The Petty War

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This story originally appeared in
The Feathertale Review #9

In the spring of 2010, two men tried to rewrite history. Or rather, write themselves into it. Two men, who stopped at nothing to outdo one another, and were supposed to be the representatives of their country, but instead let personal grudges get in the way of duty. Two men, whose legacy is that of missing diplomats, attempted assassinations, forgotten wars, dictators and their children, tiger hunting, and the quest for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The two met some forty years ago, during their freshman semester at Yale University. As they grew older, they worked their way up the American political ladder, and one day assumed control over two embassies vital to US foreign relations. But before that, they would forge a relationship which, over the course of decades, would turn vitriolic, petty, and consequently fatal.

The first man, William T. Huntschilde, a Democrat, was the US ambassador to South Korea. The State Department claimed that Huntschilde died in his sleep on April 4, 2010. While his body was supposedly in transit to the United States on an Air Force cargo plane, the aircraft went down in the Pacific Ocean due to mechanical problems. Huntschilde’s body was never recovered.

The second man was Henry J. Towers, a Republican who served as ambassador to the Russian Federation for one month in 2010, before retiring to spend time with his family. Unfortunately, his wife Katerina died unexpectedly upon their return to the United States. The former ambassador now spends his time somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, where, as he has stated in interviews, he lives “near a preschool, an orphanage and an animal shelter.” 

As shown in their following correspondences, which were allegedly part of the November 2010 diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, the two ambassadors’ rivalry put themselves, their families, and, in the end, their country in jeopardy. The significance of these emails was first overlooked due to the quantity of material initially released, and with most attention being paid to documents involving US military planning and operations, White House negotiations concerning Guantanamo Bay, spying and threatening tactics used to gain support for the Copenhagen Accord, and how former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi used to travel with a “voluptuous” Ukrainian nurse.

The following were initially contained in one email as response threads, and in the original document were in reverse order. The emails have been rearranged here into chronological order, beginning with the first message.

Presented here are the diplomatic correspondences between William Huntschilde, US ambassador to South Korea, and Henry J. Towers, US ambassador to the Russian Federation.

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From: William T. Huntschilde
Subject: Congratulations
Date: March 3, 2010 3:14 PM
To: Henry J. Towers

To my friend and colleague,

I see a tip of the hat is in order for your recent diplomatic appointment. It is a pleasure to see our president going outside the traditional party lines for such a prestigious position. I am sure everyone who endorsed him last cycle, including our mutual friend from North Carolina, is equally happy to see you handed the office. By the way, you wouldn’t happen to know what our friend is doing since losing his seat, would you? Such a shame he didn’t have anything to fall back on . . .

Lastly, it is a pleasure to see you unscathed by that little hubbub on Piers Morgan. I assume the new Mrs. Towers is doing fine? It is a relief to know she will get along with your children, what with all the years spent babysitting them. What university did she end up attending after graduation? Maybe our old alma mater? I’m sure I could give a good word to the admission board to help with her enrolment.

Let me know if you have any questions about this whole ambassador thing.

W.T. Huntschilde
United States Ambassador

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Re: Congratulations
Date: March 10, 2010 10:14 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Willy,

Great to hear from you, my red-headed friend. I had no idea you were even still in any office, what with how I never hear about you anymore. Your office is more a symbolic post, right?

Katerina is doing just fine, thank you for asking. Tell Karen I say hello. Also, how is that young lady assigned to be your Korean interpreter? You know, the one I met at the McCains’ Christmas party last year? Another mutual friend of ours (this one happens to work in your office) told me the young lady recently gave birth to a baby boy. Did the little guy get his coloring from his father? I had no idea ginger was a Korean trait!

Also, sorry about the week-long delay in getting back to you. I’ve been meeting with Putin for dinner and drinks since I got here (the man sure enjoys his Trematov vodka, at $300 a pop!) and well, you know how it goes. I’m actually getting ready to meet him tonight, so I gotta run.

Henry J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation

 ***

From: William T. Huntschilde
Subject: Re: Congratulations
Date: March 10, 2010 11:17 AM
To: Henry J. Towers

To my esteemed colleague,

It is a pleasure to hear you and Vlad are getting along. I remember when I was in the country, and the old premier (his first term) would whip out the Trematov and serve it to his mother-in-law, whom he hates. Tell me, has he ever brought out some Teeger Borka? Sweet start, creamy middle, and the finish, my God, the finish is . . . well, I don’t want to ruin it for you if he ever decides to bring one out, but I remember him saying that only a hundred bottles of the stuff was ever made, and I do think we personally polished off at least half the lot while I was there . . .

Would you please be so kind as to do me a favor? Next time you see the premier, ask if he ever bagged that tiger we used to hunt for. The albino with the blue eyes. Feels like I spent half of 1999 in some Siberian forest tracking the thing with him. We used to joke that it was the poor man’s unicorn. Either way, enjoy your dinner dates with him. Oh, and tell him I told you to tell him to jump once, not twice, and never tuck when running. He’ll understand.

On a side note, could you please shoot over the name of that mutual friend in my office? I would love to get acquainted, considering how much we seem to have in common.

Well, no more time to chat. I’m meeting with the South Korean president this afternoon, and I need to eat beforehand. We’re discussing ways to prevent North Korea from obtaining weapons-grade plutonium, while at the same time figuring out methods to get food to the starving people of the country, so unfortunately, we won’t have time to waste with lunch.

W.T. Huntschilde
United States Ambassador to South Korea
Three-Term Congressman

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Re: Congratulations
Date: March 19, 2010 10:14 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Willy,

Mentioned Teeger Borka and told Big Vladdy I was trying to get my hands on one for him, what with him always picking up the bill. Told me no sweat, and brought out a case (his last one). Thought he was going to share a bottle, but instead just gave me a few. To BFFs, he said.

Also told him of my fondness for hunting, and how, while I’m here, wished to bagged some big game. PM offered to fly me to his personal hunting grounds. Would’ve written sooner, but just got back. All three of us bagged moose bigger than Volkswagens. Berlusconi, the Italian PM, showed up. Him and Vlad seem like they have a regular bromance on their hands. Either way, didn’t see any tigers and Vlad made no mention of one.

I need to make this letter quick, because I need to clean the rifle Vlad had me use (Khrushchev’s personal Mosin Nagant, which Vlad gave me as a gift) before all three of us head back out tomorrow.

Oh, also forgot to mention your message to the PM. Come to think of it, forgot to mention you at all.

Henry J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Former Two-Term Governor
Honorably Discharged US Naval Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

 ***

From: William T. Huntschilde
Subject: Re: Congratulations
Date: March 19, 2010 11:17 AM
To: Henry J. Towers

I met with South Korean President Lee Mang-bak while you were vacationing. The talks were so positive, we invited the northern counterparts to participate. The news didn’t catch wind of this, so if you could, keep it under your hat, but the North Koreans showed up. Kim Jong-il didn’t attend, but he did send one of his sons, Kim Jong Whatever-His-Name-Is. Fat little turd, it seems, like his father. The sit-down was very pleasant and a lot was accomplished.

Can you imagine if this is successful? A nuclear-free North Korea, as agreed upon by both Koreas? President Lee Mang-bak on one side, Kim Jong Whatshisface on the other, and me, right in the middle, facilitating the finer points of the agreement? Could you imagine all the papers that would be in? Seriously, Henry, could you?

Also, I heard through the grapevine that Secretary Clinton is thinking of stepping down come 2012. While I’m not a betting man, got any ideas about who might take her spot? It would have to be someone skilled in international relations and negotiation, I would think. Ponder over a few names and get back to me when you can.

Also, while you’re there, ask the prime minister if you can see Kalashnikov’s first AK prototype. Oh, come to think of it, you can’t because he gave it to me in 2001.

Also, what was the name of that mutual friend in my office?

W.T. Huntschilde
United States Ambassador to South Korea
Three-Term Congressman
Former House Minority Leader
Former Eagle Scout

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Re: Congratulations
Date: March 27, 2010 10:14 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Willy,

Of course Hillary won’t have the job come next election. The president picks the post, and no Republican would give it to her. Except maybe Newt — he might. But that would only be out of irony. I’ll let you know my answer when I find time to think of it.

Went to sushi with Vladdy last week. Stuff was godawful. I mean, really. Told Vlad we needed to rewrite some immigration rules to get some more Japanese into the motherland. Told me that would be tough, since the two countries were technically at war with one another. Did you know the Russians and Japanese were at war? When the hell did this happen?

Asked Vlad how long they’ve been fighting. Told me technically they weren’t fighting, but that it started about a hundred years ago. Asked why, if they weren’t fighting, hadn’t they signed a treaty. Didn’t really know, he said. Asked what they were fighting about. Didn’t know that either.

Sushi was so miserable, I suggested he give the Japanese a call and see if they were still mad. Appointment between the two scheduled for tomorrow. Vlad’s taking us all out to the hunting grounds for some guy time to shoot the shit and talk things over.

Think of it, Willy: if this all goes well, after a hundred years, there might finally be peace between the Land of Tsars and the Land of the Rising Sun. Called a friend who’s a friend of a friend on the Nobel committee to see if he was interested in watching the talks. He’s actually down in the lobby waiting for me right now. Us Yale men are doing pretty well for ourselves, don’t you think?

Ttyl.

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Two-Term Governor
Honorably Discharged US Naval Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Third-Degree Mason

***

From: William T. Huntschilde
Subject: Peace Between Nations
Date: March 28, 2010 11:01 AM
To: Henry J. Towers

Met again with the North Koreans. While Dear Leader Junior pounded his chubby thumbs away on his iPad, we made real progress in negotiations. The prodigal son didn’t even turn the volume off, so we had to listen every time an angry bird was launched.

Talks went well despite the son’s antics. When the Northern delegates left the room to discuss our proposals, Junior couldn’t be bothered. Just stayed there launching bird after bird after bird. I leaned over to President Lee and asked if Kim Jong Tons-of-Fun was as stupid as he looked, or just regular dumb like his father. Tubby must have been impressed with my fancy English words, because it was the only time he looked away from his game. Same couldn’t be said for the president. Man didn’t even break a smile. Must be a cultural thing, having no sense of humor.

When the delegates came back, Junior whispered to them. The delegates said the discussions were over and that they were heading home. The president started arguing in Korean and obviously made matters worse. He doesn’t realize that when dealing with a less-educated person, you have to treat them with kid gloves. Play their little game for a while. He left the table without even saying a word to me, as ungrateful as he was.

For a moment, I felt all hope for a deal was dead on arrival until, through his interpreter, the younger Kim personally invited me to his country for further talks. I thanked him and told him this whole tiff was ridiculous and that there should be dialogue between the two nations. That there should be peace between the Koreas. That they still hadn’t signed a treaty in a real war in which Americans fought and died. A war that counted. The younger Kim agreed wholeheartedly and, through his interpreter, urged me to visit his country to discuss peace. There might be hope just yet. I just need to get President Lee back on track and quit making this whole thing look foolish.

We must have more “mutual friends” than we realize. I contacted someone from the Nobel committee who is a personal friend of mine. He’s interested in how this whole thing plays out.

Oh, still haven’t heard the name of that mutual friend.

Regards,

W.T. Huntschilde
United States Ambassador to South Korea
Three-Term Congressman
Former House Minority leader
Former Eagle Scout
Former Truman High Junior-Class Treasurer (’72) and Straight-A Student

 ***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Re: Peace Between Nations
Date: April 2, 2010 6:02 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Willy,

Just got back from hunting with Vlad and Italian PM and the Japanese. Talks went well. Just hammering out the details about some little island, and we’re right on track. Friend from the committee seemed über impressed.

I bagged a tiger while we were out. Only one to do so. Should’ve seen it. Massive. Teeth as long as my fingers. White with blue eyes. Didn’t think anything of it, until I asked someone to take my picture and none of the Russians said anything. Berlusconi asked if that was the one, and Vlad didn’t answer. Started thinking about what you said, and asked if this was that one tiger I had heard about. Was. Told PM I was really sorry but he said nothing to worry about. Said animals were meant to be hunted. Said he would just have to find something else to hunt. Said this time he wouldn’t take so long to get his kill. Man sure has a stare to him, doesn’t he? Mentioned you and me were friends.

Fortunately, PM got himself another moose before we left. Had it butchered when we got home and sent over a roast last night. Would have loved to try it, but left it on the counter and the dog got to it.

Well, nothing else to note. The dog died this morning. Katerina is very torn up. Thing was only two years old. Anyway, thought maybe you should give the premier a call. If it’s been a while and you two were such good friends as you said, I’m sure he would be glad to hear from you.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Your friend,

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Former Two-Term Governor
Honorably Discharged US Naval Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Third-Degree Mason
Small-Business Owner
Former Frontier High Varsity Quarterback (54 career touchdowns and 6,489 career yards)

***

From: William T. Huntschilde
Subject: Re: Peace Between Nations
Date: April 4, 2010 10:59 PM
To: Henry J. Towers

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Started a new workout routine and it keeps me pretty busy. I’ve never sweated so much in my life. It’s good for a man to sweat, don’t you think?

Amongst other things, I’ve also been trying to negotiate with the North and South. Despite my initial impressions, President Lee seems to be a cowardly man who wants nothing more to do with the negotiations. Man can’t see victory right before him. The North, on the other hand, has been surprisingly responsive and accommodating. Who ever thought the North Koreans would ever be considered reasonable?

Unfortunately for my exercise routine, I won’t be in town the next few days to keep up with it. The Dear Leader’s son went back home, and negotiating though middlemen is quite burdensome. I have decided to take up his offer, and will enter the North to negotiate a truce between nations. I must make this letter short because I am being smuggled into the country in a few hours, and I need to pack and prepare. I will call Vlad when I return.

Please keep this information to yourself as you are the only person I am telling. You, and my friend on the Nobel committee.

Also, still haven’t heard that name of our friend.

Lux et veritas,

W.T. Huntschilde
United States Ambassador

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Re: Peace Between Nations
Date: April 2, 2010 9:45 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

William,

You’re kidding, right? You know Kim Jong-il’s son speaks perfect English, right? Saw it on Fox News not so long ago. I mean, he did hear what you said about him, right? Didn’t think to mention it because I didn’t think it was really important at the time, and quite frankly, it was sort of hilarious that you would be so dumb to actually say that right in front of him.

Oh, talks between Russia and Japan broke down. Apparently that little island has been the hinge in negotiations for the last hundred years.

Make sure to call the prime minister.

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Former Two-Term Governor
Honorably Discharged US Naval Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Third-Degree Mason
Small-Business Owner
Former Frontier High Varsity Quarterback (54 career touchdowns and 6,489 career yards)

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Where you at?
Date: April 5, 2010 6:45 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

William:

Haven’t heard from you.

I am missing America very much. They just don’t make things here like they do in America. In Tucson, my father had the same F-150 for 25 years. Here, I bought a Mercedes a month ago, and it’s already in the junkyard. I had an intern start it this morning, and the damn thing exploded. Poof. Just like that.

Anyway, have you called Putin?

Besties,

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Former Two-Term Governor
Honorably Discharged US Naval Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Third-Degree Mason
Small-Business Owner
Former Frontier High Varsity Quarterback (54 career touchdowns and 6,489 career yards)

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Where you at?
Date: April 5, 2010 6:45 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Still haven’t heard from you. I know you aren’t stupid enough to go into North Korea, but I tell you what, you win. You’re better than me. Even though you’re apparently so much of a dumbass that you call Kim Jong-il’s kid a fat-ass right to his face, you win. You’re better than me. Congratulations, you’re the dipshit winner. I’m sorry, that wasn’t very nice. I didn’t mean it. Why aren’t you answering? You’re intentionally ignoring me, aren’t you? You’re just doing it to be a dick, aren’t you? I bet you are printing all these up and handing them out at the embassy just to fuck with me, aren’t you? Aren’t you? Look how stupid old Hank is, right? Right? Answer me! If you don’t answer, I swear to God I am going to tell everyone that in college, you got so drunk I caught you making out with that one chick. Remember that one chick? Remember the Adam’s apple on that chick? I swear to God if you don’t fucking answer me I will fucking tell everyone.

Anyway, write me back. Please? Just write whatever, and I’ll print it up and show Putin.

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Former Two-Term Governor
Honorably Discharged US Naval Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
Third-Degree Mason
Small-Business Owner
Former Frontier High Varsity Quarterback (54 career touchdowns and 6,489 career yards)

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject:
Date: April 6, 2010 11:51 AM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Where. The hell. Are you? My clothes mysteriously caught fire this morning. Have you ever had to stop, drop and roll? Damned near broke my shoulder. WRITE ME BACK!

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador

 ***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject:
Date: April 7, 2010 12:37 PM
To: William T. Huntschilde

What happened to us, Willy? We used to be so young. We used to be so wholesome. So naive. We were boys once, remember? Ignorant of the world. Ignorant of the evils of the world. We were roommates once, you and I. Hell, we were friends, for Chrissake. What happened to us? We were never like this in college. We just wanted to make the world a better place, end war and suffering, and now look where we’re at.

Remember Spring Fling our sophomore year? Remember? Remember when we took those two girls back to the Tomb when everyone was out? Remember? You with your girl, me with mine? Remember switching? We were so wholesome once, Willy. So naive.

Our mutual friend, by the way, is your interpreter. We’ve been friends since the McCains. Sorry. She told me she hasn’t seen you for days. Says no one has.

Where have you gone, William? Where are you? We were such boys once. Such boys.

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador

***

From: William T. Huntschilde
Subject: Greetings from North Korea!
Date: April 8, 2010 3:27 AM
To: Henry J. Towers

To good friend US Ambassador Henry J. Towers,

I am in North Korea these few days and it is marvelous! The food is plentiful and delicious! The people are very nice and know how a government should work and how a life should be lived! The weather is fantastic!

My very great hosts, the infallible Dear Leader and his son, Kim Jong-un, have been very nice! Kim Jong-un is very handsome and very smart and has a great sense of humor! He is been teaching me what it means to be funny! I am very thankful for these lessons.

Wish you were here!

W.T. Huntschilde
Praise Dear Leader

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Fwd: Fw: This is really spooky…
Date: April 9, 2010 1:13 PM
To: William T. Huntschilde

William,

We purchased a new dog, but he exploded in the new car we also bought. The new wardrobe I ordered was also in the car.

I’m leaving Russia. A friend of a friend is getting me and Katerina on an Air Force cargo plane to Japan and then Hawaii. I don’t know, with my luck I’ll probably have to fly Southwest home. They don’t even have seat numbers on Southwest — it’s first come, first served. Pinko Air is what they should call it.

Anyway, a friend at the Pentagon forwarded this to me. Thought of you when I saw it. Thought it would hopefully work:

Subject: Fwd: Fw: Fw: This is really spooky . . .

Okay, this is really cool but really spooky!

Just for grins, try it out . . .

Okay everybody, this is absolutely freaky, but I totally heard from the person right when I pressed “Send” on my computer!!!!!!! I totally don’t believe in this stuff, but I’m going to give it a shot because what do I have to lose if it doesn’t work, right? Just send this email to at least 7 people and the person you want most to talk to will call you back. The more people you send it to, the faster that person will call you! If you don’t do it in 7 minutes, you will have 7 years bad luck!

Go for it!

SCROLL DOWN

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STOP!!!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS! The person you want most to call you will now call!

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador

***

From: Henry J. Towers
Subject: Fwd: Fw: Fw: This is really spooky…
Date: April 9, 2010 1:15 PM
To: William T. Huntschilde

Guess not.

H.J. Towers
U.S. Ambassador

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