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.

Finis

© 1997, 2020 Robert D. Hickson

i [FOOTNOTE ONE CONTINUED] Epigraph TWO:

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)

[FOOTNOTE ONE CONTINUED]

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))

ii [FOOTNOTE TWO]

[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).

FINIS

© 1997, 2020 Robert D. Hickson

APPENDEX

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.

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

THE STRATEGIC DECEITS AND THREAT OF BIO-TERRORISM AND LONGER-RANGE PSYCHO-BIOLOGICAL WARFARE:

THE NEW BATTLE FOR THE MIND

IN CULTURES OF UPROOTED HOPE AND BROKEN TRUST

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))

Finis

© 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).