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Chapter 60

Munich, F.R.G.

Heinrich Kriegman made his report to the Count at his apartment in Munich. A high-ceilinged, almost palatial quarters occupying the top floor of a pre-war building in Neuhausen, it afforded Count Leopold Von Beckenbauer the space for a red carpet over which he could pace back and forth as he thought aloud.

The Count was displeased that the ellipton had ended up in American hands. Still, things were going well on the whole for the Count and his partners, the overall geopolitical picture moving in their favor.

The Commonwealth of Independent States was no substitute for the Soviet empire; Russia was finished. The United States had expended enormous energy to bring about that outcome, and had little prospect of recovery from the effort, the Count said. The Americans simply didn’t have the mentality, in his view. They understand governance as nothing more than the pursuit of the money-grubbing, the chase after something-for-nothing that alone guided all their actions.

They spoke endlessly of their country’s youth, their orientation toward the future, but in their arrogance and their inflexibility they showed they were old before their time, not the wide-eyed innocent, but a cantankerous old man stubbornly refusing to acknowledge changed realities. The truth was that they were locked into a pattern of behavior that would in the end lay them as low as the Russians, another shabby, bankrupt version of modernity pawning its natural resources and its cultural curiosities, and renting out its soldiers as mercenaries, all while clinging to the tattered and faded remnants of a vanished grandeur. Who knew? Perhaps what they had lost to the Americans now, they would recover when American generals started pawning off the store at Area 51.

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