America’s Fatal Weakness

War on Terror Report

Written by JB Williams

©2006 USA


Terrorists abroad have spent decades preparing for war against the west, studying American culture, identifying all of the cracks in the mortar, all of the weak links in our chain of command and the soft spots in our defenses that make the worlds last remaining super-power a vulnerable target for any terrorists willing to die for the cause.


In retrospect, America’s weaknesses were more obvious to others than most Americans thought. Even now, many Americans fail to grasp just how vulnerable we are to this type of enemy, what makes us so vulnerable or what must change in order to prevent a future much worse than the events of 9/11.


Two specific events provide a close up look into these weaknesses, if not a glimpse into what must change as well. The USS Cole attack and the 9/11 attacks provide lessons we can not afford to ignore, yet we seem to be.


The USS Cole Attack


On October 12, 2000, before we entered Afghanistan or Iraq, before George W. Bush became President of the United States and before most Americans had any idea that we were already at war with numerous international terror networks, the US Navy Destroyer Cole was attacked by a small boat laden with crude explosives during a brief refueling stop in the port of Aden, Yemen.


A small group of terrorists in a small fishing boat armed with explosives was able to attack one of the most advanced military vessels known to man, killing 17 US sailors, seriously injuring 39 others and causing millions in damage to the Cole. The Cole never got off a single shot…


On deck at the time were at least 50 sailors armed with the best military hardware and technology available in the free world, all of them watching as the small boat approached, all of them with that boat in the crosshairs of their weapon. Moments later, 17 sailors were dead, 39 more seriously injured and the Cole and her crew were sitting ducks in the port of Yemen. What went wrong? How was such an unsophisticated attack able to achieve such success against such a formidable foe?


It’s easier than we think. It requires only two factors. First, our enemy must be willing to die for the cause. This factor is common among warriors. The second factor is truly uncommon in the world, almost unique to America alone and it is the one factor that makes America very vulnerable to such enemies. It’s called “rules of engagement”.


In the case of the USS Cole attack, at least 50 US sailors stood still on that deck, locked and loaded, sights set, as what could have been civilian fishermen approached. Under American rules of engagement, they were ordered to not fire until first fired upon and like most American soldiers, they followed their orders to the letter. By the time it was clear that it was not fishermen in that little boat, everyone on that boat and 17 US sailors were dead.


Six years later, we see this story played out again and again in Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrorists (aka insurgents) dressed in civilian cloths, often intentionally disguised as medical or law enforcement personnel, sometimes even in the form of seemingly innocent children, attacking coalition forces and innocent civilians alike. No rules of engagement, no observance of the Geneva Convention or any other set of humane guidelines intended to avoid civilian collateral damage. In fact, our enemy targets unarmed civilians almost exclusively. They are after all, terrorists. Not authorized members of a formal military serving a nation under a flag and a recognized chain of command. Just terrorists…


Lesson: In the eyes of our enemies, America’s decency and honor, our rules of engagement even at war, is our weakness. When at war with terrorists, we can not afford to assume that anyone who appears to be a threat is anything less than a fatal threat. We must be willing to act before being fired upon again and again. We must pre-empt (prevent) the next attack and the next until they no longer seek to attack. Those who appear to be a threat must be treated as a threat until they are proven otherwise. This of course does not apply to every individual. We must use terror profiling of both high risk suspect groups and suspicious behaviors. We must act first and apologize later. Like the crew of the Cole, we will get no second guess… The men who did this were dead in an instant. So were the men who held their fire in ill-advised hope.


September 11, 2001


Less than a year after the Cole attack, little more than seven months into the new Bush administration, nineteen Muslim hijackers flew two commercial airliners into the twin World Trade Towers, another into the Pentagon and a third was downed in a Pennsylvania field, allegedly aimed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Fourteen of those nineteen hijackers were in the US legally. None of them were illegal aliens who snuck across our border… All entered America by the book.


Mohammad Atta was the US field commander for Islamic terror organization Al Qaeda and led the 9/11 attacks. A year earlier, he and some of his friends were identified by US agencies as an Al Qaeda cell operating in New York. Because the evidence was not sufficient for a US criminal prosecution, that cell was left alone to pursue its agenda, the events of 9/11.


A year later, the Atta cell along with others freely operating in America, killed some 3000 innocent American civilians and shook our economic center to its core. Like it or not, America was finally forced to engage the enemy.


The enemy wore no uniform, fought under no flag, played by no particular set of rules and made no distinction between innocent civilians and military targets. Killing Americans is their goal. Killing peaceful freedom loving people all over western civilization is their M.O. Hiding behind women and children, disguising themselves as average westernized citizens and making every appearance to be harmless until the moment of their lethal attack is their style. Deceit and mass destruction is their profession and they are good at both. There is no honor among terrorists…none!


We (our government) knew that this enemy existed and was plotting and planning such an attack on U.S. soil. We knew they were in our country and that they still are today. We knew they had no rules of engagement. We knew they worked to deceive and that they were proud to die in order to kill innocent people. We knew who some of them were and even where they were operating. We assumed their innocence a year before 9/11, and as each boarded those planes on the morning of the 11th, we assumed their innocence all the way up to the moment those planes hit their targets. We assumed incorrectly…and 3000 innocent American civilians died in a matter of moments. Nineteen wrongly presumed innocent, took the lives of 3000 truly innocent. We erred on the side of liberal assumptions and 3000 died…


Lesson: Our enemy desires massive bloodshed of innocent unarmed civilians all over the western world. They are honored to die and trained to deceive in that effort. They are limited only by their perverted imagination and agenda of death and destruction. They come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all disguises, speak many languages, hold regular jobs and live in many of our neighborhoods, waiting for the right moment of opportunity to strike again with increasing devastation. And our desire as Americans to be “fair” and “humane” even at war is the very weakness they seek to exploit. Our desire to treat them just as one of us, with humane civil rights, social acceptance, a presumption of innocence, provides the chance they seek to deceive.


In Iraq, American soldiers have died mostly by I.E.D., (improvised explosive device). Coalition forces delivering food and medical aid to Iraqi citizens, or candy and shoes to Iraqi children in the streets, or working to restore roads and infrastructure to Iraqi families in need, make easy targets for this enemy operating without any rules of engagement.


At home, American citizens busy at work or play, preferring to believe that the enemy is no longer able to attack on American soil, seeking to treat the Mohammad Attas of the world as innocent until proven guilty under American criminal justice codes, make even easier targets. Western lawyers can not win the war against international terrorism. Western diplomats can not negotiate peace with people commanded by Allah to kill. Americans willing to wait until Iran has nuclear weapons before asking what they intend to do with them, or willing to assume that North Korea will act honorably with their nuclear technology until they don’t, are an enemies dream.


What must change to survive such an enemy?


The fastest way to win any fight is to take the enemy out of the fight. The best way to do this is to take the fight out of the enemy, immediately, unconditionally and forever. We do not have to crush the enemy. But we do have to crush their will to fight, now or ever again. We have failed to do this and instead, it is unfortunately the American people who seem to be loosing their will to fight. He with the will to win will win. He won’t accept any other outcome. This is a fundamental rule of battle, yet the one rule of engagement we have failed to heed in our desire to be compassionate, even towards our enemies.


We must first recognize that we are indeed at war, and not by our choosing. That our enemy is not playing by the same set of rules we are and that they never will. That America never targets innocent civilians and that our enemy does, almost exclusively. That our soldiers announce their intentions in advance, providing opportunities for enemies to avoid death before striking, but that our enemy never tips its hand until the moment of attack.


We must acknowledge that our enemy is not a member nation of the Geneva Conventions and therefore, is afforded no such protections. That they are not innocent U.S. citizens entitled to American civil rights, social aid and acceptance, or even traditional prosecution rules under our criminal justice code.


We must agree that suspicious people acting in a suspicious manner, who meet the well-known M.O. of Middle Eastern terrorists, can not be afforded the same presumption of innocence as your grandmother boarding a plane for her annual Christmas visit. This has nothing to do with racial profiling - it has everything to do with terror profiling and it is essential to national security today. Ask any expert…


We must accept that we will get it wrong sometimes. Not because we act too hastily or with malice towards the innocent, but because our enemy never fails to disguise himself as an innocent civilian, placing all civilians in question and at risk.


Had sailors on the USS Cole fired upon that boat after it failed to heed warnings, 17 US sailors would be alive today and the same is true for hundreds of other US and coalition forces in Iraq. The men on that boat could have been fishermen, but they weren’t… and the presumption of innocence cost 17 American lives.


We must accept the fact that we are at war with an enemy like no other we have faced before and that new conditions of war require new rules of engagement. The enemy relies upon our overwhelming, even ill-advised desire to treat all people as equal and decent. All people are not equal or decent - some are indecent and deadly.


We must accept the fact that there can be only one winner in this war and that if that winner isn’t us, all of western civilization is in grave danger. We must also accept the fact that we can not win this war with one eye blind and both hands tied behind our back.


We must retain our desire to be humane and decent, even at war. But we must not allow that goal to hamstring our efforts to defend the innocent. No easy task and one that can not be done without occasional failures or setbacks. But it must be done, no matter…


Nobody does it better than the American soldier! God Bless each and every one!


Isn’t it funny what we are told we must tolerate today, what we must preserve and protect? We are told that profiling terrorists is a violation of every Americans civil rights. Yet few Americans have the M.O. of Middle Eastern terrorists and if we don’t pursue the known profile of Middle Eastern terrorists, every American is treated as a terrorist and presumed equally dangerous. That really is a violation of basic civil liberties.


We are told that even the most deadly terrorist has rights and that to protect the rights of average Americans - we must protect the rights of Middle Eastern terrorists. Are you kidding me? Such a notion is a death wish!


The Baker – Hamilton Commission on Iraq just issued their worthless report. The news media is eager to treat this report like “news” of some indictment of Bush Iraq policies. Yet it is no such thing, read it. This special Iraq commission has come up with the ingenious idea that we must train Iraqi soldiers to defend their own nation and accomplish this as fast as possible, and that until Iraqi troops can defend their nation, American soldiers can not leave Iraq… This is news? This is innovative thinking from our nations best and brightest?


Bush should all but ignore this work product because following the recommendations of a council run by liberal State Department hacks will get more American soldiers killed and leave America and western civilization vulnerable.


America and the western world have but two choices in this war, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe or America. We must crush the will of Islamic Terrorism world-wide, or allow ourselves to become consumed by it. There is no other option… That’s the lesson too many still hope to ignore.