Home » Edge of Apocalypse » EoA: RTS-RGS Finally Explained (Sort Of)

EoA: RTS-RGS Finally Explained (Sort Of)

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.

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14 thoughts on “EoA: RTS-RGS Finally Explained (Sort Of)

  1. You know how you fell over laughing last post when you got to the bit about UN monitors? I fell over laughing when I got to this explanation. How can I refute thee, let me count the ways…

    * Joshy doesn’t know his laser history. As late as the 1980s, lasers were being described as “a solution looking for a problem” – nobody really knew what to do with them. But it was the data transmission that gave the first practical applications – for reading bar codes, for giving missiles a target to home on, for reading CDs, and so on. High-energy lasers that actually zap stuff… well, I don’t think there’s one in service even now. (The Boeing Airborne Laser is considered “not operationally viable” because it can only just shoot down missiles in a heavily controlled test. Nobody really knows whether the Chineze ZM-87 blinding laser made it out of prototype, and even that isn’t really a zap gun in the classic sense.)

    * But optical circuitry actually does make a bit of sense, particuarly for CPU cores. You don’t necessarily need lasers for that, but I won’t claim it’s entirely wrong. If you’re building your missile guidance system (or anything else) to run on optical circuitry, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a pretty flickering glowing thing, any more than a hydraulic lift has fountains of fluid all over the place: you’re going to seal it away from the light, both to avoid random interference from ambient light and so that the light you generate goes where it is supposed to to rather than spraying off into space.

    * But even if we assume that they didn’t do this – that these are missiles which can only fly in the dark – these things use low-power emitters. You only need the light to go a few millimetres across the chip, after all. So there’s no way a laser receiver several miles away will be able to find out what’s being sent.

    * And, once you’ve done all of those impossible things, you have to know the missile’s operating system well enough that you can insert your own chosen coordinates – which could be anything you like, not just the launcher’s coordinates – into the target as it’s operating… in such a way that they don’t get copied over from backup storage or the missile notices the anomaly and self-destructs. At a range of several miles.

    Yeah, I enjoy the occasional technothriller, and… really, no. It looks like the sort of thing that someone might come up with if he’d read a lot of technothrillers and looked for a similar sort of MacGuffin.

    • Replying to this and your previous comment —

      The thing that kind of annoys me is that Joshua’s fatuous nose-in-the-air attitude aside, the people who run the black-ops stuff, if they have to go before Congressional committees, are usually (as I understand it) going to do it in a majorly closed session in which all parties concerned are warned that breathing a word of it is a bad idea.

      I find it kind of funny that he’d technically be a traitor (but then, being tasked to specifically violate a treaty ratified by the Senate has to break at least some kind of domestic US law – that said, the US government has selectively honored its obligations under past treaties so I’m really not surprised that LaHaye and Parshall would paint Josh as a hero and a patriot for doing something that probably goes against a treaty) considering how gosh-darned patriotic he acts.

      • I suppose that this could be one variant of the fallout from that: Guys at Pentagon (GaP) tell Josh to build a treaty-busting missile defence system. He does. They then decide to use it to save Babylon-on-the-Hudson. Congress finds out and says “holy crap, we didn’t authorise this!”. GaP throw Josh to the wolves. Which explains why the guy from the Joint Chiefs isn’t here.

        …but Josh would still have plenty of evidence of just who had told him to do what, and he could do a lot more damage to them than they could to him. Such as naming Major General Zepak and Vice Chairman Bolthauer of the JCS. Not to mention all the guys on the USS Tiger Shark that actually, y’know, fired the weapon.

        And it still doesn’t explain how the GaP expect to get away with having built a treaty-breaking weapon.

  2. Okay, the first point at which I “kicked” may be picky but it is, in a way, important.

    Jordan is a civilian.

    The senator keeps on referring to him as “Colonel Jordan.”

    If Jordan was really a member of the military he would be answerable to his superiors and could be courtmartialled if he refused to obey their orders.

    • Well, as I understand it retired military officers can be referred to by their former ranks, but I would say that LaHaye and Parshall are just purposely doing this to tap into the instinctive respect for military ranks that is widespread among their intended readership. It’s another way of creating an us-vs-them situation.

      • This may be a USAian thing (using former ranks a lot) — I know that my parents (both former officers in the Canadian Army) and my uncles (Canadian Army, Canadian Navy) and my godfather (Canadian Army) and my dad’s golf buddies (Canadian Army) all consider it inappropriate to use their former rank in civilian conversation. They might, under the right circumstances, sign something as Rank, First Name, Last Name (retired) but never just their rank and name.

        The only institutions or organizations that ever writes/wrote to either of my parents using their rank was the Department of Defense and/or their regiment — when discussing what you might call ‘in house’ matters. So, for example, when my dad corresponded with veteran’s affairs to request that special medical treatment be classified as arising from his wartime duties, letters addressed to him included his rank.

        USAians do generally tend to use former ranks forever — see addressing Allan Keys as Ambassador Keys. Hell, he wasn’t even Ambassador to the UN, he was Ambassador to United Nations Economic and Social Council, but it does add a patina of authority to a person doesn’t it?

  3. Above and beyond the fact that ballistic missiles can’t do a bootlegger’s reverse… LeHaye gets his tech so very wrong that it’s not even funny. I mean, I can respect pulp SF of the likes of “Doc” Smith. I even enjoy some of Tom Clancy’s work even when it slightly gets the tech wrong. But… my word… LeHaye needs to stay away from techno-thrillers. If this is his idea of cutting-edge technology….

    I had a worrisome thought, however. Left Behind attracted a large segment of the RTC population, but it was, really, fantasy. There wasn’t much to grab military folk.* Is this his way of trying to proselytize or evangelize to the military? Get ‘at them’ by a military technothriller in the style of Tom Clancy? The evangelizing to the military is already obscene and disgusting, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see this being one of LeHaye’s goals.

    If that’s the case, LeHaye has, to me, gone from a hack writer to a seditionist. It would make this book into a direct attempt to suborn and subvert the US military.

    I am *incensed.* I didn’t think I would be, actually, which surprises me. I could take the Left Behind series with some eye-rolling and some good humor, but if this is an attempt to suborn the military, that turns it from a charmingly inept half-baked techno-thriller into a disgusting attempt at sedition and subverting the military. It is an attempt to turn the US military from an instrument of national policy and defense into a pack of undisciplined crusaders who spout bible verses while they kill and ignore or usurp civilian authority. I want a professional, emotionally stable, disciplined military, NOT a pack of evangelical assholes! What next, ‘volunteer’ suicide bomber battalions?!

    Sorry; this is apparently a hot-button issue with me. šŸ˜¦

    So I have to ask if he’s going to be going to the Rapture with this series, or if he’s just going to chug around the edges and suggest that it comes later?

    • I think the one mitigating factor is that anyone IN the military who knows anything about how this technical stuff works will laugh their asses off at how LaHaye and Parshall get stuff massively wrong.

      But for those in the military not acquainted well with the technology, it could provide just the right lure… :O

    • Mink, I think that to some extent it’s already happened – the USAF Academy in particular seems to have gone almost entirely RTC.

      • Fortunately, that’s not entirely the case anymore. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has done some good whistleblowing in that regard to the point where the command staff of the Academy has had its eyes opened. I don’t have the cite available, but they have even established a Wiccan prayer stone-circle there.

        Now, for the USAF in general, it’s pretty strongly evangelical. I remember when I interviewed for it, it was just a Spanish Casual Chat (as opposed to a Spanish Inquisition) and probably unofficial. I was asked pretty point-blank if I was religious because apparently there was some desire to make sure (at least on the part of the USAF interviewer, er, that is, casual chatter) that the guys in the missile silos were religious.

        I had felt that was a good thing, at the time, in that a religious person would think twice about contributing to ending all life on the planet. (This was the late 80’s.) But looking back on that, I’m a little chilled. Why would you want someone in a silo who would potentially disobey orders? No, you would want someone in the silo who would follow orders that were *reinforced as doing God’s will.* While I did eventually go to a… what could charitably be called a ‘military college,’ and thence into the military, I’m more and more glad I wasn’t drawn into the evangelical morass.

        At this point I have to wonder if the evangelicals have infiltrated the Navy’s nuclear power program, which is where the boomer captains come from…. Then again, I’ll probably sleep better if I don’t think of that. šŸ˜¦

      • That being said… if I’m wrong about the Air Force Academy… I… really do not know what to say.

        Frickin’ Constantine, the jerk.

  4. As I mentioned on a previous post, I did unit testing on various parts of the flight control software for the V-22 Osprey at one point. In fact, during that same year, I did unit testing on the flight control software of two other military planes and the weapons control software for another one. So I just have two words in response to all this “not sharing information with the Pentagon” nonsense: military standards.

    When you’re a military contractor, any project you get from them requires you to do paperwork out the ass. Every aspect of the technology (whether software, hardware, or both) is carefully designed, documented to death, reviewed to death, and audited to a third death. The military expects that documentation to be delivered in part throughout the development process and in total at the end of development.

    To put it bluntly, the first time Mr. Jordan told the Pentagon “I’m sorry, but the technology I’m developing for you is too proprietary to share everything with you,” he’d be a former military contractor. He might likely also be scrambling to return a significant portion of whatever money they had already paid him for development to that point.

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