Authors: Frank J. Derfler
In the US, it is impossible to tell how the divisions of the country might evolve. It’s shattered glass rather than sliced pie. The well organized secession of the South in 1861 was unusual. Today’s fracture lines are demographic, not geographic. The resulting political units would be small and unstable. Physical displacement and total loss of personal wealth would hit much of the population.
The cause of a fracturing event would have to be the failure of government to meet the needs of the people. The actors might be a cadre with a specific issue or a spontaneous uprising.
The people of the US are the best armed and the best trained in the world to conduct asymmetrical warfare against any level of government. This factor favors a spontaneous uprising against a political cadre.
The Executive branch of government is seen in the “father” role providing prosperity and protection.
The Legislative branch is seen in the “mother” role providing nurturing and promotion.
The Judicial branch is seen as the “village” providing the voice of fairness and reason.
If the Judicial Branch is not perceived as “fair” and the other two branches are not keeping their promises, then the people lose hope.
Look at it as Freud’s ego, id, and superego. The Executive Branch is the ego. The Legislative branch is the id. The Judicial Branch is the superego. Freud acknowledges that the mental system makes accommodations if the ego or the id is weak, but the system and society break down without an effective superego.
The chances of the United States seeing internal conflict and fracturing within the next five years are 60 to 40 against. Beyond that time frame, tell me what the courts and the Department of Justice will do and I’ll give you the odds.
The Chairman said, “Talk me though this,” and Bill did. They didn’t get much beyond the first bullet when the Chairman mused out loud. He continued to stare at the page and didn’t even make eye contact with Bill, but he spoke with feeling. “I was in Cambodia in the early 1970s before the killing started and I’ve been there recently. I don’t understand it. It’s an ancient culture that is woven through with Buddhism. They believe in karma and kindness. And in the last half of the 1970s they killed each other like crazy.”
Bill waited a beat for the Chairman to go on. When he didn’t, Bill said, “The Cambodian fracture was pretty much the cultured versus the uneducated. They killed their best and brightest as they tried to build an agrarian Communist society. It was Marxism gone wild and even the Chinese and Vietnamese thought they were crazy. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere for almost no reason we recognize as rationale.”
He paused again, “The more I study history, the more I believe in the devil. I guess if there is a devil then there must be a god, but I know for sure there is a devil.”
“I hope he doesn’t come here,” the Chairman observed.
The Chairman glanced at Commander Rivera, raised an eyebrow and said, “Why can’t you guys make stuff this easy to understand?”
The Commander was apparently completely comfortable with the Nation’s highest ranking military officer. She showed it as she sat up a little straighter and replied, “Sir, I have many bosses between my level and yours. Every time I send you something, each level has to be satisfied.”
“See that, Wirtz?” he pretended to growl. I’m a prisoner in a gilded cage surrounded by bureaucrats. Don’t let them know you talk to me or they’ll try to muzzle you like they try to muzzle her. Right, Commander?”
Rivera rolled her eyes and nodded.
The Chairman spent most of his precious minutes focusing on the concept of the country as “shattered glass”. Wirtz explained that geographic concepts like the “Old South” were out of date. The greater Atlanta area has more in common with Chicago than with the rest of Georgia and the same was true of Chicago within Illinois. He used Janet’s line that the US has never really been a melting pot, but that it is a lot more like a salad bowl. Bill and Janet forecast barricaded neighborhoods and closed areas of countryside before secession of states. He emphasized that the activity would start in earnest by ignoring, invalidating, and rebelling against Federal laws and regulations.
After fifteen minutes of good discussion, there was another knock on the door of room 512. When Rivera opened the door a senior Air Force NCO simply nodded at the Chairman and then turned his back to watch the hallway.
The Chairman stared at the piece of paper Bill had created for a few more heartbeats, nodded, and then handed it back to Bill. “I’ve got it. Burn this. We never met.” He picked up his uniform jacket from the bed and left the room still in his shirtsleeves. Other papers were still on the table. Apparently it was Rivera’s job to collect them.
The door slammed and Bill looked at the Naval officer. “You snuck up on me.” He said.
She smiled. “It’s my job. I’m one of the few he trusts… with good reason. I liked your answers. He gave us the same question and we jumped through all kinds of scenarios with specific states joining together, but by the time all of the bosses bought off on the presentation it was nothing but a whole bunch of if-then statements. We were all hedging and no content. Your discussion at least says something.”
She paused and then continued, “How is Major Valenzuela doing?”
“Great!” Bill was happy to reply. “I just saw him a few weeks ago. He’s enjoying his job and doing good. Uh, how do you know him?”
“Ah yes, your Las Vegas wedding. Congratulations! I hear it was about time.”
Bill was confused. Did the Commander just make a joke about time displacement?
She continued, “As for Jose, our families know each other from Miami. Brothers dated sisters etcetera. I’m a couple of years older. I was surprised and pleased to see his name come up in this operation. Please tell him that Julia Rivera sends her best.”
Bill didn’t know what else to say. Specifically, he didn’t know what he could say. He didn’t know what this woman did know or was entitled to know about the Project. So, he smiled, held out his hand, and said, “Thank you, Commander. I’ll be sure to pass your greeting on to Jose.”
It stuck Bill that one purpose of this chit chat with the Commander was to give the Chairman plenty of time to get on his way before Wirtz left the room. This Naval officer had a lot of tricks up her well tailored sleeve.
Within two hours he was home and going over everything with Janet.
Chapter 17: "Go Away!"
0900 Saturday, April 17, 2010.
Army Navy Country Club, Arlington, VA
Excerpt from the Personal Narrative of Mr. Ted Arthurs
Recorded April 2017
CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET / UMBRA / TA
"In hindsight, breaking the Project away from the DoD was the best for the Nation and for everyone involved. But, I wasn’t sure at the time. The move involved big changes in the personal lives of a lot of people and resistance to change is strong. But yes, it was for the best.”
Ted Arthurs drove the rental car into the long driveway of the Army Navy Country Club. He had hardly ever held a golf club in his entire life, but the instructions he received were clear: “Look like you’re there to play golf.” He had on khaki slacks and a pullover golf shirt. Sally, sitting in the passenger seat, was wearing a new outfit with a pleated skirt and a layered top. Following the instructions, they were alone in the car. Bill Wirtz and Janet would come together, but Fred Landry and Jose Valenzuela were supposed to wander in separately.
The red brick colonial clubhouse with an overly large portico sat on five hundred acres of rolling wooded land just a couple of miles from the Pentagon. The club was over eighty years old and Ted thought that the land had probably survived any number of take-over attempts by developers in that time. Fred Landry, who had spent years in the Pentagon and did play golf, told him there was a splendid view of the Washington Monument from the upper deck in the back of the clubhouse.
The instructions told them to put their vehicles in guest parking and then walk around the building to the back where they would find a plain white door marked “Committee Room.”
It was a beautiful day in Washington and unseasonably warm. As they rounded the back of the building, Sally was struck by the industrious young men cleaning golf clubs, sweeping the concrete deck, and folding towels. She thought that the golf clubs and deck looked pretty clean already and that the towels were simply being unfolded and re-folded. She cleared her throat and heard Ted chuckle softly. He’d seen the same thing.
The door labeled Committee Room was metal and painted white. Ted and Sally weren’t surprised to find that it opened into a short hallway and another white door. A man and a woman in casual golf clothes stood in the hallway in front of a stack of baskets. The man said, “Good morning General, ma’am.” The woman nodded and gave a wisp of a smile and then she said, “Would you empty your pockets, please? Also, please take off your shoes?”
Ted forfeited his leather belt and Sally put her watch and a pin in a basket. They were offered paper slippers like you might wear to a real estate open house, but declined. Then they were both wanded and finally allowed into the room.
Ted thought that the Club’s Committee, whoever they were, lived pretty well. The room was setup with more than a dozen over-stuffed chairs arranged in two rows around a ragged circle so that everyone had legroom and space for a small side table and lamp next to each chair. A bar with coffee, soft drinks, and booze filled one wall. The sole occupant of the room was newly minted Lieutenant Colonel Jose Valenzuela.
“Congratulations, Jose,” Sally said. Ted just smiled and shook Jose’s hand.
“Actually, ma’am, I’ve been frocked,” Jose said.
“I know it sounds like a bad joke, but we had to work hard to get the Air Force to frock you,” Sally replied with a smile.
Ted said, “The Navy often allows people to pin on the rank and assume the responsibility before the actual promotion date. Jose, you were such a deep select for Lieutenant Colonel that you would have sat around for a long time. Joint commands can frock, but Sally had to push hard to get the paperwork approved.”
“I owe you ma’am.”
Sally blinked and looked at Jose, “No, indeed, Jose, I owe you a lot more.”
Before Sally could get sentimental about Jose’s actions during the shooting that, in some other twist in time, took Ted’s life, Bill and Janet shuffled into the room. Bill had on paper slippers, but Janet seemed perfectly comfortable barefoot. In quick succession a half a dozen men and a woman came into the room, nodded at the people from the Project, and started their own discussions.
Ted noticed that all of the men had on golf slacks with fabric belts. Had they been through this before? He cataloged an ex Speaker of the House, an ex Secretary of State, and several sitting members of the House and Senate. Other faces weren’t as familiar. Fred Landry came in accompanied by an ex Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wearing socks, who came over and exchanged greetings with Ted and Sally.
Sally noted that the men around her were suddenly pointing like hunting dogs and followed their gaze. A striking dark haired woman wearing shorts and a sweater and displaying well toned legs had her eyes locked on Jose and was heading in their direction. She moved gracefully. Her hair was cut so it didn’t touch the collar of her sweater, but she radiated both good looks and confidence.
Jose was startled into action and said, “Julia!” There were strong hugs and double cheek kisses that weren’t just the “air kiss” of polite society. After another hug, Jose introduced Ted and Sally to Julia Rivera. Julia addressed them as Sir and Ma’am. Ted understood that this was the impressive Navy Commander that Bill described from his meeting with the Chairman. Obviously, Bill’s description of Julia lacked details that were obscured from his sight by his infatuation with his wife.
Bill came over and introduced Julia to Janet and they seemed to like each other. Sally was standing next to Julia and Jose. As Jose gave Julia another hug she heard Jose say, “Oye Vieja… como estas?” Julia smiled at him and said rather fondly, “Esta vieja todavia puede poncharte si quiero jovensito.” Sally worked on the translation and figured out that he called her an old lady and she said that she can still strike him out, probably in baseball, anytime she wanted. So they had a competitive friendship, not a romance. Sally relaxed a little. She had become a friend of Rae Dunnan and had her own ideas for Rae and Jose.