Thursday, July 27

War with the terror masters: those on the field, those in the bleachers

A few nights back John Batchelor recounted on his radio program that his Russian contacts predict the US will be forced to attack Iran by October. I suspect the prediction is tinged with wishful thinking on the part of Russia's military. (How cool would it be if we solved their Iran problem for them?!) And I am not sure why the analysts see October as the drop-dead date for US military action against Iran.

In any case, I think it's safe to assume that on whatever date Iran feels they've been backed into a corner they will throw everything they have -- or, more precisely, every group of terrorists they control -- at the United States and our allies in the war on terror.

So I found myself recalling The Worst of All Possibilites, a guest essay written last year by Annlee A. Hines. This seems an appropriate time to review her major points:
[. . .] we have far more spectators than players in this universe. We prize rule of law, and (I believe) rightfully so. But a comment made about the overemphasis on law made me think: lawyers, by training, want to minimize, if not outright eliminate, risk for their clients.

Sometimes, like the soccer player meeting the ball rather than avoiding it, we ought to mitigate risk rather than minimize it. But only those who are, or have been, players understand that.

Those who have only been spectators see only the risk and want it eliminated. Being spectators, they don’t understand that it can never be eliminated.

How much of our conflicts about the direction America should take are like that disconnect between the players and the spectators? How much is about the desire by those who are not actually responsible -- and thus, have nothing to lose by being wrong -- to have perfection, a total elimination of risk, a situation of not one mistake being made?

Those who are, or have been, players know that what you see from the sidelines is a wholly different perspective from what you see on the field; the angles of view are simply too divergent to see the same situation in the same way.

Further, the player is right there in the middle of it; he or she must make a choice and live with the consequences. The spectator can critique the consequences of someone else’s choice and even replay the contest, thanks to modern technology, pointing out how the player should have seen this and done that.

The players may have a chance later to review but are too busy dealing with the consequences of their choices, and the choices of the other players, to kibitz during the heat of contest.

And only the player really understands that the outcome of the game is a result of the choices made by all the players in the game, our side and their side, too. [...]

The stakes are fully as high now as they were in the 1930s -- and at times, we are still voices in the political wilderness because the old appeasement crowd has not been swept out entirely, especially, as Pundita reminds us, from Foggy Bottom.

We may take breaks, we may rest at half-time, yet it needs to be a half-time of our choosing and no one else’s. We must stay in the game or we shall cede the field. When we cede the field to the appeasers it’s only a question of “How long?” before they cede the entire match to the enemy. In seeking to avoid the worst they lead us to the worst of all possibilities.

The enemies we face today, whether Islamic fascists or transnational organized crime syndicates, despise the very things that define democracies, and so we are truly in a fight for our survival. Winston Churchill had some advice in 1941 about how we should wage such a fight:

“Never give in -- never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
This is also a good time to review the points in Annlee's Planning for Survivable Networks. The book is full of anecdotes about companies that did well, and did poorly, in the wake of the 9/11 attack and other disasters. I note that Annlee does not sit in the bleachers:
The book opens with the author being rocked by a terrorist-caused explosion . . . the bombing she survived occurred at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, 20 years before. A retired Air Force officer, she has dealt with threats all over the world for many years. Her direct command and control experience has taught her many lessons, which she shares with the reader . . .

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