What happens when leaders miscalculate? Webcast of my remarks at The Heritage Foundation on using fiction to imagine worst-case scenarios.

Speaking on "Damascus Countdown" at The Heritage Foundation on April 9, 2013.

Speaking on “Damascus Countdown” at The Heritage Foundation on April 9, 2013.

At noon today, I was honored to address The Heritage Foundation’s weekly “Blogger Briefing”, along with Senator Jim DeMint, the new president of Heritage. In addition to the bloggers in attendance, the event was webcast live to bloggers throughout the U.S. and around the world.

I told the group that if I could sum up my remarks in one word, it would be this: “Miscalculation.”

The world is a dangerous place when American presidents miscalculate. I noted that when I arrived in Washington at began working at Heritage in 1990 (my first real job after graduating from Syracuse University), Saddam Hussein was massing military forces on the border of Kuwait and threatening to invade. I was struck at the time by how many Middle East “experts” said Saddam would never invade. They said he was just “saber-rattling” and driving up the price of oil for his own ends. But to the lay person, it certainly looked like Saddam was really going to invade Kuwait, and on August 2, 1990, he did just that. Officials throughout Washington were stunned. They didn’t believe what Saddam had been saying for months. They didn’t understand the nature and threat of the evil Saddam presented, and thus they were blindsided by it.

This is one of the reasons I write fiction: to imagine worst-case scenarios, and to help other people — including political, military, intelligence, business and religious leaders — to imagine how quickly the world can spin out of control when leaders misunderstand evil and miscalculate.

At the invitation of Rob Bluey, Heritage’s director of digital media, I spoke for about ten minutes on my background, why I began writing novels, and how I seek to use fiction to imagine these worst-case scenarios. I gave a quick background on three of my novels as examples — The Last Jihad (about radical Muslims hijacking a plane and flying a kamikaze attack into an American city, written before September 11th, 2001); Dead Heat (about a preemptive nuclear strike by North Korea on four American cities and on South Korea, published in 2008); and Damascus Countdown, now in its fourth week on the New York Times best-seller list.

Then, for the next thirty minutes or so, I took questions from the bloggers. It was a very interesting conversation about geopolitics, global economics, and the art of writing fiction. One blogger asked me about my faith and how Bible prophecy factors into world events and my books. I noted that Bible prophecy is not a topic that often comes up at Washington’s premier “think tank,” but I was happy to address it. [Note: unfortunately, the video doesn’t capture all of the Q&A portion.]

>> Here is the link to the webcast of the event — Sen. DeMint leads off, and my remarks begin around 17:30 into the program.

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