Chapter 9 - Challenging the Limits
Chapter 9 - Challenging the Limits
The sun was still high and hot when we left the beach that day. I felt uncomfortable being dressed again, especially with a slight sunburn over most of my body. Ursula fared better. She wore a thin, snow-white dress that was far more suitable for a hot afternoon than my black trousers and long sleeved shirt. I wished I had brought a pair of shorts. Of course it was still hotter in the car, but I enjoyed the drive nonetheless. We stopped at a phone-booth along the way from where she phoned Steve to ask if we could meet with him.
Meeting Steve was quite a different adventure. I was aware that the university has had a long history, as well as a reputation for excellence in scholarship. I had visions of walking through cool massive granite structures, built in ancient times. Instead, Ursula took me to the 24th floor of a modern glass and steel high rise that was as hot inside as my car had been.
Steve was unique, a short man, unpretentious, semi-bald with a short neck. I had expected a tall, muscular giant. He was almost hidden behind the huge desk that dominated his office. If it hadn't been for mountains of books and papers piled high everywhere, the office might have resembled that of a US executive.
Steve was most polite. He got off his chair when we entered the room and came forward to greet us - Ursula with a kiss and me with a warm handshake. He was well dressed in a dark striped business suit.
"So you are Peter," he said and smiled. "How did you enjoy the beach?" He couldn't suppress a grin as he said this.
"Remarkable," I said.
"Ushi told me on the phone that you wanted to meet me."
"I heard about your work," I said, "and I just wondered how someone with your background perceives a certain subject that is central for the survival of humanity." I said this as unpretentiously as possible.
Steve froze for a second, then shook his head. "I'm afraid that won't be possible, I have a meeting in half an hour and a lecture to do afterwards."
I looked down at the floor and started scratching my chin, wondering how I might motivate him to respond. "Tell me just one thing, then," I said. "The Ogarkov Plan, is it real?"
This startled him. "It's an option," he said quietly. He put a finger across his lips. "You shouldn't ask such questions. Remember, you are a foreign agent."
"It's being talked about on the beach," I said.
"Oh, the students," he said. "All right, here is your answer." He spoke even more quietly, now. "Yes, it is real. It is Russia's plan for a nuclear blitzkrieg to capture Western Europe. But you needn't worry about that," he said, almost whispered, "because the Soviet Union can't amass the economic resources to carry it out. The Soviets have destroyed their economy over this. The Soviet Union will collapse long before it gets to the war stage. The SDI race that the West has imposed upon them has made Ogarkov's project unachievable."
I said that was an excellent analysis. I told Steve that he had said the same thing that the professor in the bar had told me earlier. I also told him that some of what he just said was already happening. "Nevertheless," I said to Steve, "I am looking for a simpler answer. I know that this plan is deadly real to Marshal Ogarkov and to the Russian military. It obviously is, because both of them work so zealously on it. But they work with their eyes blinded and their minds narrowed to such a tight focus that they can't see the real world. They see only a tiny bit of it, the bit that they're supposed to see, and close their eyes to the rest as if it didn't exist. And this tiny bit that they focus on is covered over with lies, dreams, and mythologies. Ogarkov appears to be an excellent strategist, but can he see what his plan is really a part of? Can he see that it isn't a project for capturing the West, but serves a totally different purpose? Can he see that he is playing a game that is far more sinister than the one he thinks he is playing, a game that may destroy us all?"
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