Posts tagged with War On Terror
Reporters covering the investigation of the major al Qaeda victory at Benghazi should ask themselves: "what would Walter Cronkite do" if he were covering the story.
Let's consider the facts. Most people familiar with the War on Terror knew in September, 2012, that there was a heightened risk of an al Qaeda attack in the U.S. or at American installations outside the U.S. on or about the anniversary of the original 9/11 attack.
The danger was particularly high at American facilities in Libya because of the very unstable situation there and the presence of al Qaeda personnel who were trying to take over the country. Military and CIA personnel in Libya should have been on a high state of alert and prepared to back up personnel at any facility that might be attacked. Their orders should have been to respond immediately to any attack without requesting authorization from Washington. Security should have been particularly tight in Benghazi with the Ambassador in the building.
With modern cell phone technology, personnel should have been calling the State Department as they took cover, grabbed weapons, etc. Both the Secretary of State and President should have been notified immediately. State Department protocol should have required the Secretary, or least the top undersecretary for the region, to monitor the situation using both audio and video from the site, possibly using devices such as smart phones . If a satellite was in position to monitor the situation someone in Washington should have monitored its video. Keep in mind the government has better quality cameras than Google on its satellites.
The Obama administration's initial claim that the facility fell to a rag tag mob of demonstrators implies the facility essentially had no security. Any decent security protocol should have been prepared for the type of attack that Iranian students had used to take over the American embassy in Tehran during the Carter administration. An attack by trained military personnel would have been more easily explained, although security personnel should have been prepared to handle such an attack.
Determining the significance of the successful al Qaeda attack is difficult because of the nature of the War on Terror. Significant battles haven't involved large groups. Although the American casualty toll in the 9/11 attack was high, barely a dozen men conducted the attack. A similar sized American force killed Osama bin Laden. Much of the killing by both sides is done by remote control. Americans use aerial drones. Al Qaeda uses road side bombs.
The attack is at least as significant as the temporary Viet Cong capture of the American embassy in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The attack indicates that al Qaeda has successfully broadened the war and is now able to defeat the Americans in Libya and possibly elsewhere. The size of the victory isn't as important as the fact that the attack was an al Qaeda victory. Al Qaeda may not be "winning" the war yet, but as a football sportscaster might say, al Qaeda "has taken the momentum", as demonstrated by the recent successful bombing of the Boston Marathon. Al Qaeda can use its success as a recruitment argument.
The failure of the Americans to come to the rescue during the attack could be interpreted by al Qaeda as proving bin Laden was right when he said the Americans would eventually tire of the fighting.
Walter Cronkite began questioning the American handling of the Vietnam after the attack on the American Embassy in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. I'm sure he would have asked questions about the War on Terror after the fall of the American consulate in Benghazi, particularly considering the allegations that someone in Washington prevented sending a rescue force. Cronkite knew that Presidents are sometimes mislead by their subordinates and it is the duty of journalists to learn the truth.
Vice President Joe Biden was busy being good natured Old Uncle Joe in the debate. He spent much of his time trying to keep young Rep. Paul Ryan from talking. You know Uncle Joe. He's always interrupting everyone at the family gatherings. He wants to remind everyone his mouth still works even though he might be moving kind of slow. He smiles a lot to show he's enjoying the attention.
One of the problems some of us old guys have is wanting to remain the center of attention. I believe a lot of this practice comes from fear of being displaced by the younger guys. We want to remind the younger generation we are still around.
I don't expect much substance from the debate because two minutes per question is insufficient time to do much more than to allow the two parties to say "did so" / "did not" much like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck saying "duck season" / "rabbit season" in the old Warner Brothers Looney Tunes.
Biden is out of touch with the situation in the Middle East. He seems to think we are winning in spite of the fact that al Qaeda recently destroyed our consulate in Libya.
Biden doesn't understand that withdrawal from Afghanistan will be portrayed by al Qaeda as victory over the United States like their victory over the old Soviet Union. Osama bin Laden wanted us to invade Afghanistan because he believed the United States didn't have the willingness to go the distance.
He knew he couldn't defeat the United States. He believed he, or his successor, could get the United States to tire of the war and leave our allies behind without support like the Soviets did and like we did in Vietnam. The recent attacks on American forces by local Afghan forces are because they think the Americans are deserting them like bin Laden said we would. Afghan forces believe if we withdraw our troops we will eventually end support in the form of providing war supplies like we did in Vietnam. Many Afghans may believe the situation will be like the conflict with the Soviet Union when the Taliban took advantage of the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal to take over the country.
The War on Terror is an endurance contest like the Cold War was. The United States has to continue the effort if it wants to outlast the enemy. We still have forces in Germany even though we won that war almost 70 years ago. and we have had casualties there because of terrorist activity. We need to let the enemy know we will keep forces in Afghanistan for a similar period of time if we want to outlast them. Al Qaeda will use early withdrawal as a recruiting tool by claiming they have proved they can defeat the United States with terrorism.
The recent violence in the Middle East indicates Obama is losing the war on terror. If Walter Cronkite were alive and doing the evening news he might have said the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya meant the U.S. could not win the war. The attack was more successful than the attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon in the 1968 Tet Offensive.
If President Barack Obama really believes that the attacks are a "speed bump" he may be dangerously out of touch with reality. The 9/11 attack was preceded by attacks on American embassies in Africa. The new attacks may give al Qaeda confidence that it can pull off an attack on America or American interests.
The most disturbing thing about the Libyan attack is that the Obama administration should have been prepared for it. The continued instability resulting from the U.S. led overthrow of the Libyan government reduces the ability of Libyan authorities to deal with terrorists. The situation is comparable to the situation that existed after the fall of the Shah of Iran. The primary difference is that the people who attacked in Libya weren't interested in taking prisoners.
Al Qaeda operative Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi was involved at the start in the attempt to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi. Al Qaeda has now "rewarded" Obama for his assistance in helping them get established in Libya.
There are conflicting reports about whether the White House received specific warnings about possible embassy attacks. The White House and embassy officials shouldn't have needed warnings about the danger of an attack on or about the anniversary of the 9/11 attack. Whether or not attacks occur on specific targets on 9/11 of any given year may depend in large part on how prepared American facilities appear to be. Terrorists are more likely to attack sites that appear to be unprepared. If the White House didn't have intelligence that attacks could occur, it's because the White House doesn't have intelligence.
Egypt is another country that is still unstable after the fall of the old regime and thus vulnerable to terrorist actions.
The Obama administration has encouraged mass demonstrations, some of which turned violent, in the Middle East over the last few years. The success of such demonstrations in changing governments has encouraged residents of the region to believe demonstrations might help achieve other goals including changing U.S. policies.
A recent anti-Muslim film in the U.S. was used by activists to get people to conduct demonstrations in several countries. Sony corporation is planning to release a movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden. We might consider bin Laden to have been public enemy number 1 at the time, but many Muslims might view the killing of Muslims by Americans in a different context. They may ignore the reason the U.S. wanted to kill bin Laden and just view it as another anti-Muslim action by the U.S. They may even decide that the mass murdering bin Laden is a martyr. In war the actions of our forces that we regard as heroic may be regarded as murder by those on the other side and vice versa. For example, Libyans welcomed the may responsible for bombing a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland as a hero after he was released for medical reasons. Obama needs to use all his persuasive abilities to discourage the release of this film.
Recent attacks on Allied personnel by Afghan forces indicates Obama is mishandling the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Withdrawing troops from a combat zone can cause host country forces that are remaining to feel the withdrawing troops are deserting and should be punished. Obama needs to delay withdrawal until he can convince local forces that American forces are withdrawing because they are no longer needed. He needs to convince Afghan forces that they can handle the situation. His job will be more difficult because of the American failure to provide any type of assistance, including military supplies, to our former South Vietnamese allies when North Vietnamese forces invaded in 1975.
The War on Terror is more like the Cold War than past shooting wars. The WOT is an endurance contest testing who has the most will to continue the fight. Afghanistan is a major battlefield of that war rather than being the war itself. Withdrawal from Afghanistan would merely shift the fighting to some other location. Withdrawal from Afghanistan could provide al Qaeda with a major propaganda victory. If the withdrawal isn't done properly, al Qaeda could use it to claim that terrorism can defeat the U.S. and use it to recruit more terrorists.
The 1968 Vietnam Tet Offensive failed to achieve its goal of provoking a general uprising against the United States. Muslim terrorists have the same goal of provoking a general uprising against the United States. They don't have an army to launch attacks, but they can use provocations by Americans which could include any "accidental killing" of civilians in Pakistan. Obama needs to suspend all operations in Pakistan until the situation cools down.
I realize allowing terrorists to use Pakistan as a sanctuary could increase the risk to American forces in Afghanistan. I was in a similar situation in Vietnam. Communist forces were able to use Cambodia as a sanctuary. The Nixon administration held off going into Cambodia until the Cambodian government requested our help to keep Cambodia from asking for Chinese assistance against the U.S. Attacking sanctuaries in Pakistan could create pressure by Pakistanis to force their government to turn against the U.S. Civilian causalities in Pakistan at the present time could be used by terrorist agitators in other countries to spark anti-U.S. demonstrations throughout the Middle East. Recent anti-American demonstrations in Pakistan could intensify if American forces conduct operations in Pakistan or if the movie about the killing of bin Laden is released.
World Net Daily http://www.wnd.com/2012/09/did-obama-send-a-gay-ambassador-to-libya/ is reporting a rumor that Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens was homosexual. Regardless of whether the rumor is true or not, if Libyan terrorists believed the rumor it might explain the brutality of his murder including his rape. http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/mideast-media-say-amb-christopher-stevens-was-raped-before-killed/ The assignment of a suspected homosexual ambassador would have been particularly provocative when it coincided with the release of the movie "Innocence of Muslims" which portrays Muhammad as a homosexual pedophile.
I don't know what the intent behind the anti-Muhammad movie was, but the Obama administration needs to investigate the possibility that a person behind the movie, although probably not all of those involved, could have been an al Qaeda undercover agent. It wouldn't be the first time someone produced a fictional movie to inflame passions. Hitler produced a phony atrocity film in World War II. Nearly a century ago in the U.S. the movie "Birth of a Nation" falsely portrayed the Reconstruction era in a way that inflamed whites against blacks.
I suspect that many Americans will ignore the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks unless they are reminded in a way they cannot ignore.
When people know they are in a war they often use sirens to warn when the enemy is attacking. No sirens were sounded to warn of 9/11 because Americans didn't realize they were under attack until the attacks were over. The only plane for which a warning was given was brought down by its heroic passengers before it could reach its target.
The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks provides an opportunity to remind Americans that the fact 9/11 happened means not only that such an attack can happen, but it could happen again if we become as complacent as we were ten years ago.
No sirens sounded on 9/11/2001, but we could sound sirens this year to remind Americans that we are still in danger of a potential attack.
For those in the Eastern time zone, storm sirens would sound at the exact time of each plane crash. In the Central time zone, cities might do like they do with television and sound the sirens while they are sounding in the Eastern time zone. Due to the early hour of the first attacks, sirens in the Mountain time zone and farther west, particularly in Alaska and Hawaii, might sound at the same time of day as the attacks. The Central time zone might want to consider a similar approach.
In communities without storm sirens, emergency vehicle sirens might be used. Truck air horns could be used in place in rural areas where there aren't any emergency vehicles. Church bells were often used to warn of danger in the past and could be used along with sirens or instead of sirens. This action would be particularly appropriate considering the anniversary will be on Sunday.
In addition to, or instead of, the sirens, the emergency alert system for radio and television might transmit a reminder at the time of each attack. There were four crashes and we have four living former presidents. Perhaps each of them could remind people of one of the attacks.
I've been watching 9/11 documentaries the last week. Some of them have mentioned the failure to recognize the significance of information indicating the attack threat even among those whose profession was to watch for such threats. A national feeling that the continental U.S. was some how immune from any significant foreign attack may have prevented people at the FBI and CIA from recognizing the threat.
These professionals had forgotten that a similar failure to recognize a potential threat had allowed the Japanese to pull off a highly successful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. There is a theory that President Franklin Roosevelt withheld intelligence information from Pearl Harbor commanders. Commanders at Pearl Harbor should have recognized there was a threat of attack without inside information because there was a war on.
Terrorist attacks had occurred in other parts of the world before 9/11. People at the FBI and CIA should have been watching for any signs that someone might attack America itself.
The fact that no major attack has happened since 2001 may be causing some to feel the problem of terrorist attacks has been solved. Those who feel this way are ignoring the fact that the terrorists most likely to get away with such an attack have been busy fighting our military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Those attempting terrorist acts in the U.S. have been individuals who don't have the ability of the 9/11 hijackers or those who have conducted terrorist acts outside the U.S. Some would be local terrorists have been so careless they have made the mistake of letting undercover officers become a part of their conspiracies.
There are a couple of interesting 9/11 series currently running. "Inside 9/11" on the National Geographic Channel is an investigative series. "Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero" on the Discovery and Science channels deals with replacing the World Trade Center. The episodes "Reclaiming the Skyline" follows construction of the tallest new building. One of the iron workers the show focuses on had a father who was injured building the original World Trade Center.
"Nobody wins a war. Some just lose more than others." B.Gen. Frank Savage, commander of the WWII 918th Bombardment Group in the tv series "12:00 High" made this statement in the episode "P.O.W: part 2".
Savage provides a different view of victory in war from the one that assumes the country that controls the battle field after the war is the "winner".
We usually consider WWII to be a war we won, but what did we actually win?
We didn't gain any large territory. Instead, we gave the Philippines its independence.
We didn't take money or other wealth from the losers. Instead, we helped rebuild them. : We had significant losses with over 400,000 deaths and a huge debt. Our enemies suffered much heavier losses with deaths in the millions and destruction of their cities.
What is important about WWII is not what we "won" but what we didn't lose. Thanks to the efforts of men like my dad and my uncles we didn't lose our freedom.
The countries we defeated had to accept rule by others with the victors determining their form of government. Germans had to accept division of their country for several decades after the war.
This form of evaluation can be applied to the current conflict in Afghanistan. We're not trying to win control of Afghanistan or to take whatever mineral wealth it might have. American firms could purchase those minerals without a war.
We're not in Afghanistan to "win" anything. We're there to prevent losses like those that occurred on 9/11.
Success in Afghanistan will depend not upon how much we win, but on how much we don't lose. Afghanistan is part of the War on Terror that may last as long as the Cold War.