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Imagine for a moment that you are a declining superpower in an increasingly dangerous world.

  • Nuclear weapons are proliferating into the hands of ambitious and unstable governments.

  • Your currency – and ability to buy allegiance – is declining at a rapid rate.
  • You are no longer able to garner support domestically for worldwide interventions and military adventures.
  • You have become soft – you’ve lost the technological edge that you used to possess over almost all other nations.
  • Your politicians have become corrupt and are concerned only with maintaining their own power. They fear the people and erect barricades against them. They use government agencies to crush dissent.

If you were the government in such a nation, what would you do?

Make a speech before the United Nations, apologizing for recent military adventures that were poorly received? Ask forgiveness for diluting the “world’s currency” by 97 percent over the past 100 years? Acknowledge that your own nation has become fractured and is growing ungovernable, and that you have no more time, money or energy to affect the world’s direction? Admit that you are a fraud?

I suppose that is one approach.

Or perhaps you might think about how to preserve your power and influence in the world, even with all the problems you had?

What if you were a gambler at heart? And what if you decided that your best hope for preserving your own power and your nation’s influence in the world was to convince everyone else that you really knew everything there was to know about everyone and everything else? That nothing could be hidden from you. And that resistance was futile?

Might you enter into a grand gamble? Might you try to convince the world on the outside and your own citizens on the inside that your already possessed omniscience? That you knew their words, dreams, deeds and thoughts? That it had already happened? And that there was nothing anyone could do about it? What if your goal was to buy time – to make it so?

And what if you sent Edward Snowden forth into the world to do this job? And when he was finished, arranged asylum for him to return back home?

What if?

I close with a quote from the beginning to “Intrepid’s Last Case,” by William Stevenson (1983, Villard Books, a division of Random House). Intrepid was the Brit who set up America’s spy agencies during World War II:

“Deception is an arrangement of light and dark … Chiaroscuro. … The people must be made to see white where there is black when this is necessary to the progress of the Revolution. …”

– (A quote) from the guidelines for “disinformation” and deceit as an arm of secret warfare, offered to Lenin by his German Communist escort, Willi Munzenberg, on that famous sealed train carrying Lenin like an incubus into Mother Russia in 1917. The German general staff provided train and escort from Lenin’s Swiss exile to Petrograd, counting on him to spread disaffection among the Russian soldiery at a critical phase in World War I.

To follow “Armageddon Story,” Craige’s new novel, visit his blog: http://www.craigemcmillan.com/blog/.

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