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By Walter Hasbrook

TRUTH, like a gem, has many faces; you do not know it until you have looked at them all. More and still more books on the late war between the Confederacy and the Alliance roll from the presses; if I presume to add further printed matter to this vast and growing pile, it is in the hope of providing one more facet, unique if small, to the gem of truth.

The hope is, I think, reasonable: my position as science editor of the New York Times-Tribune afforded me both a behind-the-scenes entrée and a bird's-eye view of the technical developments of the war. Much of my time is spent burrowing in dusty library files, searching out facts available to all but known to few; again, much is spent in interviews, extracting the facts of tomorrow from the vital minds of today.

ANOTHER big war was foreseen as far back as the Thirties, and the nations had set about grimly preparing for it. The expensiveness of the preparation may have been responsible for postponing it more than thirty years. The generals would go around to a government and say, "We're in danger of being attacked by countries A, B, and C. Therefore we need such-and-such an armament. You just give us the money, and in three years we'll be ready for any eventuality." The government would groan and say, "Mon Dieu, that'll ruin us!" and then give in. The military measures would be taken, and then they'd find that all their neighbors had done likewise, so that they were relatively no better off than they had been before. So the whole business would begin over again.

The ideal solution for any one nation would have been to have a greater armament than all the rest of the world combined, but no nation was in a position to do that—especially since China had ceased to be one nation, and was divided into eastern and western halves, under the Japanese heel and in Russian leading-strings respectively.

In due course two of the future combatants found themselves "ready" at once, and the necessary insignificant excuse was found, and the war was on. Within a year we were in it, despite our good resolutions—or were they good? Since we shall never know what would have happened if we had stayed out, there is no scientific way of settling the question.

I was hired by the Army Intelligence Service as a part-time civilian employee: an employee because modern Intelligence work consists of, besides active espionage, an enormous amount of study and comparison of public or semipublic documents, such as governmental reports, yearbooks, patent-office publications, etc., by which valuable information can be pieced together out of unintentional hints; a civilian, because my work was to be known only to my employers; part-time, because Intelligence valued my contacts with sources of news that didn't always pass through the Military Censor's hands. I had had plenty of practice at this kind of work in private life.

On the evening of May 4, 1971, Admiral Dahlgren called at my apartment, which was as usual knee-deep in papers—though of course I kept no confidential ones there. After we had talked of this and that, he said: "Young man, your technical friends are driving us nuts again. It was bad enough when they pushed airplane speeds up into the four hundreds and upset all our calculations; but we knew the compressibility-burble point put a ceiling on that and that they couldn't get very far over five hundred. Now they've begun putting these auxiliary rocket-tubes on bombers to enable them to spring away from pursuit-planes, and compressibility-burble doesn't matter; so God knows what they'll do to our figures now. They may go up over a thousand. Hmp. Damn it, where's my pipe?"

"They have," I said.

"What?"

"SURE. Haven't you Navy people heard about it? It's a new Arado that files on its tubes alone except in taking off and landing, and it's said to do around twelve hundred miles an hour. It's for photography only, because at that speed you can't hit anything much smaller than Manhattan with a bomb. Doesn't even carry a gun, because things go by too fast to aim at them."

"Hmp. If your boys know about it, ours probably do too, only they didn't bother to tell me. Nobody ever tells me anything," he complained. "Damn it, what did I do with those matches. 1 suppose those dumbunny designers of ours got caught flatfooted, as usual. Hmp. Have to put the screws on them. They've been promising us an effective rocket-ship for six months, damn it. Ah-h!" The Admiral had found his matches.

"You know, Hasbrook," he went on, "The more I look at this war, the phonier the ostensible reasons for it seem. The idea that the members of the Alliance are fighting for needed natural resources has been worn pretty thin by our modern advances in chemistry, agronomy, and so forth. You don't need much resources to support your people nowadays. On our side we talk about saving democracy, but I notice that our lineup includes some very pecu...

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