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THE LIE OF “VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER”

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics on July 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

Victory Through Air Power is a 1943 Walt Disney animated Technocolor feature film released during World War II.  It’s based on the book–of the same title–by Alexander P. de Seversky.

Its thesis is summed up in its title: That by using bombers and fighter aircraft, the United States can attain swift, stunning victory over its Axis enemies: Germany, Italy and Japan.

Although it’s not explicitly stated, the overall impression given is that, through the use of air power, America can defeat its enemies without deploying millions of ground troops.

The movie has long since been forgotten except by film buffs, but its message has not.  Especially by the highest officials within the U.S. Air Force.

Although the Air Force regularly boasted of the tonage of bombs its planes dropped over Nazi Germany, it failed to attain its primary goal: Break the will of the Germans to resist.

On the contrary: Just as the German bombings of England had solidified the will of the British people to resist, so, too, did Allied bombing increase the determination of the Germans to fight on.

Nor did the failure of air power end there.

On June 6, 1944–D-Day–the Allies launched their invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

It opened shortly after midnight, with an airborne assault of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French troops.  This was followed at 6:30 a.m. by an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the French coast.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in history.  More than 160,000 troops landed–73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians.

Allied air power bombed and strafed German troops out in the open.  But it couldn’t dislodge soldiers barricaded in steel-and-concrete-reinforced bunkers or pillboxes.  Those had to be dislodged, one group at a time, by Allied  soldiers armed with rifles, dynamite and flamethrowers.

This situation proved true throughout the rest of the war.

Then, starting in 1964, the theory of “Victory Through Air Power” once again proved a dud–in Vietnam.

Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay said, “We should bomb Vietnam back into the Stone Age.”  And the bombers under his command did their best to achieve this.

From 1964 to 1975, 7 million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia–more than twice the amount of bombs dropped on Europe and Asia in World War II.

Yet the result proved exactly the same as it had in World War II: The bombing enraged the North Vietnamese and steeled their resolve to fight on to the end.

The belief that victory could be achieved primarily–if not entirely–through air power had another unforeseen result during the Vietnam war.  It gradually sucked the United States ever deeper into the conflict.

To bomb North Vietnam, the United States needed air force bases in South Vietnam.  This required that those bombers and fighters be protected.

So a force to provide round-the-clock security had to be maintained.  But there weren’t enough guards to defend themselves against a major attack by North Vietnamese forces.

So more American troops were needed–to guard the guards.

North Vietnam continued to press greater numbers of its soldiers into attacks on American bases.  This forced America to provide greater numbers of its own soldiers to defend against such attacks.

Eventually, the United States had more than 500,000 ground troops fighting in Vietnam–with no end in sight to the conflict.

Now, with forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launching a blitzkreig throughout Iraq, President Barack Obama seems to have caught the “Victory Through Airpower” disease.

ISIS has thrown the American-trained Iraqi Army into a panic, with soldiers dropping their rifles and running for their lives.

This has led Republicans to accuse the President of being about to “lose” Iraq.

As a result, he has shipped at least 300 American “advisors” to Iraq, to  provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the American Embassy in Baghdad.

And he has authorized American Predator drones to traverse Iraq, keeping tabs on the advancing ISIS forces.

So far, no American aircraft has fired on the insurgent army.  But this could happen at any moment that Obama gives the order.

Yet the giving of that order will not alter the balance of power in Iraq.  It certainly didn’t work for America in the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq.

Both wars opened with massive barrages of American missiles and bombs.  The 1991 war saw the first use of the vaunted “stealth bomber,” which could avoid detection by enemy radar.

The 2003 war opened with an even greater bombardment to “shock and awe” the Iraqis into surrendering.  They didn’t.

 

Baghdad under “shock and awe” bombardment

Nor did air power prove effective on the Iraqi insurgency that erupted after American forces occupied Baghdad and much of the rest of the country.

That war had to be fought by U.S. Army regulars and Special Operations soldiers–especially Navy SEALS.  It was a dirty and private effort, marked by nightly kidnappings of suspected Iraqi insurgents.

If American troops once again face off with Iraqis, “Victory Through Air Power” will prove as hollow a slogan as it has in the past.

DOGS VS. JACKALS

In History, Law Enforcement, Military, Social commentary on April 25, 2014 at 12:01 am

There’s a scene in the classic 1956 Western, The Searchers, that counterterror experts should study closely.

John Wayne–in the role of Indian-hating Ethan Edwards–and a party of Texas Rangers discover the corpse of a Comanche killed during a raid on a nearby farmhouse.

One of the Rangers–a teenager enraged by the Indians’ killing of his family–picks up a rock and bashes in the head of the dead Indian.

Wayne, sitting astride his horse, asks: “Why don’t you finish the job?”  He draws his revolver and fires two shots, taking out the eyes of the dead Comanche–although the mutilation is not depicted onscreen.

The leader of the Rangers, a part-time minister, asks: ”What good did that do?”

“By what you preach, none,” says Wayne/Edwards.  “But what that Comanche believes–ain’t got no eyes, he can’t enter the Spirit land.  Has to wander forever between the winds.  You get it, Reverend.”

Now, fast forward to May 1, 2011: U.S. Navy SEALS descend on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and kill Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda chieftain.

Among the details of the raid that most titillates the media and public: The commandos were accompanied by a bomb-sniffing dog, a Belgian Malinois.

The canine was strapped to a member of the SEAL team as he lowered himself and the dog to the ground from a hovering helicopter near the compound.

Heavily armored dogs–equipped with infrared night-sight cameras –have been used in the past by the top-secret unit.

The cameras on their heads beam live TV pictures back to the troops, providing them with critical information and warning of ambushes.

The war dogs wear ballistic body armor that is said to withstand damage from single and double-edged knives, as well as protective gear which shields them from shrapnel and gunfire.

Some dogs are trained to silently locate booby traps and concealed enemies such as snipers. The dog’s keen senses of smell and hearing makes him far more effective at detecting these dangers than humans.

The animals will attack anyone carrying a weapon and have become a pivotal part of special operations as they crawl unnoticed into tunnels or rooms to hunt for enemy combatants.

Which brings us to the ultimate of ironies: Osama bin Laden may have been killed through the aid of an animal Muslims fear and despise.

Muslims generally cast dogs in a negative light because of their ritual impurity.  Muhammad did not like dogs according to Sunni tradition, and most practicing Muslims do not have dogs as pets.

It is said that angels do not enter a house which contains a dog. Though dogs are not allowed for pets, they are allowed to be kept if used for work, such as guarding the house or farm, or when used for hunting.

Because Islam considers dogs in general to be unclean, many Muslim taxi drivers and store owners have refused to accommodate customers who have guide dogs.

In 2003, the Islamic Sharia Council, based in the United Kingdom, ruled that the ban on dogs does not apply to those used for guide work.

But many Muslims continue to refuse access, and see the pressure to allow the dogs as an attack upon their religious beliefs.

Counterterror specialists have learned that Muslims’ dread of dogs can be turned into a potent weapon against Islamic suicide bombers.

In Israel, use of bomb-sniffing dogs has proven highly effective—but not simply because of the dogs’ ability to detect explosives through their highly-developed sense of smell.

Muslim suicide-bombers fear that if they blow themselves up near a dog, they might kill the animal—and its unclean blood might be mingled with their own.  This would make them unworthy to ascend to Heaven and claim those 72 willing virgins.

Similarly, news in 2009 that bomb-sniffing dogs might soon be patrolling Metro Vancouver’s buses and SkyTrains as a prelude to the 2010 Olympics touched off Muslims’ alarms.

“If I am going to the mosque and pray, and I have this saliva on my body, I have to go and change or clean,” said Shawket Hassan, vice president of the British Columbia Muslim Association.

What are the lessons to be learned from all this?  They are two-fold:

  1. Only timely tactical intelligence will reveal Al Qaeda’s latest plans for destruction.
  2. But no matter how adept Islamic terrorists prove at concealing their momentary aims, they cannot conceal the attributes and long-term objectives of the religion, history and culture which have scarred and molded them.

American police, Intelligence and military operatives must constantly ask themselves: “How can we turn Islamic religion, Islamic history and islamic culture into weapons against the terrorists we face?”

These institutions must become intimately knowledgeable about the mindset of our Islamic enemies, just as the best frontier Army scouts and officers became knowledgeable about the mindset of the Indians they fought.

And then they must ruthlessly apply that knowledge against the weaknesses of those sworn enemies.

TREASON ON THE RIGHT

In History, Politics, Social commentary on August 28, 2012 at 12:05 am

Supporters of Mitt Romney have accused President Barack Obama of leaking top-secret details of the U.S. Navy SEALs raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound.

The reason–so they claim: To provide Hollywood screenwriters for material to glorify the President’s role in authorizing the May 1, 2011 attack that killed the mastermind of 9/11.

Now it turns out the Right has its own secret-leakers.  And they operate under the name of Fox News.

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin  Laden, is a book slated to hit bookstores on Sept 11. It is penned under the pseudonym “Mark  Owen.”

But the real name of the author–a 36-year-old former Navy SEAL Team 6 member who took part in the raid–is Matt Bissonnette, of Wrangell, Alaska.

Bissonnette’s real name became public after multiple sources leaked it to Fox News, who revealed it on August 23.

The Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden had previously been left unidentified.

It’s Fox News that has repeatedly accused President Obama and members of his administration of treasonously leaking military secrets to the media to glorify the President.

Many former and current SEAL members worry that the book will release information that could compromise future missions.

U.S. Navy SEALs insignia

One Navy SEAL told Fox News, “How do we tell our guys to stay quiet when this guy won’t?”  Some SEALs have called Bissonnette a “traitor.”

And Col. Tim Nye, a Special Operations Command spokesman, said the author  “put himself in danger” by writing the book.

“This individual came forward. He started the process. He had to have known where this would lead.  He’s the one who started this so he bears the  ultimate responsibility for this.”

But Bissonnette has placed more than his own life in jeopardy.  He has endangered the lives of every one of the men who participated in the bin Laden raid.

If Bissonnette were to fall into the hands of Al Qaeda terrorists or sympathizers, he could conceivably be tortured into revealing at least some of the names and locations of his former team members.

And Fox News not only revealed his true name but even named the town where he lives.

Even the liberal Nation magazine was appalled at the recklessness of this right-wing propaganda outlet.  Jeremy Scahill, a writer for Nation, tweeted:

“Why on earth would FOX News publish the alleged identity of one of the ST6 members who was in the OBL raid? Seriously.”

Millions of right-wing Americans have been conditioned by decades of Fascistic propaganda to believe that:

  • Democrats are all traitors–or at least potential traitors.
  • Even those Democrats who aren’t traitors are too weak-kneed to protect the nation from its sworn enemies.
  • Democrats have betrayed/are betraying/intend to betray national security secrets to the Soviet/Chinese Communists.
  • Democrats have betrayed/are betraying/intend to betray national security secrets to Islamic Jihadists.
  • Only right-wingers generally and Republicans in particular can be trusted to protect the nation.

Republicans blamed the Truman administration for “losing China” to the forces of Mao Tse Tung in 1949–as though China was an American colony that was ours to lose.

And as though Americans could have somehow kept a corrupt and incompetent Chiang Kai-Shek from being driven off the Chinese mainland by Mao’s overwhelmingly powerful armies.

Then, in 1950, Senator “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy charged that the State Department was infested by Communists–and that the Truman administration knew it but refused to take action.  The charges were false.

Joseph R. McCarthy

Even when, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy took the nation to the brink of nuclear war over the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the Right was not satisfied.  On the contrary: The Right accused Kennedy of “selling out” to the Russians by refusing to invade Cuba.

On the other hand, when President Richard Nixon arranged “detente” with both the Soviet Union and Communist China in 1972, the Right was generally supportive.

Mao Tse-Tung and Richard Nixon, 1972

After all, the man who had accused Democrats of “thirty years of treason” couldn’t possibly be guilty of selling out the country to the Communist Menace.  Could he?

Forty years later, tens of thousands of willing-to-work Americans have been thrown into the streets after their companies deserted the United States to set up shop in China.

Such treasonous behavior allows CEOs to ignore American laws that:

  • protect employees from unsafe working conditions;
  • protect the environment;
  • require paying employees at least a minimum wage;
  • require payment of business taxes.

Yet even in the wake of the massive economic and social wreckage inflicted by such desertions, right-wing CEOs insist that President Obama is the traitor selling out American security.

In the August issue of the New Yorker, journalist Jane Mayer reports that at least 33 billionaires each donated at least a quarter of a million dollars to groups aiming to defeat Obama’s re-election.  Most of this money has flooded into attack ads in swing states.

And among the most fervent Obama-haters are the corporate executives of Fox News–which has “patriotically” jeopardized the lives of every SEAL who avenged the tragedy of September 11.

SELLING TREASON – PART TWO (OF THREE)

In History, Politics on May 9, 2012 at 12:00 am

“We have a president right now who is operating outside the construction of our Constitution,” a woman told GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a town-hall meeting in Euclid, Ohio.

As the audience applauded, she continued: “And I do agree he should be tried for treason. But I wanna know what you are going to be able to do to help restore balance between the three branches of government and what you’re going to be able to do to restore our Constitution in this country?”

Unlike John McCain, who in 2008 memorably corrected a woman who declared Obama was “an Arab,” Romney didn’t correct the statement.  Instead, he chose to simply ddress the question.

This is hardly the first time that President Barack Obama has been accused of treason.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Republicans charged that Obama was really a Muslim non-citizen who intended to sell out America’s security to his Muslim “masters.”

And this smear campaign continued throughout his Presidency.

To the dismay of his enemies, Obama–in the course of a single week–dramatically proved the falsity of both charges.

On April 27, 2011, he released the long-form of his Hawaii birth certificate.

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” said Obama at a press conference, speaking as a father might to a roomful of spiteful children. “We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve.

“We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other…if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.”

And on May 1, he announced the solving of one of those “big problems”: Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, had been tracked down and shot dead by elite U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan.

Of course, Obama was only the latest Democratic President to be attacked as “unpatriotic.”

For more than a half-century, Republicans have accused their Democratic opponents of treason to gain and retain political power in America.

On March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow, the most respected broadcast journalist in America, assailed the “smear-and-fear” tactics of Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The forum was Murrow’s highly-rated documentary series, “See It Now.” The truth of Murrow’s remarks has outlasted the briefness of that 30-minute program.

They could have been applied to the “lie and deny” methods of the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon.

And to the Red-baiting attacks made by Republicans against President Bill Clinton.

And to the ongoing character assaults made by right-wingers against President Barack Obama.

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” warned Murrow in that broadcast. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men—not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular….

“We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities….

“We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home….

“Cassius was right. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’”

After Obama announced the death of Bin Laden, most of the Republican slander-peddlers momentarily fell silent.

Still, the legacy of hate and fear-mongering goes on. There is a good reason for this: Republicans have found, repeatedly, that attacking the patriotism of their opponents is an effective vote-getter:

• It hurtled Dwight Eisenhower into the White House and Republicans into Congress in 1952 and 1956.
• It elected Richard Nixon President in 1968 and 1972.
• It gave control of the White House to Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
• It gave it to George H.W. Bush in 1988.
• And even though Bill Clinton won the Presidency in 1992, it gave Republicans control of the Congress in 1994.
• It gave the White House to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
• It gave control of the House to Republicans in 2010, thus undermining the financial and healthcare reforms planned by Obama.

And, since the 2008 election of Barack Obama as President, Republicans have coupled their traditional “Treason!” slander with both subtle and outright appeals to racism.

A NEEDED WAKE-UP CALL

In History, Law Enforcement, Politics on February 21, 2012 at 1:30 am

There is a famous joke about racial profiling that’s long made the rounds of the Internet.  It appears in the guise of a “history test,” and offers such multiple-choice questions as:

In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by:

  • Olga Corbett
  • Sitting Bull
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:

  • Lost Norwegians
  • Elvis
  • A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
  • Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:

  • John Dillinger
  • The King of Sweden
  • The Boy Scouts
  • Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:

  • A pizza delivery boy
  • Pee Wee Herman
  • Geraldo Rivera
  • Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

On September 11, 2001, four airliners were hijacked.  Two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Center; one crashed into the Pentagon; and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by:

  • Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
  • The Supreme Court of Florida
  • Mr. Bean
  • Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

It’s well to remember the bitter truth behind this joke, especially in light of the latest headline:

On February 17, the FBI and Capitol police arrested a man who intended to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol as part of a larger al-Qaida terror campaign.

Amine El Khalifi, 29, a Moroccan who had lived in the United States for 12 years, was arrested near the Capitol after he received what he thought was a MAC-10 automatic weapon and a vest packed with explosives.

The “Al Qaeda terrorists” who provided these items were actually FBI undercover agents.  The gun was disabled and the vest had inert material.

And now the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit, tasked with preventing another 9/11 in America’s Number One target city, finds itself facing a possible civil rights lawsuit.

On February 18, the Associated Press (AP) broke the news that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has monitored Muslim college students far more broadly than previously known.

According to the AP, the NYPD conducted surveillance at schools far removed from New York.  These included Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Detectives daily tracked Muslim student websites and recorded the names of professors and students.

The NYPD, with CIA help, has monitored Muslims where they eat, shop and worship.  The NYPD has placed undercover officers at Muslim student associations in colleges within New York City.

The United States is locked in deadly combat with Islamic “holy warriors” around the world–including those within its own borders.

To put this act of treachery into historical context, imagine the New York Times leaking the exact timetable for the D-Day invasion to agents of Nazi Germany.

And America’s enemies are not just willing but eager to make use of that information–legally and illegally.

“I see a violation of civil rights here,” said Tanweer Haq, chaplain of the Muslim Student Association at Syracuse, upon learning of the AP’s revelations.

“Nobody wants to be on the list of the FBI or the NYPD or whatever. Muslim students want to have their own lives, their own privacy and enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that everybody else has.”

That’s true.  But no other nationality has so often attacked Americans within the last 30 years–nor continues to pose so great a threat to the country.

In one NYPD operation, an undercover officer accompanied 18 Muslim City College students on a whitewater rafting trip in upstate New York.  He noted the names of those who were officers of the Muslim Student Association.

Jawad Rasul, one of the students on the trip, was stunned when he learned that his name was included in the police report.

“It forces me to look around wherever I am now,” Rasul said.

So now he knows how Americans feel when they spot Muslims wearing chadors that hide their faces from view, or even burqas that cover their entire bodies (and any explosive devices they might be carryinig).

Don’t laugh–or sneer: Al Qaeda has used exactly that tactic repeatedly–and successfully–against Afghan military forces.

Osama bin Laden was forced to spend his last years in a Pakistani house watching movies on TV.  But that didn’t stop him from continuing to plot further acts of destruction against “infidel Crusaders.”

Among the plots he sought to unleash was the assassination of President Barack Obama.

It was simply America’s good fortune that the Navy SEALS got him first.

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