The Spike

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The Spike is a spy thriller novel by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss. It was published in 1980. It tells the story of a radical 1960s journalist, Bob Hockney, who uncovers a Soviet plot for global supremacy by 1985. When he tries to expose the plot, he is repeatedly foiled by his editors' liberal bias.

The Spike: spook-approved propaganda

When a major neocon figure, Michael Ledeen, reviews a novel, it should raise some suspicions. Ledeen reviewed The Spike, by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss in Commentary in September 1980. [1] Further questions arise knowing that both authors are right-wing Cold-Warriors, and Borchgrave is the editor of the Unification Church's Washington Times. Robert Moss wrote Chile's Marxist Experiment, an attack on the Allende years in Chile, and presented as an after-the-fact justification for the coup against Allende's government. This book was funded by CIA. [2]

Fred Landis's comments

Fred Landis comments are instructive:

The Spike was the Mein Kampf of renegade intelligence agents intent on avenging Jimmy Carter's purge at the CIA under Stansfield Turner. Aiding Moss in this effort was the 3000-member Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and two think tanks run by Moss's friends: the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Heritage Foundation. Ronald Reagan read The Spike on the campaign trail and when he entered the White House he brought the ideas and personnel of those think tanks with him. Many of the old boy network of spies at AFIO were back at the CIA.
Eventually a common financial source was found behind the network of intelligence-connected think tanks, books, and movies: the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation, controlled by CIA groupie Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife had met Moss in England where he and the CIA had set up several propaganda operations for which Moss was a chief correspondent. In the period leading up to the 1980 elections, Scaife's foundation had disbursed some $100 million to scare America back onto the Right track. [3]

He continues:

Robert Moss is back on the best seller list with Moscow Rules. It provides a closing to a literary and political circle which began in 1975 with Chile's Marxist Experiment, on the KGB plot to take over South America, followed by The Collapse of Democracy, on the KGB plot to take over Europe. That was followed by The Spike, on the KGB plot to take over the United States […]
There was a monotonous regularity to these instant best sellers. They came out every two years, uncovered some KGB plot to take over some strategic real estate, and the date was always 1985. They were guaranteed best seller status because everybody from the Conservative Book Club to Accuracy in Media gave out free copies. Retired spooks held press conferences to inform us that Moss's novels were planted by CIA and Israeli intelligence to support the allegations in Moss's books. [4]

Alexander Cockburn's comments

This is what Alexander Cockburn had to say about the book and this genre:

The purpose of the kind of scenariothriller under review is to alert the reader to the fact that a Diabolical Plot [DP] is in the offing, or is under way, and then keep him turning the pages until the DP is satisfactorily thwarted. Nothing new here, of course. Diabolical plots, aimed at subverting Western civilization, have been going strong throughout the literature of our troubled century.

The reek of research in […] is almost overpowering, and Borchgrave/Moss have spent much time asserting that only the merest gauze separates The Spike from the brute facts of Soviet subversion. In Washington their novel is indeed treated as something of a roman à clef, with much interested speculation afoot about the actual identity of the congressional staff director who is described as a Russian agent. .

There's always the possibility too that Borchgrave and Moss, conservative journalists feverishly certain that every bed has a Red under if not in it, regard the ADA [the citizen lobby group Americans for Democratic Action] as a communist front, with ratings designed merely to lull suspicion.

Cockburn concludes:

The Spike displays this type of paranoia in its ripest form, and it's something of a relief to find such well seasoned threat mongers as Borchgrave and Moss shifting their activities into something which will be clearly labeled "fiction" in the library catalogues, rather than "fact" as proposed by Borchgrave (formerly) in Newsweek and Moss in The Daily Telegraph. The overall Diabolical Plot is here called "The Plan," a Kremlin "blueprint for achieving Soviet domination of the West by a certain date. The deadline has been revised once or twice already. The current deadline…was 1985."

"The Plan," as reported by Borchgrave and Moss, is rather a frail-looking schedule for world conquest, since it seems partly to consist of suborning journalists to print stories favorable to the Soviet Union and discreditable to the United States, and partly in making the "Institute for Progressive Reform" in Washington "the controlling center for a network of Soviet agents of influence who fanned out into Congress, the media, the academic world, and even the White House."
The nastier aspect of The Spike is that the authors plainly intend such outfits as the Institute for Progressive Reform to be identified by the witting with real life equivalents: witch hunting by fictional means, secure from legal writs or factual rebuttal. […] …etc., etc. [5]


  1. Michael Ledeen, 'Review of The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss', Commentary, September, 1980.
  2. Various sources, but can be found here: William Preston and Ellen Ray, "Disinformation and Mass Deception", Covert Action Information Bulletin, Spring-Summer 1983, No. 19, pp. 3–12.
  3. Fred Landis, "Moscow Rules Moss's Mind", Covert Action Information Bulletin, Summer 1985, No. 24, pp. 36–38.
  4. Fred Landis, "Moscow Rules Moss's Mind", Covert Action Information Bulletin, Summer 1985, No. 24, pp. 36–38.
  5. Alexander Cockburn, "Apocalypse for Everyone", New York Review of Books, Volume 27, Number 17, 6 November, 1980.