Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Nine Eleven and Nuclear First Strike

Renfrew Christie.

Nine eleven is a midget example of what several states, including the USA, have long planned to do to others, using nuclear weapons. Nuclear first strikes, although much larger, are identical in form to nine eleven.
The nine eleven attack aimed at decapitating the White House; the Pentagon; and felling the USA's symbolic financial centre, the Twin Towers, using large fuel air bombs in the shape of civilian airliners. The attempted decapitations narrowly failed; the symbol was destroyed with significant loss of life in the kilo range. Nine eleven pales into complete insignificance when compared to the nuclear first strikes planned throughout the cold war. The effects of nuclear explosives and ionising radiation are hugely bigger than the effects of fuel air bombs. Nuclear deaths come in the mega and giga range. Such plans are at the heart of the logic of nuclear doctrines today, because of the massive advantages of surprise first use as perceived by nuclear strategists. World population has doubled in eighty years from 3 billion to 6 billion, and is expected to double again in fifty seven years to 12 billion. The probable constraints on this population growth are the viruses, bacteria and fungi; shortages of water and food; environmental and natural disasters; and warfare including nuclear warfare. Nuclear warfare must be treated as a significantly probable constraint on human population growth, because of the inexorable logic of first strike strategy. Nine eleven is a precursor for the one who is to come after it.


Renfrew Christie  (South Africa)
Dean of Research

University of the Western Cape

Honorary Life Member National Union of South African Students 1972; DPhil in Politics, St Antony's College, Oxford 1979; Political prisoner, Pretoria 1979 -1986, under South African Terrorism Act, for working for African National Congress; Academic Planning Officer, University of Cape Town 1987 - 1990; Dean of Research University of the Western Cape 1990 to date; Fellow and General Secretary of the Royal Society of South Africa 2004; Married Novelist Menan du Plessis 1990; two daughters, Camilla Rose Christie and Aurora Lindsay Christie

  • Nuclear First Strike
  • Nine Eleven
  • Population Growth
  • Strategy

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)