The  Wise  One


Kenneth B. Kay


A Navy veteran of the tumultuous Vietnam and Nixon years, he served his country from inside that chaotic White House.  I cannot sing his praises enough!  As a writer and a brother, a mentor and a friend, this man has had a life-long effect on me and so many others.  Enjoy the spell he weaves with his mastery of prose and attention to detail that only his style surpasses.



Kenneth Kay



Judging from today’s headlines this title probably qualifies as a four-word oxymoron. Today diplomacy in this nation is practiced by a closed, controlled quasi-priesthood of supposedly qualified intellectuals in a rarefied atmosphere where it appears that any proposed action based on common sense is looked on as heresy. Be that as it may, what follows is a foreign policy program that I would implement if I were in charge. It is probably just as well that I am not.


Indulge me for a moment. Let me fanaticize that by some caprice of fate I become the President. I could envision the following conversation with the Secretary of State:


“Colin, come on in. Have a seat buddy. How are you doing?”


“Very well Mr. President, thank you.”


“Colin, I have a few ideas I want to run by you. Tell me what you think.”


“I’ll do my best Mr. President.”


“Fine, that’s all anyone can ask. I think I’ve hit on an idea to actually get the terrorist states on board with us in the war on terrorism. Here’s what we do. Tell each rogue nation’s leader face to face that if there is a nuclear incident on US soil that results in the loss of more than 100 American lives within one hour they can all expect similar events within their boarders beginning with their capital cities. Backing that up shouldn’t be all that difficult logistically don’t you think?”


“Well Mr. President….there is no doubt we could deliver militarily – I mean we have the capability hardware wise. If we decided to do something like that I don’t think any of them are capable of stopping us. Defense of course would have a more precise evaluation in each case but it is really just a question of proper asset management. Placing and keeping missile subs and carrier battle groups constantly within range could be easily done. One thing though sir, when this gets out on the street we won’t win any hearts and minds in their populations.”


“I’m not interested in winning the people’s hearts and minds. It’s their leader’s hearts and minds I’m after. It has been my experience that if you grab them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow. All the diplomatic options – sanctions, political pressure, bribery – all the so-called normal tactics haven’t budged one of them one inch. And the U N – let’s not even go there – has been worse than useless. I am sick and tired of having to kiss third world ass day in and day out just to have my nation’s interests frustrated at every turn. The thought of having to finance the whole nutty process too makes no sense whatsoever. The U N is ineffectual as a political body but it can be useful in providing humanitarian support. Other than that it is just a debating society and provides a place for the press to go on slow news days.”


“Even so Mr. President, The U N does have considerable influence with….”


“Influence with whom? Sadam? Fourteen resolutions in eleven years and we still had to clean his clock ourselves. That is a pretty clear case for ineffectuality in my book. Back to the basic idea, what’s your assessment of it?”


“I can see your basic point Mr. President. If we can convince them all that we mean what we say and that we will act decisively and swiftly then they will have considerable incentive not to sell or give nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. But sir, what about the rest of the WMD suite – chemical, biological, and dirty nukes?”


“Frankly I don’t see any reason to differentiate between them. If we can convince them all that we will pull the trigger for the big one why play legalistic games? I don’t think we gain anything by quantifying or qualifying our response based on the method by which hundreds of our citizens die. It’s enough for them to know that we will respond with massive total force - not just the Mississippi National Guard and a flat bed wagon. No half measures. If we play our cards right and let them all know that any WMD event will mean that they could all start glowing in the dark they might even start sharing intelligence on the terrorist networks not just with us but each other as well. If the terrorists realize that they no longer have a resource base and begin to see that they can’t trust or count on these rogue states any more, what’s left of them may just fade away.”


“That may be a bit much to hope for Mr. President. Then again the terrorists deprived of all basic resources won’t be able to mount any effective operations beyond the normal suicide bombings, kidnappings, and shootings. Even the ability to carry out those will steadily diminish especially if we keep up pressure on them. We still have a lot of capacity in Guantanamo. Selling this to the world though – even to our allies past and present – isn’t going to be easy.”


“Humph! Allies? Do we still have any? If that sounded sarcastic it was meant to be. Many in the Coalition even won’t like this. They don’t have to. I’m not running in a popularity contest here. I’m focused on saving American lives and that is what I fully intend to do. Governments are made up of men and as such more often than not exhibit the same behaviors as the individuals in charge of them. They almost always act in self-interest. All we really need to do is accurately identify those interests and educate them as to the priorities they need to adopt to realize those interests – if they know what’s good for them.”


“There’s a lot of truth in what you say Mr. President. World opinion though…..”


“World opinion counts only if we let it. Compromising on what we need to do or should do to maintain our national security based on what others think is something I will not do. The oath I took was to the people of America not to some nebulous world citizenry. We’ll probably take a lot of flack early on but once it becomes clear that what we are doing is producing positive results I expect it will tail off. Six months ought to be enough time for the press to have their hissy-fit. All I have to do is avoid impeachment for that long. Let’s move on.”


“Very well Mr. President. I expect the next area you will want to discuss is the Mid-East.”


“You expect right Colin. We’ve practiced benign neglect combined with what I view as a naïve attitude for far too long there. Our terrorism policy should give us a wider window of opportunity than our victory in Iraq did. The terrorists have milked the Palestinian situation for all it is worth. It has been an effective recruitment tool and a way for them to generate support in the Arab street that they otherwise would not have had access to. The sooner we can deprive them of that source of hate and discontent the sooner we can declare victory in that area as well. This “road map” deal doesn’t seem to be taking hold any better than anybody else’s idea in the past. That’s a shame. You and a lot of others put a lot of good solid work in on that.”


“Thank you for that Mr. President. It seems like every time we propose a program for peace one side or the other always screws it up. The Israelis are just as bad as the Palestinians. It is easy to see why all of our predecessors reached points where they just quit in disgust.”


“Well one thing is for sure. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. One reason we have problems is that the Palestinians think we are actually on Israel’s side. Shuttling back and forth between them holding separate talks leads to credibility problems with both of them I think. Until we can get a chance for a face-to-face exchange I don’t think much of any consequence is going to happen. We have to make that exchange happen first so that each of them knows with out any room for doubt what we said to the other on a real time basis.”


“That’s right Mr. President. When you negotiate with middle-eastern nations you not only have to be conscious of the substance of the talks but the process and timing of them as well. Each area is of equal importance to their minds. That’s what makes it so easy for the terrorists to disrupt them. The whole task reminds me of trying to balance a fifty-foot garden hose vertically on your little finger. The real negative is that every time you try you just look foolish.”


“You sure nailed it there, Colin! We are going to have to be just a little bit more subtle in this case than we were with the rogue states. Here’s what we do. Get them together however we can and tell them each within the earshot of the other that all and I do mean all hostile actions generated by the two legitimate governments cease immediately. No suicide attacks - no incursions no matter what provocations either of their extremist elements comes up with. When either side suffers a terrorist action, both governments must agree to work together to immediately bring those responsible to justice. Hold a summary trial and execute them within 24 hours of capture. Set a specific timetable with measurable road marks leading to the establishment of a Palestinian nation. We set the national boundaries and both live with them or else. That way there is no room for arguments. The first nation that walks away from the deal loses their right to be a nation period. That means that if the Palestinians walk out they immediately become Israelis. No Palestine now or ever as far as we are concerned; vice versa for the Israelis. As far as we are concerned they become Palestinians. We cut off all aid and diplomatic contact if they take a hike.”


“Wow!! Mr. President that will surely start a political fire storm right here at home. The Jewish community will try to tar and feather you out right just for suggesting such a policy. God help us if we ever have to carry it out.”


“Don’t I know it! But don’t get me wrong here. I surly hope we never have to do either of those negative options. It is however important that both sides think we will. I hope and pray neither side is foolish enough to call us but we can’t back down. Otherwise the whole thing will be thought of as a bluff. That’s where the subtly will need to kick in. Reality does not influence a man’s actions as much as his perception of it. Since as I have already said nations are made up of men; we need to create the perception in their minds of our ability to utterly control their reality. We could start by publicly notifying the Arab nations in the region to keep their distance or else. If the Palestinians realize they will not receive outside support and the Israelis see that they won’t be blindsided both will be more likely to stick with the process. That would also reassure the worldwide Jewish community somewhat. The Palestinians have a substantial representation here too. We should meet with both groups together here as well so there is no confusion, doubt, or suspicion about who says what to whom. If we do a good enough job of explaining the focus of our program to them and resist their arguments effectively they could even help influence the principals of the validity of our approach.”


“Boy, I don’t know Mr. President. I can follow your logic but I can feel that garden hose getting a whole lot heavier.”


“Well Colin if the increased weight made the hose a little bit stiffer and easier to balance don’t you think that would be a help?”


“Yes Mr. President but how long will we need to keep the hose balanced? I think we will need to reinforce that little finger somehow.”


“The most definitive answer I can give you Colin is as long as it takes for the principals to realize that our solution is the only one that will work to end the cycle of violence. Totally eradicating the terrorist factions on both sides is unrealistic as a initial requirement for peace. The key is getting both sides to react in unison against the terrorists. Once we see that start to happen, I think we will have turned the corner.”


“I certainly hope you are right Mr. President. However I can’t help worrying about the outside influences. The local hardliners control a lot of resources and resentment in Europe and elsewhere for us and the Israelis surely presents problems that seem to me as almost insurmountable. Add to that the religious and political climates creating instability in various places around the world and it just seems as if we are doomed to fail.”


“What you say may be true Colin but we owe it to the world to at least try. From the looks of things we are the only honest brokers in town. Besides if we take the attitude that failure will happen only if we let it, with God’s help we can pull it off. Now let’s address Europe and all our so – called allies.”


“Very well Mr. President. I have a real problem with the mind set in the press that we need to “re-establish or mend” all of our alliances as if we were some how at fault for their actions and attitudes. It is hard to control your feelings when so may of those who you thought were our friends refuse to publicly support you.”


“Yes I know Colin, the French in particular behaved in a manner I would never have expected. When they blindsided you at that press conference I know you were truly hurt and offended and I felt bad for you. Why in Heaven’s Name Chirac(sp) feels we need to be “counter-balanced” is beyond me. I think he was just casting about for a sound bite or catch phrase to use as a red herring to get his own press off his case.”


“Thank you for your concern Mr. President. That means a lot to me personally sir.  Since other things have come to light as a result of what we found in Iraq, it looks as if he sold his political soul to some of his country’s industrialists. In any case he made a bad deal. I don’t know what we should do beyond what we already have to change the situation.”


“That is my assessment exactly Colin. I don’t think we need to do anything as far as Chirac is concerned. His political days are numbered once the financial impact of our citizen’s unofficial boycott hit the French people. Their economy is going to tank and tank quickly. Much the same applies to Schroeder (sp) although his play is easier to understand. He had to appear consistent to his electorate. The difference is the Germans have been quite helpful in Afghanistan. We of course need to continue dialogue with both but I think we should let them both stew in their respective economic juices for the time being. The French and German people are not stupid. All we really need to do is to counter the misinformation their respective press is putting out. We don’t have to worry about taking vengeance against either. Besides, their comeuppance will mean more coming from their own people. The ones that disturb and disappoint me even more are Putin and Fox. The Russians did have considerable investment in the Iraqi regime and I suspect Putin was driven by internal politics more than even he would like to admit. Still I think he could have shown a little more backbone and true leadership by at least promising not to vote in the Security Council on a new resolution. China would have followed his lead too.”


“I agree Mr. President. The Russian economy is already on the ropes and they will be asking for help soonest in my estimation. Withholding assistance though will seriously destabilize Putin’s government and if that happens we may find we have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. The old Communist hardliners could negate the gains made towards a free economy so far. As for Fox, there are a lot more options we have to address his perfidy. I suggest we begin by taking a serious look at closing the border and leak it to the press. We could even say it is part of our homeland security efforts.”


“We are on the same page there, Colin. The Russians will need monetary assistance just to get by. We may need to make up the bulk of their losses in Iraq but if we do so Putin is going to owe us big time. I agree on the Fox approach but I think we can even be more open about closing the border. If Fox starts to threaten us about it I don’t have a problem with canceling the free trade initiative. I do have an abiding respect and love for the Mexican people and culture but if they think they can play on that I will just have to show them otherwise.”


“Quite right Mr. President. Well I guess we have just about covered the waterfront. I need to go pack for my next trip.”


“Hang loose for a minute Colin. I want to get Defense in here so we can go over the policy for North Korea before you leave. We have some plans that we will need your input on if and when we initiate them.”


There now, wasn’t that fun?




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