He turned to Fred. "I feel we should support the President," he said.
Then he looked at me again. "You wouldn't want to move back into the city?" he said.
"All right," I said quietly, "I'll go, but reluctantly! As God is my witness, we are making a big mistake by giving up the SDI! We shouldn't scrap it. We should enlarge it and invite the whole world and the Soviets to participate as equal partners as the project was designed in the first place."
Fred grunted something about this being totally impossible and me being an ungrateful bastard. He explained the President's problem to us, and his vision, and finally his command as the Supreme Commander of the nation. "The SDI goes," he said "and you will be a part of the process. Diplomacy is needed. Stopping the SDI must never be understood by the Soviets as a sign of weakness. The President feels that the cancellation must be presented to the Soviets in as quiet a manner as is humanly possible. It must be given to them without any strings attached. It must not appear like coercion. He feels that this would make them even more nervous."
"You want us to present the news to the Soviets?" Ross asked, surprised.
"No, not exactly," said Fred.
"I think it's a damn smart move," said Tony, "giving up that Star Wars thing. It wouldn't work anyway."
"No, Tony, it would work," said Ross.
"Except, that's of no great importance now, is it?" said Fred. "Pete may well be right that it is a stupid thing to do, to shut down the SDI development. I agree that getting the whole world on board as partners, including the Soviets, would be the right way to go. But Pete is not the President, and the President we have is not smart enough to implement what really needs to be done. Unfortunately he IS the President. The decision has been made by him as the President and the Supreme Commander of the United States of America to surrender the SDI. That's not debatable. Only the how to do it, is debatable. It doesn't even matter anymore whether the SDI would or would not work. In any case, the Russians have always believed that the SDI is feasible. That's why they are scared of it. In my position, I must support the President who wants to remove the cause for that fear. I cannot dismiss the President. I have to obey him. I have to do my best to make his plan work. The Soviets have been hopping mad ever since we announced the SDI. They have done everything in their power to bring it to a halt..."
"Believe me the SDI can be made to work," Ross repeated. "In any case, the Soviets are building one of their own. The undeniable fact is, that whoever owns it first controls the world."
"The Russians are scared that the SDI might give us the lead for a preemptive strike against them," said Fred. "The President simply wants to stop this mad race for gaining control over the world. He also feels that this race might have forced the Soviets into putting a greater emphasis on deploying cruise missiles that can penetrate any defense system, as they have demonstrated they can. The President wants to give the Soviets room so that they can find a way to get off our back. He is looking for a foundation to develop a greater sense of unity between our two nations in order to end the Cold War conflict. He wants peace instead of inviting domination."
"That's an honorable goal," I said. "But will the Soviets get off our back? Will they feel the power of this principle and respond in kind? Will they see it as an offer based on the Principle of Universal Love? Do they even know about this principle?"
I stared Fred in the face as I said this, to watch for his reaction. "Also, why must it be us, personally, who must tell the Soviets about our surrender, oops, our gift?"
Fred stepped back and turned away from me. He explained to Ross that we wouldn't actually do it ourselves. The President's plan was that we would go to East Germany and contact my friends in Leipzig, and have them pass on the message. Fred reminded me as he spoke that Steve and Ushi were highly sensitive persons and would therefore be ideally suited, especially Steve as a world-renowned scientist.
"And Ushi too, as a respected journalist," Sylvia added.
"Ex-journalist!" I corrected her.
I told Fred that I would never get my friends involved in such a scheme.
"Without even giving them the chance to choose for themselves?" Ross interrupted.
"Didn't Steve practically offer his services with that bold talk about flooding the world with love, starting a new era, creating a New World?" said Fred. "And you said the same thing just a few days ago, how soon you forget!"
Moments later Fred added that it didn't matter anyway what our personal feelings were, we should do our best to get those people involved in this, because after all, Steve had already involved himself in a big way with his daring report that attacked the President personally. This means that Steve is involved. He became involved from the day that report was written. And as for us, Fred said, that as long as we worked for the diplomatic service personal feelings have no place in that matter. "The point is!" he yelled at me finally, "your friends are among the few people we have a close contact with who know how the job is done in the East, who have high level connections in the Soviet Union and appear honest enough to be believed. Those people are hard to find, especially the honest ones. When you come in contact with people like that, you don't just strike pay dirt, you strike solid gold. That's what happened to you in Leipzig. Who else has a private network of academic friends that's stretching deep into the Soviet Union, to the highest places, as it appears their networks do? We also have confirmation that your girl in the East is an excellent journalist and might well be the most ideal person we know to pass the message on to Moscow in a way that won't be misunderstood. So I suggest, you better follow the orders that I am giving you and trust me for once, even if you can't see the logic right now...."
"It isn't right trying to use Pete's friends as pawns in a game that you want to control," Ross interrupted Fred. "That's far more dangerous than the worst razzmatazz our own news media would whip up. If you want to look honest, you have to be honest."
"Right! There has never been a worse time for messing up, than this," Heather supported Ross.
"All you have to do is invite this Ursula and Steve to a public meeting were the announcement is going to be made," Fred pleaded with us.
"Invite them to where?" I asked sharply.
"Venice," said Fred.
"To Venice? For the physicists conference?" asked Ross.
Fred nodded. "A US delegate will quietly put the word out during a lecture, something to the effect that the United States' directed energy beam weapons program has been canceled. You will have to explain that this has been done in order to increase the nation's security by softening its relationship with the Soviet Union."
"All you have to do is send a chronic complainer to the conference," I suggested, "and he will pass the word to the Soviets so fast...."
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