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HR: Two Big Tactical Blunders
By Harun Rashid

10/10/2001 9:17 am Wed

Oct 10, 2001

Two Big Tactical Blunders

by Harun Rashid

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 to 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 Us buildings have made a big blunder, one that leads inexorably to the total extinction of any chance for success. They have seriously misjudged 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 "America first" pacifism. "We need not worry, the Americans won't fight," he wrote.

Just 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 saw the fans jump, wave and cheer wildly to encourage their team. So astonished and impressed was he, that he went back to his hotel room and changed his paper. "Germany would be wise not to engage these people in a war," he wrote. He was right.

The Japanese, heady with success in China and other parts of Asia, were more audacious. They decided the US could be bested in a long-range war. Admiral Yamamoto, an experienced strategist, was assigned the task of preparing war plans. He advised the Japanese cabinet that Japan could not win a drawn out war against the industrial might of the US. He was told to prepare the plans anyway.

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 made plans 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, when many would be sleeping off the excesses of Saturday night in town.

The attack itself was a military success, destroying planes on the ground and sinking the American battleships moored alongside the dock like sitting ducks at Ford Island. The execution of the Japanese plan was excellent, from a military point of view. The attack itself, however, was later seen to be a great mistake, as the Admiral had wisely foreseen.

As a matter of pure chance, the American aircraft carriers were at sea, beyond reach of the Admiral's planes. This good fortune made a rapid response by the Americans possible. The war with Japan was largely an air war, made possible by the aircraft carriers. To this day America relies strongly on the aircraft carrier as a mobile platform for military operations.

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 striking without warning from ambush. "You dirty sidewinder!" is the term of opprobrium often heard in American cowboy films.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour and other Pacific bases on December 7, 1941, the Americans were first horrified that anyone would do such a dastardly and dishonourable thing. They were outraged, developing a seething anger that endured. They vowed the attack would be avenged using the full industrial might of the nation. That same resolution is evident today.

"Remember Pearl Harbour!" was the battle cry then. The memory is still alive, captured in President Roosevelt's words as, "The day of infamy." The American sense of fair play was offended, and this gave a moral lift to the striken people. They sprang suddenly into determined action, completely overcoming any prior preference for pacifism. It was easy to picture the Japanese as despicable. Japanese-Americans were treated as potential traitors, rounded up from their homes and incarcerated in desert camps behind barbed wire for the duration of the conflict. 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 arguments 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 on their home turf without warning, that is a blunder. (One notices that the Americans gave stern warnings in both the Gulf war and the present instance.) One may say Osama Bin Laden made a declaration of war against America 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 thinks it acceptable to use the same guerrilla tactics against the Americans.

When the USS Cole, a warship, was bombed, it was slightly more acceptable to the Americans as a threat a military vessel might expect, though the method of attack was considered unfair.

When the two American embassies were bombed, there was outrage, but again it did not arouse a permanent widespread anger and indignation. When the World Trade Center was hit, carrying innocent airline passengers and crews to their deaths along with thousands in the buildings, that did it. The Americans have been awakened, and the world is in grave danger until this great nuclear 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.

Link Reference : HR Worldview: Two Big Tactical Blunders