THE EMPIRE’S TWILIGHT
ARCHITECT OF WAR
By Anthony Wilkins
September 18th 1981
David Patterson switched off the engine to his Ford sedan having arrived outside the solitary home of his colleague, Orson Jenkowitz. The house sat alone on a road that no one took unless they absolutely had to. It was surrounded by farmland and cows grazed merrily in the field adjacent to the house. The sun was well into its retreat back to the west and the house, car and David were all cast in long shadows pointing west.
David walked up to the house and stepped onto the porch which creaked under the pressure of his well polished shoes that had been dirtied by the dust on the ground alongside the tarmac road. He knocked the door and waited for an answer. The sound of slow and heavy footsteps making their way to the door echoed throughout the house and out into the immediate vicinity.
The door opened to reveal Orson, a large man whose best years were well behind him, wearing a rolled up white shirt across the shoulders of which were corduroy suspenders holding up his wide trousers. In his hand was a small glass with a brown liquid.
“You’re late!” croaked Orson.
“You’re drunk,” retorted David.
Orson croaked into a belly laugh before standing aside to allow his visitor entry. David stepped inside house to be greeted by a wide space with relatively few pieces of furniture. Those that were there served a specific utilitarian purpose with nothing in sight that was purely decorative. It was Spartan in its very purest form.
“I assure you I’m very much sober,” protested Orson. “It’s for medicinal purposes. Doctor prescribed me one glass a night to help me sleep and further to my defence it is late. I was expecting you tomorrow. Any problems in Argentina?”
“Not really,” said David taking a seat in the living room having been offered it by Orson.
“You want one?” asked Orson indicating to the glass.
“No thank you. I’ve had enough of that with Uncle Leopold.”
“I see,” said Orson taking the seat opposite David. “How is General Galtieri? All ready for his meteoric rise to power?”
“Like he’s been ready all his life,” joked David. “He’s set a date too. He’s going to be making his move for power on December 22nd. He has asked for me to personally thank you for your efforts in this adventure.”
“I’m sure he’s very grateful for the CIA help he’s been getting,” said Orson before taking another sip of his drink. “And he knows what price we’re asking?”
“Yes,” said David. “He seems overly eager in fact. But there are things he wishes to discuss with you in the issue of rearmament after the coup.”
“Oh? Like what?”
“The General wishes me to convey to you that while his soldiers are committed to the cause he does have concerns regarding the air force.”
“The air force? Isn’t he satisfied with the A-10s we’ve sent him through the current government? And he knows he’s getting F-4s once he takes over?”
“Yes he is but he wants more?”
“More?” scoffed Orson. “Who does he think he is; Oliver Twist?”
“He wants F-14s,” said David in a way that sounded like Galtieri was asking for a loan of five dollars.
“Oh sure I’ll just reach into my back pocket and pull a few out for him.”
“That’s what he wanted me to ask you for,” sighed David. “And he seems adamant about it and if I was honest I don’t think it’s a particularly unreasonable request. We are expecting him to fight the entire Commonwealth Navy after all.”
“We can send A-10s and even F-4s without too much attention being drawn to what’s really going on but F-14s! After Iran there’s a lot of nervous twitching about selling those things even to allies or puppets like Galtieri. I can’t promise anything David especially since we have two years in order to get everything ready for their invasion.”
“Sir,” said David looking for permission to ask a question. He had done everything his superior at the CIA had asked him to and he now felt he deserved some answers. When it looked as though he had the permission from Orson he asked, “Why are we asking Galtieri to pick a fight with the Commonwealth? He might be stupid enough to believe he can win but we both know that when his army hit those islands he’s going to be stirring up a world of trouble. He can’t possibly win. Unless of course we get involved?”
“The President has made it quite clear that US forces will not be getting directly involved on anyone’s side down there when this all kicks off two years from now.”
“Here!” said Orson picking up a book from a shelf beside the chair he was sitting in. He threw it to David who caught it and looked at the cover. It was a political atlas of the world. “Look at page twenty seven.” David did as he was instructed and found himself looking at a world map with several nations coloured in blue. It was a map that highlighted the full extent of the Commonwealth. “Canada. Once upon a time we shared the world’s longest undefended border and now? We have National Guard checkpoints from Seattle to Washington state looking for maple leaves in the trunks of cars. In Europe we are losing our influence because of the new European Community and how much they love having the leader of the Commonwealth in their midst. And while all this happening the Soviets are just sitting by waiting for the moment we all finally turn on each other. The Commonwealth is proving something of an irritation to our grand scheme of things.”
“So what does an Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands have anything to do with bringing down the Commonwealth?” asked David.
“When Galtieri puts his drunken boots on those Islands the Limeys will call on their friends in the Commonwealth to go down there and evict him. With our help the Argentines will make the South Atlantic a graveyard for Commonwealth ships, aircraft and men. Now do you really think the Aussies are going to give a crap about a few windswept islands thousands of miles away? Even the Canadians probably wont give a shit. Nationalist movements are cropping up in Canada, Australia, Singapore and Rhodesia.”
“Which you helped start,” interjected David with an air of amusement.
“If their people start dying for Brits on some island that wasn’t even theirs in the first place their people will start demanding independence and the United States will be there to welcome them with open arms. I don’t care if Galtieri keeps those little pieces of worthless rock or not. Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if the Commonwealth nuke Argentina and neither does the President.”
“I see,” said David. “It’s very neat.”
“For us anyway. Now all that we have to worry about is Galtieri. If he sticks to our plan and invades in June 1983 we’ll be fine. If that idiot does something drastic or premature only then will we have a problem. Think you can handle him David?”
“I’m confident I can,” said David secretly hiding his own doubts about the matter.