Germ Warfare

by L. Neil Smith

         So now it's North Korean nukes, is it?
         The one thing George Bush was good at -- and it looks like Bill Clinton is following in his footsteps -- was the age-old Teddy-Rooseveltian art of bullying small countries. All sorts of places in recent history come to mind, but the case in point is North Korea, guilty of attempting to join the U.S., Russia, formerly-Soviet Georgia, Ukraine, India, South Africa, Israel, and France -- among others -- in the possession of weapons powered by fissionable elements.
         Admittedly, North Korea is one of the world's most repressive countries -- only slightly more tolerable than Santa Monica, Berkeley, Aspen, or Boulder -- and it may not be good if they have nukes of their own (as opposed to just borrowing them the way Germany does). But there are worse things than North Korea having nukes, or things that are more immediate, that we ought to be concerned about.
         Throughout the final months of the Nixon Administration, I worried about the officer whose duty it was to carry the "football" -- also known as "The Button" -- everywhere the President went. If Tricky had ordered a strike on, say, North Korea, this poor chump would have had to decide whether to obey a guy who was wandering through the White House at night talking to portraits of his predecessors, or figure the Commander-in-Chief had gone all the way out to lunch and that the best thing was to use his .45 on the First Dick -- and then on himself.
         Today, when most of the world's nuclear weapons are already in the most dangerously irresponsible hands I can conceive of -- those of Bozo and Bozita Clinton -- why the hell are we so upset at the prospect of the North Koreans having them, as well? Didn't Waco demonstrate pretty clearly that Billy-Jeff wouldn't hesitate to use the bomb on us if he thought he could get away with it?
         While we're asking questions, whatever happened to national sovereignty? Why isn't pressuring another country into allowing international inspection of its most critical defense industry a truly horrible precedent for our own sovereignty?
         And hasn't Clinton surpassed even himself, hypocrisywise, since it's clear he wants to impose on us the kind of social and political regime that North Korea has?
         And while we're at it, Mr. President, why is it that the Bosnians have a natural right to defend themselves from a renegade government, while Americans do not?
         But I digress.
         After all is said and done, isn't this just another flatulent liberal attempt to impose gun control, which we all know perfectly well -- through examples ranging from our own inner cities to Germany following World War I -- doesn't work?
         Of course it is.
         So, I pretend to hear you asking, what would I do about North Korea if I were President? I'd use the original American belief system as the potent intercontinental weapon it's always been. If all the stories we hear about the Korean War are true, they used to love accusing us of using germ warfare on them. It always seemed to be a central feature of the confessions they forced American prisoners to sign. Very well, I'd warn the North Koreans that they're perfectly entitled to develop nuclear weapons, but that, if they insist, we'll exercise our equal right to infect them with a terminal case of individualism.
         I'd begin with Korean-language radio and TV broadcasts -- translated by Los Angeles shopkeepers who've shown a working understanding of it -- from land, sea, and space, of works advocating and celebrating the most rugged forms of individualism known. Not the namby-pamby liberal claptrap they used to air over Voice of America or Radio Free Europe, but the hard stuff, like the Bill of Rights, Eugene Zamiatin's We. the Bill of Rights, Ira Levin's This Perfect Day. the Bill of Rights, Poul Anderson's Shield. the Bill of Rights, Robert B. Boardman's Savior of Fire. the Bill of Rights, Paul Lepanto's Return to Reason. the Bill of Rights, Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. the Bill of Rights, Eric Frank Russell's The Great Explosion. the Bill of Rights, F. Paul Wilson's An Enemy of the State. the Bill of Rights, Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. the Bill of Rights, Ayn Rand's Anthem. the Bill of Rights, J. Neil Schulman's Alongside Night. the Bill of Rights, perhaps even my own The Probability Broach or Pallas. and the Bill of Rights, with emphasis on the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments.
         Especially the Second.
         We could probably supply little radios, to be dropped from high-flying B-52s. If I were doing it, the interpretations, linguistic and philosophical, would be as radically Libertarian as I could make them. After all, we're out to really the other fellow here, aren't we? And there would even be commercials.
         For handguns and assault rifles made in South Korea.
         History shows that this kind of thing works -- people in captive nations will risk their very lives to listen to radio that's even halfway uncensored, even when it's done haphazardly and lackadaisically by government employees whose personal philosophies don't differ that much from those of the target dictatorships.
         The message would always be: "Your life belongs to you, and to no one else: seize it from those who falsely claim they have a right to control it, and you and your children will enjoy unprecedented peace, progress, and prosperity."
         And if you don't, then we'll leave Jimmy Carter over there with you, forever.
         The one real difficulty I foresee with this concept is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the testicular fortitude to carry it out, for fear that it might backfire, spreading runaway individualism throughout the U.S.S.A. And you can be damn sure that the Japanese -- who run a country where individualism is beaten out of kids in grade school, confessions are tortured out of suspects at precinct stations, and the police search your home for weapons twice a year as a "courtesy" -- won't want to risk this kind of exposure, either.
         Only a Libertarian administration could wage this kind of germ warfare safely and effectively. Individualism is more dangerous to Bill and Hillary than nuclear weapons.
         And they know it.


L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of 19 books including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Bretta Martyn and Lever Action. An NRA Life Member and founder of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, he has been active in the Libertarian movement for 34 years and is its most prolific and widely-published living novelist.

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