THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 143, October 15, 2001
POINTS OF VIEW
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles! or: How to Name a War!
by Mike Pare
Special to TLE
Naming the "WAR" on the other hand seems to be a little bit harder. After the president declared that this was now the time to unite in "The War On Terrorism - (WOT)", the media has been trying to come up with a good name. But with no clearly defined enemy, and the term (WOT) tending to evoke comparisions to "The War On Poverty - Lost" and "The War On Drugs - Losing" the media has been desperate for a good name.
In the mean time we have things like CNN's "America's New War", gee what happened to the Old War, and CBS's "America Rising", sounds like an old Ronald Reagan TV ad title. Any ad guy will tell you that it is hard to name an undefined product. The media is getting desperate for something else to happen to give them some clarity.
If the US, and allies, attack Afghanistan the thought might be to name it "The Second Afghan War". Problem is the Afghans won the last one against the USSR and that just does not inspire.
Since his Shrubness initially called this "an attack on freedom", and I believe later "an attack on democracy" why not call it "The Freedom War" or "The Democracy War". Sounds great. Shame that most of the allies Dubya is trying to get onboard, or at least to remain neutral, are NOT free or democratic countries. So nix on that idea, it might give the people of these countries the wrong idea, and the next thing you know, your allies are fighting their own people.
Of course the one that the media really wants to use, but can't yet, is based on the following.
Yes folks the media is just waiting to get out all those titles with "WORLD WAR III" and a picture of the "enemy" de jure. It's great, America won both of the last two, they are said to be the last "good" wars fought for a higher purpose, and we still have veterans of them to appear on camera and cheer on the troops. Hell, maybe they even drag Bob Hope's crew out of retirement.
Well I think I might have a better idea, lets name this war based on the likely FORM it will take.
One of the greatest freedoms in the western world is that of mobility. The culture and economy of all so called democratic countries require a high degree of mobiliy to exist. Mobility of capital, goods, idea's, and people. With the Sept 11th strike, the terrorists have begun the obvious attempt to cause people to limit there mobility. Even more important, they are relying on the governments, to further restrict the mobility of capital, goods, idea's, and people, that the people do not limit themselves. In this war the worst actions taken against the people will be by their own government in the name of fighting terrorism.
First, the terrorists are not a bunch of mental crazies, with nothing more than suicidal aims. That kind of person does not get together with hundreds of other people, plan for years, and have loads of money to execute their plans. Make no mistake, while it may be very loosely defined, they do have a plan. Mental crazies are not good at plans, as they tend to be more the type to pick up a gun/bomb and go do stupid things like climb up a tower, or shoot up the White House.
So if you were a terrorist who wanted people to leave your country, and had no intention of invading theirs, what do you do? Well you have to realize, that as soon as you start to take real action, the other guys will start to take actions to make any further actions on your part harder. This means you start with the high risk, high reward, targets first and then work down your list. This does not mean that the attacks will get less effective over time. Remember that each attack is building on the effects of the last attack. If you only have a small unaffected area left it only takes a small attack, to seem to have a big effect.
On Sept 11, 2001 the terrorists executed a series of attacks that did two things. One they showed that they could coordinate attacks on significant assets, and two that they could they use those assets to attack even larger targets. These attacks where the ones that would take the most planning, and have the highest risk to them. The effect was massive. Closure of airports all over North America, total loss of confidence by the public in air travel, and their safety in the air, with the beginning of a Police State like airport security.
This is not to state that there will not be another attack on/or with aircraft. It is just that there are diminishing returns for the future risk. So on to the next level. When air travel was grounded what did people do. Well in a free society they had other choices, trains, buses, ships, cars, etc. Let us now look at each of these.
From the terrorist point of view the planes where highly mobile, very destructive, pre-made bombs. All they had to do was deal with the crew and passengers, and they did not even have to make or transport these bombs to their targets. Now while I realize that most people think of the rail system and trains as rather an old fashioned, almost low-tech concept, think of what a train represents to the terrorist. Forget passenger trains, high risk, with little bang for your effort. Picture instead a mobile, but limited (by tracks), transport device, which doubles as its own bomb. Pick a series of bulk cargo trains, coordinate your attacks, and what do you get?
Remember most trains will go right thru the middle or edge of large cities, towns, or industrial areas. Pick a state that does not allow easy access to guns. A good train timetable, and a small team of people could take over a train. You do not need to drive the train anywhere, just stop it in the middle of a city, town, or industrial area. Now imagine exploding parts of that train carrying something flamable and maybe toxic. You did not have to manufacture and transport the bomb, it was kindly provided by your enemy. You're just living off the land as it were. Net effect? The same thing that happened to the planes will happen to the trains. Two down 2 to go.
Well you had no intention of going on some old train anyway, nope you had a lovely Carribean cruise in mind. Have you seen some of those new cruise ships? Things look like floating cities, with thousands of people. So you wait till the ship is outside of US waters, and stage a quick attack. Remember, you are not trying to take the ship, you intend to sink it. I imagine a few people on board the ship to help you, plus a couple of fast boats loaded with guys, RPG's, limpet mines, and a few machine guns will do. Start the ship sinking and machinegun all the lifeboats. This could make the Titanic look small. If you dump the weapons overboard after the attack you could land almost anywhere. Or for those terrorists that still want a bang, you can choose a couple of cargo ships instead. Nice juicy oil tankers maybe? Burn and sink it in the middle of the St. Lawrence or in New York harbour and no captain feels safe again. Well that makes 3 for 4.
The last category really includes three sub-categories. These are, large trucks, buses, and private vehicles of the small car/truck variety. News is that some of the people involved in the recent attacks appear to have truck driver licences. At this point I think you can picture the rest easily. Take several trucks, loaded with fuel or ANFO, and drive to the middle of some city, suburb, refinery, or fuel depot. The first explosion then sets off other explosions or fires. The buses could be either public transit (think of the problems in Israel) or part of a private company. As I sit writing this, word has come of someone cutting the throat of a Greyhound bus driver which crashed the bus. It does NOT appear to be a terrorist, but the entire Greyhound system was shut down for this single crash. Can you imagine that happening before the attack of 9/11?
The last area is that of the private vehicle. We all take it so much for granted that we can drive where we want, when we want. But imagine what the government might do if the following happened. Take a few cars loaded with cheap, simple explosives, or ANFO, and park them in 20-40 different Wal-Mart parking lots. Have them all go off at the same time. You now have every soccer mom in the country afraid to go to the local Wal-Mart, and the only way the governments will see to stop this is summed up in the phrase "Papers bitte!".
Well there you have it, from my point of view history is likely to call this "The Mobility War", or for those who like things a little less fancy "The Transport War".
The real question is, at what point down this road will the people of
the US, and others, finally realize that they are losing more, and
more, of their freedoms as the folks in goverment pass law, after
law, to stop the terrorists. At what point do the people tell the
goverment to "GO AWAY", kill those who ARE responsible for the acts,
and inform the rest of the world that they have to solve their own
problems from now on!
I'm Mike - from Calgary - and - THAT'S MY RANT! http://www.cadvision.com/mpare/libertarian/TMR/TMR001-0.txt