26. July 2005 · Comments Off on Tipping Points, And a Slap in the Face With a Wet Haddock · Categories: General, GWOT

Once upon a time in the West— during the eighties to mid nineties, to be specific– there was a sporadic but continuing rumble in the American news media about the so-called militia movement. The journalistic great and the good descended on occasion from their palatial bi-coastal aeries to frown gravely, and unreel serious and lengthy articles about the goings on in fly-over country. Basically, for about a decade, concatenations of good-old-boys in cammies and serious gummint surplus gathered in the woods to play war-games with everything short of light artillery, and bitch about the federal government, the ominous plans by the UN for one-world government, invasion by someone or other, the depredations of mysterious black helicopters, fluoride in the water, and for all I know, the banning of Pete Rose from the Baseball Hall of Fame. I suspect that mostly the guys bitched a lot, and drank a lot of beer. Before the massacres in Rwanda, and the Place Known as the Former Yugoslavia, the mighty military minions of the UN were seen as a potent threat… maybe all the beer would account for that, since in actuality, a brigade of Girl Scouts might have been more effective in some UN-sponsored situations.

But the militia movement was real; it did pull in numbers enough to sometimes make local and federal law enforcement occasionally nervous. (And it gave colonic spasms to movie-makers: see Costa-Gavras’ “Betrayed” for one sweaty fantasy about what all those red-state hicks were getting up to, out in the woods.) And then… the militia movement essentially shriveled up and died, in the months after the truck-bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City by a guy who had militia sympathies, who had hung around on the fringes, who talked the talk… and took it one logical step farther. A lot of people suddenly realized that it was one thing to bitch about the government, and talk about blowing up a Federal building in theory, but in practice, it wasn’t the Federal government that blew up… it was little kids, and secretaries and military recruiters, and tens of ordinary citizens lining up at a help desk to see about social security or some such thing. It was a reality check, the metaphorical slap in the face with a wet haddock; after the Oklahoma City bombing, membership in various militia organizations plummeted. It never recovered, possibly also because even the most paranoid American began realizing that the UN couldn’t find its’ posterior with a map and a GPS fix, let alone institute a world government.

For Americans, 9/11 was the ultimate haddock-whack; you could now spend weeks just totting up blogs and blog entries by the rudely-awakened, and months making lists of people whose political views and assumptions abruptly jumped from the former comfortable track. A couple of small stories I noticed in the spring of 2002 had some small significance: it appeared that members of the IRA, who had formerly been guests of honor at various Saint Patrick’s’ Day parades in northeastern cities and townships were being curtly uninvited to the celebrations. The local fire and police departments— historically a large proportion of who were the descendants of Irish immigrants, and took center-stage at such local festivities— insisted. Firefighters and police, of course, had taken massive casualties at the World Trade Center. And now they took even a dimmer view than formerly, unfogged by sentiment about the Auld Country, of setting off bombs which targeted civilians.

In the last couple of months, the international haddock-whackings have come thick and fast, thanks in part to Al Quaida’s unparalleled talent for crapping in their own mess kit, and an assortment of enthusiastic jihadists taking cack-handed aim at a variety of soft targets. The brutality and indiscrimination of the insurgents in Iraq seems to be making them loathed, despised, and increasingly marginalized— deadly, but marginalized. Two massive bombings of tourist resorts in Egypt, and the murder of the Egyptian envoy to Iraq do not seem to be making them very much more popular in Egypt, if reports are to be believed. Even the Saudis were moved to make a show of effort, after a couple of compounds and hotels went boom, albeit with the usual pious insistence that Islam is a religion of peace.
Theo van Gogh’s murderer has been convicted, after an unrepentant and chilling monologue in the Dutch courtroom—- well that was another haddock-whack, courtesy of militant Islam.

There is no more proof needed for me that Britain has been shaken out of old assumptions and into a chilling new awareness than the taking-down of a suspected suicide bomber. Cold, efficient, and with five head-shots… and it seems to have been a tragic misunderstanding, but under the same circumstances, they’d do it again, so they say. After fifty-plus dead in subway trains and busses, two weeks ago, and maybe the same again but for an incompetent bomb-maker, I can’t say I blame British law enforcement in the least. Last night I listened to Robert Siegel on NPR, (who seems to have grown a pair and a spine, too) interview Lord Ahmed, the first British Moslem elevated to the House of Lords, and not only was Islam as a religion of peace not invoked, Siegel actually forcefully asked for an explanation of why blowing up a bus in London is terrorism and to be condemned, but that blowing up a bus of civilians in Tel Aviv or Baghdad is not. For the record, Lord Ahmed burbled something about it being different when F-16s are shooting at people, and there is no democracy— but six months ago, I don’t think the question would even have come up. Even NPR has been haddock-whacked and about damn time, too.

Nothing like having something blow up in your neighborhood— whether in Baghdad, Riyadh, or Sharm-el Sheik, as opposed to someone else’s, far, far away, to begin rethinking that whole concept of sticking it to the infidel at a safe distance. And so, I think we are very close to a tipping point, the grains of sand slowly beginning to slip downhill, the tentative beginnings of an avalanche. People are realizing the danger is here, now, to them, personally. They are moving quietly away from the abyss, even while the militant jihadis plunge headlong, little caring that they will be buried… and the world will move on.

(Do please add your own examples of haddock-whacks and tipping points.)

Later: Regular TDB reader Mike R., who is as he says “Out of the office fighting Indians”, emailed me this last night:

“Fighting Indians is going well. We had a big operation a
few weeks ago to take the city of Hit (the next in the chain
north of Fallujah and Ramadi). We went in very heavy,
expecting a bloodbath not unlike Fallujah, but instead not a
shot was fired. And now, instead of staying a few days and
leaving, we established two permanent bases in the city.
The terrorists have lost the city forever. Our pattern of
week long raids suckered them into not resisting us when we
came into this city, and now they’re blocked out.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re impotent. They still
attack with mortars and keep trying to plant IED’s, some of
which are effective, but mostly they’ve been inept.
Unfortunately, two more were killed by mortars. Our
battalion has been in the worst of the terrorist activity
since we’ve been here, we’ve had at least five times more
casualties than any other battalion in our regiment.

Now the terrorists only have a couple more cities that they
try to control, it’s not much longer for them now. In the
Euphrates River valley, only Hadithah and Haqlaniyah are not
completely pacified. The only ones remaining after them are
border towns, where we’ve had to be very “kinetic” in our

Even better is that we’ve got Iraqi battalions operating
with us now. I was very leery of them because the past few
years have been filled with one breathless description of
how “this time” the Iraqi military is going to actually
work, with only disaster and disappointment following.
However, it does appear that these new guys don’t loot as
much, don’t bugger each other as much, and aren’t
infiltrated by the enemy as much. I am truly hopeful now.”

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