Monday, May 15, 2006

The End of the City on the Hill

The End of the City on the Hill

The Kozawi Maru was an old container ship built in the early 1980s at the peak of Japan's booming economy. Older now, she sailed slowly north in the easy Atlantic swell. Rusty and a little slower than when she was built the Kozawi was still graceful enough to easily move at eight knots on her listed course to Newark. The Kozawi had sailed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gone north to Hong Kong and dropped three dozen empty containers and sixty containers of cargo. Loading 110 containers bound for the middle east, Europe and the US, she sailed south making stops in Singapore, Lahore, Bangalore, Dubai and Cadiz before she reached her current point, 160 miles southeast of Baltimore on a clear starlit night.

The Captain had joined the ship at Dubai disguised as a sailor. Now he was its new Captain. Sitting calmly on the bridge, looking over the glistening dark sea, he reached for his satellite phone and dialed a number in Beirut.

"Is Mehrak there?"

"He is not in, would you like me to take a message?"

"No need, I will be in port tomorrow and will call him then"


The Captain began to say "All...." but cut himself off before he finished with "...ahu Akbar." He switched the phone off.

A full Colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Captain had just been told that he was to proceed with his mission the next day. If his masters in Tehran had any second thoughts or doubts now, the only way they could stop him from doing what he was about to do was to inform the US Navy of his intentions. That was not going to happen. The Captain stepped outside the bridge and threw the satellite phone into the water. There were no more calls to make or receive now.

The most of the former crew of the Kozawi had been killed the same night when the Captain came on board; he had opened the containers his current crew was hiding in. Twenty minutes later, most of the original crew was dead except the radio operator and the engine crew. The Radio operator sent back the daily and weekly reports to the ships owner; this avoided calling the ship's change of control to her owner's attention. The new crew were handpicked men from the Revolutionary Guards and Iranian Navy.

Operation Khomeini had been first conceived in 1994 as part of the final approval to build a nuclear program given by the Supreme Ruling Council of Iran. The plan was simple. Build a nuclear program. Build an arsenal of nuclear weapons; then launch a first strike on the US, Europe and Israel. The voice that had said farewell on the phone was Imad Mugniyeh, the foremost terror mastermind in the world, he had two other calls that night on three other lines from two other ships. For many years the Iranian regime's followers had marched in the streets chanting "Death to America." It had taken millions of man months of engineering and labor as well as twenty billion dollars; Iran now was ready to do what it always said and kill America.

Sitting in the containers of the ships were more than two dozen nuclear tipped cruise missiles. With a flying speed of 700 kph, most of their intended targets would be hit less than twenty minutes after launch. Unless there were dozens of warplanes ready to intercept them, surprise would be complete, there would be no way to stop the missiles from hitting their targets. If the missiles launched successfully, there would be little or no warning, low flying cruise missiles are notoriously hard to spot on radar, even if spotted, almost impossible to intercept. The United States did not know it, but she was about to be surprised far worse than Pearl Harbor or 9-11. The Great Republic was about to awake to the first multi-city nuclear surprise attack in human history.

The Captain went below to his cabin for a few hours sleep before things would get very busy. He lay down in his bunk and ignored the gory bloodstain on the wall, a grim reminder there had been a previous occupant.

That did not matter, the weather was clear for the next day and all that mattered now was a little luck and the quality of Iranian nuclear and missile engineering.

The Kozawi Maru was sixty miles off the coast of Maryland at 4:30 a.m. when the Captain awoke and began overseeing the final preparations for the attack. The missile container doors were open and held in place by wood trestles that fit the top of the container and held the doors open at 90 degrees. To hide the missiles and the lights working on them during final arming and fire preparation sequences, temporary tarps were laid over the entrance of each container. When daylight arrived, the open containers would only seem out of place to a very close plane or ship, the planners placed the ship's course twenty miles further out to sea to avoid such prying eyes.

The fire control panels for the missiles were lined up along the deck below the containers. Each panel had a spare in case of failure. Wires from the panels snaked down the deck and up to through the open doors of a container to a nuclear tipped cruise missile.

Dawn broke over the eastern horizon and the Captain led his men in prayers as he had throughout the voyage. As the men stood up from their prayers, he called them together and spoke softly to them: "Today we and our brothers will destroy the Great Satan and the Little Satan once and for all. We have been given permission by the relgious and political authorities to avenge the evils committed against our great nation and our religion. You all know what to do. Make no mistakes; we must be perfect this morning. Once the missiles are launched, get to your assigned lifeboat right away."

He reached into his pocket and handed each man a headband and tied one about his head as well. The men cheered and went to their assigned stations.

Twelve missiles pointed west from their containers- two for New York and Washington D.C, one each for Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Boston.

The Pacific ship would launch six missiles just south of San Francisco while the Mediterranean ship would attack Israel and Europe. Simultaneous launches would begin at 13:30 GMT, (8:30 a.m. EST or 5:30 PST), the missiles with the longest flight paths would be given a twenty-minute head start to maximize surprise and minimize any possible reaction to the strike. The hope was to catch the entire western world commuting to or from work. Coated in expensive radar absorbing composites, the missiles would have the radar signature of a large bird. Their flight speed from their small efficient jet engines would be about 450 miles per hour and relatively unsophisticated GPS guidance units that would fly them at an altitude of a little less than a hundred feet would guide them. To get over any high hills or mountains, the missiles' routes over land had been planned in advance with the help of terrain maps and Iranian agents. At given coordinates the missiles would be at given heights, the routes were selected to allow the missiles to be off by up to 1000 meters and not hit anything. A US cruise missile engineer from the late seventies might have scoffed but the guidance did not have to be fancy, it just had to work.

At 8:15, the Captain finished arming the explosives to scuttle the Kozawi Maru twenty minutes after the launch. The remaining members of the original crew would go down with the ship leaving no trace of them or where the missiles came from. The Iranian crew had been told they would be picked up by another ship scheduled to meet the lifeboats an hour after launch.

8:30 a.m. A brief nod from the Captain and to the shouts of "Allahu Akbar!" the missiles aimed for Miami, Atlanta and Boston were fired. Bursting from their containers in a jet of flame, the missiles gained speed, leveled off at 90 feet and sped towards millions of people. Operation Khomeini had begun.

Twenty minutes later, they launched the nine missile second salvo. Fifteen minutes after that, the crew were in the lifeboats sailing to their expected rendezvous. A loud deep whump came from the bowels of the Kozawi Maru. Almost immediately, the big ship began to list and settle into the water to begin her brief journey to the bottom.

As the crew watched her settle and began embracing and congratulating each other on their performance, the Captain removed a small device from his pocket and pointed it at the second lifeboat. He walked forward to be surrounded by the hugs and well wishes of his men. The instant he heard the bomb destroy the second lifeboat, he pulled the cords on his own suicide bomb-vest: there would be no witnesses. Within a few seconds, the entire crew was dead.

Surprise was complete; within forty minutes, ten 200-kiloton bombs detonated over ten US cities. The missiles aimed at Chicago and Boston crashed, as did the ones targeting Jerusalem and Las Vegas. The bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 5-kiloton bombs. These bombs were forty times more powerful. Paris, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Rome, Berlin, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle all burned in superheated radioactive fire and smoke consuming tens of thousands of lives, men women and children each second. They burned for hours. Finally, the firestorms ran out of oxygen, people, and property to burn. Anything above ground within ten miles of the blast was disintegrated or burned to nothing. Washington, New York, Los Angeles, London and Tel Aviv were each hit twice, the bombs spaced four miles apart to ensure maximum damage.

Whether the death toll was sixty million or a hundred million, the damage and destruction to the United States was complete. The United State had ceased to exist, as had sixteen major US cities. The American Age had come to an abrupt end.

Historians would look back at nation the led the world in commerce, science and the arts and wonder how a small embittered Iran could have been allowed to perpetrate its lethal death-stroke. The signs were all there: the nuclear program, the missile testing, the technology acquisition patterns and even the test firing of cruise missiles from containers.

Was the nation too weary after five years of war to act to stop Iran in 2006? Was it the wasted political capital or fallout from hurricane Katrina? Was the nation too jaded after three years in Iraq to move on Iran? Was it obstructionist opposition? Was it the result of well-meaning or not so well meaning pacifism?

In the end, the time to safely act came and went. The lights went out forever in the City on the Hill and mankind never saw her likes again.

Will Durant, the famous historian summed it up like this:
"The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within."
Iran eyes badges for Jews
Law would require non-Muslim insignia Friday, May 19, 2006

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

Very compelling. I've forwarded it and hope that it's linked around the blogosphere.

My only complaint is that did not address the question of whether, in your scenario, the Mullahs would discount the possibility of a second strike which would liquidate Iran and possibly a big chunk of the Sunni world, or whether they would embrace it as an opportunity for martyrdom.

I don’t see how the ruling Mullahs of Iran could sign off on this plan if they want Islam to survive without recourse to miracles.
Mr. Szara- I left out discussion of the Mullah's attitudes about retaliatory strikes because I wanted focus more on the destruction of the west. The fact is the Mullah's don't care if they live to enjoy the "victory" or die as martyrs; they would be satisfied with either scenario.
Prof. AG,

Your scenario is a valuable lens to focus our attention, but I don't know whether it is a "fact" that the Mullahs are ready to see Iran and perhaps all of Islam destroyed. If that's the case I think they'd be unique in history. Even Hitler began his war expecting to launch a thousand year Reich.

In any event, I expect we are in agreement that the US can't depend on deterrence and has to act decisively now to end the mullahs' nuclear program and regime.
Mr. Szara, please Google 12th Imam and Ahmadinejad to see what is on these characters' minds.

While I confess I draw every negative concluclusion against them; history teaches us that we should very much take such people at their words. All of the great monsters of modern history said exactly what they meant to do and did it.
Very well written. I like your style. We have written about our own Iranian concerns at

I know who you are
it's sundown in Iran, the 22nd is here
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