Complacent Sentries and the Sloth of Roaming Unrest

Author’s Note, on 12 May 2021: This essay was completed on 19 January 2013, which was less than a month before the unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was announced (on 11 February 2013), and almost two months before Pope Francis’ election to replace Benedict XVI as the new pope (on 13 March 2013). Moreover, this essay discusses the strategic insights of two non-Catholics about many matters of moment which should be of interest to Catholics, as well: James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers.

Dr. Robert Hickson

19 January 2013

Saint Canute of Denmark (d.1086)

General Robert E. Lee’s Birthday (d.1870)

Complacent Sentries and the Sloth of Roaming Unrest:

The Ambience of Vaticanum II in its Historical-Military Context

Epigraphs:

“Given time, we hear the argument, we can gradually work our way out of the mess….Conferences of foreign [and hence ecclesiastical] ministers will step by step build up confidence and solve the problems and bring us peace and prosperity. But we are not given time, and there is now loose in the world a mighty force dedicated to the proposition that we shall not have peace and prosperity.” (James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism, 1949, 1950, p. 12.)

“If I am wrong in my assumed point of view, if the crisis is an illusion and the catastrophe an anxiety complex, then there can be no justification for either the analysis or the plan [“that I propose”]. But I do not believe that I am wrong.” (James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism, p. 12.)

“Neuroticism, insanity, and the comic are, however, largely a matter of context. Behavior and ideas that would have proved insanity under Queen Anne [in the years 1702-1714] may have a very different meaning in the 20th century. Putting money each week in the savings bank is not sensible behavior during an unrestrained inflation; bringing suit for libel is not a mark of sanity in a revolution. What is historical madness depends upon what historical reality is….But what then of the …[F.D.R.] Roosevelts…, many of whose actions can be explained only by the hypothesis that they imagined themselves to be living in another century than their own?” (James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism, pp. 10-11.)

This essay is an act of thanksgiving, not only a deeply humbling acknowledgment, to two non-Catholics, James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers—both of them long-suffering, wholehearted men—who saw more clear-sightedly and more deeply into the historical reality of the 1950s and early 1960s than many professed Catholics of the time, to include many of the leading Ecclesiastics of the day. And they tried to warn us.

On 3 June 1961, two years to the day before the death of the affectionately expressive and publicly buoyant Pope John XXIII (on 3 June 1963), James Burnham wrote a highly cultured, prescient, and far-sighted strategic article during his visit in Vienna, Austria, where he was alertly present—specifically in order to report on the euphoric and widely publicized Summit Meeting between the Soviet Chief Nikita Khrushchev and the youthful President John F. Kennedy. It may be still helpful to our grasp of historical reality, if we consider Burnham’s subtle and sobering article, which was tersely and resonantly entitled “Sleeping Sentries.”1 It may also be a timely, cleansing Parable for us.

Full of liberal hope in that early summer of 1961, as well as (after “the Bay of Pigs”) with some admitted embarrassment and ambiguous guilt, President Kennedy had gladly consented to this high-level Vienna meeting. It was taking place just some four months after his own inauguration as President on 20 January 1961. It was also but six weeks after the humiliation (and arguable betrayal) of the failed, though U.S.-supported, Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba (17-19 April 1961), which had been very covertly prepared for, and then largely mounted out of Central America, namely Guatemala. More shockingly, however, soon after that 3 June Summit meeting—i.e., on 13 August 1961—the Communist construction of the Berlin Wall chillingly began.

Moreover, only a year-and-a half after this (as Burnham saw it indeed) “provocatively weak” Summit Meeting in Vienna, where Khrushchev also once again saw young John Kennedy as a callow vacillator, there came another test of power and will: the very dangerous Cuban Missile Crisis of 16-28 October 1962 (even months before that in the tense covert world), which so precariously transpired, publicly, only a week after the optimistic and effervescent opening in Rome of the Catholic Church’s new Ecumenical Council (on 11 October), usually called the Second Vatican Council or Vaticanum II. The secular and religious Mass Media of Social Communications and Propaganda were also fervently energized and set for High Drama—as some had feared, such as Pope Pius XII himself in 1950.

Slightly more than a year after the commencement of the Council— on 22 November 1963—the liberal-progressive, professedly Catholic, President Kennedy himself was assassinated. Some of the hopeful idealism, which Kennedy and his New Frontiersmen had hoped to inspire and to infuse, started then to turn dark, even cynical, especially among some of the young, and not only because of the United States’ equivocal and increasingly disillusioned involvement in the Vietnam War.

Yet, how does one account for the mood, as well as the deeper, utopian-progressive atmosphere in Rome and Vatican City and in Western Europe itself, only sixteen years after the formal conclusion of World War II? This question is certainly a challenging one, and not so easy to answer in a differentiated and adequate way. A loyal and faithful Catholic might well ask: How do we understand God’s Providence here?

For it was in 1955, after all, that the Soviets had suddenly (and even somewhat perplexingly) pulled out of eastern Austria, which had been under Soviet occupation for ten years. Was this not a good sign? To some this withdrawal even seemed to be a sort of moral miracle, and even an answer to prayer and sacrifice—even though, with their own strategic alertness, the Soviets immediately thereafter then created the martial Warsaw Pact, which soon led to disorder: to the chafing East German and Polish restiveness, and finally to the bloody Hungarian Uprising in October-November 1956, which was crushed by communist power, under Khrushchev himself, with his intentional utilization of merciless Asiatic-Mongol troops against the Hungarians (when, shamefully, the West did very little to help). Nonetheless, there still seemed to be a growing attitude, not just in the Vatican, that “we can have fruitful dialogue with the Soviets” and even an open-handed “Ostpolitik.” That is to say, to help the aggressors to become more democratic and hence prosperous and non-revolutionary.

James Burnham, however, had some keenly contrasting considerations and a different understanding as to whether or not there was a momentous crisis, or even a potential catastrophe, at least in the strategic and secular political realm—the realm of Power without Grace. In any case, and for our edification, Burnham’s analysis looked maturely at the Facts, as distinct from other men’s Beliefs. As he had said in his somewhat influential 1949 book (in certain circles)—notably after the Chinese Communist conquest of China—which was entitled The Coming Defeat of Communism:2

In a measure that has been reached only twice before in Western history [“that of the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.” and that of “the first half of the 16th century”], we are being told that we live in an age of crisis, that we face the possibility of catastrophe. But the question of whether men today [1949-1950] have a sense of crisis, believe themselves to be in the midst of crisis, is after all secondary. The more central question is not of belief but of fact. Whatever most men believe, is it in fact true that our age is in crisis? Is the catastrophic point of view, as we might call it, justified? Two world wars within a generation, with a destruction of from 50 to 100 million human lives and several trillion dollars’ worth of human products, would seem, alone, to be enough evidence for a positive answer.3

(But would the majority of the Council fathers, or the pope, of Vaticanum II, have sincerely agreed with that assessment and conclusion, much less have acted accordingly, hence proportionately? At the beginning of the Council, how many knew of the Cardinal Tisserant’s and Father Yves Congar’s earlier, secret diplomatic meetings in Metz, Nancy, and Strasbourg, France with both Communist and Hebraic Groups who themselves desired, pre-emptively, to shape—or “bracket out”?—certain topics and the strategic-doctrinal discourse of that forthcoming, professedly Pastoral, not Dogmatic, Ecumenical Council? If most of the council fathers were kept in the dark, and not even later informed of these non-public “agreements” or “deals,” why not? And where was the Honor in this course of action?)

Furthermore, to these two world wars—which were also, in effect, a new Thirty Years War in Europe (1914-1945)—Burnham then adds some items to a “long list” of other devastations and unmistakable desolations, such as:

….The 15, 20, 30 million persons thrown into slave camps; millions of peasants killed because they loved their land; crowds of tens of millions, refugees and displaced persons and exiles, wandering across Eurasia in swarms that make the barbarian hordes of the 3rd and 4th centuries seem as minor as neighborhood gangs. An economic depression that shakes the structure of the entire world, wild inflations that wipe out the money and savings of a dozen nations, trials and purges that liquidate hundreds of thousands of men of every variety, are not phenomena of normality. The great wave of revolution that broke in 1917 [the Bolshevik revolution] has waxed and ebbed, but has never since then subsided. It pounds at every shore, from the islands of East Asia to the borders of the Panama Canal.4

Making a further contrast which will later help our understanding of the roots and fruits of Vaticanum II—and maybe even its initial buoyancy—Burnham also says:

The totalitarians believe that we live in what Lenin defined as “an era of wars and revolutions,” in an age of crisis. They count on crises, and make these the fulcrum of their policies. Lenin was sure there would be a world war [circa 1914], and his energies were directed at seizing power in the breakdown which he was sure would come during the course of the war [i.e., in World War I, as Stalin also later foresaw and implemented his own strategic plans, even during “the war of rival capitalisms” in World War II, as he saw it].5

However, in delusionary contrast to these realistic and stern-minded revolutionary insights and actions, Burnham saw the softer or evasive approach, namely:

The democratic leaders have regarded the crises as abnormal exceptions to the flow of history, as errors that can be avoided by doing each day its daily short-term task. They have failed either to utilize these crises or even to prepare for them. They find themselves in the paradoxical position of having suffered the greatest social defeats from the two world wars in which they have won the greatest military victories of all time [though, admittedly, with the then-indispensable aid of the brutal Soviet Army].6

For, adds Burnham, “we are dealing now not with kings and emperors and czars, but with totalitarian mass revolutionists.”7 To what extent, however, did the Vaticanum II popes and council fathers hold Burnham’s deep understanding of at least one portion of “the war we are in,” as he called it, not only in the interval from 1944-1950, but even still in 1961? For, as Burnham argued:

The totalitarian political movements of our century, particularly the communist, have accepted a catastrophic point of view. In 1916, totalitarianism, limited at that date to a few thousand outlaw associates and followers of Lenin, was so negligible a force as to be unknown to the politically literate public. Today [in 1950], 34 years later, it dominates a quarter of the world, and closely threatens the rest. The contribution of the [Bolshevik] catastrophic point of view to this rise, which is quite without precedent, has been much more than minor. It has been so because the catastrophic point of view, as a perspective of our age, has been correct.8

(It is not clear, and we shall likely never know, whether Pope John XXIII himself would have included Burnham as one of those “prophets of doom” whom he depreciated in his opening address to Vaticanum II on 11 October 1962.)

Therefore, a further, and more specific examination of James Burnham’s lucid and admonitory 3 June 1961 article, “Sleeping Sentries,” might awaken us, even now, to some of the deeper historical realities and to the consequently important (even urgent) need, sub Gratia, for a deep “course correction.” For, during the past year of 2012, we have been volubly presented with many and varied, indeed often incommensurate, official and non-official interpretations of the Roots and Fruits of Vaticanum II. Is that not so? Do we agree?

At the time of his 3 June 1961 article, however, Burnham himself was not a believing Catholic, and had not been a professed Catholic for almost forty years. (He was to come home again to his Faith only near the end of his life in July of 1987.) But, this fact may enhance for us his own testimony, his own witness—as Whittaker Chambers had also earlier done, in his own special language as a sincere Protestant Christian, and after his own much grimmer experience and break with Communism: not only to be seen in his 1952 book, Witness, but also in his posthumously published 1964 book, Cold Friday.

But, regrettably, on 9 July 1961, very soon after Burnham’s own words from Vienna, Whittaker Chambers was to die at his Westminster, Maryland farm shortly after his last heart attack. It was, thus, only a month after Burnham’s article was written from Vienna, “Sleeping Sentries,” in which compact article as we may now come to see, Burnham conveyed the irony and the nuances of his own sobering and complementary, strategic perspicacity concerning “the war we are in.” (Would that we could also know the extent to which, if at all, at least the American bishops at Vaticanum II and their theological advisors—the “periti”—knew of the writings of Burnham and Chambers, both their savor of goodness and their salt of reality.) In any case, where were the comparable Catholic writers?

James Burnham opens his 1961 article surprisingly with a “cosmopolitan” consideration of the great art galleries and museums of Europe, as well as of New York and Washington. After visiting such artistic concentrations, he says:

It can begin to seem that all of the masterpieces of Western painting [though not of Piero della Francesca] have been funneled, along with the swarming masses, the money and luxury and power, into the colossal world-cities that characterize our epoch as they have a number of other epochs buried under the storms of time. As you walk through the scores of rooms of the Prado, the Louvre, of London’s or our own National Gallery, it seems incredible that mankind should have been able to produce so many hundreds of works of almost absolute genius as hang, one after another, along the walls of these central banks of aesthetic deposit.9

Then, he considers what one may also more negatively experience, even a certain sterilizing artificiality, amidst these colossal concentrations:

The joy and wonder at the multitudinous beauties which these walls offer the passer-by, can become cloyed, in certain moods, not only from a sense of surfeit at so rich a perceptual diet, but by a tenuous feeling that the feast as served up from these gleaming kitchens lacks an essential vitamin. That faint uneasiness does not deceive. Prime ingredients are indeed missing: in particular, except as reconstructed in the mind of the beholder [except as a sort of abstract “ens rationis”], Place and Time. These paintings…were not [originally or usually] meant to hang together on one set of walls…. But we pay the cost in the abstraction of the works from the fullness of existence [“diverse…moments over two thousand years of time and thousand of miles of space”].10

With some discouragement, he adds: “Not only have the museums ransacked so many of the Places. Mass tourism has turned most of the authentic Places into museums.”11

Speaking then of his recent experience at Assisi and of Giotto’s frescoes there, he says:

But looking at them a week ago [in late May of 1961], it was impossible to keep the eyes as well as mind from blurring from the effects of the Flemish priest-guide shouting all about them (I suppose that was what he was shouting) to his busloads of compatriots, the Germans checking every item off in their guidebooks and pulling strings of photographic equipment out of large leather cases, the few middle-aged Americans [present] dutifully but unhappily submitting to the local leeches who had fastened on them.12

There is, amidst such visual noise, as well as auditory noise, such a difficulty of “learning to see again” (in the words of Josef Pieper). Therefore, says Burnham,

That is why there is a special kind of excitement, and in the end the reward of a special kind of seeing, when we follow the spoor of a great work of art [like “Piero’s fresco of the Resurrection”] to its own Place [“in San Sepolcro”, which was also “Piero’s birthplace”—and where he also died, on 12 October 1492].13

After having arrived in San Sepolcho, “thirty miles east of Perugia,” Burnham and his wife had lunch, and:

When we had finished there was still an hour to go before the lunch-and-siesta-shut doors of an Italian town would be open, but a cheerful man in some sort of uniform appeared in the little piazza. He had a key to the small, old city hall, much battered by the last as by so many earlier wars. He let us into a high, arched-ceiling, well-lighted room, whitewashed, in mid-repair….But on the wall that faced us as the door opened was Piero’s [Piero della Francesca’s] fresco of the Resurrection, which we had so often seen in reproductions, surely one of the very greatest of the world’s paintings. The dazzling geometry of its structure is like a theorem in Riemann made visible, or Plato’s Form of the Good, seen by the physical eye as well as by the soul.14

Moreover,

In front of the tomb [“the heavy stone sepulchre”], leaning on it, on their weapons and each other and their own limbs, are the four Roman guards, richly uniformed, well-armed, sleeping, as if drugged or bemused, at their eternally critical post.15

What also impressed Burnham greatly was that portion of the fresco “behind the stone coffin,” where, “with one firm foot on its forward edge, stands the risen Christ” and, furthermore,

A Christ that has none of the physical weakness or effeminacy with which He is so often painted. Piero’s risen Christ has thrown his shroud, like a cloak, over His shoulder, to reveal a spear-slashed breast that, though gaunt, is strong and hard-muscled; in His right hand He holds a standard of an unfurled white banner, quartered by a red cross; His glance, directed straight out, is majestic, terrible, almost—through the effect of those eyes that seem to stare to infinity without particular focus—obsessive.16

Now Burnham—a very rare, historically and culturally informed, philosophical strategist—will lead us to his own special interpretation, after being unaccountably moved to deep reflection:

A great work of art has an inexhaustible variety of meanings. Piero’s fresco is first of all a painting, integrally organized and unified in terms of line and color and shape and texture. And it is a religious vision too, of course, of staggering profundity. Its dramatic and human meanings, specified or suggested, will never be fully numbered. As I reflected afterward on what I had seen, I found myself adding to these an allegorical perspective that seemed inescapable, though it becomes banal when put into words instead of color and space. What we are looking at in Piero’s picture, among so many other things, is the power and wealth and luxury of Rome gone soft and sluggish, asleep instead of alert and on guard. The closed eyes of the sentries in their handsome dress cannot see, do not even try to see, the fierce Phoenix rising from the gathering ashes of their world.17

As he saw it in burstingly prosperous Modena the very next day—with its celebrated Communist mayor (and a sprouting, miscellaneous assortment of other Leftist Political Parties, to boot) —it was clear, on the one hand, that

The sentries, the citizens of Italy—or Europe, or of all the Western world—are not physically sleeping, of course: very much the contrary, indeed; for never has there been so much rushing about [and yet, maybe, with so much prosperous luxury and its “dynamic materialism,” there is much “restlessness” and “interior uprootedness,” as well]; increased mobility [but with few children?] seems to be the most valued potential of all won by the jump above a subsistence standard of living that so much of the Western world has made in the postwar years. It is the spirit that sleepeth, in the coarse sleep of the glutton.18

We shall later see the words of Whittaker Chambers about the growing materialism in the West and the likely “dialectical” consequences, as expressed in his own posthumous book, Cold Friday, in the memorable chapter entitled “The Direct Glance.”19

Immediately after his presented image of the spiritually sleeping glutton, or lout, in his noisy coarseness, Burnham becomes more ironical as he prepares to take us with him to seductive Vienna:

What if trade with Russia [in 1961] gives her the machines her armies need and the profits which, skillfully funneled, nourish her Italian agents? From that trade we Italians get cheaper gasoline for our new cars and Vespas, and some of us get, in addition, pretty piles of lire. Hasn’t England always lived as a nation of successful shopkeepers? What is the objection, then, to the $6 million British Trade Fair in Moscow, and the sales of plant and equipment that we English drummers [energetic and enterprising “traveling salesmen”] have booked?20

After this larger and pointedly ironical framing of the larger West European situation, Burnham chooses to conclude his article with an a fortiori agument, namely it is in Vienna now, even moreso than in 1961 Italy, that we see the spiritual slackness amidst the quite charming abundance. The following words could even be called a deft description of “elegant, but insidious, decadence”:

Nowhere is the [spiritual] sleep more delicious, the dreams more ravishing, than in this enchanted, enchanting city. The scars of the war and the occupation [1945-1955] in Vienna are healed or forgotten. The hotels are the most luxurious (and among the most expensive) in the world. The rich coffee topped with whipped cream, the seraphic pastries and chocolate, are back in the cafés. The gypsies play in the restaurants, while still more bottles of wine and beer are opened, as long as customers wish to linger. And this [June] is the month of the Music Festival, with every morning and afternoon and evening crowded with opera and symphony and operetta, quartets and singers and pianists playing always the best and loveliest music.21

Then comes the counterpoint of political reality:

Not a note of the Spring Concerto wavered as the K’s moved [Khrushchev and Kennedy both] toward their Summit. The [Americans’] smiling sleep was immunized by the further dream of eternal neutrality. The selection of Vienna for their encounter meant, so the dreamers dreamed, that the wished-for condition was now recognized and affirmed by the great contestants [both of them]. The sleepers snuggled back into the visions of the fabled Congress [of Vienna] of a century and nearly a half ago [from 1 November 1814—8 June 1815], when the night-long dancing, champagne, music, and love filled the hours between the elegant formalities of the diplomatic sessions.22

Now comes the designed Burnham shock amidst these perceptibly lovely illusions:

So the first [JFK himself] among the sleepwalkers, lids fallen, drugged into paralyzed and impotent sloth by the sentimental syrups of [Kennedy’s own] ideological courtiers, wafts in, like a dreaming bride sailing through a [Russian artist, florid Marc] Chagall sky, from the West. The analogy from Piero’s picture is not to be pressed too closely. This time the terrible, staring form that rises above the sleeping sentries and opened tomb—if it is a tomb—is the Anti-Christ, not the Savior. The banner he unfurls proclaims the message, not of hope springing from the dark, of redemption, freedom, and eternal life, but of slavery and death, and a degradation much worse than death.23

To what extent were the Prelates of Vaticanum II and their own “ideological courtiers”—all of whom had taken the Anti-Modernist Oath—also such dreamers and sleepwalkers, sleepwalking into servitude: a servitude unfaithful, and even perjuring, and most degrading, as well as dishonorable? With more and more trustworthy evidence and knowledge of this larger 20th-century historical-military-political warfare context, it is even harder to understand the allure of their optimistic, indeed euphoric, ecumenical (or syncretist) illusions, much less to embrace the shabby results of these “hybrid beliefs,” as if the very principle of non-contradiction no longer applied, or anyway did not matter.

Chamber’s warnings in his chapter on “The Direct Glance,” however, will teach us more, and be an additional warning for our instruction. Though not a Catholic, but a sympathetic Protestant (who greatly honored Saint Benedict and his monastic foundations), Whittaker Chambers knew the Allure of Communism and deeply grasped the long-fostered and indulged, “dynamic materialist” weaknesses and consequent vulnerabilities, even futilities, of the West, both of which developments he rejected—but he also feared that he was likely, in human and secular terms, to be “on the losing side.” Writing his chapter some time in the late 1950s or very early 1960s, his first words capture our docile attentiveness:

I speak with a certain urgency both because I believe that history is closing in on this people with a speed which, in general, they do not realize or prefer not to realize, and because I have a sense that time is closing in on me so that, at this point, I do not know whether or not I shall be given time to complete what I seek to say.24

With characteristic modesty, and once again “making himself small,” he continues:

I may not claim for the larger meanings of what I shall say: This is the truth. I say only: This is my vision of the truth; to be checked and rechecked (as I [like James Burnham, too] continually check and recheck it) against the data of experience….I write as a man who made his way back from a special experience of our time—the experience of Communism. I believe the experience to be the central one, for whichever side prevails will be shaped by what Communism is and meant to be, and by the conditions that made it possible and made possible the great conflict…. [For,] the problem of man in this [20th] century—[is] the problem of the terms on which man can wrest some semblance of his human dignity (some would say: save his soul) in a mechanizing world, which is….a revolutionary world.25

Speaking of the French author of a dark and chilling book, Man’s Fate (La Condition Humaine, “to use its French title, which fixes its meaning more clearly”), Chamber’s poignantly adds:

After he had read Witness [1952], André Malraux, the author of Man’s Fate, wrote me: “You are one of those who did not return from Hell with empty hands.” I did not answer him. How is one man to say to another: “Great healing spirit”? For it is not sympathy that the mind craves, but understanding of its purposes.26

Chambers then tries to make more explicit and more compellingly complete what he had written in his earlier 1952 book:

In Witness I sought to make two points which seemed to me more important than the narrative of unhappy events [my personal struggle] which…chiefly interested most readers. The first point had to do with the nature of Communism and the struggle against it. The crux of this matter is the question whether God exists. If God exists, a man cannot be a Communist, which begins with the rejection of God [and rejection of the supernatural order of grace]. But if God does not exist, it follows that Communism, or some suitable [collectivist-socialist] variant of it, is right. More follows. A man is obligated, if he seeks to give any effect to his brief life, to tear away all mystery that darkens or distorts, to snap all ties that bind him in the name of an untruth, to push back all limiting frontiers to the end [the purpose] that man’s intelligence may be free to realize to the fullest of its untrammeled powers a better life in a better world.27

Later returning to this theme, Chambers begins by quoting a line from the American author, Sherwood Anderson:

I want to know why,” one of the most native of our voices asked in a line that rises out of all else he did and said because it sums up all the rest. I want to know why. It is for this that we seek a little height, and because of this we do not feel it too high a price [of sacrifice] to pay if we cannot reach it crawling through a lifetime on our hands and knees, as a wounded man sometimes crawls from a battlefield, if only so as not to die as one more corpse among so many corpses. Happy is he who finds any height, however lowly. That craving for the infinitely great [as Dostoievsky said about God, in The Possessed, through and with his novel’s character, Stefan Trofimovitch] starts with the simplest necessity. It is the necessity to know reality in order, by acting on it directly [through the attentive and docilely guileless “Direct Glance”], to find the measure of man’s meaning and stature in that single chance [or grace?] of some seven decades that is allotted them to find it out in….It is anything that blocks their freedom to enact it [i.e., their possibly tragic, but inescapably suffering, life] meaningfully that kills men with despair. And if the old paths no longer lead to a reality that enables men to act with meaning, if the paths no longer seem to lead anywhere—have become a footworn, trackless maze, or, like Russian roads, end after a few miles of ambitious pavement, leading nowhere but into bottomless mud and swallowing distance—men will break new paths, though they must break their hearts. They will burst out somewhere, even if such bursting-out takes the form of aberration. For to act in aberration is at least more like living than to die of futility, or even to live in that complacency which is futility’s idiot twin.28

These piercing words help us to understand the appeal of Communism to the broken of the world, to those who might have been even slowly dying of despair—or of a sense of futility or of “that complacency which is futility’s idiot twin.” Such complacency may also be, as in the Catholic Church today, not only a lack of vigilance or even a dishonorably tepid negligence, but also a more dangerous sign of both Complicity with evil and sinful Presumption—and perhaps that combination has gradually and self-deceptively happened, as if by titration—drop by drop—over these past fifty years since the buoyant and tolerant commencement of Vaticanum II in the autumn of 1962. In any case, the words of Whittaker Chamber about the deep needs of the human spirit, show us, as with Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, his own deep heart. For, as Chambers also says: “Suffering is at the heart of every living faith.”29

Then Chambers reminds us of the second thing he implicitly said in his earlier book, Witness:

From this proposition—that the heart problem of Communism is the problem of atheism—followed the second problem I set up in Witness, also without developing its conclusions. This proposition implied that the struggle with Communism included its own solution. That is to say, in the course of its struggle with Communism, the West would develop or recover those resources (in the main spiritual and moral) which it held to constitute its superiority to Communism, or in the struggle it would go under. Going under might…take one of two forms. The West might simply lose the war in political or physical terms. But I also allowed for the fact that the West might win the war [Burnham’s “Third World War”] in such terms [“political or physical”] and still lose it, if the taxing necessities of the conflict brought the West to resemble what it was struggling against, i.e., Communism [i.e., Historical and “Dialectical Materialism (DIAMAT)” or, in less technical language, “dynamic, or electronically energetic, materialism,” for example]. A turn in this direction [i.e., toward more and more forms of materialism] has been perfectly visible in the West for several decades [i.e., not only in Burnham’s own convincing perceptions of comfortable and “energetically complacent” Italy and Vienna in 1961!].30

Throughout his chapter on “The Direct Glance,” Chambers manifoldly shows just how deeply—even before 1961—Materialism and its Spirit had taken over in the West, and had thereby constituted, not only a grave vulnerability in the true struggle, but actually became an asset and accomplice to Communism itself—the de-Christianized (now Post-Christian) West coming more and more to resemble what we were purportedly fighting against. Chambers’ eloquent words and detailed insights should be read closely in their entirety, and truly savored. His Witness here, too, will not be forgotten—and “we may run, but cannot hide.”

Chambers also saw the growing flight from suffering and sacrifice—also a flight from the Cross into a sort of “Christianity without the Cross” and thus without the indispensable need for Divine Grace. But, he repeated:

Suffering is at the heart of every living faith. That is why man can scarcely call himself a Christian for whom the Crucifixion is not a daily suffering. For it is by the hope that surmounts suffering that true tragedy surmounts pain and has always had the power [with Grace] to sweep men out of the common ugliness of ordeal to the exaltation in which the spirit rises superior to the agony which alone matures it [the human spirit] by the act of transcending it. This is what we loosely call greatness. And it is the genius of Christianity to recognize that this capacity for greatness inheres [sic] in the nature of his immortal soul [which is truly “Capax Gratiae”—capable of receiving Grace—by virtue of his personal Creation by God]….For it is by the soul that, at the price of suffering, we can break, if we choose, the shackles that an impersonal and rigid Fate otherwise locks upon us. It was the genius of Christianity to whisper to the lowliest man that by action of his own soul he could burst the iron bonds of Fate with which merely being alive seemed to encase him. Only, it could never be done except at a price, which was suffering.”31

Before Chambers contrasts this deeper insight and its fruition with the growing permeation of another ethos, he says:

It was because Christianity gave meaning to a suffering endured in all ages, and otherwise senseless, that it swept the minds of men. It still holds them, though the meaning has been blurred as Christianity [and Vaticanum II, as well?], in common with the voices of the new age, seeks new escapes from the problem of suffering. But the problem remains and the new escapes circle back on the old one. For in suffering, man motivated by hope and faith affirms that dignity which is lit by charity and truth. This is the meaning of the eternal phrases: lest one grain perish, and unless a man die [to himself and sin], he shall not live—phrases…[still now] as fresh as the moment in which they rose upon the astonishment of the saints.32

Speaking of the “new age” which now “seeks new escapes” from suffering—to include, perhaps, the danger—the risk—of final suffering in eternity, Chambers focuses emphatically on the hedonistic and self-indulgent world which James Burnham also saw and so vividly depicted, and thus he says:

Nothing is more characteristic of this age than its obsession with the avoidance of suffering. Nothing dooms it more certainly to that condition which is not childlike but an infantilism which is an incapacity for growth that implies an end [a twofold “Finis”—both a purpose and an ultimate finality]. The mind which has rejected the soul, and marched alone, has brought the age to the brink of disaster. Let us say it flatly: What the age needs is less minds than martyrs—less knowledge (knowledge was never so cheap) but that wisdom which begins with the necessity to die, if necessary, for one’s faith and thereby liberates that hope which is the virtue of the spirit.33

As The Penny Catechism would now fittingly remind us: the two sins against Hope are Presumption and Despair. Thus, there are two fundamental forms of Hopelessness: not only the dark Despair that kills a man; but also Presumption (a premature and facile anticipation of one’s final fulfillment).

For example, Burnham’s “Sleeping Sentries” can also imply Complacent Sentries. And Complacency itself is not only a kind of nonchalant Negligence, but it can also insidiously become a form of insouciant (and sinful) Presumption. Sentries—as well as Guardians of the Faith—who are spiritually asleep and complacent may also be guilty of both the lassitude and the interiorly uprooted restlessness of Spiritual Sloth (Acedia, Accidia). When Saint Thomas himself spoke of the sin of Sloth, he noted that it was marked by an ungrateful and inordinate “worldly sadness concerning a spiritual good” (“Tristitia de bono spirtuali”)—even unto a certain tedium and disgust with the whole supernatural apparatus of salvation. Saint Thomas also discerned that Spiritual Sloth was not so much characterized by mental dullness (“Hebetudo Mentis”) nor by listless sluggishness, but, rather, by a deeply formed (yet gnawing) interior uprootedness and actual itch of restlessness (or “curiositas” for “novelty”). He even called this grave incapacity “a roaming unrest of spirit” (an “Evagatio Mentis”), an unrest which also could not attentively have (much less preserve) “a repose of the mind in God” (a “Quies Mentis in Deo”).

Do not these compact and incisive formulations also illuminate for us a good portion of that vulnerable Modern Materialist Age that Burnham and Chambers saw and criticized, and that world that the Pastoral Second Vatican Council was also to have addressed, in light of the timeless and timely, missionary Catholic Faith? (And without “that itch for innovation,” in Dr. Johnson’s words, which is so indefinitely restless, just like those “itching ears” (“aures prurientes”) of which Saint Paul also spoke.)

We may now, therefore, have further just reasons to wonder what the Council Popes and Fathers truly thought they were to have done, as well as what, in fact, they often so ambiguously did—the many ill fruits of which actions and omissions we may now better see. If we ourselves are not dreaming, or spiritually asleep.

Having examined rather closely the observations and reasons of two non-Catholic thinkers—James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers—both of them men of heart and of high philosophical and strategic intelligence—we now may fittingly ask who saw more of the historical reality and the political-martial context of the times—and, thus, the true pastoral issues to be faced—just before and just after 11 October 1962 the formal opening of Vaticanum II?

In any case, I have not yet found any Catholic author writing of those times to have seen as much of the wider (mostly temporal-secular) reality as Burnham and Chambers; and I gratefully render tribute to these two long-suffering Witnesses to truth.

Admittedly, I have grown more ashamed of what our delusional Vatican II Prelates and Advisors imprudently and unfaithfully set in motion during that 11 October1962—8 December 1965 interval. For I have also been a “Fruit Inspector,” as it were, reflecting upon its cumulative 50-year Aftermath, as I likewise have long considered the deeper truths, the roots and fruits, of World War II, also so delusively and dangerously still called “the good war.” The “good war” and the “good council” should be, perhaps, cross-examined together?

The opening, buoyant but almost dismissive, words of Pope John XXIII at Vaticanum II, still using “the Papal ‘We’” said, in part (but as a representative instance of his whole, somewhat parodic and sentimental, even “naturalistic” tone), the following accented and syntactically separated sentence: “We feel we must disagree with those prophets of doom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.” Would that he, like Burnham and Chambers, had used more differentiated language and made more substantive and differentiated comments, so that they be not an occasion of travesty or hyperbole, but may, rather, reveal and not conceal reality: “the truth of things,” i.e., “reality manifesting itself to a knowing mind” (the “Veritas Rerum”), to include supernatural reality and its purposes and vivid indispensabilities, to include “Sanctifying Grace” and our continuous attentiveness to “The Four Last Things” (“Ta Eschata”), hence even to the Adventure and the Risks of the “Dies Irae.” May the Gift of Fear (the Donum Timoris)—as a Faithful Sentry—at least Guard us from Presumption. And, please God, also keep us from Spiritually Sleeping and Slothfully Complacent Sentries.

If John XXIII were now also a “Fruit Inspector,” what would he, as well as Paul VI, now honestly say after all these years? Might they not both also now gratefully honor the warning Witness of James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers, much less the merciful warnings of Our Lady of Fatima?

As Whittaker Chambers himself said somewhere in his writings, although I can no longer find nor even reliably cite the text: “The great test of humility is the pain of not receiving love for love.” Our Dear Lord knew that too—and so has Our Lady.

FINIS

© 2013 Robert D. Hickson

© 2021 Robert D. Hickson

1James Burnham, The War We Are In (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1967), pp. 306-311. This article, longer than usual, was originally published in National Review in his regular Column, called “The Third World War.”

2James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (New York: The John Day Company, Inc., 1949, 1950). In the U.S. Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Pentagon, Burnham was gratefully and formatively read, especially by the advocates of “liberation,” and even by the more influential Paul Nitze and George F. Kennan, those “containment” advocates who soon helped craft and implement NSC-68—“United States Objectives and Programs for National Security” (secretly issued on 14 April 1950, shortly before the outbreak of the Korean War).

3 Ibid., pp. 5, 6, and 7—my emphasis added.

4 Ibid., pp. 7-8—my emphasis added. Burnham, because of his methods, does not consider the 1917 warning-appearances of Our Lady of Fatima, nor her own fortifying and purifying admonitions. But we might fittingly do so now, especially in this sobering context of historical reality.

5 Ibid., p. 11—my emphasis added.

6Ibid.—my emphasis added.

7Ibid., p. 12—my emphasis added.

8Ibid., p. 10—my emphasis added.

9James Burnham, The War We Are In (1967), p. 306—my emphasis added.

10Ibid., pp. 306-307—my emphasis added.

11Ibid., p. 307.

12Ibid., pp. 307-308—my emphasis added.

13Ibid., pp. 307 and 309.

14Ibid., pp. 308 and 309—my emphasis added.

15Ibid. p. 309—my emphasis added.

16Ibid.—my emphasis added.

17Ibid., pp. 309-310—my emphasis added.

18Ibid., p. 310—my emphasis added.

19Whittaker Chambers, Cold Friday (New York: Random House, 1964), “The Direct Glance” (Chapter 3), pp. 67-88.

20James Burnham, The War We Are In, p. 310—my emphasis added.

21Ibid., p. 311.

22Ibid.—my emphasis added.

23Ibid.—my emphasis added.

24Whittaker Chambers, Cold Friday, p. 67. We may remember that he suddenly died on 9 July 1961; and, as it should also be mentioned, the writer of this essay is ashamed to say that he himself did not then even know of Whittaker Chamber’s name, much less did he know of his writings and profound witness. For, then at 18 years of age in July of 1961, he was but a callow, new West Point yearling-cadet out at our Camp Buckner’s Recondo-and-Summer-Combat Training, although inspired nonetheless to seek martial excellence and manifold competence within our fitting limits.

25Ibid., pp. 67-68—my emphasis added. It is also, more and more, a world of stifling “bureaucratic collectivism,” as well as of “mutable electronics” and abstract “protean change,” or so it seems.

26Ibid., p. 68—my emphasis added.

27Ibid., pp. 68-69—my emphasis added.

28Ibid., pp. 85-86—my emphasis added.

29Ibid., p. 86—my emphasis added.

30Ibid., p. 70—my emphasis added

31Ibid., pp. 86-87—my emphasis added.

32Ibid., pp. 86-87—my emphasis added.

33Ibid., p. 87—my emphasis added.

SUBTLE FORMS OF STRATEGIC INDIRECT WARFARE: INFECTING “SOFT” BIOLOGICAL TARGETS

A 20 May 2020 Note of the Author: After his several conversations and studies with Plant Pathologists at home and abroad during the years 1998-1999, the author was encouraged to present some of his own candid and searching reflections — even though they were to be somewhat historical and philosophical and strategic. One manifestation of the author’s acceptance of that invitation is the following 26 July 1999 meditative essay. It is, moreover, almost 20 pages in length and intentionally challenging. 

 

Dr. Robert Hickson                                                                                                     26 July 1999

Professor of Philosophy, Strategy, and Classical Humanities

United States Air Force Academy

SUBTLE FORMS OF STRATEGIC INDIRECT WARFARE:

INFECTING “SOFT” BIOLOGICAL TARGETS;

SOME PSYCHOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC, AND CULTURAL CONSEQUENCES

Epigraphs:

It should be the aim of grand strategy to discover and pierce the Achilles’ heel of the opposing government’s power to make war.” (B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, p. 212)

His true aim is not so much to seek battle as to seek a strategic situation so advantageous that, if it does not of itself produce a decision, its continuation by battle is sure to achieve this.” (B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, p. 325)

Amidst a group of plant pathologists, how might your grateful visitor from an entirely different intellectual formation approach with practical wisdom the sensitive strategic topic of bio-terrorism and longer-range biological warfare, to include their direct and indirect, economic and psychological consequences? That is to say, the chronic, as well as the traumatic, implications of those malign and fearsome subversions of trust that may deeply affect and infect a culture and whole intimate way of lifeproducing, in the words of the poet Shelly, “the contagion of the world’s slow stain.”

Is it not fitting that I propose a challenging thesis? And should you not always beware of the Air Force, even when they come bearing gifts?

I shall argue, therefore, that, by understanding the ways and means of strategic (and grand-strategic), indirect warfare, in the longer light of military history and intentionally ambiguous cultural subversions, we may better anticipate and strategically counteract inchoate, but subtly developing, forms of bio-terrorism, and longer-range forms of psycho-biological warfare, which may also be intensely dislocating new manifestations of economic warfare.

By indirectly attacking and infecting unprotected “soft targets” such as seeds and soils, a strategic aggressor or trans-national criminal syndicate or terrorist could have many disproportionately adverse effects upon a whole culture and its way of life. This may be but one new form of “asymmetrical warfare” against sophisticated (or decadent) interdependent societies. The developments from research in molecular biology and its variety of manipulative applications in bio-technologies give many new capabilities to the malevolent. We must also therefore consider how there is now developing even a genetics-based “revolution in military affairs (RMA)” or “military-technical revolution,” both of which could be strategically and indirectly employed, also combining “cybernetics” and “biological organisms” as instrumentalities of conflictnew “cyborganizations” as some strangely call this troublesome phenomenon. We once spoke of the revolutionary “mechanization of warfare.” Will we soon also be speaking of the revolutionary “cyborganization of warfare,” with its dubious synthetic formation of “bionic commandos,” and the like?

A pervading (and provocative) question to be found, at least implicitly, throughout this whole essay is: to what extent are the logical premises and the dominant culture of scientific materialism an adequate intellectual, moral, and strategic foundation to combat the increasingly insidious forms of biological warfare and bio-terrorism?

How may we reasonably assess such threats: the risks, in light of our personal and cultural vulnerabilities, and our lack of assurance and insurance? Thucydides said that “most peoples’ character sinks to the level of their fortune!” How, therefore, do we, as a nation, defend ourselves against such subtle and fundamental psycho-biological threatsthreats to our very mental, moral, and physical existencewithout sinking to the level of our adversary, without cynically coming to resemble his moral baseness, without succumbing to this seductive “dialectic of dissolution”?

In the delicate balance between risk and insurance, avoiding too much of either, the boundaries of discourse are usefully disciplined and defined by what both philosophers and even insurance companies call “the concept of moral hazard.” Avoiding too much risk, we must also avoid too much complacency or insurance. That is to say, how do we so proportion and poise that properly “regenerative equilibrium” between “risk and assurance” that we do not actually promote and bring about what we are purportedly trying to insure against? In the words of George Gilder:

Moral hazard is the danger that a policy [or strategy] will encourage the behavioror promote the disastersthat it insures against…. Arson has for some years been among America’s most popular crimes; most of it induced by fire insurance.”i

For example, when, overstepping a certain limit, an insurance company inordinately remunerates a policy holder for the loss of his own building due to criminal arson, they soon unwittingly may provide an incentive to that policy holder himself, when he is weak and morally vulnerable, to do the very thing they are trying to insure against! So, too, it would seem, is it the case often with an overly indulgent or permissive parent, or with a pampering welfare organization or “Provider State” that fosters, sentimentally but unintentionally, a heap of enervated citizens, if not ingrate louts and parasites bereft of resilient initiative.

So, too, is it the case in national security affairs, in the realms of strategic policy and cultural politics, that such consequential moral hazards can be iatrogenic illnesses: illnesses caused by the doctor himself! We shall soon examine, for example, how the U.S.’s highly developed technological capacities can actually promote unconventional warfare and subversive indirection.

How, therefore, may we fittingly discuss the real and growing hazards of biological warfareto include bio-terrorism and bio-criminalitywithout thereby providing incentives to the wrong kinds of persons to do the very things we are seemingly trying to insure against? This is a question of great moment, requiring our trustful and trustworthy integrity and special responsibility, especially for those who have the burden of great knowledge, especially knowledge of the twentieth-century revolution in molecular biology and neuro-science, and their applied biological and medical technologies. The manipulation of neuro-peptides, for example, is so consequential.

It has come to my attention, moreover, that some of your thoughtful members and leadership have already effectively posed the trenchant question: “Why should a professional scientific association of plant pathologists be discussing strategic issues of biological terrorism, criminality, and warfare?” And besides, and for all of us, in the words of Dr. Francois Rabelais, “these are all terrible things to think upon!” Knowledge of such matters may not make us wiser, but it will certainly make us sadder!

Nevertheless, will you accept my invitation to be “Pantagruelists,” at least during the remainder of my presentation and unflinching receptivity to your questions and safe escape from your Conference? For, Rabelais, calling himself “Master Alcofribas, Abstractor of the Quintessence,” in addition to being a very learned medical doctor, scholar of Greek, and Franciscan priest, was also a Pantagruelist! As you will recall from his sixteenth-century rumbustious, comic tale, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais, “Abstracter of the Quintessence,” defined Pantagruelism as “a certain jollity of mind pickled in the scorn of fortune.” We, too, shall need such a resilient and fortifying ethos, to be sure, in order to deal with the inescapable matter of biological warfare. So, will you accept my invitation?

Encouraged by your considerate acceptance and invitation, I now propose to take a longer view of the issue: that is, to consider biological warfare in the longer light of military history, especially as a form of strategic indirect warfare (or grand strategy) which is cumulatively subversive and dislocating, both mentally and physically, both morally and materially. My intended accentuation will be made clearer, perhaps, if I were to use the phrase “psycho-biological warfare” or “psycho-cultural warfare,” where “culture” is understood to mean any “vital medium,” even when it is, paradoxically, the growth medium of a virus, a virulent medium unto death or spiritual despair.

May I encourage you to consider that, in addition to traditional, long-range strategic agents against the homeland of an adversarysuch as viral smallpox, inhalational anthrax, and pneumonic plaguemodern biological developments permit even subtler targeting against agriculture and the human mind, against economic targets and psychological targets, with anti-crop and anti-soil agents, for example, or insidious psycho-tropic and neuro-tropic agents which darkly manipulate potent neuro-peptides.

Writing in 1932, after the devastating “Carthaginian Peace” of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and subsequently growing economic depression in the West after the financial collapse of 1929, the strategic-minded British military historian, Major General J.F.C. Fuller, prophetically and compassionately said the following about the 1914-1918 First World War, in which he was a combatant officer; and vividly observant of “the changing nature of war”:

As inundations of men, personnel warfare, had failed beyond hope of redemption, the General Staffs, still obsessed by the quantity complex, turned to matériel, seeing in shell fire a means of blasting a road to Paris or Berlin…. The attack by matériel failed ignominiously…. The enormous demands made for all types of munitions of war, however, revealed clearly to the eyes of the General Staffs the economic foundations of the war. So visible did these economic foundations become that it was not long before these Staffs realized that, if the food supply of the enemy be cut off, the foundations of the hostile nation would be undermined and, with the loss of will to endure, its military forces would be paralysed…. Thus, in the World War, the matériel attack having failed, it at once gave way to plundering operationsattacks on trade in place of the devastation of crops. To introduce this most barbarous form of war, the first military problem that the Allied Powers had to solve was the circumvallation of the Central Powers; and the secondtheir surrender by starvation: This is an attack on the enemy’s civil stomach, not only on his men but on his women and children, not only on his soldiers, but on his sick and his poor. The economic attack is without question the most brutal of all forms of attack, because it does not only kill but cripple, and cripples more than one generation. Turning men women and children into starving animals, it is a direct blow against what is called civilization…. [Then, referring to “the theory of moral warfare” and “the weapons of the moral attack,” General Fuller resumes.] Throughout the history of war treachery has proved itself a powerful weapon…. In the World War treachery was attempted through propaganda, the contending newspapers raking dirt out of the gutters of their respective Fleet Streets and squirting it at their country’s enemies. All sense of justice was cast aside, the more outrageous the lie the more potent it was supposed to be…. yet no Government appeared to realize that the attack by lies besmirched its own future….” ii

General Fuller, knowing well that the greatest social effect of the lie is the intimate breaking of trust, which, once broken, is so hard to repair, also far-sightedly commented, in one of his earlier books, written in 1920, as follows:

Today [1920] we stand upon the threshold of a new epoch in the history of the worldwar based on petrol, the natural sequent of an industry based on steam. That we have attained the final step on the evolutionary ladder of war is most unlikely, for mechanical and chemical weapons may disappear and be replaced by others still more terrible. Electricity [much less the use of psycho-tropic or electromagnetic weapons] has scarcely been touched upon and it is not impossible that mechanical warfare will be replaced by one of a wireless nature [or cybernetic, bionic, cyborgian?], and that not only the elements but man’s flesh and bones, will be controlled by the “fluid” which to-day we do not even understand. This method of imposing the will of one man [or nation] on another may in its turn be replaced by a purely psychological warfare, wherein [firepower] weapons are not even used or [physical] battlefields sought or loss of life of limb aimed at; but, in [their] place, the corruption of human reason, the dimming of the human intellect, the disintegration of the moral and spiritual life of one nation by the influence of the will of another is accomplished.iii

Speaking of such topics as “science and warfare…within the enemy’s lines,” “strategy, or the science of making the most of time for warlike ends…with time the controlling factor,” “the evolution of weapons,” and “brain and body warfare,” and of new subtle forms of “scientific warfare,” General Fuller thus illuminates also our current context of anti-crop and anti-seed (or soil) biological warfare, in light of modern neuro-science and its further capacities for intimate manipulation, even in very small, nanogram doses.

But, in response to such actual or potential, cultural and strategic threats, there are no merely technical answers that are adequate or finally protective. After all is said and done, there are no technical solutions to fundamentally moral problems. From such intrinsically moral and spiritual problems, “we may run, but can’t hide,” as the boxer, Joe Louis, once said, in a refreshingly different context! And there is the added issue of what economists call “externalities”i.e., “problems that go beyond the immediate effects of the policy” or the counter-strategy, as against biological terrorism, for example.

By way of further illustration, let us consider two aspects of the dangerous (and ambiguous) aftermath of the so-called “Cold War.” However, it seems preferable to call that struggle the “Camouflaged War” of “Ambiguous Aggression,” as the military historian, B.H Liddell Hart, himself insightfully called this phenomenon of protracted conflict.

First, I would propose to you the eloquent discernment of Whittaker Chambers, from his 1964 posthumously published book, Cold Friday. Secondly, I would offer a further insight from another strategic-minded military historian from Britain, Captain B.H. Liddell Hart himself, who was also a friend of General J.F.C. (“Boney”) Fuller.

In his moving autobiographical chapter, “The Direct Glance,” the former Communist, Whittaker Chambersto whom, in a letter, André Malraux once reverentially wrote: “You are one of those who did not return from Hell with empty hands”poignantly and piercingly said:

I write as a man who made his way back from a special experience of our timethe experience of Communism. I believe the experience to be the central one, for whichever side prevails the outcome will be shaped decisively by what Communism is and meant to be, and by the conditions that made it possible and made possible the great conflict…. A man is obligated, if he seeks to give any effect to his brief life, to tear away all mystery that darkens or distorts, to snap all ties that bind him in the name of an untruth, to push back from all limiting frontiers to the end that man’s intelligence [i.e., Logos] may be free to realize to the fullest of its untrammeled powers a better life in a better world.iv

Then, B.H. Liddell Hart, writing in 1967 on the importance of truth and “the strategy and grand strategy of indirect approach,” complements Whittaker Chambers’ insights about the liberating rejection of untruth:

When, in the course of studying a long series of military campaigns, I first came to perceive the superiority of the indirect over the direct approach, I was looking merely for light upon strategy. With deepened reflection, however, I began to realize that the indirect approach had a much wider applicationthat it was also a law of life in all spheres: a truth of philosophy.v

Liddell Hart then continues his thoughts by applying it to the practical problem of producing persuasion or, more profoundly, a true conviction, since we are only as courageous as we are convinced, truly convinced. He says:

Its fulfillment [i.e., the principle of indirect approach] was seen to be the key to practical achievement in dealing with any problem [to include plant pathologists!] where the human factor predominates, and a conflict of wills tends to spring from an underlying concern for interest. In all such cases, the direct assault of new ideas provokes a stubborn resistance, thus intensifying the difficulty of producing a change of outlook. Conversion is achieved more easily and rapidly by unsuspected infiltration of a different idea or by an argument that turns the flank of instinctive opposition.vi

Moreover, says Liddell Hart: “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,”vii as by making the U.S. centrifugally overextended, for example. This is also sometimes called the psychological preparation of the battlefield. And, “it was Lenin who enunciated the axiom that ‘the soundest strategy in war is to postpone operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders the delivery of the mortal blow possible and easy’.”viii Such was the intent of Lenin’s revolutionary psychological warfare and strategic use of “semantic politics,” whereby one strategically captures the key concepts and meanings of language. Hitler also said, “our real wars will in fact all be fought before military operations begin.”ix In Hermann Rauschning’s book, Hitler Speaks, he quotes Hitler’s own conversation with him, as follows:

How to achieve the moral breakdown of the enemy before the war has startedthat is the problem that interests me. Whoever has experienced war at the front [as Hitler himself did in World War I] will want to refrain from all avoidable bloodshed.x

Given their paralyzing, if not disintegrating, moral and psychological effects, would not biological weapons themselves, subtly used, be an acutely effective (even bloodless) indirect way of achieving strategic paralysis? What if subtle, psychotropic and neurotropic bio-agents (to include bio-toxins) were used against the enemy’s (or rival’s) leadership, against his whole “command-and-control apparatus”? (Tabtoxin, for example, a plant toxin, apparently produces a multiplicity of seizures in human beings, and is rather easily confected, I have been told.)

Liddell Hart continues with his eloquent, still applicable, insights:

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 [even the special interests of plant pathologists!].xi

Then he makes an important distinction between the prophet and the leader, which may also illuminate what I, in some small way, would like to initiate and impart to your receptivity and further responsibilities of leadership. He says:

History bears witness to the vital part that the “prophets” [like General Fuller and Captain Liddell Hart themselves] have played in human progresswhich is evidence of the ultimate practical value of expressing unreservedly the truth as one sees it. Yet it also becomes clear that the acceptance and spreading of their vision [of truth] has always depended on another class of men“leaders” who had to be philosophical strategists, striking a compromise between truth and men’s receptivity to it. Their effect has often depended as much on their own limitations in perceiving the truth as on their practical wisdom in proclaiming it.xii

As one of my own memorable mentors, Major General Mickey Finn, once said to me: “intellectuals should be on tap, not on top”but for very rare exceptions. Sensitive intellectuals usually lack the decisiveness and prompt robustness of leaders.

Developing his profound distinction, Liddell Hart resumes:

The prophets must be stoned; that is their lot and the test of their self-fulfillment. But a leader who is stoned may merely prove that he has failed in his function through a deficiency of wisdom, or through confusing his function with that of a prophet. Time alone can tell whether the effect of such a sacrifice redeems the apparent failure as a leader that does honour to him as a man. At the least, he avoids the more common fault of leadersthat of sacrificing the truth to expediency without ultimate advantage to the cause [of truth]. For, whoever habitually suppresses the truth in the interests of tact will produce a deformity from the womb of his thought.xiii

The traditional Latin aphorism, “Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi” conveys the same nuance. By suppressing the truth, you suggest what is false. By way of omission, you create a deception, producing also a self-deception through this expedient distortion.

Thus, though the idea of the indirect approach is “hard to reconcile” with the pursuit (and the primacy) of the truth, it must be sustainingly sought and preserved. Liddell Hart, pursuant to this aim, asks:

Is there a practical way of combining progress towards the attainment of truth with proper progress towards its acceptance? [Or, should your guest speaker sit down now, before he be stoned?] A possible solution of the problem is suggested by reflection on strategic principleswhich point to the importance of maintaining an object consistently and, also, pursuing it in a way adapted to circumstances [to include the audience!]. Opposition to the truth is inevitable, especially if it takes the form of a new idea, but the degree of resistance can be diminishedby giving thought not only to the aim but to the method of approach. 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. [Might such a maneuver work amongst plant pathologists altogether and unmistakably contumacious concerning biological forms of strategic indirect warfare and national defense?] But, in any such indirect approach [Liddell Hart winsomely emphasizes!] take care not to diverge from the truthfor nothing is more fatal to its real advancement that to lapse into untruth.xiv

Solzhenitsyn, like Whittaker Chambers, has often effectively said a similar thing with emphatic integrity: “Don’t live the lie. Even if it means but taking one small step at a time, come out from under the rubble! Come out from under the noisome asphyxiation of untruth. And never willingly participate in, nor be in complicity with, the lie!”

Whittaker Chambers was one of Liddell Hart’s “prophets,” indeed, “who did not return from Hell with empty hands,” and who does “speak with a certain urgency both because…history is closing in…with a speed which, in general [we] do not realize or prefer not to realize, and because I [Chambers] have a sense that time is closing in on me so that, at this point, I do not know whether or not I shall be given time to complete what I have to say.”xv He adds:

I may not claim for the larger meanings of what I shall say: This is truth. I say only: This is my vision of truth; to be checked and rechecked (as I myself continually check and recheck it) against the data of experience.xvi

What does Whittaker Chambers so urgently want to tell us, which, in my judgment, is still pertinent and trenchantly true? He says:

It is pointless and, indeed, impossible to press anything upon those who are unprepared for it. I set up the proposition and left it to those who could to draw the inference…. That proposition questioned the whole materialism of the West [to include its dominant scientific materialism], and the West is heavily materialist. It is, in fact, this materialism that Communism [to include the new forms of Cultural Marxism derived from Georg Lukacs, from the Frankfurt School and its culturally subversive “Critical Theory,” and from Antonio Gramsci himself, one of the two founders of the Italian Communist Party]xvii constantly appeals to and manipulates, not in terms of any easily defined political lines of Left or Right, but in terms of a common investment in a materialist view of life, which an important section of the West shares with Communism, and which Communism has simply carried to its utmost logical conclusion in thought and action. This common interest in a common materialism…nevertheless differs in form, degree, and [illogical] reservations.xviii

At a much deeper level than economics and central state planning, Communism is a cultural system rooted in the world view of dialectical materialism (or “DIAMAT”), which is, of course, intrinsically atheistical.

Chambers, from the bottom of his soul, adds the following about how, “even when the materialism of the West is assertively anti-Communist, it often serves Communist ends”xix:

From this propositionthat is the heart of Communism is the problem of atheismxxfollowed the second proposition which I set up in Witness [his earlier book, published in 1952], also without developing its conclusions. This proposition implied that the struggle of the West with Communism included our own solution. That is to say, in the course of its struggle with Communism, the West would develop or recover those resources (in the main, spiritual and moral), which it held to constitute its superiority to Communism or in the struggle it would go under. Going under might, I suppose, take one of two forms. The West might simply lose the war in political or physical terms. But I also allowed for the fact that the West might win the war in such terms [political and physical] and still lose it, if the taxing necessities of the conflict [and dialectic!] brought the West to resemble what it was struggling against…. A turn in this direction has been perfectly visible in the West for several decades.xxi

From the vantage point of 1999 (as distinct from 1961, when Whittaker Chambers died), I believe, also, that the West lost “the Cold War”the Guerra Friathat Camouflaged War of dialectical (or electro-magnetical) materialism which was aiming for “the freedom from religion” and for “liberation” from “the rights of God,” as distinct from the Cult of Man and his rights. Insofar as I can justly take the measure of what has historically transpired, “checked and rechecked against the data of experience,” we of the West have increasingly come to imitate what we were purportedly fighting against. In light of the concept and reality of “moral hazard,” we of the West have, in a sense, helped to bring about what we were purportedly trying to insure against. If this is so, we are more vulnerable now to biological warfare.

To the extent that I am just and justly proportionate in this judgment, the more difficult it will be for us, on essentially materialist premises, to defend against the destructive anti-human manipulations of molecular biology and its derivative biotechnologies, much less the subtler forms of biological warfare against life, even life in the womb, or through the intentionally sterilizing contamination of vaccines.

This conclusion is certainly not intended to be a moroseness, but certainly implies the need for a deeper and thoroughly strategic “course correction.” For, an effective counter-strategy requires a shared conviction about what, essentially, it means to be human. That is to say: what is man, and what is man for? What is human freedom for?

Materialist neuroscience, which reduces mind to the neurophysiology of the brain, may continue to speak of “memes” (mental genes), and the like, rather than to admit of a fuller “criterion of adequacy” to account for the mystery of man and his loves, and his hopes. Or, as Bertrand Russell once eloquently argued, is it, rather, the case that “a free man’s worship” must henceforth be based “on a firm foundation of unyielding despair,” amidst and “against the whole weight of a universe that cares nothing for his hopes and fears”? Are we then fittingly free to do evil and produce ugliness, even as an engineered devastation of ugliness? To what extent will scientific materialism, on its own premises, provide a defense against subtle and malevolent forms of biological manipulation and warfare?

On materialist premises, moreover, would not the very concept of “malevolence” be an illogicality and an illusion? Must we not squarely face where the inner logic of our premises leads, and what it may embarrassingly conduce to?

Given this context of scientific and cultural materialism, is it not also more likely that, amidst the growing cynicism of modern warfare, strategic adversaries now would be far less reluctant to manipulate and target our economic and psychological foundations, to include our food supplies, and crops, and the sustenance of our own children. As General Fuller said, “if the food supply of the enemy be cut off, the foundations of the hostile nation would be undermined and, with the loss of the will to endure, its military forces would be paralyzed.” In addition to “the devastation of crops,” the new and revengeful enemy would also “give way to plundering operationsattacks on trade” and so “introduce this most barbarous form of war,” “the most brutal of all forms of attack, because it does not only kill but cripple, and cripples more than one generation”to include the vulnerable children.

Material and moral elements will be strategically attacked, as evidence from the Soviet biological warfare program confirms, and morale is to be broken, even unto despair. Will such facts sufficiently wake us up?

In his 1951 book, The Revolt Against Reason, Arnold Lunn wrote:

If materialism be true, our thoughts are the mere by-product of material processes uninfluenced by reason. Hence, if materialism be right, our thoughts are determined by irrational processes and, therefore, the thoughts which lead to the conclusions that materialism is right have no relation to reason. The same argument invalidates Freudianism, behaviorism, and logical positivism. All that the prophets of these cults have achieved is to provide their disciples with reasons for rejecting all philosophies, including Marxism, behaviorism, Freudianism, and logical positivism.xxii

Such nihilism and anarchy are not a good foundation for any resilient counter-strategy against biological warfare, do we agree?

Moreover, The Concise Oxford Dictionary, defines “Naturalism” as “a view of the world which excludes the supernatural or spiritual,” and this reductionist scientific orientation provides the scientific materialist with no justification for the first article in the creed of the true science: “I believe that truth is to be preferred to falsehood”!

On the other hand, it would seem that “theism” of some kind is required as a working hypothesis “without which science itself has no justification,” according to both Arnold Lunn and Sir Arthur Balfour himself (the author of the famous and gravely consequential “Balfour Declaration” of 1917, concerning the future of Palestine). In his 1894 philosophical book, entitled The Foundations of Belief, Balfour profoundly and acutely says:

Theism, then, whether or not it can in the strict meaning be described as proved by science, is a principle which science, for a double reason, requires for its own completion. The ordered system of phenomena asks for a cause; our knowledge of that system is inexplicable unless we assume for it a rational author…. On the naturalistic hypothesis, the whole premises of knowledge are clearly due to the blind operation of material causes, and in the last resort to these alone. On that hypothesis, we no more possess free reason than we possess free will. As all our volitions are the inevitable product of forces which are quite alien to morality, so all our conclusions are the inevitable product of forces which are quite alien to reason.xxiii

From the above, I can only reasonably conclude that no adequate counter-strategy to the threats of biological warfare and bio-terrorism will come from a world-view and culture of naturalism and scientific materialism. If it could be otherwise, I do not yet see it. The challenge of biological warfare, in any event, will take us to the foundations of our very existence. Human superficiality will not be enough.

Nevertheless, the subsequent analysis of strategic indirect warfare on the biological front must be evaluated on its own merits, and will likely display its reasonableness to you only when sufficiently checked (and rechecked) against the data of experienceand hence in the longer light of history, too.

In his Memoirs, Liddell Hart summarized at length the main conclusions of “the military doctrine or philosophy most closely associated with [his] name, the Strategy of Indirect Approach,” which “first found full expression in 1929 in a volume entitled The Decisive Wars of History.xxiv

Let us now imagine how an intelligent strategic (or grand strategic) adversary would apply on the biological front, and with interior lines on the inner front of our own homeland, the following articulation of principles from Liddell Hart’s own Memoirs:

More and more clearly has the fact emerged that a direct approach to one’s mental object, or physical objective, along the “line of natural expectation” for the opponent [rather than “to follow the line of least expectation”], has ever tended to, and usually produced, negative results. The reason has been expressed scientifically by saying that, while the strength of an enemy country [like the USA?] lies outwardly in its numbers and resources, these are fundamentally dependent upon stability or “equilibrium” of control, morale, and supply [or logistics]. The former are but the flesh covering the framework of bones and ligaments.

To move along the line of natural expectation is to consolidate the opponent’s equilibrium, and by stiffening it to augment his resisting power. In war as in wrestling the attempt to throw the opponent without loosening his foothold and balance can only result in self-exhaustion, increasing in disproportionate ratio to the effective strain put upon him. Victory by such a method can only be possible through an immense margin of superior strength in some form, and even so tends to lose decisiveness. In contrast, an examination of military history, not of one period but of its whole course, points to the fact that in all the decisive campaigns the dislocation of the enemy’s psychological an physical balance has been the vital prelude to a successful attempt at his overthrow. This dislocation has been produced by a strategic indirect approach, intentional or fortuitous….

The art of the indirect approach can only be mastered, and its full scope appreciated, by study of [as the Chinese have especially done] and reflection upon the whole history of war. But we can at least crystallize the lessons into two simple maxims, one negative, the other positive. The first is that, in the face of the overwhelming evidence of history, no general is justified in launching his troops to a direct attack upon an enemy firmly in position. The second, that, instead of seeking to upset the enemy’s equilibrium by one’s attack, it must be upset before the real attack is, or can be successfully, launched…. Mechanized forces [tanks and airplanesand now, also, perhaps, other cybernetic or cyborgian technological innovations], by their combination of speed and flexibility, offered the means of pursuing this dual action far more effectively than any army in the past.xxv

However, there is the danger of over-reaching to the point of resembling your adversary, especially your more despotic (or tyrannical) adversary, as with the altogether unintelligent response to Adolph Hitler, in Liddell Hart’s judgment. Such an over-reaction represents another instance of coming to resemble what you are purportedly (and actually) fighting against. In this case, it was the matter of “conscription” as a dire “threat to freedom,” in imitation of National Socialist Germany, rather than of Soviet Bolshevism, as was the case later during “the Cold War.” That is to say, the Protracted Camouflaged War of Dialectical Materialism for the Hegemony of a New Order and Revolutionary Culture, which (like Hegelianism, as well as Marxism) intrinsically denies the law of contradiction (and hence the law of identity). Commenting on the English over-reaction to Hitlerian Germany’s challenge, Liddell Hart said:

The effects [of mandatory military conscription] transcend the military sphere. Bemused [i.e., confused, stupefied, deceived and seduced] by the cry of total warfare, we are trying to make ourselves totalitarianwith the maximum of inefficiency for the minimum of productivity, in proportion to the efforts…. The basic principle of Nazism [National Socialism, in slight contrast to Global, or International, Socialism] is the claim of the State [or the UN?] to determine the individual’s duty, and decide his conscience for him. Hence, in opposing the Nazi’s “New Order,” we weaken our own position if we adopt the same basis….xxvi

We are weakened by coming to resemble what we are ostensibly fighting against. We look for the enemy and it is us.

As part of the long a-growing destructive Western development of “total war,” Liddell Hart, in essential agreement with General Fuller, saw “Napoleon’s responsibility for instituting conscription,” as well as other devastating innovations. On 30 January 1943 he wrote:

Napoleon fell, but left as a legacy the chain of military conscriptionwhich dragged mankind into a series of bigger and badder wars. When Hitler passes, will he also leave the chain of civil conscription, the logical corollary of totalitarianism riveted round the necks of mankindthus establishing the reign of universal servitude [or what Hilaire Belloc called, in 1911, The Servile State]? If so, it will be an ironical reflection on the unthinking conduct of war, and on the efforts and sacrifices made by the peoples who have sought and fought to defeat him [Hitler].xxvii

The deeper challenge of the Soviet Cultural System of “democratic centralism” and “dialectical materialism” was to follow World War II, and that system of servitude we have also come, through protracted struggle, to resemble more and more. Is it not so?

Moreover, and very profoundly, Liddell Hart later added his insights about the further handicaps to recovery after World War II, as a result of Churchill’s own inordinate and promiscuous resort to “guerrilla warfare,” partly in admiring response to T.E. Lawrence’s unconventional warfare activities against the Ottoman Turks during World War I (even though Lawrence was later betrayed and saddened by the Zionist project in Palestine). Liddell Hart’s deep reflections on this matter are especially fitting in our current context of biological warfare and bio-terrorism as an even further “development” of intrusive “total warfare,” and which will be so difficult to counter without a further, self-sabotaging temptation and self-destructive over-reaction on our part, to boot!

For if the nuclear power now available were unleashed and not merely meant as a deterrent, its use would mean “chaos” not “war,” since war is organized 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 indirect, longer-range biological warfare]. Through its unsuitability for the purpose [of such deterrence] it tends to encourage them [i.e., to bring about what it is trying to insure against!]. The necessary amplification of the maxim is now “If you wish for peace, understand warparticularly the guerrilla and subversive forms of war.”xxviii

Do you, too, now see the importance of such understanding?

Moreover, “the combination of guerrilla and subversive war…. [does] fit the conditions of the modern age and at the same time [they] are well suited to take advantage of social discontent, racial ferment, and nationalistic fervour.”xxix They constitute “forms of aggression by erosion, to which nuclear weapons were [and are] an inapplicable counter.”xxx Furthermore, “the strategy now being developed by our opponents is inspired by the dual idea of evading and hamstringing superior airpower,”xxxi whose effect is achieved “by producing more cumulative distraction, disturbance, and demoralization among the enemy.”xxxii And, “thus the concept of ‘cold war’ is now [1967] out of date, and should be superseded by that of ‘camouflaged war’.”xxxiii Biological warfare is now even more camouflaged, more difficult to detect, no?

The promiscuous resort to guerrilla warfare by the Allies in World War II“the product of the war policy of instigating and fomenting popular revolution in enemy-occupied countries”xxxivalso, according to Liddell Hart, produced many “a handicap to recovery after liberation.”xxxv

But the heaviest handicap of all, and the most lasting one, was of a 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…. Worse still [like economic warfare!] was its wider effect on the younger generation as a whole. It taught them to defy authority and break the rules of civil morality in the fight against the occupying forces. This left a disrespect for “law and order” [and for the principle of authority itself] that inevitably continued after the invaders had gone.xxxvi

Why was that so, and not otherwise? Liddell Hart’s answer is that there is always a “dangerous aftermath of guerrilla warfare,” for

Violence takes much deeper root in irregular warfare than it does in regular warfare. In the latter it is counteracted by obedience to 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.xxxvii

The recent experience in the Balkans is confirmatory, with its long-term effects further conducive to the spread of revolt. The “moral hazards” are rampant. Nevertheless, in the words of Liddell Hart:

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” [or bio-terrorist] activities by counter-offensive [or counter-terrorist] moves of the same kind, it would be wiser to devise and pursue a more subtle and far-seeing counter-strategy.xxxviii

In light of your special knowledge about plant pathology, and about how crops and seeds and soils and our whole agricultural infrastructure could be undermined, how would you also farsightedly start to resist the subtler “asymmetrical” and subversive forms of strategic indirect warfare on the biological front? I leave you with this challenge. All things considered, may we now more intelligently and responsibly advance our own truly strategic, scientific discourse and protective actions concerning these psycho-biological matters of national and cultural security?

Some Concluding Considerations and Questions:

Liddell Hart made several deep points about strategy in his 1925 book with the intentionally punning title: Paris, or the Future of War. Similar to Sun Tzu, in his view, the aim of war is “to subdue the enemy’s will to resist, with the least possible human and economic loss to itself,” and “a highly organized state was only as strong as its weakest link.”xxxix Thus, if one key section of the nation, such as its agriculture, could be “disorganized and demoralized,” the collapse of its will to resist could induce the surrender of the whole, the psychological surrender of the enemy, or his strategic paralysis. Since, as was earlier cited, the aim of grand strategy was to discover and exploit the Achilles’ heel of the enemy nation (or corporation), just as the Trojan Warrior, Paris (Son of King Priam), killed the Greek champion Achilles, the key strategic principle is to strike against the enemy’s most vulnerable spot, rather than against his strongest fortifications or bulwark, such as his airpower or other forms of technological dominance.

In a later passage of Paris, Liddell Hart adds a strategic nuance concerning a specifically military target, whereby a mobile and maneuvering force properly is to be assembled and concentrated “against the Achilles’ heel of the enemy army, the communications and command centres which form its nerve system.”xl That is to say, the strategic principle applies to both military and civil sectors.

All good strategists try to establish two things: first, to secure and preserve their base; and, secondly, to achieve and sustain “mastery of the communications” in its fullest sense. Both are essential, and, thus, an intelligent adversary will try to counter these, i.e., to disrupt and dislocate that base, and his enemy’s key communications, to include his capacity for strategic mobility (which is currently so important for the United States, for example).

Given these principles, would it not be especially effective to go after the U.S.’s agricultural base and agricultural logistics and communications, so as to effect our disorganization and demoralization, and disrupt our strategic mobility as well as our international trade? According to Dr. Paul Rogers of Britain’s Bradford University, himself a plant pathologist, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) has very subtly done, during the recent past, such economic targeting against Great Britain, after they first had made a very intelligent and thorough study of Great Britain’s “economic geography,” to include its “financial nerve centers of organization.”xli Might we not also reasonably expect such targeting against our nation, or its corporations abroad, like McDonald’s? The recent case of Belgian food contamination, and its trust-breaking official concealments, may be a further sign of such likely developments.

Part of what is so unsettling about the recent food contamination in Belgium is the difficulty of discerning whether it was natural or deliberately introduced. Was it accidental or neglectful, or was it something darker and subtly designed? (Politically, it is not only the European “Green” Parties who, on principle, are against the import of all genetically engineered food from America!) The ambiguities themselves may then be malevolently manipulated, with further adverse consequences on commerce and trade, and even on the politics of the European Union itself, as well as on the domestic governments of Belgium and neighboring France. Comparably, in the United states, the accidental release of the marine neuro-toxin, pfiesteria, into the coastal waters of North Carolina has caused a similar array of difficulties, especially as pfiesteria’s effects on fishermen as well as fish have become more obvious, especially as it has spread further into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. (Apparently, even the University of Virginia Medical School is now urgently, though belatedly, studying this matter closely.) Dr. Thomas Frazier has wisely proposed a deeper, comparative study of both of these cases, and before key evidence may become more inaccessible or intentionally distorted.

It may be useful for us to consider the situation of the United States more closely, for several reasons. At least perceptions are spreading and deepening around the world that the United States is, or is becoming, a “rogue superpower.” Analogies have even been made to the earlier British Empire, especially as to the aggressive conduct of the “Liberal Imperialists,” also know as “the LIMPS.” Moreover, there is the perception that the United States is very vulnerable, as well as very provocative. In the memorable phrase of Dr. Fritz Kraemer (said to me some twenty years ago), the U.S. is in a situation of “provocative weakness,” for, “we are so weak (in some areas) that we are provocative to others.” In 1999, the U.S. is more over-extended and arguably more arrogant, as well as ignorant. Many may have a kind of Schadenfreude, if the U.S. were to be embarrassed and levelled down; and if its own growing “Cultural Balkanization” or racial tensions could be exploited. The issue of multi-cultural immigration and imiscible migrations is itself very sensitive and de-stabilizing. And Mexico is, strategically, still the “soft underbelly” of the United States.

And what of the Drug War? What if naturally growing fungi, destructive of the coca plant, or other drug crops, were deliberately and specially used to target their growth at the roots, namely, at the very stage of cultivation? Would such action be perceived as a kind of economic warfare against the poor, as well as against the power of the drug cartels, drug lords, and money-launderers of “narco-bucks,” where drugs are also viewed even as “an access to liquidity,” especially for the oligarchs and others who “manipulate national debt” for further “leverage”? And would they then take reprisals, against the perceived “initiating country’s” own crops or concentrated animal “breeding stock”? Would such vengeful activity be warfare or criminality or terrorism, or somewhere in “the interstices” or in the ambiguous “seams” between them? All of them, however, could be strategically interrelated as insidious forms of subversion? Do you see what I mean? Is my meaning clear? Our clarified and growing understanding of the principles of strategic indirect warfare may now help us take a better measure of such things, and to develop an intelligent and long-range counter-strategy.

It has been wisely observed by my friend and colleague at the Air Force Academy, Colonel Chip Franck, that there are three main ways that a “rival” or “competitor” has historically (and strategically) responded to a perceived opponent or antagonist: emulation, off-setting, or by-passing. One can either try to match and exceed the rival’s strengths, nullify or weaken his advantages or privileged strengths, or evade them “asymmetrically,”xlii or by using a kind of jujitsu, thereby even using his own strengths or “virtues” against him. The economic and psychological aspects of the full range and spectrum of biological warfare may be helpfully considered as both an “off-setting” and “by-passing” counter-strategy.

Also, in this context, I commend your deeply reflective attention to one of the last books of Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, written in 1961 and considered by many to be his best. It is entitled The Conduct of War, 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial, and Russian Revolutions on War and its Conduct.xliii His chapter on “Soviet Revolutionary Warfare” (Chapter XI) is especially discerning and brilliant, and is still very applicable, to include his insights about strategic psychological and political warfare.

In deference to General Fuller, and very consciously so, this essay has tried to initiate us into thinking more deeply about the inchoate and growing impact of the biotechnical revolution on war and its conduct, rooted as it is in the prior scientific revolutions in molecular biology, neuro-science, and information or computer science. Furthermore, as Dr. Malcolm Dando recently suggested during my visit with him at Bradford University, there is a growing conjunction or convergence, or consilience (in the sociobiologist E.O.Wilson’s concept),xliv of several scientific and technological developments, coming to a sharper focus in the whole biological and bio-engineering realm, all of which is all too easily applicable to subtle new forms of warfare. General Fuller’s book on earlier revolutions and their consequences on “total warfare” should be read with these later developments and analogues in mind.

In his recent book, understandably controversial and intentionally provocative, Fighting for the Future, the strategic-minded Ralph Peters has some concluding remarks which are less measured and discerning, but also similar to what the neuro-physiologist, Malcolm Dando, has written and recently said to me about chemical “calmative agents” and about the equivocal (and threatening) manipulation of potent “neuro-peptides,” and other “regulatory peptides” recently discovered. In one of his concluding sections, entitled “Inevitable Weapons,” Ralph Peters says:

The greatest opportunity for us, and the greatest danger to us, will come with the development of behavior-control weapons by the middle decades of the next century, if not sooner. On the one hand, these will be the weapons most horrible to our civilization, but we will be unable to prevent their development. In their perfected form they will permanently alter the perceptions and beliefs of men and women. On the other hand, they offer the first opportunity in history to pacify humankind without violence.xlv

These words recall the foresight of General Fuller, cited at the beginning of this essay, (on page 6, and footnote 3), although Fuller would be much more deeply troubled by, and altogether resistant to, such a de-humanizing “development,” and barbaric regression.

Much more unequivocally and serenely and confidently, Ralph Peters says:

In the first half of the next century, postmodern weapons may allow us to “outlaw” war. In subsequent decades, behavior-control mechanisms finally may let us stop genocide, oppression, fanaticism, and even criminality.xlvi

We may well wonder “who is the ‘us’?” Who will be the “humane” controllers in this Utopian or Dystopian vision or actuality? Who will be the Guardian of “the Guardians”?

Moreover, he says:

[T]his discussion is about a more rarefiedand ultimately more frighteninglevel of manipulation [in contrast to a “bullet,” which is, in a sense, also “a very good behavior-control weapon”]. Weor our enemies, should we fail to actwill develop behavior-control weapons that change the mind without invading the body…. Imagine a weapon, directed at an individual or a mass, that compacts a lifetime’s worth of carefully tailored signals into a microsecond broadcast. Imagine another weapon that targets specific nodes, or simply processes, in the brain.xlvii

Even more disconcerting in this context of psycho-biological warfare, Peters says:

The insidious [.i.e., “ambush”] feature of such weapons is that the victim not only doesn’t know what hit him but doesn’t realize he has been hit by anything at all…. The dark side is that such weapons could permanently alter the perceptions of individuals and entire cultures. xlviii

To me, this sounds like a further “development” of Soviet “penal psychiatry,” as with the research done at the Serbiensky Institute in the dreaded Lubianka. Psycho-tropic and neuro-tropic agents and weapons are now, however, even more likely, “given the current developments in fields as diverse as neurobiology, anthropology, sonics, digital engineering, marketing, and complexity studies.”xlix

Admitting his limitations and ability “to imagine the future,” Ralph Peters nevertheless all too plausibly concludes:

The only thing of which I am certain is that the next century’s revolution in weaponry will involve forms of behavior control and mental intrusion. Attacking the human body has been a sloppy and inefficient means of making war. Attacking the mind may prove the culmination of military history.l

More dubiously, if not altogether dementedly, he adds: “If there is any technology that we must first master and then prohibit elsewhere, it is the means to alter human thought.”li Since these words are not intended to be a self-parody nor an updated satire of “Dr. Strangelove,” I hope they will stir you to your fuller responsibilities and counter-action as scientists very knowledgeable of the new and growing biotechnologies, and their equivocal potential for misapplication.

May I also encourage you to read, in this context, the following additional books, which, even when they hardly (or not at all) mention “biological warfare” or “strategic indirect warfare,” constitute an unmistakable and altogether important array of thoughtful texts:

  1. Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Re-Making the World (1998)
  2. John Harris, Wonderwoman and Superman: The Ethics of Human Biotechnology (1992)
  3. Malcolm Dando, Biological Warfare in the 21st Century: Biotechnology and the Proliferation of Biological Weapons (1994).
  4. Malcolm Dando, A New Form of Warfare: the Rise of Non-Lethal Weapons (1996)
  5. Malcolm Dando, Biotechnology, Weapons, and Humanity (1999)to include his brave chapter 4 on “Genetic Weapons.”
  6. John B. Alexander, Future War: Non-Lethal Weapons in Twenty-First Century Warfare (1999), who is much more sanguine than Dando and I about such developments.
  7. Ken Alibek, Biohazard (1999)(An important and revealing discussion of the secret Soviet/Russian biological warfare program, written by the former Deputy Director of Biopreparat himself, and a defector in 1992.)

Have I been at all effective in conveying to you how these equivocal and unmistakably challenging developments may be applied to subversive warfare and to national defense, and how, in part, they derive from the twentieth–century revolution in molecular biology and biotechnologies in “consilience” with other scientific discoveries and applications?

Taking the longer view, to include the light shed by the multi-cultural history of unconventional and revolutionary warfare and strategic thought (especially indirect deceptive forms of strategic warfare), can you now better appreciate, as scientists and plant pathologists, how the spectrum of biological warfare, bio-terrorism and bio criminality has broadened and deepened?

To what extent have I allowed the value of the strategic indirect approach to emerge in your own growing and discerning consciousness, and to clarify your understanding of warfare, especially subversive forms of warfare against economic and agricultural targets?

Are you also now convinced that surprise, which produces shock (or shock trauma) rather than mere strain, is the best weapon of war, for it throws the enemy off his balance (psychologically and often logistically or physically) as well as secures a position for oneself, which makes the enemy’s situation very dangerous? Have not some keen thinkers even said that “there is no virtue in an indirect approach” as a method unless it secures this end: namely, surprise, which may be itself the higher and prior principle.lii

May we now further collaborate to foster trust in our sustaining (and sustainable) culture, and to mitigate the destructive consequences and deeper implications of “technological surprise” and “strategic surprise” on “the psycho-biological front” of insidious and subversive indirect warfare?

I thank you.

Finis

©Robert D. Hickson 1999

i George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty (New York; Bantam Books, 1981), p. 132.

ii J.F.C. Fuller, War and Western Civilization (London: Duckworth, 1932), pp. 228, 230, and 234. My emphasis added.

iii Brevet-Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, Tanks in the Great War, 1914-1918 (London: John Murray, 1920), p. 320. My emphasis added to the original.

iv Whittaker Chambers, Cold Friday (New York: Random House), pp. 67,68,69.

v B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy (Second Revised Edition) (New York: MeridanPenguin, 1967), p. xx (Preface).

vi Ibid.

vii Ibid.

viii Ibid., p. 208. My emphasis added.

ix Ibid. My emphasis added.

x Ibid. My emphasis added.

xi Ibid., p. xx (Preface). My emphasis added.

xii Ibid. My emphasis added.

xiii Ibid., p. xxi (Preface). My emphasis added.

xiv Ibid. My emphasis added.

xv Whittaker Chambers, Cold Friday, p. 67.

xvi Ibid.

xvii The evidence has recently been de-classified and made shockingly public in Germany, namely the extent to which the Soviet KGB financially (and otherwise) supported the Frankfurt School, and its projects of promoting Kulturpessimismus and cultural subversion: “the Long March through the Institutions,” “the Long March through the Culture.”

xviii Whittaker Chambers, Cold Friday, p. 69. My emphasis added.

xix Ibid., p. 70.

xx Earlier, on pp. 68-69, Chambers had said: “The crux of this matter is the question whether God exists. If God exists, a man cannot be a Communist, which begins with the rejection of God. But, if God does not exist, it follows that Communism, or some suitable variant of it, is right.” Some collective arrangement for regimented and vengeful “economic justice” will likely be proposed even unto the inner levelling of the human person and his higher faculties. Another name for it would be “sleepwalking into servitude.”

xxi Whittaker Chambers, Cold Friday, p. 70.

xxii Arnold Lunn, The Revolt Against Reason (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1951), p. 85.

xxiii See Arnold Lunn, The Revolt Against Reason, p. 85.

xxiv Brian Bond, Liddell Hart: A Study of His Military Thought (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1977), p. 54.

xxv See Brian Bond, Liddell Hart: A Study of His Military Thought, pp. 54-55, for an easily accessible, extended citation of Liddell Hart’s Memoirsuseful, despite Bond’s often insufferable condescension. See also the original text of the Memoirs (2 vols.) (Cassell: London, 1965), pp. 162-165.

xxvi See the whole citation in Brian Bond’s Liddell Hart, p. 127.

xxvii Brian Bond, Liddell Hart, pp. 127-128. My emphasis added.

xxviii B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy (2nd Revised Edition), p. 361. My emphasis added. See the whole new chapter on “Guerrilla War” (Chapter XXIII), added to this edition, specifically.

xxix Ibid., p. 363.

xxx Ibid. My emphasis added.

xxxi Ibid., p. 364.

xxxii Ibid., p. 365.

xxxiii Ibid.

xxxiv Ibid., p. 367.

xxxv Ibid.

xxxvi Ibid.

xxxvii Ibid., 369.

xxxviii Ibid., p. 370

xxxix See B.H. Liddell Hart, Paris, or the Future of War (London: Kegan Paul, 1925), pp. 12-13.

xl Ibid., p. 79 (and following). My emphasis added.

xli Paul Rogers discussed this matter with me during my recent visit with him at Bradford University, but he has also written some monographs on this subject.

xlii See the excellent article by Colonel Raymond Franck and Dr. Gregory Hildebrandt entitled “Competitive Aspects of Contemporary Military-Technical Revolution: Potential Military Rivals to the U.S.” in Defense Analysis (1996-Volume 12, No. 2), pp. 239-258.

xliii Reprinted by Rutgers University Press; New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1962. Originally, it was published in London, England by Eyre and Spothswoode, in 1961.

xliv See Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: the Unity of Knowledge (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1998). Consilience means “the interlocking of causal explanations across disciplines.”

xlv Ralph Peters, Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph? (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1999), p. 207.

xlvi Ibid., pp. 207-208.

xlvii Ibid., p. 208.

xlviii Ibid., The emphasis is in the original text.

xlix Ibid., p. 209.

l Ibid.

li Ibid..

lii See Brian Bond, Liddell aHaHHHHHHHHHH Hart, p. 56. Major General W. H. Bartholomew suggested such things to Liddell Hart himself, in his letter of the late 1920’s (1928-1929)