Washington Post reporter Brandon Dyson emerges from the shadows on a street near Foggy Bottom after recognizing General Edwin Moran leaving the State Department building and walking towards his car. Brandishing a microphone, Dyson rushes to intercept it.
EXT. Georgetown Street – Late Afternoon
DYSON: General, if you could give me a minute, I would like to know how the war in Ukraine is going. Are you satisfied that we achieved our goals?
MORAN: You are a journalist. Read the newspapers.
DYSON: I write for newspapers, so I don’t necessarily trust everything I read. I would like to get it from the horse’s mouth.
MORAN: Look, you’re asking the wrong stud. Direct your questions to the politicians. The job of the army is to obey orders, not to give interviews. Our opinion means nothing.
DYSON: I spoke to politicians. I know what they’re saying, that’s why I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m interested in the military perspective, the feelings you have about your mission.
MORAN: We have no feelings. We have orders. Orders lead to actions. Feelings come later.
DYSON: OK, but everyone is acting like we’re in a war. And you know more about war than any politician.
MORAN: Officially, we are at peace. So I have nothing to say.
DYSON: We are definitely in a major economic war on top of a local war. It is a unique situation. The media drives the public into a frenzy of war fever. Do you feel left out?
MORAN: Do I feel…? I told you, don’t ask me about my feelings.
DYSON: Well, you and your colleagues must be wondering what this frenzy means. You can see everyone in the media eager to face the Russkis. Anyone who thinks a war is unnecessary can be called a traitor. But at the same time, the official message is that we are not going to fight.
MORAN: We are ready for any action required. That’s all. Right now, it’s the State Department’s war, not ours. Their weapons are sanctions and they have a whole arsenal.
DYSON: So you agree that the application of sanctions is the equivalent of war?
MORAN: Sanctions actually kill people more surely and on a more massive scale than any non-nuclear weapon.
DYSON: That’s the point. Critics point out that they target civilians and disrupt the lives of survivors, people who have nothing to do with politics or combat, when war is supposed to be about opposing armies. Are you saying that you consider sanctions a legitimate means of waging war?
MORAN: Well, if you really want my opinion, I’ll tell you. Sanctions make a mockery of the idea of war, which has always been and should always be seen as a noble pursuit. Politicians have no idea what real war is. They say they have a strategy, but they have no idea of the operational objectives.
DYSON: If you admit they have a strategy, how would you rate their tactics?
MORAN: We don’t try. All we can do is hope they come out on top.
DYSON: Did they give you the military an idea of what a victory would look like?
MORAN: From what I can tell, it brings down the evildoer, Vladimir Putin.
DYSON: So is this a regime change?
MORAN: This is what it looks like.
DYSON: Blinken absolutely denied that last week on “Face the Nation.” But he says it is about wreaking havoc on the Russian economy.
MORAN: Pretty much the same.
DYSON: French Minister Bruno Le Maire said something similar, about causing the total collapse of the Russian economy. It’s starting to look like “Carthago delenda is.”
MORAN: This is French ?
DYSON: No, Latin. You know Cato.
MORAN: Are you telling me that the French minister works for the Cato Institute here in Washington?
DYSON: No, that’s what Cato the Elder said during one of the Punic Wars.
MORAN: It is disrespectful to call our wars puny, although we must admit that there have been some failures.
DYSON: I’m talking about ancient Roman history. Cato was a Roman politician who preached the destruction of Carthage around 200 BC. He ended all his speeches in the Senate with the slogan “Carthage must be destroyed”. You must have studied the Punic Wars? The Romans went ahead and wiped Carthage off the map for good in 146 BC, killing or enslaving every one of its citizens.
MORAN: Oh yes. I remember hearing about this in my history class at West Point. It was a time when politicians knew how to put an end to the quarrels they had started.
DYSON: So, is that what we’re talking about now? Destroy Russia?
MORAN: I don’t see how it can work without a nuclear attack. But if they can bring down the regime with sanctions, more power for them. After the usual “mission accomplished” moment they always like to stage, they’ll probably call us to clean up the mess. It usually doesn’t go very well, but we’ll do our best.
DYSON: Like you always do, I guess. Well, thanks for the valuable insight. I’m very grateful.
MORAN: You’re not going to quote me on all this? You do, and I’ll make sure every officer up to the rank of lieutenant knows your name. You’ll never get another Pentagon story.
DYSON: Hey, I was only interested in your ideas. And, don’t worry, I won’t take any direct quotes or mention your name. Trust me, I work for the Washington Post.
Disclaimer: This fictional dialogue exists for entertainment purposes only. The ideas expressed therein are totally imaginary. Its possible inclusion in any Hollywood film or television script will be subject to copyright negotiation with Fair Observer. This is nevertheless highly unlikely for the simple reason that some of the thoughts in the dialogue seem to contradict widely held beliefs in the propaganda that now dominates both the news media and the entertainment industry.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.