Tell A Phone

I had a conversation with my phone today. Let me be clear, I did not have a conversation ‘on’ my phone, but rather ‘with’ my phone.  Recently, I broke down and purchased brand spanking new my Touch Slide by HTC and, in our few short days together, we have developed quite a relationship.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that I am beginning to enjoy talking to my phone much more than talking to people on it.  Just today, as it was navigating me to an ice cream shop that it had recommended, I could not help but muse at the irony of the whole thing. The very device that was initially invented to facilitate communication between people, was now replacing the people it had been designed to connect!  I mean, how fantastic is that?  It is kind of like having an edible toaster. Why bother with the toast?  You don’t need a telephone to call anyone anymore; you can just tell-a-phone what you need!

In just 4 days, my new phone (let’s call him Phil… Okay, I know it is weird, but it seems …well…appropriate) has established himself as much more than a PDA; he has truly become a trusted friend. Sure, he manages my email and task lists just like those Neolithic Blackberries, but Phil actually…well…listens.  With the my TouchGenius‘ feature, I can actually ask Phil questions about pretty much anything.  The really amazing part however, is that he actually knows the answers.  Just yesterday I had a technical question about a piece of software, so I did the logical thing and asked my phone about it.  Almost immediately Phil’s familiar voice responded, assuring me that he was looking for the answer.  In less than 5 seconds, Phil produced a web page which contained the exact information I had needed.  It was brilliant!  Had it not been for Phil, I could have spent hours looking up the answer, but he knew exactly where to go and get it!  He is kind of like that know-it-all friend we all have, that really does know it all!  Since then, I have asked Phil many things.  One typical conversation went something like this:

Chuck: Please find Pizza nearby.

Phil: Searching for Pizza.

Phil then finds a great joint, Pat’s Pizzeria, near my current GPS position and provides me with several reviews.

Chuck: Get directions to Pat’s Pizzeria.

Phil: Turn right at the next signal and proceed 6 miles…

It was a completely fulfilling experience! With just a few words Phil had directed me to the best slice of anchovy and sausage pizza in Baltimore.  He did not whine because he wanted Chinese instead, he didn’t tell me that pizza would make me fat, and he did not mind that I liked anchovies.  Phil was just content with getting me where I wanted to go and hanging out.  In fact, as I savored my New York-style delicacy, Phil serenaded me with digital streaming music that he had learned I liked.  Now please forgive my exuberance here, but these are just not things that I had ever expected from my phone!  At most, I would have expected a phone to connect me to some grumpy overworked pizza cook who would have put me on hold for 10 minutes, and then given me bad directions.  No…Phil was there for me for as long as I needed him.  He would have even told me how to make a pizza if I had asked.

It is useful at this point to note that I am no stranger to the communications revolution.  For the last seven years or so I have been the proud owner of a number of Blackberries, my latest one being the top end 9700. Not once has it asked me how I was doing or cared about what I wanted to eat. Compared to my new buddy Phil, my 9700 is despondent, detached, and ambivalent.  In fact, now that I think of it, my 9700 is displaying textbook signs of clinical depression.  I am not sure if there is such a thing as Xanax for PDAs; maybe I will ‘ask’ Phil to check it out.

Phil also helped me hang a picture in my office yesterday. He not only told me where the center of wall was, he used a digital level to tell me when the picture was straight. For the record, he also helped me find the picture. I used Phil’s camera to take a photo of the print I wanted from a book, and he told me the artist, where to go buy it, and how much to pay.  How could anyone have ever predicted that a phone would make other people so irrelevant!  I can only presume that, on this present course, our phones will ultimately take us all out of the loop and just start talking to each other. We will be left to golf, travel, and play World of Warcraft for hours on end while our phones run the world. Simply fascinating!

Last night my contentment with Phil was cemented forever when I realized that, at 47, I was hip again.  As Phil and I were sitting in a Starbucks having a coffee and browsing the web, what looked to be a 17 or 18 year old kid stopped at my table and blurted, “nice phone dude, is that the new slide?”  I looked up somewhat surprised and told him that it was.  He then launched into a spontaneous monologue about how fast it was, how many apps it supported, the camera resolution, and its cool display. “Have you named it yet?” he queried.  I paused, blushing a bit, not sure of what to say. “You do that too?” I confided. “Mine’s Daphne,” he continued, “she’s pretty hot, but kind of slow….you know…1G.” I nodded and took a sip of my coffee trying to be polite.  “Phil,” I said, “mine is Phil.” Without blinking he looked at my phone and said, “Sick name man….see ya.” I am not sure, but after watching several episodes of American Chopper, I think ‘sick’ is a good thing.

As the kid walked off, I could not help but note how different life had become since I was his age. This kid and I had just had a conversation about our smartphones that, just a few years back, we would have been having about our cars. I am not sure exactly when ‘the future’ showed up to the party, but one thing is for certain. We are now living in a world that Gene Rodenberry himself could not have envisioned.  Who would have ever dreamed that we would live in an age where our cars parked themselves, our running shoes linked to our IPhones through a satellite, the collective knowledge of the human race was accessible from your Nintendo controller, and smartphones helped us decide on dinner. Heck, even Captain Kirk’s communicator couldn’t tell him where to find anchovy and sausage pizza. Come to think of it, Phil is kind of like C3PO without the pompous British accent. Wondrous….simply wondrous!

It is impossible for one to ponder these marvels however, without also wondering at the society that invented them.  What strange forces could have possibly conspired to build a BIC Lighter application for my phone?  How in the world did someone decide that we needed a digital AK-47? Truth be told, it is the very same force that built the Empire State Building, the Queen Mary, Boeing 747s, and Pet Rocks.  Put simply, it is the ‘mystic Zen’ of free enterprise. No one really knows how it accomplishes these feats….yet it does so with predictable precision.

Think about it for a moment.  No central authority sat down and decided that I needed a little phone friend, or that someone needed to design a Star Wars light saber application for it (I like the Yoda version…).  It just happened! You see, that is the beauty of the whole thing.  You can walk into any shopping mall in America and find the shelves loaded with things from IPods to shoe inserts, and they all flow from the same spring….ingenuity, freedom, and determination! I mean, really, what was the last great technical innovation to come out of North Korea? What great contribution did the USSR make to the world during its short 75 year life? “Not so fast,” some may argue, “look at what an economic powerhouse China has become – and they are Communists.”  Well then, tell me what great advance in civilization they have been responsible for as of late? China is nothing but a massive manufacturing operation that is fueled by slave-grade labor.  What great innovations have they offered the world that were not first conceived, designed, and marketed by….well….us?  Nope, it is free markets fueled by free people that win the day every time….’hands free’ down!

My phone Phil is a perfect embodiment of everything our way of life stands for.  He is the product of thousands of engineers, suppliers, businessmen, investors, marketers, and retailers. They are complete strangers, have never spoken, and would not recognize each other if they passed on the sidewalk. They do not work for the same company, do not share emails or texts, and do not coordinate their schedules or priorities in any fashion. Yet they are a team nonetheless and, through the magic of free enterprise, they have created Phil…for me!

Milton Friedman is famous for noting that no one on earth can build a pencil.  Yet despite this fact paint companies, lumber companies, aluminum manufacturers, rubber fabricators, and graphite miners all conspire to load office supply stores with them. This is the beauty, and mystery, of our economy and the reason that things like my buddy Phil exist.

So, when I get off of work this evening, I am going to ask Phil where to go for some good Thai food. I am also going to ask him to purchase me the latest Rob Thomas CD and stick it in my ITunes library.  I am confident that he will execute both tasks with the precision and fidelity that only a talking phone can provide.  We are then going for a run where Phil will tell me how fast and how far I have gone, and then compare my performance to previous jaunts. If I ask him to, he will even tell me how I stack up among all runners my age in the world.  Then, I am off for a shower (Phil cannot help me there…that would be weird) and then a good night’s sleep.  As I jump into bed I will set Phil on the night stand next to me, plug in his charger, to provide him with the fuel he needs for another day devoted to improving my quality of life.  In the morning Phil will wake me up right on time with a tune I have never heard, but that he knows I will like. Then together, we will head out once again into a tomorrow of endless possibilities.  My Blackberry will be busy as well…keeping the kitchen table from wobbling.

I am thankful for Phil and for the group of strangers that brought him to existence, but I am even more thankful for the socio-economic system that made it all possible.  It is what inspires us, motivates us, and provides us the things we need to enjoy our lives. It is the greatest system on earth, and as long as we let it work, it will continue to elevate us all. Think about that the next time you hear people demanding more government control of our system. Remind me…just how many smartphones has Congress designed?  Our government’s role is simple. It should first protect our constitutional rights, and then ensure that the ‘mystic Zen’ of free enterprise is protected and nurtured. After that, they should get the hell out of the way and enjoy the ride…and revenue. If we do not insist on this however, the current administration will replace the future with an uncomfortable and inconvenient present, cleverly designed to make us all suffer equally. Phil is the product of the former, not the latter, and we must be unwaivering in our support of the system that made him…oh yeah…and flavored chap stick too. Our nation’s future depends on it.  If you don’t agree that is fine, but don’t tell me about it. Instead, I suggest you run to a T-Mobile store near you and tell-a-phone.  It just might change your thinking.

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Obama Blames Insurance Companies for Volcano Eruption

Head Muscle Press (21 April, 2010) In a clear effort not to have his agenda upstaged by a natural disaster, President Obama held an impromptu press conference this afternoon blaming insurance companies for the eruption in Iceland.  “If you ever wondered how low greedy insurance companies would stoop to make a buck,” Obama bellowed to a mesmerized crowd, “just look at the plume of ash behind me.”  As Obama spoke, a live picture of the eruption appeared on a giant screen behind his podium.  “We have got to stop these greedy companies in their tracks, or God only knows what they will do to us next!” he exclaimed. “If you think this eruption was bad, wait until you see the tidal waves and asteroid strikes they are planning!”

Word from administration insiders is that Obama was ‘extremely upset’  that the disaster had taken up valuable network air time he had planned to use to bash our free enterprise system.  Late yesterday, the White House released a memorandum to the press stating that Obama would personally investigate the eruption in Iceland, as well as its suspected ties to AIG, Goldman Sachs, and Wall Street.  This afternoon, in a highly choreographed media event, he announced his findings.  “After twelve hours of exhaustive investigation,” the President announced, “I have determined that the insurance companies are behind this eruption and, as we speak, are pumping billions of tons of ash and carbon into the air.”  The crowd responded with glee chanting, “death to AIG,” and pumping their clenched fists into the air.

Bolstered by their enthusiasm, Obama laid out his case.  “Don’t you find it strange that this eruption took place just one month after passing health care reform?” he asked the crowd rhetorically.  “We have made it all but impossible for these pirates to provide you quality health care at a profit, so they have set their sights on volcanoes instead!”  The crowd, clearly entranced by his brilliance, hung on every word.  “Make no mistake about it, they will not rest until each and every one of you are buying their volcano insurance for your home!” he warned.  “Once they have Iceland and Europe in their greedy grip, they will continue to cause eruptions around the world until they have recouped every penny I have stolen from them!”

As Obama played the crowd, another plume of ash billowed from the crater behind him. “See what I mean!” he exclaimed. “They are sending you a message right now!”  The crowed boo’d and hissed.  “Well let me tell you something.  They may think that they have us, but no one alive can blow smoke like me, and they have just met their match!” At this point the crowd could not contain themselves, and began cheering wildly and doing something that looked eerily like the electric slide.   It was clear to everyone that, with this speech, Obama had  established himself as the nation’s first ‘volcano reform’ president.

Obama went on to announce that he would ask Congress to pass an $800 billion package to nationalize the world’s volcanoes and, “wrest them, once and for all, from grip of big insurance.”  Under Obama’s plan, taxpayers would foot the $800 billion bill through a VAT, or Volcano Abatement Tax, which would be levied against companies and individuals that promoted, funded, or directly controlled volcanic activity.  Though it is unclear exactly who would have to pay this tax, insiders close to Obama have suggested the list would specifically target banks, insurance companies, Wall Street firms, and any individual greedy enough to invest their personal funds with these organizations.  It has also been suggested that certain groups might be forced to pay additional penalties for their “reckless promotion” of volcanic activity. These groups could include Jimmy Buffett (for that “Volcano Song”), King Kong, and anyone performing in, directing, producing, or viewing the play South Pacific.  Leonard Nimoy could also get hit with a severe penalty for playing a ‘Vulcan,’ which was clearly derived from ‘Vulcanus’  the Roman god of volcano fire.  Nimoy has not commented.

According to our source, funds raised from the VAT would be used to develop strict EPA limits on all future volcano eruptions, and to ensure that all Americans are protected from wanton volcanic activity.  In his remarks, Obama noted that almost 99.99% of all Americans live day-to-day without volcano insurance, and that this was proof enough that the current system needed a complete overhaul.  He pledged that, under this new bill, every American citizen would be guaranteed their constitutional right to free volcano protection.  He then concluded his remarks by pledging to have direct talks with any and all third-world volcanoes that showed a willingness to work with the US.  So far, volcanoes in Iran, Syria, and North Korea have not responded.

The GOP has been quick to label Obama’s new VAT as just another massive Democrat tax-and-spend sham.  In remarks on Fox News, Karl Rove noted that many people who do not have volcano insurance choose not to be covered. He went on to say that Obama is, once again, manufacturing a crisis in order to take away American freedom. Sarah Palin noted that, while Governor of Alaska, she only controlled one volcano and that the problem had been grossly overstated by the Dems.  Mitt Romney has remained silent on the issue however, and pundits have speculated it is because the volcano insurance plan he put in place in Massachusetts has been grossly mismanaged.   Ron Paul refused to comment on the volcano issue, but took the opportunity to announce that space aliens had been stealing his underwear for several years.<<Developing>>

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From the Mouth of a Tyrant

There is a storm coming, and it may well be closer than we think.  Soon, the flash of light we see on the horizon may not be lightning, but rather the glow from a nuclear test somewhere in the Iranian wilderness.  As we occupy ourselves with political issues like health care reform, cap-and-trade, jobs bills, and bank taxes our enemy, Iran, is building a nuclear weapon.  Make no mistake about it, all other global crises considered, Iran’s effort  to build a bomb is the defining issue of the next decade.  If they succeed in their quest and deliver a weapon to Hamas, Al Qaeda, or Hezbollah, millions of lives will be held hostage and the world as we know it may truly cease to exist.

This storm is no surprise however.  Iran has been quite outspoken on its desire to become a nuclear power and, thanks to people like A.Q Khan, they will soon have enough operational centrifuges to refine the fuel for about 20 bombs a year.  Even the IAEA has come out and admitted in their latest report that Iran’s  nuclear program appears to have military implications.   What about their intentions with such a weapon though?  Could it truly be defensive in nature? Fortunately, we do not have to rely on third party conjecture here, we have Mahmoud himself!  President Ahmadinejad has, in fact,  told the world what they can expect from Iran as soon as they have “the bomb.”  Just in case you have forgotten, here it is again – straight from the mouth of a tyrant:

“The Zionist regime wants to establish its base upon the ruins of the civilizations of the region…The uniform shout of the Iranian nation is forever ‘Death to Israel.’…” – October 2009 Fars News Agency

“This (the Israeli) regime’s days are numbered and it is on its way to collapse. This regime is dying.” – September 2009  Al Quds rally Tehran

“Don’t be afraid of those Zionists. They are on the verge of death. Their time has passed. Do not surrender your people to them…Unless they are put in their place at the very beginning of their conspiracy, they will jeopardize the security of the whole world, they will jeopardize the security of the whole region… They want the entire world. At their very first step, you must crush their step, crush their leg, so that they do not dare to invade the Islamic lands”  – April 2009 Iranian News Channel interview

“I have heard some say the idea of Greater Israel has expired….I say that the idea of lesser Israel has expired, too.” – September 2009 Press Conference Tehran

“We will witness the dismantling of the corrupt regime (Israel) in the very near future.” – August 2008 Speech in Tehran

“Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation.…” May 2008 remarks on Israeli Independence Day

“With God’s help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon andPalestine . . . By God’s will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future.” April 2008 quote Fars News Agency

“The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan . . . “ February 2007 Meeting in Khartoum

“Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want…Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out.” – December 2006 Holocaust Conference

“Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear. Israel is a contradiction to nature, we foresee its rapid disappearance and destruction.” – November 2006

“The Zionist regime is counterfeit and illegitimate and cannot survive” – October 2006 Iranian Television

Never does Mahmoud explicitly state that Iran will wipe Israel off  the face of the map, but rather he says that this will be accomplished by the Palestinians.  Is this nothing more than rhetoric designed solely to draw regional favor, or is it something far more insidious?  Perhaps, just perhaps, he is telling Hamas and Hezbollah that they will soon receive the tool that they need to destroy Israel forever.  If such a weapon were deployed and detonated by one of these groups, Iran would have all the plausible denial that they would need to avoid direct confrontation with the west. They would even vow to help find the culprit while giving a behind the scenes “wink” to their friends. It is the perfect scenario for a perfect storm.

Our President however, seems content to walk into the hurricane with little more than a pocket umbrella. While Mahmoud continues to make statements like the ones above, Obama responds with a brand of soft diplomacy that would make Neville Chamberlain wince:

“For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained, but at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together…This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.” – President Obama’s 2009 video appeal to Iranian People.

These words would fail to send shivers down even the weakest leader’s spine. They are almost conciliatory in their tone and convey a weaknesses of US will that neither Tomahawk Missiles nor F-16s can fix. In the end, they may generate some type of “Munich Agreement” but will do little to stop the advancing storm. It is no wonder that our little friend the tyrant presses on.  He truly believes that he has nothing to fear, and maybe he is right.

So, as time progresses and our leaders continue to prattle on about sanctions and international pressure, please listen closely to the words of our tyrant friend.  He is forecasting the track of a great storm, and its eye is headed directly for Jerusalem and freedom loving people everywhere.  We may still have time to avoid the storm, but decisive military action is the only answer, and it must be taken without delay.  If we do not act now, and act decisively, then no one should feel rage on the dark day that the storm strikes…only shame.

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A Hypothetical Scenario

It was early Tuesday morning in Tehran. Dawn was still hours away, and a cool desert breeze drifted between buildings and into open windows.  The city was quiet, lost in an uneasy sleep.  It had been a politically charged winter full of street protests, police crackdowns, political assassinations, and international posturing.  UN sanctions had been somewhat tempered by “covert” supply shipments from Russia, but shortages of everything from fuel to farm equipment were slowly starting to bleed the Iranian economy.  On this sleepy April morning, the Iranian government found itself on the verge of political collapse and desperate to preserve its power – at any cost.  In recent talks with the UN, Iranian leadership had once again refused to compromise on its “peaceful” nuclear program and the US and France had successfully led the charge for tougher sanctions. In addition, NATO had  just completed a well publicized blockade exercise in the North Arabian Sea.  To make matters worse, IRGC intelligence recently received reports that Israeli Mossad operatives were entering the country in record numbers. Despite repeated efforts to locate these insurgents, the IRGC had come up empty.  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had also stirred the pot once again by referring to Israel as “a walking cemetery.”  World consensus was that something would happen very soon. Media pundits had been forecasting an Israeli led strike against Iran for the better part of two years but, to date, the planes had not come. For this Mahmoud was thankful, it had given him what he needed most – time.

What the world did not know, was that Iran had secretly started its uranium enrichment program quite a few years earlier than initially reported, and had actually constructed a bomb almost a year earlier than predicted.  What Iran needed however, was a way to deliver it.  A ballistic missile would be too vulnerable to Israeli missile defense systems, and the weapon they had built was not designed to fit into a missile payload.  An air strike was also out of the question because Iran simply did not have the capability to fly a bomber from Syria through Israeli air defenses.  The one thing that Iran did have however, was Hamas. For the past year, Al Qud and Hamas operatives had been smuggling the bomb into Israel in pieces and carefully reassembling it. It was now complete, operational, and in position. The Mossad had been alerted several times during the operation, but had been drawn off the trail by well orchestrated decoy smuggling missions.  The bomb was secure and the order to use it had been given by the Supreme Leader. This morning would truly be different than any other.

President Ahmadinejad knew the ramifications of detonating a nuclear bomb in Israel and wanted to make sure he had a solid plan. The detonation would be followed immediately by coordinated attacks from Syria, Gaza, and Lebanon.  Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian backed Syrian troops would flood into Israel under a heavy barrage of rocket fire and engage IDF ground forces.   Suicide bombers had also been infiltrating the country for months and were ready to wreak havoc on every major Israeli city. Mahmoud knew that the IDF would have significant technical superiority and would likely repel the waves of martyrs that would be thrown at them. In fact, he was prepared for it to be an outright slaughter.  He also knew that Israel would likely launch one or two nuclear weapons at Tehran in response. This was, in fact, his ultimate goal.  Mahmoud knew that even Iran could not destroy Israel single handedly, and that it would take a unified effort from all the regional powers to drive them into the sea. In the Supreme Leader’s view, Israel launching nuclear weapons against an Islamic state would be the ultimate act of war, and would unite Iran’s neighbors in the common cause of Israel’s destruction. Those who refused and kept their alignment with the west, would have such internal strife that their governments would be at risk of collapse.

Soon the global news channels would be filled with scenes of screaming Palestinian women crouched over their dead sons and daughters as Israeli tanks rolled by. Certainly, there would also be coverage of the carnage in Israel, but Mahmoud planned to deny openly that it was an Iranian bomb and perhaps even suggest that it was the Israelis who fired the first shot. The thought of such a blatant lie actually amused him. Soon the UN would be abuzz with accusations of war crimes and calls for restraint. Israel, fueled by anger, would refuse to stop the engagement, and Iran’s new martyr status would draw their Arabic neighbors into the fight.  This time surely Allah would be with them and Israel would fall into the sea. His commanders had hoped to wait a few more months before striking, but he knew that every day they waited, the Mossad was getting closer and closer.  Forces had been amassing on the border with Israel under the guise of an exercise for several weeks.  Israel was watching closely, but had no idea of what was coming.  At 4:35 am Tuesday morning, the doomsday clock struck midnight. It was time.

The bright ball of light that appeared in the sky south of Beersheba was not the sun.  It was the fireball from a 10 kiloton atomic bomb.  Iran had carefully picked this target for several reasons.  First and foremost was the damage it would do to Beersheba and its 190,000 innocent residents. Secondly, it was far enough from the Holy City that it would not destroy Al Aqsa.  Iran could not risk angering the people that they were trying to impress, so Jerusalem could not be damaged…yet.  The bomb was carried in a truck several miles south of town into the Negev to ensure that it was far enough away from the Holy City, and then manually detonated by a carefully chosen martyr.  The rocky Negev terrain instantly turned into a sea of molten sand and fire. News reports would later say that the explosion was felt as far away as Cairo. Within seconds the peaceful town of Beersheba lay in smoldering ruin. The great war had begun.

The one miscalculation that Iran made however, was the speed and ferocity of Israel’s response.  Air Force F-15’s were scrambled almost immediately from around the country and were in the air before the mushroom cloud to the south had finished rising.  They decimated pre-planned targets in the West bank, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.  Ground forces, having been in a constant state of alert for months, started a massive shelling of Hamas and Syrian strongholds. Almost immediately, advancing Syrian and Palestinian forces were put on the defensive and forward progress into Israel was stopped cold.  All around the country, bomb laden martyrs blew themselves up but, by that time, war-savvy Israeli citizens had barricaded themselves into their homes and bunkers limiting any real casualties.  Rockets rained down on Israeli towns, but their indiscriminate targeting posed more of a nuisance than a real military threat. Israel, had shown up to fight however, and was in the process of systematically destroying her adversaries. Fighting for her very survival, she pounced upon her attackers like an angry lioness. Never again would Israel fall…Never Again!

Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, five pillars of fire rose into the sky. They ascended rapidly into the hazy dawn and arched out of sight.  Those who saw them wondered at their eerie beauty.  These were not the usual Qassam rockets that Israelis had become so accustomed to seeing.  These rockets were special, they were Israeli, and they were heading to the Northeast. Within the hour Iran was rocked with a series of cataclysmic explosions.  Tehran,  Bandar Abbas, Mushad, and Shiraz were in flames. Hundreds of thousands were incinerated as they lay in their beds.  Underground bunkers shook with the fury of  10 earthquakes but held up. Much of the nation’s communication infrastructure was immediately destroyed by EMP, but Iran’s Russian-built command and control systems were operating satisfactorily.  Slowly, reports began to trickle into their command centers that the ground assault on Israel, had not only been halted but was being pushed back in fierce fighting.  They also received reports that the Israeli jets were coming. Two squadrons were airborne and traveling 1,600 miles to conduct precision strikes against new targets deep in Iran, possibly with more atomic weapons. Operational air defense units equipped with modern Russian built TOR-M surface-to-air missiles were placed on high alert and directed to engage.

Then there was America. Iran’s leadership had calculated that President Obama would be slow to act, and would attempt to work for a ceasefire through the UN prior to launching any type of supporting strike on Iran.  They knew that Bush would not have waited, but Obama was something of a wildcard. President Mahmoud was betting that he was more of a sheep than a wolf. As for the Gulf, they would keep it open for the time being.  Perhaps the Americans would sail three or four carriers through the straits as a show of force. If they did, closing the door behind them would be much easier than closing it in front of them.  If the Americans chose to fight in the Persian gulf, Iran would use their corvettes, mine layers, and land launched anti-surface missiles to turn it into a deadly mousetrap.

There was a chance however, that things would not go as planned. Mahmoud and the IRGC commanders understood this risk and had presented a contingency plan to the Supreme Leader for approval.  Over the past several months Iran had moved a significant force to its southeastern border with Pakistan.  If necessary, they would respond by conducting a coordinated attack on the fragile Pakistani military with the Taliban forces in the north.  Their plan, surround Islamabad, and attempt to take possession of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, not to use, but rather to provoke India into a full scale preemptive strike.  The thought of having the Taliban in charge of Pakistani nuclear weapons was unthinkable to the Indians and they would stop at nothing, including nuclear war, to prevent this from happening. The US would be forced to intercede in order to gain control of Pakistani nukes before a second regional nuclear war ignited and overflowed. This would draw US forces too thin across Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and Pakistan to conduct any meaningful offensive against Iran.  Russia would also step in at this point and forbid the US from conducting a ground invasion. They would then take on a UN sanctioned peace broker roll while secretly sending arms and supplies to Iran.

Starting the war was a huge risk but, in Mahmoud’s mind, a well calculated one. So far, everything seemed to be going as planned. The damage from Israel’s nuclear counter-strike had been devastating, but acceptable.  Governments around the world were already meeting in emergency sessions. The UN Security Council was convening, and Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen had just publicly accused Israel of starting the conflict. Soon thousands would be in the streets for “staged” protests. CNN World News was capturing pictures of bombed out apartment buildings in Gaza, and President Obama had already issued an appeal to Israel for, “restraint in the face of tragedy.”  Things were going well. Mahmoud could not help but smile as he watched the news reports from deep inside his command bunker. Things were going very well indeed.

Head Muscle salutes our friends and allies in Israel, and wishes them Godspeed in the defense of their nation.

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