origins of the China Doll
Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind
The three chapters of this book were developed from lectures delivered by the author at Oxford.
While developing the narrative for an introduction to nano-technology lecture, I remembered an encounter I had with two rather remarkable gentlemen while at university. They were recent business school graduates, Ivy League, in fact. One was from South Asia the other most likely of Mediterranean origin. We met one evening at a very popular restaurant amongst academics while waiting in the queue to be seated. A table for four became available and we decided to dine together.
At that time there was a very popular TV miniseries, Les oiseaux se cachent pour mourir, translated literally; the birds that hide to die. The program aired in the United States as the Thorn Birds. There was a French-sounding name in that series and these two gentlemen were traveling across the country buying billboard space to advertise their French-sounding name brand of designer jeans. They had not actually manufactured any blue jeans when I met them. They were following a business plan that suggested that they should put their money into advertising, build a market and then satisfy that market once established.
The billboards displayed models wearing tight-fitting jeans with fancy stitching on the rear pockets, an eight hundred number, and the slogan, rare; but obtainable.
When someone called the 800 number an operator answered and asked for their geographic location. The caller would be told that unfortunately the jeans were not yet available in their area at that time; however it would be helpful if they would tell them the name of a department store where they would like to be able to buy the jeans. The operator would thank the caller for the information they supplied and tell them that when they went to buy the jeans if they mentioned the code word to the cashier they would be given a ten-dollar discount on their purchase. They had not produced a single pair of jeans; their activity was limited to promotion, and building a market.
When I met them they had worked their way almost to the Mississippi River; they began on the east coast. It was a very interesting conversation over dinner.
And, this is the seed of the idea for the doll being the delivery vehicle for the nano technological bomb. A product that is being advertised widely, a demand is created for it, but it is not actually available for sale.
I was finishing a lecture narrative around the time of 9/11, entitled Sandy; with the subtitle; Crisis in Vienna.
Sandy is the story of a young girl whose father is the American partner of a Greek shipping magnate. Sandy’s father and mother, a French speaking woman from Liechtenstein, divorce when she is 12 years old. Her father is granted custody, and her mother who had not become an American citizen returned to Liechtenstein.
Sandy’s father realizes in due course that he has his hands full trying to raise Sandy, so in time-honored tradition he sends her to a residential finishing school in Switzerland for the daughters of the rich. These finishing schools are in essence a place to prepare young girls to become the wives of rich and powerful men. They are taught all the domestic arts, hosting, managing the staffs of people necessary for diplomatic parties, etiquette, as well as music and the arts. They become what is known in the vernacular, China dolls.
For Sandy this was a fate worse than death, and in the magical thinking mind of an adolescent, she grew to hate her father. And, she wanted to get even with him.
Sandy recounts how as punishment for her often rebellious nature she was made to sit with perfect posture balancing a book on her head, while the instructors, the bored wives of rich and powerful men spoke about their latest or the next encounter with their lovers, and how their husbands did not actually notice them anymore. Many of the women had children that had gone off to college, and the wives found themselves alone in the doll house.
The instructors could not imagine the effect that these conversations were having on Sandy, and what she was planning to do when she got out.
When Sandy thought her life was irredeemably and utterly bleak, a new girl Sarah arrived at the school. Sandy and Sarah become the best of friends. In Vienna, Sandy now a young woman and her friend Sarah trigger one of the largest diplomatic crises in modern history, and just to teach her father a lesson. But in the process, create a situation where Soviet and American agents are involved in gun battles in Vienna, Vienna a city known in the gray world as the den of spies.
In a world apart, an Israeli head of state grapples with the imponderables that the two main cultures that have to live side by side present and runs a program to allow any Arab or Jew to settle in a third country when cultural difficulties make it impossible for them to live in the Middle East in peace. One example is when Jews and Arabs fall in love with one another; the young will be young. And, there are other things that happen, such as, the horrible responsibility the eldest son in a traditional Islamic family has if one of his sisters' becomes pregnant before marriage. A brother or sister in these circumstances could go the Prime Minister of Israel and she would help them emigrate to a third country. The program was highly secretive, but it shows the lengths that this head of state went through to try and make it possible for these two communities to live together. But all her good intentions are about to unravel because an Israeli boy is interested in an Israeli girl, who is interested in an Arab boy. And he goes after the Arab boy, which could spark unrest on the West Bank, which often leads to war in the Middle East.
And this is one of the recurring themes of this book, disputes between individuals can become disputes between whole communities, and those conflicts become wars between nations. Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?
Another recurring theme of this book is acts of revenge, sometimes these acts are between family members, neighbors, powerful individuals, and small groups, and all too often what begins as a dispute between individuals pit whole communities against one another, and what begins as battles between communities unsettle nations. The author has seen these disputes fester and grow in every corner of the world, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, The Americas, and South, Central as well as South East Asia. There is very little written about this aspect of war, but it is an aspect of war nonetheless.
‘An end to war' is about a very long conflict in Southern Africa. It answers a question: 'how does a war end' and one answer to that question is they often come to not very dramatic conclusions. It is a fascinating concept to say the least. The story is a behind the scenes look at how things happen when a few dedicated people come together who understand how things work in the upper chambers of the executive branch of governments.
It is interesting to organize an international effort to stop a war by interacting with heads of state and their top advisers only. First there is the hunt for that one person in an entire executive branch of government that can place you in that hallway the president or prime minister is going to walk through for 30 to 60 seconds while he or she is going from one meeting room to the next. And because he or she sees you standing next to that one person they come over to you.
The head of state does not ask the question, what can I do for you? They ask the question, what do you want me to do? You respond; call the ambassador from this or that country into your office, present them with the disturbing information that has come to your attention, and ask them to respond. And they ask is the disturbing information verified? And the person who arranged the hallway meeting standing next to you holds up his left hand palms exposed, and nods their head in the affirmative. Then the chief executive asks you: And what will that accomplish? And you respond: It will end a war. Then you stand there eyeball to eyeball, no one speaks for 10 seconds, then someone inevitably comes up and says sir we must be moving on. Then that chief executive leans slightly forward with both hands extended, thumbs up and takes your hand and shakes it while covering your extended hand with his second hand, and walks away. And you remain still and your eyes fixed straight ahead until the person standing next to you lets out a sigh. And then and only then do you know that you are one step closer to ending a war.
Now you have to be in a room where the foreign minister and the chief of intelligence are together, because the intelligence service that collected the disturbing information has to furnish it to the government you are dealing with directly and through discrete channels. So you make that call back to London. And this time they inform you that the official request has already been received and the information is with the foreign minister, and that tells you the chief of intelligence must be there with him. So you head to the foreign minister’s office but this time the person who set up the hallway meeting will have to wait for you while you have your three to four minute meeting with the chief of intelligence and the foreign minister.
And you do the math, by the time this trip is over you would have traveled over a thousand miles and the total meeting time with the relevant parties, the prime minister, the foreign minister, and their chief of intelligence comes to a grand total of no more than five minutes, and every second of it was worthwhile. The war is one step closer to ending.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, everyone other than the characters in this story thought that all attention would be placed on the events of 9/11. A fierce but thirty day long war was all the government thought was necessary to kill or capture those responsible for the attacks and that aspect of the whole distressing affair would be brought to a swift and justified conclusion.
But, in reality it took over two years before the government was in a position to even begin setting things in place to deal with international terrorism. And, over a decade later the problem is still with us. So in those many months there was time to deal with many other matters. And three skilled international operatives set out to do just that. And their plan is to involve the executive branch of government only; no print or broadcast media, no legislatures or courts, no international organizations governmental or non-governmental, just the executive branch of governments, and when possible only the heads of state and their closest advisers. A strategy that was not without risks, the best laid plans as it were.
The chapter 'China Doll’ - the nano-technological bomb - is about international terrorism of the future, and how this new science of very small things actually works.
When we take our machines in the high atmosphere there are things we have to be aware of that are not a problem at or near sea level. And that is why aircraft must have very special shields on all their circuitry, because above 27,000 feet there are wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that will destroy electronic circuitry.
A few clever and determined people exploit this naturally occurring phenomenon and the rarefied atmosphere of the enclosed space of the cargo compartment of a plane at altitude to fill the cargo compartment with a nano fine dust, and trigger an explosion. A dust explosion that would increase the pressure in the cargo compartment and be followed by an implosion when that pressure was suddenly released destroying the aircraft. That is what would have happened if it had not been for the one scientist who alerts the authorities, and they act before any of the planes get off the ground that one night. But unforeseen human factors delay transfer of the critical information from a senator’s office to the intelligence services, and a second error places three crates of the China dolls on a plane that is flying across the Atlantic towards Europe.
As terrifying as the nano bomb scenario is working at the nano-technological level portends great advances in our understanding of the world around us. It is an interesting way to introduce the new science of nano-technology, and the raison d'être of what the lecture was designed to do, albeit in a rather dramatic fashion. There is a lot of room at the bottom.
Ultimately, ‘An end to war’ combines fact and allegory to present an interesting narrative; it is for the reader and history to separate the one from the other.
An end to war will be published in the fall of 2013. There are preliminary copies of the individual chapters available, however the publisher has requested that only one chapter be sent to any one address, and one half of the preliminary copies of the individual chapters have been reserved by friends and associates at Oxford University.
The three chapters are entitled:
Sandy ~ Crisis in Vienna
China Doll ~ the nano-technological bomb
An end to war
The individual chapters are $10 each.
Copies may be ordered by post, checks or money orders made payable to:
An end to war
Beavercreek, Ohio 45434
for further details write: America@inbox.com
Eric LaMont Gregory