Monday, July 03, 2006

The Airboys Never Quit

See, I have a problem: I'm a sucker for planes. Love 'em. Fighter jets, old seaplanes, ultra-lights, you name it. Love me the heavier-than-air flying machines, is what I'm trying to say. (Of course, I'm also partial to zeppelins, but that's another post.) Part of this I blame on my love of science fiction - the closest thing to Luke Skywalker's X-wing has got to be an F-15.

The reason this is a problem is simple. Being a student of military history and air power you eventually realize, as I've written before, that the efficacy of aerial bombardment has been oversold since, oh, some time in the 1930s or so. Aerial bombardment didn't win WWII, didn't win Vietnam, and didn't win Gulf Wars I or II. There's an old joke from the Cold War: Two Soviet Generals finish their victorious campaign in Paris. One asks the other: "So, who won the air war?" Point being, relying on air power is a fool's plan.

Now, I'm naturally inclined to be sympathetic to some of the technological wizardry that the USAF can muster (see above.) But the latest Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker makes it clear that Rumsfeld is either being sold a bill of goods by the USAF, or knows he's being lied to and his happy to pass this crap along to Bush (who's not competent to tell the difference.)

What's far more interesting, from the Political Science student inside of me, is that the US Military has finally started to speak up before they retire:
In 1986, Congress authorized the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to act as the “principal military adviser” to the President. In this case, I was told, the current chairman, Marine General Peter Pace, has gone further in his advice to the White House by addressing the consequences of an attack on Iran. “Here’s the military telling the President what he can’t do politically”—raising concerns about rising oil prices, for example—the former senior intelligence official said. “The J.C.S. chairman going to the President with an economic argument—what’s going on here?” (General Pace and the White House declined to comment. The Defense Department responded to a detailed request for comment by saying that the Administration was “working diligently” on a diplomatic solution and that it could not comment on classified matters.)

A retired four-star general, who ran a major command, said, “The system is starting to sense the end of the road, and they don’t want to be condemned by history. They want to be able to say, ‘We stood up.’ ”
Now the thing to look for is unscheduled resignations from within the Pentagon. When Nixon wanted the investigation in to Watergate shut down, he had to fire his Attorney General, and his AG's deputy, before he could find someone slimy enough to end the investigation*. While the USAF is behind the proposed strike on Iran, the Army and Marines are opposed - as well as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (assuming Hersh's work is accurate.) If Bush gives the orders to attack, I'd hope we see another string of resignations to strip this war of any legitimacy before it begins.

*The piece of slime Nixon was able to find who would end the investigation? Robert Bork, who Reagan later tried to reward with a Supreme Court seat, and who (bizarrely) retains a loyal following among conservatives. But remember: Bill Clinton got a blowjob, and was therefore worse than Hitler.

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