January 31, 2003
By The Plaid Adder
At the rally in D.C. on January 18, I saw a lot of signs
with messages like, "America Is The Real Terrorist." I hate
to see that, because I know what that's going to look like
to most Americans, who may not be sure about this war but
are also not ready to understand why anyone in their right
mind would say or indeed believe that the United States government
is a bunch of terrorists. But what I hate even more
is watching this administration prove that, as a matter of
fact, they are.
Yes, with help from Dan Rather and the good people of CBS
News, the administration has revealed its war plan, and it
has a name: "Shock And Awe." The plan, according to the administration
lackey who described it, is to pummel Baghdad with hundreds
of Cruise missiles in the first two days, thus leaving the
population too demoralized - and too dead - to fight back
when our troops arrive to occupy the country. I quote:
"The battle plan is based on a concept developed
at the National Defense University. It's called 'Shock and
Awe' and it focuses on the psychological destruction of
the enemy's will to fight rather than the physical destruction
of his military forces."
Later in the article, one Harlan Ullman points out that the
great virtue of the "Shock and Awe" strategy is that instead
of a long, drawn-out ground battle, you achieve a "simultaneous
effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima." Note
that he says 'like Hiroshima' like that's a good thing.
Friends who are more au fait with the realities of modern
warfare have argued that in terms of the scale of havoc wrought
and the number of civilian dead, it's not necessarily certain
that "Shock And Awe" will be any worse for the people of Baghdad
than, say, the relentless carpet-bombing that preceded our
invasion of Kuwait in 1991 (sorry, that's "liberation of Kuwait;"
semper hic erro). It will certainly be more expensive,
as Cruise missiles cost over a million dollars apiece; but
that won't matter much to the Iraqi civilians.
So why does reading this particular piece of "journalism"
turn my stomach - a stomach which, I promise you, has been
turned so many times lately it's nothing but knots at this
point - so much more than even reading a White House press
conference transcript? Well, I think the answer is pretty
simple. They can call it "Shock And Awe" if they want; but
- by the Pentagon's own admission - we've already got a name
for this kind of thing, and it is "terrorism."
If you subtract the purely ideological elements of the definition,
what is terrorism, after all, but the attempt to instill
massive fear and horror amongst a nation's people by killing
a number of their civilians in a particularly sudden, violent,
and spectacular manner? Terrorism relies on "Shock and Awe"
for its impact; "shock and awe" was what the WTC and Pentagon
attacks were all about. And by God, we were shocked and awed.
And now we're looking to do unto others what was done unto
us; and we don't particularly care whether the people we're
doing it unto were actually responsible for 9/11 or not. That's
another hallmark of terrorist actions: terrorists don't strike
the people who are actually responsible for the grievances
they cite. They go after the people they can get to. Our inability
to locate Osama Bin Laden has long become the subject of jokes
all over the globe; but we know where Baghdad is.
So, it's official: we're terrorists. We even admit that.
"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," chortles an unnamed
Pentagon official...who asked CBS not to name him, perhaps,
because he realised how much this statement sounds like one
of those tape-recorded boasts from Osama Bin Laden that kept
surfacing in compost heaps during the early phrases of "Operation
I can't figure out which horrifies me most: the fact that
this terrorist action has become the core of our battle plan,
or the fact that the Pentagon thinks it's a good idea to let
us know that. Memo to Rumsfeld et al: just because you
bastards are terrorists, that doesn't mean the rest of us
Or are we? How many Americans are going to read that piece
and think, "Whoa, shock and awe! That's so cool!" I know there
must be a few, even if they're all working for Rumsfeld right
now. And to them, I can only repeat a question that has been
much in my mind of late: What the hell is the matter
It doesn't bother anyone in the Pentagon that our battle
plan is organized around the deliberate taking of civilian
life? It doesn't bother anyone that by publicizing this plan
in advance, we have ensured that Saddam Hussein and his cronies
will not actually be in Baghdad when we send the Cruise missiles
in there to shock and awe it to death? It doesn't bother anyone
to imagine what it will be like for the people huddled in
their basements - which, as we now know, will not be safe
- while 800 Cruise missiled detonate in their city...or to
wonder whether that's going to be more or less terrifying
than being on the 34th floor of the South Tower when the plane
hit? It doesn't bother anyone to know that the worst thing
anyone could possibly say about our government is now, in
fact, by its own admission, true?
All right, maybe it doesn't bother Rumsfeld; I know it
doesn't bother Dubya, who is really not capable of being bothered
by anything that happens to people other than himself, as
that would require intelligence and imagination. It bothers
me. I bet it bothers you. It ought to bother every citizen
of this country. And it certainly ought to bother Dan @#$!!
The best we can hope for is that in fact, this is all just
a plant organized by that Office of Strategic Information
(that Dubya's administration says they decided not
to set up after all) and in fact our battle plan is something
completely different. And that's what we're reduced to, folks:
hoping that our government is lying to us, because it's just
too damn horrifying if they're actually telling the truth.
The Plaid Adder's demented ravings have been delighting an
equally demented online readership since 1996. More of the
same can be found at the Adder's