Daily War Watch
The Home Front Cracks
October 30, 2001
This won't be one of the "angry style" articles like I've
been writing lately. This isn't intended as a rip so much
as a factual commentary about what's going on right now.
See, normally, noting that the administration is starting
to take out its frustrations on the media by whispering to
Howie Kurtz that they're entering another Condit phase, is
something that properly belongs in the "Daily Whopper" style
of article. The problem here is quite a bit different than
that, however. Media support for the war, especially after
the media was directly attacked, was supposed to be pretty
strong. In both of the critical countries, the U.K. and the
U.S., the media has cracked and just can't take it anymore.
They don't feel safe, they don't feel confident, and they
don't think that they are being led properly anymore. This
constitutes the home front cracking.
It took me a long time to realize that what Rush Limbaugh
had been saying about the nation (the American nation that
is, the melting pot fantasy version of it) - that it is conservative,
and a majority of the individuals within it are conservative
themselves - was a lie. This blatant untruth was heavily underlined
on Election Day when 75% of undecideds voted for Al Gore.
I would therefore estimate that 75% of "independents" are
liberals who do not want the stigma attached to it and like
the idea of being the courted voters in each election.
The same sort of stigma is being applied to the media today.
"You are cowards. The Public is reassured and calm. You are
not. Therefore, something is wrong with you. You would not
be like this unless you lacked moral fiber." After all, dishonorable
discharge from service for cowardice used to be called lack
of moral fiber, at least in the sense that Tony Blair used
the term in a speech the other day. Consequently, all media
opposing the leadership are TRAITORS whose cowardice will
That last part is the predictable Freeper interperetation
of the political bone being thrown out. It does not represent
my personal opinions whatsoever. However, someone will surely
say this sort of thing, so it must be represented in this
article for contrast.
Anyway, it's not even important if the administration is
correct or incorrect. (Call that a whopper of its own if you
like.) What matters more is strictly that the administration
has resorted to organized political smearing of the press
in order to defend its own precarious position in the propaganda
war. This new development highlights the deepening seriousness
of the lack of military progress. Indeed, the situation is
The compromising of Haq's mission (which I first learnt about
in a newspaper... poor guy never stood a chance) and his later
death was just one example of the stupid ways in which the
United States conducts business. (The Washington Times report
on why it refused Haq's request for air strikes is black humor.
They were a) afraid of civilian casualties, b) would only
strike if Haq was being pursued by armored vehicles. So, he
was caught on horseback, presumably tortured, and most certainly
hung, then shot.)
The Delta Force raid was far more serious.
Forget intelligence failures. This was a failure of basic
reasoning. Delta Force - and remember, the Joint Special Operations
Command is now under the direct command of the President -
did a political, "fly the flag" raid on the Taliban, looking
for intelligence information and seeking to prove that Americans
can fight in any environment fearlessly and effectively. Delta
was pulled out early due to highly coordinated, rapid, and
much fiercer than expected counterattacks by Taliban infantry.
What, dear reader, is surprising about that?..
Perhaps this is news to the Pentagon, but the Taliban have
been expecting a raid by Delta Force, the SAS, the SEAL's,
the Green Berets, or someone, for some time now. Perhaps
this is also news, but Afghans have been at war for over 20
years, the terrain favors their style of combat (which is
why they fight with that style), and they evicted the Russians.
Somehow, the Pentagon seems to have assumed that the Taliban
was not smart enough to learn from Viet Cong and other Marxist
revolutionary tactics, such as were copied by Aidid in Somalia,
to create a network of rapidly responding infantry teams that
alert each other to the danger and then deploy autonomously,
creating an effect that I can describe best as vibrations
of a spider web.
Delta Force landed in the web; the spiders came out to play.
Dog bites man. News at 11.
Of course, the Pentagon would rather that the media not report
this. I don't know if the American media even has; I found
this news from a British source. The point is that I, a complete
amateur, fully expected this result. The Pentagon did not.
Does this not say much about our current military leadership?
Rumsfeld's own needling the Central Command for creative
war plans, as reported, only further adds to the sense that
the military doesn't really know what it's doing. This is
a far more serious matter than a few people dying of anthrax,
a case of brain lock that's been decades in the making.
The US has, for the last 60 years, been particularly bad
at fighting guerilla warfare. Arguably, the only time when
the US has truly won against such war is during the Civil
War, when the North simply resorted to what is now known as
"total war" to defeat the enemy. As a treacherous Klingon
would say, "Victory is the most honorable thing of all." Implying
that bending a few rules and winning would get more glory
than not winning at all. Certainly, Lincoln's reputation has
benefited from this effect for well over a century. Consequently,
it is not so great a stretch to believe that the US is simply
incapable of winning any war without bombing civilian population
centers, using cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines, destruction
of civilian food supplies, random waste and destruction, and
creative breaches of international law, great and small.
So it's really quite simple. America must destroy Afghanistan
in order to save it. It knows no other way.
Obviously this applies to the rest of the Middle East as
well. We must destroy Iraq to save the population from Saddam
Hussein, Libya from Ghadafi, Lebanon from Assad the Younger
(been in a Roman mood lately for all these sons of leaders...)
and so on and so forth. The foremost example of this attitude
is the desire for the destruction of China as a viable state
in order to save the population from the Chinese Communist
Party, so that the population may be compelled to turn to
So the obvious parallel to this is, if America is suffering
from fifth columnists, it, too, must be destroyed. That is,
the America we once knew must, LOGICALLY, be annihilated,
so that we may snuff out these threats. This line of thinking
is so linear, logical, and powerful, that the administration
seems to take it as a subject beyond debate; debate about
it would be ridiculous, since everyone knows what must be
done. Civil liberties must be curtailed. That is the entirely
sensible answer. After all, it is an excess of civil liberties
that allows the media to spread cowardice and dissent, that
allows terrorists to act without fear of being caught because
of the outlawing of racial profiling, and the sheer goodness
and graciousness of the average American which allows the
world to take advantage of America and to harm the hairs of
its head. Thus, quite obviously, the root of terrorism - freedom
- must come under assault and dug out with hundreds of thousands
of individal trowels, wielded by trusted ambassadors from
the federal government, our last, best hope for saving the
nation from the consequences of its own goodness.
At this point, I just have to say, somehow, America has developed
a cultural attraction to total war and mass devastation. America
seems to be doing this just because of force of habit, not
any particular individual evil on the part of reckless individuals.
I'm starting to lose my ability to criticize the likes of
Thompson and Ashcroft, little digs at Ridge, exasperated sighs
at "Mr. Media", Donald Rumsfeld, and so on, because I'm ceasing
to see what they are doing as some kind of reflection of their
ability for rational thought. Somehow, Washington culture,
in permanent worship of total war, total government, and total
lack of concern for the consequences, has infested these men
so much that they do not seriously think that there might
be another way to conduct war and peace without requiring
such widespread devastation. How can they really be blamed,
at this point, for believing that if civilians are not being
killed by bombs, that it's not a real war yet?
One of the less politically correct statements I've heard
in my young life was that, let's say that a particular species
of animal has a 25% incidence of incest, isn't it proper to
say that this is normal animal behavior, behavior that should
be expected? But when we apply that to humans, for, say, wife
beating, people recoil in shock and horror. As well we should.
To make morality the mirror image of normality is to make
However, the point is to apply it to war. If civilians are
killed by bombs in 90% of the wars that America conducts,
then isn't it time to say that the killing of civilians is
not only normal, but expected, and even desirable? Civilians
are enemy resources. Why is killing them not okay? We mere
mortals may shudder at that, but the men in Washington operate
on a higher plane of consciousness, don't they? They may decide
that the lives of these enemy civilians are quite expendable.
That's their responsibility, isn't it?
The problem is that they're not thinking. They're doing this
out of instinct, suppressing their instincts for deeper reflection
by the belief that this is simply how it's done. An omlet
requires a few broken eggs. Who the hell cares?
So, maybe it's time we accepted that this is simply how America
America kills civilians.
America suppresses political dissent.
America rolls back civil rights.
This is normal in America. This is what war is all about.
This is par for the course.
However, we should not make the grave mistake, which is all
too easily made in positions of power with the weight of hero-worship
on one's shoulders (I know the proper word there is "history",
but trust me, it's hero-worship, not history itself), that
just because it is normal makes it right.
That many of the rolling back of political rights during
war were not permanent states of affairs was not a natural
phenomenon, but a result of the constant and brutal political
infighting within the Union by dissident journalists, editors,
and politicians, many of which were accused of being devil
spawn, sons of whores, mockers of God, moral decadents, cowards,
cheats, traitors, murderers by proxy, and simple scum.
However, there's one more issue that needs to be raised.
This is fairly important.
Americans seem ready to tolerate virtually any atrocity (at
least at the time) for victory; they will tolerate virtually
any rollback of rights and freedoms on minorities, substantial
hardships on themselves, and a great deal of suffering for
the sake of victory, because that is America's culture.
But what if we don't win?
What if all this breaking of international law, killing people,
getting American soldiers killed, suffering from anthrax panic,
suffering small levels of casualties (so far) from anthrax
the disease rather than anthrax the panic, is all for... nothing?
What is the point of asking Americans to pay a high price,
the highest of which is their own morality, when the war is
plainly not being won?
Winning, in America, is everything. After all, the morality
of our greatest Americans is measured in direct proportionality
to their annual income. It is easier for Rush Limbaugh to
pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a poor person
to be hailed as a person of high moral standards.
But Bush is not winning.
America is not winning.
We are losing this war.
Where, then, is the justification for sacrifice? What are
the bold statements of leaders who can't even put out consistent
PR statements, a far easier task than dropping bombs accurately
on a third world country, worth? Where is the reassurance
when Bush is in China running the war instead of in the United
States, with his frightened flock?
This is why the media has turned on the administration. Not
because they are cowards, but because they simply have no
rational reason to understand why their rights and freedoms
should be infringed for the sake of defeat. This administration
must prove that America is actually headed for victory.
The problem here is that the America that is being relied
on is the America run by experts. The experts are trained
to answer the right questions, not to ask them. Asking the
right questions is what good leaders must do.
Rumsfeld rose to his current position on the firm belief
that if the US military was equipped with the right strategic
vision and equipment, and was given the political will to
win by the nation, then it would be invincible. He now finds
himself frustrated that the military experts that are so often
defended by Republcians are not being creative enough and
simply do not have a proper answer to the quandry.
This is because the strategy sucks. It takes a virtually
impossible tactical victory to undo bad strategic decisions.
Rommel could not save the German forces in Africa, although
the fact that he very nearly did was what made him famous;
he should never have been anywhere near as close to victory
as he had been.
Similarly, the American military, which has NEVER relied
on superior generalship for victory, but on more bombs, more
guns, and more ruthlessness than the enemy, cannot come up
with a tactical solution for a military that relies on the
sea for global military reach that is trying to fight a landlocked
country with hostile nations between it and its prey (nations
such as Iran and Pakistan). No war plan can overcome this!
Now, most members of the media can't be expected to understand
why no war plan can overcome this problem. They simply look
at the fact that Rumsfeld is frustrated with the military
as ample evidence that something just isn't right. It's not
the media's fault. They're sounding boards for the Establishment
much more than the voice of the nation; they reflect the fear
that the administration is somehow letting Washington down
much more than reflecting concern in the country at large.
As I've mentionned before, the country at large does not
really have a rational reason for this confidence; it's just
believing in the one myth that hasn't been shattered yet,
the invincibility of the American military. Obviously, trying
to keep this myth alive, while fighting with the American
military to wake up and get serious, is to be a hypocrite
with a forked tongue.
The American People will be very, very unhappy when they
find out that their confidence is misplaced; the legitimacy
of the modern Republic rests on this confidence. This is the
sort of real loss of prestige that this administration logically
seeks to avoid at all costs. Thus, the smearing of the media
that I mentionned at the start of this article.
My point is, so far, we haven't seen a single spark of ingenuity
in any of this. Everyone's behaving as if they're following
scripted roles in a book. Someone needs to rip the book apart
and start from scratch. George "Mission From God" Bush may
not be the right person for that job.
Let's get real. There's only one reason that ingenuity is
crushed in the military and in Washington at large: Fear.
Fear that ingenuity will cost someone his career. Fear that
standing out is to put one's head up to have the rubber mallet
come down on one's head. Fear that making a mistake will make
one a scapegoat. Fear that anyone who doesn't tow the line
is going to suffer from stifling peer pressure, social embarassment,
and accusations of not being in full support of the solutions
that everyone else is backing, solutions deeply rooted in
Washington and military culture rather than in new, conscious
This fear is highlighted by the latest article by "Little
Dick" Morris in the NY Post. Chewing out Biden for daring
to say that America's bombing may not be all it's cracked
up to be, Morris basically chewed him out as giving comfort
to the enemy, demanded his immediate removal, and callously
chewed the man out for stupidity.
If anyone deserves to be put in the penalty box for two minutes
for being annoying, it is Little Dick.
However, more importantly, there are thousands, if not millions,
of Little Dicks whispering out there, demanding conformity
and rigidity in every phase of American life, unthinking dedication
to The Cause, national unity for its own sake. And we wonder
why we can't get creative thinking?
There is one, and only one, way to rise above mediocrity
in this world.
That is to think for yourself.
As the Home Front cracks, we must all think for ourselves,
or we will be nothing more than someone's pawns. Brain lock
need not trickle down from the national leadership to our
everyday lives. Now, more than ever, Americans must uphold
their most dear freedom: The freedom of conscience. With free
speech being clamped down on more than ever, it is using one's
ability to think freely and without constraint that is the
most precious and most resilient of all rights.
It is precisely the lack of willingness to think what one
ought to be free to, that is dulling America's military edge.
To cease to believe in that freedom is to give in to despair.
If there is to be a revival of American freedoms once this
war is over, that revival must be alive in the hearts and
minds of those who believe in those ideals.
I will not cease to believe that thought wins out over non-thought
in the long run. The sword may be stronger than the pen at
any particular time, but that strength is temporary. The pen
will emerge with time. Perhaps it has already begun; that
may be why the administration is so upset that the home front
is already cracking.
When they learn that trust must be earned, not granted on
the basis of family ties or the legitimacy of powerful figures,
then they'll learn what leadership is all about.
Until then, let us not mourn the passing of the united home
front. It was just an illusion anyway.
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