On 9/11, my dad called me and said, "Pete, quick, turn on the TV! Someone crashed a passenger jet into the World Trade Center! It looks like an intentional act!"
I did, and I was amazed as I watched Jet #2 slam into the other tower, and then I heard about the Pentagon jet, and the jet which crashed in Pennsylvania.
I watched and watched and watched the TV, sitting there with raw fear, wondering if something else was about to happen to New York or Washington or both -- something I had feared since my college days.
I knew that we wouldn't be out of the woods until nightfall, when the TV cameras couldn't get really good shots of the World Trade Center or Pentagon.
And, God bless us!, it didn't happen!
I began to tell people that we were lucky on 9/11.
Why did I say that?
Today, an Islamic extremist wrapped in explosives covered, I heard on the radio, with an Iraqi poilice uniform jumped onto an ambulance with a person badly wounded by another suicide bomber. He escorted the bombing victim into the hospital, filled with doctors and mauled and bleeding helpless people. He probably carefully walked into the center of this place of human love, and probably yelled soimething like, "ALLAH AKBAR!" and blew everybody up.
That's the way they do it. Once help comes to clean up the damage, and the TV cameras are rolling, Islamic extremists cause a bigger catastrophe, so that all watching their TVs will see how deadly they really are.
What I was waiting for and feared terribly on 9/11 was something like this happening in New York, or Washington, or both, while 1 billion eyes, worldwide, were focused on their TVs...
As demand for oil worldwide begins to vastly outstrip remaining supply, OPEC stands to make ten times as much as they did from the sale of the first half of the supply.
That will tend to make OPEC the "center of the world." Competing tribes of Muslims will undoubtedly conflict over this unique power over the world. We will have to choose whether to lket them fight over the supply, or instead to become involved.
Every time we sit back, oil will jump from $15 per gallon to $50 per gallon, as the flow is distupted by attacks upon the presiding group.
But if we alienate parties to such warfare -- or even if we just sit here and watch and wait, remembering that 9/11 was essentially unprovoked -- the following might occur, if radical Islam has nuclear capability.
Early one morning, the captain of one of the ferries feeding rush hour traffic to New York City is greatly annoyed at a vast container ship improperly anchored in his path. He gets out his binoculars and examines the vessel for signs that they are about to weigh anchor and depart.
Instead, all he sees is a lone dark-skinned man sitting in a chair on a vast pile of container-ship containers, with a shiny steel something in his left hand and a book in his right hand. As the ferry captain studies the figure, he sees him put down his book and look at his watch.
The ferry captain was the right man in the right spot at the right time. Rather than use his ship's radio easily-monitored ship-to-shore frequency, he dials the head office with his cell phone, and he says, "Boss, this is Perkins. I haven't been drinking. I'm cold sober. I'm not playing an irrational joke. I'm serious: Out here, just off the Battery at Manhattan's southern tip, a giant container ship is anchored in the wrong place, dead ahead of where the ferry is supposed to go. I only see one man on board through my binocs -- a fellow in a lawn chair soaking up some rays on the top of the container pile. If you ask me, he looks like an extremist suicide bomber type reading the Koran in his right hand while he holds a Dead Man Switch in his left hand."
While the report gets passed up the chain of command, a computer monitoring calls for something called the Echelon Program flags the call because of the words "extremist suicide bomber," "Koran," and "Dead Man Switch." A front line "triage" listener reviews the system's recording of the ferry captain's call, and sounds an alarm which goes off in about 20 offices at once. Intelligence and spy people in New York and Washingtopn rush to their phones and listen to the recording. Within a few minutes about a dozen binoculars are trained on the giant container ship. Trusted officers in Homeland Security think, "The ferry captain was correct. Good powers of observation." The President and Joint Chiefs are instantly notified, and everyone is quickly joined by telephone.
It's 20 minutes before 9:00 a.m. The President thinks, "If we're lucky, that gives us 20 minutes."
A secret anti - nuclear - terrorism unit convenes in the President's conference room. They quickly decide that the situation doesn't make sense unless there is a very, very powerful nuclear weapon in the container ship. A check quickly confirms that every major port in the United States has a similar problem -- a container ship with a man in a chair sitting on top with a Koran and what looks like a Dead Man Switch.
If these weapons go off, the President thinks, between 10,000,000 and 50,000,000 people will die outright, depending on megatonnage and bomb ignition success rate. The President knows that milliseconds count, here.
If we send Tomahawks to poison the weapons with neutron bomb explosions, how many can we cause to arrive at their targets with perfect simultaneity?"
"Four," says the anti - nuclear - terrorism unit's quartermaster. The President looks annoyed. "Four???!!!" he asks, angrily.
The trick is to explode a neutron bomb with a very low yield explosion but an extremely high yield of neutrons as close as possible to each container ship at the exact same moment, across the country. The aim was not to "kill terrorists." The aim, ironically, was to cause the fissionables in the weapon to "go nuclear." In effect, by showering them with shielding-penetrating neutrons, the fissionables in the terrorists' weapons would get hot and explode without a massive nuclear blast, because this would happen before conventional shaped explosives outside the fissionable mass had had an opportunity to smash the fissionable core down to critical massive. By "igniting" the fissionable core without any compression, it would heat up and blow itself up with a harmless number of "doublings" -- functionally, increases in power due to critical mass -- and just destroy the ship.
About 80,000 people would have to die in the trade-off in the case of each neutron bomb, but that was worth it.
Only 4 simultaneous neutron bombs meant that only four weapons were "guaranteed" to be "neutralized" in this fashion. Six were at risk of going off before their Tomahawk arrived, if word reached their triggerman of the other blasts.
"Okay, I authorize the immediated coordinated launch of 4 neutron bomb Tomahawks. And 6 more uncoordinated, but as close as possible to the first 4, time-wise. Maybe we'll get lucky. Gentlemen, I hereby declare martial law. I need my helicopter to take me out to Andrews. This is going to be messy."
Nobody ever figures out exactly what happens. 3 nuclear weapons, only, were neutralized. The other 7 destroyed their respective port cities, including New York and Newark, and San Franciso. Washington, it turns out, was incinerated by the most powerful blast of all. The American system collapses and descends into 100 years of deadly chaos. Nationwide, transporatation and utilities shut down. Millions starve to death. In four years, the population of the United States drops from 300,000,000 to 70,000,000.
We've been "bombed back to the stone age."