.... Worldview:
Two Tactical Blunders
By: Harun Rashid October 10, 2001

If one wishes to see a goal scored, and it is an important goal, one that is worth giving up life itself to accomplish, then great care should be taken in the planning. It is not enough strike a first blow, no matter how great the damage might be, if it only arouses the anger of an opponent whose might is sufficient to permanently end further
attempts.

The organisation of conspirators who have demolished buildings in the US have made a terrible blunder, one that will lead inexorably to the total extinguishment of any they might have for dream for success. They have blundered. They have mis-judged the character of their opponent.

A story goes that a spy was sent from Germany in the thirties to appraise the fighting spirit of the American people. He cautiously traveled about, asking subtle questions about the political situation in Europe, and whether America might enter a European war on the side of the Germans. He found the American public was overwhelmingly opposed to entering another European war. The memory of WWI was still fresh. Once was enough.

There was a deep economic depression in the US at the time, and it seemed no one was interested in another war in Europe. The isolationist feeling was strong. The spy sat down to write his report, focusing on the universal feeling he found of pacificism and "America first."  "The Americans will not fight," he wrote.

Before he sent off his report, he took a short break to attend an American football game. He noted the intensity with which the teams played. He listened as the fans cheered loudly in support of the favorite.

So astonished and impressed was he, that he went back to his hotel room and changed the conclusion of his paper. "Germany would be wise not to engage these people in a war," he wrote. And Hitler took the advise.

The Japanese, however, were more audacious. Heady with success in China and other parts of Asia, they decided

the US could be bested in a long range war. An experienced Admiral Yamamoto was assigned the task of preparing the plans. He advised the Japanese cabinet that Japan could not win a war against the industrial might of the US. He was told to make the plans anyway. It was a mistake.

Admiral Yamamoto, in spite of his misgivings, decided that although a war could not be won, a powerful attack on the US Navy and its bases in the Pacific would give Japan time to further strengthen its military might. He hoped for a first strike that would be definitive, and for its success he relied on stealth. There would be no announcement, the attack would be swift and sudden, catching the Americans unaware on a quiet Sunday morning.

The attack itself was a military success, sinking the American battleships moored at Ford Island. The execution of the plan was excellent, from a military point of view. It was, however, later to be viewed as a great mistake, as the Admiral had wisely foreseen.

There is in the American character a deep sense of fair play. It is not acceptable to hit a person who is wearing glasses. One first must ask that the glasses be removed. One does not strike from the rear, "the blind side." To shoot a man in the back is considered the greatest cowardice and no better than the bite of a rattlesnake who strikes without warning from ambush. "You dirty sidewinder!" is the term of opprobrium often heard in America's cowboy films.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour and other Pacific bases in December 7, 1941, the Americans were first horrified that anyone would do such a dastardly and dishonourable thing. Then they were outraged, developing a seething anger. They vowed the attack would be avenged using the full industrial might of the nation.

"Remember Pearl Harbour!" was the battle cry. It was the sense of fair play which was offended, and this gave the moral edge to the striken people to arouse them suddenly into determined action, completely overcoming the previous preference for isolation and pacifism. It was the entry of the Americans into WWII which ultimately gave the victory to the Allied side.

It is in the nature of terrorism that it strikes without warning, and against innocent people who have no opportunity to protect themselves. This is the source of the indignation that arouses the fighting spirit of the American people today. Whatever the argument offered in justification, it cannot be heard in such an emotional climate. The conspirators, whoever they ultimately may prove to be, have struck a hornet's nest, and now the hornets are out to settle the score.

To strike the Americans without warning, that is the first blunder. (One notices that the Americans gave adequate warning in the Gulf war and the present instance.) One may say in defense that Osama Bin Laden had made a declaration of war a number of years ago, but this was not in the nature of an open conflict. Osama Bin Laden had in mind the successes of the Vietnamese, and the defeat of the Russians. He thought it acceptible to use the same guerrilla tactics against the Americans.

When the USS Cole, a warship, was bombed, that was accepted by the Americans as something a warship might expect, though the methods were considered unfair.

When the two American embassies were bombed, there was outrage, again it did not arouse widespread anger and indignation. But when the World Trade Center was hit, carrying innocent airline passengers to their deaths
along with several thousand people in the buildings, that did it. The Americans have been awakened, and the world is in grave danger until this great superpower has vented its rage.

If a monkey deliberately drops a coconut on an elephant's head, the elephant might get mad. If he does, the monkey is in serious trouble. Calling to other monkey's for assistance will not help matters. Not at all.

- Harun Rashid

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