[A national-security official] suggested that I not publish my information on the link between organized crime and Russian nuclear-weapons security…. [A]nother well-informed national security analyst told me…”Yes, our public posture is Pollyannaish, but there is some value in not panicking the whole world.”
—Seymour Hersh, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1994
Caution: You are about to take the National Security Analyst Recertification Exam. Do not bring into the examination room any classified negativity or apocalyptic scenarios.
THE WHOLE WORLD
For each term, select the definition that will make Earth a nicer place and bring a ray of light to those whose lives would be a wee bit darker without it.
1. PUBLIC POSTURE is
a. showing concern for Russia whenever we get too wrapped up in problems with our own plutonium inventory
b. telling the truth to reporters who are itching to be threatened with censorship
c. a 1931 Warner Bros. gangster movie with James Cagney
d. the new French-designed toilet for urban spaces
2. POLLYANNAISH, the term used to reassure a lay person about the Russian mafia, describes the West’s policy of
d. wondering if Boris Yeltsin’s glass is half full or half empty
3. SOME VALUE is
a. news value plus 20 percent discount coupon for a Happy Meal
b. the mystique of the KGB as a force for order, now that Russia is trying something else
c. vigorish on sales of Common Market products
d. voodoo physics
4. PANICKING is
a. a capitalist luxury
b. a technical correction in the financial markets
c. the God-given opportunity to invent Halcion
d. a bipolar disorder caused by the similarity of the Russian words for “Heads will roll” and “Go to the mattresses”
5. THE WHOLE WORLDis
a. the Beltway and Ann Arbor
b. a Joan Baez song
c. a fleeting nightmare during the human soul’s brief transit from Heaven to Hell
Is this material churning up your apprehensions or grandiose control fantasies? If so, do not proceed until you have analyzed the feelings by visualizing and naming them in alphabetical order, as per the technique recommended in the official handbook by Maurice Sendak, Alligators All Around.
Essay Question:WHO WILL PANIC?
Construct a model panic-projection-and-resolution program, being sure to extrapolate from the “glad child” theory and principles laid down by Eleanor Hodgman Porter in Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up (US Government Printing Office, 1913, 1915).
Then show how your program becomes operational when, on a given tomorrow—gloomy or even rainy in parts of the international community—word leaks out that there might be something amiss in post-Soviet Russia. Impact your outcomes on lots of statistically representative lives, including these prototypes:
Mr. McGregor is a myopic old xenophobe whose idea of a weapon of mass destruction is an iron garden rake; should he scent worldwide panic, he might use it as an excuse to loot his retirement savings, thus incurring a disadvantageous tax bite. The Red Queen is armored against her own emotional instability by the trappings of monarchy; her strategic capability notwithstanding, her secretary would keep any disturbing information from her, lest she flip out and make life miserable for everybody. Histories of trauma incline the Elephant’s Child and Bambi to panic attacks, but the symptomatology suggests that these are triggered by loudspeaker announcements about the ozone layer and the rain forests. Stuart Little has ended up in a forced-labor camp, so he is pretty impervious to bad news.
July 14, 1994