Monday, February 12, 2007

TECHNO-THRILLING: Toe-to-toe and tit-for-tat with Iran, ripped from today's headlines

Thrill readers with chillingly realistic descriptions of warfare and roadside bombs ripped from today's headlines! No, it's not from the front pages of the Los Angeles and New York dailies on Explosively Formed Projectiles, made by Iran, in Iraq. It's just ad copy from the back of Dale Brown's 1996 techno-thriller, Shadows of Steel, a book in which the United States wages a stealth bombing campaign over Iran in order to brush back its powermad leaders.

Behold (and read the fine print)!


The headlines on Iran read too much like the start of a techno-thriller. The President is backed into a corner in his campaign to get tough with Iran. No one believes him with regards to unusual weapons, evidence and mounting Iranian menace. "With two US warship groups in the Persian Gulf, the allegations raised suspicion that the Bush administration was trying to build a case for war, much as it had used [phony] intelligence reports to win support for the US-invasion of Iraq," wrote the LA Times today.

Everything your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow knows and holds dear concerning techno-thrillers comes first from the work of Dale Brown.

In Shadows of Steel, as well as his other novels, Brown was well ahead of the curve in the use of corporate mercenaries in the battlezone. Indeed, it is the idea of a corporation, one that flies advanced aerospace weapons, which burns through Shadows of Steel.

For SoS, An American intelligence agency has been using a mixed military and corporate special operations team to aid a United Arab Emirates strike on an Iranian base in the middle of the Persian Gulf. (Abu Musa! Use Google maps!) The Iranians react badly, sink an American spy ship and capture part of its crew. Tit-for-tat ensues and a very special stealth bomber is dispatched to destroy the Iranian war machine.

The missions are top secret and special weapons -- bombs filled with acid and superglue (!) -- are used to minimize collateral damage. Acid-throwing is against the law! But there's still plenty of gunfire, killing and victory. In the end, the Iranians are vanquished. In Dale Brown's book, there are only about three of them, anyway, as cartoon characters. All of them are douchebags, like impressions of Ahmadinejad -- only a decade early.

Naturally, since the Iranians have virtually no military capable of standing up to a USAF/USN assault, the author has to go to some length to prop them up for the sake of combat action. In the case of SoS, he gives them the old never-completed Russian aircraft carrier, Varyag, sold to the Chinese, who lease it to the Iranians, rechristened as the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Throughout the book, Americans thirst to sink the Khomeini but in the spirit of minimizing the loss of life and creating a disaster which touches off an even deadlier war, the aircraft carrier is only damaged. The Chinese then decline to renew its lease and take it back.

It's quite a contrivance. (Who is to speak of contrivances now, anyway?)

However, it an entertaining one, if no longer in a dead serious way, and it took only about an hour and a half to read the book cover to cover again this weekend. At the book's beginning, Brown excerpts bits of newswires from 1994. "Let the shout of 'Death to America' ring loud in the desert as a clear expression of ... opposition..." is one Iranian attribution.

Throughout, the Iranians regard America as weak. Sounds familiar. They've said it for decades, big guys that they are, and now we all know it by heart!

DD still thinks it's a coin toss whether or not America goes to war with Iran. The momentum for has much in its favor: Two nations which view each other with contempt, fog of war, and an escalating ladder of hostility just closing in on a shoving match.

Maybe it's time to throw out the techno-thrilling script -- or just leave it to the writers of fiction.


Writing about sex isn't a strong suit of techno-thriller authors, no matter how successful they become. There's one sex passage in Shadows of Steel.

"She had an athlete's body, but it obviously had not been shaped in a gym or a spa ... it had been chiseled out in the harsh highlands and deserts of the Middle East, exercised by carrying guns and cameras, and hardened by numerous confrontations with soldiers and interrogators . . . her body was a weapon, but at least not for the next few precious minutes, it was not going to be used to kill or to spy."

Yabba-yabba-yow! Pistol whip my johnson with your sidearm!

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