FEARFUL OF THE SIXTH EXTINCTION

ACT I

Music Starts. Song is Tune of Imagine without the Lyrics. The Curtain Opens and the Oracle is sitting on the edge of the stage. She has a cardboard sign hanging around her neck that says “Oracle”. She looks out over the audience, and counts slowly to herself to the number 5. Then she speaks:

OracleORACLE: “…My job as the Oracle is to be the voice of the Gods. But there are no more Gods. Only men and women…(pause) and children (childlike smile). This modern world is fraught with the pain of everyday living. The only thing that keeps us going is (pause) the family. There are lots of families in this world – happy ones and unhappy ones. Tonight you will meet families with choices to make. The modern world is catching up with all of them – quickly catching up with them. Just as the sea of humanity on this earth is catching up with all the other little creatures of the earth. But as Albert Einstein taught us, “Everything is relative”. The problems that concern you today might be trivial tomorrow – and the things we take for granted might go away – and be sorely missed. Let’s start this, but don’t worry – I’ll be back (with a tone like Carol Ann’s in Poltergeist).
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Scene 1. King Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia enters the room in the Riyadh palace reserved for high-level, secret discussions with advisors. He sits in the gold throne-like chair. The advisors – all members of the Royal family save one – the foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, bow in obeisance to the king. Al Jubeir is standing next to an LCD projector

SaudiFamily13_Salman_D_20131028103816KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
(waving his hand)
Sit, sit. Let us begin this discussion. I understand you have some photographs to show me?

220px-Adel_Al_jubeer_(crop)AL-JUBEIR
Yes, your majesty.

Al-Jubeir switches on the projector and an aerial Parchinphotograph emerges on the screen against the wall.
The photo shows a military complex, with a label on the top: PARCHIN

AL-JUBEIR
Your majesty, this is a photo taken by an American drone on May 28th of this year. As you can see from the label, it is the Parchin Military Complex, 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran. In the nuclear agreement signed by the Americans and Iran on September 21st, 2015, this complex was to be inspected quarterly by the IAEA. In the subsequent two years, the Iranians have found multiple excuses to avoid such an inspection. With the next picture, you will see why.

Al-Jubeir presses the button, and a grainy photo of the techniciansinterior of the military complex appears on the screen.

AL-JUBEIR
Your majesty, this photo was taken by one of our agents that infiltrated the facility two months ago. It shows technicians working with equipment and controls that strongly resemble the photos the Americans showed of the Natanz and Fordow facilities that have been inspected. But this next set of images is of the gravest concern.

Al-Jubeir presses the button, and two side-by-side photographs show on the screen. The one on the left has the traditional radiation sign with words in Farsi below. The Farsi is translated to “No Admittance”. The photo on the right shows the “No Admittance” door half open. It appears clear that a grainy pic of rocketrocket is housed in the room.

KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
So it would appear the concerns we repeatedly shared with the Americans has come to be. The Iranians clearly possess s nuclear weapon. And you say this is at the Parchin Military Complex? It would make sense to have it right next door to the Ayatollah in Tehran. In case of a communications failure.

The king pauses and looks to his advisors.

KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
Well, my advisors? What say you?

Mohammed Bin SalmanMOHAMMED BIN SALMAN – First Deputy Minister & Minister of Interior
Your majesty, as Minister of the Interior, I have been concerned about this situation for some time. These photographs prove my fears to have real substance. I feel we have no choice but to make immediate arrangements to secure a weapon of similar size and capability from our friends and allies in Pakistan.

Saud Bin FaisalSAUD BIN FAISAL
Your majesty, as Minister of Defense, I should wish to concur with my nephew Mohammed. But I cannot. These photographs could have been altered and most assuredly do not constitute proof that the Iranians possess a weapon. But for the sake of argument, let’s say they do possess such a weapon. Because of their agreement with the Americans, they cannot threaten anyone with it, or the sanctions would be immediately re-applied. They would lose all credibility for future negotiations, and would be relegated once again to third world, rogue-state status. I do not believe this is their intention. I think there is another potential scenario. My assessment is that they perceive countries other than Saudi Arabia to be of greater threat to their national interests – but in particular, the United States, likely the only country that could seriously impact Iran. But Iran cannot attempt to destroy the US without destroying itself – and frankly, all the rest of the Middle East in the process. So my assessment is that if this is a real nuclear weapon – and I’m neither confirming nor denying that possibility – then Iran has boxed itself into a corner. They cannot destroy this weapon without drawing notice to itself. They cannot use the weapon without nuclear destructiondestroying themselves in the bargain. So they must keep it hidden.

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN
(looking at Bin Faisal)
So uncle, are you willing to risk the safety of our country by persuading us to agree with this pacifistic-intellectual exercise of yours?
(looking at the King)
Your majesty, I must protest my uncle’s thinking on this deadly situation.

KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
(looking at Bin Faisal)
Does my able Defense Minister have a proposal?

SAUD BIN FAISAL
(smiling)
I do, your majesty. I suggest we use one of our double agents in Israel to enlighten them to this situation. Give the photographs to the double agent, and let him share them with the hawks in the Israeli cabinet. If my instincts are correct, In shaa Allah, Bibi and the bombBibi will go straight to the UN, point to the photos and say, “Ah ha! We have the proof that we knew all along – that Iran has a nuclear weapon. He will take credit for infiltrating the facility, leaving us in the clear. The Iranians will have no choice but to either reveal the existence of the weapon, or allow an inspection of Parchin to show the world what is really there. Our hands are clean, and Israel continues to gain the enternal enmity of the Persians.

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN
(looking at Saud bin Faisal)
In shaa Allah – you would leave this to God?

(turning to look at the king)

Again, I must protest, your majesty – cousin – … There is too much risk associated with the strategy of our appeasing uncle. I strongly suggest we prepare ourselves by securing our own nuclear weapon. I say this, because I partially agree with our uncle’s assessment. The Iranians know they cannot reveal the existence of this weapon. But here we disagree: I would argue the Iranians intend a sneak attack on Riyadh. If we cannot defend ourselves, and they destroy us, then Iran will be the only power in the Middle East. Using protective equipment at oil fieldprotective equipment, they will take over our oil fields and become enriched to the point where they pose a genuine danger – not only to the Middle East, but to the world. Can we stand by and allow this to happen? I say NO!
(Bin Salman slams his fist on the table)

KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
(addressing the rest of the counsel ministers except Al-Jubeir)
Leave us. Al-Jubeir, you stay.

The other ministers file out.

KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
We must be in agreement on our strategy before I will act. Both of you make valid points. But I have not heard from my Minister of Foreign Affairs. What say you, Adel bin Amed Al-Jubeir?

AL JUBEIR
(glancing at both men, and then at the king). I was hesitant to speak with the entire Counsel here. As you all know, my life was threatened 6 years ago by the Quds force commanderQuds force with an assassination plot. Fortunately, their heads were turned by an Iranian turned American Mansourused car salesman who botched the effort. So on the one hand, I am not completely free of negative bias when it comes to the Iranians. But I also know they can be very foolish when their zealotry overcomes their good sense. Your majesty, I defer to your cousin and to the elder statesman Saud Bin Faisal, your esteemed uncle. But since you have asked me for my opinion, I say this: let us do as the Defense Minister recommends and give the pictures to the Israelis. But let us also contact our friends in the ISI in Pakistan, and our friends in Russia to begin discussions about acquiring our own weapon. Isn’t it always wise to be prepared for any eventuality? But ultimately, the noble Saud bin Faisal is right: In shaa Allah.

KING MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
(looking at Al Jubeir)
As always, you are wise beyond your years – and a good politician as well, likely even in the eyes of Allah. But we must have further proof before I feel it appropriate to act. Let us see what we can get from our agent inside the facility – I don’t want to start something, only to lose control when others lose perspective. I need proof…so Minister of the Interior, get me proof from your agent – something more than these grainy photographs. And then we will meet again and see what we must do.

END OF ACT 1 SCENE 1.
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Act I, Scene 2. The conference room in the Supreme Leader’s offices. Present are three ayatollahs: Mojtaba Zolnour, Mohammed Yazdi and Mahmoud Sharoudi.
Mojtaba_KhameneiAyatollah Mojtaba Khamenei enters the conference room and sits at the end of the table, wrapping his robes about him. He turns toMojtaba-Zolnour-1-640x400 Mojtaba Zolnour, his advisor and close associate.

AYATOLLAH KHAMENEI
I understand you have some information to share with me?

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
Yes, Ayatollah. We have arrested a spy working for Saudi Arabia who infiltrated our facility at Parchin. He was observed photographing the unit at the facility, and then sending it by courier to Riyadh. Of course the courier was a double agent with loyalty to the Republican Guards. The spy has been detained at evin-prisonEvin Prison, awaiting your instructions.

AYATOLLAH KHAMANEI
Do we have any copies of what the spy shared with the Saudis?

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
Yes, Supreme Leader.
(He hands copies of the techniciansgrainy pic of rocketphotographs to the Ayatollah. He looks at each of them).

AYATOLLAH KHAMANEI
These pictures are no different than any I could download from Google…except for the unit. But the quality of the photograph is so poor, it could be anything.
(He puts the pictures down)
Why are you bothering me with this petty incident?

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
Supreme Leader, we have reason to believe the Saudis are initiating an effort to prevail upon their Sunni brethren in Pakistan to obtain their own … unit. We have intercepted and decoded the request to the ISI from the Saudi Minister of the Interior, Mohammed Bin SalmanMohammed bin Salman. Apparently the ISI has not yet responded.

AYATOLLAH KHAMANEI
Did you say you have detained the courier?

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
Yes, Supreme Leader – awaiting your direction.

AYATOLLAH
It would have been better to allow this spy to continue. No doubt the Saudis will be looking to the agent to continue the investigation. These pictures wouldn’t be enough to persuade the new king to initiate any action. Is it possible to hackinghack his information and continue to feed the Saudis information?

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
Of course…we can make those arrangements immediately, if that is your direction, Supreme Leader.

AYATOLLAH
Yes. I have an idea that may get us out of the box we put ourselves in by developing that accursed device. See what it will take to re-establish connection between the Saudis and their spy – of course with our agents acting as that individual. When the Saudis make their move, we’ll be ready.

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
As you wish, Supreme Leader. Khuda haviz.

The Supreme Leader leaves the room. Zolnour turns to Yazdi and Shahroudi

MOJTABA ZOLNOUR
The Supreme Leader acts like a woman. His fears and insecurities have tied our hands in dealing with the infidel Zionist jihadZionists. If we want to continue in authority in Iran, we must find a way to attack Israel directly. All these proxy wars have cost us money – money we don’t have with the price of oil so low and our supplies dwindling with our current technology. It will be the end of the revolution if we don’t act – and soon!

MOHAMMED YAZDI
YazdiThose are bold words, my friend and colleague. If his father had heard you say those things, you would be in serious trouble. But, alas, I cannot disagree with your words. The revolution is growing stale and we need to rejuvenate the faith of our youth with a bold move. Do you have any suggestions, either of you?

MAHMOUD SHAHROUDI
ShahroudiI believe we can use this opportunity to our advantage. Hezbollah has long requested we provide them with nuclear tips for their Hezbollah missilesmissiles aimed at Israel. Perhaps it is time we provide them these weapon “enhancements”. It won’t be long before Israel discovers them, and when they do, we will openly admit to having provided them to Hezbollah. This will neutralize any future act of aggression by Israel against Hezbollah. And if the west attempts to re-initiate sanctions against Iran, we will threaten to direct Hezbollah to use these weapons against Israel. Of course this will means the end of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, but isn’t that a sacrifice worth paying?

There is silence while the three men consider all this.

MOHAMMED YAZDI
Are we in agreement on this strategy?

All three of them nod yes.

MOHAMMED YAZDI

Shall we seek the permission of the Supreme Leader?

The other two hesitate. Then all three of them emphatically shake their heads no.

MAHMOUD SHAHROUDI
I shall instruct Minister of the Interior FazdiFazli to carry out our plan. He will call both of you for assurance that this is permitted. When he does, you must tell him that the instruction comes directly from the Supreme Leader, but that for political reasons, he cannot know of it – what the Americans call PDplausible deniability. He will then carry out our instructions.

Yazdi and Zolnour rise to leave.

MAHMOUD SHAHROUDI
Khuda haviz – may Allah protect us all.

END OF ACT 1, SCENE 2.
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Scene 3 The Israeli Cabinet Conference room. The members of the Security Cabinet are seated around the table. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet enter the room. The neon sign flashes over their heads as they enter, with the following messages

BibiBenjamin Netanyahu (Chairman) (Flashing sign shows picture of Bibi with the ticking bomb at the UN)
Yuval Steinitz – Hawk and Supporter of air strikes. Slavishly devoted to NetanyahuSteinitz
BennettNaftali Bennett Protege and rival of Netanyahu. Swing vote in this argument
Yisrael KatzKatz Minister of Atomic Energy. Thinks he knows more than he does
Moshe Kahlon Defender of the poor and opposer of air strikesKahlon

The five men sit around the table with Netanyahu at the head.

BibiNETANYAHU
I understand a situation has arisen that requires the Security Cabinet’s attention?

STEINITZ
I have come into possession of some photographs – thanks to a trusted Mossad agent that has connections in Iran. The photographs are from the Parchin Military facility just outside Tehran. (He passes the photos down the table to Netanyahu). They clearly show that Iran possesses a rocket with a nuclear warhead, hidden in an underground bunker at that location.

Netanyahu looks at the pictures, and then passes them to his left to Yisrael Katz, the minister of atomic energy.

NETANYAHU
Is the esteemed Minister of Resources correct in his assessment?

KATZ
It appears to be a ShahabShahab-3 missile, definitely Iranian. It has an effective range of no more than 1,200 kilometers. They cannot reach us with that missile.

STEINITZ
But Yisrael, how do we know they have not succeeded in extending the range of the missile?

KATZ
That is highly unlikely. The Iranians have invested their time and energy in the Soumar program for their long range missiles. That’s the missile they illegally obtained from Ukraine 20 years ago. But this is not a SoumarSoumar – definitely not. And even the Soumar missile barely has the capability to reach Tel Aviv. I think this is much ado about nothing.

NETANYAHU
Moshe, I think I know you are with Yisrael on this, am I correct?

KAHLON
Yes, Prime Minister. I am more concerned about the threat from the PalestinianPalestinian uprisings than I am about any nuclear threat from Iran. There is a rumor on the Arab street that Iran is providing Hezbollah with nuclear warheads for their missiles. Although how they think they can use them against us without destroying themselves is beyond me.

NETANYAHU
Point well taken. Then Naftali, you are the arbiter of the advisors. What say you?

BENNETT
While I respect Yisrael’s expertise in this matter, I believe Yuval is right to be concerned. I have always been uneasy about the agreement the kerryAmericans signed with Iran in the fall of 2015. I am surprised it has delayed the Iranians efforts for this long. But their current Ayatollah is weak; the old timers Yazdi and Shahroudi are determined to see the destruction of Israel before they die.

NETANYAHU
Then, Minister of Education, what do you recommend I do?

BENNETT
(hesitant to speak, looks around the table)
We should destroy the Parchin facility with a surprise air strike. Our only opposition in the past came from that fool, fool bushGeorge W. Bush. His brother is now the American president, and he is no fool. And, im Yirtzeh Hashem, this Bush will not stand in our way when we show the Iranians that we will not tolerate any potential threat.

NETANYAHU
(looking around the table)
Are we in agreement?

All heads nod yes.

NETANYAHU
(looking at Bennett)
Please inform our Minister of Defense ya'alonYa’alon to prepare for an immediate air strike. I’m confident Moshe will see the wisdom of this decision. And – as you so piously point out – im Yirtzeh Hashem – God willing, this will end any notions the Iranians have of destroying Israel.
The men all rise from the table and leave the stage.

END OF ACT 1, SCENE 3
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Scene 4

The flat screen television descends from the rafters. An announcer comes on that looks like blitzerWolf Blitzer
The piece begins with John Lennon’s Imagine…fades and then a head shot of announcer. Scenes flash as the announcer’s voice goes into the background

This just in – there has been a disaster of significant proportion in the Middle East over the past 72 hours. It all began with an incident at the checkpoint between Israel and Ramallah. A school busschool bus full of children was fired upon on Monday by the Israeli security police. The police claimed the bus was on a suicide mission to kill them. The bus driver indicated he’d lost control of the bus when a Palestinian child, 10 year old Fatin Querishi – was attempting to throw a rock at the police, but instead, struck him in the back of the head. All 9 children on the bus were killed, and the Palestinian bus driver, identified as Arif Saliba, died after explaining his version of the event.

{embedded in video of bus with kids on it; Oracle is sitting in a seat on the bus}

ANNOUNCER: A video of the incident immediately went viral. By Wednesday, the Arab world was in an uproar, with demonstrationsdemonstrations in the streets of every major Arab city. The incident appeared to have united Sunni and Shia in condemning the incident and demanding immediate war against Israel.

{Embedded in video of Arabs demonstrating in the streets, Oracle is marching, yelling and waving fist}

ANNOUNCER: At the same time the bus was being fired on, the Israelis in an apparently totally unrelated action, initiated an air strikesair strike on the Iranian military facility at Parchin. As the first bombs were dropped, the Iranians at the facility were watching the viral video. Convinced they would be subject to a first-strike, nuclear attack, they launched a Soumar ballistic missile, ostensibly aimed at Tel Aviv. But there was clearly a malfunction in the guidance system, and instead the missile hit and detonated in the city of nuclear blastMecca, Saudi Arabia.

{Embedded in video of technicians at Parchin, Oracle in white lab coat is watching video and presses the launch button. Oracle then looks knowingly at the camera with a tiny vestige of a smile}

ANNOUNCER: By virtue of the agreement with the U.S. to defend them in the event of an attack, King Mohammed requested retaliation on Israel from President Jeb Bush. Put in this impossible situation, President Bush asked the parties to immediately stop hostilities and assess the situation.

{Embedded in video of conversation between King Mohammed and Jeb Bush, the Oracle is sitting behind Bush, whispering in his ear}

ANNOUNCER: But Israel – long mistrustful of American allegiances, launched their own missiles at both nuclear blast2Iran and Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah responded by firing a fusillade of katyusha missilesKatusha missiles armed with nuclear warheads at Tel Aviv from Gaza.

{Embedded in video of Israel and Hezbollah attacks, Oracle – dressed in camouflage in both instances, launches the missiles}

ANNOUNCER: The result: an estimated 4 million people killed within the first 48 hours, and millions more suffering burns and fallout radiation that will ultimately claim their lives. Israel, including the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and Iran are virtually destroyed. The remainder of the Middle East will be off-limits to human habitation for at least a century.

{Embedded in video scene of annihilation is Oracle surveying the damage wearing a gas mask}

Video Flickers off.

(Pause)
In other news, the baseball strikebaseball strike is in its second week, with no sign of compromise between players and owners. Their next negotiating session is set for Monday. Now this (goes to a commercial for State farm adState Farm: like a good neighbor, State Farm is there). Imagine begins again, with the Oracle standing on an empty stage, singing:

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.

CURTAIN CLOSES.

END OF ACT 1.

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