Friday, January 01, 2010

Whack A Mole

Whack-A-Mole is a fun but ultimately frustrating child's game. But that's the point isn't it? It's supposed to be frustrating. The only way to avoid the frustration is not to play it. The War on Terror, or as the Obama Administration calls it "man-caused disasters" is exactly that - whack a mole. Hit it hard right here and it pops up over there. It's just like squeezing one end of a balloon or of course that famous arcade game from whence came the name. The only way to ultimately win the game is to pop the balloon or pull the damn plug.

Al Qaeda for all intents and purposes is the mole popping up here, then there then everywhere. The U.S. and a few allies (emphasis on few) are the mallet pounding it down.

First popping up in Saudi Arabia with a series of domestic attacks before landing in a dysfunctional Somalia in the 1990's where the first international attacks were spawned. Since then it has moved its base operations each time the hammer came down on its head. To Afghanistan where 9/11 was cooked up then to Iraq and most recently Yemen. They have permanent regional branch offices in Pakistan, Europe, Indonesia, Egypt and of course the United States. They are attracted to dysfunctional regimes and regions of the world. That would include parts of Europe and the United States (think Michigan).

In the early days of the Bush Administration the War on Terror was a two pronged approach. A hammer smash was directed at Afghanistan. The result was predictable - the mole popped up somewhere else. The other prong was aiming to pull the plug on al Qaeda so the game would be over before it went any further. Going after al Qaeda's money, the regimes and the "network" that supported it seemed at first to be the most effective battle in the war. A winning strategy you might say? The opponents of the Bush Administration would have none of it.

Obviously the hammer approach continues to this day and the results are as predictable as the arcade game, the damn mole just keeps popping up somewhere else. Thank God Bush and company were stopped from waging a truly effective campaign. With the American and European press, the court system and the Democrats in Congress fully mobilized to neuter any success the coalition enjoyed Bush had lost his best weapon. Wire tapping, intercepting fund transfers, obtaining communications records from the phone carriers as well as the concept of profiling and the practice of rendition (and of course advanced interrogation methods) came under an unrelenting attack. Remember the illustrious New York Times divulging advanced monitoring techniques that were responsible for some of the biggest successes in the early part of the war? This was the equivalent of sending your troops into war and then shooting at them from the rear.

Al Qaeda was either strategically brilliant or extremely fortunate to have such luck. Massive resources are required to be the hammer. It wears us down financially and emotionally as it ties down and distracts us. Most of all it gets us arguing among ourselves.

I don't think the Bush Administration had any illusions that the War on Terror would be over quickly, you'll recall repeated quotes regarding "a conflict of our generation" and a "long slog". There is little doubt that it will be that much longer with one hand tied behind our back.

I'm reasonably sure I'm not the only one who has little confidence in the current regime to secure the Homeland - based on what we've seen so far...

Is it me or has this White House constructed a team of operatives to politicize every crisis that comes along. First blame Bush, second deflect all criticism until a new story comes along to distract the 24/7 news media. I find it interesting there is little hand-wringing in the main stream media when Obama adopts the parts of the Bush strategy that survived the constant criticisms of his own party. Isn't it becoming clear the parts of the Bush strategy that were gutted are coming home to roost - we are probably going to see another devastating terrorist attack, err, I mean man-caused disaster as a direct result of going soft. Flowery rhetoric about civil liberties in the face of the obvious doesn't go far with the families of the victims of these preventable attacks.

Play whack a mole if you must, but for God's sake work on the pulling the plug!