Edge of Apocalypse: pages 54-57 (Chapter Eleven)
I want to underline how important this chapter actually is. In many ways, it sets the stage for how we should understand the RTC/PMD world-view as presented by LaHaye and Parshall. It is a world like our own, except that it is manifestly at variance with both reality and certain basic principles inherent to the United States political system.
First, the aegis of the United Nations is grossly misunderstood, and this ties into the mythos surrounding the fears of “loss/erosion of American sovereingty to internationalists”. Never mind that much of the problem is of the Republicans’ own making, due to purposeful actions regarding excessive spending and borrowing, and has nothing to do with the UN.
Second, the contempt for the “wrong kind” of civilian oversight of the military is a theme that cannot be understated. We will see in the upcoming analysis that LaHaye and Parshall believe that Congressional oversight committees do not have a valid basis to go into closed session and be properly informed of all aspects of the US’s military R&D, even those which are experimental and highly classified projects. This is of a piece with indications in the book that LaHaye and Parshall believe that the military should be unencumbered by civilian oversight, because General Knows Best.
Third, the belief that the United States should be unencumbered by international obligations of any kind is a core aspect of this book. It’s obvious fan-service for the intended readership which has been nurtured on a steady diet of American exceptionalism for years.
So, without further ado, let’s see what gives Joshua Jordan the right to decide for himself whether or not he’ll obey a Congressional subpoena:
“‘Colonel Jordan,’ Hewbright said, ‘I have great respect for the innovation that your RTS defense system employs. Please know that. But on the other hand, this body has requested all your documents on this experimental project. Your attorney has responded on your behalf, indicating that you won’t produce them. Please help us understand your reluctance to comply with this demand. Explain it to us in as much detail as you can. Because I, for one, want to give you every benefit of the doubt.'”
Hewbright’s going on a helluva limb there, but hey, I’d want to give the guy who just saved NYC the benefit of the doubt before wondering if he’s just gone cracked.
“Joshua Jordan took a moment to collect his thoughts. Then he leaned toward the microphone, his hands folded on the table in front of him, and began. ‘Senator, my lawyer, Mr. Smythe, in his letter, has already explained our legal objections to the request of this committee. So let me try to explain the practical problems. The RTS technology my company developed, and which was successfully used during this North Korean crisis, is highly unique and proprietary in nature. Frankly, we believe we should not be sharing this information with anyone but the Pentagon.'”
Ok, great. So go call up whoever’s in charge of the Pentagon, bring him or her over, and get them to verify that the RTS system has been in the works and that because it’s still experimental and still classified, details cannot yet be released. Case closed.
That, of course, would make too much sense and would blow away the entire rationale for this book of fan-service for conservative RTCs who think everybody’s out to get them and that the Democrats want to sell the country out.
Hell, aren’t there a number of laws that provide for piercing Congressional immunity if a Congresscritter or Senator reveals classified information to unauthorized people? There’s got to be no doubt that these folks are very aware that whatever Joshua says, it’s got to be kept in the committee members’ heads and nowhere else.
Again, of course, the idea that Congressional committees are run by people who aren’t idiots when it comes to national security is far, far too sensible for the likes of LaHaye and Parshall.
“‘I agree. But you haven’t even done that yet fully.’
‘No, because this committee has not given us their full assurances that they would keep my technology classified and not pass it on to third parties.’
‘Mr. Jordan, is there a reason you don’t trust this committee?’
‘Sir, with all due respect, I don’t believe the complex technical details of any weapons system is within the province of any congressional committee. The highly classified inner workings of our most secret technology should stay that way–secret.'”
Ok, stop right there.
On the one hand, I can sympathize with Jordan’s fears that his knowledge will be misappropriated.
There is a character in the book The Robots of Dawn, named Han Fastolfe, who is fully aware that his personal research into highly advanced robots is highly sought after by his political opponents, who have their own ideas for the use of his work. In the early part of the book, he openly admits to Elijah Baley that he will not turn over his research to anyone for as long as he believes his political opponents will use Fastolfe-model robots as shortcuts for colonization of the galaxy.
And he’s a sympathetic character, and the reader fully agrees with his views, even more so when Kelden Amadiro is introduced and we rapidly get a sense of his true character.
On reflection, there are similarities between Joshua Jordan and Han Fastolfe, but the similarities abruptly end at this point:
Fastolfe’s research is not vital to national security, is not shared under restricted circumstances with the government, is not under government aegis, and was pursued entirely independently for uses that ultimately are nonmilitary in nature due to the Three Laws of Robotics which absolutely forbid robots from harming human beings.
Jordan’s, however, has already been shared in limited fashion with the military, is vital to national security, and properly comes under the jurisdiction of oversight committees having to do with the military.
Also, given how LaHaye-sponsored books tend to have their male lead characters behave astonishingly arrogantly and self-righteously, excused in the name of their real or incipient Christian faith, I feel very strongly that Jordan’s actions and words, phrased deliberately in contempt for the civilian oversight committee, are yet another example of LaHaye validating arrogance – the notion that RTCs don’t have to listen to anybody else and can ignore all Earthly directives at their convenience because they believe they answer only to God, and that their religious faith justifies their actions.
Continuing on, Hewbright continues to be the good cop to Straworth’s bad cop:
“‘What if this committee ends up serving you with a subpoena, Colonel Jordan? What then?’ Senator Hewbright’s face revealed a deep desire to try to help Joshua to extricate himself. ‘I would hate to see it come to that. And besides, isn’t some of the technology you’re trying to keep secret already out in the marketplace, which means it really isn’t that unique? Which would mean that your legal grounds for refusing to comply with our request, frankly, would look pretty shaky.'”
And now, Jordan finally tells us what this damn laser thing is all about:
“Joshua nodded. ‘In one sense, you’re right. The use of lasers to transmit data has been used recently in other limited applications. You know, in the old days lasers were used to simply destroy things. Like high-energy bullets. Blunt instruments. Then those of us working in this area started to see other possibilities. A number of years ago the wires connecting circuits in computers were replaced with tiny lasers, which could then shoot data back and forth from the chips at higher speeds than wires could. Then there was the successful test where a German satellite and a satellite from our U.S. Missile Defense Agency communicated information back and forth over three thousand miles using only lasers. What we did at Jordan Technologies was to refine those concepts considerably, and with a revolutionary application. As a result, our RTS is capable of sending a laser message to the computer in the nose cone of the incoming missile–with a data-directive that captures the current trajectory flight plan. Then a second laser beam transmits a mirror opposite of that trajectory, reversing it one hundred and eighty degrees. The point is this, Senator, we can’t–our nation can’t–afford to let this technology get into the wrong hands.'”
Well, goshamighty. All this posturing for an explanation that could have been given in the response documentation sent back by Joshua Jordan instead of him being a bloody prima donna.
I think I can rest my case that the entire conflict encompassed in this book between Jordan and his erstwhile enemies is highly manufactured by LaHaye and Parshall rather than arising naturally out of any existing state of affairs.
With that, I leave Chapter Twelve to tomorrow.