Friday, November 09, 2007

To Sir, With Love

What Austin Bay scrawled on a JDAM scheduled to be dropped.

So what did I scrawl on the bomb?

“Greet the strong horse.”

Osama Bin Laden never expected the September 11 attacks to physically defeat America. During the Cold War some estimates were made about the number of nuclear weapons it would take to permanently cripple America. It is a surprisingly large number, but one which anyone who followed Japan's postwar recovery following a blockade, firebombing campaign and two nuclear strikes would readily accept. Physical defeat was beyond Osama's power to inflict. But he believed it was not necessary. America in his view was so rotten that the slightest push would knock it over. As Austin Bay puts it:

Recall Osama said that people will follow the “strong horse.” In his mind the United States was “the weak horse”, a nation of couch potatoes, spoiled brats, and libertine wastrels –cowards all.

But Osama has had a tough six years. Consider the consequences of 9/11. His Afghan bastion fell quickly. Yes, the Taliban still murder villagers and send suicide bombers toward Kabul, but the Taliban of today is a fanatic fragment of the organization which once ruled 90 percent of Afghanistan by terror. Osama also sought to transform an intra-Muslim war. 9/11 was his violent magic trick, the sensational abracadabra that would cover the Muslim world’s fissures and fractures with the facade of a pan-Islamic jihad. Osama, of course, would serve as the new caliph, thank you.

That bid’s gone belly-up, and Iraq is the battlefield that killed it. In Iraq the US brought the “exported war” back to the heart of the Arab Muslim Middle East. Who have suffered the most from homicidal Islamist extremists? Other Muslims. Perhaps the Washington Post doesn’t know it, but in Iraq Al Qaeda has lost the information war. The struggle for the terms of modernity continues, and will continue for decades, but Al Qaeda’s socio-paths have been exposed.

Just as 'no man is a hero to his own valet' no myth survives close inspection. When al-Qaeda brought terrorist warfare to Iraq it gave its own religious and political base a glimpse of what Jihad -- the reality not the myth -- was really like. It gave lie to the assertion that America required the slightest of shoves to be pushed into oblivion. Osama, greet the strong horse.

And if this seems obvious in retrospect things never seemed so simple at the time. In Steven Spielberg's adapation of Band of Brothers, a trooper yells at the defeated horse-drawn German Army from his truck. "What were you thinking? What were you thinking?" Things doubtful at the time are always clear in retrospect.

I think future historians will conclude that the "strong horse" came within an ace of throwing in the towel. Blunders by the administration, ruthlessly exploited by the forces of appeasement -- the very ones Osama had calculated would objectively come in on his side -- took American political will to a crisis in early 2007. The strong horse was on the verge of heading for the barn.

Nothing is inevitable. Horatio Nelson remarked "Something must be left to chance; nothing is sure in a sea fight above all." And he might have added the same was true in any sort of fight. But men make their own luck, and human effort counts for much. Osama was not doomed to fail, and for that the nation owes its men much, perhaps more than it can know.


Blogger Whiskey said...

I would not bet against Osama Wretchard. He knows how weak, divided, and uncertain America is. Nancy Pelosi is once again offering only a token funding for the war, and attempting to cut off all military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dennis Kucinich mixes UFO sightings with attempts to impeach Dick Cheney for the "crime" of offering that all options are on the table wrt Iran's nukes.

Meanwhile, Osama reaches ever closer to nukes. Or Ayman al-Zawahari if Osama is dead. Pakistan is almost within his grasp, as clueless idiots push Musharraf down the slope of the Shah. Who can stand against the Taliban/Islamists in Pakistan? Bhutto? Sharif? How many men with guns willing to kill and die for them do they have? None.

Moreover modern technology means Osama CAN physically defeat the US. Kill enough of our cities and we might just surrender. Certainly the clowns of Nancy, Dennis, and so on don't inspire fear. And what we do in Iraq is beside the point. Yes AQ and Osama was beaten there, so what? If he takes Pakistan, or Iran is successful with nukes (Egypt and Saudi Arabia have already announced their nuke programs) he will be able to kill with impunity (or so he thinks) America cities in a decapitating blow to force our surrender.

What happens in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bravery and sacrifice, is irrelevant almost wrt the battle for control of Pakistan. Because bottom line, if you have nukes, the means to deliver them (ICBMs or terrorists, either one) and the ability to "survive" in one way or another, you can defeat America.

Osama is in better shape now than he was on 9/10. He has more prospects of controlling nukes now than then.

11/09/2007 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger lgude said...

I would not bet against America. Osama has probably lost Iraq so he has gone on the offensive in Pakistan. He is a long way from controlling the nukes, but that is his best chance so I expect him to go for it.As Austin Bay pointed out we have won the information war in Iraq - thanks to the barbarism of al Qaeda - but not in the Washington Post. We haven't won it in Pakistan either. Unfortunately it is up to ordinary Pakistanis to understand the difference between barbarians and moralists. That will take time and much hangs in the balance.

11/09/2007 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So if Iraq is giving signs that it's finally come to its senses and decided that life under Al-Queda is not an acceptable option, what's wrong with the idiot villagers and tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan? These people put up with the Taliban's barbarity for years, and now not only are they re-embracing a mainly defeated bunch of black-headed lunatics but they're falling into the arms of Al-Queda like a bunch of over-ripe pears.

Do they *like* being blown up, beheaded, terrorized, raped, and kept ignorant and dirt poor?

11/09/2007 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Hey Whiskey!

Any country can in the fullness of time collapse from its own rot, without any assault from the outside.

The problem the West has is very much like that Rome had: the leaders of its society have become more willing to coerce their wealth and power from their fellow citizens, than to create new wealth by innovation and hard work. As the Aristocracy becomes more smug and arrogant and confident of its position WITHIN ITS OWN SOCIETY, the middle class is being squeezed to extinction, leaving only serfs and slaves --- Subjects, not citizens.

The gradually coalescing "Axis of the Delusional" is well typified by the likes of Ted "Chappaquiddick," Al Gorelick and the Hollywood elites, who are too busy lobbying and scheming to arrange for Nobels, Pulitzers, and Oscars for each other to grasp that the universe mainly doesn't give a crap about conforming to their delusion.

So, as long as nothing happens to them personally that would force them re-evaluate their worldview, they are extremely unlikely to do so, and will continue to behave in ways that are inappropriate to their own long-term survival.

On the other hand, their particular delusion seems to emphasize that the people who wish to defend the values and system that sustain them, are THE REAL ENEMY. So they constantly beckon and gesture to people on the outside they think of as allies. They simply cannot grasp that betraying their own country and culture might mark them as lower-than-scum in the eyes of their liberators.


11/09/2007 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Smith said...

We need to set a modern policy of mutually assured destruction—excluding the mutual part. If any attacks on Americans, our property, and/or our economic interests exceed a particular number or value, we will destroy the following cities: Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, Teheran, Qum, Lahore, Islamabad, Beirut and the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan.

We could get their attention by beginning production of the Neutron bomb, a nice clean device that would leave all property intact. Oh, except for those cities deemed sacred by Muslims. Those we level and salt a la Carthage. The cities of North Africa could wait for a second wave if deemed necessary. We wouldn't want to do the Euros any favors.

11/10/2007 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger ADE said...

There is no al Qaeda, there is no Osama. Just a bunch of dead enders of a most vile culture ( Islam) scratching around for a brand name.

Al Quaeda - the Coca Cola of Islam.

But I fret - when the time capsule from our local school is dug up, will the Coca Cola be OK?


11/10/2007 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Valentine Smith said...

Hell, I meant Damascus not Beirut. For Beirut, the destruction would need to be a little more selective.

11/10/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

I wonder if that bomb will detonate in Pakistan or Waziristan.

With al Qaeda infecting the Northwest Frontier Province, major cities in Pakistan and Waziristan I would hope it will find a high value target before said high value target acquires one of Pakistan’s nuclear bombs.

It is uncertain if Osama is still alive but we know one of Bin Laden’s sons in involved in the failed attempt to kill Benezir Bhutto.

Thus, the Bin Laden terror family is still in business. I would guess liquidating him would be a big set-back for al Qaeda.

In fact, a JDAM taking his whole murderous family off the playing field would be a big set-back for al Qaeda.

Let’s hope that our military can put the JDAM monogrammed by Col. Bay to good use without the JAGs arguing over the fine points of rules of engagement. I say eliminate our enemies quickly and efficiently. Do not let the cancer spread.

11/10/2007 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Thus, the Bin Laden terror family is still in business

Don't you think that not only is he still in business, but he's still getting money from back home? A monthly allowance of $1 million or so, sent via camelback and mule that enables him to not only buy the medical stuff he needs to stay alive, but also the latest NY Times and some way of hearing what the Beeb has to say.

He's supposed to have been disinherited by both the bin Laden family and by Saudi Arabia, but we know that highest ranking Saudi's like Naif are still donating major money to Wahhabi terrorism, and I'm remembering I read something somewhere a few years ago that said Mamma bin Laden was still in touch with her rascally little son Osama.

11/10/2007 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


I discuss this idea at The Iranian Path and Pakistan. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings brings up a bunch of polling data indicating there is no significant political support for the Islamists in Pakistan. Therefore, we should roll Musharaf over and let Nawaz & Benazir take over.

A commentator to Hilzoy notes the Islamists in Iran are wildly unpopular but still rule. In any event Hilzoy is project our beliefs and values onto a dissimilar group. The Islamists do not need popular mandate they feel they have all the mandate they need in the Holy Qur'ran.

In fact, Iran is not the only time we have been at this fork, in 1986 in an event known as Edsa I our government withdrew its support from another dictator. In that case, we were certain a friendly government would take over – a government that we knew would also respect human rights.

In Pakistan we can be certain of neither (Iran, was a net loss a former ally became an enemy & at best a draw on human rights).

11/10/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

"I would not bet against Osama Wretchard...."

I would. I'm not even sure he's still alive to be bet upon or against. I suspect that spliced tape recordings and Photoshop are what whoever is currently still in charge of Al Qaeda is using to maintain the idea that Daddy Dearest is still around to keep things for falling apart for Al Qaeda (The way they did for the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings when King Harold was seen to take an arrow in the eye) while they try to figure out what to do next. But I doubt that there is anyone to take up the Sword of Welleran on their behalf. ^_~

11/10/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Fascinating question, given the choice, what would you write on a bomb? Many years ago, I had the collateral duty of physical security officer on a Navy cruiser equipped with nuclear missiles. Unfortunately, the Navy abhors graffiti, so the question never came up.

After a bit of reflection, I don't think I would go with obscure literary references or cryptic messages that nobody would get without an explanation. I don't think you could top the immortal words of Porky Pig, "T-t-t-that's All Folks!!!"

11/10/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

This reminds me of an observation made by Richard Pryor about 20 years ago. He said that it was obvious to him that people who wanted to fight the U.S. had only been dealing with refined people from big cities and had never met one of our rednecks, adding "We should take these people to Alabama and show them what they really would have to deal with."

I made much the same observation after attending the 1991 Andrews AFB airshow. Bring about 1,000 of the right people from around the world and let them wander around that airshow. Let them see people go ohh and ahh when the F-14's, F-15's, 16's, and 18's do their routines. Let them see people point proudly at the A-10, back from Desert Storm, with all the tank kill markings. As the final kicker, let them see the crowd get teary eyed when they crank up the B-17 and other WWII warbirds and play "God Bless the USA"...

They would go home and say "We in a lotta trouble, folks. Those people not only are good at war; they LOVE it."

But a certain percentage of the people anywhere are dirtbags, hopeless dirtbags. Witness the recent poll that says that 20% of the German population would like to put the Wall back up and go back to communism.

11/10/2007 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Back in the early '90s I worked in a machine shop and I was usually the guy who ran the CNC machines on "jobs".

One such job was to feed a Kitamura CNC lathe forged aluminum cups about 10" or so long and about about 3" diameter. The job cut the cup to length, threaded the inside about 2" or so and repeat.

What would I have written on one of those had the thought occurred to me? Good question, probably approved by inspector 51.

11/10/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Was Osama wrong? I think not. The US military is ultimately controlled by the Congress and they can force a surrender if they want to. They want to.

Meanwhile, Osama is very well situated (or Zawahari). Pashtuns make up the solid ethnic core of the NWF and the Islamist base. They have money, guns, and part of the military.

Bhutto or Sharif have "moral authority" and the "backing of the people." Bet on the guns. ALWAYS bet on the guns.

Machiavelli in the Prince discusses unarmed prophets like Savonarola and notes they always come to a bad end.

The choice is Musharaff, or Osama and allies. And Musharaff is not immortal.

Once Osama controls effectively Pakistan nukes, he has the initiative. He decides which American cities die, and which live. He'll probably push it too far but once we lose cities we have no choice but to kill most of Osama's allies (the Pashtuns) and the Saudi Royal family and the Iranian regime. Otherwise others will see our weakness and non-response and attack us also.

11/10/2007 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I wish someone would explain to me how these mad Arabs (or Persians or North Koreans) with their ticky-tacky little last century bombs that haven't been tested and no planes are gonna get them across a big wide ocean, and a couple of countries, close enough to detonate in the threat of "which American cities die, and which live".

Until I see such an explanation and some examples, every time I read something like this I just have to shake my head, and hear a mental "booga booga!" because really -- what it is is a chicken running around clucking that the sky is falling. Or a little boy telling the villagers once again that the wolf is coming.

Maybe one day the wolf actually will come calling, but what is the likelihood that the chicken will get its wish and be able to watch the sky fall?

11/10/2007 11:39:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I wish someone would explain to me how these mad Arabs (or Persians or North Koreans) with their ticky-tacky little last century bombs that haven't been tested and no planes are gonna get them across a big wide ocean, and a couple of countries, close enough to detonate in the threat of "which American cities die, and which live".

So September 10.

They found a way to bring the WTC towers down. They'll find a way of delivering a nuke. If they get control of them in Pakistan then the cost of failure is lower, its not like they would only have one weapon but a number of them. We may intercept 19 of 20, but what about that one?

11/11/2007 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Note to nahncee,
For all our vaunted Star Wars technology the preferred delivery vehicle for a nuclear bomb to an American City is a cargo container or a Rider truck.

Can't find nukes? Spread Mad Cow Disease throughout the cattle farms out west.

When a tanker clipped the bridge in San Francisco the other day, my first thought was to wonder if suicidal jihadis had hijacked it. If not, what prevents them from doing this one week before the next election?

Better to bring the war to them then to go back to playing defense.

Happy Veteran's Day.

11/11/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

OK, how big is a nuclear bomb likely to be that's made in Pakistan? I know there are dirty suitcase bombs, but aren't those fairly limited in their range? And could Khan's technology have produced them?

For some reason, I'm thinking a nuclear bomb would weigh about 500 pounds. Maybe that's from watching the old movie Fat Man and LIttle Boy.

So we've got Google maps which can now tell me if you've got a pool in your backyard, and you're saying that we don't have the technology to notice a bunch of men hefting a 500 pound package around, loading it on a camel to get it to an ocean where it will have to be wrestled onto a steamship?

And then to track that steamship across the ocean and maybe sink it before it gets to the Golden Gate bridge?

Say the bomb *does* get on the steamship and *does* make it to San Francisco or Long Beach or New York -- how is it then detonated? It has to be in a crate or the Google satellites will *really* have noticed it, sitting out in the weather having seawater waves washing over it.

Osama's going to go to all that trouble to heft a nuke all the way to San Francisco from Pakistan, and then he's going to detonate it with a call from a cell phone?

Pakistan *does* have fighter jets that we sold them. Do they have any sort of plane like the Enola Gay that would be suitable for delivering big honking bombs?

And what would the Google maps guys think if they were to see a big slow anonymous plane in the air, lumbering from Pakistan to Washington, DC?

If we are *that* stupid and *that* blind then we deserve to be nuked by a bunch of savages.

11/11/2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said:

"OK, how big is a nuclear bomb likely to be that's made in Pakistan? I know there are dirty suitcase bombs, but aren't those fairly limited in their range?"

It won't be a suitcase nuke. It'll be a Tsar Bomba (google it) on the deck of an ocean freighter.

"And then to track that steamship across the ocean and maybe sink it before it gets to the Golden Gate bridge? Say the bomb *does* get on the steamship and *does* make it to San Francisco or Long Beach or New York -- how is it then detonated?"

The ocean freighter will be manned with a suicide crew like the guys who flew the 9/11 planes. The terrorists will either lease the ship legally or highjack it. They'll detonate the weapon either when they are perfectly located for maximum damage (near Manhattan Island) or after being discovered by the Navy or Coast Guard at the harbor entrance.

There is only one defense against this mode of attack and that's to keep the bad guys from acquiring the necessary nuclear technology. If Pakistan fully unravels or Iran isn't dealt with then the bad guys will have the last piece of the puzzle.

Happy Veteran's Day!

11/11/2007 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

See if you can spot the nuclear device in this photo

It is a problem. Shipping containers arrive here from all parts of the world, and may go through several ports-of-call so that the one with the bomb has a Canadian return address.

11/11/2007 01:19:00 PM  

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