Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard
Author’s E-mail: email@example.com
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XV. Washington—-High Noon & Showdown at the OK Corral
The busy place in Washington D.C. over the last night was the National Reconnaissance Office, a joint-venture of the CIA and the Pentagon that ran the reconsats, the big camera birds circling the earth at medium to low altitudes, looking down at any and all earthly things with their hugely expensive cameras that rivaled the precision and resolution of the Hubble space telescope. Tipped off by Nightingale’s revelations as to the Chinese intentions they had been retasked and repositioned along the entire expanse of the Silk Road, the great route from Xian, home of the ancient Chinese capital and its Terracotta Warriors to Persia, Byzantium and ultimately to Rome. There were now four photo-birds up and in position, each circling the earth every two hours or so and passing over the same spot at least twice each day. There were also two radar-reconnaissance satellites that had much poorer resolution than the Lockheed and TRW made KH-13’s but which could see through clouds day and night. This was important because a cold front had seized the expanse of the continent from the Urals to Beijing, making it difficult to track troop movements. This was an immense frustration to the NRO satellite jocks who prided themselves on their precision but who were now reduced to weather forcasters predicting when the skies would clear enough to get accurate visuals again. Luckily they could rely on the “take” from the Lacrosse radar-intelligence bird since that was the only game in town at the moment.
And the game was hot. Visuals from inside China showed every railway line crammed with troop trains, logistics and supply trains heading towards the rail links westward out of Xinjiang and northwards across the Russian rails and heading across the modern successor of the old Silk Road towards Uzbekistan, Kazakhistan, Turkmenistan and the Iranian border. The Lacrosse radar feeds from below the cloud-cover showed another frightening story, however. Clothed by the secrecy of the overcast sky through which the obsolescent Russian photo-satellites could not penetrate, the radar take showed the diversion of substantial portions of the Iran-bound Chinese forces to jumping-off points along the Russian border and occupying key points within Russia itself. Already a logistic tail was being assembled rapidly behind them in support for immediate action. The Lacrosse radars were now just revealing the first mass crossing of the Chinese armoured reserve armies onto Russian soil and their overwhelming of the thin Russian border defense across Siberia.
The take from Iran was no less spectacular. For the last ten days the KH-13 visuals had shown a constant build-up of Iranian forces along the Iraqi border, particularly along the coastal approaches to the Faw peninsula leading on to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, accompanied by a build-up of amphibious forces along the coast down to the Straits of Hormuz. Now there was a dramatic shift of forces back towards the capital Teheran and forward towards the Turkmenistani and Azerbadjaini borders through which the SCO forces had secured transit routes through to the Iranian border.
As Admiral Orwell examined the “take” he gathered the impressions of the NRO technicians as well as his key senior intelligence advisors, including Joel Barlow who had returned to Washington with the British Prime Minister and C, the head of MI6 recently returned from Moscow, for the Washington Emergency Summit. Admiral Orwell, C and Barlow pored over the Nightingale texts as they correlated them with the satellite overheads coming into the NRO operations center and spun out their best estimates of what was happening on the ground. The consensus after reviewing the Nightingale revelations was that the Chinese-Russian-Iranian Axis was beginning to crumble before the drive on the Saudi oilfields would be consummated and that the Chinese would therefore probably divert to their back-up plan. The change of heart of the Supreme Leader of Iran signaled by his overnight still-not-yet-public communication to Washington proposing a deal for the release of the hostages plus the shift of forces from the southward invasion routes into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia confirmed that the Chinese were most likely proceeding towards their secondary objective: the seizure of Siberia up to the Urals with its vast energy and mineral resources so badly needed by their voraciously growing economy and long ago claimed as rightfully theirs by their Qing and Yuan Dynasty predecessors. Admiral Orwell lifted the telephone and connected to the National Military Command Center, the NMCC, in the Pentagon and briefed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. NATO forces were put on full readiness alert and pre-positioned for transport through Eastern Europe into Russia and points East. All air forces were readied for possible deployment to the Russian Theater within 48 hours. Then he dialed the Situation Room at the White House and arranged to have the feeds set up on the “Big Board” for briefing the President in one hour.
The President was just disembarking from Air Force One returning from a crucial visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium at which he had met with the assembled heads of government who had not yet joined him for the emergency summit in Washington. POTUS, the President of the United States flanked by his Secret Service entourage then made the trot from Air Force One to the waiting helicopter, Marine One, for the short hop to the White House. After the usual ten minutes it set them down on the White House landing pad on the South Lawn and the First Lady of the United States, FLOTUS, unusually walked into the residential section of the mansion alone, POTUS being diverted by his staff to the left towards the West Wing, but to the Situation Room rather than the Oval Office. Admiral Orwell was waiting for him, along with Joel Barlow and C.
“All right, where are we gentlemen?” the President asked.
“Mr. President we have some good news and some bad news.” responded Admiral Orwell.
“OK, I am an optimist at heart so give me the good news first.” he replied.
“The good news is that we have confirmation the Iranians are backing down, if we can give them some assurances that there will be no nuclear or other attack on them. The bad news is that we are getting satellite overheads confirming that the Chinese have moved to their back-up plan and have already moved their forces to the jump-off points ready to execute their move on Siberia.”
“And the Russians? “
“They are probably unaware of the extent of the Chinese moves since the whole area is blacked out by a cold-front and dense cloud cover which hides it from their obsolescent satellites. Our Lacrosse radars have picked up the Chinese movements under the weather cover and we are standing by for your orders on whether we share it with the Russians and commit outselves to their aid.” responded the Director of National Intelligence.
“Well I’ve just come back from Brussels and the emergency meeting of the heads of government at the NATO Council at NATO headquarters. Essentially we’ve outlined a new overall strategic mission for NATO, which is to secure the Balance of Power in the Eurasian Continent as a whole, a whole new Mega-Theater of Geopolitical operations. We’ve agreed that the former mission of NATO to secure the balance of power within Europe, East and West, is obsolete and that now Europe as a whole is just one part of the greater balance of power in Eurasia, including Europe, China, India, Japan, ASEAN and the Middle-East. We have to scale-up the strategic horizon to take into account the new globalized realities and the rise of non-European Eurasian powers. We teleconferenced with the Prime Ministers of Russia, Japan and South Korea and we have extended them a formal offer of full NATO membership—-conditional of course on a thorough housecleaning of the old Siloviki camp who has led Russia down this blind alley and a full return to power of Medvedev and the liberals, and a parallel offer of full membership to Japan. We also initialed a Cooperation Agreement and NATO Partner/Observer status for India. We are agreed that unless the Greater Eurasian Balance of Power is effectively secured the future of Europe and any hopes for a greater European Union are in danger of unraveling as outside powers seek to divide and conquer. Ironically but predictably it is the common outside threat that is binding the New NATO and the European Union into a cohesive force in a way that its lukewarm ideals could never accomplish. We are determined that no power can be allowed to gain ascendency over the total Greater Eurasian Supercontinent, and particularly its energy supplies as we approach peak oil and gas, just as the dominance of a Hitler, Stalin or Napoleon or a Ghengis Kahn in the past would in the long run have overwhelmed the West’s power to resist. The Great Game for Greater Eurasia is on, gentlemen, much as I regret it, but there is no other choice.”
“Then your orders sir?” queried Orwell.
“What is the latest from Nightingale？“ asked the President.
“Mr. President, as far as we can tell from Nightingale and our corroborating sources Minister Luo has risen to full supremacy through this intrigue and he has bullied the saner minds into silence. Foreign Minister Tang resisted the adventure at first but with Wen Jiabao out of action the liberals have folded and buttoned their lips to join the forced consensus. Nightingale fully confirms that the Chinese are fully committed to their move on Siberia as the move on Saudi Arabia by the Axis stalls and the new Lacrosse overheads confirm that they are beginning to move across the border now.” Replied Joel Barlow, glancing at C for confirmation and support as he spoke.
“Mr. President,” C confirmed, responding to Barlow’s glances, “……from our side we wholly confirm what Mr. Barlow has said and we and all the NATO air forces and armies are on full alert and ready to move as soon as we get confirmation from the Russians.
“All right then gentlemen. The decision is mine and I will make it. I want all American and NATO forces moving towards the deployment areas. The Chinese strategic nuclear threat is still credible enough that neither we nor the Russians can risk a nuclear strike without mutual destruction, but the Russians are too weak to resist conventionally alone. We have to move in assistance to them in order to turn back this adventure. Give all our forces at their jumping-off points the “Go” order. “ he spoke gravely to those around him all too aware of the heaviness of the decision.
“Yes sir, Mr. President” responded Admiral Orwell heavily.
“Admiral, first brief the Russian Prime Minister’s staff on their hotline of what we know and ask for confirmation. I will then speak directly to the Prime Minister and confirm our plans to move our forces. Second, get me the Chinese President on the hotline and I am personally going to tell him what we know from the satellites and demand that he back down off this adventure or suffer the consequences. Third, get me the NATO commander and Secretary General and let’s confirm the execution of our Standby Plan.”
“Done, Mr. President.” barked back Orwell.
For the next 72 hours Joel Barlow found himself glued to the Situation Room following the fast moving events. The President went public with the crisis and announced the decision accepting Russia and Japan into full membership in NATO. The calls to the Chinese President went unanswered by him, but the clear message delivered that they must call off their adventure into Siberia went unheeded, Minister Luo Chunwang responding over the hotline in his Oxford English that the days in which the West dictated terms to China were over and that the unequal treaties dictated to a helpless China in the past would no longer be considered valid. “China has risen” he declared, paraphrasing Mao Zedong on the founding of the People’s Republic and confirming the worst fears of Napoleon. Next the President announced the movement of Air Force contingents into Russia by the NATO forces over the next 48 hours. The Russian Prime Minister addressed his nation and announced the resignations of the principal Siloviki ministers and confirmed that President Medvedev would arrive in Moscow from Teheran the next day to take full command of the government. The nation was put on a full war footing and all forces were mobilized to meet the invasion from the east. NATO aircraft began to arrive at the advance bases to the east of the Urals and were crucial in establishing air supremacy over the theatre in aid of the hardly pressed Russian air defences. The NATO armoured, attack helicopter and mechanized forces began to flow into the Russian East, not without casualties from the Chinese air attacks along the long, fragile and exposed rail links running from European Russia on to the Russian Far East. Though the Chinese had attained strategic surprise by betraying their erstwhile ally, with the prior warnings from Nightingale and the overhead satellite reconnaissance they missed their chance to attain tactical surprise. The Russian commander in the Far East, General Bondarenkov emulated the tactics of Kutuzov against Napoleon by fighting a war of maneuver, refusing a decisive battle while the Chinese had numerical superiority and giving up land for time sufficient to mass and reinforce his forces for the strategic counterblow. When the Chinese had outrun their logistic tail and their ability to supply their advance columns and when the NATO Air Force units had been sufficiently deployed and supported to establish air supremacy the Russians struck back with fury, decimating the numerically superior but overextended and overexposed Chinese field army. At the same time a crucial counterblow involved the Japanese-American Inchon-or-Scipio Africanus-Carthage-like amphibious assault on the Chinese northeast, and the foray of the Indian army northward along the Chinese border, forcing the Chinese to divert significant forces from the Siberian campaign to defend their southwest and northeast and counter the threat to their capital in Beijing. The American control of the sea lanes was further vital in both landing the Japanese and South Korean field army in Vladivostok to reinforce the Eastern sector and in cutting off the Chinese supply of oil from the Middle-East. The American hunter-killer submarine USS Nimrod and carrier planes from the USS Enterprise intercepted and sank China’s first aircraft carrier and escort group, the ROCS Admiral Zheng He in the South Pacific in the first 72 hours of combat and within a month the Chinese navy and maritime air force was completely hors de combat. Within three months of hard fighting the New NATO Allies had effectively pushed the Chinese back across the Russian border, and the Chinese Expeditionary Force was reduced by constant harassment from the air and land as well as by cold, starvation and lack of feul and supplies to the condition of the decimated Grand Armee returning to Europe after Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow.
This is a work of fiction: Names, characters, places, incidents and references
herein either are solely the product of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, or to other
works, business establishments
events or locales is
entirely coincidental and unintended.
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