Matt Duss points out that in his AIPAC speech this week, Newt Gingrich recommends a security policy based on not one but two recent spy novels:

What I’m about to say to you is from my heart, and from everything I’ve learned in almost fifty-one years, we are on the edge of catastrophic problems. If you get a chance, read my friend Bill Forstchen’s novel, One Second After, which describes the fate of a small town, after an electromagnetic pulse attack. This book was inspired by a report that Congressman Roscoe Bartlett got seven nuclear physicists of enormous experience in our nuclear weapons industry to jointly produce. It’s based on fact, it is accurate, and it’s horrifying, and we have zero national strategy to respond to it today. Actually, three small nuclear weapons at the right altitude would eliminate all electricity production in the United States. Which is why I have said publicly that I favor taking out Iranian and North Korean missiles on their sites....

The second great threat is one or more nuclear weapons going off in an American city, or an Israeli city, or a European city, or a Japanese city. Wherever they went off, they would have horrifying consequences. And I strongly recommend Alex Berenson, a New York Times reporter, who recently wrote a novel called The Silent Man, which is about an effort set off a Hiroshima-sized weapon in the Washington DC area at the time of a State of the Union. And recognize that a a Hiroshima-sized weapon has a radius of one mile. There are over a hundred thousand people in that zone. 

Which of these related threats is greater? I will rely on the unimpeachable authority of the Bond canon, in which (by my hasty count) an electromagnetic pulse or something like it plays a role in three movies--GoldenEye, View to a Kill, and the atomic-powered radio beam of Dr. No--and the clandestine detonation of a nuclear bomb in a populated area just two: Thunderball and Octopussy. (Feel free to remind me if I'm missing any.) But just because both present greater national security risks than submarine-eating supertankers or orchid-based nerve gas hurled at us from an orbiting space colony, doesn't mean we shouldn't be vigilant against the latter threats as well.

--Christopher Orr