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    War and Terror: 'Shock And Awe' Fizzles In The Face of Ingenuity and A Will To Fight
    Posted on Wednesday, March 26 @ 12:25:39 UTC
    Topic: Troops and Tanks
    Troops and Tanksby Ben Roberts

    This was supposed to be an impressive war like none the world had ever seen. Military jocks in the know, Middle East 'experts,' and familiar news anchors were all seen in an endless TV parade smugly telling us of 'the impressive technology,' 'the mother of all bombs,' 'rendering the Iraqi military deaf and blind,' and a 'lethal air and light show that was unprecedented in history.' In other words a Fourth of July fireworks display that would leave the world and Iraq in a state of shock and awe, giving the victim no choice but to promptly throw in the towel and utter the famous words, 'No mas.' Don't get me wrong, the opening bell was impressive with cruise missiles streaking in from varied US Navy ships in the Red Sea with flight times of over an hour. Another volley of missiles came from warships in the Gulf, with half hour flight times. This was complemented with a silent-as-the-Grim Reaper F-117A Stealth bomber swooping in to drop its twin bomb load, in what was described as a 'decapitation' operation against the Iraqi leadership, (try explaining that term to your children where your leaders deliberately try to violently assassinate the leadership of another country and call it such a nice and wonderful phrase). The synchronicity was impressive with the target being hit simultaneously without missing a beat. Awesome technology. One small problem though. The intended targets are still horizontal. It has been downhill from then.

    At the outset of this event, the media and military had me and the world primed for a video war they had billed as a blockbuster. They even had 'embedded' journalists to ensure the excitement and gore. I practically had my popcorn and beer ready to go (and the beer reference is no joke. In a recent TV interview a beer advertising representative said continuing with beer ads during the war was appropriate since Americans would drink more beer as they parked in front of their TV sets to see the war unfold). Imagine that. A jubilant American population 'marinated in alcohol,' watching a blood sport as their leaders, 'marinated in oil' (this latter phrase from Ralph Nader), try to take another nation's precious resources. This 'shock and awe' blockbuster has fizzled so badly that I want my money back. And why did this event, billed as unprecedented in history, fizzle so badly? Simple. It is being neutralized by the ingenuity and will power of citizens willing to defend themselves. America should be quite familiar with this, having lived and witnessed such a scenario many times before.

    America, in its infancy, faced certain peril as British forces descended on the New England colonies. Paul Revere rode through the night warning that the British were coming. Americans, from soldiers and volunteers with muskets to farmers with pitchforks, turned out in full force to defend their country against a superior invading army that was used to manhandling anyone they came up against. The result here was a rout and major setback for the British, totally attributable to the willpower of the American citizen. During the war against the Seminoles in Florida, the powerful US Army hit a brick wall, and became so demoralized with regular defeat against the legendary warrior, Osceola. He and his men simply had the will to fight and the ingenuity to use nature as an ally against the superior US Army. He and the Seminoles were the only Indian nation never to be defeated by the US Army. During America's Civil War, Jeb Stuart, in the Confederate Army used his reconnaissance detachment, with grossly inferior numbers, to blatantly monitor and often intimidate Union troops. Ingenuity was his modus operandi. During this same war, the attack on Fort Wagner by the all black Union battalion even today defies the expectations of men in battle facing insurmountable odds, and is a testament to willpower. In the Vietnam War, General Giap had his men set fires miles away from his troop concentrations. Potent American B-52 bombers saw this with their infrared sensors, came over and bombed the site into oblivion, unaware that it was an isolated jungle fire. This ingenious action ensured the safety of Giap's forces from certain death.

    These events are all lessons America has been exposed to at some time or other. The question is this. Have we not learned anything? Don't we think that other people will rally and fight for their country by any means necessary, much like we did against the British? Did the mad scramble to evacuate Saigon, with people clawing their way desperately towards departing US choppers, not teach America that superior force does not guarantee victory? It seems that in Iraq, America is learning the hard way what it should have learned a long time ago. This smug belief in superiority and the infallibility of military resources is, without a doubt, misplaced when we examine what has transpired. Take a look:

    Within days of launching from Kuwait across the Iraqi border, the US Army reported that Um Qasr was secured. As recently as yesterday they said it has not been captured yet. They said they were about to overrun Basra, as it was an important logistical town for resupplying their forces. That has not happened to date, as they have met serious resistance. So now they have shifted and told us that taking the town is not necessary. We have a number of incidents with choppers crashing and killing US and British soldiers on various occasions. It is always reported as mechanical difficulties. What a load of crap. How is it our 'embedded' ace in the hole reporters cannot verify these stories? One British chopper crashed returning from a mission in Iraq. A naval officer who saw action in the first Gulf War assured me that the chopper had, without question, been hit by the Iraqis, took damage, and crashed trying to get back to its ship, the Ark Royal. Then this weekend, lowly Iraqi farmers, using rifles, took out two multi million dollar Apache Longbow choppers, crown jewels of the US military machine. See what I mean about willpower and ingenuity?

    Now we are treated to unsettling and unpleasant pictures of bewildered and frightened American prisoners of war in Iraq. Our government is screaming that Iraq abide by the Geneva Convention in the treatment of these prisoners, and allow access to them. I totally agree. But now our American government horrendous behavior is coming back to haunt us. Our refusal to be part of an international court, our indefinite and secret incarceration of Taliban foot soldiers at Guantanamo Bay in violation of the Geneva Convention, and the US torture chamber at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, where Afghanis have died under brutal torture, puts the hypocritical Bush Administration in no position to demand that anyone abide by the Geneva Convention. My parents always said, 'you sow what you reap.' That advice never goes out of fashion. Not even for Americans.

    The United States government is a virtual factory for assigning actions that qualify as war crimes. It is almost absurd. Donald Rumsfeld comes out on TV and decrees that it would be a war crime if Iraqis blow up oilfields, since it is a natural resource of the citizens. Sounds good. Maybe we should arrest American officials for deliberately killing calves and burning wheat, as they did years ago, because there was a glut on the market for these products, and this action ensured that prices remained stable. All this in a world where people go hungry. How sickening. Then George Bush came out and issued a decree that it would be a war crime for Iraqis to use weapons of mass destruction. As far as I know nuclear weapons are the premier weapons of mass destruction. The US used depleted uranium shells in the Persian Gulf War, and there are indicators that this usage has contributed to numerous child illnesses in Iraq, including cancers. The military was pushing for clearance to use the same weapons in this war, and from all indications are doing so. How can we now go about declaring that it is a war crime if Iraq behaves the same way we do? Yesterday an American A-10 Warthog tank killer did not kill a tank. It took the lives of a busload of Iraqis on their way to Jordan. A few days ago an American cruise missile allegedly went astray and exploded in Iran, injuring civilians. Will anyone be tried for war crimes or sued for wrongful death, as Americans are quick to insist upon?

    How is this for absurdity. In today's briefing a frustrated US Commander complained that Iraqi soldiers were engaging in 'the equivalent of terroristic activity by dressing as civilians.' This is urban warfare, where deception is the common currency. Are the Iraqis supposed to sit out in the desert in full military regalia like a neon sign to facilitate attack? This is not Gulf War l. This is an invasion of someone's country. Various tactics are employed. Do you think a US Navy SEAL team would conduct an operation in Iraq dressed in full military outfits with rank visibly displayed? Absolutely not. Ingress would be quiet, with an attempt to blend in and look as regular as possible. Why is it foul play and criminal when the Iraqis employ the same tactics against the US? As stated, this 'shock and awe' video blockbuster has fizzled, so can I have my money back?

    Ben Roberts is a newsletter editor, freelance writer and published author. His book, Jackals of Samarra, was published in January 2001. Ben can be contacted by email at: grandt730@aol.com

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