The Secretary of Defense enters the Oval Office.
The President: Take a seat Gabriel.
Secretary of Defense: Thank you sir.
P: I was briefed last night on what unfolded during the talks yesterday. Do you believe President Khashani is serious about his threat?
SoD: Well Mr. President, I have been a part of many talks like this during my years here in Washington. Including several with Iran. It is not uncommon for a head of state to try and push a bargain that is more favorable to them by threatening military action. However, in our current global landscape several countries have nuclear capabilities. For the most part, no matter how strong the threat, most world leaders are well aware of the dangers of using nuclear weapons. Not just because there will most assuredly be an equal response, but because of the peril it puts the planetary environment into.
When it comes to Khashani, though, the threat is very real. I don’t think I have taken a threat more seriously.
P: In your opinion, what makes this threat more legitimate than previous ones?
SoD: All of our intel on the President including profile assessments, statements from individuals within his cabinet, and actual interactions leads one to believe he can be unstable at times. His climb to power came via a radical movement that favored more of an aggressive and hostile approach to relations with the outside world. The economic sanctions the United Nations have imposed on the country in the last decade has pushed the citizenry to the brink of all out revolution.
P: But those sanctions were universally considered the right thing to do at the time.
SoD: Yes, and they still are. Unfortunately we miscalculated how the country would react to the world’s position. Instead of bringing them to the bargaining table, so that they would dismantle their uranium enrichment facilities, it seems to have emboldened them and made them less interested in fair negotiations. Khashani has only been in office two years but the public already grows weary of him.
P: Plus the fundamentalist group Rising Tide isn’t helping things.
SoD: Correct. They have garnered great support in the country. As you know, they had a direct influence on Khashani being elected. They have his ear, but he does not have their complete devotion. He knows, if he wants to maintain his place in power, he must adhere to what they prefer. Polling numbers show 87% of Iranians support the Rising Tide movement. While only 45% have complete belief in the President.
P: We knew this could be a major problem once he got in. My dealings with former President Hamadani were tenuous but there was always mutual respect for the office. He was in government for many years before he became President. Khashani was just a community leader that Rising Tide knew they could mold into the perfect figure head to get their agenda across on a greater scale. This would have never even been a possibility with Hamadani. He was no ally of ours but he understood the dangers of this sort of escalation.
SoD: Yes, for lack of a better word, Khashani is a puppet. He knows he is replaceable. But he isn’t a dumb man. He craves power. His relationship with Rising Tide was mutually beneficial.
The phone rings and the President answers. Turning away from the Secretary of Defense.
P: Hello…I see…Do we have a possible ETL (estimated Time to Launch)? Right…ok, thank you, good-bye.
He hangs up the phone and turns back to the Secretary of Defense.
P: Our operatives in Tehran say the President has ordered a missile launch exercise. I’m sure you know what that means?
SoD: Yes, an exercise signifies they are going through their nuclear launch protocols. They run an exercise first to make sure the system operates properly. Then an actual launch is expected within 36 hours.
P: We are now at our highest threat alert since the crisis in Cuba. We have to react offensively first. What do you propose?
SoD: Our options are limited. If we strike we must strike with a systematic plan to disable the governmental infrastructure top to bottom.
A. We could go with an all-out bombing attack, taking out major targets in the capital. Including the Presidential palace and the key headquarters of Rising Tide. This operation would greatly increase collateral damage and the loss of many more lives. It also signifies we are at war.
B. We could go with a quick and quiet approach. We drop several elite-op teams into the surrounding areas and eliminate the President and several other key officials at designated zones in the city. We could also use drones to disable certain Rising Tide bases that may try to respond violently to our affiliates in the region. This approach does not have as high a success rate, but it would send a clear message without the collateral damage scale that would lead to war.
P: Or what?
SoD: Or we could wait.
P: Wait for them to execute a nuclear strike on U.S. soil?
SoD: In a way, it could be looked at as an opportunity.
SoD: Our reputation abroad is at a low. You have made a point of discussing it in meetings with the joint chiefs that we need to find a way to form stronger partnerships with other nations. Since our GDP is weak right now. Making us weaker.
I know it seems extreme but it wouldn’t be the first time the office of the President took it upon itself to make a tough decision like this for the long-term betterment of the nation.
P: Yes…I’ve seen the documents…Oahu and Manhattan.
SoD: It is just a suggest Mr. President. But the groundswell of sympathy and support from the global community could be a game changer on many levels sir.
P: Yes, I see your point.
The President turns in his chair and stairs out of the window out to the White House lawn.
SoD: What will you do sir?