James Rogers jamesr at
Wed Apr 9 15:47:27 PDT 2003

From: Jeff Bone
> Don't you have that backwards?  I'm not sure how you could consider 
> dumping $1B worth of high-tech ordinance on somebody 
> "efficient" by any 
> definition, regardless of effect, particularly when compared 
> to a small 
> number of guys armed only with box cutters taking down 
> America for most 
> of a week.  

Huh? How the hell are you comparing these.  If the guys with boxcutters
successfully invaded the state of California, then you would have something.
All they did was take down two towers.  There are quite a number of ways to
do that on a small budget, though admittedly they chose an interesting way
of going about it.

Blowing only a billion dollars of ordnance while taking a large country with
few casualties in a matter of weeks is pretty damn efficient for that task.
It certainly isn't comparable to dropping a couple skyscrapers.  If the goal
of the military was to drop the two towers, it would have cost them almost

If the goal was merely to create a media spectacle, you might have a point.
Given that this was not the goal in at least one of your two cases, your
definition of "efficient" seems specious.

> I'm sorry, but dropping the Twin Towers was 
> "shocking" and 
> "awesome."  Taking out a few leadership targets with some high-tech 
> destructo-gadgetry amidst tank-plinking as usual, not so much. 

Wrong.  You don't get to redefine the context of the term "Shock and Awe" to
suit your argument.  As the individuals who coined the phrase have stated
repeatedly, the media and the public have been pulling the original meaning
way out of context of what was originally written.

>From the horse's mouth:

"Rapid Dominance must be all-encompassing. It will require the means to
anticipate and to counter all opposing moves. It will involve the capability
to deny an opponent things of critical value, and to convey the unmistakable
message that unconditional compliance is the only available recourse. It
will imply more than the direct application of force. It will mean the
ability to control the environment and to master all levels of an opponent's
activities to affect will, perception, and understanding."


"Rapid Dominance will strive to achieve a dominance that is so complete and
victory [that] is so swift, that an adversary's losses in both manpower and
material could be relatively light, and yet the message is so unmistakable
that resistance would be seen as futile."

You may not have been impressed watching bombs dropped on your TV, but the
military wasn't trying to make *you* capitulate.  It is about the surgical
use of overwhelming and decisive force plus generating wholesale confusion
and misinformation in an effort to make the enemy feel impotent and dazzled
in such a way that it alters their mindset without actually having to "pave
the battlefield". The point of "Shock and Awe" is changing the outlook of
your enemy, not killing them.

> (OB_FACT:  less than 7% of the precision-guided bombs dropped so far 
> has been dropped on leadership targets;  the bulk has been taking out 
> Iraqi armor and infantry divisions. 

Well, duh.  Leadership pretty much by definition is a tiny fraction of the
total high value targets.  As a percentage of the whole, 7% is a stunningly
*high* amount of ordnance compared to any other war I can think of.

> But then, I'm also very confused about the tendency to refer to those 
> guys with box cutters and suicide bombers as "cowards" while we refer 
> to the guys that load launch tubes on boats 200m out at sea or drop 
> bombs from above-AA altitudes "courageous."

I agree that in terms of the act itself, the box cutter gang required
substantial courage compared to high-altitude bombers.  However, some people
use "coward" in the sense of a soldier intentionally engaging civilians
rather than enemy soldiers because the civilians are easier targets.
Western culture in particular makes a strong distinction between
"combatants" and "non-combatants" as legitimate military targets.  It is the
old "never shoot an unarmed man" rule of engagement, which is by no means
universal and which the hijackers' broke.


-James Rogers
 jamesr at

More information about the FoRK mailing list