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War Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card March 10, 2003

Awe, Shock, the U.N., and NATO.

It's hard to imagine anything dumber than announcing in advance that you're going to bomb your enemy so intensely and accurately and devastatingly that the sheer "awe and shock" will cause enemy commanders to surrender.

After such an announcement, the bombing has to be five times more intense, accurate, and devastating in order not to look like a pathetic failure.

Besides, bombing can never achieve such a result, especially in a situation like Iraq's, where so much of the vital materiele and installations are embedded in the civilian population or hidden underground or out of sight.

So my hope is that this "strategy" is disinformation, and that what is really going to happen is quite different.

Yes, there'll be bombing -- against known anti-aircraft installations and the Iraqi air force on the ground in order to guarantee control of the skies and minimal losses to our planes.

But then, instead of any other bombings -- with all the collateral damage and bad publicity those will generate -- we will use a weapon that causes no casualties at all -- an EMP device.

Electro-magnetic pulse devices essentially fry all electronics. While our planes and troops are still out of the area, we simply shut down Iraqi communications, radar, and guidance systems.

Such a weapon would be far more effective against us, of course, but Iraq's military is modernized to an extent that still makes it useful against them.

And once we've done that, then our forces are inserted wherever we want them in order to take control of key positions within Iraq, or destroy Iraqi assets, without the collateral damage that bombing always causes.

As I said, I hope that's what the plan really is. I hope that's why we led them to expect days and days of bombing for "awe and shock." So they'd be waiting till the bombing ended before bringing out their nastiest weapons.

But wait ... am I blowing the surprise?

No chance. You think Iraqi intelligence is looking to learn American strategy and tactics from me? I'm just an untrained civilian who is really, really hoping we're not as dumb as that "awe and shock" announcement makes us look.


"Let's give the inspections more time to work," say the French, Russians, and Germans.

But even if one believes that the grudging, token gestures Saddam has made can be counted as "promising" or "tending toward compliance," what is the cause of these gestures?

Is there anyone who seriously thinks that if there were not a massive U.S. buildup preparatory to war, Saddam Hussein would be destroying a handful of missiles and allowing a couple of scientists to be interviewed?

Is there anyone who thinks that Saddam would even have allowed inspectors back into his country if it were not for a believable threat that the U.S. would take military action?

Saddam is not "complying" in any way with the U.N. Saddam is merely doing whatever he can to delay a U.S. invasion and to divide the West.

If the only reason inspections are "working" is the credible threat of decisive U.S. action, then the withdrawal of a credible U.S. threat would make inspections stop working.

And not one word from France, Russia, or Germany (FROG) suggests that they really believe that without the threat of American force, Saddam would make even a token gesture toward disarmament.

That is why FROG has been so careful never to call for the U.S. to withdraw its forces or even to cease threatening to use military force. All they have ever said is "give the process more time."

In other words, they do not want the threat of war to be removed. They are not "for peace."

So what are they trying to accomplish?

Six months from now, Saddam would be better prepared for war, including greater readiness of his weapons of mass destruction.

Six months from now, Saddam could have and probably would have dispersed either his weapons of mass destruction or the knowledge and materials needed to make them among terrorist groups or nations friendly to terrorist groups. (If, of course, he hasn't already done so.)

Six months from now, the climate of the region would make our military operations far more hazardous, not to mention uncomfortable, for our soldiers.

And six months from now, our credibility -- and therefore our power to achieve our goals without combat -- would be greatly diminished, therefore increasing the likelihood of other wars with other enemies, who would believe America can be talked and protested out of acting promptly and decisively.

In other words, the actions of FROG can only lead to one thing: More dead Americans.

That isn't their goal, I'm sure. But since it's the only discernible difference their actions could possibly make, it is clear that they simply do not care how many Americans die.

In fact, I think the goals of FROG can be summed up quite simply:

1. Make America look bad, which is always fun.

2. Make ourselves look important and "peace-loving" even though we're neither.

3. Try to persuade the terrorists that we're their friends so they'll leave us alone and launch attacks only against Americans and Jews throughout the world.


The "peace" movement in America, of course, is also not anti-war. It is only anti-Bush. This movement will also lead to more dead Americans, either through further state-sponsored terrorist acts or through delays in our war against Iraq. But presumably they believe the political goal of discrediting President Bush is worth a few more dead Americans.

And the insistence that the administration can only justify attacking Iraq if we can prove a link between Iraq and 9/11 is both stupid and irrelevant. We are not fighting just Al-Qaeda, we are fighting terrorism, and terrorism cannot be stamped out until the state sponsors of terror are compelled or induced to remove their support for it.

Without Syrian and Iranian and, yes, Iraqi and Saudi support, there would be no significant ability of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups to murder children and other innocent civilians in Israel.

And without changing either the governments or the actions of the terrorist-sponsoring states, we will never be able to eliminate the terrorist threat to America and other western nations.

Arresting top leaders of Al-Qaeda is important, whenever we are able to do it. But of course, we cannot do it without the cooperation of the governments of the nations where they are in hiding. And it is ludicrous to think that without the threat of military action, any of the terrorist-harboring governments would give us any help whatsoever.

So just as the threat of invasion of Iraq and the already-accomplished regime change in Afghanistan are the only things driving Saddam's empty gestures toward disarmament, so also that threat is the only thing driving the cooperation of governments like Pakistan and Yemen, and the changed posture of Syria and Sudan -- nations which previously had harbored terrorists.

In other words, every bit of progress in the war against terrorism depends on a credible threat of decisive U.S. military action against non-cooperating terrorist-sponsoring nations. Without the absolute knowledge that we will attack Iraq, the war against terrorism would be impossible.

But this is what our "peace" movement wants to remove. One wonders how they think we would "fight terrorism" without showing we have the will to eliminate those governments that sponsor it.


There are those who think that if the U.N. cannot act against Iraq, and in fact tries to block us from attacking Iraq, we should leave the United Nations.

That's tempting, indeed. But here's why it's also the stupidest thing we could ever do:

If we left the United Nations, it would immediately become an anti-American alliance.

If the nations that owe us the most loyalty are currently using the U.N. to try to block the U.S., how likely are they to block the U.N. from taking anti-American actions in the future?

Right now our enemies are trying to paint us as the cause of all the evils in the world, even though we are in fact the only plausible hope of ending any of the world's evils.

But since the state-controlled media in most countries, and the free but anti-American media in the free world, are giving most people a relentlessly anti-American view of things, it would be only a few short steps for the U.N. to turn itself into an organization devoted to resisting American policies on everything, everywhere.

Without an American presence in the U.N. to "take the heat," how long would France and Britain retain the political will to veto U.N. Security Council actions against, for instance, Israel?

The General Assembly routinely passes ridiculous anti-Israeli (and anti-semitic) resolutions, like the one equating Zionism with genocide, when in fact it the opponents of Israel are the ones yearning for and trying to commit genocide.

In the absence of the U.S., how long before that attitude prevailed on the Security Council?

For those who have read Thucydides, the danger should be obvious. When a dominant country allows itself to become absolutely isolated, then its rivals will seize the opportunity to unite against it. And the results are not predictable.

We will stay in the U.N. because we can never let go of our veto on the U.N. Security Council.


NATO, however, is another matter. Iraq is a matter of vital interest to the United States and to the world at large. France and Germany, our supposed "allies," have shown their willingness to try to block NATO from any effective action if they think they can gain some political advantage from doing so.

Is there any reason for this "alliance" to continue?

In a rational world, of course there is. Russia and Germany are both as dangerous, potentially, as they ever were. They are both nations with a deep sense of grievance and entitlement deeply ingrained in their culture, and the economic, demographic, and cultural will, when tapped by the wrong kind of government, to stir up those feelings into dangerous international actions.

To keep Germany integrated in a Western alliance neutralizes the one potential threat. To keep Russia balanced by an alliance of nations to its west neutralizes the other.

And if FROG had any brains, each individual country in that group would recognize that the balance NATO provides is vital to their own security.

But politicians rarely act for long-term reasons. Rather they are driven by the desire for short-term gains: popularity this week, victory in the next election.

That's why FROG is taking steps to dismantle the balance created by NATO even as they work to destroy the credibility of the United Nations -- all for short-term political gains.

If the U.S. left NATO, how long before Germany started bullying its weaker neighbors to the east? About an hour and a half would be my guess.

How long before Russia felt free to reimpose at least some degree of hegemony over nations that used to be in the Soviet Union -- or its satellites?

Without the U.S. in NATO, the nations of eastern Europe would have no choice but to accommodate one or the other of the great powers bordering them.

How long before Russia and Germany came into rivalry and then conflict in eastern Europe?

How long before war?

And those who think the European Community makes European war impossible: Think again. The EC works only because NATO exists. Without it, France and Germany would soon be bossing other countries to an intolerable degree, and the other countries would finally get fed up and begin withdrawing ... England first.

Saddest of all, of course, is France. Because there is no plausible scenario in which France returns to "great power" status.

Right now the French are feeling quite proud of being able to beard the lion -- America. But if we actually left NATO, what would France become?

A pathetic footnote in the public conversation of Europe.

Ever since France left a generation of its young men on the battlefields of World War I, they have lost the will to be a great power. But in inverse proportion to their will to be a great power, their hunger to seem a great power has increased.

We will stay in NATO, not because it does us any particular good -- France and Germany have made it clear that we can never rely on that slender reed again to support our security needs.

We will stay in NATO to keep Europeans from plunging back into the bloody warfare that always remains only one fanatical dictatorship away.

And, like teenagers protesting their parents' curfew, they'll continue to hate us for protecting them from themselves.

Copyright © 2003 by Orson Scott Card.

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