America conquered by a country of drunken gangsters? That would be nonsense, wouldn’t it?
Excerpt of FEEDING THE DEMONS
by Alex Alvarova
Translated from the Czech by Marc Di Duca
„No, my friend. This would never have happened in my day. We knew these guys.“
Kirk stared at the old man in front of him, and his face suddenly erupted in anger. He could see what he meant. Sean was furious and it was no surprise to Kirk Mulroney. „What are we going to do now?“ he asked.
„When you are dealing with the Russians, you have to wait and see which grouping emerges strongest. They’re like spiders in a web, eating each other to survive. You have to ascertain which spider is attacking you. Russia isn’t a single organism, more like a community of parasites in a body defined by a loose state border.“
„OK, so who is attacking us?“ asked Kirk.
„In the past there were three possibilities. They took turns to be in power. The Bureaucrats — they have the power to sign off huge amounts of state money and lock people up. What they lack in money they more than make up for in power. The Army — they don’t have money either but they obviously have weaponry. And then there is the third pillar of the Russian power structure — the Bolotniye.
„Who?“ said Kirk, unfamiliar with this Russian word.
„Criminal gangs. They were powerful in the days of the Tsar. They’ve always had money but never real power. Until today, that is.“
„How is that possible?“ asked Kirk.
„The armada is meaningless these days. You must have registered how many generals have perished in “unfortunate accidents” in the last two decades. The supreme leader has bumped off so many of them, I would immediately discount the military here. He has something better. He has been inspired by the Brits and us. Let’s call it outsourcing. Why spend money on something that an outside provider can deliver? Why employ an army when you can hire mercenaries. Why learn to programme computers yourself when you can use a subcontractor. Everything has its price — that’s what that Czech expert on disinformation used to say, you know, the one who escaped to the US in 1968. I was at his debriefing. Great guy. Taught me heaps about the Russians. We outsourced warfare — did you think the supreme leader wouldn’t do the same?“
„But the Russian economy is in tatters. They don’t have a hope of ever competing with us.“
„If this was an exam, I’d fail you for an answer like that. Who said anything about the Russian economy? What does Russia export across the globe?“
„Oil? Gas? Diamonds?“
„For god’s sake, man. Fear! Psychological warfare. You can cause havoc with it. Once upon a time they managed to spread fake news about how we had made AIDS in a secret laboratory. Nothing has changed, only today it’s a million times more effective. I don’t really understand all this new technology, but you don’t have to be Einstein to see its potential for spreading information. In our day it was newspaper articles, today it’s the internet. I’d ban the whole bloody thing.
You have to realise, Kirk, that the supreme leader also uses fear to force the oligarchs to finance the most expensive war in Russia’s history. They are his army. You’re still counting their rusty tanks and tracking their spies. Meanwhile Russia’s oligarchs are fighting this war for the supreme leader. You’ll never have that sort of money. It’s YOU who can’t compete with THEM.“
Kirk didn’t say a word for a long time. It was just before dusk and the sky above the river was turning a dramatic gold. „Should I resign?“
„No, wait it out. If I know the Russians, first of all they’ll replace the Southern District attorney Bhatel. Only America’s justice system and the FBI could feasibly stand in their way, so you’ll be next on the list. Only then will they come for us, the CIA. Then they’ll deal with the diplomatic service and then the army. Make no mistake, the end will be quick. At least you’ll know where you stand.“
„You say it as though it’s nothing, Sean.“
„I’m an old man. But let me tell you something. Do you know what their prime minister once said? Chernomyrdin was his name. He said this: “We wanted the best, but it turned out as always.” They always mess everything up themselves. All you have to do is wait. Sadly I won’t live long enough to witness it.“
Lost for words and deeply frustrated, Kirk Mulroney left Sean’s pretty house with its blue hortensia feeling the end of the world was imminent. The sunset over the Potomac was turning the river a deep purple. Suddenly the future seemed to disappear into an abyss. Sean Doherty’s final sentence rang out in his mind over and over again:
„As an analyst I always stuck to the principle of simplest explanation. If it looks like a Russian operation and has the signs of being a Russian operation, then it most likely is a Russian operation. We often refuse to believe what’s staring us square in the face, as it’s difficult to accept. America conquered by a country of drunken gangsters? That would be nonsense, wouldn’t it?!“
Excerpt of a new novel “Feeding the Demons”. The author is currently looking for an agent or publisher.