Pushing Back the Desert

Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2


In the spring of 1952, nine years had passed since Claudine Demaureux called on the members of her University of California doctoral study group, "The Six Sentinels," for help. She had become concerned that the same German industrialists who had supported Hitler and his National Social Workers Party (Nazi) to power were planning to smuggle their two-billion-dollar fortunes of war out of Germany before an Allied invasion of France. Rumors suggested the founders of the Third Reich eagerly wanted to protect their wealth so it could fund a Fourth Reich to impose Aryan supremacy over Europe and possibly beyond.

Over the next nine years, the original Six Sentinels had developed an enviable track record of opposing abusive agendas of concentrated power. Recently, they prevented a coalition of military contractors from manipulating the congressional appropriations process for self-interest.

The time arrived for the Sentinels to step back and analyze what they had learned and to discuss what needed to be done to perpetuate their accomplishments.

It became apparent that irresponsible agendas of self-interest were emerging faster than ever. The demands of personal lives made longer-range planning necessary if the Sentinels wished to continue opposing major-power pursuit of self-serving agendas.

The weekly meeting of the Senior Loan Committee of New York's Stone City Bank broke up. Mike Stone, the bank's executive vice president, remained seated, talking to two senior members. His secretary entered the executive conference room, made her way over, and handed him a handwritten note. Waiting for his reply, she respectfully stood beside him.

The message on Jacques Roth's personal stationery read: "I'd like to discuss something. Could you join me for lunch at Frank's at 12:30?"

Jacques already stood at Frank's hot dog stand across from the Stone City Bank Building entrance. Engaged in an animated conversation with his old friend, Frank, he noticed Mike arrive at their long-time favorite lunch locale. After letting Mike greet Frank and order his usual foot-long hot dog with sauerkraut, hot mustard, relish, and a Coke, Jacques suggested they take their lunches into the park and sit on a bench to talk.

Sensing Jacques' serious mood, Mike wondered, 'What could be so important he needs to talk on such short notice outside the bank? Did some Sentinel event occur requiring immediate attention?'

Wasting no time, Jacques asked, "Did you receive Tony and Natalie's invitation to a retreat at the Sentinel Vineyards next month?"

"I saw the envelope in my unopened mail pile. What makes holding another retreat so important? Don't we regularly schedule an all-hands retreat after concluding a Sentinel endeavor?"

Reaching into his inside coat pocket, Jacques withdrew his invitation and handed it to Mike. "I couldn't help but notice they included both Tony's and Natalie's names. I didn't know they were seeing each other, much less taken up residence in Tony's home at the Sentinel Vineyard. After unsuccessful attempts with both Marcus and you, why would she find herself drawn to another driven Sentinel personality? How can a successful star of London's and New York's musical stages find happiness with a man who spent the last ten years birthing a national vintner of premium wines?"

"But that's not all," Mike said. "Look at the bottom of the page. Cecelia is announcing she will present her report on founding the Sentinel Institute. I assure you she spent much time thinking about where our Sentinel efforts lead. She insists that if we hope to attract, train, and motivate qualified people to perpetuate what we started, we must get serious."

To stress her point, Cecelia had a habit of saying, 'It will take ten years minimum before the institute can produce students capable of continuing our work, plus another five years of our coaching. Fifteen years is a long time before we can hope to withdraw.'"

After nodding in agreement, Jacques said, "In protecting the congressional appropriations process, we must appreciate this was the first time we encountered a coalition of connected military prime contractors. By combining resources and influence, they learned to leverage efforts into a more formidable force, capable of managing congressional approval for self-interest. In thinking about future effectiveness, we need to pay particular attention to this coalition of corporations."