2nd Miracle: Understanding

Diplomatic Dispatch

The secret cable had been intercepted, its encryption broken by our supercomputers at Los Alamos. Its intended recipient was the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's headquarters, the sender by every indication a small group of Pakistani nuclear scientists affiliated with the notorious Abdul Qadeer Khan, who had been laying low since his house arrest years ago. What we had here were designs for advanced nuclear warheads suited for being fitted onto medium and long-range missiles; a further indication of the looming threat the international community had been warning about.

The Iranian Nation had seemed unflappable although its population was hurting under the weight of intensifying sanctions now in progress. With this intercept, all of that was about to change. Either Iran would come to it senses, have an about-face, allow UN inspectors back in, then start the dismantling of its covert nuclear weapons program, or war was sure to follow. Not a pinprick, not a limited attack to deep-bomb their underground nuclear installations. No, Israel, the United States and its allies would have to go for a one-two punch: First a "shock and awe" air strike so damaging that the Iranians would hopefully rush to the negotiation table with a much improved attitude; then an all-out invasion to overthrow the government if the first strike didn't work as intended.

Mr. Rajhman is a slender guy with thick, neatly cut black hair and a salt-and pepper mustache. He is very cultivated and speaks English with a charming, albeit somewhat snooty British accent, which betrays his years at Eaton. I've met him on a few occasions over the years, once in New York during the General Assembly, twice in Geneva near his Embassy.

"Trees are in bloom all around us, my friend, haven't you noticed?" he says as he greets me with a warm handshake by using both hands. Sure, I'm thinking, Spring is in the air, it's Cherry Blossom season, but I'm more interested in his expensive-smelling aftershave. Everything about this man is so unbelievably soft - his palms, his voice, his demeanor in general.

"Sure, Rajhman, but some of the best and oldest trees in our garden carry sour grapes this year," I reply. "You'll reap the harvest you have sown."

"My friend, please sit down and relax," he says. "How is your beautiful wife?"

"Rajhman, please!" I say somewhat rudely. "We haven't the time for pleasantries. I've got to meet our generals four hours from now, and you've got to give me something pretty damn specific to say to them, or Hell is going to break lose all around us."

"Please tell her I said hello and let her know how much I look forward to meeting her again sometime," he then says. "Is a bottle of Enate Uno Chardonnay good enough for you?"

"Whatever, yes, thank you," I reply. "The world is melting right under your feet my dear friend, so you'd want a nice bottle of white wine to cool you off. Have you told your government, both the Supreme Council and the President, about the evidence now in our hands? What are they going to do about the smoking gun?"

He nods barely noticeably at the waiter. "I have done everything you told me to and more," he says. "I've told them about our special friendship, that I trust you because I know in my heart of hearts - isn't that what you Americans call it when you're about to become all emotional? - that you would never lie to me. Not even for your government, you wouldn't. Because you and I have this special relationship, and your lovely wife and children wouldn't want that to be compromised."

This guy is threatening my wife and children, I'm thinking. Rahjman is from an immensely wealthy and powerful family, their influence throughout the Iranian establishment immeasurable. No barrier is thick enough to protect their enemies.

"So what did your government say?" I ask, pressing the wine glass gently against my lips.

"Like I said, trees are in bloom all around us, haven't you noticed?" he replies. "Now let's have lunch, it's all going to work out fine."

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