Morgan: They pushed us too far! They didn't think we'd fight, no matter what they did!
Julian Osborne: And they were wrong. We fought. We expunged them. And we didn't do such a bad job on ourselves.
-- On the Beach, 1959.
I am ashamed to admit that Wretched Dog had to remind me that today, 17 September, is Constitution Day. I must also confess my tired skepticism that we will see another such anniversary without violence initiated by an arrogant, ignorant, out-of-control administration who see that tattered, battered old Columbia as just another prospective government gang-rape victim.
Today I read some internal ATF documents that cannot be publicized for now, yet they convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the agency is as rogue at this moment as it ever was.
The failure of successive administrations of both parties to rein in these armed bureaucrats can only lead to deadly, bloody misadventure which will trigger a murderous spasm unlike anything yet seen in this country's long history of periodic civil strife.
The thing is, once started, the regime will find it almost impossible to stop on any terms besides their own unconditional surrender as they would be fighting an enraged but dispersed network insurgency. It is likely that after a few weeks of such blood-letting, the administration will be unable to find anybody left alive with sufficient influence among the insurgents with whom they can negotiate an end to the horror. The fact of the matter is that they would have done their best to kill the folks they would need to stop what they started.
And they will want to stop it, oh, yes, out of concern for their own miserable hides if nothing else.
For they will have provoked a conflict that will not be directed at the war-fighters, the grunts, even those in the outnumbered federal police, but rather at the war-makers, i.e. themselves.
In this they have only Bill Clinton to blame. When the Philanderer in Chief, frustrated with Serbian intransigence in 1999, changed the rules of engagement to include the political leadership, news media and the intellectual underpinning of his enemy's war effort, he accidentally filed suit under the Law of Unintended Consequences. The Serbians knuckled under, yes. But the rest of the world took note, including us. I assure you, the appeal to the higher court of history in that case has yet to be decided.
Back in May, the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation held a seminar in the Reuben W. Hills Conference Room on the second floor of Encina Hall.
There, Patrick Johnston, PhD Candidate from the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University and a predoctoral fellow at CISAC, presented a paper entitled The Effectiveness of Leadership Decapitation in Counterinsurgency.
His dissertation examines the military effectiveness of civilian targeting in civil wars. He has published articles on the organization of insurgencies, spoiler dynamics in peace processes, and the political economy of civil war in journals such as Security Studies, Civil Wars, Canadian Journal of African Studies, and Review of African Political Economy. Johnston holds a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota, Morris and an MA in political science from Northwestern University.
Patrick Johnston is considered by some to be the Pentagon's "bright boy of the month." From the first page of his presentation:
Leadership decapitation is a high-profile tactic that involves the the capture or killing of top insurgent leaders. It is frequently used against guerrilla insurgencies: in the past two centuries, top insurgent leaders have been killed or captured in just under 50 percent of counterinsurgency campaigns. Yet we know little about the nature of the relationship between leadership decapitation and counterinsurgency effectiveness. Is capturing or killing insurgencies' leader(s) an effective tactic? Or is it counterproductive, radicalizing insurgent movements, strengthening their resolve, and making them more difficult to defeat? Or does it have no effect at all?
The general consensus is that leadership decapitation of guerrilla groups is ineffective. These conclusions should give scholars pause: they are based on unsystematic research designs, minimal empirical data, and incomparable units -- usually terrorist organizations or foreign leaders.
I argue that leadership decapitation is effective. Decapitation provides numerous marginal benefits, weakening and disrupting insurgent organizations and making them more likely to be defeated.
Go to the link and read if you must, but Johnston is as wrong as he can be when comparing past history to 4th Generation warfare, distributed networks and leaderless resistance, especially as will be practiced in the United States if it ever goes to war with itself.
He is wrong, but the powerful men and women he is writing for think he's right.
Unfortunately for them, in the situation the administration would find itself after Waco Two, the "decapitation" strategy would for them more resemble Russian Roulette played with an automatic pistol.
Hypothetical: They kill some of us, at first accidentally perhaps, but almost immediately thereafter intentionally. The spasm of defensive killing begins, targeted at their leadership. They spasm in return. They would not be able to scuttle into their "green zones" fast enough. For each clumsy attack on us, they receive a lesson in the 500 meter war, one bullet (or many bullets) at a time. They commit "collateral damage" of our innocents, we stay within the rules of engagement and kill only war-planners and war-wagers.
I have asked this question before. They will fight to the last ATF agent or to the last oath-breaking soldier. Will they fight to the first senior bureaucrat, the second Congressman, the third newspaper editor, the fourth Senator, the fifth White House aide? Can they stand Bill Clinton's rules of engagement?
These are the stakes for them, though they do not understand it.
And once they start it, they will find it impossible to stop, until they surrender unconditionally or personally face the music themselves.
Forgive me these dark thoughts, my friends, on this Constitution Day. They are occasioned by my glimpse today inside the minds of some taxpayer-supported jack booted thugs. They really are as venal, stupid, arrogant and dangerous as I feared.
As I read their innermost thoughts, freely expressed among themselves, I realized that all my efforts to prevent this madness from happening will very likely be mere cruel, futile self-deception on my part.
And given the arrogant, narcissistic master they now nominally serve, it is unlikely this will end with mere politics, but rather by what Clausewitz called "politics by other means."
May God forgive them.
For whoever is left standing with a rifle after the initial spasm that they start certainly won't.
"Leadership decapitation" indeed.
Their leadership. . . and their decapitation.
There's a fight coming.
They will start it.