SO NEAR, SO FAR
Friends & Colleagues
The following account of a singular incident that occurred during Ursula von der Leyen’s recent trip to Washington has been provided to me in strictest confidence. The source is a very senior official who holds the deep conviction that his oath of office requires bringing the matter to the attention of the public. Indeed, s/he thought it prudent to circumvent the Inspector General of his agency in the light of recent events.
Please treat it with appropriate circumspection
When the EU Commission President visited Washington last week, she was accorded a privilege bestowed on only a very select few. She was invited to witness the operation of the Pentagon’s most super-secret high-tech wizardry. Called informally ‘THE PROPHETESS’ by the initiated elite, this wonder is capable of making predictions on the most recondite, complicated puzzles confronting American foreign policy-makers. Its refined forecasting techniques are fueled by the billions of data bites harvested around the world to which it has access. Sophisticated algorithms numbering in the thousands are linked to work in synch (parallel processing) to sort and appraise that vast pool of data.
THE PROPHETESS sits in a sealed bunker deep within the bowels of the Pentagon four levels below ‘H’ corridor. Its multiple defenses against intrusion feature a containment vessel whose 4 feet thick walls are composed of alternating layers of lead and reinforced concrete. The access Password is known to only 2 people; their identity in turn is known to only 4 people.
Von der Leyen was escorted by President Joe Biden, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (substituting for Tony Blinken who was in a crisis meeting at Foggy Bottom where a select team of senior officials were calculating whether the Kiev government would run out of bodies before or after Russia ran out of ammunition – the Zelensky ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy). Von der Leyen was accompanied by Josef Borrel – the EU’s Commissioner for External Relations. For security reasons, though, he escorted the party only as far as the elevator shaft, then placed in a posh room where a 74″ TV blared FOX NEWS, scattered ion the coffee table were the latest issues of the Washington Examiner, Wall Street Journal , MODERN WAR– STRATEGY & TACTICS & ARMS & ARMOR – next to a tepid DUVAL beer.
Milley offered his companions a summary briefing on THE PROPHETESS. He shrugged off a Biden comment as to why he is always the last to know about these marvels –then explained that this omniscient machine could answer any question about future developments within 15 seconds.
Von der Leyen pondered for a moment before turning to Milley and requesting him to ask the PROPHETESS: “how far are we from the day Europe is totally liberated from dependence on Russian energy sources and will achieve absolute security by drawing on thousands and thousands Baltic and North Sea windmills supplemented by Canadian hydrogen.” Without a second’s hesitation, Milley nodded to the machine’s caretaker who punched in the question. It reacted immediately with sounds of whirring, buzzing and swooshing. A few moments later, the room fell silent, a red light blinked and a slip of paper emerged from a concealed slit in the frame.
Milley reached for it with a confident smile, turned to von der Leyen and read: 236 MILES/381 km. A stunned EU President was too shocked to speak. An enraged Victoria Nuland flew into a tantrum: “General”- she boomed – “this is the most idiotic, wasteful use of public money that anyone could imagine. For chrissake, what you jerks spent on this white elephant could have built an impenetrable perimeter wall and dome around Taiwan. What the goddamn hell does 236 Miles mean?” Followed by a forced smile.
Ursula: ‘Please explain – is this a joke?’
Milley, unfazed, calmly responded: “Madame EU President, please bear in mind that THE PROPHETESS is basing its forecast on data that you yourself provided.”
“MY data -what are you talking about?!”
“WELL, just last week you tweeted that each lowered thermostat and each cold shower brings Europe one step closer to the day that the entire community could bask in the confident awareness that energy security had been achieved!!”
Submitted by MB