Blackmailed by the Bomb: Nuclear Anxiety and the Cult of the Superweapon
by Paul & Phillip D. Collins, October 18, 2009
In May of 2009, respected American journalist Seymour Hersh shared a shocking revelation during an Arab TV interview. According to Hersh, Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, was a victim of a “special death squad formed by former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney” (“U.S. special squad killed Benazir”). This squad was “headed by General Stanley McChrystal, the newly-appointed commander of U.S. army in Afghanistan” with Cheney using his position as chief of the Joint Special Operation Command to “clear the way for the U.S. by exterminating opponents through the unit and the CIA” (ibid).
Hersh has speculated that Bhutto was assassinated because she shared her opinion that Osama Bin Laden had been assassinated by Omar Saeed Sheikh (ibid). Could there be, however, a deeper reason for the Bhutto hit? These writers suggested as much during interviews on several radio shows shortly after the December 27, 2007 assassination. At that time, many in the media were blaming al Qaeda for the hit. The chief source for this claim seems to have been an “obscure Italian Web site” that alleged that its reporter had received a telephone call from Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan (Ross). During the call, al-Yazid supposedly stated: “We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahedeen” (ibid). The Web site further contended that Ayman al Zawahri, al Qaeda’s number two leader, decided it was time to do away with Bhutto back in October 2007 (ibid). While all of this sounded like a smoking gun, the claim was anything but conclusive. According to ABC’s Brian Ross, U.S. intelligence officials said they could not confirm the claim of responsibility for the attack (ibid).
While al Qaeda may very well have been involved in the assassination, it should be understood that al Qaeda is merely part of a larger conspiratorial infrastructure, so it may not be accurate to place the blame solely at the doorstep of a single terrorist organization. Bhutto had vowed to do many things that would invite violent reprisal if she was re-elected prime minister. One promise that probably set off several alarm bells among the world’s wealthy and powerful appeared in a September 26, 2007 report in the Times of India. According to the report, Bhutto promised to allow inspectors from the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to question A.Q. Khan, the metallurgist nuclear black marketer and father of Pakistan’s “Islamic Bomb” (“Bhutto commits to letting IAEA question A.Q. Khan”).
During a visit to Washington before returning to Pakistan from her self-imposed exile, the former prime minister stated before the Middle East Institute: “While we do not agree at this stage to have any Western access to A.Q. Khan, we do believe that IAEA… would have the right to question A.Q. Khan” (ibid). Bhutto almost certainly understood that Khan’s revelations to the inspectors would implicitly suggest that wealthy and powerful individuals who comprise the global oligarchical establishment were involved in the creation and shepherding of the Khan nuclear proliferation network. While she did not overtly say as much, Bhutto subtly suggested that Khan was anything but a rogue when she stated: “Many Pakistanis are cynical about whether A.Q. Khan could have done this without any official sanction” (ibid). The former prime minister was signing her own death warrant by ripping the veil off of one of the oligarchs’ deepest, darkest, and closely-guarded secrets: the power elite and dark factions within the intelligence community had assisted Khan in making the world a more dangerous place.
The Khan network was created by an alliance between the American elite and the Saudi elites known as the Safari Club. Thanks to this alliance, Saudi Arabia supplanted Israel as the CIA’s chief source of regional intelligence (Trento 99). For quite some time, counterintelligence chief James Angleton had maintained a “special relationship with Israel,” an association that the CIA resented (99). However, Angleton’s dismissal in 1974 precipitated the decline of the pro-Israel elements within the Agency (99). With these elements significantly weakened, the CIA was free to forge ties with the Saudi royals in 1976. At the time, the Agency had been struggling with a substantial lack of political capital. In 1973, America’s ground involvement in Vietnam met with an ignominious end. This humiliating anti-climax was compounded by the fall of Saigon two years later. In addition, 1974 witnessed the startling revelations of the Watergate scandal, which generated considerable public outrage. By 1976, America’s patience with the CIA had been exhausted. The infamous “Year of Intelligence” had begun.
Voluminous instances of unlawful activity within the intelligence community eventually came under the indignant scrutiny of the Church and Pike Committees. Congress defunded all intelligence operations abroad, necessitating the Agency’s solicitation of the Saudis for badly needed funds. The Saudi royal family cemented their control over America’s intelligence financing with the formation of the Safari Club (102). The all-purpose banner of anti-communism supplied an expedient rationale for this questionable partnership.
Prince Turki synopsized the purposes and objectives of the Safari Club in a 2002 speech to the Georgetown University alumni:
“And now I will go back to the secret that I promised to tell you. In 1976, after the Watergate matters took place here, your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. It could not do anything. It could not send spies, it could not write reports, and it could not pay money. In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran. The principal aim of this club was that we would share information with each other in countering Soviet influence worldwide, and especially in Africa. In the 1970s, there were still some countries in Africa that were coming out of colonialism, among them Mozambique, Angola, and I think Djibouti. The main concern of everybody was that the spread of Communism was taking place while the main country that would oppose Communism was tied up. Congress had literally paralyzed the work not only of the U.S. intelligence community but of its foreign service as well. And so the Kingdom, with these countries, helped in some way, I believe, to keep the world safe at the time when the United States was not able to do that. That, I think, is a secret that many of you don’t know. I am not saying it because I look to tell secrets, but because the time has gone and many of the actors are gone as well.” (Qutd. in Trento 102)
Exploiting the threat of communism was commonplace within the dialectical climate of the Cold War. Conflict invariably gives rise to security discourses. In turn, security discourses are dominated by fear. When the politics of fear become the order of the day, concepts such as civil liberty and the rule of law are automatically subordinated to security concerns. Such circumstances tend to engender contempt toward democratic processes and, eventually, contrarians are portrayed as enemies of the State. More and more power becomes concentrated within the State, an entity that is already susceptible to the harmful influences of indifferent political and technical elites. Naturally, such a state of affairs would prove advantageous to America’s ruling class, who continually promoted their own variety of socialism as an alternative to communism. Thus, the Western elite had a vested interest in maintaining the dialectical climate of the Cold War. The Safari Club, which embodied the coalition between American oligarchs and the Saudi royal family, was instrumental in realizing this goal.
In 1978, Islamic fighters, which were supported by the Safari Club, initiated a campaign of agitation that would ultimately incite the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (167). The Safari Club’s Islamic fighters began conducting a series of cross-border raids into Soviet territory (167). Eventually, the Soviet Union was ensnared in the Afghan War. The quagmire that followed allowed the power elite to realize two major objectives that would yield significant long-term dividends.
The first of these was the creation of enemies for future Hegelian activism. In the name of fighting communism, the Islamic people could be radicalized with a violent form of their religion. The blowback that stemmed from this radicalization campaign would provide the power elite with a socially and political expedient adversary in the forthcoming “War on Terror,” which really amounted to little more than a dialectical ruse. This conflict would facilitate militaristic campaigns abroad and the dismantling of civil liberties domestically under the Patriot Act.
The second objective realized by the Afghan War was the maintenance of the ongoing dialectical rivalry between East and West. America had already experienced Vietnam. Now, in the true spirit of Hegelian reciprocity, the Soviets had to be given a Vietnam of their own. This trap had been laid by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. Brzezinski admitted as much in an interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur:
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would. (“Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski”)
Brzezinski’s plan for instigating the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was presented to Carter in a 1979 memo (Trento 318). Brzezinski stated in the memo that, should America embark on such a course of action, efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation in Pakistan would have to be abandoned (318). After all, Pakistan’s cooperation in the anti-Soviet effort in Afghanistan was absolutely imperative. In essence, the National Security Advisor was asserting that the United States government should blatantly overlook the emergent Islamic bomb in favor of settling an old score in the Cold War dialectic.
It is fairly obvious that Carter was merely a puppet of Brzezinski. Hamilton Jordan, Carter’s campaign advisor, had issued a loud admonition about Brzezinski, stating: “If, after the inauguration [of Jimmy Carter] you find… Zbigniew Brzezinski as head of National Security, then I would say we failed and I’d quit” (Epperson 232). Although Jordan did not resign, he had correctly identified Brzezinski as a representative of oligarchical interests (232). Brzezinski employed the services of David Rockefeller, the consummate American elitist, in the formation of the Trilateral Commission (235). At the time, Rockefeller was chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), America’s veritable foreign policy cartel (232). In fact, Ralph Epperson reveals that “all eight American representatives to the founding meeting of the Commission were members of the CFR” (232).
Moreover, Brzezinski had dubious connections to the intelligence community. While he was working in the CIA’s East Europe Division, Ted Shackley had recruited Brzezinski into the Agency (Trento 166). One of Shackley’s close friends was Edwin Wilson, who was instrumental in the creation of “a private intelligence network beyond the reach of official accountability” (58, 52). Congressman Charlie Wilson, an associate of Edwin Wilson, worked in tandem with the CIA to consistently block Congressional efforts to discontinue the flow of American funds to Pakistan (316). In fact, Charles Wilson egregiously remarked to Pakistan’s President Zia: “Mr. President, as far as I’m concerned you can make all the bombs you want” (316). A substantial portion of this money found its way to the A.Q. Khan syndicate (313).
At first, the notion of a nuclear Pakistan was thoroughly undesirable to the American elite. Dr. John Coleman, who some believe to be a former British intelligence operative, has claimed that Kissinger threatened Pakistani President Ali Bhutto when he expressed the ambition to transform his nation into a nuclear power (28). However, General Zia ul Haq, who Coleman characterizes as “a Council on Foreign Relations representative,” had Bhutto executed in 1979 (28). Bhutto’s death notwithstanding, Pakistan’s efforts to create an “Islamic bomb” continued unabated under President Zia, thereby prompting Carter to halt all economic and military aid to the country (315).
This state of affairs would be radically altered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Once more, the cause of anti-communism would be invoked by disingenuous parties to facilitate a dubious agenda. In the name of warding off the Soviet hordes, the Carter Administration brokered a deal with Zia to use Pakistan as a base of operations for the mujahideen (315-16). Yet again, money was channeled into Pakistan. A considerable amount of it would finance Khan’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb. The Safari Club and Saudi royals played a central role in this sordid affair:
The same leadership that promulgated the Safari Club-the Saudi royals-also strongly funded and supported the Islamic Development Bank. Begun in 1973, the IDB now has 55 member states, with Saudi Arabia dominating, with 27.33 percent of the bank’s funding. As a comparison, Egypt contributes 9.48% and Pakistan just 3.41% of the bank’s total capital. It was through the bank’s scientific and economic development efforts that huge amounts were funneled into Pakistan, which ended up in the hands of A.Q. Khan and his now-infamous nuclear bomb-building syndicate. (Trento 313)
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan allowed the Safari Club to negotiate a deal with Pakistan that, in turn, would facilitate the emergence of the “Islamic Bomb.” Trento outlines the specifics of this Faustian deal:
Pakistani intelligence would handle all the money going to facilitate the proxy war against the Soviets. That meant hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States and Saudi Arabia were being run through Pakistan with no accountability. “Unfortunately,” said [CIA liaison to the corporate world] Robert Crowley, “the Pakistanis knew exactly where their cut of the money was to go.” Where the money went was into an Islamic nuclear-weapons program supported by Saudi Arabia and accepted by the United States. (314)
British Customs took notice of this Islamic nuclear weapons program during the 1990s and, working with an Arabic-speaking Muslim agent, began examining Khan’s bomb-making syndicate (314). Ominously enough, the investigation eventually discovered that the United States “had no interest in shutting down the network, which had been operating for years” (314). Worse still, the British weren’t the only ones to unearth such unsettling revelations. The French arrived at the very same conclusion:
A top French Intelligence official, who asked that his name be withheld from publication, described the U.S. – Pakistani cover-up of the Khan network as having “an important precedent. Just as the U.S. allowed Israel to develop nuclear weapons, under pressure from the Saudis, the U.S. allowed Pakistan to be Saudi Arabia’s proxy as the first Islamic nuclear state. The Saudis put up the cash and have clean hands as Pakistan builds the bomb for its supposed defense against India over Kashmir . . . but my country and the British received no cooperation starting in the 1980’s when we discovered traces of Khan’s network. The U.S. did not want to discuss it.” (314-15)
Yet, the United States was not merely overlooking the Khan network, but was actively supporting it:
A senior source in the British government, who asks not to be named, confirms that Khan ran the network and that parts for the nuclear-weapons program came from the United States. Khan’s daughter, attending school in England, was being tutored, and at the ends of faxes dealing with logistics for her education, Khan would sometimes write, in his own hand, items he needed for the nuclear program. (315)
Under the aegis of a transnational coalition between the Saudi elite and the American elite, the Khan network would become a major supplier of weapons equipment to Iran, Libya, Malaysia, and North Korea. In summation, the nuclear proliferation witnessed during the late 20th century and the early 21st century was no accidental occurrence. Ultimately, it was by design.
The crusade to dismantle A.Q. Khan’s network has suffered many casualties. Several whistleblowers have found their careers ended and their reputations tarnished. Richard Barlow, Sibel Edmonds, Atif Amin, and Valerie Plame are some of those who lie among the ranks of the fallen. A brief examination of these whistleblowers should adequately illustrate the determination of the Establishment to protect and shepherd the Khan network.
In 2000, Atif Amin, the senior customs investigator leading British efforts to halt the Khan network, discovered British and American complicity (Borger and Cobain). Amin was the head investigator in Operation Akin, the British Customs investigation into the involvement of British companies with the Khan network (ibid). Amin had discovered “evidence in Dubai of the Khan network’s involvement in establishing Libya’s nuclear programme (sic)” (ibid). Instead of allowing Operation Akin to stop Libya’s program and the Khan network’s contribution, Amin was ordered to cease his investigation (ibid). All of this was done at the request of the CIA and MI6 (ibid).
Instead of being rewarded for his heroic efforts, Amin was treated like an “enemy of the state.” On December 5, 2007, authorities from Britain’s Police Complaints Commission and investigators from the Hampshire police department descended upon Amin’s home and conducted a search (ibid). According to these authorities, Amin had passed classified custom reports to investigative journalists David Armstrong and Joseph Trento (ibid). The journalists, in turn, used these reports to produce their book America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise (ibid). Amin and Operation Akin were the focus of the book, but Armstrong holds that Amin was the not the source (ibid). Whether or not Amin passed information to the American reporters, his attempts to prevent Khan from spreading nuclear materials to some of the most dangerous regimes on the planet made him a target of one of the very governments that claims to be protecting its people from nuclear proliferation.
Amin’s story is very similar to that of Richard Barlow, a CIA counter-proliferation officer. In 1985, Barlow joined the CIA and, in very short order, learned that U.S. officials knew about the activities of the Khan network and were doing nothing to stop it (Ryland). If that wasn’t bad enough, Barlow discovered that State Department officials were actually assisting the Khan network with procurement (ibid). These same officials became Khan’s accomplices, helping targets of undercover operations avoid arrest (ibid). State Department operatives even violated the law by approving export licenses for restricted goods (ibid).
Barlow decided not to join the ranks of the complacent and complicit. In 1987, the CIA officer carried out an operation that led to the arrest of Khan operatives working in the United States (ibid). These arrests “came with the full support and knowledge of the highest of the CIA and the Reagan administration” (ibid).
Barlow’s operation seriously threatened Western support of the Khan network. The Khan network agents had violated provisions of the Solarz Amendment, which stipulated that if Pakistan was discovered to be involved in proliferation activities, then American aid would cease (ibid). Barlow appeared before the author of the Solarz Amendment, Stephen Solarz, and his Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs and told everything he knew (ibid). Solarz was certainly not someone who could be trusted. His name has recently emerged in connection with the American Turkish Council (ATC), a sister organization to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Giraldi). The ATC is known to act as a surrogate for Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) because Turks do not raise as much suspicion (ibid).
Still, Barlow’s revelations were too great to be ignored. Many in Congress were outraged to learn that Pakistan was breaking U.S. nuclear export laws with the active assistance of U.S. officials and the full knowledge of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The incident forced the Reagan administration to activate the Solarz Amendment for the first time (Ryland). The first time, however, would prove to also be the last time. Reagan immediately reversed course and annulled the amendment through an invocation of “a national security waiver provision in the law” (ibid).
Barlow had the support of many courageous and honest elements within the government. The CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence and the State Department’s non-proliferation staff considered Barlow to be a hero who had brought their concerns into the spotlight (ibid). His operation against the Khan network, however, won him many enemies. The CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) was one of the groups that were not pleased with Barlow’s actions (ibid). It should be remembered that Khan’s sponsors, the Safari Club, had helped the DO continue with covert operations after the Congressional purse strings were pulled away. Barlow has stated that the DO “did make my life miserable and damaged my career prospects” (ibid). Eventually, the pressure led to Barlow leaving the CIA (ibid). A serious blow had been dealt to the Agency’s counter-proliferation faction.
Western cooperation with the Khan network has even been revealed by one of America’s most high-profile national security whistleblowers: former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds joined the Bureau in 2001, nine days after the September 11 attacks (Giraldi). While with the FBI, she worked with the translations section of the Washington office, listening to hundreds of intercepted phone calls of individuals the Bureau considered “persons of interest” (ibid). One of those “persons of interest” was Marc Grossman, retired American Ambassador to Turkey and civil servant (ibid). Grossman became the focus of an FBI investigation in 2001 and 2002 when he held the third highest position in the State Department, the undersecretary of state for political affairs (ibid). According to Edmonds, FBI wiretaps reveal that Grossman warned a Turkish Embassy official that Brewster Jennings and Associates, an ostensible consultancy brass plate firm, was really a front for a CIA weapons proliferation unit (ibid). This was particularly significant, Edmonds contends, since the Turks “often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, because they were less likely to attract suspicion” (“For Sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets”). The Brewster Jennings unit had been quite effective in penetrating the Khan network. Grossman’s warning, which amounted to a tip-off to the Pakistanis, changed all that. Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi makes it clear that the operation was compromised, stating: “It is to be assumed that the information was then passed on to the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network” (ibid).
Brewster Jennings was also the unit of CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose cover was supposedly blown by a column by the deceased Robert Novak (ibid). But when the time came to assign blame for Plame’s exposure, Grossman was not touched. Instead, he finished his government service and went on to serve as the vice chairman of the Cohen Group,” “founded by Clinton defense secretary William Cohen, where he reportedly earns a seven-figure salary, much of it coming from representing Turkey” (ibid).
On the other hand, Edmond’s patriotism was met with a campaign of persecution that beggars description. When she voiced her concerns to her superiors, Edmonds was threatened (ibid). The FBI’s refusal to act on her warnings led to Edmonds contacting the Justice Department and two senators on the Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy (ibid). A DOJ polygraph test revealed that Edmonds “was not deceptive in her answers” (ibid). Two weeks later, Edmonds was fired from the FBI and her home computer was seized. Even Edmond’s family in Turkey was not immune. Family members were interrogated by the police under threats that they would be arrested if they did not cooperate (ibid). Attempts by Edmonds’s attorney to obtain documents concerning her firing led to Attorney General John Ashcroft imposing a state-secrets gag order (ibid). While Edmonds has not ceased in her attempts to get the truth out, she still faces fierce opposition from those who do not want their misdeeds revealed.
Economic determinism holds sway in the thinking of both alternative and mainstream researchers. This flawed view holds that players in the realms of politics, finance, and social engineering are motivated strictly by money. The appeal of this view is understandable, given the fact that many mysteries are solved and conspiracies are exposed merely by “following the money.” Proponents of this view, however, fail to recognize that money is merely a means to an end. As a result, deeper ideological motivations for world events are bleached out in the final analysis. Unfortunately, this is the case with most of the research written over the Khan network. Certainly, many pockets were lined as a result of Khan spreading nuclear materials across the globe. The political, social, and psychological impacts of nuclear proliferation, however, suggest that there are deeper ideological reasons for helping rogue nations and fanatical regimes procure the most destructive weapon known to mankind.
These deeper ideological reasons stem from what literary critic H. Bruce Franklin describes as a “cult of the superweapon,” which “originated as a distinct phenomenon between 1880 and what we now nonchalantly call the First World War, in the form of future wars imagined by American authors of fiction” (War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination 5). The term “cult” as it is invoked here does not connote a coherent organization or formalized institution. Instead, it connotes a faddish obsession with a concept, idea, or principle. In this case, the obsession was with the notion of a world order where compliance among nations was maintained through a monopoly on lethal force. The maintenance of that monopoly hinged on the exclusive ownership of the superweapon.
This continuity of thought would find several devotees among the power elite. Central to the Utopian vision of this bizarre and sinister subset of oligarchs was a world order whose hegemony was maintained through a discourse of fear. Faced with potential annihilation by the superweapon, the people of the world could be incentivized to accept an undemocratic and oppressive system of global governance as an alternative to extinction.
The form of global government advocated by several members of this cult would intermittently oscillate between a unilateral model (i.e., Pax Americana) and a multilateral model (i.e., Pax Universalis). The latter would be euphemistically dubbed a “new world order” and would stipulate the subordination of all nation-states to an omnipotent supra-national entity. The former would be instantiated under the appellation of “empire,” with America maintaining supremacy through a monopoly over the superweapon. The earliest American nuclear fantasies allegorically gesticulated towards this model. While the proponents of both models would occasionally feud with each other, the dialectical commonalities shared by the polar opponents made such disputes superficial at best. Whatever model would hold sway, unilateral or multilateral, the outcome would remain the same: global totalitarianism.
That a literary subgenre could inspire future projects in nuclear blackmail bespeaks the normative power of fiction. Authors with questionable ideological propensities have often harnessed this normative power on behalf of radical agendas. Through the circulation of normative fiction, audiences are provided with semiotic intimations of coming events. Those who are convinced of the alleged inevitability of these coming events will either passively accept them or actively work to tangibly enact them. Thus, when the future unfolds as planned, it assumes the paradigmatic character of the “fiction” that foretold it. Herein is the concept of predictive programming. Michael Hoffman defines predictive programming as follows: “Predictive programming works by means of the propagation of the illusion of an infallibly accurate vision of how the world is going to look in the future” (205).
Thanks to irresponsible pseudo-researchers like Alan Watt, predictive programming is one concept in conspiratorial research that is in danger of falling into disrepute. The problem is the ridiculously elastic criterion that some use to categorize certain films, books, and TV shows as “predictive programming.” Suddenly, everything from an innocuous episode of Gilligan’s Island to an inane garage sale sign can be classified as “predictive programming.” Moreover, those who carelessly assign the appellation of “predictive programming” cannot compellingly demonstrate any degree of intertextuality between fictional narratives and actual events. Sadly, such irresponsibility is swiftly relegating the concept of predictive programming to the realm of paranoid fantasy.
Nevertheless, one can hardly deny that certain films, TV programs, and books have had a normative impact on the dominant culture. Artistic works within the genre of science fiction have been particularly influential among audiences. What is being described here is not some incredibly sophisticated system of brainwashing. Operating in a normative capacity, science fiction does not necessarily “make people behave in ways they otherwise would not” (Bartter 169). This perception of science fiction typically engenders “either the tacit justification for propaganda, or the reverse, the explicit justification for censorship” (169). However, it is through the presentation of possibilities that the normative power of science fiction is most effectively demonstrated. Martha A. Bartter states:
[F]iction can represent possibilities for action to a large number of people in such a way that they can more clearly perceive possible choices and the various socio-cultural sanctions attached to those choices. The very act of considering choices irrevocably alters our assumptions about ways we may act, and since actions derive from assumptions (in the sense that both doing and choosing not to do must be considered actions), fiction can indeed endanger the status quo. The censors are right—for the wrong reasons. (169)
If the possibilities presented by normative fiction are given serious socio-cultural currency, then they can give rise to revisions in the status quo and the emergence of new cultural paradigms. Hypothetical scenarios of a normative nature can challenge the underlying assumptions of the current culture. Of course, when one challenges the dominant Weltanschauung, one must pose a viable alternative. To such an end, fiction can prescribe alternative values, principles, philosophies, and Weltanschauungs. Once fiction starts making such prescriptions, it becomes normative in character.
Yet, normative fiction also exhibits an “inherent ambiguity” (169). Although it calls the status quo into question, normative fiction simultaneously reinforces some of the values of the dominant paradigm. Paradoxical though it may seem, normative fiction combines conformity and rebellion to create a potent socio-cultural solvent. Bartter explains:
On the one hand, every fiction arises from a particular time and place; it demonstrates to its hearers/readers a tacit consensus regarding cultural norms. On the other hand, and at the same time, it can introduce to its readers possibilities that they previously did not know or had not considered, and make these possibilities vividly “real” by fictional devices such as plot, character, setting, etc. Through a “willing suspension of disbelief,” readers conduct socio-cultural gedankenexperimente: they test how such ideas might work out in reality and what effects they might produce, and consider the possibility of a new consensus. (169)
Gedankenexperimente is the German word for “thought experiment.” The gedankenexperimente involves the tangible enactment of hypothetical scenarios in hopes of re-sculpting reality and creating a “new consensus.” Ideas are tested and the underlying assumptions of the current culture are called into question. As the socio-cultural thought experiment progresses, it might give rise to revisions in the status quo and the emergence of new cultural paradigms. Thus, the world of fact begins to more closely mirror the world of fiction. The a priori assumptions of science fiction literature become the de facto precepts of culture itself. In a sense, fiction becomes a precursor to fact.
The famous science fiction writer and editor John W. Campbell proposed that sci-fi presented an “unparalleled opportunity for socio-cultural thought experiments” (183). As such, some science fiction can inspire tectonic shifts in society and culture. The nature of these shifts depends upon the nature of the normative statements that inspired them. For instance, the techno-Utopian premises of much science fiction can be somewhat troubling, especially in light of the questionable outcomes of most sociopolitical Utopian movements (e.g., communism, fascism, and other varieties of socialism). To be sure, the techno-Utopian might argue that unfettered scientific progress will facilitate social progress. Yet, theoreticians like Theodor Adorno have correctly identified the disjunction between scientific progress and social progress, citing Nazi Germany as a prime example. Nevertheless, several science fiction writers communicate techno-Utopian prescriptions through their narratives. Such normative seeds can find fertile soil within the minds of audiences who have already made a “willing suspension of disbelief.” At that point, a socio-cultural gedankenexperimente in techno-Utopianism might begin. In fact, many such thought experiments have already taken place, as is evidenced by sizable scientistic cults like Scientology.
Perhaps the socio-cultural gedankenexperimente with the broadest ramifications for mankind is the Manhattan Project. None other than science fiction icon H.G. Wells can be connected with the advent of nuclear warfare. Leo Szilard, a Hungarian-American physicist who conceived the nuclear chain reaction and worked on the Manhattan Project, read Wells’ The World Set Free (Bartter 177). In this novel, Wells coined the term “atomic bomb” (176). Bartter states: “In a very real sense, through Szilard, Wells designed the Manhattan Project” (177). In fact, Wells’ novel even inspired the highly compartmentalized organizational framework of the Project. In turn, this organizational framework promoted an overall milieu of obscurantism. Bartter elaborates:
One of its (the Manhattan Project’s) most important aspects was the application of ` assembly-line techniques to scientific research. By dividing the scientists into teams, each doing a small portion of the research, a high level of secrecy could be imposed on a discipline officially dedicated to the free exchange of information.
Many young scientists were eager to join the Project because it gave them a chance to do “cutting edge” work while serving their country. Few argued against the stifling secrecy; even fewer felt they could properly direct how their work should be used. That these assumptions are somewhat self-contradictory does not make them less powerful, merely less conscious. Scientists themselves read science fiction; many publicly admitted that such reading led them to their careers in science. Science fiction tacitly assumes that the role of scientist included that of alchemist as well; it seems that some Manhattan Project scientists were influenced by these assumptions. (177)
It is interesting that the invention of a weapon that would forever alter warfare was inspired by a man like Wells. Given his ideological heritage and elitist pedigree, Wells had good reason to encourage the introduction of a super-weapon that would plunge traditional international politics into an ontological and epistemological crisis. A cursory perusal of Wells’ résumé reveals his motive for promulgating the pervasive nuclear anxiety that would eventually create the political discourse of fear that underpinned the Cold War.
Wells held many dubious organizational affiliations. Among one of them was the Coefficients Club. Formed by Fabian socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, this organization assembled some of Britain’s most prominent social critics and thinkers to discuss the course of the British Empire (“Coefficients (dining club),” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia). In essence, the Club promoted a world state, albeit a unilaterally initiated form of global government dominated by Britain (i.e., a Pax Britannia). Wells articulates this globalist vision in Experiments in Autobiography:
The British Empire . . . had to be the precursor of a world-state or nothing . . . It was possible for the Germans and Austrians to hold together in their Zollverein (tariff and trade bloc) because they were placed like a clenched fist in the centre of Europe. But the British Empire was like an open hand all over the world. It had no natural economic unity and it could maintain no artificial economic unity. Its essential unity must be a unity of great ideas embodied in the English speech and literature. (Experiments in Autobiography 652)
One of the Club’s members was none other than socialist and population control advocate Bertrand Russell. According to Russell, several members harbored an overwhelming preoccupation with war:
…in 1902, I became a member of a small dining club called the Coefficients, got up by Sidney Webb for the purpose of considering political questions from a more or less Imperialist point of view. It was in this club that I first became acquainted with H. G. Wells, of whom I had never heard until then. His point of view was more sympathetic to me than that of any member. Most of the members, in fact, shocked me profoundly. I remember Amery’s eyes gleaming with blood-lust at the thought of a war with America, in which, as he said with exultation, we should have to arm the whole adult male population. One evening Sir Edward Grey (not then in office) made a speech advocating the policy of Entente, which had not yet been adopted by the Government. I stated my objections to the policy very forcibly, and pointed out the likelyhood of its leading to war, but no one agreed with me, so I resigned from the Club. It will be seen that I began my opposition to the first war at the earliest possible moment. (230)
His radical ideological pedigree aside, Russell’s misgivings with the Club weren’t without substance. One Club member, Leopold Maxse, consistently promoted a militant stance against Germany:
Maxse was anti-German in the pre-war period and argued that the 1918 victory against Germany gave the Allies a fleeting opportunity to destroy German power. He viewed the Treaty of Versailles as ineffectual towards that aim and blamed Allied politicians, Lloyd George especially, for bowing to President Wilson’s pressure to make the treaty less harsh. (“Leopold Maxse,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia)
Evidently, this preoccupation with war appealed to Wells, whose fictional works exhibited some distinctly Darwinian militarist themes. Richard Weikart distills the Weltanschauung of the Darwinian militarist:
Darwinian militarists claimed that universal biological laws decreed the inevitability of war. Humans could not, any more than any other animal, opt out of the struggle for existence, since—as Darwin had explained based on his reading of Malthus—population expands faster than the food supply. War was thus a natural and necessary element of human competition that selects the “most fit” and leads to biological adaptation or—as most preferred to think—to progress. Not only Germans, but Anglo American social Darwinists justified war as a natural and inevitable part of the universal struggle for existence. The famous American sociologist William Graham Sumner, one of the most influential social Darwinists in the late nineteenth century, conceded, “It is the [Darwinian] competition for life… which makes war, and that is why war has always existed and always will.” (165-66)
Given the fact that Darwinian militarism was heavily informed by Malthus’ statistical “research,” it is quite ironic that the Coefficients’ warmongering would even disturb a Malthusian like Russell. After all, in Malthus’ view, war served a necessary function in checking population growth. Russell’s unsettling preoccupation with population control actually harmonized rather well with the advocacy of endless conflict. Nevertheless, such warlike notions represented a point of departure between Russell and the Coefficients.
Again, Russell’s misgivings weren’t without justification. By portraying war as a preordained Consequence of the evolutionary development of man, Darwinian militarism condemned the whole human race to perpetual conflict. Moreover, Darwinian militarism rationalized the rejection of moral accountability and a Nietzsche-esque veneration of war:
By claiming that war is biologically determined, Darwinian militarists denied that moral considerations could be applied to war. In their view wars were not caused by free human choices, but by biological processes. Blaming persons or nations for waging war is thus senseless, since they are merely blindly following natural laws. Further, opposition to war and militarism is futile, according to Darwinian militarists, who regularly scoffed at peace activists for simply not understanding scientific principles. (166)
Such a militaristic view of the world was merely the logical outworking of Darwinism, which consistently portrayed life as a struggle for survival. Wells was certainly no stranger to the bloody Weltanschauung of Darwinism. The budding scribe of “scientific romances” studied at the Normal School of Science in South Kensington under Darwin’s chief apologist, Thomas Henry Huxley. In Dope, Inc., associates of political dissident Lyndon LaRouche identify Huxley as “a founder of the Rhodes Roundtable group and a lifelong collaborator of Arnold Toynbee” (537). Toynbee advanced a thesis concerning the perpetuation of global oligarchy. Noting the inexorable decline of past empires — the Roman Empire, the Egyptian Pharaohs, etc.–Toynbee argued that imperial regimes could be sustained through the initiation and tutelage of a priesthood committed to the precepts of oligarchy (537). The British Round Table Groups represented a tangible enactment of this prescriptive thesis.
The Round Table Groups would form the Royal Institute for International Affairs, which would establish a stateside branch known as the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States. The CFR wields a considerable amount of influence over U.S. foreign policy and several of its members are dedicated to expediting America’s assimilation into a one-world socialist totalitarian government. Wells’ work, both fictional and nonfictional, teems with references to and promotions of such a globalist vision. In turn, this vision represents a speculative extrapolation of evolutionary theory into “such sociopolitical arrangements as corporations and nations” (Martin 314-15). Thus, the cause of globalism actually qualifies as “sociopolitical Darwinism” (314-15). In promoting global governance, Wells was merely remaining consistent with his rigidly Darwinian view of the world.
Intimations of Wells’ own sociopolitical Darwinian pedigree emerge throughout his sci-fi classics. For instance, in H.G. Wells and the Culminating Ape; Biological Themes and Imaginative Obsessions, literary critic Peter Kemp characterizes The Time Machine as a “blend of Marx and Darwin” (14). Not surprisingly, The Time Machine presents a future where an ignorant and indolent race (called the Eloi) luxuriates in a pastoral, communist society. Given the agrarian variety of socialism invoked by Wells, one might discern shades of Maoism and the Khmer Rouge. Yet, the Eloi’s Utopian existence does not come without a price. They are subjected to an inherently predatory system governed by the Morlocks. Essentially, Wells’ Time Machine allegorically divided mankind into two distinct breeds: ranchers and livestock. In Wells’ view, the great mass of humanity was analogous to the Eloi, a herd whose numbers had to be culled. In order to carry out this unsavory, yet necessary task, a far less compassionate breed of men was required. Like the Morlocks, such men would appear to be monsters to the commoner. Nevertheless, Wells felt that such men should dominate his hypothetical world state, which he also dubbed the “New Republic”:
The men of the New Republic will not be squeamish, either, in facing or inflicting death, because they will have a fuller sense of the possibilities of life than we possess. They will have an ideal that will make killing worth the while; like Abraham, they will have the faith to kill, and they will have no superstitions about death. They will naturally regard the modest suicide of incurably melancholy, or diseased or helpless persons as a high and courageous act of duty rather than a crime. (Anticipations 184)
Other pieces of Wells’ science fiction underscore his Darwinian militarist propensities. For instance, War of the Worlds depicts interplanetary warfare as a macrocosmic extension of natural selection (Williamson 189-95). This theme would eventually pervade the literary genre of science fiction:
Science fiction is admittedly almost impossible to define; readers all think they know what it is and yet no definition will cover all its various aspects. However, I would suggest that evolution, as presented by Wells, that is a kind of mutation resulting in the confrontation of man with different species, is one of the main themes of modern science fiction. (Vernier 85)
This observation brings into clearer focus the dialectical framework intrinsic to evolutionary theory. The organism (thesis) comes into conflict with nature (antithesis) resulting in a newly enhanced species (synthesis), the culmination of the evolutionary process (Marrs 127). Of course, in such a world of ongoing conflict, violence and bloodshed are central to progress. Thus, Darwin’s theory ‘gave credence to the Hegelian notion that human culture had ascended from brutal beginnings’ (Taylor, 386).
At this juncture, it is interesting to recall that war with Germany was the chief desire of Leopold Maxse, one of Wells’ associates in the Coefficients Club. Interestingly enough, Wells predicted the rise of Nazi Germany and the Second World War in The Shape of Things to Come. The fact that Wells “predicted” this suggests that he was privy to certain plans. Such plans may have circulated within the Coefficients Club, among other elitist think tanks of the time. Whatever the case may be, World War II certainly synchronized with the Darwinian militarist Weltanschauung of Wells and his other colleagues.
Of course, WWII came to an explosive end with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the advent of nuclear warfare, the world would witness the dialectical manipulation of the Cold War. East and West would be pitted against one another in a calculated game of chicken. Through the policy of containment that was implemented by the Truman Administration, the communist threat was maintained as an element of stability. This policy continued throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars, which were deliberately mismanaged to perpetuate the dialectic of East vs. West. The late 60s witnessed détente, which lead to an ostensible easing of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, American-Soviet relations disintegrated with the close of the 70s and, throughout the 80s, the metastasis of the “Evil Empire” was a preeminent fear.
Within this dialectical climate, the prospect of nuclear annihilation was consistently reiterated as a compelling incentive for dismantling the nation-state system and establishing a global government. Such a global government would satisfy the core normative contention of Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come: “The existence of independent sovereign states IS war, white or red, and only an elaborate mis-education blinded the world to this elementary fact.”
Herein is probably Wells’ true motive for encouraging the invention of the world’s first super-weapon. The cause of world political unification was largely premised upon fear and nothing had generated fear like the possibility of nuclear war. For decades, prominent writers such as Wells had drawn an unfounded correlation between war and the sovereign state. In turn, scholars, journalists, and politicians had publicly reiterated this correlation ad nauseum. Thus, when the specter of nuclear war reared its ugly head, the nation-state was viewed as its natural progenitor. Just such a contention is set forth in The World Set Free. Wells opens the novel with an airstrike that destroys the War Control Centre of England and France. In retaliation, a “rather young brutish aviator with a bullet head” drops an atomic bomb on Berlin. This conflagration triggers an enormous global conflict:
For the whole world was flaring then into a monstrous phase of destruction. Power after Power about the armed globe sought to anticipate attack by aggression. They went to war in a delirium of panic, in order to use their bombs first. China and Japan had assailed Russia and destroyed Moscow, the United States had attacked Japan, India was in anarchistic revolt with Delhi a pit of fire spouting death and flame; the redoubtable King of the Balkans was mobilising. It must have seemed plain at last to every one in those days that the world was slipping headlong to anarchy. By the spring of 1959 from nearly two hundred centres, and every week added to their number, roared the unquenchable crimson conflagrations of the atomic bombs, the flimsy fabric of the world’s credit had vanished, industry was completely disorganised and every city, every thickly populated area was starving or trembled on the verge of starvation. Most of the capital cities of the world were burning; millions of people had already perished, and over great areas government was at an end. Humanity has been compared by one contemporary writer to a sleeper who handles matches in his sleep and wakes to find himself in flames.
Contemptuously portraying the major participants in this conflict as a “mere cult of warfare,” Wells presents the normative contention that “because of the development of scientific knowledge, separate sovereign states and separate sovereign empires are no longer possible in the world.” Moreover, Wells argues that “to attempt to keep on with the old system is to heap disaster upon disaster for mankind and perhaps to destroy our race altogether.” Wells presents the supposed solution with the “proclamation of the end of the war and the establishment of a world government.”:
The catastrophe of the atomic bombs which shook men out of cities and businesses and economic relations shook them also out of their old established habits of thought, and out of the lightly held beliefs and prejudices that came down to them from the past. To borrow a word from the old-fashioned chemists, men were made nascent; they were released from old ties; for good or evil they were ready for new associations. The council carried them forward for good; perhaps if his bombs had reached their destination King Ferdinand Charles might have carried them back to an endless chain of evils. But his task would have been a harder one than the council’s. The moral shock of the atomic bombs had been a profound one, and for a while the cunning side of the human animal was overpowered by its sincere realisation of the vital necessity for reconstruction. The litigious and trading spirits cowered together, scared at their own consequences; men thought twice before they sought mean advantages in the face of the unusual eagerness to realise new aspirations, and when at last the weeds revived again and ‘claims’ began to sprout, they sprouted upon the stony soil of law-courts reformed, of laws that pointed to the future instead of the past, and under the blazing sunshine of a transforming world. A new literature, a new interpretation of history were springing into existence, a new teaching was already in the schools, a new faith in the young.
Wells’ imaginative seeds eventually took root within the mind of Leo Szilard, resulting in the socio-cultural gedankenexperimente of the Manhattan Project:
In 1932, many years after the first appearance of The World Set Free, the Hungarian nuclear physicist Leo Szilard read the novel and admitted in his memoirs that it gave him the idea for an atomic bomb. When, in 1932, Szilard heard of the work of Otto Hahn in Berlin with uranium fission, he realized that such a weapon now actually possible. “All the things which H.G. Wells predicted appeared suddenly real to me.” He shared his thoughts with his old friend and colleague Albert Einstein, who signed and sent a letter on the subject (much of it actually written by Szilard) to President Roosevelt. The president promptly authorized the formation of an “Advisory Committee on Uranium” to study their ideas. In time the work of this committee led to the Manhattan Project and the invention of atomic bombs, the same bombs that ended World War II and initiated a global scramble to acquire nuclear weapons that is still in progress and may some day lead to the collapse of civilization. The survivors — if any — would have reason to hold H.G. Wells personally responsible. (Wagar 146)
Indeed, Wells could be held accountable for any nuclear war that potentially looms on the horizon. Yet, Wells was not only the originator of nuclear war. He was also one of the foremost purveyors of global tyranny under the euphemistic appellation of a “new world order.” The World Set Free established a discourse of fear. That discourse of fear cemented the authority of national security states in both America and Russia, thereby increasing the prospect of a Hegelian synthesis between the two. The world was further incentivized to acquiesce to this totalitarian societal configuration with the fear of nuclear annihilation. In essence, the name of the game was nuclear blackmail.
Seldom do dangerous ideas need assistance in their spread, and Wells’ concept of the nuclear fantasy certainly proves that point. Stories of weapons of mass destruction paving the way for world government gained imaginative momentum among many science fiction writers who were building upon ideas popularized by Wells.
Nuclear fantasies had a profound influence on the thinking of Harry Truman, which is important given the fact that he is credited with the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to H. Bruce Franklin, Truman’s decision was “influenced by his belief that this demonstration of the ultimate superweapon might indeed bring an end to war” (“Eternally safe for democracy: the final solution of American science fiction” 157). What had caused Truman to place his faith in a weapon that constitutes the Promethean fire of science? Truman’s initiation into the cult of the superweapon is most likely found in the pages of McClure’s magazine (157). As a young farmer in Missouri, Truman subscribed to this magazine and avidly devoured its stories, which included tales of superweapons and global wars leading to peace and unification ushered in by a world government (157). Truman even wrote about his love for McClure’s in a letter to his sweetheart Bess in 1913, stating: “I suppose I’ll have to renew my subscription to McClure’s now so I won’t miss a number” (157).
In 1910, a story entitled “The Unparalleled Invasion” appeared in the pages of McClure’s (157). Authored by raving Anglophile Jack London, the story forecasts a world threatened by hostile hordes of Chinese who begin a campaign for world domination in the year 1975 (156). Salvation comes, however, in the form of a superweapon conceived and created by an American scientist (156). While London’s weapon is biological in nature, the aftermath of its use is comparable to a nuclear bomb. The entire population of China is infected with “bacteria, and germs, and microbes, and bacilli, cultured in the laboratories of the West” (156). This potent mixture is delivered by missiles fired from American airships (156). The end result is genocide (156). Only a few survivors remain after the attack and they are executed in very short order (156).
The stories of superweapons that influenced Truman’s generation almost always ended with the complete extermination of black, red, or yellow people (156). It is almost as if the superweapon was ethno-specific in nature. The dreaded “Yellow Peril” was the threat most often presented and according to Franklin, this anti-Asian literature was “especially ferocious” (156). This should come as little surprise. As Gene Wolfe states in the introduction of Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction: “science fiction is of Anglo-American growth” (Prucher xix). It seems that Americans were being conditioned to destroy the Western elites’ competitors in the great game for world hegemony.
The same year London’s story appeared in the pages of McClure’s, Truman happened upon an earlier version of the same tale depicting “airships fighting the final dreadful war to end all wars and thus bringing about a prosperous, unified world” (“Eternally safe for democracy: the final solution of American science fiction” 157). This story, a science fiction poem written by Tennyson and entitled “Locksley Hall,” was particularly inspirational to the young, impressionable farmer from Missouri (157). In fact, Truman was so moved by the poem that he copied down ten lines from the piece and placed them in his wallet (157). Those ten lines would follow Truman everywhere he went for the next 35 years. They would reemerge from his pocket again in July 1945, when the now-President Truman was on his way to the historic Potsdam Conference (157). During this trip, which was intended to shape the post-war order, Truman retrieved a worn slip of paper from his wallet and recited the ten lines he had copied down in his youth to a reporter (157). Truman’s copied portion included the following lines:
…the war-drums throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. (Qutd. in “Eternally safe for democracy: the final solution of American science fiction” 157)
Obviously, Truman hoped that a world government would grow out of the Potsdam Conference, and he believed the United States would soon have a weapon capable of compelling the rest of the nations to accept his desired model of world order.
Truman seems to have been following a script presented in Roy Norton’s 1907 story entitled “The Vanishing Fleet” (157). This story, which appeared in serialized form in the Associated Sunday Magazines, depicts a Japanese sneak attack bearing eerie resemblance to the Pearl Harbor attack that would occur 34 years later (157-58). While the Japanese deal America a harsh blow, American ingenuity, as is so often the case in nuclear fantasies, comes to the rescue as American scientists invent the ultimate weapons powered by radioactivity (158). Those weapons, a fleet of giant “radioplanes,” are “capable of sweeping off the seas entire fleets of enemy warships” (158).
The President in Norton’s story knows very well that the Japanese might actually surrender if they learn of America’s new weapon (158). The President, however, decides to keep the existence of the radioplanes a secret, leaving the Japanese secure in their belief that they have the upper-hand (158). Secrecy, explains the President, will prevent America from losing the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the destructive force of the new weapon (158). The President believes that the weapon will only have to be employed once to convince the rest of the world that the time has come to make war a distant memory (158). Armed with nuclear vengeance, the radioplanes conduct “the last great battle in history,” which ends in victory for America (158). With the enemy vanquished, the President proudly declares: “The United States, having faith in the Anglo-Saxon race as… the most peaceful and conservative, has formed an alliance… with Great Britain” (158). Norton’s story, like much of the nuclear fantasies at the time, promoted a model of world order that favored Anglo-American hegemony (158). For this reason, the cult of the superweapon would possess Anglophile features until after World War Two, when the majority of the global oligarchical establishment began favoring the idea of a Pax Universalis in contradistinction to a Pax Americana.
Truman’s immersion in nuclear fantasies may have caused him to cast himself in the role of the President in Norton’s story, either consciously or unconsciously. Several agents of the power elite were certainly in place to guarantee that Norton’s President was channeled through Truman. Secretary of War Henry Stimson was one such agent. Stimson oversaw the development of the atomic bomb and advised both Roosevelt and Truman concerning the weapon. It was in this role that Stimson helped persuade Truman that the bomb must be used. In the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Stimson explained that the bomb’s use was an absolute necessity because “that was the only way to reawaken the world to the necessity of abolishing war altogether. No technological demonstration… could take the place of the actual use with it, horrible results” (163). These are the exact same sentiments expressed by the President in The Vanishing Fleets.
The Vanishing Fleets proffered the normative claim that using the bomb was an inescapable and non-negotiable course of action. In turn, this contention might have engendered the Truman administration’s refusal to even marginally acknowledge Japan’s peace overtures. The Japanese began suing for peace as earlier as February 14, 1945, when a decoded message between Japan and Russia expressing a desire to surrender was brought to the attention of the American government (Epperson 299). Army Chief of Staff George Marshall expressed skepticism and the government dismissed the opportunity (299).
Four months later, Japan contacted Russia again expressing a desire to end the war (299). Once again, America intercepted these messages and did not take advantage of the opportunity (299). This suggests that the paradigmatic template of Norton’s President had been superimposed on Truman and a demonstration of the superweapon was a foregone conclusion.
On August 6, 1945, the dreaded mushroom cloud leapt off the pages of Norton’s fiction and hovered above a devastated Hiroshima, Japan. To its credit, the American Air Force dropped 720,000 leaflets over the city to warn the inhabitants that Hiroshima could expect to be obliterated if an immediate Japanese surrender was not received (299). Still, the decision to strike a civilian target with such a destructive weapon was morally questionable, to say the very least.
The decision to drop the bomb on Nagasaki involved even less restraint and mercy. At the highest levels of government, the necessity of a second bomb was not in question (300). The possibility that Russia’s entry into the war had accelerated Japan’s plans to surrender was not even discussed (300).
Even a cursory evaluation of the cult of the superweapon reveals the particularly brutal and vicious character of this cultural phenomenon. The cult’s ruthless promotion of genocide and vision a world state maintained by nuclear anxiety bespeak a particular savage Weltanschauung. Yet, there may be a darker, even occult ideational thread running through the cult of the superweapon. The very target selections for the first two atomic bombs bespeak an antichristic continuity of thought. Rose Martin reveals that “Hiroshima and Nagasaki… were the chief centers in Japan of a native Christian population” (46). Of course, the values advocated by the cult of superweapon were antithetical to the Christian Weltanschauung, a belief system embraced by the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki paved the way for an ambitious proposal for institutionalizing U.S. global supremacy. Known as the Baruch Plan, the concept was developed in “a serialized science fiction novel read by millions of Americans” entitled Lightning in the Night (“Eternally safe for democracy: the final solution of American science fiction” 159). This story ran in Liberty, one of America’s top three magazines, from August to November of 1940 (159).
The story opens five years in the future, where a dark and dire situation has fallen over America and its allies. Britain and France are completely subjugated by German and Axis forces (159). Meanwhile, Japan and the Soviet Union launch a sneak attack on Hawaii that, like the attack depicted in Norton’s The Vanishing Fleets, seems to be a chilling foreshadowing of the December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack (159). American cities are destroyed by attacks carried out by Japanese, Soviet, and Nazi bombers (159). America finds itself threatened on three fronts by Soviet, Japanese, Mexican, and German forces (159-60).
In the midst of this growing crisis, Hitler demands and receives an audience with the President of the United States (160). During the meeting, Hitler reveals that the Nazis have discovered the “key to atomic energy” and will soon possess the “power to blow entire cities off the face of the earth” (160). Hitler then warns that the Reich will soon be able to unleash the destructive power of nuclear weapons within one short month (160). The German leader levels an ultimatum: America has a one month grace period to surrender or be engulfed in nuclear fire (160). The November 9 installment ends on this dark note, leaving the reader believing that America faces a future of enslavement if the arms race is lost (160).
In the final installment, however, America turns the tables as the President reveals that America has developed its own nuclear weapon in complete secret (160). Hidden away from sight, the nation’s “most ingenious and resourceful scientists” have beaten the Nazis in the race to create a nuclear weapon (160). Before the Nazis can properly prepare with their own nuclear response, the President declares that American “stratospheric bombers” armed with atomic bombs are “heading for every great city in Germany” (161).
With the Axis powers now totally at the mercy of the United States, the President “presents the American proposal for peace and atomic disarmament” (161). According to H. Bruce Franklin, the American proposal’s “terms will later prove to be identical with those of the only proposal for nuclear disarmament ever offered by the United States, the Baruch Plan of 1946” (161). Franklin provides the commonalities shared by the Baruch Plan and its literary twin:
…a body dominated by American scientists would control both the world’s supply of uranium and the licensing of nuclear energy facilities to other nations; the United States would maintain its monopoly on nuclear weaponry until some unspecified date in the future when it would be turned over to an international agency. (161)
In the story, the proposal is a complete success. Germany surrenders and the Japanese and the Soviet Union follow suit a day later (161). One demonstration of the superweapon is conducted, but America limits this demonstration strictly to “the deserted Russian steppes” (161). The story ends with unbridled optimism because, according to Franklin, the “American atomic bomb has brought the blessed Pax Americana to the planet” (161).
Fact and fiction, however, did not harmonize when the Baruch Plan was proposed at the first meeting of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) in June 0f 1946. The plan was contingent on Soviet-American cooperation, but the Russians had several misgivings with the plan that made them uncooperative (“The Acheson-Lilienthal and Baruch Plans, 1946”). The plan would have established an Atomic Development Authority that “would oversee the development and use of atomic energy, manage any nuclear weapons, and inspect any nuclear facility conducting research for peaceful purposes” (ibid). The proposal stated that the United States would “begin the process of destroying its nuclear arsenal” after “the plan was fully implemented” (ibid). The Soviets, however, rejected this aspect of the plan on the grounds that there was no guarantee that America would submit to the Atomic Development Authority if it retained its nuclear monopoly (ibid). The Soviets were also extremely reluctant to allow international inspectors prying around their domestic nuclear facilities (ibid). Finally, the Soviets extremely disliked a feature of the proposal that would have stripped the United Nations Security Council members of their veto power so no member could resist U.N. sanctions imposed on nations that violated regulations (ibid). For the Soviets, such a move was considered suicide because the Security Council majority favored the United States (ibid). The dreams of the atomic age ushering in world government were temporarily dashed as the Cold War began. While there were high hopes for the Baruch Plan, many within the global oligarchical establishment seemed to be anticipating its ultimate failure and began constructing the Cold War dialectic.
Ultimately, a sectarian struggle within the cult of the superweapon may have been responsible for the Baruch Plan’s demise. While Franklin contends that U.S. imperialism was a major feature of the cult, evidence suggests that the cult began to manifest itself in two distinct forms nearing the end of World War II. The first manifestation, the Pax Americana sect, desired a model of world government that would merely act as a vehicle for the institutionalization of American global supremacy. The second manifestation, the Pax Universalis sect, believed in a merger between the United States and the Soviet Union with both subordinated to a greater global entity.
It appears that proponents of the Pax Universalis sect began passing atomic secrets to Stalin, hoping that such a move would make the Soviet dictator receptive to the Baruch Plan’s proposed Atomic Development Authority. Major George Racy Jordan was a witness to this treason. Jordan “was the officer in charge of the transfer of the Lend Lease supplies through the Great Falls, Montana, air base” (Epperson 330). The transferable goods brought to this base were finding their way to Russia (330). Researcher Ralph Epperson gives us Jordan’s story:
Major Jordan, curious by nature, opened various briefcases and cartons, and saw various words he was not familiar with on various papers: uranium, cyclotron, proton, neutron, cobalt, and plutonium. In addition, Jordan discovered various reports from “Oak Ridge, Manhattan District” (it was the “Manhattan Project” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the American scientists were developing the plans for the atomic bomb) containing phrases like “energy produced by fission.” Jordan also discovered “… at least three consignments of uranium chemicals… nearly three quarters of a ton. Confirmed also was the shipment of one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of uranium metal at a time when the total American stock was 4.5 pounds.”
These findings meant little to Major Jordan until 1949, when Russia exploded their first atomic bomb. It was then that he realized that he had been witness to the transfer of the materials and plans for construction of Russia’s atomic bomb. And this occurred in 1943. (330)
Major Jordan’s discovery may point to more than just Soviet subversion. Adherents of the Pax Universalis vision probably believed that if both sides possessed nuclear weapons, then an international regulatory agency would be accepted to prevent an arms race. If this was, in fact, the motivation behind such treason, then it came from foolish minds that were placing the world and human survival at risk.
Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, was an important and significant disciple of the Pax Universalis sect. There is strong evidence that Oppenheimer was one of those responsible for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. This contention, long considered to be a product of the Red Scare, was supported by the testimony of Pavel Sudoplatov, a member of the Soviet Union’s intelligence services. Sudoplatov had been head of Department S, a joint GRU-NKVD project to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding the nuclear bomb. Sudoplatov’s 1994 autobiography, entitled Special Tasks, covers this period of time in detail and covers Sudoplatov’s recruitment of Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Szilard, and Klaus Fuchs, all major minds behind the Manhattan Project (Breindel). Sudoplatov claimed that Fuchs met with Soviet couriers while the other three scientists “deliberately left important information in places where it could be discovered by agents Sudoplatov had insinuated into the laboratories” (ibid). Fuchs would later confess and serve time in a British prison for his crime while the other three were able to avoid discovery (ibid).
While Oppenheimer was able to avoid discovery, however, he was not able to avoid suspicion. Both the FBI and military intelligence expressed concern about Oppenheimer during the war and the scientist would be stripped of his security clearance several years after the war concluded (ibid).
Critics of Sudoplatov have claimed that his autobiography was the product of an old man who was relying on a poor memory to reconstruct events that occurred years ago. The same critics also are quick to point out that the available Soviet archives do not contain documentation supporting Sudoplatov’s claims concerning Oppenheimer (ibid). While these criticisms are legitimate, Eric Breindel is quick to point out that oral history “is an altogether legitimate form” and that Sudoplatov’s version of the events in question may still be verified by files that have yet to be declassified and released for public consumption (ibid). Furthermore, it appears that members of the Soviet elite actually believed Sudoplatov’s claims. Shortly after Stalin’s death, Sudoplatov found himself on the wrong side of history when he became the target of a purge conducted by Nikita Khrushchev (ibid). After spending years in numerous prisons, Sudoplatov made an appeal for rehabilitation in 1982 (ibid). The appeal, which was directed to then-KGB chairman Yuri Andropov, included Sudoplatov’s collection of nuclear secrets from Oppenheimer as one of his “achievements” (ibid). Breindel points out that the appeal “was not intended for Western consumption” and that neither Andropov or Sudoplatov could have known that the appeal was going to be publicized 12 years later (ibid). Breindel also states: “It doesn’t seem likely that someone seeking rehabilitation would make utterly false claims to the head of the KGB; Andropov was in a position to verify Sudoplatov’s ‘achievements’” (ibid).
Sudoplatov’s claims are also supported by Oppenheimer’s friendship with University of California, Berkely Professor Haakon Chevalier. On July 23, 1964, Chevalier informed Oppenheimer that he was preparing his memoirs for publication and that the manuscript would reveal that both men had been members of a secret underground unit of the Communist Party’s professional section from 1938 to 1942 (“Chevalier to Oppenheimer, July 23, 1963”). According to historian Gregg Herken, Barbara Chevalier, Haakon’s widow, allowed him “to read a journal and memoir she had begun writing in the 1980s” (“The Oppenheimer Case: An Exchange”). In the manuscript, Barbara revealed that Haakon “had approached Oppenheimer to spy for the Soviet Union during the war” (ibid). Barbara also wrote: “Oppie’s membership in a closed unit was very secret indeed” (ibid). In the very least, this evidence suggests that Oppenheimer was either a communist or a fellow traveler who might have been willing to pass nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union if he were asked.
While Oppenheimer was, in all likelihood, an ideological communist, he might have passed nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union to serve a cause that ran deeper than the Stalinist agenda. Oppenheimer may have hoped that by internationalizing the bomb, he was increasing the probability that the Soviet Union would submit to an international regulatory agency in order to avoid an arms race. Oppenheimer was the chief scientific consultant to the Acheson-Lilienthal special advisory committee that called for the creation of the Atomic Development Authority (“The Acheson-Lilienthal and Baruch Plans, 1946”). Oppenheimer hoped that the Atomic Development Authority would provide a major stepping stone to world government. He expressed this contention in a May 16, 1946 lecture on “Atomic Explosives” before the George Westinghouse Centennial Forum in Pittsburgh. During the lecture, Oppenheimer stated:
What relation does the proposal of an International Atomic Development Authority, entrusted with a far-reaching monopoly of atomic energy –what relation does this proposal of ours have to do with these questions? It proposes that in the field of atomic energy there be set up a world government, that in this field there be a renunciation of national sovereignty, that in this field there be no legal veto power, that in this field there be international law. How is this possible, in a world of sovereign nations? There are only two ways in which this ever can be possible: one is conquest, that destroys national sovereignty; and the other is the partial renunciation of that sovereignty. What is here proposed is such a partial renunciation, sufficient, but not more than sufficient for an Atomic Development Authority to come into being, to exercise its functions of development, exploitation and control, to enable it to live and grow and to protect the world against the use of atomic weapons and provide it with the benefits of atomic energy. (Pais and Crease 153)
For Oppenheimer, the field of atomic energy and the proposed Atomic Development Authority were supposed to contribute to the death of the nation-state system. Oppenheimer may have assisted with the acceleration of the Soviet Union’s nuclear program in order to realize this goal. If so, it was a major miscalculation, because Oppenheimer did not anticipate the nationalist trajectory Stalin would take with the close of the war.
The Cold War dialectic proved to be no less advantageous to the cult of the superweapon. It created a climate of fear where nuclear hysteria thrived. That hysteria was cinematically expressed through the 1983 film The Day After, a movie that many consider to be the ultimate nuclear fantasy. Dana Hull vividly recounts the profound public reaction the film:
The movie generated enormous controversy in 1983. No network had ever attempted to bring the horror of nuclear war to America’s living rooms, much less during sweeps week. Critics warned that it was relentlessly depressing and deeply disturbing — two punishing prime-time hours of Hiroshima in the Heartland. The network warned parents that impressionable young viewers should not see the movie, which included graphic sequences of mass death and destruction.
I demanded to be allowed to watch it. Nuclear war and radiation poisoning sounded very grown-up. I was ready to have a ringside seat to Armageddon and all of its secrets. If we were going to be blown up, I argued, I should be prepared. I even had a holocaust-appropriate wardrobe: black sweaters and old Army fatigues.
I don’t remember actually sitting down to watch the Sunday night special in our house. But I vividly remember certain scenes, images that immediately seared into my psyche. When the nuclear missiles hit, wind and flames engulfed the region. The rolling Kansas prairie charred to black soot and became littered with the corpses of cows and horses. An entire kindergarten class vaporized during a bright orange blast of fire, instantly turning to skeletons. Green and hairless people with boils on their faces staggered Quasimodo-like along a desolate road in search of food. Jason Robards cried in the rubble. As the credits rolled, a weak call for help came from a basement bunker on a radio. “This is Lawrence, Kan. Is anybody out there? Anybody at all?”
Nearly 100 million people watched the movie. We talked about it in social studies class the next day, and some students delighted in sharing their nightmares, or acting really freaked out. The day after “The Day After” was high drama in junior high — being traumatized was all the rage. (“Bring back the bomb!”)
Indeed, The Day After was quite traumatizing. The bleak epilogue of the film closes with the following admonition:
The catastrophic events you have just witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike against the United States.
It is hoped that the images of this film will inspire the nations of this earth, their peoples and leaders, to find the means to avert this fateful day.
Juxtaposed with the series of traumatizing images that preceded it, this admonition renders the apocalyptic narrative of The Day After as inexorable. In fact, the closing statement of the film characterizes WWIII as a “fateful day,” connoting an eventuality that was supposedly foreordained within the context of the nation-state system. Herein is the “illusion of an infallibly accurate vision of how the world is going to look in the future” that is a hallmark of all predictive programming.
Yet, unlike all previous nuclear anxiety fiction, The Day After represented a shift in the artistic community away from the Pax Americana vision of a unilateral world state to the Pax Universalis vision of a multilateral world state. Implicit in the appeal to “the nations of this earth, their peoples and leaders” is the mandate for world political unification, a normative contention held by the Pax Universalis sect of the cult of the superweapon. In another sequence of the film, a priest preaching to his congregation amid the smoldering rubble invokes Revelation 11:18, thanking God for smiting the “destroyers of the earth.” However, it must be understood that this Biblical invocation is being made within the broader gestalt of a non-Christian narrative. This prompts an important question: Who are the “destroyers of the earth” according to The Day After?
Of course, the various texts comprising human discourse are not read in a cultural vacuum. On the level of consumption, “any one text is necessarily read in relationship to others and . . . a range of textual knowledges is brought to bear upon it” (Fiske 108). Likewise, the text of The Day After was and is viewed in relationship to other texts. Given the fact that it inhabits the same subgenre of nuclear anxiety fiction, Wells’ The World Set Free constitutes one of the texts that is brought to bear upon The Day After. Implicit in the priest’s sermon is a distorted Biblical condemnation of what Wells called a “mere cult of warfare” in The World Set Free. In The Shape of Things to Come, Wells asserts that this cult is inextricably linked to the nation-state system: “The existence of independent sovereign states IS war, white or red, and only an elaborate mis-education blinded the world to this elementary fact.” Herein is the advocacy of the same sort of multilateral world state envisioned by the Pax Universalis sect of the cult of the superweapon. Multilateral or unilateral models of global governance aside, political unification as the only alternative to nuclear annihilation remains a permanent fixture of nuclear anxiety fiction. Ever-present is a discourse of fear.
As the sermon sequence opens, the audience hears a voice-over of the priest reciting a portion of Revelation 8:7: “…and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” Simultaneously, the camera follows another character wandering through rumble and dead farm animals. Implicit in this sequence is the reconceptualization of the Biblical concept of the Apocalypse as a purely immanent event. “Immanence” is a term derived from the Latin phrase in manere, which means “to remain within” (“Immanence,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia). An object of immanent experience remains within the ontological confines of the physical universe. Likewise, the Apocalypse depicted by The Day After completely indwells the material cosmos, bereft of any supernatural or transcendent elements.
For instance, the locusts that emerge from the smoke upon the earth in Revelation 9:3 are ripped from their Biblical matrix and reconceptualized as the residual effects of radiation from the bomb. Yet, there is an implicit rejection of Christian soteriology. As the priest cites Revelation 9:4, where it is revealed that the locusts will harm “only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads,” one of the congregation topples over from radiation sickness. The implication is that, as a purely immanent event, the Apocalypse is an indiscriminate killer. There is no salvation or deliverance forthcoming for believer and unbeliever alike.
The Day After had a tremendous impact on the minds of the viewing audience. The movie even converted then-President Ronald Reagan to the Pax Universalis sect. In his autobiography, Reagan stated that the movie had left him “greatly depressed” and had convinced him that a nuclear war was not winnable (585). According to The Day After’s director, Nicholas Meyer, the film had played a major role in the signing of the Intermediate Range Weapons (INF) Agreement in 1986 (“Fallout from ‘The Day After’”). Meyer claims that, shortly after Reagan signed the Treaty at the Reykavik Summit, the administration sent him a telegram stating: “Don’t think your movie didn’t have any part of this, because it did” (ibid).
While Meyer was proud of his movie’s influence on the signing of the INF treaty, the fact was that Meyer had scared the President into signing an agreement that placed America at risk. The Oppenheimer case clearly illustrates the Pax Universalis sect’s disregard of Russia’s long history of deception and non-compliance, and the continuation of that blindness can be seen in the case of The Day After. In September 1991, U.S. intelligence agencies discovered that Russia had violated the INF Treaty by secretly deploying nuclear-tipped SS-23 missiles in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria (Timmerman, “Russia’s hidden nuclear missiles: Clinton turned blind eye to major treaty violations.”). The Soviets deployed these secret batteries “just prior to signing the Treaty, and never declared them or destroyed them” (ibid). In the event of a war, these SS-23s would have given the Soviets an unfair advantage. Investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman elaborates:
In the event of war in Europe between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, they (the SS-23) would have given the Soviets a clear military advantage by allowing them to launch a surprise nuclear strike at the heart of NATO forces in Germany. (ibid)
It seems that Meyer did not explore Russia’s lack of commitment to arms control before traumatizing Americans with graphic scenes of a devastated heartland. As a result, Meyer’s film partially induced America’s credulous pursuit of peace at the Reykjavik Summit while the Soviets were secretly preparing for war. Reckless abandon seems to be a mainstay of the cult of the superweapon.
While Meyer’s vision of a purely immanent Apocalypse made a definite impact on geopolitics, it merely reaffirmed many of the postmillennial doctrines espoused by the darker elements within the evangelical community. This is especially true for evangelicals like Tim LaHaye, whose Left Behind novels portray a nuclear holocaust as a precursor to the return of Jesus Christ. LaHaye’s motives for promoting such a holocaust come into a clearer focus when one examines his Dominionist theology.
Basically, Dominionism is a cult of neo-Gnostic jihadists committed to goals that almost mirror the objectives of earlier sociopolitical Utopians. Chris Hedges describes Dominionism as follows:
What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the earth itself. Dominionists preach that Jesus has called them to build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. (“Soldiers of Christ”)
There is a crucial distinction to be made between using the Scriptures as a compass for making decisions within the political system and using the Scriptures as a rationale for co-opting and controlling the political system. In Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion, Albert Dager synopsizes the three basic tenets upon which this militarized form of Christianity is premised:
1) Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth through the temptation of Adam and Eve; 2) The Church is God’s instrument to take dominion back from Satan; 3) Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken dominion by gaining control of the earth’s governmental and social institutions. (87)
Thus, Jesus’ kingdom is reduced to a secular government established by and maintained through secular power. While secular progressives cite Dominionism as a violation of the separation of church and state, it actually represents the subsumption of the church under the state. Dominionism empowers temporal machinations. Political, social, and military powers attain ascendancy under the rubric of maintaining the Dominionist government. Ultimately, the State is apotheosized. Again, this was an objective of earlier sociopolitical Utopians. That this particular strain of Utopianism has a marginally theistic gloss is inconsequential. Dominionism represents but one more permutation of sociopolitical Utopianism. This contention is reinforced by Dominionism’s inherently neo-Gnostic character.
The neo-Gnostic character of Dominionism is underscored by its mandate for Dominionists to “build the kingdom of God in the here and now.” Such a mandate reconceptualizes the Eschaton (i.e., “end of days”) as an object of immanent experience. Thus, the Dominionists’ Eschaton purely indwells the material cosmos. This reconceptualization was a hallmark of modern sociopolitical Utopian movements, such as communism and fascism. These movements proffered their own anthropocentric soteriology, which mandated the establishment of an earthly paradise. For them, salvation was not attained through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but through the conscious re-sculpting of the material conditions of existence.
Dominionist soteriology is no less anthropocentric. According to Dominionist theology, Jesus is either unwilling or unable to return to earth. If this is true, then Christ’s role as Savior is nullified. After all, the Scriptures state that Christ’s return will represent the final installment in humanity’s salvation. Hebrews 9:28 declares: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (emphasis added). According to Dominionism, man, not God, shall make His Kingdom come. Thus, the final installation of humanity’s salvation is left in the hands of man himself.
Driven by an overwhelming disdain for pistis (faith), the new Gnostics of sociopolitical Utopianism have sought to draw knowledge that was commonly associated with the transcendent “into a firmer grip than the cognitio fidei, the cognition of faith, will afford” (Voegelin 124). In opposition to pistis, neo-Gnostics promote their own bowdlerized version of gnosis, which represents a “secret knowledge of how to master the blind forces of nature for a sociopolitical purpose” (Martin 519-20). Likewise, the Dominionist either consciously or unconsciously rejects Paul’s admonition to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). While Dominionists might claim to have faith, their aspiration to build God’s kingdom themselves betrays their lack of faith in the Lord’s ability to fulfill His own will. In true anthropocentric fashion, the Dominionist becomes the will of God in toto. The Dominionist, not God, makes the kingdom come and the kingdom comes through purely secular institutions and political machinations.
Dominionism eviscerates Christianity. It transplants all of the transcendent objects of Christian faith within the ontological plane of the physical universe. Thus, Christianity is reduced to little more than a revolutionary ideology closely akin to communism and other forms of sociopolitical Utopianism. Ironically, most of the sociopolitical Utopian movements of history have been premised upon the rejection of the traditional theistic conception of God and the Gnostic doctrine of self-salvation. Although Dominionists speak about God, salvation, and faith, their notion of such concepts is couched in neo-Gnostic immanentism and sociopolitical Utopianism. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, they have a form of godliness, but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
This anthropocentric soteriology reinforces the Dominionist mandate to make “Thy kingdom come.” As is frighteningly evidenced by the images of nuclear holocaust conjured by LaHaye’s Left Behind series, some Dominionists consider nuclear war an effective means of immanentizing the Eschaton. LaHaye almost imbues the atomic bomb with a quasi-divinity, depicting it as providentially ordained device for facilitating the return of Christ. In this sense, some Dominionist enclaves could qualify as marginally theistic incarnations of the cult of the superweapon. Given their close alignment with neoconservatives, Dominionist proponents of nuclear warfare gravitate towards the Pax Americana sect of the cult of the superweapon.
Manhattan Project participant Edward Teller is a case in point. Teller was a devotee of the Pax Americana manifestation of the cult of the superweapon, calling for the build up and development of nuclear weapons (“The Council for National Policy: Selected Member Biographies”). Yet, Teller was also a participant in a little-known, but extremely powerful cabal that counts some of the leading proponents of Dominionism as participants. Teller served on the board of governors of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in 1982 (ibid). The American physicist and “father of the H-bomb” was also on the advisory board of the Western Goals Foundation, the precursor to the CNP (ibid). The CNP is a hotbed of Dominionists. Rev. R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Marvin Olasky, the late D. James Kennedy, and Howard Ahmanson Jr. are just some of the Dominionist thinkers who are past or current participants in the CNP (ibid).
It’s not hard to understand why Teller would participate in such a bizarre group. The CNP seems to be composed of Dominionist devotees of the cult of the superweapon. CNP founder Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series could be considered a new form of the nuclear fantasy that blends mushroom clouds with Dominionism’s bizarre neo-Gnostic interpretation of the Book of Revelation. As John Cloud points out in Time Magazine:
The nuclear frights of, say, Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears wouldn’t fill a chapter in the Left Behind series. (Large chunks of several U.S. cities have been bombed to smithereens by page 110 of Book 3.) (“Meet the Prophets”)
LaHaye’s series also seems to be a Dominionist variety of predictive programming. In his Time Magazine article, journalist Cloud also states that “many people are starting to read the Left Behind books not as novels but as tomorrow’s newspapers” (ibid). Does LaHaye want gullible Christian readers to believe that a nuclear holocaust is an inexorable part of God’s will? If that is LaHaye’s intent, it has become an effective tool for recruiting unsuspecting Christians into the Dominionist camp. After all, the only people who are raptured in Left Behind are those who accept LaHaye’s Dominionist gospel. Everyone else is left behind to face nuclear annihilation. The bomb and God’s wrath merge to form a horrifying immanent judgment.
While cults have proven to be effective as elite conduits, they usually have very short life spans. Wells wanted to make a permanent contribution to the oligarchs’ crusade for world government, so he used science fiction to weave his cult into the very fabric of culture itself. Groups such as the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, the Jesuits, and others have all been effectively suppressed by different nations at different times. Yet, how does a national government effectively suppress a cultural phenomenon? History has shown that attempts to do so, more often than not, are met with failure.
Wells’ cult of the superweapon spread like wildfire, mimicking Dostoevsky’s “fire in the minds of men” perfectly. That fire spread to Wells’ fellow elitists, engendering them with an undying devotion that mirrored the most ardent religious fanatic. Given the amount of institutional cover A.Q. Khan received, it is very likely that his network as a product of the cult of the superweapon. Perhaps the world’s bluebloods had felt that the psychological impact of the “communist bomb” had diminished. Thus, it was time to unleash upon humanity the menace of the “Islamic Bomb.” If this is the case, Bhutto may have had no idea what she was up against when she promised to expose Khan to the light of scrutiny.
For the former Prime Minister, the move may have been an attempt at repentance and restitution for her contribution to the plague of proliferation. According to Shyam Bhatia, a London-based investigative reporter, Bhutto provided North Korea with vital information concerning uranium enrichment during a state visit in 1993 (Kessler). Bhatia claims that this information was revealed to him by Bhutto during a conversation in 2003 (ibid). Bhutto told Bhatia that she acted as “a two-way courier,” bartering uranium enrichment data in return for missile from Pyongyang (ibid). At the time, Bhutto believed that she was helping her country, which was “in desperate need of new missile technology that would counter improvements in India’s missiles” (ibid). Years later, Bhutto may have realized that she had, in fact, made a mistake. Making things right, however, would call for Bhutto confronting a cultural phenomenon that could claim powerful members of the global oligarchical establishments as its initiates. Perhaps the cult of the superweapon even mutated, becoming a cult of assassination, when the elite realized that Bhutto had become a threat. As this essay has demonstrated, such morally repugnant acts are not beyond consideration for the cult of the superweapon. Assassination would be mere child’s play for those who blackmailed the world with the bomb.
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About the Authors
Phillip D. Collins acted as the editor for The Hidden Face of Terrorism and co-authored the book The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship with his brother Paul Collins. Both books are available at www.amazon.com. Phillip has also written articles for News With Views, Conspiracy Archive, and the Vexilla Regis Journal.
In 1999, Phillip earned an Associate degree of Arts and Science from Clark State Community College. In 2006, he earned a bachelor’s degree with majors in communication studies and liberal studies along with a minor in philosophy from Wright State University.
Phillip worked as a staff writer for a weekly news publication, the Vandalia Drummer, between late 2007 and 2011. During his tenure with the paper, he earned several accolades.
In 2011, he was inducted into the Media Honor Roll by the Ohio School Board Association for his extensive coverage of the Vandalia-Butler School District. That very same year, the Ohio Newspaper Association bestowed an Osman C. Hooper Newspaper Award upon Phillip for Best Photo. In addition, the City of Vandalia officially proclaimed that November 7, 2011 would be known as “Phillip Collins Day.” This honor was bestowed upon Phillip for his tireless coverage of the City and community.
Shortly after bringing his journalism career to a close, Phillip received another Osman C. Hooper Newspaper Award in the category of In-depth Reporting. This award was given to Phillip for his investigative work over the death of U.S. Marine Maria Lauterbach and the resultant Department of Defense reforms concerning sexual assault and rape. The case drew national attention and received TV coverage by major media organs.
Phillip currently works for the Wyoming Department of Corrections, where he earned the distinction of Employee of the Quarter for the third quarter of 2013. Phillip still works as a freelance journalist and is currently collaborating with his brother on a follow-up to The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship.
Paul David Collins is the author of The Hidden Face of Terrorism and the co-author of The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship. In 1999, he earned his Associate of Arts and Science degree from Clark State Community College. In 2006, he received his bachelor’s degree with a major in Liberal Studies and a minor in Political Science from Wright State University. He worked as a professional journalist for roughly four years.
From 2008 to 2012, Paul covered local news for several Times Community News publications, including the Enon Messenger, the New Carlisle Sun, the Tipp City Herald, the Kettering/Oakwood Times, the Beavercreek News Current, the Vandalia Drummer, the Springboro Sun, the Englewood Independent, the Fairborn Daily Herald, and the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Paul also wrote for other local papers, including the Enon Eagle, the New Carlisle News, and the Lusk Herald. In addition to his work in the realm of mainstream, Paul has published several articles concerning the topics of deep politics and elite deviancy. Those articles have appeared in Terry Melanson’s online Conspiracy Archive, Paranoia magazine, Vexilla Regis Journal, and Nexus magazine. He currently works as a correctional officer with the Wyoming Department of Corrections.