Archbishop Viganò: Restore Christianity with Good Literature

Note: this essay has first been published at and is re-printed here with kind permission.

by Dr. Maike Hickson

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has recently written a preface for a book, Gratitude, Contemplation, and the Sacramental Worth of Catholic Literature, a collection of essays written by my husband Dr. Robert Hickson over the course of several decades. Being a distillation of his life work, this new book aims at presenting to the readers a whole set of inspiring books – most of them Catholic – that can help us restore a Catholic memory. That is to say, these books can help us revive a sense of Catholicity that comes to us from time periods and regions where the Catholic faith was an integral part of the state and society, from a lived faith.

We are very grateful to Archbishop Viganò for his preface, which highlights the importance of culture – and importantly, literature – for the revival of Christianity, and therefore we decided to publish it here (see full text below). His comments aim at turning our minds to the future, preparing the ground for a time where Christ again will reign in the heart and minds of man. His preface is therefore a sort of manifesto of faith and hope, and a wonderful instruction for us on how to go about preparing the ground for Christ.

The Italian prelate and courageous defender of the faith points to the importance of having a memory of our Catholic culture. “Memory,” he writes, “is a fundamental element of a people’s identity, civilization and culture: a society without memory, whose patrimony consists solely of a present without a past, is condemned to have no future. It is alarming that this loss of collective memory affects not only Christian nations but also seriously afflicts the Catholic Church herself and, consequently, Catholics.” The lack of culture among Catholics today, he adds, is “not the result of chance, but of systematic work on the part of those who, as enemies of the True, Good and Beautiful, must erase any ray of these divine attributes from even the most marginal aspects of social life, from our idioms, from memories of our childhood and from the stories of our grandparents.”

Describing this cultural tabula rasa that has taken place among Catholics, Archbishop Viganò goes on to say that “Reading the pages of Dante, Manzoni or one of the great Christian writers of the past, many Catholics can no longer grasp the moral and transcendent sense of a culture that is no longer their common heritage, a jealously guarded legacy, the deep root of a robust plant full of fruit.”

On the contrary, he explains, “in its place we have a bundle of the confused rubbish of the myths of the Revolution, the dusty Masonic ideological repertoire, and the iconography of a supposed freedom won by the guillotine, along with the persecution of the Church, the martyrdom of Catholics in Mexico and Spain, the end of the tyranny of Kings and Popes and the triumph of bankers and usurers.”

Archbishop Viganò clearly shows us that he understands the concept of a “cultural revolution” as developed by the Communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, who aimed at winning the minds of the people by influencing and dominating their culture.

This cultural – and with it spiritual – empoverishment among Catholics, according to the prelate, “has found significant encouragement also among those who, within the Catholic Church, have erased 2,000 years of the inestimable patrimony of faith, spirituality and art, beginning with a wretched sense of inferiority instilled in the faithful even by the hierarchy since Vatican II.” It was the very hierarchy of the Church – together with many simpler clergymen – who helped promote such a devastation of the art within the realm of the Catholic Church. Let us only think of the modern churches, altars, and of modern church music!

With powerful words, Archbishop Viganò describes how this destruction is ultimately aimed at God Himself: “Certainly, behind this induced amnesia, there is a Trinitarian heresy. And where the Deceiver lurks, the eternal Truth of God must be obscured in order to make room for the lie, the betrayal of reality, the denial of the past.” In light of this analysis, it nearly seems to be a counter-revolutionary act to revive Catholic literature, Catholic music, Catholic architecture.

Explains the prelate: “Rediscovering memory, even in literature, is a meritorious and necessary work for the restoration of Christianity, a restoration that is needed today more than ever if we want to entrust to our children a legacy to be preserved and handed down as a tangible sign of God’s intervention in the history of the human race.”

It is in this context that he kindly mentions the “meritorious work” of this new book, praising its “noble purpose of restoring Catholic memory, bringing it back to its ancient splendor, that is, the substance of a harmonious and organic past that has grown and still lives today.” He adds that “Robert Hickson rightly shows us, in the restoration of memory, the way to rediscover the shared faith that shapes the traits of a shared Catholic culture.”

Dr. Hickson’s new book was published last month and contains 25 essays on many different Catholic authors, such as Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Maurice Baring, Evelyn Waugh, Josef Pieper, George Bernanos, Ernest Psichari, Father John Hardon, S.J., L. Brent Bozell Jr., and, last but not least, the Orthodox Christian authors Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The themes of this book are war and peace, justice, the Catholic vow, saints, friendship, chivalry, martyrdom and sacrifice, just to name a few. The essays of the book were written from 1982 until 2017, the first being an essay where Hickson developed the concept of “sacramental literature” and the importance of “restoring a Catholic memory.” Anthony S. Fraser, the son of the famous Catholic convert and traditionalist, Hamish Fraser, kindly had edited the essays for his friend, before he so suddenly died on August 28, 2014, the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo. May his soul rest in peace. We thank you, Tony!

Here is the full preface written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò:

Memory is a fundamental element of a people’s identity, civilization and culture: a society without memory, whose patrimony consists solely of a present without a past, is condemned to have no future. It is alarming that this loss of collective memory affects not only Christian nations, but also seriously afflicts the Catholic Church herself and, consequently, Catholics.

This amnesia affects all social classes and is not the result of chance, but of systematic work on the part of those who, as enemies of the True, Good and Beautiful, must erase any ray of these divine attributes from even the most marginal aspects of social life, from our idioms, from memories of our childhood and from the stories of our grandparents. The Orwellian action of artificially remodeling the past has become commonplace in the contemporary world, to the point that a class of high school students are unable to recognize an altarpiece depicting a scene from the life of Christ or a bas-relief with one of the most revered saints of the past. Dr. Robert Hickson calls this inability “deficiency of dogmatic understanding”, “Catholic illiteracy of pestilential proportions”.

Tabula rasa: millions of souls who only twenty or thirty years ago would have immediately identified the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan or Saint Jerome or Saint Mary Magdalene are capable of seeing only two men along a river, an old man with a lion and a woman with a vase. Reading the pages of Dante, Manzoni or one of the great Christian writers of the past, many Catholics can no longer grasp the moral and transcendent sense of a culture that is no longer their common heritage, a jealously guarded legacy, the deep root of a robust plant full of fruit.

In its place we have a bundle of the confused rubbish of the myths of the Revolution, the dusty Masonic ideological repertoire, and the iconography of a supposed freedom won by the guillotine, along with the persecution of the Church, the martyrdom of Catholics in Mexico and Spain, the end of the tyranny of Kings and Popes and the triumph of bankers and usurers. A lineage of kings, saints, and heroes is ignored by its heirs, who stoop to boasting about their ancestors who were criminals, usurpers, and seditious traitors: never has falsification reached the point of such incomprehensible perversion, and it is evident that the desire to artificially create such ancestry is the necessary premise for the barbarization of the offspring, which is now practically accomplished.

We must also recognize that this removal has found significant encouragement also among those who, within the Catholic Church, have erased two thousand years of the inestimable patrimony of faith, spirituality and art, beginning with a wretched sense of inferiority instilled in the faithful even by the Hierarchy since Vatican II. The ancient apostolic liturgy, on which centuries of poetic compositions, mosaics, frescoes, paintings, sculptures, chiseled vases, illuminated chorales, embroidered vestments, plainchants and polyphony have been shaped, has been proscribed. In its place we now have a squalid rite without roots, born from the pen of conspirators dipped in the inkwell of Protestantism; music that is no longer sacred but profane; tasteless liturgical vestments and sacred vessels made of common material. And as a grey counterpoint to the hymns of St. Ambrose and St. Thomas, we now have poor paraphrases without metrics and without soul, grotesque paintings and disturbing sculptures. The removal of the admirable writings of the Fathers of the Church, the works of the mystics, the erudite dissertations of theologians and philosophers and, in the final analysis, of Sacred Scripture itself – whose divine inspiration is sometimes denied, sacrilegiously affirming that it is merely of human origin – have all constituted necessary steps of being able to boast of the credit of worldly novelties, which before those monuments of human ingenuity enlightened by Grace appear as miserable forgeries.

This absence of beauty is the necessary counterpart to an absence of holiness, for where the Lord of all things is forgotten and banished, not even the appearance of Beauty survives. It is not only Beauty that has been banished: Catholic Truth has been banished along with it, in all its crystalline splendor, in all its dazzling consistency, in all its irrepressible capacity to permeate every sphere of civilized living. Because the Truth is eternal, immutable and divisive: it existed yesterday, it exists today and it will exist tomorrow, as eternal and immutable and divisive as the Word of God.

Certainly, behind this induced amnesia, there is a Trinitarian heresy. And where the Deceiver lurks, the eternal Truth of God must be obscured in order to make room for the lie, the betrayal of reality, the denial of the past. In a forgery that is truly criminal forgery, even the very custodians of the depositum fidei ask forgiveness from the world for sins never committed by our fathers – in the name of God, Religion or the Fatherland – supporting the widest and most articulated historical forgery carried out by the enemies of God. And this betrays not only the ignorance of History which is already culpable, but also culpable bad faith and the malicious will to deceive the simple ones.

Rediscovering memory, even in literature, is a meritorious and necessary work for the restoration of Christianity, a restoration that is needed today more than ever if we want to entrust to our children a legacy to be preserved and handed down as a tangible sign of God’s intervention in the history of the human race: how much Providence has accomplished over the centuries – and that art has immortalized by depicting miracles, the victories of the Christians over the Turk, sovereigns kneeling at the feet of the Virgin, patron saints of famous universities and prosperous corporations – can be renewed today and especially tomorrow, only if we can rediscover our past and understand it in the light of the mystery of the Redemption.

This book proposes the noble purpose of restoring Catholic memory, bringing it back to its ancient splendor, that is, the substance of a harmonious and organic past that has grown and still lives today, just as the hereditary traits of a child are found developed in the adult man, or as the vital principle of the seed is found in the sap of the tree and in the pulp of the fruit. Robert Hickson rightly shows us, in the restoration of memory, the way to rediscover the shared faith that shapes the traits of a shared Catholic culture.

In this sense it is significant – I would say extremely appropriate, even if only by analogy – to have also included Christian literature among the Sacramentals, applying to it the  same as action as that of blessed water, the glow of the candles, the ringing of bells, the liturgical chant: the invocation of the Virgin in the thirty-third canto of Dante’s Paradiso, the dialogue of Cardinal Borromeo with the Innominato, and a passage by Chesterton all make Catholic truths present in our minds and, in some way, they realize what they mean and can influence the spiritual life, expanding and completing it. Because of this mystery of God’s unfathomable mercy we are touched in our souls, moved to tears, inspired by Good, spurred to conversion. But this is also what happens when we contemplate an altarpiece or listen to a composition of sacred music, in which a ray of divine perfection bursts into the greyness of everyday life and shows us the splendor of the Kingdom that awaits us.

The author writes: “We are called to the commitment to recover the life and full memory of the Body of Christ, even if in our eyes we cannot do much to rebuild that Body”. But the Lord does not ask us to perform miracles: He invites us to make them possible, to create the conditions in our souls and in our social bodies so that the wonders of divine omnipotence may be manifested. To open ourselves to the past, to the memory of God’s great actions in history, is an essential condition for making it possible for us to become aware of our identity and our destiny today so that we may restore the Kingdom of Christ tomorrow.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio

28 August 2020
Saint Augustine
Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church

“The Fall”: A Poem by Isabella Maria Hickson

Note: This poem was written this fall by our 12-year-old daughter, Isabella Maria. As a sort of a short respite in these difficult times, we hope you will enjoy it, at the end of this season and on the last day of November.


The cool and beautiful fall

Is like a different color in the season’s hall

It has a change in the weather

That alteration comes like a feather

The leaves all turn yellow, orange, and red

And softly fall upon the earthen bed


All the animals get ready for the winter cold

And take all the food their homes can hold

All can sense the oncoming chill

That comes in a hurry over every hill

They make their homes stronger

To help them last much longer


Every being of any kind

Does not want to be left behind

In the preparation for the winter’s frost

For they know the very great cost

If they do not take heed to hurry

The winter will come in like a flurry


So when it changes from warm to cool it is the fall

It is like a new attire for Queen Season’s ball

So it is the time the many leaves to rake

And harvest and all kinds of things to bake

The time to slowly stay at home

And get ready to build out of snow a dome


So let us thank God for this lovely season

He gave us for a great reason

To Weaken and Manipulate the Complex Human Immune System

Dr. Robert Hickson

23 November 2020

Pope Saint Clement I (d. 100)

Saint Miguel Pro, S.J. (d. 1927)

To Weaken and Manipulate the Complex Human Immune System:

A Strategic Objective and Desirable Application for Some Malefactors


“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades….Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” (President Dwight David Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (17 January 1961), Section IV—my emphasis added.)


“We face a hostile ideology—global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily [as of 1961] the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.” (President Eisenhower’s January 1961 Farewell Address, Section III—my emphasis added.)


In 1996 a good professional acquaintance, with his deep knowledge of foreign biological-warfare research (to include some newly discovered bio-agents and their long-range applications), said to me:

The common target seems to be the human immune system, both as to its weakening and its risk-filled manipulations. And thus we have also come to know of the actually and the potentially weaponized micro-organisms and toxins that are both stress-activated agents and self-sabotaging, autoimmune agents of latent diseases (such as MS—multiple sclerosis—produced now even in little children). Moreover, certain subtle toxins—such as all marine toxins—are themselves very complex, yet they are also thereby covertly useful in camouflaged assassinations.

These words shook me very much, and fostered our further-searching discussions; and they gradually opened me up to a much better and differentiated understanding of some of the cultural and military consequences of the revolution of molecular biology. That is to say, for example, the potential consequences of resorting to psycho-tropic and neuro-tropic, or digital, weapons. And even genetic weapons! These matters have personally shaken me more than any other revolution I have ever earnestly studied, to include the cybernetic realm and some deceitful manipulations in cyberculture.

However, this brief reflective introduction—ultimately about the immune system—does not propose to consider the deeper technical matters involved, many of which are very sensitive (and often still classified) and, besides that, they are so discouraging to discuss.

For, these matters are indeed often shocking and all too conducive to futility and moral paralysis. By mentioning our earlier 1996 conversation, we wanted to arouse an attentive moral awareness. We never intended thereby to help bring about what we have always tried to insure against: namely a succumbing to final despair, or to spiritual sloth, or to a fatalistic and timid resultant disposition willing to submit and, effectively, to give up in a cowardly acquiescence.

Let us also contemplate, and not forget, what President Eisenhower had more famously warned us about back in January of 1961 and in his eloquent Farewell Address:

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. (President Eisenhower, Farewell Address, January 1961—Section IV—my emphasis added.)

Let us now further contemplate, if we may, the “misplaced power” of “a scientific-technological elite” currently (as of 2020)—given the often esoteric, at least highly specialized, developments transpiring in the fields of nanotechnologies and robotics and neurology, for example. Especially the convergences and overlaps between information sciences and the life sciences, as with the “cyborgs.”

Were there to be discovered now a well-formed and competent man, such a man could also learn much and teach us much by way of contrasts. He could, for example, go regularly to various scientific conferences at home and abroad on the lookout for “scientific and strategic breakthroughs.” Then he could, if fitting, warn us of some of the coming dangers—to include the moral and spiritual dangers. For instance, he might tell us more about the human effects on the human immune system coming from anti-materiel “radio-frequency weapons” at certain frequencies.

What if, for example, he were to discover evidence of a potential or actual capacity and intention for the targeting of agricultural targets—a form of economic warfare—such as against seeds and against the bees (those indispensable pollinators!). What if that elaborated capability were found in a foreign country? More positively, what if some country—even our own—had biological agents and covert methods of withering all three of the major “drug crops”? Would that be a form of economic warfare to some countries or some financial elites and “narco-trafficantes”? Some biological agents are reportedly good for dissolving the world’s trash; but they can also be turned to destroy material targets, such as bridges, if they are not strictly limited and regulated.

What if you were credibly told that a certain country has a selective bio-agent that can specifically destroy the human eyeball (including that of a child nearby)? We may not long remain unengaged here, can we?

A fortiori, the intentional weakenings and manipulations of the human immune system—to include the larger revolutionary subversions of the cultural immune system (as in the case of the Catholic Church currently )—are quite intimately consequential. That is, they are often corrosively destructive and weakly resisted, with but few enforceable limits able to be set in the first place. It is a slippery slope, as is the case with the manifold risks of experimental vaccines.

It has been said that one of a good farmer’s main purposes is “to increase the fertility of the soil.” Analogously, a truly wise man will sustain his attempts “to enhance the human immune system” thereby protecting it from being vulnerably and dangerously weakened; and also guarding it against its being rashly and detrimentally manipulated.

The various misuses—the unjust abuses—of the revolution in molecular biology are the most difficult and tormenting things that I have ever had to face.

Be careful, as you enter this realm, this very slippery realm, Deo Volente.

Protect the fertility of the little ones. And encourage the full fruitfulness of the little ones, too.


© 2020 Robert D. Hickson

The Indirect Grand-Strategic Approach in the Context of Biological Warfare and China

Author’s Note, 11 November 2020: After this 22-page-text from November 1997 was somehow discovered and read in early 1998 by General Peter Schoomaker himself, and by some of his General Staff at the Special Operations Command, I received a personal invitation to speak more thoroughly about these matters, especially about the strategic culture and capacities of China. In July of 1998, I was a visitor to the U.S. SOCOM in Tampa, Florida.

Robert D. Hickson

15 November 1997

The Indirect Grand-Strategic Approach and Context of

Biological Warfare (and Bio-Terrorism) in the Likely Near Future:

A Trenchant Strategic Challenge to American Special Operations Forces and to Our Incipient Strategic Culture

Epigraph One (and Timely Parables)i :[FOOTNOTE ONE]

They [the Spartans] had not been many days in Attica [summer, 430 BC] before the plague first broke out among the Athenians [six to seven months after Pericles’ Funeral Oration]. Previously attacks of the plague had been reported from many other places in Lemnos [an Ionian island] and elsewhere, but there was no record of the disease being so virulent anywhere else or causing so many deaths as it did in Athens. At the beginning the doctors were quite incapable of treating the disease because of their ignorance of the right methods. In fact mortality among the doctors was the highest of all, since they came more frequently in contact with the sick. Nor was any other human art or science of any help at all. Equally useless were prayers made in the temples, consultations of oracles, and so forth; indeed, in the end people were so overcome by their sufferings that they paid no further attention to such things…. I myself shall merely describe what it was like…. I had the disease myself and saw others suffering from it…. Words indeed fail when one tries to give a general picture of the disease; and as for the sufferings of individuals, they seemed almost beyond the capacity of human nature to endure…. Though there were many dead bodies lying about unburied, the birds and animals that eat human flesh either did not come near them or, if they did taste the flesh, died of it afterwards. Evidence for this may be found in the fact that there was a complete disappearance of all birds of prey…. Some died in neglect, some in spite of every possible care being taken of them…. The most terrible thing of all was the despair into which people fell when they realized they had caught the plague; for they would immediately adopt an attitude of utter hopelessness, and, by giving in this way, would lose their powers of resistance…. So overwhelmed by the weight of their calamities that they had actually given up the usual practice of making laments [prayers] for the dead…. and, living as they did during the hot season in badly ventilated houses, they died like flies…. for the catastrophe was so overwhelming that men, not knowing what would happen next to them, became indifferent to every rule of religion or of law…. and adopted the most shameless methods…. Athens owed to the plague the beginnings of a state of unprecedented lawlessness. Seeing how quick and abrupt were the changes in fortune…, people now began openly to venture on acts of self-indulgence which before they used to keep in the dark…. Money and life seemed equally ephemeral. As for what is called honour, no one showed himself willing to abide by its laws…. No fear of god or law of man had a restraining influence. As for the gods, it seemed to be the same thing whether one worshipped them or not, when one saw the good and the bad dying indiscriminately. As for offenses against human law, no one expected to live long enough to be brought to trial and punished: instead everyone felt that already a far heavier sentence had been passed on him and was hanging over him, and that before the time for its execution arrived it was only natural to get some pleasure out of life. This, then, was the calamity which fell upon Athens….

(Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War: 431-404 BC, Book II, 47-54).


The concept and reality of biological terrorism and longer-range biological warfare, and our adequate defense against them – to include a possible and intelligently discriminating counter-offensive – will provide a trenchant measure and test of our strategic culture as a nation; and a sobering indication of the extent to which a truly strategic culture does not, in fact, exist, much less a much needed (and increasingly needed) grand-strategic culture. For, a grand-strategic culture takes a longer view of war and peace and rootedly sustainable civilization: hence of indirect and subversive warfare, as well as more direct and immediate warfare; of deceitful peace as well as true peace; of chronic as well as traumatic dislocations and challenges; and of their combined and abiding effects on a common culture and nourishing way of life; hence on the life of children, which is marked by resilient hope, not by self-pitying cynicism nor by paralyzing and self-sabotaging despair. For, a truly grand-strategic culture thinks and selflessly acts, not in terms of mere triage, but in terms of the nobler ethos that “the more defenseless one is the more that person calls our for our defense.” Such a long-range strategic culture conduces to life, not to death, nor to spiritual death, i.e., sloth and despair.

In these long sentences, every word counts and the provocative challenges stand, to be developed further in this paper and in all of the reflective comments I propose to make during this four-day colloquium. Furthermore, I would contend that, as a result of our multiple strategic vulnerabilities, disinclinations, and vacillations as a nation, we all too often allow other nations who have a strategic culture to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative against us and to our disadvantage – nations such as Great Britain, Israel, and China who have many of their own national-security assets abroad, with strategic interior lines on our own strategic inner front and precarious strategic thresholds (like Mexico and the offshore islands, as well as Canada). The Chinese Triads are an example of such a strategic national security asset – a combination of a trans-national criminal syndicate, a strategic intelligence operation, and a form of potential (if not actual) Chinese Special Operations Forces.ii [FOOTNOTE TWO]

The subtle threat of hostile biological operations (and especially their psychological effects on the target) – both short-term and long-term biological operations – will provide an acute and unmistakably clarifying test of our purpose and resilient coherence as a nation. From my own experience over the years, however, in the military and strategic intelligence community – to include in our Special Operations Forces (SOF) – we have not been either thoughtfully taking the longer view of such bio-warfare issues, in the longer light of military history and the indirect, mentally dislocating approaches of revolutionary, subversive warfare; or anticipating (as strategists should) the indirect approaches of new forms of asymmetrical niche (or nidus) warfare which use, as weapons, selective bio-toxins or the plague. And such agents include virulent neuro-toxins, and the targets include plants, soils, foods, and animals, as well as human bodies and minds.

Therefore, a mere military strategy – even a capacious and long-range military strategy – will not be sufficient to take the measure of such a strategic (often indirect) threat and challenge especially the challenge of what I prefer to call psycho-biological warfare and terrorism.

Thus, at the outset, the strategic-minded, unflinchingly truthful, military historian B.H. Liddell Hart may help us understand the larger strategic context for the coming hostile use of, and defense against, bio-toxins. This historically considered strategic context must also include the insufficiently anticipated and very destructive aftermath of the earlier promiscuous resort to (or complicity with) the essentially lawless ethos of guerrilla warfare, especially in World War II, and its fruits in the subsequent “deceitful peace” or “camouflaged war.” Liddell Hart’s newly added, 1967 chapter on Guerrilla Warfare, added to his second, revised edition of his earlier, classic book, Strategy, will help us understand this troublesome and dangerous aftermath resulting from the illusionary pursuit of peace through total military victory alone, especially in World War II. Liddell Hart’s insights on the self-sapping resort to guerrilla warfare and its longer-term aftermath – to include his own humble admissions of his earlier errors, short-sightedness, and inordinate attachments concerning “the effective operations of T.E. Lawrence during World War I in the Middle East” – will help us to examine the current and future challenge of irregular, but strategic, biological warfare.

In his newly added Chapter XIII (Guerrilla War) for his second edition of his book, Strategy, Liddell Hart said: “If you wish for peace, understand war – particularly the guerrilla and subversive forms of war.” He saw this as a “necessary and fitting replacement for the antique and oversimple dictum, ‘If you wish for peace, prepare for war,’ which too often has proved to be not only a provocation to war, but a matter of mistakenly preparing to repeat the method of the last war in conditions that have radically changed.” (p. 361) So, too, is it the case today in the ambiguous milieu of asymmetrical niche warfare, and lesser forms of asymmetrical response, where bio-toxins and their difficult-to-discern methods of delivery may be used against us; if only as a reprisal, for example, were we to be maneuvered soon into using small nuclear weapons against Iraq and its facilities for producing weapons of mass destruction, such as the nominal “Chicken Farm.”

However, what Liddell Hart said about nuclear power in 1967 may even more soberly apply today to biological and chemical power. He said:

For, if the nuclear power now available were unleashed and not merely maintained as a deterrent, its uses would mean “chaos” not “war,” since war is organised action, which could not be continued in a state of chaos. The nuclear deterrent, however, does not apply and cannot be applied to the deterrence of subtler forms of aggression [like bio-terrorism or bio-warfare]. Through its unsuitability for the purpose [of deterrence] it tends to stimulate and encourage them [i.e., the “subversive forms of war” and “subtler forms of aggression,” like strategic psycho-biological warfare.]

Furthermore, and very important for understanding the milieu and strategic context of irregular biological warfare, we must consider the original rationale for the widespread use in World War II of “guerrilla and subversive forms of war,” and its destructive aftermath – indeed, a bitter, and embittering, harvest still. Liddell Hart says:

In the Second World War…guerrilla warfare became so widespread as to be an almost universal feature…. Its growth can be traced largely to the deep impression [T.E.] Lawrence [and his Seven Pillars of Wisdom] had made, especially on Churchill…. [I]t became part of Churchill’s war policy to utilise guerrilla warfare as a counter-weapon…instigating and fostering “resistance” movements…and …these efforts were extended wider and wider [even into Asia, and building upon what had been fermenting there already]. A more extensive and prolonged guerrilla war had been waged in the Far East since the 1920’s by the Chinese Communists…. During this struggle, the Communists also played their hand with a view to the future…so effectively that …they were better placed to profit from the result [i.e., the Japanese collapse] and fill the vacuum than Chaing Kai-Shek’s Nationalist regime. (pp.362-363, emphasis added)

And since World War II, “the combination of guerrilla and subversive war has been pursued with increasing success in the neighboring areas of South-east Asia and in other parts of the world.” (p. 363) Moreover, Liddell Hart predicted:

Campaigns of this kind are likely to continue because they fit the conditions of the modern age and at the same time are well suited to take advantage of social discontent, racial ferment, and nationalistic fervour. The development of guerrilla and subversive war was intensified with the magnification of nuclear weapons, particularly the advent of the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb in 1954, and the simultaneous decision of the Untied States Government to adopt the policy and strategy of “massive retaliation” as a deterrent to all kinds of aggression. (p. 363 – emphasis added)

What Liddell Hart then says about this illusionary policy and strategy should illuminate and desirably correct our own response today, perhaps, to the variegated and newly subtle threats from biological weapons, in the longer light of the lawless aftermath of guerrilla and subversive warfare once (and maybe still) so promiscuously and un-farsightedly resorted to. He says:

The implied threat of using nuclear weapons to curb guerrillas was as absurd as to talk of using a sledge hammer to ward off a swarm of mosquitoes. The policy did not make sense, and the natural effect was to stimulate and encourage the forms of aggression by erosion to which nuclear weapons were an inapplicable counter. Such a sequel was easy to foresee, though not apparent to President Eisenhower and his advisors…. (p. 363 – emphasis added)

For the time being passing over his profoundly discerning analysis of the principles of guerrilla and subversive war, we now focus on Liddell Hart’s unsettling, but sound, conclusions about “the dangerous aftermath of guerrilla warfare” (p. 369) or “camouflaged war” (p.367) – a term he preferred to the misleading “concept of ‘cold war’” (p. 367). He says:

This broad conclusion [that “in the atomic age guerrilla warfare may be increasingly developed as a form of aggression suited to exploit the nuclear stalemate”], however, leads to a far-reaching and deeper question. It would be wise for the statesmen and strategists of the Western countries to “learn from history” and avoid the mistakes of the past when seeking to develop a counter-strategy in this kind of [asymmetrical] warfare. The vast extension of such warfare during the last twenty years has, to a large extent, been the product of the [World War II] war policy of instigating and fomenting popular revolt in enemy-occupied countries that Britain, under Churchill’s leadership, adopted in 1940 as a counter to the Germans – a policy subsequently extended to the Far East as a counter to the Japanese. The policy was adopted with great enthusiasm and little question. (p. 367 – emphasis added)

This promiscuous and undiscriminating resort to guerrilla and subversive forms of warfare produced many “a handicap to recovery after liberation” (p. 369),

But the heaviest handicap of all, and the most lasting one, was of the moral kind. The armed resistance movement attracted many “bad hats.” It gave them license to indulge their vices and work off their grudges under the cloak of patriotism [or of socialism, or Communism, or Zionism?]…. Worse still was its wider effect on the younger generation as a whole. It taught them to defy authority and break the rules of civic morality in the fight against the occupying forces. This left disrespect for “law and order” that inevitably continued after the invaders had gone. (p. 369)

Moreover, as Liddell Hart continues to articulate his insights applicable to our issues of bio-warfare and bio-defense:

Violence takes much deeper root in irregular warfare than it does in regular warfare…. [T]he former makes a virtue of defying authority and violating rules. It becomes very difficult to re-build a country, and a stable state, on a foundation undermined by such experience. (p. 369 – emphasis added)

Humbly, Liddell Hart added: “A realization of the dangerous aftermath of guerrilla warfare came to me in [belated] reflection on [T.E.] Lawrence’s campaigns in Arabia [during World War I] and in our discussion on the subject” (p. 369). Some, like Ord Wingate, had, soon after World War I, become “filled with the idea of giving the theory [of T.E. Lawrence and Liddell Hart’s own “exposition of the theory of guerrilla warfare”] a fresh and wider application” (p. 369), says Liddell Hart:

But I was beginning to have doubts – not of its immediate efficacy, but of its long-term effects. It seemed that they could be traced, like a thread, running through the persisting troubles that we, as the Turks’ successors, were suffering in the same area where Lawrence had spread the Arab Revolt. These doubts were deepened when re-examining the military history of the Peninsular War [against Napoleon] a century earlier and reflecting on the subsequent [disordered] history of Spain. (p. 369 – emphasis added)

In addition to other analogous examples from the military history of irregular warfare (to include French irregular warfare in 1870 against the invading Germans), which soon produced many “an epidemic of armed revolutions that continued in quick succession…and [later] broke out again” (pp. 369-370), Liddell Hart soberly notes, however, that:

These lessons of [earlier] history were too lightly disregarded by those who planned to promote violent insurrections as part of our [World War II] war policy. The repercussions have had a shattering effect in the postwar years on the peace policy of the Western Alliance – and not only in providing both equipment and stimulus to anti-Western movements in Asia and Africa [and Latin America]…. The military effects of the Maquis as an instrument against the Germans were outweighed by the political and moral ill effects on the future. The disease has continued to spread. (p. 370 – emphasis added)

However, to what extent, if at all, will we now learn these fuller lessons of history and apply them to understanding and countering the strategies of the indirect approach which now extend to the use of bio-toxins and of a “Fifth Column” on the “inner front” of a targeted country, like the United States? Liddell Hart concludes his chapter on Guerrilla War, in the longer light of strategy and grand strategy, with the following words:

It is not too late to learn from the experience of history. However tempting the idea may seem of replying to our opponents’ “camouflaged war” activities by counter-offensive moves of the same kind, it would be wiser to devise and pursue a more subtle and far-seeing counter-strategy. (p. 370 – emphasis added)

Given that “ubiquity combined with intangibility is the basic [psychological and strategic] secret of such a [hostile guerrilla or irregular bio-warfare] campaign,” what might such a “more subtle and far-seeing counter-strategy” look like when it is to be employed against asymmetrical (hence indirect and deceitful) forms of biological warfare and bio-terrorism, both of which are even more especially effective in “producing more cumulative distraction, disturbance, and demoralization among the [targeted] enemy, along with a more widespread impression among the [targeted] population [i.e., the psychological consequences on the people’s mentality, caused by such biological toxins]” (p. 365)? Imagine that the well-organized, highly intelligent, secret societies of the Chinese Triads were to conduct such bio-terrorist operations?

A versatile and highly gifted friend in our strategic intelligence community recently wrote me a thoughtful letter in response to an unclassified paper I sent him on the Chinese-Triad Phenomenon, especially as it is manifested increasingly in Europe, but also as a larger strategic asset of Chinese international power, working, as the Mossad also economically does, through its analogous overseas Chinese cultural communities. In the paper to which my friend insightfully and courteously responded, I had, moreover, suggested that the Chinese Triads – like the deployed Japanese Yakusa – should properly be considered as a form of Chinese “Special Operations Forces (SOF)” whose assets (location, accessibility, and talents) could be strategically activated on the “inner front” of foreign cultures while at the same time themselves retaining efficient “interior lines” as a disciplined, long-traditional secret society in the context of Chinese history and of China’s own subtly (indeed graciously) deceptive strategic culture.

Imagine the challenge to the U.S. national security apparatus, as a whole, if the Triads – in addition to their activities as a trans-national criminal syndicate involved in drugs, money-laundering, trafficking in illegal toxic-waste dumping, economic espionage, and illegal technology transfer (also through Canada) – were to be activated to perform information warfare (hence deception) operations and psychological operations such as “bio-terrorism” and more long-range biological warfare. The Chinese and the Chinese Triad apparatus would, in any event, provide an excellent and trenchant test case for the readiness of our defenses against strategic psycho-biological warfare – and a deeper test (and measure) of our own incipient strategic culture.

In response to such connected considerations, my friend (who has a doctorate in an advanced physical science and knows China, as well as several classes of strategic technological innovation, and foreign “research, analysis, and acquisition processes”) said to me, in part, as follows:

It [your paper] was timely, given the focus these past few weeks on the visiting Chinese governmental leaders. It prompted one to review a recent paper on the strategic culture of China. Oddly, there was no mention of the Chinese-Triad Phenomenon.

We naturally view all governments as fundamentally segregated from criminal syndicates. We recognize some element of corruption in every government, but we see only the tactical component. Criminal activities come and go, but the legitimate strategic interests of the governments persist. While the view may have been true for much of our (US) history, it certainly is a poor model for Asia. In China, the politicians come and go but the Triads persist. Their strategic objectives, operations, and methods have remained consistent, integrated in Chinese culture.

And as Chinese culture spreads throughout the world, so does the Chinese-Triad Phenomenon. Economic development in China is providing an ever stronger base for Triad operations. Advances in telecommunications and transportation technologies are providing the Triads with greater reach, enabling the expansion of their strategic objectives.

Your paper captures an element of Chinese strategic culture, The Chinese Triad Phenomenon, that has not received sufficient recognition by the Intelligence Community. Relegated to the status of tactical criminal activity, the strategic threat posed by the Triads is largely ignored. Your efforts to relate current and future threats in terms of the historical Chinese-Triad strategic culture are of utmost importance.

Given this sober analysis of a man who never flatters, but who speaks the truth as he sees it and calls things by their right names, how might we consider “the current and future threats” of bio-terrorism and deceptive psycho-biological warfare “in terms of the historical Chinese Triad strategic culture”? If we could sufficiently deal with the subtle and often gracious Chinese strategic culture’s capacities for “strategic information warfare, strategic deception, strategic psycho-biological operations and even more chronic and protracted psycho-biological warfare” (as in the Soviets’ intended use of plague), we would be in a more decisively secure position of “bio-defense” against other sophisticated or unsophisticated adversaries in this field of asymmetrical “weapons of mass destruction.” That is to say, Chinese grand-strategic culture provides us with a highly excellent “benchmark” threat, at least potentially, and the most challenging test of our adequate defense and fuller responses against bio-terrorism and fuller biological warfare.

How would our Special Operations Forces (SOF) respond to such a Chinese “Bio-Warfare” threat, in itself, or as part of a larger strategic operation, such as a strategic information warfare attack? One of the missions of our SOF – a mission, however, that many of them have told me they would prefer not to deal with, or to even think about – is “counter bio-terrorism,” in contradistinction to “anti-bio-terrorism.” The former mission requires the operatives to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative, strategically, as well as tactically and operationally. The latter implies a more strictly defensive posture of “force protection.”

Nevertheless, our properly long-range strategic response to bio-terrorism and fuller-scope biological warfare – chronic developments as well as traumatic incidents – will be illuminated and further helped by understanding, in the longer light of military history, the appropriate strategic context of such a demoralizing and intractable form of warfare: strategic psycho-biological warfare, as I designedly prefer to call it. By considering also the likely hostile application of “the grand strategy of the indirect approach” to new variants of revolutionary psychological (or psycho-cultural) warfare, such as strategic psycho-biological warfare, we shall better be able to understand the subtle strategic challenge to our nation and its way of life, and to form our adequate far-sighted counter-strategies. In the longer light of the history of revolutionary warfare – including subtle forms of ambiguous aggression and subversive warfare – B.H. Liddell Hart will again help us take the measure of certain things to which we may be initially all too inattentive or even condescendingly depreciative.

Therefore, before more specifically examining some likely future forms of asymmetrical biological warfare and strategic bio-terrorism, I propose again to examine some profound insights of this strategic-minded military historian, Liddell Hart, from his specially expanded second edition of his classic book, Strategy, wherein, as we have already seen, he treats of guerrilla warfare and other forms of ambiguous aggression and subversive warfare; and of their long-range consequences upon civilization and morale and the human spirit.

What Liddell Hart farsightedly said about World War II and the consequences of the Western illusions about victory, as well as the long-range aftermath of the unrestricted resort to guerrilla warfare, should analogously illuminate, and perhaps correct, our illusions about the purported end of the of the Cold War, our putative “fruits of victory,” and their longer-range consequences. Nuclear weapons and guerrilla warfare are to the purported victory and real aftermath of World War II as biological and chemical (or drug) warfare are to the purported victory and real aftermath of the “Cold War.” What does Liddell Hart have to say to us, after all, to elucidate the likely future forms of ambiguous and subversive asymmetrical warfare (or lesser indirect and asymmetrical responses) against the United States, especially on our home front, and given our increasingly precarious mastery of our own communications? Strategists are concerned to secure the “home base,” so that they can more fully become “master of the communications,” to include mastery over the communications of one’s opponent. But, mastery of the communications will be precarious, or altogether illusory, without first securing one’s strategic base and its own internal communications. Thus, Liddell Hart again far-sightedly has much to tell us of moment, in the longer light of history.

In his Preface to the Second Revised Edition (1967) of his book, Strategy, where, shortly before he died (1970), B.H. Liddell Hart added a new and important Chapter on Guerrilla War (Chapter XXIII), as well as a new Preface, where, in part, he said:

The last edition of this book was published in 1954, just after the explosion of the first hydrogen bomb – a thermo-nuclear bomb resulting from the development of nuclear fission into nuclear fusion. Even his first hydrogen bomb had an explosive force a thousand times greater than that of the first atomic bomb of 1945.

In Liddell Hart’s preface to his first edition, he had predicted (in 1954) that such technological innovations “would not radically change the basis or practice of strategy” and “would not free us from dependence on what are called ‘conventional weapons’ although it was likely to be an incentive to the development of more unconventional methods of applying them!” (emphasis added). Since 1954, he adds, “experience has clearly confirmed the trend predicted at that time,” and

Above all, such experience has emphatically borne out the forecast that the development of nuclear weapons would tend to nullify their deterrent effect, thereby leading to the increasing use of a guerrilla-type strategy (p. xv, emphasis added).

In his Preface to the first edition, Liddell Hart had said:

The hydrogen bomb is not the answer to the Western peoples’ dream of full and final insurance of their security. It is not a “cure-all” for the dangers that beset them. While it has increased their striking power it has sharpened their anxiety and deepened their sense of insecurity. (xvii).

Today, is this not a fortiori the case, given our dawning, yet reluctantly growing, awareness of the existence of bio-toxins as weapons, and our acute vulnerability to the unsophisticated as well as sophisticated forms of delivery against a target, civil as well as military?

Looking back to the hopeful expectations of World War II leaders in the West, Liddell Hart says:

The atomic bomb in 1945 looked to the responsible statesmen of the West an easy and simple way of assuring a swift and complete victory – and subsequent world peace…. But the anxious state of the peoples of the free world today [1952] is a manifestation that the directing minds failed to think through [emphasis original] the problem – of attaining peace through such a victory. They did not look beyond the immediate strategic aim of “winning the war,” and were content to assume that military victory would assure peace – an assumption contrary to the general experience of history. The outcome has been the latest of many lessons that pure military strategy needs to be guided by a longer and wider view from the higher plane of “grand strategy.” (xvii – emphasis added except where specifically noted)

To what extent have we properly considered “victory” in the Cold War and its aftermath from the higher plane of grand strategy, especially in light of our strategic vulnerability to biological weapons of mass destruction and bio-terrorism, against which “a pure military strategy” will be gravely insufficient.

To what extent, if at all, is there a further sobering analogy between what Liddell Hart says of World War II’s aftermath, and the purported “fruits of victory” accrued to the West from their claimed triumph in the Cold War?

Liddell Hart said:

In the circumstances of World War II, the pursuit of triumph was foredoomed to turn into tragedy, and futility. A complete overthrow [cf. unconditional surrender, Nuremberg Trials with Soviet Judges, as well, etc.] of Germany’s power of resistance was bound to clear the way for Soviet Russia’s domination of the Eurasian continent [along with Communist China after 1949], and for a vast extension of Communist power in all directions…. No peace ever brought so little security and, after eight nerve-wracking years, the production of thermo-nuclear weapons has deepened the ‘victorious” people’s sense of insecurity. But that is not the only effect (pp. xvii-xviii)

According to Liddell Hart, moreover, the hydrogen bomb and other modern weapons of destruction combine:

To make it plain that “total war” as a method, and “victory” as a war aim are out-of-date concepts. That has come to be recognized by the chief exponents of strategic bombing. Marshal of the R.A.F. Sir John Slessor recently declared his belief that “total war as we have known it in the past forty years is a thing of the past…a world war in this day and age would be general suicide and the end of civilization as we know it.” Marshal of the R.A.F. Lord Tedder earlier emphasized the same point as “an accurate, cold statement of the actual possibilities,” and said: “A contest using the atomic weapon would be no duel, but rather a mutual suicide.” Less logically, he added: “that is scarcely a prospect to encourage aggression.” Less logically because a cold-blood aggressor [willing to use, for example, biological operations] may count on his opponents’ natural reluctance to commit suicide [with nuclear weapons] in immediate response to a [bio-toxin] threat that is not clearly fatal [to national life]. Would any responsible Government, when it came to that point, decide to use the H-bomb as an answer to indirect aggression, or any aggression of a local and limited kind? (p. xvii – emphasis added)

And what are some of the consequences which Liddell Hart draws from this predicament, consequences which may include the incentive for other countries asymmetrically to resort to bio-warfare or bio-terrorism against the United States? He concludes in an interim way by saying:

So it may be assumed that the H-bomb would not be used against any menace less certainly and immediately fatal than itself. The trust which the statesmen place in such a weapon [H-bomb] as a deterrent to aggression would seem to rest on an illusion…. The H-bomb…increases the possibilities of “limited war” pursued by indirect and widespread local aggression. (xvii) – (emphasis added except for the word “increases,” which was accentuated in the original).

Moreover, he says:

We have moved into a new era of strategy…. The strategy now being developed by our opponents is inspired by the dual idea of evading and hamstringing superior air-power. Ironically, the further we have developed the “massive” effect of the [strategic, nuclear] bombing weapon, the more we have helped the progress of this new guerrilla-type [asymmetrical] strategy. (p. xix)

Given this “new guerrilla-type strategy” bent on “evading and hamstringing” our technological superiorites, “our own strategy,” therefore, “should be based on a clear grasp of this concept,” he says:

And our military policy needs re-orientation. There is scope, and we might develop it, for a counter-strategy of a corresponding kind – [a counter-strategy that could resourcefully use and, with our big weapons, not] destroy our potential “Fifth Column” assets [in other countries]. (p. xix)

Very important to our purposes in this paper, Liddell Hart further argues:

The common assumption that atomic power has canceled out strategy [to include the strategy of psycho-biological warfare and asymmetrical bio-terrorism] is ill-founded and misleading. By carrying destructiveness to a “suicidal” extreme, atomic power is stimulating and accelerating a reversion to the indirect methods that are the essence of strategy –since they endow warfare with intelligent properties that raise it above the brute application of force. [And might we not aptly consider here that such “indirect methods” would especially characterize, not “the American way of war and military culture,” but the Chinese military and strategic culture?] (p. xix – emphasis added)

“Although grand strategy was missing” in World War II, “signs of such a reversion to the ‘indirect approach’ had already become manifest in World War II where strategy played a greater part than in World War I (p. xix). Moreover:

Now, the atomic deterrent to direct action on familiar lines is tending to foster a deeper strategic subtlety on the part of aggressors [now often called “asymmetrical responses” or “asymmetrical niche warfare”]. It thus becomes all the more important that this development should be matched by a similar understanding of strategical power [to include “grand-strategical power”] on our side. The history of strategy is, fundamentally, a record of the application and evolution of the indirect approach. (p. xix – emphasis added)

Despite our arguable lack of a “strategic culture,” unlike the Chinese, Israelis, and British; and despite our liberal (and sometimes self-sabotaging) Constitutional and Juridical Order, the United States must especially understand “the grand strategy of the indirect approach” when applied to bio-terrorism and more sustained psycho-biological warfare. Is it too chimerical also to suggest that we need unflinching sobriety about this particular array of subtle threats, and hence our own grand strategy of the indirect approach, at least in counter bio-terrorism?

Liddell Hart himself, of course, acknowledged the superiority of the indirect over the direct approach,” the former often working by an “unsuspected infiltration” that “turns the flank of …opposition” and resistance. As in war, “the aim is to weaken resistance before attempting to overcome it; and the effect is best attained by drawing the other party out of his defenses.” (p. xx). “Lure and trap” or, recalling Stonewall Jackson’s motto: “Mystify, mislead, surprise.” Working on the mind of the opponent is key:

This idea of the indirect approach is closely related to all problems of the influence of mind upon mind – the most influential factor in human history. Yet it is hard to reconcile with another lesson; that true conclusions can only be reached, or approached, by pursuing the truth without regard to where it may lead or what its effect may be – on different interests…. Avoid a frontal attack on a long established position; instead, seek to turn it by flank movement, so that a more penetrable side is exposed to the thrust of truth. But, in any such indirect approach [to the frightening issues involved, for example, in psycho-biological terrorism and warfare] take care not to diverge from the truth – for nothing is more fatal to its real advancement than to lapse into untruth. (pp. xx and xxi)

Why is Liddell Hart so sensitive to the dangers of lapsing into untruth, since he is also so attentive to the strategic advantages and effects of deception? He advises us wisely to avoid “the more common fault of leaders – that of sacrificing the truth to expediency without ultimate advantage to the cause” (p. xxi) – for leaders are to be “philosophical strategists, striking a compromise between truth and men’s receptivity to it.” (p. xxi)

This “tactful deformity” is what we must resolutely avoid in the matter of defending against bio-terrorism and strategic psycho-biological warfare, given what appears to be much evasion or denial of the truth by political leaders and diplomats, and even the intelligence community. We are told, often enough, not to frighten the citizenry inordinately; nor to jeopardize sensitive ongoing diplomatic negotiations with the Russians, or Cubans, by mentioning the history and current activities of their biological warfare program. Nor are we, some tell us, even to examine too closely or candidly the dangers to public health of a neuro-toxin like pfiesteria in our domestic waters, which, unfortunately, could also be collected and further cultivated by a sophisticated adversary for their further use against us (or others) at a later time. However, we are told that such unflinching truthfulness about the public health dangers would damage a state’s business and commerce. Such a view of governance is, of course, acutely irresponsible and short-sighted. For, the discovery of the truth, and of the suppression of truth, will break trust among the citizenry. And, trust, once broken, is so hard to repair, and only after a long time. Wise men have long noted that the greatest social effect of the lie is the breaking of trust.

But, having an adequate counter-strategy and set of coherent responses to bio-terrorism or irregular bio-warfare will especially require sustained and co-operative trust, especially where psychological shock and panic could be so easily induced. The strategic psychological effects of the hostile use of bio-toxins must be kept uppermost in our minds.

A few years ago, there was a story going about that the Cubans had a bio-agent ready for use which would, focally and concentratedly, dissolve the human eye-ball – hence the eye-balls of little children. Although this report might have been mere “Rumint” – “rumor intelligence” – and untrue, consider the psychological effects of such a possibility – even as a mere speculative possibility. But, to what extent is there any public – or secretive – discussion of any of Cuba’s multi-talented, long-developed biological warfare program – to include its earlier experiments in Africa and its training facilities for foreigners, for example? Yet, there is ample discussion about our purportedly mature need now to recognize Cuba diplomatically and help her developmentally.

What are the particular challenges in this area of bio-terrorism and bio-warfare for our Special Operations Forces, which include psychological operations and civil affairs units and assets, in addition to the more well-known (or, at least, well-publicized) commando-type units that have, of course, access to some of the most advanced war-fighting and other technologies: our Special Forces, Seals, Air Commandos, Rangers, Delta Force, and the like? In response to this question, I propose to make some constructive observations, many of which should not be further developed in this un-classified context. Since “SOF” is properly supposed to be a strategic asset of U.S. national power, and potentially very important to our national security apparatus and its truly strategic intelligence community, comments intended to enhance “strategic SOF education” (as distinct from training) and the long-range, “strategic culture and intelligence assets” of our Special Operations Forces should also, therefore, aid the much needed development of our nation’s grand-strategic culture, in light of larger international developments and the likely ambiguous and deceptive milieu of future forms of warfare.

Since civilian leaders, it would seem, increasingly have had no or very limited military experience, nor savor of military culture and strategic history, their imagination and inclinations might all too readily turn to “Special Operations Forces” as “the Force of Choice” and misapply them into a mis-diagnosed milieu, or so frequently deploy them that the SOF become withered out by “ a warp-speed operational tempo.” Several of the thoughtful SOF leaders I know have already inordinately experienced the “fast-forward pace” with no clear sense of strategic purpose, and often are dubious about the long-range effects for the good. But, because the SOF have so many talented persons who are strivers, they may be able to do and sustain, in the short-term, what others could not do at all. And this kind of accomplishment might, therefore, be even more self-deceiving in the long-term. Given the acronym, “SOLIC,” special operations (S.O.) are really a very limited response to a much larger and often misdiagnosed (and intractable) milieu (L.I.C.), where we need a longer and a better preparation “to read the culture” – to understand the deeper culture of foreign nations, to include the religious culture.

Certain SOF officers told me a year or so ago, for example, that they had to be more concerned about whether their units enroute to Peru had “nine millimeter” training, than about understanding the deeper culture – including, the strategic drug culture – and whether Fujimori and some of his leaders were working with the Japanese Yakusa – Japanese trans-national criminal syndicates and also, at least historically, part of Japan’s own national security assets abroad. (A Korean colonel, in fact, recently assured me this was still the case, at least in Korea).

If we were to ask, “Where are the centers for strategic SOF education and long-range thinking today, in the longer light of SOF history and the lessons to be learned, and who are the seminal thinkers?”, what would be the true answer? When General Wayne Downing helped set up the SOF curriculum at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, California, was strategic SOF education the main purpose, even though General Downing has himself often emphasized that SOF are, essentially, strategic assets of the United States along the entire spectrum of conflict? Given the rate and extension of SOF’s varied foreign deployments – indeed their often fatiguing “warp-speed operational tempo” – and given the many pressing obligations of even the longer-viewed Joint Special Operations Forces Institute (JSOFI) at Fort Bragg, where and how is real strategic thinking going on in SOF, especially for the mission and implications of “counter-bio-terrorism,” and its “interface” with other elements outside of the Department of Defense?

On the one hand, the military is being given a greater assortment of quasi-military or police-like missions; and, on the other hand, several elements of our police and law-enforcement agencies – such as the FBI’s Hostage-Rescue Team (HRT) – are becoming, as it were, more “militarized.” They are trained like commandos, almost like a Delta Force, and their “rules of engagement” are increasingly ambiguous or equivocal, and difficult to execute within the Constitutional and other constraints with which they must abide. The grave case of Lon Horiyucchi, whom I know and cherish, trenchantly illustrates the matter.

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to be given greater responsibilities and assets for dealing with the dangers and aftermath of bio-terrorism or more extensive biological operations, they will also need to be especially connected with the strategic intelligence community, and perhaps some enhanced longer-viewed resources amongst the medical-intelligence assets of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) or others.

But, once again, the judicious allocation of very limited resources into missions attentive to strategic biological warfare and bio-terrorism threats will not be adequately done, or done at all, unless there is first a sufficient understanding of the need for a truly grand-strategic culture that can take the measure of indirect strategic uses of “weapons of mass destruction,” especially the more intractable biological weapons and their paralyzing or panicking psychological effects – maybe far more destructive than combat shock-trauma. And this takes us back to our starting considerations about our purpose and coherence and resilience as a nation that is willing, able, and dedicated to protect our citizens, to include our diplomats abroad. Thus, we must be willing to form a deeply moral and protective grand-strategic culture with a fuller vision of purpose and sustainable common good, not just the narrower public interest.

To the extent that we may proceed to form our own intelligently far-sighted grand-strategic culture within our national security institutions and their “advisory organs,” how might we, in the context of this colloquium on Bio-Defense, and as a test case foresee and forestall a culturally subtle, grand strategy of the indirect approach (logistically and psychologically) aimed, first of all, at preparing our sufficient moral disintegration or breakdown before then conducting strategic operations with bio-toxins against our nation?

Grand strategy, being more inclusive and long-viewed should control strategy. Grand strategy is, more properly, the higher architectonic art, but its principles often run counter to those which prevail in the field of strategy, especially in the field of military strategy, which is often enough only “high operational art” rather than true strategy, or generalship, “the actual direction of military force” comprehensively, and co-ordinatedly. Moreover, grand strategy is “policy in application,” or “policy in execution” (322), that is, the policy governing the direction and purpose of military force, in combination with other weapons (e.g., economic, political, and psychological). “Such policy in application is a higher-level strategy, for which the term ‘grand strategy’ has been coined.” It is, therefore, especially attentive to the “post-war prospects,” and its essential aim is “to discover and pierce the Achilles Heel of the opposing government’s power to make war” (214), in the words of B.H. Liddell Hart. Grand strategy attempts to diminish the possibility of resistance – to dislocate and to paralyze the opposition’s leadership; “to exploit elements of movement and surprise, the physical sphere and the psychological sphere.” Grand strategy, not intrinsically dependent on force, aims at the opponent’s “strategic paralysis” and “the reduction of fighting to the slenderest possible proportions.” Thus, for example, “the indirect approach to the strategic rear” of an opponent aims at “a grand-strategic distraction and further indirect strokes at the [opponent’s] strategic foundations” (213). But, true grand strategy “must take the longer view” (349-350), because “its problem is winning the peace”; to “conduct the war with a view to post-war benefits and civilized life”; “to look beyond the war to the subsequent peace – to avoid damage to the future state of peace.” Thus, grand strategy, according to Liddell Hart, “tends to coincide with morality.”

With an illustrative reference to Ancient Greece (5th BC) and the Peloponnesian War, Liddell Hart says: “In contrast to a strategy of indirect approach [like the delaying “Fabian Strategy”] which seeks to dislocate the enemy’s balance [physically and mentally] in order to produce a decision, the Periclean plan [the “Periclean Strategy”] was a grand strategy with the aim of gradually draining the enemy’s endurance in order to convince him that he could not gain a decision.” (p. 10). [So, too, maybe with America’s “asymmetrical adversaries” in the near future]. Such is just one manifestation of a “theory of war with psychological weapons…. To paralyze the enemy’s military nerve-system is a more economical form of operation than to pound his flesh” (p. 219). This “way in warfare” begins “with a double D – demoralization and disorganization. Above all, [such] war would be waged by suggestion – by words instead of weapons, propaganda replacing the projectile” (p. 219). And so, instead of an artillery bombardment, “moral bombardment would be used in the future,” and “all types of ammunition [including bio-toxins] would be used, but especially revolutionary [psycho-biological] propaganda” (p. 219). In the longer view of strategy:

The object of war is to make the enemy capitulate. If his will to resist could be paralyzed, killing was superfluous – besides being a clumsy and expensive way of attaining the object. The indirect way of injecting germs into the body of the opposing nation, to produce a disease in its will, was likely to be far more effective (p. 219)

Moreover, says Liddell Hart: “It was Lenin who enunciated the axiom that ‘the soundest strategy in war [maybe even, or especially, psycho-biological warfare] is to postpone operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders the delivery of the mortal blow both possible and easy.’” (p.208). There is, Liddell Hart, continues, “a marked resemblance between this [statement of Lenin] and Hitler’s saying that ‘our real wars will in fact all be fought before military operations begin’ … and ‘How to achieve the moral breakdown of the enemy before the war has started – that is the problem that interests me’” (p. 208).

In light of the long-articulate, Chinese strategic culture of deception and psychological (and patient) indirection, not only in Sun Tzu or Sun Pin and their later commentators, how might the incipient American strategic culture – including the SOF strategic culture – adequately prepare for, and respond to, a strategic psycho-biological warfare attack, to include the desirably preparatory “moral breakdown” or “moral disintegration” of its strategic opponent. Once again, a characteristically subtle Chinese scenario, with intelligent variations and resourcefully alternative objectives, and would provide the acutest measure and test of American strategic intentions and capabilities, especially in defense and counter-offensives against biological terrorism and irregular (“high-tech” and “low-tech”) biological warfare. In light of their own strategic culture (which includes the Chinese Triad Phenomenon), the Chinese could give grand strategy of the indirect approach a new extension, logistically and psychologically, into biological operations, “both in the field and in the forum” (in the words of Liddell Hart – p. 207). How might we foresee and forestall such grand-strategic moves?

However, and by way of conclusion, pointedly to return to the personal matter of protecting our foreign diplomats from bio-toxins or psycho-tropic drugs, I have a story to tell. A few years ago when, through one of my students at the Joint Military Intelligence College (DIA) – herself in the National Security Division (Division 5) of the FBI – I tried to introduce a highly informed and deeply thoughtful man who is attentive to psycho-tropic drugs and other things that can be – and have been – directed at our diplomats and others abroad, there was so little interest that he could not even get an interview, the mission of the FBI to protect our diplomats abroad, notwithstanding. Someone else in the FBI, from the same area, but now working at the Department of State, also declared personal helplessness and the Bureau’s long-range futility; and was finally feckless himself, unable to recommend someone in the FBI who would take up these issues, and unwilling even to meet this well-informed, strategic-minded man whom I know. Such facts as these are very revealing of the state of our nation. But I still believe profoundly that truly convinced leaders – when pierced to the core by the unflinching and sober truth – can greatly help to make a “course-correction” and help us recover from this sloth and drift. We are only as courageous as we are convinced. But, in these matters of bio-terrorism and strategic bio-warfare, and their increasingly undetectable “high-tech” delivery systems, what are we truly convinced about?

We must not become “fanatics” in George Santayana’s memorable sense, and we must not, if possible, allow ourselves to come to the point that Rome did, according to the ancient historian, Livy. Without fostering and forming our own truly strategic culture – and longer-viewed grand-strategic culture – we will be more prone to correspond to Santayana’s definition of a “fanatic,” even in our generous and selfless efforts to enhance our “integrated defense in depth” against bio-terrorism or more subtle forms of strategic psycho-biological warfare. For, Santayana defined a “fanatic” as “he who, losing sight of his aim, redoubles his effort.” We must not lose sight of our proper strategic and grand-strategic aim, which is itself an issue of great moment and of currently uncertain determination in our divided nation.

Moreover, the Roman historian, Livy – like the modern Cambridge philosopher and rascal, C.E.M. Joad, in his post-World War II and final book, Decadence: a Philosophical Inquiry – was also attentive to the disordered decadence of Rome, which had lost its civic love and friendship, grown in frigidity and a spiritual congealment of soul, and had “dropped its object” and abandoned its longer-view of purpose and hope, in its new corrosive ethos of cynicism, flippancy, and superficiality. In his general introduction to his own multi-volumed history of Rome from her mythical beginnings, Livy memorably wrote that, by 19 B.C., Rome had declined and come to such a point that we could “tolerate neither our vices nor their remedies” (“nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus”). To what extent is that situation also now the case with us?

It is difficult to build on rotted wood. It is more difficult, without love and love’s willingness to suffer and protractedly sacrifice, to recover from deep decadence, a loss of purpose and meaning, especially within our growing “narco-democracies” and “narco-cultures” that conduce to despair. It is from within such a milieu, and growing, that our own sacrificial strategic culture must resist the infiltration and permeation of bio-toxins, strategically designed and employed, with especially grave psychological and moral consequences which, without a deeper responsive love and wisdom on our part, will further conduce to despair, to include the despair of the children. “Blessed be he who has saved a child’s heart from despair” – which is itself a deep protective disposition that comes from the heart of chivalry.

“Chivalry in war,” says the un-quixotic Liddell Hart, “can be a most effective weapon in weakening the opponent’s will to resist as well as [in] augmenting [one’s own] moral strength” (p. 322). And such chivalry – hence the protection of the defenseless and “the little ones” – is unmistakably linked to true grand strategy. For, it is the case, says Liddell Hart, that:

Grand strategy should both calculate and develop the economic resources and man-power of nations in order to sustain the fighting services. Also the moral resources – for to foster the people’s willing spirit is often as important as to possess the more concrete forms of power. Grand strategy, too [especially in dealing with bio-terrorism and strategic bio-warfare against the home front and our communications], should regulate the distribution of power between several services, and between the services and industry. Moreover, fighting power is but one of the instruments of grand strategy – which should take account of and apply the power of financial pressure, of diplomatic pressure, of commercial pressure, and, not least, of ethical pressure, to weaken the opponent’s will. A good cause [“likewise, chivalry in war”] is a sword as well as armour. (p. 322 – emphasis added).

In this daunting context of bio-defense against bio-terrorism and irregular biological warfare strategically designed and applied, let us keep in mind a final long-range insight of Liddell Hart; lest we, losing sight of our aim, redouble our effort, but effectively sleepwalk into hebetude and even strut to our confusion. He says that:

[while] chivalry in war can be a most effective weapon in … augmenting moral strength; furthermore, while the horizon of strategy is bounded by the war, grand strategy looks beyond the war to the subsequent peace. It should not only combine the various instruments, but so regulate their use as to avoid damage to the future state of peace – for its security and prosperity. The sorry state of peace, for both sides, that has followed most wars can be traced to the fact that, unlike strategy, the realm is for the most part terra incognita – still awaiting exploration, and understanding. (p.322)

Even moreso is this the case, and not otherwise, in the realm of grand strategic defense and counter-offense against the subtle psychological threats and aftermath of bio-terrorism and biological warfare – and especially for the defense of the children, for whom we must create a habitation and not a ruin. Nor are we to make what Tacitus saw and feared: “Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant (Where they make a desolation, or wasteland, they call it peace).” Such sophistry, too, especially for the sake of the children, must be unremittingly combated. For that, too, – the “strategic culture of sophistry,” and pervasive propaganda – is part of the larger psycho-biological war we are in. Words matter. The truth matters.


© 1997, 2020 Robert D. Hickson


Civil War in Corcyra, 427 BC:

Misuse of Language, Misuse of Power;

Factional Anarchy in the Cities

… They [the Corcyraeans] seized upon all their [domestic] enemies whom they could find and put them to death …. They went to the [sacred] Temple of Hera and persuaded about fifty of the suppliants [seeking asylum in the sanctuary] there to submit to a [judicial] trial. They then condemned every one of them to death. Seeing what was happening, most of the other suppliants, who had refused to be [treacherously] tried, killed each other there in the Temple; some hanged themselves on the trees, and others found various means of committing suicide. During the seven days… the Corcyraeans continued to massacre those of their own citizens whom they considered to be their enemies. Their victims were accused of conspiring to overthrow the democracy, but in fact men were often killed on grounds of personal hatred or else by their debtors because of the money they owed. There was death in every shape and form. And, as usually happens in such situations, people went to every extreme, and beyond it…. So savage was the progress of this revolution, and it seemed all the more so because it was one of the first which had broken out…convulsed with rival parties…democratic leaders…and oligarchs…. In the various cities these revolutions were the cause of many calamities – as happens and always will happen while human nature is what it is, though there may be different degrees of savagery…. In times of peace and prosperity cities and individuals alike follow higher standards…. But war is a stern teacher; in depriving them of the power of easily satisfying their daily wants, it brings most people’s minds down to the level of their actual circumstances [or “ most people’s character sinks to the level of their fortune”].

So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where revolutions occurred late the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard of atrocities in revenge.

To fit in with the change of events, words, too had to change their usual [customary] meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future [to be prudent, provident] and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching. If one attempted to provide against having to do either, one was disrupting the unity of the party and acting out of fear of the opposition. In short, it was equally praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong, and to denounce someone who had no intention of doing any wrong at all. Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever…. and the members of these parties felt confidence in each other not because of any fellowship in a religious communion, but because they were partners in crime….Revenge was more important than self-preservation…a victory won by treachery gave one title for superior intelligence. And indeed most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.

Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this may be added violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out…. They were always ready to satisfy their hatreds of the hour. Thus neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action [i.e., sophists]. As for the citizens who held moderate views; they were destroyed by both extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.

As a result of these revolutions, there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is so much a mark of a noble nature; was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist.

Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion. As for ending this state of affairs, no guarantee could be given that would be trusted, no oath sworn that people would fear to break; everyone had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect a permanent settlement and so, instead of being able to feel confident [trustful] in others, they devoted their energies to providing against being injured themselves as a rule those who were least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival. Such people recognized their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing they might lose a debate or find themselves out-maneuvered in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, overconfident in the belief that they would [strategically] see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they [like good sentimental liberals?] would secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off their guard….

They [the “arrogantly oppressed” avengers] were swept away into an internecine struggle by their ungovernable passions. Then with the ordinary conventions of civilized life thrown into confusion [as in guerrilla war and irregular, subversive forms of warfare], human nature always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colors, as something incapable of governing passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself [the envious essence of rootless, mass democracy and atomization?]; for, if it had not been for the pernicious power of envy, men would not have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice.

Indeed, it is true that, in these acts of revenge on others, men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws [of humanity] in existence, remembering that there may come a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection….

The people of Corcyra were the first [in the Peloponnesian War] to display in their city the passions of civil war….

(Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War: 431-404 BC, II 81-85)


Epigraph THREE (and Another Timely Parable)

Sacrifice Amidst the Luxurious and Promiscuous Milieu

of the Fourth Freedom in America

I [Tom Wolfe] think that above all, the 20th century will be remembered as the era of the fourth phase of freedom, which is the phase this country [the U.S.] is in right now. It is the most bizarre form that freedom has ever taken, and I think this should be of particular interest to the officer corps of the American armed services. I think you will find this fourth phase very frustrating. It may even bring you grief…. But, as I say, we are today in the fourth phase of American freedom, and it is the strangest of all. The fourth phase is freedom from religion. It is not freedom of religion; it is freedom from religion….

DeTocqueville said, in 1835 [in Democracy in America], … that American society would have come apart had it not been for the internal discipline of the American people. This internal discipline, he said, was rooted in their profound devotion to religion. What we are now seeing is the earnest rejection of the constraints of religion in the second half of the 20th century; not just the rules of morality but even simple rules of conduct and ethics … Today, you in the military are going to have to confront, in this really quite marvelous manic fourth phase of freedom in America, the most amazing pulls upon your motivation – as you see the money, the freedom, the luxuries that are so easily available. You are going to realize that everyone else – not you – is living in the age of Everyman an Aristocrat [a decadent Aristocrat]. That is the fourth phase of freedom in America. For the first time in the history of mankind, everyone, every man and woman, now has the capability of availing himself or herself of the luxuries of the aristocrat, whether it be a constant string of young sexual partners or whether it be the easy access to anything that stimulates or soothes the mind or the nervous system or simply the easy disregard of rules of various sorts…. I marvel at it, and I wonder at it, and I write about it. But you [in the military] will have to deal with it. You are going to find yourselves required to be sentinels at the bacchanal. You are going to find yourself required to stand guard at the Lucullan feast against the Huns approaching from outside [and from within – on the inner front]. You will have to be armed monks at the orgy.

If I use religious terminology, I use it on purpose. One of the most famous addresses ever delivered in this century by an American was the address on 12 May 1962, by Douglas MacArthur at West Point, in which he enunciated the watchwords of duty, honor, country. The rest of the speech is less well remembered. He said that the soldier, above all other men [and especially “the Christian soldier”], is expected to practice the greatest act of religion: sacrifice.

(Tom Wolfe, “The Meaning of Freedom,” Parameters: U.S. Army War College Quarterly (March, 1988), pp. 2-14. An adaptation of his 1987 lecture to the cadets of West Point – The Meaning of Freedom” (8 October 1987))


[FOOTNOTE TWO]: Secret societies are very important in Chinese Culture, and with a long history, but scholars have long tended to ignore them. In his 1980 revised and expanded edition of his The Chinese Looking Glass (1966-1st edition), Dennis Bloodworth has some excellent chapters on the history and importance of secret societies in China: from the philosopher Mo Tze (5th-century BC); to the “Red Headbands” of the proto-Triad “Red Eyebrows” (30AD); to the 7th-century AD “Yellow Turbans”; to the 17th-century “White Lotus Society” in North China and the “Hung Society” (Hung Men) in south, West, and Central China, and more. The Triads – implying a restored threefold harmony between Heaven, Earth, and, Man this “Heaven and Earth Society” (T’ien-Ti Hui) or “Triple Harmony Society” (San-Ho Hui) has a rich and often obscure history as the “Triad Society” (San-Tien Hui) or, in the USA, the “Chih Kung Tong” (Society to Bring About Justice). Bloodworth says, for example: “Esoteric history that no one dared to put in writing at the time has it that the Triad was founded in the seventeenth century by an abbot of Shao-Lin [Buddhist] monastery [in Fukien Province] who had raised an invincible company of 128 warrior-monks [cf. The Western Templars] . . . and the [Manchu] Emperor agreed that the monastery should be set on fire and blown up. This was achieved with the help of an unfrocked traitor who was number seven in the Shao-Lin hierarchy, so that even today these secret-society gangsters never use this number in their ritual.” (Bloodworth, The Chinese Looking Glass, p 146). Bloodworth and others have eloquently described how these historic societies of Triads “secretly organized for Revolution.” The Triads were also involved in the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion, as well as in the earlier uprising of 1774. They supported this 1911 revolution under Sun Yat Sen, combated Yuan Shih-K’ai in the 1915 attempt to become a new emperor (after the Manchus fell in 1912), and the Triads fought the Japanese (especially from 1937-1945). Other famous secret societies had such names as: “ the Double Sword Society,” “the Dagger Society,” “the Clear Winter Society,” “the Elders Society” (Ko-Lao Hui)and “the Harmonious Fists Society” (the famous “Boxers” of the North China Rebellion of 1899–1900).


© 1997, 2020 Robert D. Hickson


Dr. Robert D. Hickson

October 1996

National Security Education and Strategic Intelligence

Given the conditions of modern life and culture – and the reality of spreading “narco-democracies” and other regimes of opiate dullness and danger – our adequate education in national security and strategy (or in strategic intelligence and cultural security) must include an examination of hitherto often unconsidered realms of knowledge, and in combination: e.g., finance, psychology, and deep culture.

True National Security Education and Strategic Intelligence should be able to understand, especially today, and apply the counterpointed meanings of “indirect warfare (and strategy), inner front, interior lines, and inner revolution.” For example, we shall be able to take the measure of much reality of strategic import – and not just in the Mid-East or Far-East – if we consider in combination, and in the longer light of military and cultural history, the concepts of: “the strategy of the indirect approach; the strategic inner front; oligarchic (or factional) interior lines; and the mind’s inner revolution” (or psycho-cultural revolution; in part, the Hegelianization or Marxization of the “inner man,” dialectically). And then it is important that we apply such concepts to illuminate our own innermost and deepening national-security vulnerabilities and grand-strategic needs.

To what extent is it so, for example, that “organized crime is protected crime” – protected by political and financial elites – and not just the so-called “Russian Mafia” or the more subtly organized crime of the Chinese Triads, which are strategic assets of Chinese intelligence (perhaps analogous to, but deeper than, the KGB’s trans-national corporation NORDEX). And the dangerous question about protected “organized crime” is, especially sometimes, “protected by whom, how so, and why?” What, finally, is their philosophy (their racial-biological or cultural ideology, or implicit theology)?

For, it has been wisely said that “all human conflict is ultimately theological,” and especially, perhaps, long-range, grand-strategic, human conflict, as in the Middle East. Strategists – military and psycho-cultural strategists – must increasingly, therefore, understand both theology (and religious culture) and counter-theology and its culture; and hence the deeper meaning and implications of “narco-democracy” and its “opiate sophistries,” as well as its cruder forms of “drugged language” and “bread and circuses” (as in the entertainment and advertising “industry,” the “cult of athletics,” and mass “government education,” or numbness and increased entropy). Most dangerous, however, are the strategically induced and subtler “opiate sophistries” of psycho-cultural revolution, which is the deeper front of “narco-democracy” or the “pharmacological revolution.” Sophistry itself often implies the strategic corruption and subversion of language (and logos), and thus of rationality. Sophistry, too, is a form of “information warfare.”

Strategic sophists, essential to psycho-cultural revolution, are always not only “iconoclasts,” but also “logoclasts.” By way of symbolic subversion and deceitful euphemism, they are “de-constructionists” of a people’s most essential language and living memory; and subverters, finally, of human reason (including attentive and receptive, silent contemplation).

For, truth matters, and it its entirety. According to the most continuous, long, articulate tradition of Western philosophy – the philosophia perennis (itself a philosophy of substance not just of process and change and emergence) – truth is both “the conformity of the mind (intellect) to reality;” and, from another perspective, “reality manifesting itself – unveiling or disclosing itself – to a knowing mind.” Revolutionary psycho-cultural warfare, with its strategic sophistries and seductive illusionary liberations, distorts and subverts – and deeply strives to destroy – such an understanding of truth. And such psycho-cultural revolution thus distracts and corrupts man’s truly strategic intelligence (logos) and his national-security institutions of strategic intelligence. Our National Security Education and Strategy today must be responsively aware of the subtle varieties of such psycho-cultural revolution, to include the sometimes fevered, over-technical “Revolution in Military Affairs (R.M.A.).”

A scholarly book on Mainland China some six years ago had a trenchant and suggestive title, in the longer light of history, as well: China Misperceived: American Illusions and Chinese Reality (1990, by Stephen Mosher). As military and cultural history teach us, strategic deception most effectively depends on – and manipulates – an adversary’s self-deception (actual and potential) especially his long-term cultural, ideological, and strategic self-deception. Our Strategic National Security Education should be informed, I believe, by such widely applicable considerations.

Strategic Education and “The Indirect War” – to Include Psycho-Biological Warfare

Author’s Note: This 8 July 1998 text (7 pages) is part of my response to the personal invitation I received from the Commanding General of the U.S. Special Operations Command, General Peter Schoomaker. The contributory text focused on the desirably strategic education of the Special Operation Forces (SOF). The 2 October 1998 Annex (3 pages) is a brief and partial introduction and a further elaboration of psycho-biological warfare itself, especially in its various targeting, not only against hardened targets, but also in its infections of “soft targets.

General Schoomaker invited me to expand some of such biological-strategic matters for the Special Operations Command, after he had personally read a 15 November 1997 (22-page-long) paper that I had prepared for an earlier civilian conference and that was given to him shortly thereafter.

This post of 6 November 2020 is dedicated to Professor Josef Pieper, who died on this day in 1997 at 93 years of age.

Robert D. Hickson

U. S. Special Operations Command

MacDill AFB – Tampa, Florida

8 July 1998

SOF Strategic Education and “The Indirect War”:

Psycho-Biological Warfare (and Terrorism) in a Grand-Strategic Context1

How we respond to bio-terrorism and longer-range biological warfare – both the threat and its actuality – will be the test and measure of many things, many intimate and ultimate things – personally, professionally, sacrificially, in defense of the common good, hence the true good of our children. Much true virtue will be required to preserve and sustain the common good in this milieu of warfare and psycho-cultural disorder – camouflaged and subversive forms of direct and indirect warfare, sometimes known as “Low Intensity Conflict” (LIC). (Notice that I did not say the “public interest” or the “common interest,” but, rather, the “common good” – bonum commune. We only truly love what is good.)

In the face of promiscuous biological warfare, even more than promiscuous and lawless guerrilla warfare, so much of what is loved and beloved is vulnerable, and not just the little children and not just temporarily. As the boxer, Joe Louis, said about those who got into the ring with him, “they may run, but they can’t hide.” Likewise, from the issues of indirect and intimately subversive psycho-biological warfare, we, too, may run, but we can’t hide. It most inwardly touches the mind and man’s heart. The realities of human nature, combined with the cumulative history of revolutionary warfare and modern technology, have brought us to this point. The slow and painful death of our little children, and beloved, through maliciously (hence deliberately) induced plague, anthrax, and smallpox, or worse, will take us to the foundations of life, meaning, purpose, and hope – or to hate, revengeful rage, cynicism, and despair. The modern scientific revolutions in molecular biology, genetic engineering, and bio-technology will also be likely instruments in the hands of evil and malignancy, and they are difficult to limit and to contain. Do you believe it? Are you yet convinced? Will we still sustain hope and magnanimity? Will we be courageous? For we are only as courageous as we are convinced. But, what are we truly convinced about – especially as to the nature and new varieties of indirect camouflaged warfare, “La Guerre Indirect”, especially indirect psycho-biological warfare, which will attack life at its core, even the animating life of the soul?

It has been said that, when someone is at war with you, even if you don’t know it, you’re at war! Reality is that which does not go away even when you stop thinking about it. So, too, with the deeper war we are in: the psycho-cultural and psycho-biological war, actual or impending. One of Sun Tzu’s own profound statements about war is that “the acme of skill is to defeat your adversary without having to fight him.” That is to say, to deceive, to distract psychologically, to dislocate, and otherwise to obscure and confuse his mind, and thereby break his will. (Sixty years ago, Mao Tse-Tung further developed these themes of modern “command and control” warfare in his 1938 book, On the Protracted Conflict). Dim down his intelligence, fracture his indispensable language of thought, and equivocally obscure his clarity of meaning, and you will paralyze him and sap his will. This is true “command and control warfare,” true “information warfare” – disruption, destruction, and deception. Especially the psychological deception.2 Lure and trap. Mystify, mislead, surprise. Paralyze the nervous system, and the mind, as if with neuro-toxins!

Analogously, one of the most important insights of Carl von Clausewitz, in my view, is to be found in his statement that:

The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment [an act of virtuous prudence, the first of the cardinal virtues] that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking, neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature [i.e., its essence]. That is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive [emphasis added].3

In light of the concept and reality of bio-terrorism and biological warfare, I ask you, therefore, at the outset, what is the kind of war we are in? What is the most discerning and comprehensive way of understanding the kind of war we are in today, and have been protractedly in – maybe even when we did not know it, nor think of it as war, a real war that gnaws at the roots of our civilization and its sustainingly essential world-view and view of man (his nature and his purpose)?

May I propose now, perhaps provocatively, my own brief formulation of the deeper war we are in, and, at the outset, before specifically considering some of the lesser included strategic manifestations of this deeper war, in and through biological warfare (and bio-terrorism) and their varieties of grave consequence and implication? I propose to you that the most adequate way of naming the truly grand-strategic revolutionary war that we in Western Civilization have been protractedly in is to call it La Guerre Indirect, Psycho-Culturelle – indirect, psycho-cultural (revolutionary) warfare. Intending to break the most intimate forms of trust, this form of warfare is intrinsically deceptive, deceitful, camouflaged, and deeply subversive of life and love. Love is the willingness to sacrifice, to suffer, for the beloved, with the beloved, and – most painfully – from the beloved – and thus our own fellow man at arms.

I hope that, after my specific discussion of potentially strategic psycho-biological warfare today, as seen in the longer light of military history, you may then also see a little more of what I mean and imply by indirect psycho-cultural warfare, and why, therefore, SOF especially needs to foster its own strategic education and its longer-range strategic intelligence, along with its already very demanding operational and tactical training and preparatory foreign area studies.

Now let us look at biological cultures and their weaponization – a terrible thing to think upon.

The concept of “culture” itself always means a “cultivated vital medium,” not only the cultivation of the soil (as in agriculture), but also in the cultivation of the soul (as in a person’s distinctive literary or musical or philosophical culture). Even in a medical sense, as in the culture of a virus or bio-toxin, culture means a vital medium, even when, paradoxically, it is a vital medium of something virulent and lethal – at least lethal to man, also by contaminating his livestock, soils, food, and water. And, hence, today we properly hear about spreading “narco-cultures,” as well as destructive “narco-democracies,” which some people insidiously enjoy, like opiates, while it is destroying them. The promotion of drug cultures may, in itself, also be understood as a form of chemical warfare, and not only when it is directed by an “outside” hostile power, but also when done subversively from within, and the consequences are grave and more and more manifest, even to the “dim-bulbed” optimists. But, the potentialities and consequences of biological warfare are, alas, even worse – for example, as a form of venereal pandemic or contagion of public ill-health, or, as a form of economical warfare, psychological warfare, or even spiritual warfare, in order to break the human spirit into despair, final despair. Why did the Soviet Union have such a large and varied and genetically engineered offensive BW program which was, as we discovered only in 1992, according to the State Department’s Gary Crocker (of I and R), twelve times larger than our intelligence community had known? And their underground programs (and maybe also China’s) are still, apparently, continuing – with unsettling strategic implications in the current milieu of disorder, especially in the Caspian Sea area, where so many strategic thresholds and vulnerabilities interact.

And, yet, part of SOF’s own strategic mission is counter-“bio-terrorism”, a formidable challenge against those who may try to use biological warfare (and bio-terrorism) as low-cost, low-risk, strategies intended to exploit American weaknesses, and maybe also American virtues, as in the Oriental “judo principle,” whereby somebody’s own virtue – or force – is deceitfully used against him, to throw him and down him. Consequently, and deterrently (or preventively), how do we create “a fearful doubt in the mind of a potential aggressor [using biological weapons] that any likely gain is simply not worth the inevitable risks”? (These words are the essence of British Fleet Admiral Peter Hill-Norton’s own 1978 definition of “deterrence,” which he originally used in the context of nuclear, not biological, weapons.4)

There will, however, be no deterrence, no integrated defense in depth, no effective counter-strategy against the growing threat of bio-terrorism and biological warfare, unless we are very honest about our own vulnerabilities and limitations – unless we are unflinchingly truthful and unless we refuse to live the lie. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Vladimir Bukovsky have courageously and eloquently said, we must “come out from under the rubble” and “refuse in any way to participate in the lie” – to include the crippling self-censorship inflicted by “political correctness” and other “democratic” deceptive forms of “newspeak” and protracted disinformation, which corrupt our own public discourse as well as our personal exercise of reasoned judgment based on true and properly proportioned facts – not “factoids.” Lies and deceptive half-truths may, for a while, seduce, but they cumulatively conduce to the breaking of trust, which, once broken, is so difficult to repair. We, as a nation, may even be dissolving because of the pervasive and intimate and cumulative breaking of trust, on many fronts, public and private, secular and religious. Like an unexercised arm or leg inside a cast, the higher faculties of man – and, finally, his soul – also wither from atrophying self-censorship which fears the demanding truth and its consequences, and which knowingly participates in the lie.

Especially as military guardians of the patria and the common good, let us therefore help each other resist the culture of the lie, the culture of sophistry, the culture of death. Let us come out “from under the rubble” of much strategic disinformation, even if it means taking only one step at a time – but always refusing the asphyxiation of what the Russians call “utter bullshitsky.” Otherwise we are not likely to resist the deeper evils of biological warfare and bio-terrorism – and its profound psychological effects of distrust – which are unmistakably rooted in the ambiguous and equivocal revolutions of modern biological science, bio-technology itself, and engineering. All of this – to include the ethics of human bio-technology – will cause even the most unreflective of men to consider what it means to be a man, and what man, finally, is for. What is man and what is man for, or is he just a “sophisticated beast” to be materially manipulated and re-engineered? When we truly realize that biological agents and their weaponization can affect the genetics of our own offspring and leave our posterity intimately mutilated and distorted, our attentiveness shall be mightily concentrated.

When, as a new second lieutenant, back in 1964, I was first “read in” to some parts of our own then existing offensive biological warfare program, I was deeply shaken – very profoundly shaken by what was even then intentionally possible to do to man and to the most intimate things that sustain his life. Now, almost forty years later, these capacities have, through modern science and its applied

technologies, increased many-fold, perhaps exponentially. We need only consider the manipulative work that has already been done on our endocrine and immunological systems, and, especially, on the neuro-physiology of the brain. It is for such reasons as this that I wish to discuss this issue of bio-terrorism and bio-warfare, strategically, with a longer view – and to keep certain questions in mind – and constantly before your minds – for you to consider subsequently – and abidingly – so that they may eventually be more fruitful of good, and even productive of a “course correction” that is strategically helpful to the missions of our Special Operations Forces.

First, a few questions in brief, and then some elaborations and expansions upon them. These are questions of the “what,” of the “why,” and of the “how”:

1. What does it mean to be strategic? Does it not, at least, mean to become “master of the communications,” after securing and preserving one’s own vulnerable “base” (and “culture”)? Is not part of the essence of strategy to meet the enemy under advantageous conditions, thus without fragmentation or “Cultural Balkanization or Lebanonization”?

2. Why, if at all, should Special Operations Forces (SOF) – especially their leadership – have strategic education? And, if not, why not?

3. How, given its already “warp-speed operational tempo,” should SOF receive adequate strategic education, lest, losing sight of the adversary’s strategic psycho-revolutionary aim, they merely redouble their effort? (Recall George Santayana’s definition of a “fanatic”: “a fanatic is he who, losing sight of his aim, redoubles his effort.”)

More elaborately, I ask you to consider:

4. What does it mean to be strategic in the specific context of counter “bio-terrorism,” as a form of psychological and political warfare, given the additional need for SOF to understand foreign “strategic cultures” such as China, Israel, and Great Britain, who will also likely try to penetrate and to manipulate us?

5. Why should Special Operations Forces (SOF), as strategic assets of U. S. policy, foster their own strategic education and their own strategic intelligence assets, to include reliable sources of strategic medical intelligence?

6. Why, in the longer light of history – especially the history of revolutionary, cultural, and religious indirect warfare – should SOF cultivate their own strategic psycho-cultural studies of deceitful, camouflaged warfare and their own formative education concerning alien and immiscible cultures – “cultural viruses,” as well as biological viruses? Or, is this too impractical and etherealized and repellantly utopian? Can SOF – should SOF – resist being “useful idiots” in the ongoing cultural and psychological war, at home and abroad, on the “inner front,” as well as on the “outer fronts,” on “interior lines,” as well as “exterior lines”? Is this not part of the grand-strategic context of bio-warfare, too?

7. How should SOF practically and adequately foster such strategic cultural and psychological education amidst their often “warp speed,” if not dissipative and fragmenting, operational tempo? Is not such preparatory education indispensable, if only to aid our economy of effort, and our distinctions between the essential and the inessential, which capacity is itself the hallmark of intelligence?

8. To what extent will the threat of strategic psycho-biological warfare (and terrorism) itself, as a form of “command and control” or “information” warfare, not be a very fitting and vivid test of the above implicit recommendations about the need for SOF strategic education, lest SOF be psychologically dislocated and vulnerably over-extended, especially under the challenge of China – a graciously deceptive, biologically and culturally cohesive nation and subtle strategic culture?

I wish now to turn to some recent trenchant examples, in order to bring my series of tendentious questions and suggestions into sharper focus and “punchability,” so that they may be more easily counter-argued and validly refuted, or improved upon:

1. The recent concatenation of biological misfortunes in the Republic of China on Taiwan – suspect and consequential diseases in their livestock, soybean crops, and a deadly and epidemically spreading virus that is killing their new-born children.

2. The spread of the neuro-toxin, pfisteria, in the seacoast waters of North Carolina and beyond.

3. The Mossad’s attempted assassination, in Jordan, of the political head of Hamas, employing the bio-toxin, ricin – and some of its immediate consequences and further implications.

4. The operational challenges for SOF leaders in preparing their units for deployment on missions of counter-bio-terrorism, and for their return – for example, the medical intelligence needed, the problems of vaccination and medical logistics, and the contamination and de-contamination of aircraft and other equipment, and of the personnel themselves.

And, there is more to be explored, time permitting and when, and if, there be interest, especially about effective and subversive “hoaxes” (deceptions and long-range disinformation) in this subtle and un-nerving realm of psycho-biological warfare; most especially when it is considered in proper proportion and thus with a greater sense of the whole: the strategic and grand-strategic context of war and flourishing peace, of the sustaining life of civilization and its more intimate (and important) cultural order – the inner order of the soul, as well as the external order of the commonwealth (or, the common good of the Republic). The bonum commune of the res publica is, once again, primary, but often vulnerable.

As our country, however – if not our military and its own culture – seems to be, more and more, becoming a “centrifugal” and “confused” multi-national state, partially kept together by arrangements among somewhat publicly unaccountable oligarchies and “chaos managers” who are “cosmopolitan” and “globalizing” in outlook, if not also “imperial,” “de-racinating,” and “multi-culturally (or religiously) syncretistic” – and hence deeply destructive of the spiritual and cultural life of historical nations – the Special Operations Forces, as guardians of the long-term (and strategic) common good of our patria itself, must especially resist the alluring revolutionary “dialectic of dissolution” (solve et coagula)5and not only in the subtly deceptive and easily feverish (or panicking) realm of psycho-biological warfare (and terrorism), but in the larger cultural war for the mind. Such an insidious realm of psychological warfare is fertile for new forms of “perception management,” and for the manipulative incitements of a new “permanent crisis.” Much discernment and wisdom will be required, and true wisdom always requires patient cultivation and is marked by slow fruitfulness, not frenzy. “An integrated defense in depth” against bio-terrorism and biological warfare will also require love – true love of our nation and of our citizens, and of the helplessly vulnerable. The more defenseless someone is, the more that person calls out for our defense. That is the mark of true military chivalry, which must be rendered with true prudence – hence with strategic providence, or far-sightedness – the first of the cardinal virtues. And, the virtue of prudence itself soberly requires the attentive and strategic transformation from the prerequisite knowledge of reality (i.e., truth) to the realization of the good – to include the common good, for whose patient cultivation sacrifice – noble suffering – is also and unmistakably indispensable. Such a vision of virtue, and of gratitude for noble sacrifice, will help sustain a truly strategic culture in our Special Operations Forces, which will be severely tested by the cultural and psycho-biological threats we face in an increasingly faithless, hopeless, and loveless world marked by cynicism and reckless abandon. But, I believe, we shall finally be judged by how we have loved – and have selflessly sacrificed for that love. Do we agree?


Robert D. Hickson

2 October 1998

Visiting Professor

William Simon Center for Strategic Studies

United States Air Force Academy

The Phenomenon of Psycho-Biological Warfare (Direct and Indirect) in Grand-Strategic Context and the Light of History

Some Lessons for the U. S. Military and for Our Growing Culture of Broken Trust and Intimately Uprooted Hope


The suggestive analogies and counterpoint between information warfare and biological warfare, as well as between “info-technology” and “bio-technology” (such as genetic engineering), will illuminate our understanding of strategic reality and of the current Kulturkampf, which implies competing views of man and of his purpose. An analogy is a well-proportioned relationship and comparative understanding between two things whose similarities are relative and whose dissimilarities are absolute. And so, too, is it the case in the proportional comparison, for example, between an indirect strategy of biological warfare and an indirect strategy of information warfare both of which intelligently attack less defended and surprisingly vulnerable “soft targets” while intending to effect disruption, destruction, or, most insidiously, deception – or some subversive and psychologically dislocating or paralyzing combination of all three.

Analogous to the hostile, indirect strategy of effectively infecting soft targets in biological warfare (or bio-terrorism), there is also an important, reinforcing, sobering lesson to be learned from recent “red team” operations against U. S. assets (the “blue team”) during several war games focused on “information warfare,” in which the greatest strategic surprises and disruptions, and sapping psychological dislocations, were caused by the effective targeting of “soft” targets in the critical information infrastructure, namely: the pay systems; food logistics; medical supplies; the transportation nodes for fuel and repair parts; and many other conveniences on which personnel inordinately depend. So, too, would it be the case – and, likely, even moreso – with indirect, gradual, and insidious biological-weapons attacks on domestic seed sources and storage, on concentrations of animal breeding stock, on blood supplies and vaccines.

The following, intentionally formatted, set of essential questions, drawn in progressive sequence from the following chapter, will not only focus our attention for a further consideration of that chapter, but will also frame an important set of issues which will be examined, or alluded to, throughout this monograph:


Biological Weapons and Fabian Forms of Indirect Grand Strategy

The Essential Questions Posed in the Paper, in Sequence and Purposive Order

1. “What if adversaries now understood and applied on a higher strategic plane the deep insights of Liddell Hart, in order to produce, both in Israel and in the United States, strategic surprise, shock trauma, psychological dislocation, and paralysis, especially by manipulating the fearfully imagined or actual effects of bio-terrorism and longer-range biological warfare?” (p. 3)

2. “[Is it not] the aim to discover and pierce the Achilles’ heel of the U. S. government’s power to carry out its suspiciously undefined, provocatively overbearing, and increasingly resented “policy of engagement and enlargement” abroad?” (p. 3)

3. “Such a growing perception of our overweening strategic policy is likely indeed, as against other great powers in history, to provoke “asymmetrical” “political jujitsu”, and Fabian forms of indirect grand strategy against us, is it not?” (p. 3)

4. “To what extent will the United States, as well as Israel, also now have to face Periclean, Hannibalic, or Fabian forms of the indirect approach – and insidious forms of this “asymmetrical” indirection which also use biological agents to achieve an even more devastating psychological effect of subversion and dislocation upon the citizenry, as well as the soldiery?” (p. 5)

5. “To what extent will biological warfare (and bio-terrorism) on our own home front now be – or be perceived to be – the USA’s “Achilles’ heel” and, perhaps, become an asymmetrical form of retribution for our obtrusive policy of “engagement and enlargement,” which is, often enough, seen as overweening and always suspiciously vague (except perhaps in the Middle East, where our alignment and commitment are more obviously one-sided)?” (p. 6)

6. “Given our current form of “liberal democracy” in its Constitutional provisions, how may we, therefore, reliably discern and counteract a strategic-minded adversary with biological weapons who also possesses strategic “interior lines” on the “inner front” of our homeland, so as to infect such vulnerably soft targets as vaccines, water, food and blood supplies?” (p. 6)

7. “How will our own defense of the homeland – our bases – counter such subtle penetration and indirection assembled against our “communications” (to include our fevered and inciting “mass media”)?” (p. 6)

8. “What is our own strategic freedom of action today in the United States, both psychologically and militarily, against the foreign and domestic threats of bio-terrorism and longer-range psycho-biological warfare?” (p. 7).

9. “And, how might our adversaries, at home and abroad, be preparing to distract and dislocate us, physically and psychologically?” (p. 9)

10. “Who is the enemy, what (or whom) are we trying to protect, and why?” (p. 9)

11. In the face of biological weapons today, how would we ourselves now decide and answer this strategic priority: ‘to decide how great the freedom of action is for oneself and what is available to the enemy’?” (p. 9)

12. “But, as to our own responsive strategic policy, should U.S. counter-initiatives resort to immediate, though proportionate, reprisals similar to the actions and well-known policy of the Israelis? Or, would such a U. S. orientation be self-defeating, or at least exacerbating and dissipating?” (p. 11)

13. “But, ‘how is the strategic [or grand strategic] dislocation produced’…?” (p. 15)


1 “SOF” is the common abbreviation for the U. S. Special Operations Forces, a strategic asset of U. S. National Security.

2 In the memorable words of a British SAS officer, spoken to me as a visiting cadet many years ago, the most succinctly stated principle of deception is, as follows: “find out what someone wants to be deceived in, and then set about deceiving him in it.” Nations and people, too. Vulgus vult decipi, as the Latin motto and aphorism put it – “the people want (will) to be deceived” – also in a “democracy” (and have their pride especially flattered!). That is to say, the principle of deception implies the manipulation of someone’s self-deception (actual or potential), or his propensity to embrace illusion. The artful deceiver may practice such manipulative deception promptly or gradually – tactically or strategically, at once or by slow and cumulative disinformation.

3 Carl von Clausewitz, On War (Vom Kriege), translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 596.

4 See Admiral of the Fleet Sir Peter Hill-Norton, No Soft Options: The Politics-Military Realities of NATO (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1978), p. 27.

5 Solve et Coagula is a Latin formula, using two imperative verbs, which means “dissolve (or fragment) and coagulate (or re-aggregate),” itself an intrinsic process of destruction and manipulation. It always implies the breaking of bonds – usually intimate and indispensable bonds.


The Psycho-Cultural Effects of Biological Terrorism And Warfare: A 1998 Strategic Perspective

Author’s Note: This essay is the third essay in a sequence of strategic studies on biological and psychological warfare (see footnote 1 below). The earlier articles were written on 15 November 1997 and 8 July 1998, this third one being dated 22 August 1998. We plan to re-publish these studies in light of the current situation in the world with the Coronavirus and the psychological effects on mankind.

22 August 1998




Unprecedented Risks In The Defense Of The Common Good And

The Need For Heroic Virtue

Where does one find his hope in a culture of broken trust? How does one abidingly form a well-rooted and sustaining culture of hope amidst a political and financial or religious milieu of deceit and sophistry? Even more specifically, in a medical and military culture of broken trust and deception, how should one form a homeland defense-in-depth against short-range or long-range biological warfare and terrorism?i Given their needed protection against even graver biological agents (in light of the still mysterious “Gulf War Syndromes”), what does it mean and portend, for example, when American military and naval officers and men refuse to take even the newly required, but, in their perception, untrustworthy vaccines, which are, moreover, purportedly effective only against anthrax? It appears to be the case, and not otherwise, that fear and mistrust abound. Gravely consequential and certainly true it is that the greatest social effect of the lie – deliberate falsehood, and even apparently deliberate falsehood – is the breaking of trust.

But, even before resolute corrective action, how should one think and speak about intimately insidious, immediate as well as indirect (and longer-range) forms of biological warfare and strategic bio-terrorism, without thereby inducing what we are attempting to prevent, namely: paralyzing mistrust, apathy, futility, and despair? The eloquent and wise, ancient Greek historian, Thucydides, also faced this challenge, but with respect to a purely natural calamity, namely: how to speak the stark truth without breaking people down into despair, or without numbing them into cold callousness and slothful indifference; or how to discern the proper poise and relation between fear and hope, between true knowledge and despair. Speaking of the plague in Athens during the crowded summer of 430 BC, Thucydides, who himself had been actually present and had contracted the disease, said:

Indeed, in the end people were so overcome by their sufferings that they paid no further attention to such things [i.e., prayer or the consultation of divine prophecy]…. The most terrible thing of all was the despair into which people fell when they realized they had caught the plague; for they would immediately adopt an attitude of utter hopelessness, and, by giving in this way, would lose their powers of resistance. (The Peloponnesian War: 431-404 BC, Book II, 47-54) ii

A modern epidemic of virulent and disfiguring smallpox (which can even leave a survivor permanently blind!) or a more intimate outburst of pestilential venereal disease, even if it were not maliciously introduced or manipulated, would also likely produce terror and maybe also despair. Moreover, under the increasingly demoralizing conditions of modern cultural fragmentation and oligarchically manipulated “mass democracy” (or “people’s democracy”), and especially under the self-dramatizing mass media’s deceptive “perception management” and more subtly infectious sophistry, many good and sensitively intelligent people might also be “overwhelmed by the weight of their calamities” and by the cumulative effects of intimately broken trust. And they, too, could, in their vulnerability, so easily lose their powers of moral resistance, and give up. This is truly a terrible thing to think upon. The subject matter – the concept and the reality of biological warfare and pestilence – is intrinsically fearsome, intractably elusive, and subversively (often deliberately) ambiguous. One may not know what the truth is, what to trust, or whom to trust. Thus, one will be drawn, or more forcibly taken, to the foundations of his strength – his fortitude and his hope. The ambiance of biological warfare will be a test and measure of his intimate and ultimate world-view, and of our own intelligently responsive, but now often equivocal, strategic culture.

Therefore, in dealing with this intimidating topic, we must ourselves also embody and resolutely live, from the outset, the virtue of prudenceiii – the first of the four cardinal virtues, all of which (i.e., prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) are voluntarily perfected human capacities and prompt human dispositions: objective perfections of deeply human, intellectual and moral faculties, and not mere “values,” nor preferentially subjective “tastes.” We must, of consequence, be truly prudent in this matter of biological warfare and not overwhelm people who are already overburdened and perhaps even feverishly expectant of further, altogether intractable catastrophes in our disordered world. Such sadness or moroseness can also be cruelly and destructively manipulated by an adversary, as a part of psychological warfare. The realm of biological warfare is itself so easily productive of fear and panic, both of which can be resentfully and maliciously – and strategically – manipulated, as an unmistakably diabolical instrumentality making use of deception and conducing to despair.

Nevertheless, although we may impulsively, and delusively, try to run, we cannot finally hide from the risks of biological warfare, nor from the more encompassingly contagious, circumambient culture of death. Nor can we hide from the unprecedented risks of defending the common good (bonum commune) against such intimate dangers. We shall need, and we shall need to cultivate, truly heroic virtue – especially the virtues of fortitude and hope – or we shall soon ourselves fail to implement even the most far-sighted strategic prudence or winsome practical wisdom, or the other, higher, intellectual virtues. Without robust fortitude and hope-full perseverance, even the slow fruitfulness of true wisdom, strategic wisdom, will be in vain. Thus, I shall return to this topic at the very end of my reflections on the concept and reality of strategic psycho-biological warfare, both in its indirect forms and its direct forms, to include “selective” as well as “mass-scale” bio-terrorism.

Moreover, it should be remembered and freshly considered that the more indirect, and at least initially non-lethal, forms of “bio-weapons” and “high-tech weaponization,” which could use biological toxins and subtler bio-agents, may be even more disruptive and destructive and psychologically shattering than the more obvious and direct “mass-scale” uses of biological agents like bubonic plague, inhalational (pulmonary) anthrax, or smallpox (whether it be genetically engineered or in more virulently unmodified and “purer” strains). If the targeted minds are only partly and gradually modified – poisoned, deformed, demented – the effects are likely to be more cumulatively dislocating and, when recognized, also more suddenly shocking and paralyzing or numbing. It must suffice, for this paper, not to be more specific or explicit; but some of the technologies may be usefully imagined in light of the modern scientific revolution in molecular biology, genetic engineering, and other forms of bio-technology.

An analogy with modern “absurdist” literature and drama might be helpful, in this context, to bring out my meaning more vividly and forcefully. In contrast to the more blatantly absurdist of the modern nihilist dramatists, the subtlety of the English dramatist, Harold Pinter, for example, in his play, The Homecoming, is much more disorienting, demoralizing, and dislocatingly subversive of order, meaning, and purpose. In this mentally unsettling play, Pinter takes a deeply resonant archetypal theme, a homecoming – as with Homer’s Odysseus or the other “nostoi” (returns) of the Greek heroes, like Aeschylus’ Agamemnon – and artfully makes things seem “almost right,” almost human, but subtly modifies and gradually reveals bizarre and inappropriate expressions of language and conduct. Given that the deep vibrational and emotional intensity of a homecoming touches upon many intimate and ultimate matters – to include matters of trust and possible betrayal – the subtle “absurdist” manipulations of such a theme and of such a touching scene are even more psychologically devastating, and abidingly staining. So, too, would be the case, if a person were gradually and but partly modified by bio-agents that affected his endocrine system or the neuro-physiology of his brain, or by subtly destructive “psycho-tropic” drugs which slightly modified a spouse’s intimate behavior or emotions. The sudden or gradual recognition of such malicious insidiousness would be very destructive indeed. Consider also, as treacherous forms of “biological warfare,” the gradual or partial contamination of food or medicine and other “soft targets,” or the insidious and deliberate introduction of “sterility serums” or “population-control agents” into a broader class of ostensibly humane and merciful “public health inoculations” against real infectious diseases (as distinct from neo-Malthusian or Manichaean views of “pregnancy” and “managed reproductive health”). Given the increasingly controversial issues of “forced sterilizations” in Peru and “forced abortions” in China (especially against female babies), and the controversy of making foreign “developmental aid” to a country contingent upon that country’s “population-control measures,” to what extent, therefore, are these indirect manipulations and deceptions not also a form of biological warfare, and even a form of biological terrorism, at least from the point of view of the “target country” or the mind of the “target mother”?

How does one properly, prudently, and courageously discuss such explosive topics? How does one honestly examine such explosive strategic topics, which have deep and long-term consequences that are not easily altered or corrected, even if one – or his “progressive country” – is willing to make the humble “course correction”? If the “lesser developed countries” perceive that a country like the United States is deceitfully mixing into its vaccination programs certain perverse agents that sterilize a woman, either temporarily or permanently, what might be the range of repercussions? What might be the desperate reprisals and the terrible vengeance? When other countries, moreover, see the further deceits and effects of the American state of Oregon’s now “legal” and purportedly “public” and “open” lethal actions to “assist the suicide” or “euthanasia” of its own citizens, persons old or young, and especially the poor, what will they fittingly expect from us? What will they suspect of us – and how will they react or take strategic counter-initiatives of self-protection? Moreover, against such frankly intimate evils of deception and broken trust, how will we deliberately, if at all, make a true “course correction”? Or, will we, rather, then be unable or unwilling to do so. Or, have we come to such a point, like the ancient Romans, where we can tolerate neither our vices nor their remedies? Would not that moral condition of paralysis also be a “provocative weakness” to others? Is it not the case that, sunk in such sloth, we may also thereby help bring about the very things we are purportedly trying to insure against: the unjust and insidious culture of death and craven terrorism? Or, do we subtly and willfully (and shamelessly) promote, at home and abroad, the despairing and increasingly desperate “culture of death” against children?

Moreover, how does one not inattentively or unwittingly bring about the very thing that we were, once at least, trying to insure against: the destruction of physical, moral, and spiritual life? Such is our new vulnerability, such is the added risk. That is the meaning of “moral hazard.” That is our moral risk, especially when countries like America are increasingly perceived (and resented) as a hubristic culture of “engagement and enlargement” or a tumescence of self-aggrandizement and corruption.iv

There is also the moral risk of having any such rational discourse about such a sensitive and precarious topic, namely the often subtly ignored or denied forms of our own indirect and deceptive biological warfare against others, and their grave psychological effects, also on ourselves. By speaking too much disingenuously about it, or even unwisely, we may actually provide further incentives to others to perpetrate and perpetuate the evils of biological warfare or vengeful bio-terrorism – if only by way of reprisal and the embittered rage that comes from broken trust.

Let us now consider further the concept and reality of “moral hazard.” What happens, for example, when, in its generous arson insurance against the risks of fire-damage, an insurance company over-remunerates an owner (and policyholder) for a loss due to accidental fire or malicious arson? Such “over-insurance” may provide an incentive or temptation for the insured person himself to burn down his own building, under certain conditions of personal difficulty or desperation. Hence, an imprudent insurance company, insufficiently attentive to certain aspects of human nature, could thereby help bring about the very situation it was purportedly trying to insure against! The proper proportion and inter-relation between risk and insurance, fear and hope, danger and trust, must always be wisely considered, not only in “actuarial” or “fiducial” structures of insurance companies and legal bequeathals or trust funds, but within the entire moral realm and long-range strategic arena, as well. As it were, when one is either over-insured or under-insured (either over-assured or under-assured) against risks, one is vulnerable and often dangerously tempted. Wise leadership, however, understands this inherent fragility of the human condition and human nature’s selfish propensities to disorder; and it also understands the need for the proper proportion between risk and insurance (or assurance) – hence the proper poise of alacrity and “regenerative equilibrium” – lest man, or his uprooted and unsustaining culture of broken trust, fearfully despair or too comfortably de-compose by way of complacency and sloth.

This essay, as proposed, has designedly concentrated on the psychological and intimately cultural – hence spiritual – aspects and consequences of biological warfare and bio-terrorism, especially as they may effect, along with natural, not man-made, epidemics, various human cultures of broken trust. Over the last several years, my thought has often focused more broadly on the immediate and long-term consequences of broken trust. For, it is a sad fact of the human condition and the vulnerable human heart that trust, once broken, is so hard to repair. It is so difficult to restore an intimately betrayed and broken trust, even for the most magnanimous and forgiving of men, and even with the help of grace (which, some people believe, actually heals and elevates our wounded nature). This psychological fact, of course, is one of the most vivid and poignant themes of world literature. And to the extent that one’s larger circumambient culture, or essential way of life, is also characterized by deception and broken trust, a man under the threat of bio-weapons is very vulnerable, indeed, especially under the actuality of metastasizing biological warfare, or under the psychological shock-traumas of subtle and ambiguous bio-terrorism.

Moreover, to the extent that our nominal Western democracies themselves have increasingly become “narco-democracies” or more deeply permeated by various kinds of “narco-cultures,” to include those forms of entertainment and advertising, or “mass education” and the pampered “cult of athletics” (and steroids) that “narcoticize” the mind and “dull, dim, and dumb it down,” we shall be even more vulnerable to the varieties of biological warfare, such as genetic engineering, eugenics, and other forms of bio-technology which propose to “develop” a “superman” and “superwoman.” Even to have adequate diagnostics to detect naturally occurring, or maliciously manipulated, biological agents, one must have a very discerning intellect, an unbenumbed intelligence, and much intellectual and moral discipline, lest panic or futility overwhelm one or one’s “tribal sub-culture.” Would our “mass media” or our “Internet Culture” have such discipline or restraint? Under hostile “bio-weaponized” attack or amidst a mutable public health crisis, to what extent are we spiritually prepared or morally ready to live by even the most foundational elements of chivalry as an ethos of honor, namely the principle that “the more defenseless someone is – women, children, the elderly, the broken and despairing – the more that person calls out for our defense. Chivalry was essentially the code of the Christian soldier (miles Christi). For Christian soldiers, Christ Himself was the Good Samaritan – a despised man himself reaching out to the misery of another, even to a Jew, to alleviate and to heal. Christian chivalry was formed to imitate their Founder, to sacrifice oneself out of love. For, love is the willingness to suffer for the beloved, with the beloved, and – most painfully – from the beloved, and even a neighbor who might infect you with a virulent disease. Chapters 34 and 35 of Alessandro Manzoni’s, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi), like the conclusion of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, memorably depicts such an ethos in action, embodied in actuality, not merely in idealistic fantasy.

Furthermore, according to the testimonies and the lives of those most widely considered to be men and women of great, if not heroic, virtue, the imagination, though not a cognitive faculty, is the hardest thing to discipline, much less to mortify, especially under the press and stress of the passions – the passions of erotic pleasure, protective anger, and fear. Imagine how human imaginations could be strategically manipulated in view of their tremulous expectations or actual subjection to unmistakably repulsive biological warfare or to the diabolical cravenness of the bio-terrorist themselves. Only a deep culture of virtue – of strategic and heroic virtue, to include the virtue of trust – is likely to resist, much less alleviate or overcome, such intimately destructive forms of warfare which could even be able to alter the genes of one’s own progeny, irreparably. And, this, too, is a terrible thing to think upon! Even to think about it, much less to face it. When, in our growing moral and cultural relativism and cynicism (or frigidity of heart and the congealment of lovelessness), we trivialize evil and deny even the reality of temptation (i.e., attractive incentives to evil), we may more easily be overcome by sloth and hopelessness. Is this not so? Do we not need the virtue of fortitude and fiducia spei (the trust – the confidence – that comes from hope). Is this not also to be considered in our realistic counter-strategy and integrated defense-in-depth? Our homeland – our home – is likely to be the future battlefield.

But what is the way of life we are defending? What is the true homeland we are protecting – and transmitting?

Even when we discount the over-fevered imaginings about the “Y2K” (Year 2000) Problem involving our cyberspace computers, and even when we rationally mitigate the forecasts of chaos to come in “cyberculture” and to our national and international life, the predicted disruptions of essential services will likely also be exploited by the malevolent, to include bio-terrorists, who might thereby have more anonymity and maneuverable undetectability – or less accountability. Concerning “information warfare” itself, especially strategic information warfare, it is very difficult to know even whether you are actually under attack, especially if you are under a subtly and gradually prepared information-warfare attack.

What, for example, are the “indications and warnings”? Since “information warfare” is essentially defined as inflicting “disruption, destruction, and [most difficultly] deception in information systems,” it can also be fittingly understood as a form of psychological warfare, as well as a more technical form of “command-and-control warfare,” which targets an adversary’s leadership cadre, his “command-and–control apparatus.” Consider how such “information warfare” could be combined with actual (or feigned) bio-terrorism or longer-range biological warfare, in order to attack and dislocate the mind, and to paralyze the will. If, therefore, we do not have – and continually cultivate – a public culture of trust (and of the fiducia spei), we shall be even more vulnerable to these fearsome effects upon the human soul, especially despair, to include what Sören Kierkegaard called “the despair of the weak,” or “sloth.”

Given their own premises and operative principles, can the Western liberal democracies themselves sufficiently resist their own internally growing and spreading “cultures of broken trust”? What will be the prerequisites for such a strategic “course correction” against the culture of sophistry, sloth, and broken trust – for such a moral, spiritual, and innermost cultural transformation?

Or, are such questions themselves properly to be considered chimerical, and not only by the cynical and worldly wise and the decadent? Moreover, do we have enough love – hence animating desire for real virtue – to sacrifice for the common good (bonum commune)? Or, will we resort to various “flights from reality” – to include flights into drugs, or into “Chaos and Cyberculture” (the title of one of the last two books of Timothy Leary, who was apparently discovering in “electrons” and “electronic culture,” and the whole electro-magnetic spectrum, many more “psychedelic” (mind-expanding) possibilities than in “drugs”; Leary’s last book is significantly entitled Surfing the Conscious Net).

Along with the above-mentioned possibilities and psycho-effects of deception (or self-deception) in information warfare, we must remember that those countries and groups which themselves have worked elaborately on biological weapons (to include the proximate Cubans) have also been masters of masking their own programs – employing those techniques and capacities that are known as “D and D” (Denial and Deception). Such capacities and manipulations add to our unsettling uncertainties and “psychological mystification and dislocation.”

What is so potentially and inwardly devastating about these various forms of “psycho-biological warfare” is that “false alarms” and “hoaxes” themselves can also be effectively manipulated – and very strategically – to attack the mind and the will of an adversary, not only the leadership, but also the larger citizenry or amorphous immigrant (and “Balkanized”) populace. In a culture of broken trust, moreover, people will naturally act more selfishly and less sacrificially on behalf of the common good. And the common good (bonum commune) is much deeper and more abiding than the mere “common utility” or “public interest”  and a very demanding or arduous good (a bonum arduum).

For example, guerrilla warfare, as strategically promoted by Winston Churchill in World War II, was very effective in the short term, but in the long term very destructive – very destructive upon civilization, seen in the longer-view of the war’s aftermath, i.e., its effects on the subsequent “peace” or “deceitful peace” (the “Cold War”). Speaking candidly of the long-range evil consequences of the over-enamored, promiscuous resort to guerrilla warfare, the great strategic-minded military historian, B. H. Liddell Hart, has the following to say:

The material damage that the guerrillas produced directly, and indirectly in the course of reprisals, caused much suffering among their own people and ultimately became a handicap to recovery after liberation. But the heaviest handicap of all, and the most lasting one, was of a moral kind. The armed resistance movement [like the terrorist networks and trans-national criminal syndicates today] attracted many “bad hats.” It gave them license to indulge their vices and work off their grudges under the cloak of patriotism, thus giving fresh point to Dr. [Samuel] Johnson’s historic remark that “patriotism [like certain distorted forms of contemptuous and haughty, cultural or religious or racial “nationalism”] is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Worse still was its wider effect on the younger generation as a whole. It taught them to defy authority and break the rules of civic morality in the fight against the occupying [or usurping] forces. This left disrespect for “law and order” that inevitably continued after the invaders [or “dispossessors”] had gone. Violence takes much deeper root in irregular warfare than it does in regular warfare. In the latter it [i.e., deeply rooted violence] is counteracted by obedience to a constituted authority, whereas the former makes a virtue of defying authority and violating rules. It becomes very difficult to rebuild a country, and a stable state, on a foundation undermined by such experience. (B. H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, 2nd revised edition, pp. 368-369 – emphasis added)

In Liddell Hart’s profound understanding, therefore, the inordinate and imprudently promiscuous resort to guerrilla warfare violated the proper poise and proportion of the “moral hazard,” and thereby helped bring about what the leaders of the West were purportedly trying to insure against: the spread of lawlessness and immoral cruelty (while also seemingly blind, despite fair warning, to the Soviet Gulag System).

Even moreso is it a danger today that we, too, shall over-react to the threat and the actuality of bio-terrorism and biological warfare, both by resorting to them ourselves, or by implementing the extreme “Continuity-of-Government (C.O.G.)” “emergency measures,” and at least some, seemingly dubious, presidential “executive orders,” even to the point of creating Martial Law and its more permanent institutions (and “Praetorian Guard”) of enforcement. Such an over-reaction, however, is exactly what our intelligently strategic adversaries would seek to provoke in us, further to dislocate us mentally and morally, and to sap us spiritually. The more undisciplined and un-virtuous our citizens and imiscible immigrant populace are, and the more that our way of life and public order are perceived by our own members and others as an unlovely and cynical “culture of broken trust,” then the more likely it will be that extreme measures of rule will be needed and, perhaps, tragically, resorted to, even promiscuously. As cinema character, “Dirty Harry” (Clint Eastwood) once said, or implied, “if you can’t have law and order, you’ve got to have order without law!” – even if it is an eventually subversive “pseudo-order.” People will often prefer tyranny to open anarchy. (However, when the spiritual and moral anarchy are more concealed, and even deliberately concealed from themselves by themselves, the people often then seem to prefer sloth or enervating decadence.)

These deep matters being said, what are, if any, the stark epidemiological possibilities and realities which we must also soberly face, independent of the deliberate tactical operations of bio-terrorism or more subtle forms of strategic biological warfare? For example, what are some of “the realities of epidemic smallpox,” in the forceful (yet calm) words of the world-renowned epidemiologist, Dr. Donald A. Henderson, of Johns Hopkins University, who has himself personally dealt with this infectious and disfiguring virus – in Pakistan (in the 1960’s), in the USA (in 1962), in Yugoslavia (February 1972), and in Germany (1972)? I encourage you to read and deeply consider his sobering, eight-page paper presented at our 4 December 1997 Conference of “Bio-Defense and Urban Terrorism,” which was inspired and organized by Dr. Thomas Frazier, a modest and selfless man. Dr. Henderson’s paper – as well as his very effective oral presentation – is acutely entitled: “Biological Terrorism – Epidemiological Realities.” After your reading and deep savor of Dr. Henderson’s trenchant words and “reports from reality” – to include ineluctable historical reality – then my own special considerations in this essay will be, I believe, more cogent and forceful – and, perhaps, also a more inspiring summons to help defend the common good.

Dr. Henderson, by his own account, was also present at a meeting at the U. S. National Academy of Sciences in 1994, when Dr. Vorobyev, “a Russian bioweapons expert, presented to the Working Group on Biological Weapons Control a paper summarizing the Russian conclusions as to the most likely biological agents to be used. The top three were, in order, smallpox, plague, and anthrax” (p. 1). But, Dr. Henderson continues: “Based on experiences with inhalation anthrax at Sverdlovsk [to include their earlier deadly accident in 1979, which became a lethal (but dishonestly misrepresented) epidemic], I think that anthrax would now be rated more highly than plague” (p.1). Dr. Henderson’s interpretive views are independently supported by the testimony of the 1992 Soviet-Russian defector, Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov (now Anglicized as “Ken Alibek”), who was himself the deputy-director (second in command) of Moscow’s massive biological warfare development program, BIOPREPARAT.

Thus, throughout our reflections on man-made bio-terrorism and other forms of biological warfare, we must never forget the impact of unmistakably natural (much less ambiguous) epidemics. Furthermore, before concluding this essay with a deeper examination of the third cardinal virtue of fortitude, as a form of truly heroic virtue needed today in the face of subtly strategic forms of psycho-biological warfare, I wish to pose some potentially sensitive, but suggestive and directive questions for your further inquiry, and maybe also your illumination and consequently resolute prudential action:

  1. What are the implications of the spreading presence of the neuro-toxin, pfisteria, in the coastal waters of North Carolina, and now also in the Chesapeake Bay, an issue which is now being belatedly studied by the University of Virginia’s Medical School, among others, after much denial or trivialization?
  2. What are the implications of the Israeli Mossad’s clandestine use of the bio-toxin, ricin, in their attempted assassination, last year, of a hostile foreign leader resident in and operating out of the sovereign country of Jordan?
  3. Are the earlier and current diseases in Taiwan’s pigs and soybeans man-made or natural, and, in any event, do they not have the consequence (if not also the deliberate intention) of economic warfare? And, what are the causes and implications of the recent virus which has sadly taken a significant death toll of Taiwanese newborn babies? Were these grave afflictions only an accidental collocation of natural misfortunes?
  4. What is the nature of the various diseases that are ambiguously (or equivocally) associated with “the Gulf War Syndromes”? Who first discovered these problems honestly (and some of their causes), and then took them very seriously? And, what will be the longer-term psychological aftermath for those (military and civilian) who may have to go back into such ambiguous milieus of combat, either in the Middle East or elsewhere?
  5. To what extent do certain countries still have highly secure and “masked” “underground programs” for research and development of bio-weapons, and related chemical devices, such as powerful, psycho-tropic “synthetic drugs”?
  6. What, if any, is the “new face of terrorism” (and their deeper motivations), and to what extent might bio-terrorists now make use of trans-national criminal syndicates and dubious international “conglomerates” (e.g., Nordex); drug cartels and their cosmopolitan financial support apparatus; new “private security” and intelligence organizations (e.g., Executive Outcomes in South Africa, and elsewhere); and, finally, perhaps most demandingly, those older, “multi-purpose,” traditional Asiatic “secret societies” (e.g., the Chinese Triads and the Japanese Yakusa) operating at home and abroad, sometimes as strategic assets of foreign powers, and maybe, also, of international oligarchies?
  7. If smallpox virus is readily grown on the “chorioallantoic membrane of embryonated hens’ eggs” (in Dr. D. A. Henderson’s words, p. 4), then how difficult would it be to prepare a smallpox weapon?
  8. To what extent do we have strategic medical intelligence on such matters, or even a sufficient “Epidemic Intelligence Service,” to help us defend the common good and the public health of nations? To what extent are our new vaccines contaminated or defective, and to what extent can they be manipulated and contaminated by others?
  9. To what extent, if at all, is there a pattern or tendency for certain countries (e.g., Cuba, the USA, or other medically “progressive” countries) to export, through their research labs, very dangerous vaccine-resistant strains of diseases like resurgent tuberculosis (the greatest killer of the nineteenth century), especially among hitherto unexposed, “virgin” populations?

Such a sampling of questions, especially in light of what I have earlier presented in this paper, might further help focus thoughtful minds. Do we agree? And we may also come to discuss many other related issues and implications, should there be the interest, perspicacity, and pertinacity.

But, now for some implications – and elucidations – of the life of real virtue (not mere values), and some traits of heroic virtue, especially fortitude and the type of world-view that deeply sustains it in persevering hope.

What, after all, is “true” heroism? Do we “conceive of this mainly, or exclusively, as exceptional ability, developed through extraordinary effort in any sphere”?v Similarly, do we “demand of the ‘hero’ exceptional success, the brilliant fortune of a general, the surgeon, and the politician that captures the popular imagination” (p. 194)? My beloved mentor, Josef Pieper, will himself now help us, I believe, to think through this important matter more deeply. He says, by way of further clarification and challenge:

But what if we conceive it [i.e., heroism] otherwise? What if we recognize and accept the fact that the essence of true heroism is the virtue of fortitude – that it is through this virtue, indeed, that the hero differs from the average man?…. And if we concede that this is so, we shall understand better than we are otherwise likely to do how it is that the image of the hero in the great literature of the world (which is based to a large extent upon the idea of fortitude) is instead bewilderingly ambiguous (p. 194 – emphasis added).

As mentioned earlier, fortitude is one of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance), and “for more than two thousand years these virtues have been looked upon, in the tradition of Western thought, as a kind of four-color spectrum in which the concept of the good person fans out” (p. 194). Moreover, says Josef Pieper:

The concept of fortitude will be misunderstood if the world-view that underlies it is not clearly comprehended. Fortitude, Augustine says in The City of God [c. 430 AD], is a testimony to the existence of evil – by which he means that fortitude is necessary because, in the world, evil is powerful, is even at times a superior force. In view of this, to be brave can be taken to mean that something must be risked whenever the obviously weak offers resistance to evil. And nobody who wishes to be a good human being and is unwilling to commit an injustice, can avoid this risk (p. 195 – emphasis added).

What does he then say about the nature of this necessary risk? His clarifications may also present us with a surprise, for he says:

What is risked, if the occasion arises, may be something less than life itself. It may instead be a question of immediate well-being, of daily tranquillity, possessions, honor, or face-saving. On the other hand, what is required may be the surrender of life, or more exactly, the acceptance of death at another’s hands. The martyr is the ultimate symbol of fortitude (p. 196 – emphasis added).

That is to say, in this conception, “fortitude is both a virtue fundamentally required of everyone and the essence of heroism” (p. 196 – emphasis added). The underlying world-view that supports the robust (and resilient) orientation of fortitude says, in part, as follows:

The world, along with existence itself, has lost the primordial order; but, like existence, it still remains capable of good [capax boni] and is directed toward it [toward the good, hence also to the bonum commune – the common good, which is also a “steep good” (bonum arduum)]. At the same time, the good is not realized by itself, but requires for that end the effort of an individual who is willing to struggle and if necessary to sacrifice on its behalf (p. 195).

By way of clarifying contrast, Josef Pieper adds:

It is simply a liberalistic illusion to believe that one can be consistently just, for example, without having to risk something for it. That is why fortitude is necessary (pp. 195-196 – emphasis added).

However, it must also be said that:

Fortitude is not an absolute ideal, nor is it even foremost among the cardinal virtues. Its realization is linked to several requirements. A brief adage of Saint Ambrose states: “Fortitude must not trust itself.” It matters little that we “live dangerously,” according to Nietzsche’s maxim, but rather that we live a good life. For this the virtue of prudence is the first necessity…. Sigmund Freud’s assertion that most heroism stems from an instinctive [sic] conviction that “Nothing can happen to me” is true in a sense that possibly he did not perceive – the deep sense in which it is seen that for one who loves good, death cannot be entirely evil (as Socrates, along with Saint Paul, realized and affirmed). Another requirement of true fortitude is justice. The fortitude of a criminal is a misconception; there are no criminal heroes. Our generation is aware that the fruits of fortitude can be corrupted by injustice, chiefly by the injustice of political power. We have come to know firsthand the truth of the old adage: “The praise of fortitude is contingent upon justice” (pp. 196-197 – emphasis added).

But, it is in the treatment of war that “the complexity of the relationship between heroism and fortitude comes to the fore most dramatically,” since fortitude “manifests itself in combat, though combat does not necessarily mean war” (p. 197). Moreover, says Dr. Pieper:

The surrender of one’s life, which can be demanded of a soldier in the just defense of the community, can scarcely be expected without the moral virtue of fortitude. On the other hand, we are more apt to perceive and honor the hero in the figure of conqueror than in one who merely suffers [or, even endures with nobility an injustice he cannot apparently then overcome]. And since fortitude means precisely to endure wounds incurred on behalf of justice (from loss of reputation or well-being to imprisonment or bodily harm), we are really looking, when we contemplate someone who has manifested this virtue, at the antithesis of the “conqueror.” Such a person [of fortitude] does not vanquish, he sacrifices (pp. 197-198 – emphasis added).

Then, by way of further surprise, Josef Pieper says:

In the ultimate test of fortitude, which is martyrdom, there is absolutely nothing of the victorious, though this characteristic is essential to our more usual conception of the hero as conqueror. Nor is there any [usual] supposition that fortitude or heroism will be spoken of in true cases of martyrdom (p. 198 – emphasis added).

Again, on the premise that contrast clarifies the mind, Pieper offers us a contemporary example:

When it comes to a pornographic novel, which may be hailed as “daring” or “bold,” the author in reality risks nothing. Far more courage and perhaps genuine fortitude is required to call such a product repugnant, or to say in public that purity is a fundamental element of human dignity (p. 198 – emphasis added).

Again, to the roots or heart of the matter, he adds:

In the act of fortitude itself, such a person [i.e., the apparently helpless sufferer] does not appear to be a martyr but is rather the accused, the prisoner, the crank, or the lone wolf, abandoned and ridiculed; above all, he proves himself to be mute…. Thus fortitude is, according to its very nature, not the virtue of the stronger but instead of the seemingly vanquished…. It should be remembered that in the eyes of the ancients the decisive criterion for fortitude consisted primarily in steadfastness and not in attacking…. To be sure, the…mortal steadfastness of the martyr has always been understood as a victory and celebrated as such, not only from the Christian standpoint but from that of Plato’s Socrates (pp. 198-199).

And, to bring it closer to home, we may further consider another insight of truth:

In spite of everything the martyr is truly a hero, and so is every unimposing or unknown individual who risks his life for the sake of truth and good, whether in the pointedly dramatic act of martyrdom or in lifelong devotion – in acquiescence to the absolute will of God at the cost of one’s worldly comfort (p. 199 – emphasis added).

Near the end of his discerning reflections, Josef Pieper presents a few more surprises:

Strangely enough, the great teachers of Christianity have regarded the virtue of fortitude in much the same way [i.e., “as inseparable from honor and glory”], designating as one of its fundamental elements magnanimitas [i.e., magnanimity], which seeks high honor before all else and makes itself worthy of it. [But] is this in keeping with the conception of that virtue [of fortitude], the highest act of which is supposed to be martyrdom before the triumphant force of evil? (p. 200)

Pieper answers his own question:

It is consistent with that conception, under one condition, that one is capable of realizing the idea of gloria…or “becoming acknowledged publicly,” the attainment of recognition through God Himself [thus, through the mediated ecclesiastical declaration of sainthood]…. I fear that whoever, for whatever reason, is incapable of accepting this dimension of reality – the life beyond death – will have to be on his guard against the danger of being fascinated by a pseudo-hero borne on the acclaim of the entire world…. [Perhaps] his almost irresistible allure and universal fame will overshadow all other false heroes of history, while his global tyranny will force true fortitude into the most merciless of trials. It will further render totally unrecognizable this fortitude, the essence of all genuine heroism – the virtue of martyrs (p. 200).

And such fortitude can only be sustained by the higher virtue of hope – the hope of martyrs. For, such martyrs, though apparently helpless before disfiguring evil, do not despair. They do not fall into devouring self-pity, nor cynically embrace the corrosion of hopelessness. And, despite the overwhelming evil, they never blaspheme the goodness of God or the fundamental goodness of His Creation or of His temporal world. This virtue of hope and final perseverance is itself a great gift (magnum donum), under grace (sub gratia), and also a steep good, a “demanding arduous good” (bonum arduum) which is difficult, but possible of attainment and which calls for profound gratitude, as well as magnanimous fortitude. Such hope always requires an oblation of gratitude – in life, and at the moment of death.

I believe that only by the further cultivation of such heroic virtues of fortitude and hope, wherever they may be found, will we be promptly (and strategically) ready to defend our children and the larger common good (bonum commune) against the threat and actuality of bio-terrorism and longer-range psycho-biological warfare which will incite us to despair, especially within a deep and spreading culture of broken trust, sloth, unrooted hope, and sophistry.

In this context, and by way of conclusion, the words of Hilaire Belloc may now also have deeper and decisive meaning for us:

The corroboration by experience of a truth emphatically told, but at first not believed, has a powerful effect upon the mind. I suppose that of all the instruments of conviction it is the most powerful. It is an example of the fundamental doctrine that truth confirms truth. If you say to a man a thing which he thinks nonsensical, impossible, a mere jingle of words, although you yourself know it very well by experience to be true; when later he finds this thing by his own experience to be actual and living, then is truth confirmed in his mind: it stands out much more strongly than it would had he never doubted. On this account, it is always worth while, I think, to hammer at truths which one knows to be important, even those which seem, to others, at their first statement mere nonsense. For though you may die under the imputation of being a man without a sense of proportion, or even a madman, yet reality will in time confirm your effort. And even though that confirmation of your effort, the triumph of the truth, should never be associated with your own name, yet is it worth making for the sake of the truth, to which I am sure we owe a sort of allegiance: not because it is the truth – one can have no allegiance to an abstraction – but because whenever we insist upon a truth we are witnessing to Almighty God. (Hilaire Belloc, The Cruise of the “Nona” (1925, republished in 1956 by The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland, p.51))


© 1998 Robert Hickson

i This essay, though standing on its own insights and argumentation, builds upon two earlier studies, which were delivered at academic and strategic conferences soon after they were written. The first study, written on 15 November 1997, and twenty-two pages in length, is entitled: The Indirect Grand-Strategic Approach and Context of Biological Warfare (and Bio-Terrorism) in the Likely Near Future: A Trenchant Strategic Challenge to American Special Operations Forces and to Our Incipient Strategic Culture. The second study, written 8 July 1998, and seven pages in length, is entitled SOF [Special Operations Forces] Strategic Education and “The Indirect War”: Psycho-Biological Warfare (and Terrorism) in a Grand-Strategic Context. This third and current essay proposes to accentuate the psychological and cultural effects of biological warfare (and bio-terrorism) when it is strategically employed, both in the short-term and over the long-term and more indirectly (and often more deceitfully). This essay also proposes to consider the analogous psychological effects of natural as well as malicious and ambiguous epidemics.

iiTwo other vivid ancient depictions of plague or pestilence, both of which drew upon Thucydides’ Greek prose account, are to be found in the Latin poetry of Lucretius (c100 – c55 BC) and Virgil (70-19 BC). Lucretius concludes his elevated, epic-metered poem, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Reality, On the Nature of the Universe) with an explanation of the nature of epidemics (Book VI: lines 1090-1138) and then a highly colored and intensely charged depiction of the same 430 BC plague in Athens, to include the manifestations of fear, reckless abandon, lawlessness, and despair (Book VI: lines 1138-1286). The purpose of Lucretius’ climactic passage on the plague is to reinforce one of his own major themes as an materialist philosopher (and follower of Epicurus) who denied the immortality of the soul and of human personhood, and who saw everything in terms of “matter in motion” (to include “swerving motion,” or the “clinamen,” his metaphor for “free will” as a moral indispensability). Lucretius was compassionately trying to remove from man both the fear of death and the fear of despair, or spiritual death. Virgil, who deeply admired Lucretius and whose poem, The Georgics, has often been called by scholars “a submerged dialogue with Lucretius,” also made a vivid poetic depiction of a plague and its effects. Virgil describes the Noric animal plague at the very end of his Book 3 – on Animals, lines 475-566. The basic framework of the Georgics consists of four poetic books (Book I – Field Crops; Book II – Trees; Book III – Animals; and Book IV – Bees). In dealing with the plague, Virgil’s subject involved him in dealing chiefly with animals as “victims of contagion,” but man was also affected. In this context of the literary depiction of plague and its consequences, the reader should also consider and contrast the powerful presentation of the plague in Milan, Italy in the early seventeenth–century, as shown in Alessandro Manzoni’s great historical novel, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi), the greatest novel in Italian literature. Rather than showing mere desolation and cruelty and despair, Manzoni uses the plague as an occasion to draw out healing mercy and human forgiveness and other forms of reconciliation, and to manifest human virtue through his characters’ various and vivid acts of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, selfless generosity and self-sacrificial charity. Manzoni affirmed a deeply Christian world-view and hence the reality of grace and gift of trustful hope as a virtue (not just a yearning passion) of the soul. Moreover, Sigrid Undset’s great historical novel of the fourteenth–century medieval Norway, Kristin Lavransdatter (a trilogy), shows another example of how a strong and willful character is transfigured by humble suffering. Helping the victims of the Black Plague which had reached Norway, Kristin, grown more selfless as a nun after the death of her husband and several of her eight children, finally shows the flowering of generous charity without self-pity or any bitter pride. The depiction is of great spiritual beauty. (See the end of the trilogy, Vol. III – entitled The Cross.)

iii Josef Pieper, the recently deceased (6 November 1997) German philosopher who spent his long life (of 93 years) illuminating the meaning and the life of the virtues, said that, in order to live a good life, “the virtue of prudence is the first necessity,” for one must move decisively and resolutely from “the knowledge of reality” to “the realization of the good,” embodied in actuality:

That is to say, we must be able to recognize the elements of life as they really are and to translate this recognition into resolution and action [unto “the realization of the good”]. Otherwise, because the fearful [or the fearsome] is encountered as a stark reality in the world, we may be fearless in a manner that should not be confused with true fortitude [the third cardinal virtue] – as, for example when we make a false evaluation of danger, or when we are reckless from an inability to love anything or anyone. (See Josef Pieper, Problems of Modern Faith – Title of the German original Über die Schwierigkeit Heute zu Glauben – Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1985, p. 196.)

Manzoni, in his above-mentioned great novel, had the following to say:

Ignorance often inspires courage at a time for caution, and caution at a time for courage. Now it [ignorance] added distress to distress, and filled men’s hearts with unfounded terrors as a poor compensation for the sensible and beneficial alertness to danger of which it had robbed them at the beginning of the pestilence. (See Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi), Penguin Classics translation, chapter 34, pp. 637-638.)

iv Sun Tzu might say that we are strategically weak, and gravely so, because our moral leadership has lost the Tao (the Way – the way of spiritual wisdom and integrity). And there is the old saying, “a fish begins to stink from the head down” or “a fish begins at the head to stink” (“Der Fisch beginnt am Kopf zu stinken”). This malodorousness is also a “provocative weakness” – provocative to others, who would use not only our vices but also our virtues against us in the exploitation of a biological weapon (“the Judo Principle”).

v Josef Pieper, The Problems of Modern Faith: Essays and Addresses (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1985, pp. 193-194). All subsequent quotes will be from his little essay entitled “Heroism and Fortitude” (pp. 193-201).

Hilaire Belloc’s 1936 Insights on “The Modern Man”

Dr. Robert Hickson

12 October 2020

Our Lady of the Pillar (36 A.D.)


“Lest my title should mislead I will restrict it by definition.” (Hilaire Belloc, Who Own America? (1936, 1999), page 431.)


“That this new worship is vigorous and real may be proved by the test of sacrifice: that which a man worships is that for which he will sacrifice not only his comfort but, in extreme cases, his life.” (Hilaire Belloc, Who Owns America?, pages 434-435—my emphasis added.)


“Social energy is a function of the zest for living…The remedy can only be found in a change of philosophy; that is, of religion….But those that see this are few….But it is also their duty not to deceive themselves upon the conditions of their task….that the difficulty is increasing and that therefore they must bear themselves as must all those who attempt a creative effort at reform: that is, as sufferers who will probably fail.” (Hilaire Belloc, Who Owns America?, pages 440-442—my emphasis added.)


In 1936, when he was sixty-six years of age, Hilaire Belloc accepted an invitation to write an essay entitled “The Modern Man,” which was the final essay of a 21-chapter book, entitled Who Owns America?A New Declaration of Independence,1 a sequel to the 1930 Agrarian Manifesto, I’ll Take My Stand—The South and the Agrarian Tradition, as written by twelve prominent southern authors.

We propose now to consider Belloc’s mature essay on the modern man more closely in order to understand its own principles and then, fittingly, also to apply his gracious insights still today, though some of them may seem to be a little too ethereal for us, and impractical. Yet Belloc, as a Distributist, robustly stands between large-scale corporate, industrial capitalism and large state socialism and with both their own managing oligarchs (including the money power and financiers). For Belloc always tried to keep a proper proportion and humane scale of things in human affairs (not just in the economy). The test of humane scale was always a good criterion to aid and to measure his responsible judgments.

Belloc starts off by focusing on the limits and proportions of his analysis:

I write not of contemporary man in his infinite variety nor even of the modern European, but of the modern man under industrial capitalism—man as he has been formed through long association and particularly as he has been formed in Great Britain; but not Ireland save in the industrialist northeast corner of that island. (431)

Moreover, as Belloc’s special differentiations more concretely continue to develop, he says:

I write of modern man as you see him today [in year 1936—three years before the outbreak of World War II], not only in the streets of [the cities, variously named]…but in the villages; for the whole of our State has by this time arrived at much the same type of citizen (if citizen he can be called). The countryman has become a townee: to put it more elegantly, he has “acquired the urban mind.”

So defined, the modern man would seem to have three characteristics. (431-432—my emphasis added)

In an abbreviated manner, Belloc first summarizes those three characteristics, and then elaborates:

First, he has lost the old doctrinal position on transcendental things….Second, as a consequence of this [loss] he has lost his economic freedom, or, indeed, the very concept of it [economic freedom]. Third, there has been produced in him, by the loss of economic freedom, coupled with the loss of the old religious doctrines, an interior conception of himself which molds all his actions.

Let us develop these three characteristics and see how they are worked up to make the subject of our inquiry: the matter of the modern capitalist State. (432—my emphasis added)

It will be especially fruitful of truth for us if we now examine Hilaire Belloc’s candid assessment of England’s selective religious history and its present situation just before the Second World War, where Belloc will lose another son, Peter, in 1940. (Belloc’s eldest son, Louis, an aviator, was lost in 1918 near the end of the war, and his body was never recovered.)

Belloc now reveals a few other personal matters (without mentioning the loss of his beloved wife Elodie on 2 February 1914, on the Feast of Candlemas, just before the outbreak of World War I):

With all those of my own generation (I am in my sixty-sixth year) I knew extremely well an older generation which was in all ranks of society fixed upon certain transcendent doctrines chosen out of the original [Catholic] body of Christian doctrines inherited from the conversion of the Roman Empire and its development in the Middle Ages, though England has been changed in its religious attitude by the great philosophic revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and was positively a Protestant country (as she still is negatively a Protestant country). Those ancient doctrines which were retained were strongly and, I repeat, always universally held. They include the doctrines of free will, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul (that is, a permanent personality) surviving death forever; the doctrine of the Incarnation—that is, the doctrine that God had become Man—which gave to the personality of man an infinite value since it was so regarded by its Creator; and the doctrine of eternal reward and punishment—reward for right and punishment for wrong-doing. (432-433—my bold emphasis added; italics in the original)

Belloc, as we shall see, is also especially attentive to the sometimes dire and disordered consequences after just one or more of these above certitudes and affirmations are no longer believed to be true and, therefore, binding.

There is also the matter of one’s sense of honor and moral code, or what Belloc calls, traditionally, “a certain code” (433):

There was also retained a certain code in declaring what was right and what was wrong; for instance, if you had a wife still living it was wrong to marry another wife. It was wrong to take away another man’s property in order to advantage your self. It was wrong for a public man to take a bribe and so forth, or to blackmail and so forth. (433)

Being an honest man himself, Belloc anticipates and answers some objections to his own position:

It may be objected by some that the old religious doctrines have been retained into our own day [1936]; no: not by the average man as doctrines—that is, certitudes. Some parts have been retained, but not the same parts by the mass of men. You will still find a minority attached to one or the other of these doctrines. There is a large body which still holds to the doctrine of immortality divorced from the conception of eternal punishment for wrong-doing—and indeed from any punishment other than that suffered in this life.

The doctrine of the Incarnation has gone by the board. You may count up a large number of men and women who still maintain it, but most of these are in the minority—a small minority—of educated men, at least, outside the Catholic body. Most of them, moreover (outside the Catholic body), hold it as an opinion, not as a certitude; moreover, they give to it, each of them, any interpretation they choose, while the masses around them have stopped thinking of the thing altogether, let alone holding it even as an opinion. What does remain of it is a sort of vague aroma which concedes that a long-dead individual who may or may not have really existed and who is, anyhow, long dead, provided an excellent model for conduct. This model is again a figment of the individual’s imagination supported occasionally by fragmentary recollections of ancient documents in themselves fragmentary. (443-434—my emphasis added, in order to help sharpen for us Belloc’s own very fine irony!)

Before moving on to examine his characterizing “second point, the political consequences of a change of religion,” (435—emphasis added) Belloc logically considers, by way of further preparation, “the doctrine of free will” (434):

The doctrine of free will, though inseparable from practical action, has been battered down. The conception of inevitable tendencies, of an inevitable chain of cause and effect, has superseded it. The code of right and wrong has gone, too, and with it, necessarily, the conception of eternal reward and eternal punishment. (434—my emphasis added)

After further lines of argument, Belloc then says: “with the loss of this old religion, the modern man has also lost the obvious truth that a culture is based upon the philosophy it holds.” (435—my emphasis added) For example:

If you believe in the transcendent importance and permanence of personality (that is, the immortality of the soul) and in the supreme sanctions attaching to a particular code of morals (that is, heaven and hell), you act more or less accordingly, by which it is not meant that an ideal is reached or even maintained, but that it remains an ideal and, therefore, permeates society. Thus, a man today [1936] most evil in other respects will not [usually] betray his own country nor deny the validity of its laws, though he will deny the divine authority lying behind those conceptions. (435—my emphasis added)

For the remainder of his essay (436-442), Belloc will concentrate on the last of his three specified characteristics of modern man upon which he has already so openly focused. In his introductory words Belloc now says:

As to the third characteristic, which is the most practically important for our analysis, the effect of all these [characteristics and grave losses!] on modern man’s conception of himself, it has by this time become glaringly apparent.

We note in the first place that with a loss of the sense of free will the modern man has lost the sense of economic freedom. We notice that temporal good has taken the place of other values. We note that a moral code, including property as a right—not as a mere institution—has disappeared. (436—italics in the original; bold emphasis added)

Just as now (in the year 2020) thoughtful and attentive people properly fear being, or becoming, dependently ensnared in some kind of manipulated “technological servitude,” so, too, did Hilaire Belloc warn against (and himself fear) the inhuman scale of servility and the dreaded combination of “insufficiency and insecurity” (438) where a man thereby dependently, if not desperately, surrenders his own economic freedom in order to have more economic security as well as to his having more of a sufficiency of wealth and protective insurance.

The proper way to face the combined risk of “insecurity and insufficiency” is a theme, or even the pervasive “sub-text,” throughout the last part of Belloc’s essay. The temptation to surrender remains: to sacrifice one’s modest integrity and economic freedom for the sake of more stably gaining a more guaranteed security and sufficiency—even for one’s family, for example, despite the further surrender and loss of a more humane scale of life, without any coarsening oligarchic over-centralization. In this light, let us consider Belloc’s own progression of words and insights.

Speaking of the growing ill consequences of “unlimited competition” as if it were itself a destructively wielded “sword,” Belloc resorts to an unexpected, yet helpful, metaphor:

The profound truth contained in the phrase “they that take the sword [of “unlimited competition”] shall perish by the sword” is no where more clearly apparent than here. Temporal good means in practice, wealth, and the pursuit of wealth as an end, and as almost the only end, has resulted in the destruction of all those safeguards whereby the individual wealth of the many was guaranteed. As a consequence there has arisen, through the action of unlimited competition, a polity in which a few control the means of production and the many have become wage-slaves under those few. Whether the few who control the means of production will form a stable class or no may be debated. In the immediate past and on into our own day the pursuit of wealth as the supreme god has made even the wealth of the most wealthy unstable. But there are signs that this state of affairs is ending and that the strongest of those who control the means of production are creating an organization [financial, with debt bondage and management, too?] which will render their domination permanent.

A test of all this may be discovered in the conception of “success.” That idea is now almost wholly confined to the attainment of a position among those who control the means of production and are to that extent secure. (436-437—my emphasis added)

After speaking of “the strong attitude of mind” (437), Belloc speaks of several “derivatives” of this overall “attitude.” He gives several concrete examples, and then says, indeed:

It has become difficult or impossible for the modern man to dissociate the conception of virtue and greatness from the possession of much wealth.

But the most practically derivative of this attitude is the acceptation by the great mass of modern men of a quasi-servile position….To be secure in the reception of these [“regular enjoyment of payments”] is his chief aim, the loss of such support his chief dread. The modern man is not controlled in his actions by the fear of any ultimate spiritual effect of his actions, but of their effect upon the likelihood of his maintaining or losing this livelihood which he enjoys at the will of his economic masters….(through the orders of their own financial masters…). (437-438—my emphasis added)

After he discusses “plutocracy” and the instrumental “parliamentary system” and its ways of thwarting “direct popular action by the pretense of representation” and other “illusions” to which the modern man “submits,” Belloc candidly says:

Now it should be clear to anyone who will think lucidly and coldly upon the direction in which all this must move that it is moving toward the establishment of slavery. Industrial capitalism, as we now have it [in 1936], the control of the means of production, distribution, and exchange (and the control of the modes, therefore, by which production, distribution, and exchange are conducted) by a few, must mean that the many are compelled to work for the profit of the few. When this state of affairs has produced INSUFFICIENCY and INSECURITY, the obvious remedies, if we proceed upon the line of least resistance, would be found in giving to the dispossessed (who have come to form the vast majority of those who were formerly economically free) security and sufficiency on condition that they work under the orders of the few.

To be compelled to work, not by your own initiative, but at the initiation of another, is the definition of slavery.

Whether slavery shall come first in the form of slavery to the State before it arrive at the final and natural and stable form of slavery to individuals—slavery it still is, and the modern man accepts such slavery in the unshakable belief that it is in the nature of things. (438-439—my emphasis added)

Throughout his writings, also in this essay, Belloc emphasizes his incisive presupposition that “economic freedom…can only coexist with private property well distributed.” (439—my emphasis added) But, he also argues that the modern man doubts the validity of such a well-reasoned claim:

He will tell you that the system is impossible, giving as his reasons all manner of external conditions (such as the rapidity of communication, the concentration of the banking system, the cost of great units of machinery, and so forth), but having for his real reason the mere experience of his life. He has never known economic freedom. He has not seen it in action; and without experience of a thing, one cannot make a mental image of it. (439)

Moreover, as Belloc summarizes: not only is it so that “modern man is heading for slavery,” (439) but it is also a fact that “he is heading for the consequent decline of our civilization.” (439)

In conclusion, Hilaire Belloc briefly, but elegiacally, mentions first the degrading effects of “the modern mind” and then the proposed reforms and remedies that are fittingly to be nobly attempted now, without self-deception, and in the face of our approaching servitude and our declining civilization:

It is customary to ascribe to the influence of the press the cause of this development [a coming slavery and the companion decline of our civilization], but….the press in its present degradation…is but a function of the modern mind….

The few who have perceived these truths, the few who can contrast the modern man [and contrast the current man in 2020] with the immediate ancestry of his age, but have forgotten, know that the remedy can only be found in a change of philosophy; that is, of religion. They know further that the material test of this change and at the same time the prime condition which would foster the change would be the reinstitution of private property and its extension to a determining number of the community.

But those who see this are few. It is their duty to work upon the lines which their knowledge of the trouble suggests, but it is also their duty not to deceive themselves upon the conditions of their task….Therefore they must bear themselves as must all those who attempt a creative effort at reform [in religion and philosophy, too]: that is, as sufferers who will probably fail.

Such are Hilaire Belloc’s memorable elegiac tones, along with his characteristically poignant, but also very realistic, ending.

He braces us lesser men for the protracted combat—with robustness, and without sentimentality.

What we have is Nature, what we need is Grace.


© 2020 Robert D. Hickson

1See the 1999 re-print of the 1936 original text of Who Owns America? (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 1999, 1936). Hilaire Belloc’s essay, “The Modern Man,” will be found on pages 431-442 (Chapter 21) of the ISI text. Henceforth, all references to this 1936 essay (from the Houghton Mifflin Company, originally) will be placed above in parentheses in the re-printed text of this brief essay and appreciative commentary.

Another Memoir of a Slow Learner: The Judeo-Masonic Yoke as an anti-Catholic Tradition

Dr. Robert Hickson

8 October 2020

Saint Bridget of Sweden (d. 1373)


“Exoteric, as distinct from esoteric, relates in part to external reality in contrast to a person’s own thoughts, interpretations, and feelings. It is knowledge that is public, as distinct from being provocatively secretive or cabalistic. Exoteric knowledge need not be knowledge that comes easily or, as it were, automatically. But it should be ascertainable, knowable, and communicable, not only for an elite. In the exoteric, there is no secret doctrine. However, exoteric knowledge presented quite openly can also easily be or seem to be a provocative weakness and appear even so weak that it is provocative to others, and hence even sometimes be deceitfully exploited by others. The Catholic Faith is intimately exoteric. ” (The fruit, in part, of R.D. Hickson’s searching 1974 conversations in Spain with Philosophy Professor Frederick Wilhelmsen (1923-1996)—in a close paraphrase of his vivid and formative insights.)


“You do not understand, Hickson. The greatest censorship is self-censorship.” Such were the words of the Russian-Soviet historian Alexander Moiseyevich Nekrich spoken to me in person in the late 1970s, after he was allowed to leave the USSR permanently in 1976. (He was Jewish, I believe, at least ethnically so, but I am not certain.)

The atrophying effects of such an extended self-censorship caused me later to open myself once again to some deeper reflections about secrecy and the occult.

For example, there is a story told to me by an academic philosopher and a native of Lebanon who later converted from his atheism and became a Catholic monk. It was a story about a close Lebanese friend of his father and about a secret that this good friend told him one night at great peril to himself.

This friend of his father wanted to give the young man a warning as well as present to him a piece of little-known, sometimes dangerous truth. This senior man had become a Mason and had gradually advanced “all the way to the top” (his words)—unlike the young man’s own father who had earlier entered, but soon left, Masonry and he did it quietly and from one of the lower ranks and the lower hierarchical orders of “White Masonry.”

The essential and consequential insight which was presented and further explained by the senior occult Mason was as follows: “Masonry is a Gentile front and instrument for Zionism.” (I copy the words exactly, and without further commentary here.) The senior Mason asked for a promise that the young man would never reveal his formidable words, nor their informed source, until he had died. (The young scholar, a future Catholic monk, faithfully kept his solemn promise to his father’s dear friend.)

Many other sources down the years—but not to be discussed here—have shown the close association of Jewry and Freemasonry. However, there usually seems to be genuine fear and a considerable self-censorship connected with any deeper discussion of such a theme and palpable set of historical facts, even if such a discussion only wants to examine these strategic and collaborative matters in the time since the 1789 French Revolution itself, and therefore the additionally consequential and public 1791 and 1806 Emancipations of the Jews—first by the Jacobins and then by Napoleon himself before he went east on military conquest. In any case, whatever one is allowed (or effectively not allowed) to examine and candidly to discuss in public is certainly a sign of real power. Important discourse is often then constricted, or at least attenuated.

Was there ever such a thing as “The Judeo-Masonic Yoke” and to what extent has it been growing and consolidating itself, in order to reform (or to weaken and then punish) its own traditional adversaries such as the traditional Catholic Church? But, our resultant and protracted self-censorship about such matters distorts and atrophies our own perception of reality. Do we agree?

However, I remember the post-Vatican II years of 1969-1971 and the then widely permitted and candid discussions and even published books about “The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition”1 and, especially then prevailing Jewish indignation about the demeaning or trivializing “hyphen” in the very concept and implications of “the Judeo-Christian Tradition”—at least as the learned Hebrews saw it to be so. The hyphenated yoke, as it were, did not at all please them, because the components placed together under the same yoke were arguably themselves moving in very different directions, and with incommensurate purposes and irreconcilable goals. The modern Jews and the modern Christians (especially traditional Catholics) were still too divided and not sufficiently compatible. This is entirely understandable. But, what happened to ongoing “dialogue” and so-called “ecumenism”? What about the more tolerant recommendations and declarations of Vatican II (1962-1965), not only Nostra Aetate (28 October 1965), among other quite progressive conciliar texts?

But it is also understandable—especially for earlier Catholics—that, under the long reign of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), both Masonry and the public conduct of modern Judaism were closely observed and critiqued, and quite separately so. They were certainly not yet to be combined and examined together as under one yoke, as in the concept and proposed reality of “Judeo-Masonry,” which is at least an improvement over the misleading notion of “Judeo-Christian.”

In 1884, moreover, Pope Leo XIII had promulgated Humanum Genus (20 April 1884), his Encyclical that was largely a stern condemnation of Masonry and its occult operations and advanced secrecy. Then, in 1890, about a hundred years after the 1789 beginning of the French Revolution, Pope Leo allowed and encouraged the authoritative Jesuit Journal, La Civiltà Cattolica to publish a three-part analysis entitled “The Jewish Question in Europe”—which was openly defending public justice and mercy, and is usefully structured in three parts: “The Causes; The Effects; The Remedies.”

Much has happened since that restive century after the French Revolution, and especially after the effects of its own revolutionary understanding of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Yet the traditional Catholic Faith and her Irreformable Doctrine and aspirational Moral Life of Virtue still remain entirely exoteric. That is to say, there is no secret doctrine in the Catholic Faith; the Church is not in any essentially fundamental way esoteric. Moreover, we Catholics have no supplementary nor complementary Talmud or Kabbala. Nor any other secret doctrines or societies. Are we thereby finally considered to be fools, deluded fools?

Nonetheless, while we are remaining and truly being inwardly and sincerely exoteric it is often an exploitable burden, and not an advantage in the operations of a strictly human history. Our forthright doctrinal and moral openness sometimes constitutes even a grave vulnerability and disadvantage.

We must thus learn to suffer well. But this cannot be so without our first (and indispensably) embracing the Cross, and then also without our own generous receptions of the exoteric sources of sanctifying Divine Grace, unto the possibility of Vita Aeterna and its Beatitude—if we do not freely and finally defect.


© 2020 Robert D. Hickson

1See, for example, Arthur A. Cohen, The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition (New York: Harper & Row, 1969, 1971).

The Concept and Reality of a Prolonged Self-Censorship and Its Effects: Alexander Nekrich’s Germinal Insights in the 1970s

Dr. Robert Hickson

29 September 2020

Saint Michael the Archangel


“The censor’s sway is felt most acutely in the social sciences, especially in the sphere of history. Soviet censorship begins in the head of the historian.” (Alexander Nekrich, “Rewriting History” (1980)—my emphasis added)


“For the conscientious researcher, work loses all point if the censor asks him not only to delete this or that fact, but also to reach conclusions that are acceptable in the current political scene. And this is where self-censorship comes into play, the most important forms of censorship in socialist society. Self-censorship exerts a profound influence not only on the quality of the research done, but also on the researcher himself. If censorship is an essential element of the structure of the USSR,…then self-censorship is an essential quality of Homo Sovieticus—especially the sub-species of writer[s?] specialising in history and social and political sciences…. Usually the author is governed by self-censorship and the censors.” (Alexander Nekrich, “Rewriting History” (1980)—my emphasis added)


It was from Alexander Nekrich, a Russian emigre and former Soviet historian—who once was an esteemed member in the Soviet Academy of Sciences and History—that I first heard of the word and special concept of “self-censorship.” And then, with his further brief help, I more gradually came to understand some of the atrophying consequences of any protracted self-censorship, as distinct from more obvious and forthright public censorship.

An analogy might be helpful here. If an arm-muscle is inside of a plaster cast for too long, it starts to shrink or shrivel up due to the lack of exercise and of nourishment. So too comes the diminishment or attenuation of the higher range of human faculties when they, too, are deprived of sufficient exercise and nourishment.

One of my most precious forms of admiration and gratitude for Aristotle is to be seen especially in one of his definitions of happiness: “happiness is the exercise of the full range of human faculties along lines of excellence [i.e., virtue].” (I cannot now find the source of those words I once read and memorized at once.)

In the latter part of the 1970s, Professor Alexandr Nekrich visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and gave a learned talk. After this talk I had occasion to speak with him, just the two of us. In my callowness I asked this solemnly earnest man what it was like to be an historian in the Soviet Academy of Science when the past is, as it were, always changing in accordance with the Dialectic—dialectical materialism and historical materialism, with its varying and desirably safe temporary interpretations. How, I added, did you enduringly live with such censorship? Professor Nekrich looked at me gravely and said : “You are naive. The greatest censorship is self-censorship.” And he told me more. I do not know why he opened up to me. Perhaps because he knew that I was a military officer.

We discussed the elements of fear and trust and how they shaped the protective resort to self-censorship. I then remarked that such self-censorship would also likely lead to the atrophy of human faculties.

Professor Nekrich then became interested in my word “atrophy” in this context of censorship, although he knew at once of the Greek roots and etymological meaning of that vivid word. I then used a more arcane expression—“atrophying self-censorship”—and he was pleased with it, and said that he would make use of it. Thus we started to consider how that concept could—and should—be applied effectively. We agreed that one of the ill fruits of prolonged self-censorship was the subtle atrophy of one’s indispensable human faculties, leading to a kind of paralysis and debilitation.

I was never to see Alexander Nekrich again, but I shall always remember his earnest and contemplative face and searching questions and insights, to include his mention of the important “SECOND Nazi-Soviet Pact,” which got him into trouble with the censors and supporters of Stalin. I later learned that he (with Mikhail Heller) wrote a lengthy book entitled Utopia in Power (1985) about the 1917-1985 history of the Soviet Union. Only recently, however, was I to discover that Nekrich also wrote an earlier 5-6 page essay on censorship, in 1980, and entitled “Rewriting History” (as translated by Marjorie Farquharson in Index on Censorship 4/1980) which is still to be found on the Internet. It would be of worth to read and discuss that essay still. But a few words now might be apt given the spreading autocratic and enforced rules about protective masks and social distancing and confusing “lockdowns” and all that. Fear and distrust abound, it seems, and so does increasing self-censorship.

One may recall that one test of real power—as distinct from mere formal power—is who controls what may be said, and what may not be said, in public.

As in the former Soviet Union, some things are so taboo that one may not even say that they are taboo.

François Furet, for example, once said that “modern democracy is dependent upon a hidden oligarchy which is contrary to its principles, but indispensable to its function.” That is to say, modern democracy is based on a deception. However, who would be able and allowed to discuss that matter in depth and openly? What would the oligarchs permit? And, specifically, who are they?

Solzhenitsyn urged us “not to live the lie” and also warned us “not to participate in the lie.”

Nekrich warns us to be careful about the destructive and abiding effects of too much and deceitful “self-censorship.” It is a form of living the lie. And the greatest effect of the lie is the breaking of trust—even the most intimate trusts. And once they are broken, they are so hard to repair and re-build.

For sure, Dr. Alexandr Moiseyevich Nekrich (1920-1993) has incipiently inspired us to consider more deeply the phenomenon of “atrophying self-censorship” and some of its formidable ramifications.

What is happening today, not just in the United States but throughout the world, even the manifestations of chaos and censorious “democratic despotism,” may be correctively helped along a little by Nekrich’s own illuminating experiences in the Soviet Union and his later insightful, articulate writings as a 1976 Russian emigre. He is a sobering guide for us, as his 1980 essay on “Rewriting History” will confirm.1 We should study and savor that compact 1980 essay further, and in the light of current and recurring events.


© 2020 Robert D. Hickson


Memoirs of a Slow Learner and a Deficient Fruit Inspector

Dr. Robert Hickson 21 September 2020

Saint Matthew (d. 65)


“Who were exempt from taking the 1910 Antimodernist Oath, why, and since when? Were the Vatican II Fathers themselves and their Advisors (Periti) also exempt, or did some of them gravely and consequentially perjure themselves?”


“What are the actual repercussions and some further implications of 17 July 1967: Pope Paul VI’s formal rescinding and abrogation of the Antimodernist Oath?”


Some time ago when I spoke to a friend of mine about my recurrent “reflections on life from the vantage point of a mere fruit inspector,” I should have fittingly added also another small truth: my persistent desire someday to present mine own “memoirs of a slow learner.”

For, after graduating as a new second-lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers from West Point on 3 June 1964, I lived largely out of the country, or in secluded military training, up until January of 1971. It was then that I unexpectedly returned to a civilian Graduate School at the University of North Carolina in the same State as Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at which military post I was first formed as a young Army Special Forces Officer, and was thus to be a recipient of the cherished “three-prefix” to my MOS in 1966, after I had first attended parachute and ranger schools (where a 7-prefix and a 8-prefix were, respectively, to be added first to my main “Military Occupational Specialty” (MOS)). In 1966, however, there was not yet—not until 8 April 1987, some twenty years later—a special military branch set aside and designated for Army Special Forces overall. And so, before 1987, the “three-prefix” was the designator to be found in one’s personnel records, along with our patched green berets.

During all this very active time (1962-1971), the deep contrasts of foreign strategic and religious cultures influenced me greatly and prompted me to wonder about many fundamental things, and these things were often matters of moment to man. Although I was then still very innocent and ignorant, I had a strong and vivid sense of adventure—and an unquenched propensity to ask searching, sometimes uncomfortable, questions. I thereby gradually came to understand some things about the Church, too.

Now, for instance, I am still gradually learning many important things about the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church and its equivocal earlier preparations and its confusing aftermath. Here, too, I have been, alas, a deficient “Fruit Inspector” and am still a “Slow Learner.”

For instance, in late July of 1967, I was returning from Istanbul to New York City by way of a civilian ship, from my one-year military assignment in Turkey, with visits to Greece, Turkey’s own opponent also on the eastern flank of NATO, to include the contested divided island of Cypress.

Earlier in July of 1967, on page one of The New York Times near the bottom of the page, Tad Szulc contributed a special 17 July report from Rome published on 18 July 1967 and with the following headline: “Pope Said to Cancel Antimodernist Oath; Pope Paul Said to Abrogate Antimodernist Oath.” And this is what he said in his first paragraph from Rome, which was dated 17 July 1967: “Pope Paul VI was reported today to have ordered the abrogation of the oath against modernism that Roman Catholic priests and ecclesiastical officials have been obliged to take for the last 57 years [i.e., since its promulgation by Pope Pius X on 1 September 1910].”

It was only later that I heard of, and then considered the implications of, this 17 July 1967 promulgated recension and abrogation of that solemn Oath established by Pope Pius X in 1910.

Shortly after this Roman act, the lax and rebellious Land O’ Lakes Conference in Wisconsin (20-23 July 1967) took place. Its own final Statement about academic freedom and authority was signed and promulgated on 23 July 1967, which was only a few days before Pope Paul VI went to Turkey.

Pope Paul VI came to visit Turkey from 25-26 July 1967, and he was on one of his further missions of diplomacy and so-called ecumenism, first of all with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras, and then also briefly with the government of the Turks.

Paul VI was meeting Athenagoras for the second time. He had first met Athenagoras in Lebanon, and both meetings were importantly arranged by Dr. Charles Malik, a prominent Lebanese academic and diplomatic figure, also as Lebanese ambassador to the U.S. and at the United Nations. (Dr. Malik was an Orthodox Christian and academic philosopher, but, despite his abiding Catholic sympathies, he never became a Roman Catholic after Paul VI’s words to him privately and personally—i.e., that it was sufficient for him to believe in the Council of Florence, 1431-1449; and so he did not need to convert.1)

It was in such a lax and softly tolerant way that the revolutions of 1968 were gradually fomented. I came to believe that, without the optimistic and selectively merciful Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and its immediately applied aftermath (late 1965-early 1968), there would not have been the widespread revolutions of May 1968 and thereafter. In late 1968 and 1969, I saw some of the violence in Japan after I had returned from Vietnam. The Socialists in Japan were, surprisingly, even more radical and violent than the Communists.

It was in 1969 that Paul VI’s revolutionary New Order of the Mass was promulgated and then gradually spread throughout the world. In June of 1968, Paul VI also published his partly attenuated and yet still widely criticized Encyclical Humanae Vitae.

But, it was very soon after Paul VI became pope in the middle of June 1963 that he quietly first lifted (on 5 July 1963) the ban and in 1966 introduced the spreading allowance of priestly officiating at cremations for human bodies after death. There is always both a Slow Path as well as a Fast Path in a Revolution. And we must also closely follow the Language as well as the Money.

We may look at the itch for a novel use of words—for example, “dialogue” and “ecumenism” (or syncretism? perhaps as a subtle relativism?) and “evolution” (that is, an “ongoing Revelation”?, or the “Evolution of Dogma” instead of affirming the just permanence of “irreformable doctrine”?).

So much has changed since that Summer of 1962 when I, at a callow nineteen years of age, first returned to West Point from our memorable German Exchange Program abroad, just before the October 1962 beginning of Vaticanum II amidst the threats in Berlin and risks of nuclear war, not only in Cuba.

Soon I was to hear (or read) such things as: “our result is more process”; “God needs us to complete Himself”; and “They have asked the Blessed Mother to leave the Marriage Feast of Cana”—“and they did not even give her the time to say: ‘Vinum non habent‘”—i.e., “they have no wine.”

It is as if the Blessed Virgin Maria were a multi-layered obstacle (“obex”) to a Grand Ecumenism!

It is true, I have often learned some deeper truths by carefully inspecting the fruits of new or alien ideas and actions and strategic networks and attitudes. But too often, alas, I have been a slow learner.


In the context of this brief essay, I also wanted to recommend to our readers that they revisit my 7 October 2019 reflections on the words of Cardinal Walter Brandmüller concerning the Oath against Modernism:


© 2020 Robert D. Hickson

1Charles Malik told this whole “ecumenical” scandal to his intimate boyhood, Lebanese friend, Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M. (Dr. Fakhri Maluf), who, in turn, told the whole story to me in person. Malik never formally converted.