"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men." ~ H.L. Mencken
Minerva, Chapter 42
President Anthony Black hurled his coffee mug at the wall. Did they think he wouldn't have the balls to do it?
Black calmed himself and sat back at his desk. Especially after the briefing, Black was sure that there was simply no other option. Still, killing anywhere from 500,000 to two million people was not something done lightly. Black didn't care about the whining marchers, who would howl no matter what he did, but he still had posterity to consider.
The first point was obvious: The Minervans had put the nuclear card on the table. So he clearly had the right to retaliate in kind. Now it was just a matter of prudence. What would best advance the cause of mankind?
It seemed to Black that the conflict boiled down to a clash of two irreconcilable systems. The fact that things had come to this, less than two decades after the island's founding, proved that the so-called anarchists could not exist side-by-side with democratic republics.
So the question was, which system was better? Black was a man who always trusted experience rather than theories. And in practice, the United States and the countries like her certainly did much better than the places in the world without strong governments.
Black caught himself. He realized that he had been trying to play god. No, it wasn't his business to decide which system was better. Just like a good attorney always argues for his client, so too Black realized that he had to give the system of constitutional government the fairest possible hearing. If it could be beaten, even when its military had its hands untied, then so be it.
Maybe, decades down the road, the anarchists would be proven right. Until then, Black couldn't abandon his responsibility to defend the security of the American people. As his generals had rightly stressed, the U.S. could not ignore such a flagrant attack on its forces. To do so would give hope to enemies the world over, and inspire countless more attacks.
President Anthony Black took a deep breath. He realized with some amusement that he was now the only other man in human history to understand what Harry Truman had endured.