Fighting Back

Yesterday, April 20, was Hitler's birthday. I didn't know that until this morning. Yesterday, I walked by the newspaper and paused to read a front page story, "A Kennedy cuts finger on Air Force One with Clinton." Apparently the Kennedy in question was Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and he needed 6 stitches after cutting his finger on a trash can in the bathroom. I wondered if anyone in Kosovo or Serbia had cut his finger. Later, I discovered that one American bomb had killed at least 10 people in Belgrade. Neither the television news nor the papers reported any other injuries in Yugoslavia.

Later in the day, I learned that two armed students had murdered 13 of their classmates at Columbine High School outside Denver. This morning I heard that these students were fans of Hitler. Their murderous spree and suicides may have been related to Hitler's birthday. Four years ago on April 19, the Federal Building in Kansas City was bombed. You might ask why I mention this fact. What's the connection? Actually, there is none; but that fact doesn't prevent television news people from straining to find a link so that they can blame the spree on antigovernment feelings.

These events reminded me of an article that I wanted to write about fighting back. How do you fight back against Hitler, against the Serbs, against America? How do fight back against the reality of your life as American high school misfit? The actor Yul Brynner once said that he had received a very good piece of advice: "Never fight a person on his own level because, on his level, you'll always lose."

Standing up to America is probably the easiest task of those I mentioned. Even though America has a war machine that would have made Hitler grind his teeth with envy, the Americans use it in a very restrained way. They can destroy as they please but they go out of their way to target only the military machine. They consider enemy casualties tragic and American casualties unacceptable.

Let's say that I were the dictator of Hitleria and I wanted to stand up to America. I call my mythical country Hitleria because any leader who opposes America is immediately branded as "the Hitler of [your area here]." Here's how I would structure my military. First of all, I would spend as little money as possible on ships, planes, and tanks. The Americans can destroy these weapons at will. I would put my savings from these cruise missile magnets toward less conventional tools of war. Let's say a plane costs $5 or $10 million. If the Americans take a dislike to me, that plane will quickly become a piece of twisted junk. If I had spent that $5 or $10 million on United States senators, I would have made a lasting investment. During the recent impeachment trial, we saw just how corrupt and venal the Senate is. It tolerated the lies and contempt of a Clinton crony, an insider huckster, and a twenty-something bimbo. You could probably buy your way out of an American attack for the price of one or two dozen planes.

I heard this definition once: When you buy an honest politician, he stays bought. As dictator of Hitleria, I couldn't count on American senators to be that honest and would have to take other precautions in the event of an attack. I would decentralize my army from the beginning. I would position them for a guerrilla war by stationing them in small groups all around my country. I would quarter soldiers in private homes in peacetime. This policy deprives the Americans of their favorite targets; it also terrorizes my population more effectively (which is what I wanted in the first place). They would be trained to fight a war without the bridges, railroads, and oil that are the secondary targets of American attacks.

I'm not a student of weapons or tactics, but I know that the North Vietnamese and the Afghanis were able to hold out a long time against great military powers and finally prevail. My generals would study these wars and see what was applicable to the defense of Hitleria. Unconventional weapons and tactics could help. Why have fixed radar sites? Why not have thousands of small, mobile radar units? They may not be as effective as the larger installations, but the larger ones are only cruise missile bait. Perhaps I could shoot down two or three American planes with cheap anti-aircraft fire and hand-held surface-to-air missiles. Americans consider the loss of two or three planes a major defeat; when you remember the cost of these planes, they may be right.

My scientists would study the weak points of the trillion-dollar American military machine. What could be done with gasoline? Are military computers subject to attack? Think of the billions that the Americans have spent on spy planes. I've seen model planes mounted with camcorders that can survey areas from the sky at virtually no cost. I wonder how many little inventions and new strategies could be used to thwart the American war machine in small ways. The tiniest triumph over the Americans is worth the cost because the American people demand complete victory at no cost.

Of course, America can destroy any country it pleases; but the people of America have the final say in such matters. As dictator, I would realize that propaganda was my greatest tool. How could I make the war against Hitleria unpopular in America? I would obviously want to give the American people the impression that the Hitlerians were able and willing to fight back. The American populace approves only of short wars with little cost and that's what the politicians give them. After a month of attacking the Serbians, we see that it is statistically safer to fly bombing missions over Yugoslavia than it is to attend high school in the United States.

Terrorism is the way to fight against Americans. I would have a number of Hitlerian patriots immigrate to the United States as soon as I seized office. These patriots would act the part of immigrants but would spend their free time concocting terrorist plots. I'm always surprised at the way terrorists like big targets: the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the World Trade Center, the House of Representatives, the president himself. My terrorists would attack only the helpless and the undefended. Television spent an entire day covering the deaths of 15 students at a U.S. high school. What if my terrorists killed 20 third graders at an elementary school (attacking a high school in American is obviously too dangerous)? If the site were sufficiently isolated and their planning was good, they could probably escape uncaught.

I've noticed that all the American Presidents since Carter have called terrorists "cowards." I wonder if they have the nerve to drive a truck full of explosives into the basement of a skyscraper or pull a machine gun on an airplane (I barely have the courage to board an airplane). Maybe these presidents were afraid that terrorists would actually act like cowards and try to survive. Spree killers escape many times and serial killers can go on for years. A sane, calculating terrorist could go from one easy crime to another indefinitely, as long as he had only two aims: survival and destruction (in that order). This week he might shoot up a nursing home in Iowa. Next week he'd start a fire in Kentucky. Next month, he might gun down day care workers and their charges in Vermont. The "Hitlerian Liberation Front" would claim credit; but I'd pretend that I was innocent. As dictator of Hitleria, I would "deplore such actions" and "call for the immediate end to the terror on both sides." This kind of terrorism is truly cowardly (and effective).

There are certainly tactics that I haven't thought of. The Serbians pin paper targets to their clothes to show their resolve. I suggest that they pin paper reproductions of Rembrandt paintings on themselves. We know that NATO won't bomb Milosevic's palace because it houses a Rembrandt. Perhaps the best weapon to use against the Clinton administration is the power of positive quitting. Milosevic should immediately resign his office and appoint a temporary government that promises democratic elections after the NATO attacks end. This temporary government would accept certain conditions but not the presence of foreign troops in Yugoslavia. This gambit would make the NATO bombing seem insane. Milosevic could recover his power later. If Ken Starr had used this tactic and resigned during the first week of the Lewinsky scandal, we wouldn't have that incompetent psychopath in the White House now. We also wouldn't have a million refugees in the Balkans.

I doubt that any foreign dictator would adopt my stategies. But what if someone did? How could the Americans change tactics to deal with me? What is the next generation in warfare? Congress is about to a approve a $6 billion appropriation for the war. I heard a person ask, "What would happen if we just dropped $6 billion on Yugoslavia?"

Here's a quiz. What would be the geopolitical, realpolitik effects of

1. offering to use the $6 billion to construct a Disneylike theme park based on Prince Lazar's martyrdom at the battle of Kosovo?

2. giving $6 billion worth of aid to the Scientologists to convert Yugoslavia?

3. dropping $6 billion worth of marshmallows on Yugoslavia?