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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Take Us to Your Leader

The current UFO craze reveals our regime’s weakness.

Alien_Campsite_yarnbomb_installation_by_Stephen_Duneier

Imagine man conquers the vastness of the cosmos.

Whether by wormhole travel, suspended animation, or some other means of folding two points in far space together, Earth’s one sentient inhabitant reaches the other end of the universe. It takes untold generations to reach the technical capacity required for the voyage, maybe generations more for its actual occurrence. He spends trillions of dollars to make the whole thing possible, mines some of his planet’s rarest natural resources, pours millions of man-hours and all kinds of capital into a breakthrough whose like the world has never seen; starving masses could be fed and sheltered for a fraction of the cost.

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It is worth it, nonetheless. When at last he comes to a distant stopping point, the interstellar traveler finds a world much like his own. It is peopled, too, by the second race of intelligent beings in all of known existence. They are strange to him in many ways, but far more remarkable is how very much these beings—not just of a different branch but of an entirely distinct evolutionary tree—resemble himself and the people from whom he came: two eyes, two legs, two arms, a nose and mouth. With effort, he can speak to them.

He opts instead to flit about their skies—usually in dark, and never in the same place twice. Sometimes he touches down, either to play an impish nuisance to the dimwitted inhabitants or to terrorize them mercilessly with abductions, probes, and other impositions. Eventually he crashes. He dies or is captured, and the trillion-dollar craft he piloted is left for the natives to claim and study. Another will follow soon.

The thought, on its face, is absurd. If there were other intelligent life in the universe, if the reach of one advanced civilization touched on another as both expanded—whether or not those strangers meant to find each other—the first signs of contact would look nothing like this. Yet more (and apparently more reasonable) people every day would have us believe it has happened in reverse.

Earlier this week, a former Air Force officer and intelligence apparatchik went viral for his assertions that the United States government has been collecting craft of “non-human origin” for decades; that U.S. scientists have been reverse-engineering the technology recovered; that the remains of non-human pilots have been found in some instances; and that this has all been done by the military and intelligence agencies with deliberate secrecy from Congress and the public. Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, now says a congressional investigation will look into the whistleblower’s claims.

A NASA team tasked with looking into reports of UFOs declined to take an actual stance in its first public meeting last week. But a Stanford scientist insisted the week before that he was “100 percent sure” that “aliens have been on Earth a long time and are still here.” And many of the objects shot down by U.S. military planes this spring remain officially unexplained.

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A massive proportion of supposed UFO sightings and alien encounters are just obviously fake. This is the case, for instance, with a 911 call reporting two ten-foot-tall, green-skinned humanoids in a Las Vegas backyard earlier this week.

A great many others, however, cannot be waved away. This has always been the instinctive sense of curious Americans, though it was not validated by official sources until the Pentagon’s own UFO investigations were revealed to the public in 2019.

The rapidly developing mainstream perception is the one that always made sense during the Cold War, which overlaps almost exactly with the real UFO craze: This is secret, advanced military technology. But it is not likely to be ours—more and more strange sightings seem to be tied to the rising powers that would challenge America’s crumbling empire. If the near-magic craft of released Pentagon videos are Chinese experiments, then American hegemony in the 21st century is essentially impossible. The confusion and weakness of the Biden regime in the face of a slow-moving spy balloon is a mere shadow of the real gap in capacity between two clashing civilizations.

Another explanation for the truly strange occurrences—more little green men than shiny hovercraft—has been gaining currency in certain circles lately.

It has become fashionable among UFO theorists and fellow travelers to argue that most of the enchanted stories of the past—of creation, of spirits, of man’s encounter with something beyond this realm—have been misunderstandings of extraterrestrial encounters. From the pyramids to the Bible to man’s genetic code, these people ascribe the wonders of history to alien influence, and the whole religious impulse to primitive man’s wonder at the otherworldly gods.

Such fringe ideas have been laughed away by the great mass of society, but the evidence that there is something to the so-called alien phenomenon is reaching critical mass. What if crackpots have stumbled on the truth, but managed to get it backwards altogether?

It makes sense chronologically, if nothing else. In the last years of the 19th century, as man turned his eye for conquest toward the skies, the dark things that had always lurked at the edge of human knowledge moved in the necessary direction. With fewer forests and less of man’s mind directed into them, fairies and the like essentially vanished from the field of industrial man’s perception. Extraterrestrials popped up conveniently in their place.

A new look does not necessarily mean new substance. This is the sense a discerning reader takes away from the more detailed alien stories, such as Whitley Strieber’s Communion. And is it not a more reasonable explanation than the proposition that a class of beings known for all of history as supernatural masters of deception should reveal their true selves to us now that we have figured out jet propulsion?

The sense prevails that “UFOs” are something new and essentially unknowable—that broader horizons will open up new challenges and render those of an old age obsolete. But since the dawn of man there have been hostile powers and strange sights in the heavens, and an existential need to reckon with them both.

Which—demons or the Chinese—is the fuller or more common source of fearful experiences beyond our comprehension is impossible to say. What seems painfully certain is that the current regime cannot be trusted to handle either one.