Democratic Underground

The Daily War Watch
Gorilla Warfare
September 29, 2001
by J B

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Sometimes being a mere primate isn't enough. Sometimes certain people demand we descend all the way to ape-hood.

There is a fine line between acting tough and acting stupid. We are crossing that line as a nation in spades, largely thanks to the poor quality of the leadership that has been inflicted on this country by a close election where political loyalty by the President's inner cabinet was deemed a higher priority than qualifications and experience, with only a few exceptions, such as Dick Cheney, who has plenty of experience (just much of it the wrong kind), and Colin Powell, otherwise known as Public Enemy #1, more dangerous to the American war effort than Osama Bin Laden. Even in Powell's case, he got to where he is largely on the basis of being excellent at Pentagon politics and being able to strike a rapport with his superiors. He's not Patton or MacArthur and is well aware of the fact. Then again, that's not his job.

However, what really concerns me are people like Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz has his job, as I alluded to in my last column, largely because he wrote a paper on the United States engaging in a permanent crusade to keep minor world powers from becoming major world powers, to deny them even the hope of challenging US supremacy so that the US would never again (or at least for several generations) have its integrity as a nation threatened. Rumsfeld was selected largely because he covered the other base, National Missile Defense, a source for paranoia, fear, and loathing of the very principle that other nations threaten the United States, thus denying the US unlimited ability to wage war across the globe (if it so chooses).

Neither of these men is in his job because he actually know how to command men, build armies, or form coalitions. They are in their jobs because they are hacks who pleased the right constituency: Republican hawks. They exist in cabinet because hawks demanded that other hawks, ideologues who are firmly committed to the cause of US expansion of power and protection of the interests of the US, should hold the reins of military power. (The "interests of the US" are as often as not code for "Big Business", rather than the quaint and outmoded idea that the US should be largely committed to its own protection and should refrain from being involved in every two-bit war that comes along, most particularly civil wars.)

Greater problems persist. Bush recently praised the CIA and accused Bin Laden of "misunderestimating" the US, and its commander in chief (i.e. him). Does the CIA have HUMINT in Afghanistan? No. Does the CIA have a fix on Bin Laden's location? Probably not. Does the CIA have an army of Pashtun speakers? No. Does the CIA even have enough Arabic speakers who can understand the sort of dialects and street talk that the hijackers use? No. Does the US have enough intelligence to send special forces after Bin Laden? No.

So why the confidence in the CIA? Even Wolfowitz is going around saying to allies that no quick assault should be expected, because it takes time to gather intelligence. Especially in Afghanistan, he didn't add. Yeah, well, what of it? You knew this two weeks ago. Bush knew this when he made that speech last week and stirred everyone up for War. If you didn't have the intelligence to proceed back then, why did you say those things? Is that why you want to go after Iraq, hmm? It's easier?

The FBI apparently found out in 1995 that the original bombers of the World Trade Center and their blind cleric leader had detailed plans to hijack planes and to bomb them into buildings. (Novak says so.) We're talking detailed written plans that this group was too small and incompetent to pull off. The FBI never called up the FAA and informed them this could be a concern. The FBI never told state and local authorities that this is one scenario they should watch out for. The FBI never told NORAD to have more than 14 fighters on stand-by within the continental United States to intercept rogue aircraft.

NORAD never trained against a rogue aircraft originating from within the United States, only against international flights. (That it had 14 fighters in the continental US, and only 6 in Canada, on alert, this explains why the fighters to intercept the plane headed to the Pentagon had to be launched about 130 miles away instead of 15 at Andrews AFB. It does not explain why these planes "on alert" took so long to get off the ground, which according to reports was something like 6 to 8 minutes, and within 2 minutes after launch, the plane had already hit the Pentagon.) One wonders how NORAD ever expected to defend anything with 14 planes on alert, none of which were closer than 130 miles to the capitol.

This explains why Ashcroft has been sending out one Weapon of Mass Destruction threat per day lately. First you have the crop duster scare. Then it's chemical weapons. Then it's biological weapons and their imminent use. ANYTHING to divert attention from the FBI and the Justice Department for dropping the ball. After all, with intelligence in hand that plans had been developed in the past that hijackers were willing to crash planes into stationary targets, and then finding out about the Bin Laden related people in the US who had received pilot training in Florida, something should have clicked. The left hand did not know what the right hand knew. And yet... we're still in the "No one could have imagined this" mode. We're still acting like naive ninnies in a cruel world where the thought of crashing a plane into something as a weapon is a question of opportunity, not moral limitation. Conveniently, if no one could have imagined this, the FBI gets off free. On the other hand, if someone COULD have imagined this, then the FBI's not informing the FAA that someone might imagine this, not informing NORAD that someone might use this to assault a military objective like the Pentagon, and so on and so forth, then the FBI has a lot of explaining to do.

So when are we actually going to gorilla-ize Bin Laden's ass, anyway? I mean, seriously. We're all pumped up for war now. Well, where is it?

The problem is that the military isn't ready to fight a war. That's the bottom line. We've had readiness problems for years. Some will say it's all Clinton's fault. Buzz. Wrong! This started practically the day WWII ended. The US military began the long shift to a larger bureaucracy, starting rank inflation, the emphasis on the Pentagon, and the concept of "ticket-punching", the idea that permanent military service was meant to get one's rear end into a general's or admiral's rank with all the retirement benefits and the awe and respect of the nation. Making a mistake was fatal to one's career, so, logically, mistakes had to be outlawed. Zero tolerance became the rule. Those who ticket punched well survived, and became today's admirals and generals. Their progeny, today's colonels, commanders, and so on and so forth, are part of a feeder system, a sort of minor league, for true membership in the brotherhood sometimes called the Military-Industrial Complex.

Once at this exalted level, above mere mortal men, one thing rules all: MONEY. Each service, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, fight constantly, with all the sympathy of Capitol Hill divided between them, in a never-ending, particularly vicious manner to obtain more money and resources, and, most importantly, to prevent the taking away of their reasons for being. (Example: Aircraft carriers. This battle has been fought so many times that Rumsfeld was an idiot for thinking he could just propose less carriers and get away with it. The Carrier Lobby rose up and whacked him on his butt so hard that his rear end still hurts. Cheney gave him a good scolding, and nothing more was heard of the matter ever again.)

Under this scheme, the purpose of the military is not to fight and win wars at all. It is, rather, to finance defense industries, get politicians elected, and insure the most bloated, money-grubbing structure possible, which leads to... let's say it together... MORE GENERALS AND ADMIRALS. Also, their lifestyle is such that one term that has been used to describe them is "perfumed princes." They'd probably call themselves kings of small military kingdoms, if given a choice; a prince just isn't, well, exalted enough. These people know that they have aides to fulfill their every need. They realize that the ticket-punching elite dotes on their every word and seeks to curry their favor at all cost so that they, too, can join the ranks of the exalted. All this, of course, requires keeping defense industries happy. Perhaps someday, dear reader, you too can someday join Lockheed-Martin, or found your own mercenary corporation to do the CIA's dirty work without sullying the hands of the United States. All is possible for the properly initiated, though there is one rule that must be obeyed above all others.

Cover your ass.

Now, the public at large doesn't have any idea it's this bad. (Mind you, it's the leadership, NOT the average member of the armed forces!) I'm wondering, personally, what their reaction will be when this war doesn't materialize, or doesn't go as planned. So far, there seems a confidence, even smugness, in the certainty that the perpetrators of the World Trade Center bombing will be punished, and that the enemies of the United States will pay for their actions.

But seriously, why will they?

Without nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in play, Bush is largely reduced to the same options that Clinton would have had: Launch cruise missiles from 2000 miles away to hit unoccupied training camps built by the CIA to train anti-Soviet holy warriors (who just HAPPEN to not like the US), which is a courageous act (Ari says so); launch a ground invasion from Pakistan only to be opposed by half the Pakistani army disobeying orders (if any) not to fight the US, much of the civilian population, and knowing nuclear weapons are in the nation; attack from the route the Soviets took from the North; send in special forces to go after Bin Laden with next to no useful, timely intelligence, lightly armed, and with extraction made very difficult because of the rough terrain, keeping in mind that holy warriors just love shooting down hostile helicopters, which perform very poorly at Afghan altitudes; invade Iraq, destroying all support from the Arab world, sparking guerilla opposition in Saudi Arabia, plus more terror attacks, and losing Egypt as an ally; bomb with strategic manned aircraft like B-2's, destroy some cities with traumatized people, repressed women, orphans and cripples just to make ourselves feel better; or sit on our butts, talk a lot, and do nothing.

At the moment we're picking the latter option because even Wolfowitz can't see how we can pull off effective military action, particularly with such awful intelligence.

Not being said is that we have less aircraft carriers than we used to; we have far less tanks and soldiers; we'd never be able to invade even Iraq within an acceptable timetable; our global military transportation system has been drained of funds to give more slush funds to the four main branches, since military-wide but highly vital organizations are political orphans; morale within the military was, until the attacks, rock bottom, largely because of the terrible erosion of leadership, with the problem exponentially worse with each higher officer rank; and very recent proposals to downsize the military, with the administration turning its back on the "Help is On The Way" message from the campaign.

Let's also not forget that the military doesn't actually know how much money it has. The military's books are not fit for auditing and cannot be certified in good conscience by the appropriate agencies.

Many of these things are not things that NORAD, the FBI, the CIA, the armed forces, and similar organizations, can blame on Clinton. They may try, but these problems come from within. The CIA's internal priority is electronic intelligence. People said 20, even 30 years ago that it would come back to haunt us. No one cared; gadgets were in, people were out. The FBI is aloof, insular, and if they think you don't have a need to know, you never will. NORAD never had the imagination to prepare against the contingency that occurred September 11. The armed forces have developed their current culture over the last 30 years and then some; its problems absolutely did not start overnight, and will not end overnight, either.

So because of this, what are we doing?

Are we reforming the FBI? Overhauling the CIA? Merging organizations to put more internal US security people under one roof, like say the ATF, known for their award-winning work in Waco a few years ago? Are we rooting out ticket-punching Pentagon staff that serve no useful purpose except lining up cushy jobs after retirement and fighting political battles against other Pentagon staff? Are we demanding accountability? Are we kicking butt and taking names? Are we even TRYING to do any of these things?

No, no, no, no, no, no, and most definitely NO.

What happens when one day the American people realize that this hyperpower business isn't all it's cracked up to be? What will they say when they realize that the US, unless it wants to deploy city-busters to kill far more people in one shot than either Pearl Harbour or the World Trade Center bombings ever threatened to do, just plain isn't capable of crushing everyone it wants to? What will they think when they realize that not a SINGLE individual has lost his or her job since the attack, and virtually all have been praised by the President, who, far from demanding accountability, is encouraging the same people whose sleeping on duty made the WTC attack astonishingly easy and effective when normally, with such a highly sensitive plan, any foul-up at all was liable to wreck the whole scheme?

I don't know, but I think they'll be wondering what kind of leadership we have.

Being gorillas isn't enough. We need to use our brains, too. So far, I'm not sure that's happening at the national level, or at least, not enough. Bill Kristol has already called Powell damn near a traitor for "undermining the President's war effort." Ari Fleicher has said to all whose voice can be heard on television, "Watch what you say. Watch what you do." Because you know that the White House is watching YOU. Oh gee, Ari. Thank you so much, really. We really needed to know that you stand ready to launch the forces of dissent suppression on our media.

What is our problem here? We know better than this. So far, the agencies that protect the United States have managed to get away with saying, no one could have known this was coming, and it's all Osama's fault. Yeah, well, that's very convenient for them to say, isn't it? What separates us from our primate cousins is that we are capable of more than loud grunts, chest-beating, muscle flexing, and, when it finally comes time to act, doing so in the most direct, unthinking manner possible. More must be expected from us. More must be demanded from us. The same goes for Bush. More must be expected; more must be demanded. Otherwise our enemies will not have misunderestimated us at all.

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