Democratic Underground

The Daily War Watch
The Home Front Cracks
October 30, 2001
by J B

Printer-friendly version of this article Tell a friend about this article Discuss this article

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 COST LIVES!!!


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 regressing rapidly.

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 Christ.

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 it useless.

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 fights wars.

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 thought.

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.

Previous Editions of The War Watch