Monday, September 11, 2006
TD: You know a good deal about the obligations of an occupying power to protect public and private property, partially because in the 1980s you were doing planning on the Middle East, right?Well, we now know that Rummy wasn't big on all that postwar planning crap.
AW: Yes, from 1982 to 1984, I was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina when the Army was planning for potential operations using the Rapid Deployment Force -- what ultimately became the Central Command. One of the first forces used in rapid deployment operations was the 82 Airborne at Fort Bragg. I was in the special operations end of it with civil affairs. Those are the people who write up the annexes to operations plans about how you interact with the civilian population, how you protect the facilities -- sewage, water, electrical grids, libraries. We were doing it for the whole Middle East. I mean, we have operations plans on the shelf for every country in the world, or virtually. So we did one on Iraq; we did one on Syria; on Jordan, Egypt. All of them.
We would, for instance, take the UNESCO list of treasures of the world and go through it. Okay, any in Iraq? Yep. Okay, mark ‘em, circle ‘em on a map, put ‘em in the op-plan. Whatever you do, don't bomb this. Make sure we've got enough troops to protect this. It's our obligation under the law of land warfare. We'd be circling all the electrical grids, all the oil grids, all the museums. So for us to go into Iraq and let all that looting happen. Well, Rumsfeld wanted a light, mobile force, and screw the obligations of treaties. Typical of this administration on any treaty thing. Forget ‘em.
So everything was Katy-bar-the-door. Anybody could go in and rip up anything. Many of the explosives now being used to kill our troops come from the ammo dumps we did not secure. It was a total violation of every principle we had for planning military operations and their aftermath. People in the civil affairs units, they were just shaking their heads, wondering how in the hell this could have happened. We've been doing these operations plans forever, so I can only imagine the bitchin' and moanin' about -- how come we don't have this civilian/military annex? It's in every other op-plan. And where are the troops, where are the MPs?
Mind you, Tom Englehardt is not one to miss out on a good follow-up question:
TD: If back in the early eighties you were planning to save the antiquities of every country in the Middle East, then obviously the Pentagon was also planning for a range of possible invasions in the region. Do you look back now and ask: What kind of a country has contingency plans to invade any country you can imagine?Hey, who needs the Russians when you've got Islamofascism and the Axis of Chavez?
AW: One of the things you are likely to do at a certain point in your military career is operations plans. It did not then seem abnormal to me at all that we had contingency plans for the Middle East, or for countries in the Caribbean or South America. At that stage, I was not looking at the imperialism of the United States. I just didn't equate those contingency plans with empire-building goals. However, depending on how those plans are used, they certainly can be just that. Remember as well that this was in the days of the Cold War and, by God, that camouflaged a lot of stuff. You could always say: You never can tell what those Soviets are going to do, so you better be prepared anywhere in the world to defeat them.
TD: And we're still prepared anywhere in the world…
AW: Well, we are and now, let's see, where are the Russians? [She laughs heartily.]
I don't know about libraries and museums, but I'll bet that the op-plan for the invasion of Venezuela has precise GPS coordinates for every McDonald's, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart.
'Le grill'? 'LE GRILL'? What the heck does that mean??!!"
"Dammit! Why (slam) won't (bang) you (pow) be (smash) art?!?"
And the animated homage to Rousseau, DaVinci, Picasso, etc....priceless.
And even in animated form, Isabella Rossellini is hot.
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