Saturday, November 20, 2004


to commenters on a Froggy Ruminations thread:

Eric -

"It is a sad day when the possibility of a nuclear detonation on American territory is not a fantasy but a pragmatic reality."

Eric...I'm fortythree years old. The possibility of any random day ending up as Armageddon was accepted conventional wisdom until 1989.

I remember "duck and cover", too.

We equated the end of the Soviet Union as the end of nuclear conflict; why, I haven't a clue. Even our nuclear freeze folks seemed to forget about our nuclear arsenal and delivery systems. Want to know a secret?

We have had as high as something like seven thousand deliverable weapons at one point. Nobody on the planet ever lost a night's sleep about our weapons. Not us, not even our enemies. The reason for that is because even if we are the only nation that ever used a nuclear weapon in war, it is not in our nature (since the Mexican War, and to a weaker point of evidence, the Spanish-American War, to fight wars of aggression.

We have acted to protect our interests, yes...but the last time the Empire itch surfaced in 1898 it rapidly turned into a festering wound on our politics. We haven't been back since.

The enemy thinks that somehow the possession or employment of a nuclear weapon will become their magic bullet. The men and women who created the bomb technology in the forties remembered earlier iterations of the weapons that would make future war impossible like the Gatling gun, machine guns, gas, airplanes, and tanks...and so did the pioneers of SAC and the government leaders that kept our ability to retaliate to a nuclear attack at a high enough level that we never were attacked.

There is no moral difference between a knife or a nuke, Eric. None. They are tools. The men that would use those tools are what need watching.

T Leo -

"It is also a fantasy that the nations of the world will be willing to write the US a blak (sic) check to "just fix the problem".

You sound like you think anybody is going to be asked for help.

Can you name the third largest air force in the world?

It's a trick question. The answer is any one of our aircraft carriers and their associated task forces. That's measured by conventional strike capability alone, by the way. If you add the throw weight of the associated surface and SSN attachments to a carrier, you have the second most powerful national nuclear arsenal on the planet.

Again, for every carrier attack group. We drew down our deployed/deliverable weapons during the nineties. That mistake has been remedied since then.

GW Bush is on record that Iran will not be allowed to become a nuclear power. I don't think his character will permit an out along the lines of "Sorry, Koffi, we were cleaning our Israelis and they went off" (not my line - I read it on Roger L. Simon's forum but can't remember the author's name).

france seeks some ludicrously artificial construct of 'multipolarity' of world powers. Since old europe is in melt down the only realistic avenue they have is to stab us in the back and ally with regimes that oppose us.

france is not an ally. Their actions [we'll ignore Iraq for now - ed.] in giving Iran diplomatic capital to continue their weapons and delivery system development is moving them firmly into the opposition column, too.

Terry -

Everything you said - I agree. You didn't explicitly make the point that I made in my original post but your proposed response makes it clear that the enemy will broaden from simply 'terror' up to 'Islam'.

Old Coot -

"I'm no wuss about striking back with devastating force, but would like to know we hit at least close to those responsible."

That's a rational sentiment.

We know that Iran wants to be a nuclear power and is corporate (plant) for worldwide Islamic terror.

We know that the spiritual mainspring of the movement is Wahabbist Islam which is based in Saudi - call them corporate (executive).

The existing strategy to drain the swamp in the mideast makes non-democratic Arab regimes all objectives for eventual regime change. Syria is WMD capable and is a home to Hamas and various other terror groups. Egypt is a dynastic dictatorship who we pay billions of dollars to every year, which subsidizes their state-run Islamic organizations that damn us every Friday in Cairo.

Pre-WMD attack we might have afforded to wait for functioning democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan to win the fight by osmosis. That option will be gone post-attack.

Yields or casualty counts achieved by a terrorist nuclear detonation are irrelevant in the calculus here. We'll demand no repeats and we have the power to make it stick. One way or another.

Amy -

I saved you for last for a reason.

"We have, can and will wage total war and come out the other side as the same people who went in." I'm sorry, Chris, I don't believe this is true. I'm not arguing against "total war"--I'm simply saying that we don't need to pretend that we can nuke, firebomb, whatever, and when it's over just calmly go back to whatever we were doing.

Why do you say that? That's exactly what happened to Americans after every war we have fought since the Revolution. Once we won, the men went home, went to school, went to work, and raised their families.

That's why they went to war in the first place, Amy. Fighting the Germans wasn't about getting our slice of their colonies or their territory. Ditto the second world war, ditto the nether twilight of the thirty years of the third world war (we are in four now, if you are counting).

Did the wars change us? In some ways, yes. We certainly became a little more cosmopolitan about the world we live in. If you are looking at societal changes that are the direct result of the horrors of war I think you are out of luck.

The automobile changed our daily lives more than DResden or Auschwitz ever did.

What I told Eric about weapons holds true, ma'am. The conflict we find ourselves in is one of philosophies and agendas. We submit or die, or we beat them.

The tools used by the parties to the conflict are just that - tools.

What of Dresden....

What of Coventry? What of Prague falling to the Huns? Why did Xerxes kill any Greek male captured in combat?

Because there was a war going and the enemy was still on the field, and the tools at hand dictated each sides ability to influence the outcome.

It's been decades since I read S5. I enjoyed Vonnegut's writing a lot when I was younger and I have the highest regard for his wartime service and sacrifice. I cannot remember which division he served in and was subsquently captured from during the Battle of the Bulge. I once got to share a table, a bottle, and a snowy VFW December 16th evening in Texas with some survivors of the 106th ID who were captured at that same time. Brutal memories mixed with the names of dead buddies, those who escaped, and the experiences they all shared.

Powerful stuff. Why did Vonnegut end up in Dresden to witness such a horrific event? Because the Nazis still fought, that's why.

The same reason we are still killing jihadis in Fallujah and bleeding in Baghdad, too. The same reason we get to take our shoes off at the airport and the same reason we look twice when we see a man in Arab or Muslim dress on the sidewalk of our hometown.

We aren't the same people - the same nation - we were on September 10 2001. We can't be until we destroy the enemy that has attacked us. Until that happens, the only upper limit on waste, violence, and barbarism is what the enemy is able to buy, build, or steal.

We don't get our world back unless we win. I think we will...but I'm not even going to guess at the bottom line it will take to get us there.


Matthew Heidt said...

Fantastic post. I'm glad I asked the question. Froggy

Miss Prissypants said...

I came over here from Froggy's site. Glad I did. Just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm sure in every time of war and strife since Adam and Eve had their first argument that people have felt perhaps helpfless and full of fear about what would happen next. Now, with the sort of biological and chemical weapons that exist, along with the insane fanatics that want to kill us, the fears seem so real, the danger so overwhelming. Maybe on 9/10 our fears would have been discounted as only so much paranoia. Not any more - as you so pointedly said, we are not the same people or nation.

So, that's why I want to thank you - yours is a voice of reason and realism, and I just wanted to let you know I appreciate reading your posts. It helps to logically look at our situation instead of throwing out a statement like "nuke 'em all" (which is a tempting thought, to be sure). I agree - we will win. The cost will be high, and who knows how or when, but win we will.

Keep up the good work, and thank you for your past military service.


TmjUtah said...

I'm glad, too.

We need to make sure that as many citizens as possible ask the same one so they can work it out for themselves.

I forget the line..."Something else is not new" or something like that...?

We have a huge blindspot for history. I guess everybody does when you get right down to it. At one point the Greeks were going to be extinct if they didn't beat Persia. If the Turks had managed a win at Lepanto you and I would be wearing robes (probably already dead as janissairies, to be honest). If the Schlieffen Plan had worked out and Germany had got her 'place in the sun' due their self assumed cultural/imperial imperitave there wouldn't have been a second world war and we'd all be on welfare bitching about immigrant pressure....

Hey, the euroes aren't affected by history quite like we are, are they? *grin*

You have a wonderful week, Matt.

TmjUtah said...

Karen -

Just imagine the administration making a case before Congress that Osama bin Laden's Taliban partnership had to be ended...on September 10 2001.

We live in interesting times.

Miss Prissypants said...

we sure do.......