. For the first few days no major violence or lawlessness was reported.
At first, no one seemed to know what to do. Offices, stores, and government offices were closed – people feared that their city might be next – as no one showed up for work. Despite the ban on travel, some of the mobile urban population had managed to relocate from the cities. Those that remained wandered about aimlessly, in shock and disbelief. Yesterday, the kids had little league, mothers went grocery shopping, and fathers went about their business. Today, the grocery stores were empty, black markets erupted for everything from gasoline to prostitution, and the concept of the “business as usual” was no more than a memory.
Food had run dangerously low in American cities within days of the nuclear exchanges. Water was still running to people’s homes, as was electricity, but food shipments had stopped completely. The people of cities like New York City, Miami, and Atlanta had the food in their pantries and nothing more for nearly 2 weeks, and garbage was beginning to pile up on the streets. Fuel supplies had dried up with the food supply, so even if the municipal workers were able to get to work, there was not any fuel with which to run the trucks and other heavy equipment. The United States was still receiving some of the ships, which were “escorted” to American ports by the U.S. Navy, loaded with oil that were near their coasts at the time of the bombings, but the Federal government had appropriated all of this oil for its own uses, as very little imported oil was expected in the near future.
Oil, in the form of gasoline and diesel, was the critical issue. Without it the economy ground to a standstill. Commuters could no longer drive to work; truckers could not transport goods leaving store shelves as bare as a winter tree.
A considerable health threat in major cities was burgeoning in the form of untreated sewage. Within a month, water was no longer being pumped into people’s homes. Toilets became inoperable, and improvised rainwater catchment devices were everywhere. Unfortunately, it didn’t rain. Nature still called, but toilets did not flush. People improvised. All of New York City smelled like a subway bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks.
The National Guard set up food and water distribution posts, but it was a hot summer, and the provisions were in short supply. A rationing system was instituted within 2 weeks of the bombings, but it was hardly enough to maintain a minimal caloric intake for the people living in the large cities. Pets began to “disappear”, which in places like New York City was a significant positive as their droppings only contributed to the miasmic environment.
Violence began to break out. Not the roving gang violence of survivalist fiction, but there was little law enforcement could do in the way of an investigation and many people took advantage of this fact to settle old scores. Husbands threw moody wives out of windows, and wives beat the brains out of sleeping alcoholic husbands with hammers and cast iron frying pans. Jealous boyfriends murdered men suspected of having consorted with their women. The bodies, wrapped in sheets or blankets but sometimes nothing at all, of the deceased were left outside on the street.
Radio and television programming was controlled by the government, but the Internet was still somewhat viable, whether because of government inaction or because of superior private programming. An explanation of bombings went something like this:
Israel struck Iran with a nuclear weapon first, destroying the city of Tehran and the coastal Island of Qushm in the Persian Gulf, whether in response to a nuclear, biological, or chemical threat or some other threat from Iran was unknown. Within an hour Pakistan launched a nuclear attack against Israel, which in turn launched a counter attack on Karachi and Islamabad. India then unleashed several nuclear devices on Israel. The nation of Israel no longer existed as a functioning country, most of its people lay dead, and its government and military were completely destroyed. If the Israeli nuclear-armed submarines existed, they did not fire their weapons on India. If it did exist, perhaps its captain saw the futility in killing millions of innocents for a nation that no longer existed.
The world was angry. Jews everywhere were on the defensive. Then the indiscriminate killing of Jews the world over began in earnest. It was an irony not lost on many Jews that the Israeli nuclear weapons designed to provide a safe place for them had turned the entire world against them, and might have been responsible for the slaughter of 3 million Israeli Jews, not to mention millions of non-Jews living in and around Israel.
The mayor of New York had a crisis within a crisis. New York has the largest Jewish population of any city in the world, and the city was in the process of unraveling. Now there were numerous reports of the city’s Jews being murdered in reprisal for Israel’s nuclear attack on Iran. Thousands had been killed. Secular Jews in Manhattan, Northern New Jersey, and Westchester had taken up arms to defend themselves, but observant Jews made easily identifiable targets and most had never held a weapon in their hand, let alone owned a gun. Their homes were burned. Even those that escaped violence were constantly harassed with insults: “Murderers!” “Nazi!” Many people the world over blamed Jews for financially supporting the nation that unleashed the nuclear Pandora’s box once again, but in New York City the killings seemed to be organized by Muslim groups. Rumors of armed young men crossing the Hudson River into New York City from New Jersey were particularly chilling, as it occurred to the Mayor and the police brass that perhaps the group or groups that had orchestrated the assassinations of high profile financial supporters of Israel were behind these attacks as well.
The food crisis was at a critical juncture. People were making their way out of the Metropolitan area to the countryside as the authorities did little to enforce the ban on civilian travel. What was the point? The authorities could not provide enough food and water for the urban population. It was either allow the people to fend for themselves seeking shelter with friends and relatives in the suburbs and rural areas, or crush the subsequent food riots.
Officially, civilian travel was still banned and there was no public transit service available. Only people young and healthy enough to walk, or lucky enough to possess a bike, could make an attempt at self-rescue by fleeing the cities. Older people, sick people, and fat people – the number of obese people had shrunk considerably since the bombings– were left behind, as were women with young children.
By late September, 8 weeks into the crisis nearly every able-bodied person had fled the major metropolitan areas, though many never made it past the city’s sprawl. There was no banking system anymore. People who abandoned the major cities for fear of another nuclear exchange had abandoned their homes and cars, and their mortgages and car loans. Money could no longer buy food. Barter quickly became the only medium of exchange. The food transport system had completely broken down, with government supplies spotty at best, and criminal to say the least. Mothers of young children sold themselves to the soldiers and police that were supposed to protect them for food to feed their hungry children.
Though no nuclear attack had been sustained in North America or Europe, the fear of attack had brought their respective societies to their knees. The economic, legal, and food distribution system of the Western societies required the confidence of the populace in order to function, and that confidence was no more. Truckers on the road transporting goods simply kept the those goods as barter items as there was no one to deliver them to, and no police to stop them. The Manhattan corner green grocer hoarded his inventory of canned goods for his own family. Lawyers had nothing to do and no place to do it. Police, Firemen, and other essential services personnel ceased showing up for work, and hospitals remained closed. With the value of cash currency at zero, people worked at the only thing that made any sense – scrounging food. What else can a city of several million people do when they have no job to go to and no store to buy food from? They were in no position to produce food. It was early summer at the time of the bombings making gardening an option for next spring, at best. People living in cities and suburbs had no livestock. Fishing poles, small game rifles, nets, traps, lighters, matches, and grills all became hot barter items, but mostly it was a scramble to barter for processed food items that existed within the system prior to the bombings. Everyone knew that these would not last long.
It seemed surreal to Martin as he, his wife, and two young daughters made their way north along the rail road tracks on the east side of the Hudson River. Martin had been a Wall Street professional, one of the thousands of well-paid foot soldiers that ground out the work for the “Masters of the Universe”, the day before the bombings, but had recently finished his Talmudic studies and had been ordained a Rabbi in Israel just 9 months earlier. His yeshiva was gone, his friends were gone, and his country was gone.
No, I am an American. I am a Jew, but I am an American.
They carried their clothes on their backs. Mercifully, he thought to himself, it was not winter, or this trek would not be possible. He and his family carried all of their worldly possessions on their backs. He was thankful that he and his wife had kept the backpacks they had used in Europe over a decade ago, while the girls used the backpacks that kids now used as book bags. They had a change of clothes, sleeping bags, and some food, plus the items that he would need to lead the family in observance of their traditions.
Martin was well educated, as was his wife. It was now 8 weeks since the bombings. They were lucky, as Martin’s wife, Miriam had always kept 3 months of food in the home in case of emergencies. Actually, the tradition came from her mother, Ruth, a Jewish survivor of the Nazi war in Europe.
Ruth’s family placed her with a Catholic family in the Polish countryside in what at the time was thought to be an overabundance of caution. It wasn’t. Ruth’s family was lost to the world in the Holocaust. The Catholic family that was hosting Ruth were righteous folk, risking their lives to hide her. Once, as the Nazi’s were approaching the farming village where Ruth was in hiding, the mother of the house took her into the woods and told Ruth not to move until she returned. Ruth was 14 at the time, and was left alone in the dark, freezing woods with nothing but a stout wool blanket. Terrified, the young girl looked up at her guardian who said calmly:
“Someone will come back for you. Do not move from this spot. If we are still alive, we will come for you.”
Ruth sat there alone in the twilight, terrified, alone, but not cold. She would always remember the warmth of that woolen blanket, and would knit a woolen blanket for each of her children and grandchildren as they came into the world to honor kind Katrina, the woman who now was disappearing in the distance on her way home to the terror of Nazi soldiers.
Ruth sat there through the night, terribly alone, unsleeping, wondering if they had been killed, or had abandoned her. When she saw the family dog come running toward her the next afternoon, her heart leapt for joy. They were alive, and they had not abandoned her. Ruth learned much living on that farm. How to care for livestock, how to garden and preserve food, and the importance of keeping enough food on hand in case of disasters like crop failure or livestock illness.
It was Katrina’s influence that kept this family unit, on another continent and 60 years later, sustained during the early weeks after the bombings.
Still, the “Writing was on the Wall”. Martin had a background in economics, and knew that the system they had come to rely on for necessities like shelter, heat, food, water, and healthcare no longer existed, and that like the childhood rhyme “Humpty-Dumpty”, was unlikely to be put back together again any time soon. They literally walked out of Manhattan, heading north along the train tracks, making it to Westchester county in one day. He knew that in a forced march situation armies had walked 40 miles in a day. He felt his girls, not yet eleven years old might make 20 miles if pushed hard. He underestimated them. They made it to the village of Hastings that night, after walking for 11 hours.
They had enough food and water in their packs for 3, maybe 4 days, trekking like this. That night they slept in the Hastings train station, and were pleasantly surprised to find that the bathrooms still had running water. They had slept well enough and continued on their way up the railroad tracks north from Hastings, past the villages of Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington, and by early afternoon had come to the village of Tarrytown were Martin hoped to seek assistance from a friend’s brother. The friend and Martin had known each other for over 25 years and had worked together at several Wall Street firms, but Martin’s friend had retired to a hobby farm down south. Still, Martin felt he could reach out to the brother and seek assistance. He wasn’t looking for much, just some food for their backpacks and a safe place to rest before continuing their journey.
Martin had a general idea of where Walt Thomas lived, as he had reviewed the address in his address book with a map he found on-line. With Miriam and the girls in tow, he trudged up Main Street. The buildings appeared dark on either side of him, and many people were milling about Main St. with little or nothing to do. As there were no cars on the road, the family walked in the middle of the Street. Earlier this summer doing so might have cost them their lives, but there was little danger to pedestrians of being struck by a car now.
Walt Thomas was at his computer surfing the web when reports started to come in that a major “destructive event”, perhaps an earthquake, had hit Tehran. He thought little of it, earthquakes happen after all, and thankfully they usually happen to someone else. About 45 minutes after the first reports of Iran’s “event”, reports started to come over the web that a major “destructive event” had just been reported in Israel. Within minutes, all news sites were reporting that perhaps a nuclear catastrophe had taken place, when the reports started to come in that Pakistan had sustained a nuclear blast. Walt reached for his cell phone. He hit his son’s number on speed dial.
“All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later.”
He waited a minute and redialed his son.
“All circuits are busy…”
Walt got up from his computer, walked to the kitchen and out the back door to his car, got in, and raced his car down the hill to the local grocery store. A volunteer fireman and former boy scout, most of Walt’s family lived in Florida where a hurricane left them without power for 6 weeks. He understood emergencies – people still need to eat, drink, wipe their ass, and wash their hands. He ran into the store to buy supplies of every stripe only to find that he was not alone. Other quick thinking folks had the same idea and were quickly emptying the isles. When he got to the check out counter, Walt was astonished to see that they were still accepting credit cards.
The first report of Iran’s “event” was 72 minutes ago. The first mention of “nuclear” was less than 30 minutes old.
From the grocery store Walt drove to the gas station and convenience store he owned in town. The clerk was behind the counter listening to an Indian pop recording and seemed to have no idea of the events of the past 90 minutes. Walt sent him home with a week’s worth of bread, milk, and eggs telling him to get his family together.
I wonder if there will even be electricity in his house when he gets home.
The lights were still on at the station, so Walt filled his car with gas, grabbed 5, 5 gallon gas containers from inside the store and filled them as well. He walked back into the store, locked the front door behind him, and turned off the pump lights and all of the indoor lights except the “night lights” that were always on for security purposes.
Walt looked up as headlights came into the pump island area of the station. It was his son, Manny. Walt strode to the front door and unlocked it and Manny stepped inside.
“Holy shit!” said Manny
“Holy shit is right.” replied Walt. “Go out back and get every box that will hold something and bring it in here. We’ll take all the food and all of the drinks up to the house. Fill those gasoline cans and put them in the back of your truck, and top off your tank just in case.”
Father and son proceeded to load all of the canned goods, refrigerated foods, snack bags, donuts, sugar, soaps and the rest of the various and sundry products one would expect to find at a gas station’s convenience store without a word between them. After the store was emptied Walt locked the gas pumps, turned off the switch to the pump, and then flipped all of the breakers in the main electric utility box killing all power to the building. He hoped that people would look at the empty shelves and the dark building and perimeter and assume there was nothing left to steal. Of course, there was still 20,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel in the tanks in the ground. But without a “key” for the fill valve and some specialized pumping equipment that fuel would be not easily be stolen. Finally, he located a piece of plywood that had come with some of the wood pallets that the food was delivered on, and spray painted large block letters in bright orange, the only spray paint on hand, “SORRY, NO GAS”, and placed the makeshift sign in front of the front door, which he locked behind him. Manny was still loading boxes into the back of his truck.
“When you’re finished, take everything up to the house and bring everything inside and down into the basement. OK?” Said Walt.
“OK. Where are you going?”
“Down to the shop to get every tool I can fit in the car, and anything else I can think of. I’ll meet you at the house in an hour. Tell your mother to wait there for me and not to leave the house until I get home.”
“K”, said Manny.
It had been less than 3 hours since the news of a nuclear explosion in Iran and Israel, and now Pakistan. The Internet was still operating but the phone system was overwhelmed by the surge in traffic. Walt marveled that the Web, which for him ran over the phone lines in the form of DSL from his local phone company, was still working. Still, there was no official word from the U.S. Government. All of the reports were coming from Bloggers and international news services. The trains coming north from Grand Central Terminal were absolutely packed, standing room only. The express to Tarrytown had just disgorged her passengers, most of whom did not live in Tarrytown but, as no one had any idea who had done what and who was going to be next, were afraid that New York City might be the next target of a nuclear attack. They fled to the train station upon hearing the news taking the next train headed out of the city without concern as to where the train was heading, so long as it was heading away from Manhattan.
Hundreds of people were milling about the train station platform waiting for the next north bound train. Tarrytown is only 35 miles north of mid-town Manhattan, if New York City was to be the sight of the next nuclear attack, 35 miles was not far enough away.
Walt had returned home with his car loaded with anything he could scrounge from his repair shop that might prove valuable in the future. Hand tools, diesel storage cans, paper, pens, a .357 magnum handgun he kept in a safe at the shop because his wife refused to allow the weapon in their home. She did not know about the .22. caliber assault rifle he purchased over a decade earlier that was in their clothes closet behind the suits he never wore and no longer fit him. He had 3 boxes of ammo for the handgun. He wondered how long the ammo kept for, as he had purchased them at the same time as the handgun 5 years ago. He had not fired the weapon since attending the firearm safety class required for a pistol permit.
He drove up the hill from his shop to his home. His wife, Jenny, was outside in the driveway waiting for him.
It had been 3 weeks since the bombings. The 20,000 gallons of fuel at Walt’s gas station had been removed by the National Guard, but not before Walt secured enough diesel to use as heating oil for the coming winter, as well as several hundred gallons that he stored in various containers in his basement. One of his brothers lived on a farm in South Carolina. If things got bad in metro New York he thought he would be able to make the 800-mile drive to his brother’s place, or at least he hoped he would make it there.
He had not worked at his business since the bombings. Most of the fuel in the local gas stations either sold out within hours of the bombings or was seized by the Army. There was no gasoline to sell. People could only travel as far as they could walk or bicycle.
The United States consumes roughly 9.6 million barrels of gasoline per day, nearly 420 million gallons of gasoline each and every day. In addition the U.S. consumes another 11 million barrels of oil for diesel, heating oil, industrial uses, and electricity generation among other uses. Of the 20 odd million barrels per day of liquid petroleum products that the U.S. consumes, nearly 13 million barrels were imported. Those imports had nearly ceased. The continental U.S. had to survive on only the oil it produced, just over 8 million barrels per day. After federal, state, and local governments got through with their requirements, there was little to no fuel available to the general population. Without the lifeblood of the American economy, traditional commerce ground to a halt.