“We are drifting towards a catastrophe beyond comparison,” said President Obama on Tuesday, quoting Albert Einstein to a session of 47 heads of state and other dignitaries convened for the first time in history to combat nuclear terrorism. Obama has identified the possibility of nuclear terror as the greatest threat to the security of the United States, and my novel, Requiem of the Human Soul, describes a scenario showing how this awful catastrophe could actually play out.
In Requiem, by the middle of the 21st century, the threat of Al-Qaeda has long been forgotten. But that doesn’t mean that the threat of nuclear terror has evaporated. Instead, by mid-century, the world is embroiled in an escalating battle between the haves and the have-nots of the globalized world community, as the effects of climate change put the kabosh on global stability and squelch the expectation of rising prosperity for the billions of middle-class consumers in developing countries.
The Class Action to Rectify Global Injustice, or CARGI, filed in the International Court of Justice in the Hague, becomes the central rallying cry for those who have been left out of the global bargain as access to natural resources begins to deteriorate. A rash of lawsuits is filed against the United States and European nations for allowing their multinational corporations to commit crimes against the less developed people of the world. The oil industry is sued for leaving lakes of black oil where there had once been arable land. The bottled water industry is sued for buying up all the fresh water rights, drying up reservoirs and leaving local people without water to drink.
Meanwhile, the United States will have none of it. They threaten to pull out of the United Nations, the World Bank and just about every other global institution unless all charges against their multinationals are dismissed. Americans can no longer travel to developing countries without armed guards. The Europeans try to broker a middle ground but fail.
That’s when disaster strikes. In October 2063, as Columbus Day is being celebrated and the people of Columbus, Ohio enjoy their long weekend, digging into their brunch or settling down to watch the sports on TV, a nuclear bomb explodes in their downtown.
Over fifty thousand people are instantly killed. A hundred thousand others wounded and devastated by radiation sickness. The shining towers and proud skyscrapers of downtown Columbus are incinerated into a red-hot, radioactive crater containing two square miles of melted steel and pulverized concrete.
The Citizens Seeking Global Justice, a group nobody had heard of before or since, claims responsibility along with an awful threat: if the United States don’t recognize and participate in the CARGI lawsuit, an even bigger nuclear explosion will take place in a major city exactly one year later.
The Department of Homeland Security does everything imaginable to find the perpetrators. Everyone in the U.S. has to register with the Department and wear a tag so they can be monitored by satellite wherever they go. Every financial transaction, no matter how small, is registered and analyzed. But they are never found.
In solidarity with the United States, the International Court of Justice suspends all CARGI hearings for a year. Terror grips the people of the United States as the anniversary of Columbus draws near.
A week before the year is up, the United States announces they will no longer boycott the International Court of Justice. They have re-joined the global community. The United States has blinked. They never hold the same power in the world from that day on.