An Example of Asymetrical Warfare

Or Why We Can’t Win the War If We Let the Other
Guys Make the Rules

Somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan or a high rise in Riyadh
or a houseboat bobbing lazily on a canal in Amsterdam, Faruk and Faisal
are plotting against America.  They are sitting at a computer, because
these days whether one is in a cave or a penthouse or a boat, the internet
is just an antenna away. They are also smoking that good gray hashish, because
their religion forbids alcohol and Afghanistan’s finest export is still
bubbling through the distribution network, in fact funding ongoing operations.

"We’ve got to do something really dastardly to the infidel invaders
this time," muses Faruk as he takes a deep draw on the Hookah. "Something
that will cost them dearly, and expose them as the quivering cowards
they really are."

"I have thought of just the thing," slyly intones Faisal. "It came to
me in a dream last night. All the information we need is right here on
this web site!"

"Let me see," crowed Faruk, craning his recently shaven neck at the
computer screen, expecting to see some National Security site that Faisal,
who was something of a geek, had hacked into. "Wait a second.  That’s
just the Orbitz travel site! Planning on taking a trip?"

"You must think me an idiot! Flying’s too dangerous these days. No,
look here.  These are all of the flight numbers of the flights
from London and Paris to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. So I copy and
paste them into a list.  Then I make up a simple code. 223 kumquats.
2445 kilos of dates. 661 camel blankets. Now I wrap it up in a semi-sensical
email and all we have to do is make sure it gets to the right recipients."

"And how do you intend to do that?"

"Easy! The infidels are tapping so many phones and emails they barely
have time to do anything else.  Why do you think they are finally
trying to do something about Spam? We just create a one-time email account
on a Tanzanian server and send this message to a few people we suspect
are being watched.  Like Amira, whose husband blew himself up in
Baghdad last month, or the Hamarubi Brothers who run that Hawala in Hawaii,
or Sheik Zabouti, who we KNOW is talking to the Chemical Brothers. Then
we just sit back and watch the fun!"

Total cost of this terrorist operation – $2.95 in connection time.

Meanwhile, in a windowless room in a basement in Virginia, or a wardroom
in an antenna bedecked destroyer, or a top secret room in an anonymous
front company in an out-of-the-way strip mall, a clean cut analyst with
an Ivy League degree and a million dollars of electronic circuitry beneath
his fingertips shouts out. "Bingo! Chief, I think I found something!"

"What’s up, Webster?" The crew-cut chief dork ambles over for a look.

"This email, Chief, forwarded to us by the Chemical Brothers in Islamabad,
is supposed to be about an order for an upcoming wedding, but it doesn’t
hold water. There’s no way a wedding party could eat TWO AND A HALF TONS
OF DATES without some serious diarrheic consequences!. So I ran the numbers
through our top secret "Cross-Check" program, and guess what! They all
correspond to flight numbers of flights from Europe to Los Angeles on
Christmas Eve!"

"Great Cesar’s Ghost! This is what we’ve been looking for! Quick, get
Director Ridge on the phone.  Tell him we are declaring a Code X-Ray!
Get me the CEO’s of the airlines involved. Cancel those flights! Get
armed guards on all of the OTHER flights from those cities! Raise the
threat level! Scramble the jets! Ready the No Fly Zones! This is
the break we’ve been waiting for. Those bastards won’t catch us off guard


"You’ll be getting a promotion for this one, Webster!  Good

Total cost for our response: $287 million plus indirect costs of lost
revenue and public paranoia.

Conclusion: Relying on technology is fine, especially when you have the best in the
world. However, when it results in such ridiculously disproportionate
expenditures, it gives your enemies an opening in your lines of defense
big enough to drive a cement mixer filled with C-4 through. Lets rethink
this one.

This entry was posted in ESL Links. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to An Example of Asymetrical Warfare

  1. Captain Poopdeck says:

    Waiting to hear the results of your rethinking. Do nothing? I hope not. What monetary value would you put on each American life?

  2. Ion says:

    Just had the same thought when they took my fingerprints and a picture of myself two hours ago, as I was going through Customs at Logan, and saw all the expensive-looking brand-new equipment they were using at each lane. There has been a lot of talk about oil and the contracts Corporate America is getting in Iraq, but I haven’t read anything about the business of “security”. Who’s profitting from all this paranoia? 30 years of terrorism in Spain has taught us there that the best way to fight it is hard, patient work and good intelligence, not hysterical responses to “chatter”.

  3. TheYeti says:

    Luckily, the people planning the Al Qaeda ops are frickin nuts.

    Listen, a couple of teenagers who like to read Soldier of Fortune could wreak massive destruction on the countries infrastructure.

    Why can’t Al Qaeda? Because they don’t think like us. They’re off in a fantasy world.

    They’re not playing games, because they’re not fighting us – they’re jousting with windmills

  4. Ion says:

    That’s exactly the problem. They don’t think like us, so we don’t think like them. So we don’t know what to expect. As for the windmill metaphor, maybe you didn’t intend it, but it’s not in the best taste and actually runs against your argument: they’ve taken down two “windmills” already. And why? Because some people grew suspicious about that small plane full of explosives idea of them and they had to resort to the unthinkable.

  5. Michael Feldman says:

    My point is that, well, we defeated the Soviets by getting them in a spending war they couldn’t win, basically bankrupting them in an arms race. If these terrorists can get us to spend millions at the drop of a dime, can’t they do the same to us?

Comments are closed.