Authors: Frederick Forsyth
Muy bueno, amigo
,” said the big man easily. “
Si, va bien
He turned as a burst of music came from the television set mounted above the bar. It was the evening news on TVE and the men fell silent to catch the day’s headlines. The newscaster came first, describing briefly the departure from Moscow of President Cormack de los Estados Unidos. The image switched to Vnukovo, and the U.S. President moved in front of the microphone and began to speak. The Spanish TV had no subtitles but a voice-over translation into Spanish instead. The men in the bar listened intently. As John Cormack finished and held out his hand to Gorbachev, the camera (it was the BBC crew, covering for all the European stations) panned over the cheering airport workers, then the Militiamen, then the KGB troops. The Spanish newscaster came back on the screen. Antonio turned to the tall man.
Es un buen hombre, Señor Cormack
,” he said, smiling broadly and clapping the tall man on the back in congratulation, as if his customer had some part-ownership of the man from the White House.
.” The tall man nodded thoughtfully. “
Es un buen hombre
Cyrus V. Miller had not been born to his present riches. He had come from poor farming stock in Colorado and, as a boy, had seen his father’s dirt farm bought out by a mining company and devastated by its machinery. Resolving that if one could not beat them one ought to join them, the youth had worked his way through the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, emerging in 1933 with a degree and the clothes he wore. During his studies he had become fascinated more by oil than by rocks and headed south for Texas. It was still the days of the wildcatters, when leases were unfettered by environmental impact statements and ecological worries.
In 1936 he had spotted a cheap lease relinquished by Texaco, and calculated they had been digging in the wrong place. He persuaded a tool pusher with his own rig to join him, and sweet-talked a bank into taking the farm-in rights against a loan. The oil field supply house took more rights for the rest of the equipment he needed, and three months later the well came in—big. He bought out the tool pusher, leased his own rigs, and acquired other leases. With the outbreak of war in 1941 they all went on stream with maximum production and he was rich. But he wanted more, and just as he had seen the coming war in 1939, he spotted something in 1944 that aroused his interest. A Britisher called Frank Whittle had invented an airplane engine with no propeller and potentially enormous power. He wondered what fuel it used.
In 1945 he discovered that Boeing/Lockheed had acquired the rights to Whittle’s jet engine, and its fuel was not high-octane gasoline at all, but a low-grade kerosene. Sinking most of his funds into a down-market low-technology refinery in California, he approached Boeing/Lockheed, who coincidentally were becoming tired of the condescending arrogance of the major oil companies in their quest for the new fuel. Miller offered them his refinery, and together they developed the new Aviation Turbine Fuel—AVTUR. Miller’s low-tech refinery was just the asset to produce AVTUR, and as the first samples came off the production line the Korean War started. With the Sabre jet fighters taking on the Chinese MiGs, the jet age had arrived. Pan-Global went into orbit and Miller returned to Texas.
He also married. Maybelle was tiny compared to her husband, but it was she who ruled his home and him through thirty years of marriage, and he doted on her. There were no children—she deemed she was too small and delicate to bear children—and he accepted this, happy to grant her any wish she could devise. When she died in 1980 he was totally inconsolable. Then he discovered God. He did not take to organized religion, just God. He began to talk to the Almighty and discovered that the Lord talked back to him, advising him personally on how best he might increase his wealth and serve Texas and the United States. It escaped his attention that the divine advice was always what he wished to hear, and that the Creator happily shared all his own chauvinism, prejudices, and bigotries. He continued as always to avoid the cartoonist’s stereotype of the Texan, preferring to remain a nonsmoker, modest drinker, chaste, conservative in dress and speech, eternally courteous, and one who abominated foul language.
His intercom buzzed softly.
“The man whose name you wanted, Mr. Miller? When you met him he worked for IBM in Saudi Arabia. IBM confirms it must be the same man. He quit them and is now a free-lance consultant. His name is Easterhouse—Colonel Robert Easterhouse.”
“Find him,” said Miller. “Send for him. No matter what it costs. Bring him to me.”
Marshal Kozlov sat impassively behind his desk and studied the four men who flanked the stem of the T-shaped conference table. All four were reading the Top Secret folders in front of them; all four were men he knew he could trust—had to trust, for his career, and maybe more, was on the line.
To his immediate left was the Deputy Chief of Staff (South), who worked with him here in Moscow but had overall charge of the southern quarter of the U.S.S.R. with its teeming Moslem republics and its borders with Romania, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. Beyond him was the chief of High Command South at Baku, who had flown to Moscow believing he was coming for routine staff conferences. But there was nothing routine about this one. Before coming to Moscow seven years earlier as First Deputy, Kozlov himself had commanded at Baku, and the man who now sat reading Plan Suvorov owed his promotion to Kozlov’s influence.
Across from these two sat the other pair, also engrossed. Nearest to the marshal was a man whose loyalty and involvement would be paramount if Suvorov was ever to succeed: the Deputy Head of the GRU, the Soviet armed forces’ intelligence branch. Constantly at loggerheads with its bigger rival, the KGB, the GRU was responsible for all military intelligence at home and abroad, counterintelligence, and internal security within the armed forces. More important for Plan Suvorov, the GRU controlled the Special Forces, the Spetsnaz, whose involvement at the start of Suvorov—if it ever went ahead—would be crucial. It was the Spetsnaz who in the winter of 1979 had flown into Kabul airport, stormed the presidential palace, assassinated the Afghan president, and installed the Soviet puppet Babrak Karmal, who had promptly issued a back-dated appeal to Soviet forces to enter the country and quell the “disturbances.”
Kozlov had chosen the Deputy because the head of the GRU was an old KGB man foisted on the General Staff, and no one had any doubt that he constantly scuttled back to his pals in the KGB with any tidbit he could gather to the detriment of the High Command. The GRU man had driven across Moscow from the GRU building just north of the Central Airfield.
Beyond the GRU man sat another, who had come from his headquarters in the northern suburbs and whose men would be vital for Suvorov—the Deputy Commander of the Vozdyshna-Desantnye Voiska or Air Assault Force, the paratroopers of the VDV who would have to drop onto a dozen cities named in Suvorov and secure them for the following air bridge.
There was no need at this point to bring in the Air Defense of the Homeland, the Voiska PVO, since the U.S.S.R. was not about to be invaded; nor the Strategic Rockets Forces, since rockets would not be necessary. As for Motor/Rifles, Artillery, and Armor, the High Command South had enough for the job.
The GRU man finished the file and looked up. He seemed about to speak but the marshal raised a hand and they both sat silent until the other three had finished. The session had started three hours earlier, when all four had read a shortened version of Kaminsky’s original oil report. The grimness with which they had noted its conclusions and forecasts was underscored by the fact that in the intervening-twelve months several of those forecasts had come true.
already cutbacks in oil allocations; some maneuvers had had to be “rescheduled”—canceled— through lack of gasoline. The promised nuclear power plants had
reopened, the Siberian fields were still producing little more than usual, and the Arctic exploration was still a shambles for lack of technology, skilled manpower, and funds.
and press conferences and exhortations from the Politburo were all very well, but making Russia efficient was going to take a lot more than that.
After a brief discussion of the oil report, Kozlov had handed out four files, one to each. This was Plan Suvorov, prepared over nine months since the previous November by Major General Zemskov. The marshal had sat on Suvorov for a further three months, until he estimated the situation south of their borders had reached a point likely to make his subordinate officers more susceptible to the boldness of the plan. Now they had finished and looked up expectantly. None wanted to be the first to speak.
“All right,” said Marshal Kozlov carefully. “Comments?”
“Well,” ventured the Deputy Chief of Staff, “it would certainly give us a source of crude oil sufficient to bring us well into the first half of the next century.”
“That is the end game,” said Kozlov. “What about feasibility?” He glanced at the man from High Command South.
“The invasion and the conquest—no problem,” said the four-star general from Baku. “The plan is brilliant from that point of view. Initial resistance could be crushed easily enough. How we’d rule the bastards after that ... They’re crazies, of course. ... We’d have to use extremely harsh measures.”
“That could be arranged,” said Kozlov smoothly.
“We’d have to use ethnic Russian troops,” said the paratrooper. “
use them anyway, with Ukrainians. I think we all know we couldn’t trust our divisions from the Moslem republics to do the job.”
There was a growl of assent. The GRU man looked up.
“I sometimes wonder if we can any longer use the Moslem divisions for anything. Which is another reason I like Plan Suvorov. It would enable us to stop the spread of Islamic Fundamentalism seeping into our southern republics. Wipe out the source. My people in the South report that in the event of war we should probably not rely on our Moslem divisions to fight at all.”
The general from Baku did not even dispute it.
“Bloody wogs,” he growled. “They’re getting worse all the time. Instead of defending the south, I’m spending half my time quelling religious riots in Tashkent, Samarkand, and Ashkhabad. I’d love to hit the bloody Party of Allah right at home.”
“So,” summed up Marshal Kozlov, “we have three plusses. It’s feasible because of the long and exposed border and the chaos down there, it would get us our oil for half a century, and we could shaft the Fundamentalist preachers once and for all. Anything against ...?”
“What about Western reaction?” asked the paratrooper general. “The Americans could trigger World War Three over this.”
“I don’t think so,” countered the GRU man, who had more experience of the West than any of them, having studied it for years. “American politicians are deeply subject to public opinion, and for most Americans today anything that happens to the Iranians can’t be bad enough. That’s how the broad masses of Americans see it.”
All four men knew the recent history of Iran well enough. After the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini and an interregnum of bitter political infighting in Teheran, the succession had passed to the bloodstained Islamic judge Khalkhali, last seen gloating over American bodies recovered from the desert after the abortive attempt to rescue the hostages of the U.S. embassy.
Khalkhali had sought to protect his fragile ascendancy by instigating another reign of terror inside Iran, using the dreaded Patrols of Blood, the Gasht-e-Sarallah. Finally, as the most violent of these Revolutionary Guards threatened to go out of his control, he exported them abroad to conduct a series of terrorist atrocities against American citizens and assets across the Middle East and Europe, a campaign that had occupied most of the previous six months.
By the time the five Soviet soldiers were meeting to consider the invasion and occupation of Iran, Khalkhali was hated by the population of Iran, who had finally had enough of Holy Terror, and by the West.
“I think,” resumed the GRU man, “that if we hanged Khalkhali, the American public would donate the rope. Washington might be outraged if we went in, but the congressmen and senators would hear the word from back home and advise the President to back off. And don’t forget we’re supposed to be buddy-buddies with the Yankees these days.”
There was a rumble of amusement from around the table, in which Kozlov joined.
“Then where’s the opposition going to come from?” he asked.
“I believe,” said the general of the GRU, “that it wouldn’t come from Washington, if we presented America with a
. But I think it will come from Novaya Ploshchad; the man from Stavropol will turn it down flat.”
Novaya Ploshchad, or New Square, is the Moscow home of the Central Committee building, and the mention of Stavropol was a not-too-flattering reference to the General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, who came from there.
The five soldiers nodded gloomily. The GRU man pressed his point.
“We all know that ever since that damned Cormack became the great Russian pop star at Vnukovo twelve months ago, teams from both Defense Ministries have been working out details for a big arms cutback treaty. Gorbachev flies to America in two weeks to try and clinch it, so he can liberate enough resources to develop our domestic oil industry. So long as he believes he can get our oil by that route, why should he shaft his beloved treaty with Cormack by giving us the green light to invade Iran?”
“And if he gets his treaty, will the Central Committee ratify it?” asked the general from Baku.
“He owns the Central Committee now,” said Kozlov. “These last two years, almost all the opposition has been pruned away.”