“Compelling and visionary. DiMercurio’s characters run as deep as his submarines themselves!”
--Joe Buff, author of Crush Depth and Thunder in the Deep

"DiMercurio really knows his subs...his characters step right off the sub deck and onto his pages."
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by Michael DiMercurio, [IMAGE]2006


[IMAGE] Up till now, we’ve assumed that Islamic terrorist groups and terrorist states are separate and disjointed, that they have no common identity, and that the Shiites and the Sunnis have been split and in conflict with each other since the seventh century. We’ve considered the Islamic culture as more of a religion and a culture than a world political view. But today, we see Shiite Muslims uniting from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah and bringing the fight directly to Israel, subject to the recent cease fire.

Certainly elements of Iraq’s insurgency are part of this fight, as are the terrorists linked to the aircraft bombing plot and the Al Qaeda faction of terrorists. And now Iran has taken the leadership role in representing the face of radical Islam to the rest of the world. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used a recent journalism availability to threaten Israel and the western powers of America and England. Ahmadinejad came just short of declaring war on the U.S. and U.K. While his threats were no surprise, he said out loud the same thing postulated in this column in the last issue, which was that Islam is in a world conflict with Israel and the western superpowers through a proxy confilct between Israel and Hezbollah, in which Israel fronts for America and Hezbollah fights for Iran. This proxy war would put America in an indirect hot war with Iran, representing the united thrust of the Islamic fundamentalist warrior culture.

Fortunately for the U.S., we’ve been here before. We have a template for this kind of conflict in which we’re not directly attacking the aggressor nation. That template is the Cold War, in which it was considered too aggressive and dangerous for the United States to attack the “prime enemy” ~ Soviet Russia ~ head on, so we fought that nation through intermediaries. Because the war did not erupt into direct conflict with nuclear weapons, we mistakenly called it a “Cold War.” This was a misnomer, because the Korean War and the Vietnam War were part of the larger conflict to stop the sweeping octopus of World Communism, which was very much intent on burying democracy.

With Iran as the center, we have a situation not unlike the Cold War, with a hot conflict erupting in Iraq and Israel just as during the 50s we had Korea and the 60s, Vietnam. And now, as then, America fought both indirect battles through proxies (the Army of the Republic of Vietnam when U.S. advisors helped the Vietnamese fight the Viet Cong) and directly. During the Cold War, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency forces battled the spies and operatives of the Soviet KGB. Today, our same agents and special forces of the joint military battle Al Qaeda terrorists as well as hundreds of other radical Islamic splinter groups.

It would be incorrect to carry the analogy too far, but one thing we know how to do is win a war such as this, given the resources and national commitment. That commitment that was strong in the U.S. in the years following 9/11 seemed to fade with the Iraqi quagmire, troops being picked off in Baghdad, and elevated gas prices. But assuming the western powers unite to fight against militant Islam, it would serve us well to remember the lessons of the Cold War.

One of the ways we defeated Communism was to divide it. President Nixon opened relations with China, and with that relationship we were able to create doubt in the minds of the Kremlin about how China would react to a U.S.-USSR global war. With the rift in the kingdom of Communism exploited, the U.S. competed with Russia in the space race ~ and fortunately won it ~ while we met them head on in Korea and Vietnam. But the end game was completed by President Reagan’s three-pointed spear ~ first, he rehabilitated the U.S. military and ordered it to confront the Russians at every point of encounter (I know this from personal experience as we in the submarine force provoked the Soviets beneath the North Atlantic, the Arctic Ocean and the waters of the Mediterranean in the 1980s); second, Reagan took great political risk in his decision to support the Strategic Defense Initiative (derisively but effectively nicknamed “Star Wars”); and third, he negotiated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to force the Russians to lay down their arms, and as the Soviets were the most difficult negotiators in the world at the time, this was no small feat.

Having put Communism in its coffin, does America have what it takes to do the same to radical militant Islam? Already support for the war in Iraq has eroded to the point that the majority of Americans oppose continued occupation. The Israeli-Hezbollah conflict has us working late nights at the U.N. to implement a cease fire. And the airline bombers in the U.K. were stopped before they could carry out their plan to destroy a dozen flights in a time-on-target attack. With American sentiment this complacent, can we win a fight against militant Islam?

All it would take to harden this nation’s resolve is one act of war from Iran. Those of us who wore uniforms in the 70s and 80s have yet to forgive Iran for the hostage crisis of 1979 – 1980, which brought America’s post-Vietnam malaise to an end and ushered in the administration of pro-military, anticommunist Ronald Reagan.

But what could Iran do to provoke the U.S. to the point of a hotter conflict? For starters, constructing longer range, more accurate surface-to-surface missiles for the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. A coordinated attack against Tel Aviv would send a stronger signal to the U.S. than random smaller explosions in northern Israel. But perhaps even that would maintain the present DEFCON level. Perhaps Iran would have to implement a more sinister plan, such as chemical or biological weapons in the warheads of future longer range missiles. Or a radiation contamination dispersal “dirty bomb.” Or the final crowning blow, a nuclear warhead.

Perhaps the missiles themselves are not so necessary. Suicide bomber volunteers seem plentiful. If one had a biological or chemical weapon package in a van parked in a vital city area, it could do as much damage as a missile. Or the so-called suitcase nuclear weapons hidden away in a car could generate the same effects as a nuke lobbed in from Lebanon.

An escalation such as this linked directly to Iran, or that Iran claims credit for, would stoke American ire to the point of giving a president a mandate to send in ground forces to Iran.

Is that something that this column sees as a good thing, for heaven’s sake?

In a way. If we look back at the last few centuries of military and cultural history, we see that nation-states are no different than kindergarten boys at recess. The only way five year olds get to know each other is throwing a punch. Whom of us don’t remember being the new kid, slugging it out with the designated fighter from the in crowd? And when it was over, the boys knew each other and came to respect each other. When you fight an opponent, you concentrate your attention on him. When you throw a punch, you watch for his reaction, and sometimes it will surprise you, teaching him about the inner workings of his mind, as does the punch he throws back at you. And after it’s over, more times than not, the new kids is accepted into the in crowd based on the heart with which he fights. In the same way, American culture learned about the Germans and the Japanese in World War II. We learned about the Asians from the Korean War and Vietnam. And we learned about the Russians in the surrounding conflict of the Cold War. Today, those nations are no longer enemies. We enjoy a great alliance with Germany and Japan, and we cooperate with Russia on world problems. South Korea and the U.S. are allies, though the premature ending of the Korean War prevented the natural course of history, which would have brought us into harmony with the North Koreans. War in the modern age eventually creates its own brand of peace.

But so far, other than 9/11 and Iraq, we haven’t learned much about the Islamic culture. It’s true that the militant Shiites hate us with a passion we haven’t seemed to encounter, but the Russians hated us with equal enmity during the 1950s atomic age. And what could be more frightening than an enemy who hates us and wants to bury us which is armed to the teeth with intercontinental ballistic missiles with city-smashing nuclear warheads?

Iran and the Islamic militants are tough and hate us with a violent streak we may not yet have encountered, but the U.S. can rise to that challenge, and if this war escalates into a hot conflict, like all other wars, at the end of the day, we’ll both know each other, respect each other, and go on to be a more united world.

But the trouble is, we may not have taken into consideration one thing: we haven’t tousled with the Chinese yet.

* * *


Meanwhile, North Korea, Kim Jong Il made his first public appearance since North Korea first test launched seven ballistic missiles, including the new model capable of reaching the U.S. west coast. Fortunately for us, that last one failed. In the wake of the launches, the U.N. Security Council imposed limited sanctions on North Korea to attempt to force the suspension of the missile program. Not surprisingly, the Koreans thumbed their noses at the resolution and vowed to keep testing.

The thing is, missile launch facilities for larger ballistic missiles tend to be easily targeted by cruise missiles and fighter-bombers. Or space-based kinetic energy weapons.

So should we be worried?

I’d say the answer is, eventually, but for now the same technical issues that made our rockets explode on their launch pads in the 1950s are bedeviling the Koreans now. That, or intentional malfunctions placed by our friends in the covert operations business.

This column will continue to stand watch on this and other potential military action around the globe.



As hurricane Helen barrels in toward the Virginia coastline, the U.S. Navy’s Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet orders all vessels to scramble to sea, including Burke Dillinger’s Hampton and Peter Vornado’s Texas.

But this is no mere storm evacuation.

There is something sinister going on in the eastern Atlantic. The Navy’s eyes are on the ballistic missile submarine force, the “boomer” submarines loaded to the gills with intercontinental nuclear warheads. And the French boomer submarine Le Vigilant has “gone bad,” hijacked by an Algerian terrorist with dreams of completing the circle of revenge and using French nuclear weapons on the French who killed his father.

As terrorist Issam Zauabri’s forces learn how to employ the nuclear missiles, Vornado’s Texas and Dillinger’s Hampton close in on the threat, but Issam knows how to use torpedoes as well as he does the missiles, and Le Vigilant is one of the quietest submarines ever built. Once the American subs are on the bottom, his attack can proceed on Paris, but since it was Americans who interfered, Issam will save one missile for New York…

“Compelling and visionary. DiMercurio’s characters run as deep as his submarines themselves!”

--Joe Buff, author of Straits Of Power, Tidal Rip, Crush Depth, Thunder in the Deep, And Deep Sound Channel.

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Michael DiMercurio
Princeton, New Jersey



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