CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

army knocking at his front door. The Ukrainians want the Crimea, and

they want it bad. They want the prestige of controlling what they

consider to be Ukrainian territory. They want the military supplies and

materiel there. The bases, The ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet that

haven’t been seized or defected to them. Most especially, they want the

Pobedonosnyy Rodina.”

“Excuse me?” Reed looked baffled.

“Pobedonosnyy Rodina, Madam Secretary,” Magruder offered. “It means

“Victorious Motherland’ in Russian. That’s the name of the largest

remaining ship in the Red fleet, a nuclear carrier as big as any of


“I thought we took out their carriers in the Norwegian War,” Waring


“We accounted for two out of three, sir,” Magruder said. “Kreml and

Soyuz, their first two carriers. This one wasn’t ready for action when

the fighting broke out in Norway, though. She was still undergoing sea

trials in the Black Sea. You can be sure the Ukrainians would love to

add her to their fleet. There’s nothing like a supercarrier to enhance a

country’s image as a world power.”

“Unless it’s a nuclear arsenal,” Reed said, her mouth twisted in

distaste. “Which Ukraine has, I might add. And Russia. All of this

simply supports my argument, that we must intervene to maintain the


“What peace, Madam Secretary?” Scott demanded. “The whole area is

tearing itself apart now.”

“Ukraine has not attacked yet,” she said. “By taking control of the

Crimea, the UN will help ensure that the war does not spread. As it

would if Ukraine attacked Russian possessions in the area. They would

not risk angering the United Nations with an attack.”

“Madam Secretary,” Admiral Scott said wearily, “how can you possibly

know what the Ukrainians will or will not do?”

“There are also humanitarian considerations at stake here,” Heideman

said with a disdainful look at Scott. “The Ukrainian government seems to

have embarked upon a program of ethnic cleansing against the

non-Ukrainian population within their borders. A large number of ethnic

Russians have been killed or driven out already. And the population of

Crimea is mostly ethnic Russian. Allowing the Ukrainians to take over

the Crimea unopposed would open the floodgates to genocide.”

“It would make Bosnia look like a picnic,” Reed added.

“So by allowing the Reds in the Crimea to surrender to the UN, we keep

the Ukrainians out,” Waring said. “We stop a blood-bath, we reduce the

risk of a general war between Ukraine and Russia, and we stop Kiev from

seizing military assets in the Black Sea that could further destabilize

the region. I’m not sure I understand your objection, Admiral Scott.”

“And think of the opportunity we have here,” Heideman said. “An historic

opportunity! Since the end of World War II, we’ve been looking for a way

to make the UN a strong voice for world peace, and this could be just

what we need to do it. The picture of a Red officer surrendering to the

United Nations, not to any one country but to the world itself, that

would be a symbol that would count.”

Reed nodded. “I agree. For years now Admiral Scott and others like him

have been telling us that the U.S. can’t keep playing the role of world

policeman. That’s true. But it’s also true that the world needs a

policeman, and the only way I can see us getting one is to give the UN

both the power and the prestige to do the job. This would be an ideal

first step.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Magruder said quietly. “You just might

get it.”

Reed raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been quiet this morning, Admiral

Magruder. I suppose you share Admiral Scott’s viewpoint in this?

Military tradition and national sovereignty and historical precedent and

all the rest?” There was a note of contempt in her voice. Of all the

services, the Navy was widely known to be Reed’s pet peeve, and she made

little effort to hide how she felt.

“I’m as much concerned with practical questions as I am with tradition

and precedent, Madam Secretary,” Magruder said slowly, keeping his voice

flat and emotionless. “Since Desert Storm, everyone’s looked on the UN

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