April 13, 2004
Its 2004, Welcome to 19th Century America
I guess its ironic that "conservatives" never hide the fact that they want to roll back the clock and return America to some imaginary past era. But the way Bush administration is pulling us back to the 19th century damn sure ain't funny, nor is it particularly spoken of.
Much has been made of the Bush adminstration's mastery of media tactics, but what's left unsaid is that that mastery is about the only skill that distinguishes this administration from a government of robber barons. Take a look at the industries represented in the government and the picture emerges. Oil is a big one obviously, and defense as well. Railroads, metals, banking. This is a system of power rooted in 1800's with a mentality to match.
Back when the US first invaded Afghanistan, I read a bit about the regional wargames played by Pentagon in the years previous. Unfortunately I didn't archive the article, and have yet to track it down, so you'll need to rely upon my word (and memory) as to what it entailed.
Faced with a diffuse terrorist organization, spread out guerilla style across the mountains of central asia. The war gamers playing "red" the enemy were able to run circles around the generals. The pentagon planners had the advantage of overwhelming force and the latest weapons, but they proved worthless in the face of warriors capable of vanishing into mountains and blending with the local population.
Now beating a ranking general in wargames in the a particularly good political tactic and apparently "red" got beat in quite an unconventional manner. The generals forced the game organizers to make the "red" troops mass up over in Uzbekistan or someplace and fight like
retards a traditional army. Finally the generals could blow them away and feel satisfied with their victory.
What's scary is just how this war game tactic has been actualized over the past few years. The first time was a lucky break for the US. Faced with the amorphous foe of Al Qaeda Bush and company where able to invade an actual country instead, and given the ties between the Taliban and Al Qaeda they actually were somewhat justified.
Now the country of Afghanistan, in as much as it actually existed as a cohesive whole, was a pretty easy target and easily broken. Which of course did nothing at all to solve the real threat of terrorism.
And Condi Rice's recent testimony is making it clear that the administration has never quite been able to conceptually grasp what terrorism is. It doesn't quite map to their 19th century mindstate of force and minerals. Rice repeated the mantra that the problems were all structural like her job depended on it. And in doing so she let the world know just how mentally unequipped she is to deal with
with terrorism. Did she ever see the videos of the twin towers collapsing, destroyed by a weakness in their own structure?
The terrorism of Al Qaeda is the antithesis of structure. It swarms through the rigid constructions of westernism, searching for points of weakness. Points where the very tensions of structure can be deftly turned against themselves. It's no coincidence that Bin Laden, born into a family of engineers, was obsessed with the World Trade Center, attacking it once in 1993 and again in 2001. He saw the weakness in the structure and knew he could topple it. And knowing that what are we supposed to make of Rice relentlessly screaming for more structure?
Its clear that Bush and co, need structure to attack, they can't quite comprehend the way terrorism and guerilla war is conducted. Instead they insist on Daily Kos || personifying the enemy, and reducing reality down to soundbites. Rumsfeld talks of a test of will, and he's right, this is administration trying to will into existence a reality to match their unrealizable philosophies.
Rumsfeld himself is a former RAND director and he seems determined to realize the RAND/Air Force dream of virtual wars, run by satellites, robots and statistics,
free of those dirty, fuzzy, unpredictable humans. Bush focuses instead on isolated leaders, dreaming they might have the potent control of their people he so desperately dreams he has over his. And the National Security Advisor frantically tries to will into this world a scenario where she some how can be unaccountable for the tragedy of 9-11 that ran straight into her job description, making it clear to all just how poorly she did her job.
At the basest point this is an administration determined to maintain the 19th century belief that a small set of individuals can run the world based on raw power and minerals. And shockingly enough they've managed to take over America. Now as they blunder through Iraq, let Afghanistan fall to pieces and prepare for elections in the US we are about to learn just how much reality can retribute.
update: Finally found the article on the Afghanistan wargames referred to above, here is the juicy quote:
The army brass, Dr Johnson said, "were intent on fighting a variation of a war against large tank armies on the central plains of somewhere". At one point, the Pentagon officers involved became so frustrated with their elusive opponents that they asked for the game organisers to have a friendly government's armoured battalion defect to the other side. "They did it to give someone to blast," Dr Johnson said. "Everyone went away feeling viscerally satisfied."
As a result, they missed the point. The terror organisation still had most of its cells in place, and a functioning financial network.
Sound at all familiar?Posted by Abe at April 13, 2004 05:39 PM