Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Fourth Protocol (1984)

Imagine the times; there was a widespread protest movement in Europe against the deployment of nuclear-armed missiles and against American bases having nuclear arms on them. In addition, there is still a great amount of tension between the Soviet Union and the US, and a new unknown Secretary-General (Gorbachev, but mostly unknown) has taken office. He is supposed to be young, and given the fact that he was able to move into the Secretary-General's office in such a rapid manner, extremely clever and cunning.
What Frederick Forsyth did in 'The Fourth Protocol' was to spin up these concepts along with spy-work and some believable nuclear terrorism into a thriller that was gripping till the end. You know that the good guys will prevail in the end, but till that time, things could go either way. The further positive was the inclusion of some real characters including Neil Kinnock, and Kim Philby.

The Fourth Protocol (1984)
There are many positives about this novel; it has a believable cast of events, the technology talked about seems possible, every treaty could have secret protocols (and the fourth protocol seems very logical) believable enough to be cast as the background of the novel. The novel was also made into a movie of the same name starring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan.
The novel is made on the concept of a new Soviet Secretary-General being ambitious enough to try to explore British popular disaffection with the placement of nuclear missiles on their country. The plan, called Operation Aurora calls for the smuggling of parts of a nuclear bomb onto British territory and then exploding this very near an American base. Such a move could push British dis-satisfaction away from the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher and towards a left party. And then the most amazing thing would happen. The hard left of the Labour party, consisting of Marxist-Leninists would take over the leadership of the Labour party and set in force a series of measures that would move Britain away from friendship with the Americans.
Why call the novel 'The Fourth Protocol' ? Well, because supposedly the 1968 Non-proliferation Treaty had a set of secret protocols, out of which the number 4 was about no nation secretly transporting a nuclear device onto the territory of another nation.
The novel starts with a robbery in which the thief also finds some secrets (defense secrets) and knows that here is some treason; and sends these onto the defense ministry. And thus starts a secret enquiry into the source of this espionage. Eventually the spy is found out and turned over. At the same time, there is a Soviet plan to explode a nuclear device near an American base so as to get Labour to win the elections and then to get the hard left to take over. As this plan starts to take effect, one of the bomb parts is found and an investigation is launched. And thus starts the thriller, with the match between the MI5 officer John Preston and the illegal Soviet agent Valeri Petrofsky (a spesnatz officer); the MI5 officer a step behind but fighting to find out what the plan is and to stop it. A great thriller.

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