Iraq, US Politics

Rubber Bands vs. Cannons

Earlier tonight, RTL television broadcast an in-depth 25 minutes interview with Richard Perle, the former chairman of the Pentagon’s defense policy board who stepped down at the end of last week due to alligations of possible conflicts of interest between public and private consulting engagements (see earlier post). I tuned in too late so I don’t know when this interview was taped – but judging from his attitude and words I assume it was not during the last few days.

Asked how he would describe the military disparity between the US and other NATO forces, he said something along the line of –

“…it’s like one shooting with Rubber Bands and the other one with Cannons.”

Now most people know that ‘low tech’ will beat ‘high tech’ whenever the latter’s vulnerable spot is known. I read somewhere that Iraqi soldiers have onw found out that the main US battle tank (Abrams M1A1/M1A2) does seem to have a soft spot – and so they developed a way to exploit it with their anachronistic 1970s Soviet anti-tank weapons. Not that I fear this indicates that the US could actually be forced to pull back – *that* would be a scenario I believe not even the staunchest opponents of this war would hope for once they think about the ramifications for a nanosecond – but it shows that disrespect for the rubber band equipped enemy is never a healthy strategy.

Yet it is precisely this kind of arrogance that is displayed by the Perles of this world [I read Michael Lind’s “Made In Texas” on my way back from Paris and I can’t say the book has increased my sympathy for the neo-conservatives’ worldview…]. It is the “Daddy knows best” – attitude of these apparently overeducated men that gives otherwise simplistic books like Michael Moore’s bestseller “Stupid White Men” the grain of truth needed to be sold.

In the interview mentioned above Perle explained why he believes that force (he did not say ‘war’, probably because of the nasty associations) should not be just a “means of last resort” for a given international problem – because it often seems to be more difficult to solve it by force later on. This is captivating logic – if one is in possession of complete information about the future.

As for arrogance, here’s another example, this time from Paul Wolfowitz, US Deputy Secretary Of Defense. In a recent interview with Newsweek magazine he was (also) asked what he made of the intense opposition to war from the streets all over the world –

Newsweek: But in all these countries it’s a really strong domestic tide.
DepSecDef Wolfowitz: But it’s fed by leadership. Leadership matters. American opinion is different because our leadership is talking about it differently.

Why, exactly, is it, that I fear a lot of those wargamers did watch the war-room sequence in “Patriot Games” a bit too often.